Amma hugs at Alexandra Palace in London 

If anyone can spread niceness around, and travel the world to do so, surely there can be nothing more wonderful than that 

By Dr R Neerunjun Gopee 

Yesterday the BBC showed a news item: that of Amma, the ‘hugging Saint’ hugging people at the Alexandra Palace in London. It is said that she has hugged nearly 30 million people around the world now, and at Alexandra Palace a crowd of about 9000 had gathered to receive each a hug from her. It was made up of people of all faiths and of no faith as well. Some were asked what they felt after the hug, and there were varied answers, from ‘a hug is always nice’ to ‘it is difficult to explain what you feel.’

It is like trying to explain the feeling of goodness and warmth: however much you try nobody can understand completely, you must actually experience it. The main thing is that everybody who was asked, whatever their attitude or expectation was when they lined up for the hug, came out feeling nice – and if anyone can spread niceness around, and travel the world to do so, surely there can be nothing more wonderful than that.

What we need is more people spreading niceness, even if not through hugs — that was my reaction to the other piece of news, which was such a stark contrast to Amma’s hug. A Syrian citizen was shown being beaten up by ‘regime’ soldiers in a police station or some such place, until he was unconscious. Apparently some Syrian civilians had got hold of that clip and were going to circulate it around the world, even as the Syrian regime was severely cautioned by the Arab League that if things did not change there, then sanctions against Syria were going to be applied.

Violence of any kind is abhorrent, and the picture of this poor man being kicked about by the heavy boots of his attackers as he lay on the ground trying to protect himself by putting his hands up was indeed heart-rending.

To come back to Amma’s hug, those who have experienced it in Mauritius will know what it is all about: pure love. That you can connect so deeply with someone with whom you cannot even communicate in words only shows that there is a universal aspiration in the human being – and why, for that matter even in animals for that matter, as you see young ones playing with their mothers.

In such situations, words literally fail to capture the true dimension of what we witness, but there are people who are very good at expressing the essence of such moments and situations, and these sayings and writings constitute real pearls of wisdom that I think they are worth being shared – in fact are meant to be shared.

Here are some of them for your enjoyment and reflection, as also for living by – otherwise there would be no point passing them around!

If given with love, a handful is sufficient.
— Telugu Proverb

The days are too short even for love; how can there be enough time for quarrelling?
Margaret Gatty

Whether you believe in God or not does not matter so much, whether you believe in Buddha or not does not matter so much. You must lead a good life.
— His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Forget mistakes. Forget failures. Forget everything except what you’re going to do now and do it. Today is your lucky day.
— Will Durant

People are like stained glass windows: they sparkle and shine when the sun’s out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light within.
– Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Come out of the circle of time, and into the circle of love.
– Rumi

You will never find a perfect person, but if you look with love in your eyes then you will find something perfect in everyone you meet.
Ed & Deb Shapiro

All beings tremble before violence.
All fear death.
All love life.

See yourself in others.
Then whom can you hurt?
What harm can you do?
— Dhammapada 129-130

Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.
Theodore Isaac Rubin 

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.


Remember, that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end they always fall.

Mahatma Gandhi.

And of course there’s many more!

* Published in print edition on 18 November 2011

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