Of omnipotent Babas and Ammas | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Of omnipotent Babas and Ammas

It was just the two of us in the business class of the Jet Airways’ afternoon flight to London. The smart lady across the aisle was wearing a jeans and a yellow T-shirt. She was also wearing an orthopedic belt around her waist and was reading an English thriller novel.

chandigarh Updated: Dec 01, 2014 10:20 IST

It was just the two of us in the business class of the Jet Airways’ afternoon flight to London. The smart lady across the aisle was wearing a jeans and a yellow T-shirt. She was also wearing an orthopedic belt around her waist and was reading an English thriller novel.


The airhostess, Tina, was my daughter’s classmate from school. After she asked us to wear seatbelts, she served us drinks and snacks. All the while, I was trying to place who this lady was. Her face looked very familiar and she had a pleasant demeanor. I asked Tina to look up her name on the boarding chart, but that did not help.

In the meanwhile, a young chap from the economy class came and touched her feet. She blessed him by putting her hand on his head. I could make out that she was a spiritual leader.

Meanwhile, Tina had found out from her colleague that the lady was the famous spiritual leader Amma, who appeared on a popular Indian television channel every day.

After lunch, I went to the aisle. Tina asked me if I would like to have something to drink. I opted for a glass of white wine. I looked at the lady and smiled; she reciprocated.

I asked her choice of drinks and she settled for a glass of red wine. We got talking. She asked me where I lived. I told her I lived in London. I feigned total ignorance about her identity; she, however, was completely at ease with my company. It was my turn to ask where she lived.

When she said she was from India, I asked her: “What brings you to London?”

She said: “I am a spiritual leader. My followers have organised three Bhakti camps in Manchester, Birmingham and London. I will be delivering religious sermons there.”

I replied: “Religious preaching is certainly a paying profession in India. You can travel business class with a personal attendant on board.” Feeling embarrassed, she said: “My followers pay for this. Usually, I travel economy class but due to the backache, I am travelling in the business class this time.”

When the airplane reached our destination, she went to the washroom and emerged in a saffron outfit. She was also wearing a beaded necklace.

A wine-drinking, petite beauty sporting a jeans and a T-shirt had transformed into a sage within minutes.

At the arrival lounge, she was taken through the VIP gate. Hundreds of followers, who had come to the airport to catch a glimpse of her, chorused ‘Amma ji ki jai, Amma ji ki jai’.

Such Babas and Ammas will continue to be a force to reckon with as long as they have an army of followers worldwide.