When Australian writer Gail Tredwell’s book Holy Hell: A Memoir of Faith, Devotion and Pure Madness was published last November, it sent shockwaves among the devotees of Mata Amritanandamayi, popularly known as the ‘hugging saint’.
You have come up with the book almost 15 years after leaving Mata Amritanandamayi’s ashram. Why did it take so long?
It took me many years of rest, good nutrition, support from friends and a healthy, balanced lifestyle to gain perspective. The first few years after I left the Amritanandamayi Math were very hard. Physically, I was in a very bad shape, I was also suffering from an enormous amount of emotional pain, confusion and feelings of betrayal and loss. During those early years, it was impossible to speak about any of the harm done. I did not have the clarity of mind nor the strength to face the retribution that would inevitably follow if I shared even a fraction of what I knew. I needed to heal first. During those initial years, I wanted to forget everything and move on with my life.
Eventually, despite my fears, I felt I had no choice but to publish my story; that I morally owed it to the public and the numerous devotees to share what I knew. So, I spent the past four years working on my book.