Star Tracks: Monday, May 16, 2016 42 years, 2,191 covers and 55,436 stories from PEOPLE magazine's history for you to enjoy
- From Taylor's Squad to Bey's Brood: How the VMAs Pick Who Sits Where
- Read the Cover Story: The Gosselins 10 Years Later: 'So Much Has Changed'
- James Spader Sells His Los Angeles Home for $4 Million
- Prince William Laughs Off a Mom's Request for Prince Harry's Number for Single Daughter: 'You Don't Want That!'
- 10 Celeb Confessions That Will Make You Never Want to be Famous
People Top 5
LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- September 25, 2000
- Vol. 54
- No. 13
Get a Grip
Who Needs a Hug? Indian Spiritual Leader Ammachi Reaches Out to Millions and Gives Them a Big Squeeze
Couldn't the woman Deepak Chopra calls a living saint just wave? Or offer a collective blessing? "Hugging helps them to unfold and to awaken their true nature," Ammachi explains. Back home, says Sbalakrishnan, city editor of the country's largest newspaper, The Times of India, "she has a huge following, and there are always huge queues of people wanting to see her."
Her brother Suresh says Ammachi showed her saintly side early by giving away family possessions—without her parents' permission—to the less fortunate. "Since she loved all beings equally," he says, "we felt she was crazy."
Ammachi asks for nothing in return, but the grateful often give her money and jewelry. Through a charitable trust, she and her volunteers reportedly feed an estimated 50,000 poor Indians monthly. "She has set up hospitals, homes and hospices to relieve people's suffering," says Sbalakrishnan.
"She makes me believe in love," says Cynthia Jenkins, 36, who got a hug. Adds husband David: "I know this sounds wild, but when I pray to her, she answers my prayers." They also received a smudge of sandalwood paste on their foreheads, a shower of rose petals and a Her-shey's Kiss—a token Ammachi offers exclusively to her U.S. devotees.
Treat Yourself! 4 Preview Issues
The most buzzed about stars this minute!