Remembering Here&Now — 26 January 2017

Two short excerpts from Gail Tredwell’s memoir, Holy Hell.

No Bananas

Another highlight for me in those days was Krishna Bhava. Even though I knew it was Amma underneath the crown, glitter, and jewels, there was a softness and sweetness to the evenings. It was a time of consolation, a time when I could forget her occasional harsh ways and the physical strain of my workload. After an hour or two of basking in the loving and lighthearted atmosphere, I felt renewed. Many evenings I had the opportunity to stand next to Amma and hold the plate of sacred ash, bananas, and pitcher of holy water.

One night I noticed something unusual. A newcomer entered the temple, and Amma’s face lit up as though she’d known him for a very long time. I got the sense he was an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna, and it crossed my mind—if Amma was indeed manifesting Krishna, then maybe she’d been witnessing his devotion for years.

I began to think how lucky I was to be standing so close to the same divine being who blessed the world with the Bhagavad Gita, one of the most important and sacred scriptures of the Hindu faith. The Gita contains the discourse Krishna delivered to Arjuna before the start of the Kurukshetra war. I found myself thinking how wonderful it would be if, in a similar way, Amma were to give me some words of wisdom. The thought gradually became so intense that my heart began to pound in anticipation.

Suddenly Amma turned and looked at me. Oh my God, she’s heard my prayer. I feel it. She’s going to impart a profound teaching.

She gestured for me to bring my head close, as if she wanted to whisper something in my ear. My heart raced as I leaned forward. I closed my eyes to concentrate fully on her sacred words.

She softly whispered, “We’re almost out of bananas.”

Excerpt from chapter 9 of ‘Holy Hell’ by Gail Tredwell

Amma with Gail Media One

An act of plagiarism

That same tour I had Lakshmi’s buddy Mira sitting before me with a distraught face. There were tears in her eyes. With a quivering voice she whispered, “I just got a call from India. It was from the brahmacharin in charge of the ashram’s publications. He said that he had been confronted recently by an angry devotee of Osho.” This fellow claimed that several paragraphs in Amma’s latest book of “teachings” had been lifted word for word from Osho’s books.

When I heard this, I shook my head and let out a huge sigh. This series, which Mira had helped edit, was written by Balu. Supposedly. It consisted of conversations between Amma and her devotees that he had faithfully recorded. Supposedly.

I asked, “Did you inform Balu?”

“Yes. I told him immediately. He became so angry that he pushed me backwards out of his room and slammed the door in my face.” Mira started sobbing. “I am really afraid Amma will be accused of plagiarism.”

I do know that Balu had an extensive collection of Osho’s works under lock and key in his private library. I know this because shortly before we left for that European tour Amma ordered me once again to read up on the guru/disciple relationship, in which, according to her, I was failing miserably. So I went to the library and asked Balu for a book. He grabbed a key out of his desk drawer and unlocked a cupboard. Before my very eyes were shelves of Osho books. He selected the book titled Just Like That. He wrapped the cover in white paper and gave me strict instructions not to show it to anybody!

No longer could I put on a smiling face for the devotees. No longer could I pretend everything was all right. My mind was ready to blow its stack any second. I needed warning signs hung around my neck. Danger—Highly Flammable. Caution—High Voltage. Beware of Dog. I couldn’t believe the rage I was swimming in.

Excerpt from chapter 24 of ‘Holy Hell’ by Gail Tredwell

Read Deva Sindhu’s review of Gail Tredwell’s book: Holy Hell: A Memoir of Faith, Devotion, and Pure Madness

Available from

Gail TredwellGail Tredwell was born in Queensland, Australia. In 1978, after several uninspiring teenage years, she took off to explore the big wide world. At the end of 1999, after two decades as the personal attendant to Amma, she managed to untangle herself and made her daring break from the organization escaping to heavenly Hawai’i.