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Holy Hell: A Memoir of Faith, Devotion, and Pure Madness Paperback – October 22, 2013
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In spite of predictable retribution, Tredwell felt morally compelled to expose her guru's lies and her own complicity. Her brave, intelligent memoir is valuable for its depth and searing honesty--a gift to seekers vulnerable to similar widespread misconceptions about spirituality and the role of surrender."
--Joel Kramer & Diana Alstad, coauthors of The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power
"Writing through the wise lens of hindsight, Tredwell weaves into her fascinating story of liberation from the depths of a modern-day cult, the hidden dangers of blind faith. Her insights drawn from years of personal experience render this book invaluable for individuals considering, or perhaps unaware they are already on, such a path."
--Steven Hassan, author of Freedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones Leave Controlling People, Cults and Beliefs
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Top Customer Reviews
What I read was a very interesting and moving story from someone who spent twenty precious years of her life in the service of her guru. The book is well written, alive and, I think, sincere. Yet, as Gayatri said (p. vi) : "This memoir isn't the definitive account of Amma; it is my own remembrance."
Those who like short review may stop reading here.
I first met Amma on July 1990 and on March 1st 1991, I arrived at her ashram, near Vallikavu, to stay for three months. We were about twenty westerners staying there at the time and the only western male permanent resident was a German fellow, Marcus, who was the ashram gardener. There were also a few western brahmacharinis. The most loving was Sunithi who was in charge of accomodations, seva (I could never say "no" when she asked), dinner and free market. There were maybe thirty indian inmates including the elder brahmacharis. There were no skyscrapers, only the temple and several little buildings. Amma gave darshan in her small overcrowded hut everyday and Devi Bhava Darshan on thursday and sunday.Read more ›
After I returned to the States, someone hacked a devotee's email in Hawaii whom they must have thought was a Gail/Gayatri loyalist (there's a real insider/outsider mentality here). The hacker warned about "the subtly poisonous" ideas in the August 16, 2012 Rolling Stone article, so, of course I Googled the article and read it. In the article, G confirmed my suspicions about the relatives' wealth--that Amma shifted funds to her family which were intended to serve the poor. [I doubt many would protest for the family to receive remuneration after the ashram took over the family property, but that doesn't warrant deception and alleged fraud.]
An old-time Amma devotee, Kusuma, came out with a book a few months later in part to deny the accusations. I was acquainted with this woman, and thought I might be able to speak frankly with her about my concerns. She seemed very intelligent, hard-working, and sincere. She said (by email) she would be happy to receive my letter which detailed my thoughts about G's Rolling Stone article--I was present for a lot of the happenings (Nirmalamrita's death, G's departure, etc.).Read more ›
I enjoyed the beginning where Gail talks about how she came to India and her time before meeting Amma (I wish she would have written more about her past). I was shocked to read about the violence and abuse she experienced, as well as others, while she was at the ashram. I was so happy when she finally got enough courage to escape. No one should have to suffer what she did, especially at the hands of a spiritual "guru". So many gurus in the past have preyed upon innocent, naive people. it is really sad. There are very, very few gurus who deserve that title. A true guru does not lead with violence and manipulation.
I was very disturbed by the abuse and the control and deception by Amma and some of her close devotees, but I am glad I read the book to open my eyes to what is really going on.
I have read all the "reviews" on this book and it is quite interesting that almost all of the 1 star reviews are not reviews at all.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Personally I have nothing against Amma & Gail. If Gail did not like Amma she could have walked away. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Five stars for bravery. Although i believe it is not ideal to out anyones character in a book. But what's done is done. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Shree
An eye opening expose of the amma cult. very sad and very moving. It shows the triumph of the human spirit over adversity.Published 4 months ago by Ameena
Written by Amma's cIose discipIe - Amma Devotees wiII not appreciate this!!! But, I beIieve some of it happened, certainIy. No one, not even Amma is a "saint", she's human.Published 6 months ago by james
I really wanted to like this book, but had to abandon it. It reads more like a made-up story than memoir, In other words, boring. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Nina
i honor and respect this brave woman for speaking out and telling the truth about the hell she went through. Read morePublished 7 months ago by brendan