BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: There is a much-admired spiritual guru in India who has gained international prominence for her practice of hugging people as a way to spread peace and compassion. She claims to have hugged millions of people around the world. She's called Amma, "the Hugging Saint." And she was in New York this week. Kim Lawton has more.
KIM LAWTON: Mata Amritanandamyahi, better known as Amma, says her life's mission is to promote world peace and harmony. This week, the Interfaith Center of New York honored her work in an award ceremony that also included Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and actor Richard Gere.
By her own count, the 52-year-old spiritual guru has hugged 25 million people over the course of 35 years. Why does she do it?
AMMA (Through Translator): Because to me it's like asking the river, "Why do you flow?" It's my nature. What I give people is like pure water -- pure water of love. And that purifies people. That awakens the motherhood in people. In India, motherly figures are highly respected. And even the scriptures say that "mother is God."
LAWTON: Amma says she was born a Hindu, but now practices all faiths. Along with the hugs, she tries to spread love through a vast humanitarian effort.