Some special content (mostly videos) for formal devotees is being placed on this site behind a password. Please send me a note on the Matrix and I will send it to you!
Some special content (mostly videos) for formal devotees is being placed on this site behind a password. Please send me a note on the Matrix and I will send it to you!
Do not indulge in vagueness, weakness, reactivity, or un-Happiness in My Company. I Am the Person of Love, Who has spontaneously taken on human form for the sake of this world of beings. I Am here to Be Love and to Do the Work of Love. Therefore, give Me your attention and feel My Regard.
Commune with the Person of Love in every moment. By this Means, always feel Love. Give Love, Receive Love. Be Love. This is the First Discipline, the Origin of the Way. (November 30, 1983)
In 2009 a painting of Swami Vivekananda was acquired that is quite exceptional and rare.
It was being offered on an Ebay auction. Before bidding on this painting, I needed to know if it was genuine.
What was remarkable about the painting is that it was written right on the painting, the following
sketch from life by
John Ward Dunsmore
Detroit, March 1894
and then below that to the Witer gemate
(It is hard to make out the exact spelling of this final word as something was written between the “r” and the “g” which is no longer there–more on this below)
I checked the Swami Vivekananda literature, and there was no mention of the painting. So there was no confirmation there. But what was exciting was that there was no oil painting that Swami Vivekananda ever sat for, that exists today. There is a pastel drawing that was done in 1899, at Ridgely Manor, New York, by Maud Stumm. And I have seen an account that Swami Vivekananda sat for a painting in London at one point. But I do not believe that the London painting still exists.
So getting back to the process of the Ebay auction., next it was checked where Swami Vivekananda was in 1894, knowing that early in the year he had been in Detroit.
Historical records show that Swami Vivekananda was in Detroit from February 14th to February 22, 1894, and then again from March 9 to March 19th, 1894. He was known to have given talks in the afternoons at private homes in Detroit and then to have lectured in the evenings. Then perhaps he was again in Detroit from March 24th through March 31st.
Marie Louise Burke feels that this time in Detroit was one of the most important of Swami Vivekananda’s American Mission, “almost equal in significance to that of the Parliament of Religions”.
So it was confirmed that Swami Vivekananda was in Detroit in March 1894.
Next, I moved my attention to the painter. It is special that the person who painted this portrait “from life” was the well-known painter John Ward Dunsmore . Photographs of his work were available on the internet, and I was able to compare the signature on the Swami Vivekananda portrait with another on a painting by John Ward Dunsmore. Although I am not a handwriting analysis expert, it certainly looked like the same person–the signature was almost identical.
Dunsmore was a late 19th/early 20th-century painter (1856-1945) best known for his realistic and historically accurate paintings. He was the founding director of the Detroit Art Museum and a member of the Sons of the Revolution. He lived and worked in Michigan, Massachusetts and France. The Fraunces Tavern Museum in New York City has a room dedicated to his rather famous paintings of the Revolutionary War.. And although I did not have a chronology of where he might have been in 1894, since he was from Detroit, it made sense that he would have been there in Detroit during Swami Vivekananda’s visit. Swami Vivekananda was gaining so much publicity at this time, literally all over the newspapers, that Mr. Dunsmore likely would have easily heard of him. John Ward Dunsmore would have been 38 at the time, some seven years older than Swami Vivekananda, who was 31 years of age in March, 1894.
So there was enough that fell into place for me to feel that this painting was genuine. Swami Vivekananda was known to have been in Detroit at that time, the painter was a well-known Detroit based painter, and the signature on the painting matched those of others of Dunsmore’s paintings.
I also want to add that the painting was in rough shape. It was obviously, from the pictures, covered with soot. It it had become detached on three sides from the original stretcher which was still there. It needed relining and cleaning etc. There were a number of old repairs and a small puncture hole in a background area. All of this made me feel more clearly that this was not a fake. Why would someone make a fake and have it be in such poor condition? It would not be worth while.
My excitement was really mounting as everything came together, and I got to work in earnest relative to the bidding process.
I called several friends, and they agreed to loan me some money should the auction go really high. I was prepared to bld a great deal should need be. I stayed in front of my computer on a Sunday morning excitedly watching the time tick by, When the auction finally ended I was able to win handily, for a reasonable price compared to what I felt the painting was worth.
After completing the auction and paying for the painting, I asked the seller, via the internet, to tell me anything else that he would, about how he came to own the painting. He did not choose to reply and so nothing further is known to me about this.
The painting measures 22 1/4 by 27 inches.
Soon after acquiring it, I corresponded about the painting with Swami Chetanananda, who from what I can tell, is the most well-respected and knowledgeable authority on Swami Vivekananda alive at the moment. I had spoken with him in the past when I had questions about Swami Vivekananda, while I was doing research for Bhagavan Adi Da. Swami And I was quite familiar with his body of writings and other words on Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda. Swami Chetanananda expressed his interest in this new discovery and mentioned that he would be in Sacramento soon to give a seminar. He wondered if I might be able to see him there. So on a Saturday morning I drove a little over two hours to the Sacramento Vedanta Society, taking the painting with me.
When Swami Chetanananda finally saw the painting he was extraordinarily moved. We held it up in front of him in the courtyard of the Sacramento Vedanta Society, and he stood up to view it. He did not want to stop looking at it. As he continued to stand and view the painting, tears welled up in the corners of his eyes. It became clear to me that he was having “Darshan” or the Sacred sighting of one of his Spiritual Masters. There are only 94 photographs of Swami Vivekananda in existence. And then there is that one pastel drawing of Swami Vivekananda done at Ridgely Manor. So here was another chance to see directly what Swami Vivekananda looked like. He physically sat for this portrait, likely on several occasions, and undoubtedly looked at it himself as it was being painted and then after it was completed. I told Swami Chetanananda that I was going to get the painting professionally restored and that it would likely bring out the image further. He was excited about this. He told me that when it was completed, he would like to see photographs of it. He also said that he would like to announce this new discovery by publishing an article about it in one of the Vedanta Society Publications.
I contacted the Fraunces Tavern Museum in New York City, and the curator and collections manager there, Suzanne Prabucki. She was very happy to send me a great deal of information about John Ward Dunsmore, which I will add to this post perhaps at a later date.
I have now had the painting restored by a fine painting restorer, Pauiine Mohr, a consumate professional. Pauline was recommended to me by Adi Da’s devotee Gawain Weaver. The restoration took a full year, but at last it is done. The painting was given to be restored just days after the Valley Fire. I told Pauline to take whatever time she needed to do the very best job. Here is a photograph that graphically shows how much difference Pauline has been able to make. This is a photograph showing just one half of the face cleaned, with the other still full of dirt and soot. The picture at the top of this post is the completed restoration.
Recently, I was able to solve to my satisfaction, the mystery of the inscription, “To the Witer gemote” that is written at the top. For a long time I felt that this was some family that it was being dedicated to. But research revealed that the term does not refer to a person but instead the “Witena gemote” is a term to refer to the “assembly of the wise” or I believe in its intention, to the gathered admirers and students of Swami Vivekananda.
On the painting there is a blank space between the “Witer” and “gemote” writing and I believe that before the “r” might have had a descending line and was originally a “n” and then there was an “a” t fill that blank space. So that originally it was written “Witena gemote”.
Alternatively, with 120 years passage of time, I think that writing “witer” instead of “witena” could just be a difference in the way that the same word is being spelled.
It is said that the terms ‘Witan’ and ‘Witenagemot’ are “increasingly avoided by modern historians, although few would go as far as Geoffrey Hindley, who described ‘witenagemot’ as an “essentially Victorian” coinage.”
The fact that it is described as a Victorian coinage is interesting, because this painting was painted and inscribed during Victorian times of course.
There is are many definitions of the term “Witena gemote”:
The Merriam-Webste dictionary defines it as “an Anglo-Saxon council made up of a varying number of nobles, prelates, and influential officials and convened from time to time to advise the king on administrative and judicial matters.”
The Free Dictionary on the Internet gives this definition: “A meeting of wise men; the national council, or legislature, of England in the days of the Anglo-Saxons, before the Norman Conquest.”
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. gives the following
witenagemot [Old Eng., = meeting of counselors], a session of the counselors (the witan) of a king in Anglo-Saxon England. Such a body existed in each of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. Composed of the higher churchmen, the earls, and other members of the nobility, it was aristocratic, and its membership at any one time was dependent upon the appointments of the ruling king or his immediate predecessors.
Here is the first part of the Wikipedia entry:
The Witenagemot Old English witena “meeting of wise men”), also known as the Witan (more properly the title of its members) was a political institution in Anglo-Saxon England which operated from before the 7th century until the 11th century. The Witenagemot was an assembly of the ruling class whose primary function was to advise the king and whose membership was composed of the most important noblemen in England, both ecclesiastic and secular.
It is also interesting that the term was used by some of those in the American Revolutonary period–“The “Saxon myth”, which claimed that the old Saxon Witan originated in a representative assembly of English landholders, before being subsequently disbanded by the Norman invaders before reappearing as the Parliament of England, found believers across the thirteen Colonies, by Americans including Thomas Jefferson and Jonathan Mayhew, in the years prior to the American Revolution.”
The painter, John Ward Dunsmore, later became most famous for his depictions of scenes of the American Revolution and so perhaps even at this time he was familiar with the use of the term.
Altogether I prefer a more general definition where the term simply means, “assembly of the wise” (“witena” has a French origin meaning “sage” or “advisor”; “gemote” means “assembly”). So I feel that he is just dedicating the painting to those gathered around Swami Vivekananda.
Now that the painting is restored, I believe that it will be a revelation to all who appreciate Swami Vivekananda. I am now looking to have it digitally scanned and to make some giclees for those in the Vedanta Society. I believe that this painting may take a place in many future publications about Swami Vivekananda, for quite simply, nothing like this exists elsewhere. It is showing an especially unique view into that magnetic personality who first brought authentic Indian spirituality to the West. For those of us in Adidam, Swami Vivekananda holds a special place, for he was Adi Da Samraj’s “Forerunner here. He prepared the world (and Himself) for My Avataric Divine Manifestation in the West. He is the Seed and Background of My Inherent Oneness with the East. He–or rather, His own Deeper and Spiritually and Transcendentally Awakened)Personality –has since become Reincarnated, Returned to bodily (human) life as the Deeper (or Internal, or subtle and causal) Personality (or the Central, and Greater, conditionally Manifested Vehicle) of My Avataric Divine Incarnation here (and in the entire cosmic domain).” (from Adi Da Samraj’s essay, “The Place of Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda in the Great Tradition, and Their Unique Function in Preparing the Vehicle of My Avataric Divine Incarnation”, appearing in The Knee of Listening, pg. 464-5)
A preliminary report:
Yesterday, November 5th, I visited Shri Upasani Kanyakumari Sthan in Sakori, Maharashtra. I had long wanted to see if more information could be retrieved regarding the prophecy in 1939 made by Upasani Baba, of an avatar appearing in a European (Western) country. This was reported by Shri S. Subbarao, in the book The Sage of Sakori which is the source of all the information we have had until now.
“In February 1939 Shri Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath, Himalayas, paid a visit to Sakuri. . He had long talks with Baba on the subject of Dharma (religion), the present chaotic condition of the Hindu Dharma, the need for reform, etc. and expressed his regret that holy men were helpless to advance its cause. Circumstances were such that only an Avatara will be capable of reestablishing Dharma in the world. This interesting talk of the Swamiji evoked a sympathetic response from Baba who burst out with a prophetic announcement of the future Incarnation and his work. (pg. 189-190)
… In this connection [it] may be mentioned Baba’s prophecy to Shri Shankarachara of Jyotir Math in February 1939; Baba declared that an incarnation will shortly manifest Himself on earth in a European country. He will be all powerful and bear down everything before him. He will see to it that Vedic Dharma is firmly re-established in India.” (pg. 202) Sage of Sakori: Life Story of Shree Upasani Maharaj
Unfortunately, Mr. Tipnis (who had been alive on my previous visit to this Ashram in the 1980s) who was a great scholar of Upasani Baba and has now passed away, is no longer alive. I had hoped to talk with him about this. Gracefully, I was able to speak with to the last living of the original twenty-four Kanyas, personally accepted into his circle by Upasani Baba. Sati Lilavati Upasani Baba was the final of these twenty-four original Kanyas, coming to be a Kanya in direct association with Upasani Baba only in the last of his life. Kanya Lilavani came to Upasani when she was 14 years of age in 1940. She had just recently celebrated her 92nd birthday.
We spoke with her in her room in the Kanya’s quarters in the Ashram. She is mostly deaf, but could receive questions via writing. She spoke only Marathi. Auspiciously, we had been directed to her niece, Paru Thakkar, who was visiting the Ashram from Thane near Mumbai. After speaking to her niece, her niece talked to Kanya Lilavani, who expressed that she was excited to talk about this matter. This interview was filmed. I was traveling with Nitin Hopatrao from Ganeshpuri who served as a translator for the meeting from Marathi to English and vice versa.
When Kanya Lilavati was asked for any information she might have about this prophecy by Upasani Baba, she first said, “this definitely happened, He made that statement.” This statement was made in 1939, and she came only to be with Upasani Baba in 1940, so she was not there on this occasion. But she said that it was talked about very strongly by Godavari Mataji, the Spiritual successor of Upasani Baba, and head of the Ashram after Upasani Baba’s lifetime. She said that Godavari Mataji wanted all of the Kanyadana Kumaris to remember this prediction, and it was considered a very important matter, not something that was just casually said and then forgotten. She said that it was something that was an essential part of the understanding of all of the Kanyas.
She also said that Upasani Baba himself said that he would be reborn in the United States specifically. “because the people who live there cannot readily come to India to receive the Hindu teaching/Dharma such as the Bhagavad-Gita, I need to go there.” Whereas the original prediction made to the Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath, just specifically mentioned a European country, this further prediction of Upasani Baba’s own rebirth specifically was relative to the United States. Lilavati said that no particular region of the United States, or any state within the fifty states was mentioned, but the country of the United States was explicitly indicated. I have not seen this in any of the English literature on Upasani Baba.
Sati Kanya Lilavati Upasani Maharaj said that this was common knowledge among the Kanyadana Kumaris around Upasani Baba. She said that hearing that Adi Da had been born in 1939, nine months after Upasani Baba’s prophecy, made her very happy. She said this was definitely “all of the same thing.” And the fulfillment of the prophecy. She said that the Siddhas were all one and that Adi Da and Upasani Baba were in her understanding the same. She was so pleased to hear about Adi Da, and asked to keep His picture and put it next to Godavari Mataji’s in her room. She also happily received a packet of Sacred Ash, or udi from The Mountain of Attention Sanctuary, with Adi Da’s picture on the front. (It can be seen in the picture above, in which Kanya Lilavani is reaching into a container to give Prasad in return.)
It was a sweet interview and felt important.
I would like to say something here based on my training by Bhagavan Adi Da relative to the past life associations of His Deeper Personality. Bhagavan Adi Da made it clear to me, that these matters are not about one ego and another ego, or any linear process. And that there could be multiple entities involved. So my own speculation as one continuation of the ideas from this interview, is that after Upasani Baba’s passing in 1941, some aspect of his deeper personality vehicle could have become associated with that of Adi Da Samraj. I am not wishing to put too fine a point on this. It is something to continue to research and consider. But I have over the years, in doing a great deal of study of the life and personality of Upasani Baba, seen so many similarities of character and connection to our Beloved Bhagavan, that such an association feels natural and auspicious as another past life association with Bhagavan Adi Da’s Deeper Personality vehicle. This had been considered previously with Bhagavan Adi Da when He had asked for a consideration of what associations might have been there between July 4, 1902 (the date of Swami Vivekananda’s Mahasamadhi) and November 3, 1939 (the date of Adi Da’s own Birth). Of course at that time we did not know about Upasani Baba’s own prophecy of his own reincarnation in the United States.
OM SRI PARAMA SAPTA-NA ADI DA LOVE-ANANDA HRIDAYAM
Da Guru Purnima Invocation, 2017, read in Land Bridge Pavilion, July 9
–To Beloved Bhagavan Adi Da, the Divine and Absolute Person of Love, we bow down
–To He Who has loved us and held us tight, and Who has straightened and purified us with His Fierce Sword of compassion, burning the brush of our egoity, and Who drives us deeper than our bodies and minds in His State of Silent Radiant Bliss, to that Divine Person, we bow down
–To He Who has endured our falsity, ordinariness, our disrespect and immaturity with a Staying Power and sense of humor unmatched by any Adept in history, to that Wounded Lover of Humankind, the only One Who Stood up for everyone, we bow down
–To He Whose Ecstasy and Divine Self-Confession brought the Living God Present before our eyes. To He who Proclaimed that laughter is the only Suitable Mantra, whose very Name is that Giving, DA, that is the Radiant Prasad that is the Source of the universe, to that World-Friend, we bow down
–To All of the God-Realized Baptizers and World Teachers of Humankind, we bow down
–To Robert the Cat, Swami Rudrananda, Swami Muktananda, Swami Prakashananda, the Divine
Nityananda, Sri Rang Avadhoot, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi and other Awakened servants of our Divine Guru Adi Da Samraj, we bow down
–To all heart-broken devotees and true worshippers of the One God in all His or Her Forms, we bow down
–To all suffering in this place of darkness and confusion, subject to natural fires and cyclones and natural disasters, and human intolerance and hurtful divisiveness, fundamentalism and cultism and gross materialism, we bow down in love and empathy and blessing,
–Surrendered at the Heart Place, all Beings in all worlds pray to the Infinite and Unknowable Grace of the Eternal Divine Person
–Immersed in the Infinite All-Pervading Force Field of Divine Life, free of fear, open-eyed, God-Confessed and surrendered, having bowed down through the Grace of the Divine Guru, we enter into relationship with the Heart Supreme.
–Oh Beloved Da, skilled in Discrimination, endowed with Compassion, Supreme Teacher, Bright-Heart—to that Realized One, the Master of our body-minds, we bring our attention
[below not read on Sunday this year]
Let us rejoice in the good company of one another, in the Sacred Ashram, and the Dharma of our Master Supreme
April 16, 1995
Frans van den Bossche: Presently your principle relative to Murtis is that they should be “present time”. After your Mahasamadhi, would we use just the Murtis of Your last days, or could we also use Murtis that …..
Beloved Bhagavan Adi Da: (cutting off Frans mid-sentence) You’ll use all the Murtis. They will all be useful. They are all Me. They are all forms of My Sign and Manifestation. (pause) Oh perhaps in some sense you could say the Murtis of the last days may have some primacy in some sense. But in general not.
They are all Me, the same in all those forms, all of those times, all of those appearances. So you can use them all.
A friend sent this Note this morning in response to the previous post on rudrakshas
What really bothered me at times, and still does a little, is that ADIDAM is the way of Being Already Happy. And so when I read Adi Da being made happy by a gift, such as the beads, it disturbs me, for He is Already Happy.
In saying that I understand that Reality Itself is the Condition that isn’t conditionally happy, but is Already Happy, Already the Case. But I still get disturbed!
How does one explain this to others? Being Already Happy but also being made happy by an event?
In response to this question which I think that we all would naturally have, here is a beautiful quote from a talk by Bhagavan Adi Da given in 1985
“In the case of full Awakening in the seventh stage of life there is perpetual Samadhi, but it is not a trance samadhi. The Samadhi does not involve, in its ordinary moments, dissociation from conditional phenomena. Conditional phenomena are allowed. They became the circumstance of the Samadhi. There is no dissociation from them. They are Divinely Recognized. They are perceived in the ordinary fashion. Even many extraordinary things, subtler phenomena, may be perceived, but so are ordinary phenomena. Thus, the capacity to experience anything in the conditional world remains. Whatever is natural to the body can still be experienced. Even so, there is still full Identification with the Divine Condition.
There is no bondage involved in these perceptions of continued experience, not even in the fullest expression of them. I have been free to Teach, experiencing everything ordinary, giving all kinds of emotional signs, participating with you fully, not feeling obliged to keep a distance in order to maintain the Bliss of My Realization. I can maintain or allow association with any kind of conditional event. I can remain sensitive to the situation of individuals, to their natural state, as well as to the natural state of this body. I can remain sensitive to all of this because it has no binding power. I need not dissociate, I need not contract.
It is troublesome to Me to be having dinner with others and be fully sensitive to their life, their nature, their situation, and at the same time feel the inevitable sorrowfulness of all this passing, to feel what this moment of enjoyment, of being together, really contains and implies. That emotion is no different from My expressing great sorrow relative to mankind altogether, as some of you have observed Me to do, with tears. It is the same kind of moment, you see. Now, is that a sign of un-Enlightenment, or of insufficient detachment?
Immunization is part of the purpose of the ego. Immunity is “Narcissus”. Neither the Spiritual practitioner nor the Master of devotees is immunized against conditional existence. There is no immunity in Realization.
The birth of Divine Agents takes place in conditional terms. It is a sacrifice. It is the assumption of suffering. It is the assumption of the vehicle of suffering, in order to participate in that vehicle for the sake of those who are already in it. It requires an endurance greater than that of the usual individual, who, being the ego, is functioning as “Narcissus”, and who in fact does not immunize himself or herself against the realities of conditional existence.
If you study the traditions of those who functioned as Masters in one stage of life or another, you will see that they exhibited extraordinary emotions–extraordinary sorrowfulness at times, extraordinary anger, extraordinary love. All the natural signs were present. Even Jesus, who has become a rather popularized idealized image, is shown exhibiting anger and sorrow, even fear of a kind on the cross, yet he is worshipped by millions of people as the Incarnation of the Divine, as a true Spiritual Master. Sai Baba of Shirdi is one example of somebody who indulged in incredible rages. In one moment he would be very loving and calm, and in the next moment he would be outraged, throwing things at somebody, or cursing somebody who was not present. Everybody would wonder what he was so angry about, because there seemed to be no reason for it.
Where does this ideal of dissociation from life come from, then? Popular religion, rather than the religion of Realization, is associated with behavior change and personal perfection, and, therefore, the models of Spiritual life are not Masters. The models of Spiritual life tend to be Saints who reportedly were pure characters, and who can be promoted in popular religion as models of what ordinary people are called to do, which is to become ideal social personalities. But if you study the tradition of Realization, and the true Masters in that tradition, you do not see people functioning exclusively in that saintly sense. They all had different characteristics, but they were very intense characters who exhibited signs of great emotion, even raised up many degrees. It is characteristic of such Masters to exhibit these passions in an extraordinary fashion.
I have no purpose in being alive except for the sake of this Wisdom-Teaching and this Transmission. Naturally then, I can display all kinds of emotions. True, they do not bind Me, and they do not cause Me to lose my Realization. It is part of My Work to emote and respond as I do. It affects you. It serves you. I could, indeed, if I felt inclined to it and felt the time was right for it, drop out–and I do not simply mean going and living in a cell. I mean that I could, in fact, achieve a steadiness of disposition in which I was not responsive, not bothered by anything, and I had no personal requirements. I could do whatever was necessary to be absolutely untouched by conditional events, but as I have said, I did not come here to fulfill my karmas. I came here to do this Work for others.
I need not enter into such an apparently immunized state for My sake. When My Work is completely done, this body will simply drop off. It is here only for the sake of this Work. Therefore, why should I be obliged to become, in effect, unaware of the world when I intentionally came here only to Incarnate?
Look at My experience in all these years of Teaching. It has been a passionate, humorous, altogether energetic, but profoundly difficult and terrible ordeal for Me, fully felt as such. I have committed My Self to it, lived it out with great energy, not withdrawn from it. You can understand My Teaching Work if you understand your egoic self and being to relate to Me rightly. You can also understand it by examining the traditions of the real Spiritual Process and by discovering how Masters really look, by discovering that they do not correspond to the egoic ideal of popular sainthood. The Way of the Heart is not a search for idealistic perfection. It is a real confrontation with reality–with conditional reality and the Divine Reality. It is an ordeal, not a progressively smiling, easeful, comfortable, middle-class existence consoled by belief.
The Master, too, is in some sense ordinary. I live as a human being, and I suffer everything that implies. I am not immunized against My humanity at all. In fact, I have far less of anything even like immunity than you all do. You, in some sense, have the capacity to feel comfortable in the circumstances of this life. I never feel comfortable in the circumstances of this life. Never. Not even in moments of pleasure and light-heartedness. I never lose the edge of intense awareness of death and limitation. Absolutely never. Life has not the slightest bit of consoling power for Me. (November 14, 1985)
Adi Da loved rudraksha beads.
It was one of the great pleasures of my relationship with Him, that I was able to provide Him with many rudraksha items.
Once Beloved Bhagavan Adi Da told me that He was a “sucker for rudraksha beads”. They were an item in conditional nature that was congenial to His Pattern.
Rudraksha beads are understood to “hold” Spiritual energy, when it is placed in them. Everything does this to some extent, but rudraksha beads are said to do this in a special way.
Adi Da had given Swami Muktananda a mala of rudraksha beads at least twice to my knowledge. Once when He saw Swami Muktananda in Los Angeles on his 1970 first visit to the United States. And then again when Adi Da visited Swami Muktananda at his Ashram in Ganeshpuri in August, 1973.
I did not know this, at the time when I gave Bhagavan Adi Da the first gift of a rudraksha mala from me in 1974. But the fact that Adi Da had given rudrakshas as a gift from Himself to His own Teachers, later impressed me as something that would therefore be appropriate to give to Him. As I say, I had no idea of this when I gave Adi Da my first gift of a rudraksha mala. It would have been in spring of 1974, during the Garbage and the Goddess period.
A man came into the Dawn Horse Bookstore who was named Narayan. He was a devotee of Anandamayi Ma. He was a Westerner, who lived in the Sierra foothills and was visiting the bookstore. Very sweet, soft-spoken man. Tall and thin with beard and long hair. Hippie/spiritual clothes.
Up until the Valley Fire, I had a complete record of all of the rudraksha Notes from Bhagavan Adi Da, and even a yellow page writing of Bhagavan regarding a selection Adi Da was making from some beads, as well as records of all of the purchases. I would have been able to tell exact dates for this history. But alas all of that has gone. The sorrow of it all has had me delaying the writing of this post for a long time. The pages of what I write here would be doubled, tripled or more. This is from my memory.
In the early years, all of us who were intimate with Beloved Bhagavan Adi Da gave Him a personal gift on every major celebration. Of course Adi Da’s Household and closer serving staff continued this throughout His Life, but as many of us were not in the midst of such an intimate daily relationship this practice discontinued for most devotees. Bhagavan also fairly early on said that He was receiving too many random gifts from devotees that really were not the kinds of things that He would like to receive. And so He encouraged us to give “group gifts”, particularly of things that were selected by Him or those who knew what He Liked, so that He could use the resources of gifting to develop things in His Own Environments that He most Appreciated. This has now become the worldwide gifting process, where every major celebration a gift is given to Bhagavan from the worldwide community. But in the early years, the affair was much more spontaneous and direct.
I got into a pattern by the mid-1970s of giving Beloved Bhagavan Adi Da rudraksha malas on every major celebration. He Appreciated them so much and let me know that. And He also was not getting them from any other source. He apparently had an unlimited “requirement” for them, since He would place them around the art in His Own Environments. He would also occasionally wear them. And He would keep them in a stash to offer to His devotees. A gift of a rudraksha mala from one’s Guru is right up there as one of the best things one could possibly receive.
There were of course many different varieties and sizes of rudraksha, and so I could vary the gifts just with that. But over time, what I took to doing often was making creative pendants and ornaments to hang down below the Master bead of malas. I got Sacred Adidam artisans to help me with this. My intimate for many years, Aileen Spadola, was a jeweler, and so she often helped me. One of the special malas we had was the re-creation of the logos for what was called the Adi Chakra Mandala. It has a crescent moon on its side with a red bindu atop. This was re-created with ivory and a cornelian (also spelled carnelian) stone, and was a mala that Bhagavan Adi Da wore on many occasions. It was mixture of rudraksha beads which are associated with Siva or the masculine and crystal beads which are association with the Goddess or the female. He wore this mala on the occasion of the empowerment of Padavara Loka in late 1993. There was another favorite creation like this in which Jeff Polson, another gifted Sacred jeweler, helped to create an ebony “lingam” shaped receptacle which was placed below the rudraksha master bead. The ebony lingam was hollow with a small hole on the top, and inside it was filled with Sacred elements from the empowerment of all of the Holy Sites at the Mountain of Attention.
Devotees’ Use of Rudraksha Malas
It was not until 1978 that Beloved Bhagavan Adi Da recommended that devotees should each own and use a personal mala. This was a sign of our development as a devotional culture. In earlier years He had criticized the ritual and formalized use of malas. He had rather famously declared in The Method of the Siddhas, “I would rather beat you with a stick than give you a mantra.” But by this point in the summer of 1978, Bhagavan Adi Da had recommended that we use each a mala to repeat the prayer of remembrance, “Radiant God, have Mercy”. This was, of course, even prior to the revelation of Bhagavan Adi Da’s Sacred Name “Da”. (The prayer would later become “Radiant Da, Have Mercy”, or later simply simple Name invocation via the name “Da”.)
The announcement of the Prayer of Remembrance or the use of the Mala was made at Talking God Seminary in Clearlake Highlands (now simply Clearlake). Bhagavan Adi Da was at that time in Kauai. I heard about it ahead of time, so that I could acquire malas for everyone’s use. Bhagavan recommended rudraksha malas to every devotee as the best bead for their use–He would say, “the rosary or mala of rudraksha beads is most highly recommended; sandalwood beads are also very good. The material which the rosary is made should be natural and porous (such as wood) and able to absorb the oils of the body, which are natural conductors of energy. Materials such as stone and bone should generally not be used. After you purchase your mala, it may be given [to Me]…to be blessed. …It is recommended that you acquire a new rosary or mala, not one that was previously used by others, and that therefore carry accumulations or associations that are not your own or related to your own practice.” (pg. 79 fn in Bodily Worship of the Living God). In July, 1979, Bhagavan said that old malas that have been used by others, or Tibetan traditional mals used by others, are not apprpriate and not auspcious. He said it is okay to have such old malas to hang on pictures, but for devotional practice, you should purchase a new mala for your own use. He also said that malas should have no counters on them. He said it is also good for the mala to be out of a material that absorbs body heat (which stone and polished material does not). He also made a point that there should be no skulls or symbols on the mala or Master bead which is sometimes there with Tibetan beads. On June, 15, 1986, Da Love-Ananda passed on a Note that rudraksha beads should not be mixed with any kind of spacer beads, unless there was something especially designed by devotee artisans for this purpose. In general Bhagavan said that “rudraksha does not look good with anything but knots or silver or gold-linking between.”
After the formal announcement and instruction from Bhagavan about the prayer of remembrance at Talking God Seminar, I sat downstairs and sold devotees tulsi bead malas. They are so inexpensive, that I was able to provide each devotee with a 108 tulsi bead each with a small master bead, for just $2. I had a small number of rudraksha malas, but because they are so expensive, I did not expect to sell many to the devotees except over time. And over time I have sold hundreds upon hundreds of rudraksha malas to devotees as it became time for them to invest in a permanent mala.
Bhagavan Adi Da also recommended that each mala have, in the words from “The God of the Whole Body” magazine of the summer of 1979, a “larger or central ‘Master’ bead (which bead is used to honor the Divine Person in the Spiritual Master)”. By 1980 this language had become, “which bead is used used to honor the Spiritual Teacher and to express gratitude for the Teaching and the practice”.
The most current published version of the Dawn Horse Testament states, “the Master-Bead On The Mala, Together With The (Typically, photographic) Image Of My Avatarically-Born Bodily (Human) Divine Form In the Pendant Hanging Below The Master-Bead, Is My Characteristic physical Representation–To Be Regarded (At Random) In the Relatively Informal circumstances Of daily life (and In Mala Japa–Whether In Formal Circumstances Or Relatively Informal circumstances). pg. 826
I encourage you to read the passage from page 825-829 about mala japa. The passage is extraordinarily beautiful and ecstatic. Adi Da comments that Mala Japa is an extension to the Sacramental “Attitude” to “Live By My Avatarically Self-Transmitted Divine Grace, and (In Due Course, More and More) In The State Of My Avatarically Self-Transmitted Divine Spiritual Grace (Which Is To Be Free of self-Contraction, and To Be In Constant Communion With Me. . .” pg 828 The Dawn Horse Testament.
So devotees use and wear malas, or are intended to do so. There was some confusion about whether malas are still to be used. The answer is YES. They are still to be worn, and simple Name invocation can always be done using the mala in devotional practice.
As I mentioned, in the early years, from 1974 through to 1980 I purchased rudraksha beads from my friend Narayan, the devotee of Anandamayi Ma mentioned above in this post. In 1980, going to India, I asked Narayan if I could go and contact the person from whom he was getting the malas. This meant that Narayan would no longer be getting my business, but he felt that he had profited from my business for a long time and he graciously gave me the address of G. D. Gupta in Hardwar. Gupta is from a family that has been dealing in rudrakshas for several generations. His father was a rudraksha dealer and his father’s father. I was told early on, that there were two principal rudraksha dealer families in Hardwar and his was one of them.
And so in 1980 I visited Gupta in Hardwar at his shop. We became instant friends. And we spent two days together and from that time until the present Gupta has been my dear friend. He came for Darshan of Bhagavan Adi Da at the Mountain of Attention. He was in the early days a devotee of Anandamayi Ma and went mostly by the name Hanumanji, which she had given to him. (He took me by scooter one night to her Ashram in Khankal, where her mahasamadhi site is now located. We were in search of her, but she was not there at that time.) Later he became a devotee of the Advaita teacher Swami Dayananda.
The singularly special rudraksha bead is the one-faced beads. The scriptures say that they are to be owned only by “kings and Siddha purushas”. All sorts of Spiritual, magical, and occult powers are assigned to them. Gupta told me long back that about five genuine one-faced beads are typically available each year. And in recent years he has said that even less have been available. The lore about rudrakshas is rich and varied and I acquired as much knowledge about them as possible. At this point there are several books about rudrakshas in English, some which Bhagavan Adi Da has put on The Basket of Tolerance, and of course we have the information on the internet. But in the early days this information was hard to come by and precious to me, because I used it to inform Bhagavan Adi Da about the beads. There were some descriptions in the puranas, that was translated into English.
The aspect of rudraksha beads that is faces or “mukhi”s can be best be understood if you think of an orange fruit. When you have pealed off the skin of the orange, there are various sections of the fruit, each with seeds inside. Rudraksha beads are similar. Typically there are five sections to each bead, like if an orange had five sections to it. These are very strongly fused together. And often there are six faces or sections instead of five. But other numbers of faces are mutants of the standard five-faced bead. And each different number of faces is given a special Spiritual significance described in the various puranas or lore-books of Hinduism.
Now before I go further, I must give a little background on the biology of rudrakshas. They are the Eleocarpus family. The ones I have seen are a large tree, some forty to fifty feet in height. And there are 350 species of them. Two of them are the ones that are Sacredly used in India and within Adidam. The ones with the larger beads now are native to Northern India and Nepal in the Himalayan foothills, Hardwar and Kathmandu are the two centers of the trade. These are larger beads. The smaller beads that are used for malas, are actually from Indonesia and primarily Malaysia. They are called Indonesian beads, but mostly come from Malaysia.
Even though they are used by Hindus all over the world, and primarily in India, no longer is the climate in India conducive to the growing of these beads. These smaller beads are imported into India from Malaysia. So there are the mutant beads with many faces both in the species of the larger Himalayan or Nepalese beads, and also in the smaller Indonesian species. But the one-faced and multi-faced beads that are most valued are from the Nepalese species. These are round beads. There is also a third variety, that is more common from South India, that produces “one-faced beads”. There is one of these beads that Bhagavan Adi Da can often been seen wearing, that is crescent-moon shaped.
One name by which this kind of bead is known is “Rameshwaram” beads. (Rameshwaram is the name of a place in South India where these beads have originated.) But as mentioned above, it is the “round” one-faced beads that are most revered and extraordinarily rare and valued.
It was in the late 1970s that I first acquired a one-faced bead for Bhagavan Adi Da from Narayan. I believe the price for one of them at that point was $170. That was, of course, a lot of money at that time. This was given to Bhagavan Adi Da and He was told the lore about the one-faced beads. He really Appreciated it. He wanted more. So I acquired a few more of the one-faced beads over time. The price was such that they were a good price for sponsorship by one of the regional communities. In other words, Bhagavan could receive a one-faced bead with the sponsorship of the Washington, D.C. region. Pretty early on, when Bhagavan had only about five or so of the one-faced beads, He asked if we could get for Him and entire mala of 108 one-faced beads. I remember receiving these Notes and laughing. It was a rather preposterous request. First of all, the beads just plain are not available in such a quantity. When I told Gupta about this request, He said that it would just be impossible to fulfill this in a single lifetime. Too hard to get the beads, period. Just not available. Next is the cost, even if the beads had been available. Every few months the price for a one-faced rudraksha was going up. Quickly over the early 1980s the price rose to $300 and then $400 and then $500 for each bead. (Presently genuine one-faced beads of good size and best quality have an average cost of $5,000.00) They were becoming well-known even in the 1980s. One of the individuals who was buying up one-faced rudrakshas was the magician Doug Henning. Doug was associated with the Transcendental Meditation or TM movement and rudrakshas were well-known in that community. In fact, the TM community was the largest purchaser of rudraksha malas at that time. When a one-faced bead would become available, I was often told by Gupta that I was competing with Doug Henning for the bead, and that he would pay more for each bead than Gupta was getting from me for the beads. But Gupta understood that a Divine Realizer receiving the beads was more auspicious than a Spiritually-minded magician. He knew that it was auspicious for him to be providing the beads to Bhagavan Adi Da than to be providing them to Doug Henning or any ordinary person. The understanding is that the beads had tremendous special potency to them and therefore could add to the energy or “manna” or force of an individual. One of the Puranas, as was quoted in an article on rudrakshas published in an early issue of Yoga magazine from the Bihar School of Yoga states that it is not proper for an ordinary person to even own one of these, but they should be given or presented to royalty and the Realizers.
As He began to acquire a number of one-faced beads, Bhagavan Adi Da had them strung together on a mala that He would wear around His Neck along with other ordinary beads to fill out the mala. He gave Notes for this to be done on July 26, 1982. He had been waiting until there were 10 beds before something was done with them. His idea was that a Cosmic Mandala medallion should be designed as the central piece. He suggested a gold square, and then in the center of that a blue stone. I have in my files the size of the opal stone that was used, which was 13.85ct at a price of $900. Bhagavan Himself arranged the order for each of the ten beads, five each to go on the opposite sides of the Cosmic Mandala logos. At first Bhagavan Adi Da said that this would be fine to be up high around the throat notch, the jugular. But then as it got bigger the mala fell lower and lower.
He really appreciated them and wore them at particularly auspicious occasions. When He would receive a group of new ones, then Bhagavan would have the mala restrung with the new beads. There were spacer beads that Bhagavan recommended to extend the size of the mala so that it could fit around His Neck. At one point, Jeff Polson did a lost-wax casting of a smallish, around 6.0mm, rudraksha bead. And we cast these out of gold, so that the spacers on the one-faced rudrakshas could be gold rudrakshas. At that point a rudraksha bead cast out of gold was less expensive than the one-faced rudraksha bead itself. So it is true to say that the one-faced rudrakshas were worth more than their weight in gold.
In pictures of Adi Da from these years, 1982 through to 1985, you see Him wearing the one-faced rudraksha mala on Sacred occasions,the mala itself can be seen changing and growing as it more beads are added to it.
Bhagavan would be incredibly pleased every time He received a new one-faced bead. And if on a major celebration we could give Him two or three then He would be even more happy. He would ask if there were more being planned for very soon sometimes, so that He would know if He should now have the mala re-strung, or if He should wait until the additional beads arrived and then have them re-strung as a group.
There was one special set of one-faced beads that formed a mala in and of itself. This was a set of three Om beads that were brought as a gift for Bhagavan Adi Da when I went down on retreat just after Naitauba Island was acquired in 1983. Any unique, naturally different, or mutant rudraksha bead is given special attention in the world of those who revere rudraksha beads. I was once sitting in a shop with a rudraksha dealer in Kathmandu and we started talking about amazing rudrakshas. After trading stories about rudrakshas, the rudraksha dealer finally went into the back and brought out a special rudraksha bead to show me. He carefully opened up its special case, and pulled out and very reverently showed me a rudraksha bead that was shaped like the head and bill of a duck. Of course I could not laugh outwardly, but inside I was totally amused and tickled that here we were, two grown men, admiring a duck-like mutant bead, as if it were a Divinely given Sacred object.
So Gupta had told me that among rudraksha beads, there is a special kind, that are called Om beads, that have the Sanskrit symbol of OM naturally evident and visible among the formations of the bead. It is true that when you begin to really look closely at one-faced rudraksha beads, they are amazing. There are lots of holes and twirls and bridge formations–all sorts of amazing things.
Rudraksha beads are seeds as has been mentioned, and there is an outer shell. And then there is a layer of vegetative matter that surrounds the bead itself, that is best cleaned before the beads are used. This is particularly the case with the larger or Nepalese or Himalayan beads. Even a mala of ordinary Nepalese beads should be cleaned. The typical size for a Nepalese rudraksha mala is about 18mm. And it takes a half hour to clean a rudraksha bead. They are best cleaned with a wet denture brush and then for very fine cleaning, with a sewing needle. There should be very bright light, so that the smallest particles of vegetative debris can be seen and then removed. It is a wonderful activity when there is a 108-bead mala to be cleaned for a group to sit around a table with brushes and needles and lights to clean a mala. The devotional energy that is put into cleaning the mala is retained in the beads themselves.
Returning to the OM beads, these beads are ones that show, among the formations and holes and peaks and valleys of the beads, actually have the OM symbol shown. When they were given to me, there was a piece of white masking tape put over the place on the bead when the OM symbol appeared, so that I could locate it.
So I brought three of these beads with me to Naitauba and gave them to Bhagavan Adi Da while He was sitting on the porch of Avadhoota Mandir soon after I arrived. I explained what they were to Him and He happily and fully received them. And He decided that these were special in and of themselves, and so they should not go on the mala with the other one-faced rudraksha beads. But they should be their own necklace or Sacred mala, just for them. Bhagavan Adi Da asked me to work on a design for this Om-bead necklace. I did this with Jeff Polson and showed the designs to Bhagavan Adi Da. He eventually approved the drawings for the Om-bead necklace. On the night in December, 1983, Bhagavan returned the three Om beads to me in a pouch while we were sitting in the bedroom of what was then called Aham Sphurana, now known as Da Asvamedhanath Bhagavan, Bhagavan Adi Da’s residence in the Village at that time.
I had earlier on that visit talked to Bhagavan about Master beads. The typical Indian rudraksha mala in India is strung with a Master bead that is the same size or just a little bit larger than the other beads on the mala. I was used to seeing these. The malas that we had in Adidam had small beads, from 6.0mm to 7.5mm, but the Master bead was generally quite big–perhaps 15mm or more. This looked rather unusual to me and I wondered about it in terms of pure look for aesthetic reasons. So I asked about Adi Da about this on this retreat in 1983 at Naitauba. His response was that He in fact preferred and recommended the very large Master beads. “It’s Me!” He responded, “I like it big.” So that question was completely answered. I tell this as background for Bhagavan Adi Da giving me back the three Om-beads in a pouch that night at Aham Sphurana. As the pouch was brought in from Bhagavan’s Office by an attendant and being passed to me where I was sitting on Bhagavan’s left, Bhagavan said, “I also put a Master bead in that pouch for you. A BIG one.” And then He laughed with a big smile on His Face.
On this matter of the Master bead, Bhagavan Adi Da gave these Notes on November 7, 2004. He was oiling rudraksha malas of devotees, which was a special form of Blessing of devotees’ practice and use of their mala, and noticed that some of the malas had smallish Master beads. He said these words:
Devotees should be told the relative importance, the elements of the rudraksha mala, and what to put on what side, what’s appropriate to put on, and what isn’t altogether, in terms of the other things they hang on them.
What kind of master bead size is appropriate.
Nothing particularly was intended about [the size of the master bead ( on this mala which He was oiling)] in this case. But it is relatively speaking a bit small.
It doesn’t have to be huge, but it should be a particularly, optimally anyway, whatever people have in terms of funds for it, optimally it should be of unique quality. Something unique in terms of numbers of faces [generally Bhagavan recommended a 9-faced bead, associated with the Goddess], and perhaps a Gauri-shankar type. So it should be a particularly fine bead, plus have some prominence of size that’s a bit larger in scale over against the other beads.
So that should be discussed with them when they have a mala prepared, when they acquire it. They might not particularly have any notion otherwise, because they do hang a medallion below it, which is large enough. So maybe they didn’t know that.
But I often see a master bead that’s a rather common one and relatively small.
Devotees’ rudrkasha malas
Since I talked above about the size and quality of the Master bead, I think that this might be a good place to add some comments about Adi Da’s Guidance and Instruction relative to malas altogether. Around 1980, Bhagavan Adi Da asked me to show Him all sizes of rudraksha malas so that He could evaluate what He would recommend for devotees use. And so I gave Him every size of mala that I had. He gave Notes after this that His recommendation for the size of a mala for devotees’ use would be a mala between 6.0mm in diameter to 7.5mm in diameter. This measurement is the size of the bead measuring from one side of the hole in the bead to the other size–the diameter measure from hole opening to hole opening. Having now provided hundreds of rudraksha malas to devotees, I can say that generally people prefer the 6.5mm or the 6.0mm. When choosing the size of a rudraksha mala, two things are of particular importance. First, and most important, I ask the devotee purchasing the mala to close their eyes and to run the mala through their fingers, bead by bead, invoking Bhagavan by name, pulling one bead after another. What size is best for this. That depends a lot on the size of the devotees’ hands and fingers themselves, but also how someone will pull and hold the beads in their fingers. So this is the most important determiner in what size to choose. Secondarily, and this is particularly something that is important for women I have found, although sometimes also to men, is where does the mala fall on one’s chest. A smaller mala will not come down as far on the chest and this might be more or less comfortable for daily use. Bhagavan wanted the rudraksha malas to be knotted, and how tightly or loosely the mala is knotted will also change the length of the mala. I have found that some larger men will prefer the larger sizes, namely the 7.0mm and the 7.5mm. I know one very large person who uses an 18mm murti mala for their japa, because he has gigantic hands. But this is very exceptional. As I say, most devotees prefer the 6.0mm and 6.5 mala, with a little more preference for a 6.5mm. If someone were going to acquire a rudraskha mala without any ability to determine size, I would generally just recommend their getting a 6.5mm mala, as it is the most appropriate size in general, with the 6.0 generally for smaller people, and a little more refined. Now there is no prohibition on using an even smaller mala, such as 5.5 or 5.0mm. And there are some very small people who have wanted these, and some ladies who prefer where the mala falls on their chest. The size of the beads get more expensive the smaller they get. A mala of 10mm is not very expensive, and the 7.5mm beads are less expensive than the 7.0mm, and the 7.0 is less expensive than the 6.5mm and so forth.
Bhagavan in general also did not recommend spacer beads for a mala for everyday use, as these might interfere with the process of mala japa or pulling the beads.
Another thing that Adi Da was very clear about, is that He preferred the very best quality of rudraksha. These carry or hold the Spiritual Force the best. The malas that are used for personal use are all of the Indonesian variety. They are, of course, naturally occurring seeds of the rudraksha plant, and not machine made. So they naturally are all different. A rudraksha dealer will take the beads and prepare the mala. The best malas are perfectly matched so that each bead looks almost identical. A poorer quality matched mala will have beads of various sizes that although pretty close, are not as perfectly matched. And then even among the various kinds of Indonesian beads, one can get smooth or chikna beads, or rough or ravidar beads. Bhagavan Adi Da preferred the smoother beads. These are more expensive, but they were definitely what Bhagavan Adi Da recommended. He said that if a devotee could not afford a rudraksha mala, then some other kind of mala could be used, until there was sufficient funding to eventually acquire a rudraksha mala. In the meantime Bhagavan Adi Da most highly recommended using a sandalwood mala temporarily. He would Bless only malas which He Appreciated and felt were appropriate. And a sandalwood mala, for someone who could not afford a rudraksha mala, was an appropriate choice. Relative to sandalwood malas, Bhagavan said that such a mala should be restrung when acquired so that it could be knotted. He did not recommend malas that were too tightly strung, because “they must be loose enough to get a feel of each bead. If it is not loose enough in any case, then it is a good idea to restring them. Also, if you restring them it’s a good idea to put a Murti picture of Love-Ananda, and also some kind of Master bead. ” (May, 31, 1988)
The malas which I have gotten for devotees from Gupta are the best quality I have ever seen. I have never seen any better quality than this, and have seen many inferior quality rudrakshas. The price reduces dramatically even for just a small bit of less quality. I remember my first trip to Hardwar I expected that the price would be much cheaper buying the beads in India. But the best quality were just super expensive. I saw lots and lots of beads, but almost all were not this best quality. A few times I showed the beads which I acquired for top price in Hardwar to an Indian person and they admired them and asked me how much they cost. I would tell them, and they would say that I paid too much and they should have been cheaper. At first this upset me, because I did not want to be overpaying. But often the same person who told me I had paid too much, wanted to buy one of the malas from me. When I asked them why they were going to buy it, even though they said the price was too high, they said that they just didn’t know where they could find beads of such good quality. So I finally came to understand that the expensive price was just what a best quality mala cost. This difference in quality would not be noticed by someone who is new to rudrakshas. This has always been creative for me when selling malas to devotees. Because the beads that I have gotten from Gupta are the best quality, they are more expensive. And less expensive, lower quality beads are there and available. Many devotees have felt when they see these, that they have discovered a bargain. On occasion they feel that I have been overcharging. Even some of the Adidam bookstores have stocked these lower quality rudrakshas sometimes. People will come up to me and show me their less expensive malas, proud that they have gotten them at a reduced price, and ask for my comments. I have to be sensitive and simply tell them that this is a rudraksha of course, but it is not the best quality one. And presumably it will not carry the Spiritual and Blessing force as well. And so eventually it would be better if they would get a best quality rudraksha.
Completing the One-Faced Mala
In 1985 the first edition of The Dawn Horse Testament was getting ready for publication, This was Adi Da’s magnum opus at the time, the entire Way of the Heart given in a single magnificent volume, containing passages of great ecstasy and Revelation of Divinity. It was an unparalleled Gift. As I am writing this post in 2017, there is now The Aletheon which is Adi Da’s final culminating Work. But still it and The Dawn Horse Testament are the two great books. A final edition of The Dawn Horse Testament is now being prepared and it will itself be over 2,000 pages. In 1985, we had no idea that The Dawn Horse Testament would ever see a new edition. It was the greatest Gift that we could receive from Bhagavan Adi Da and we were wondering what we could give Bhagavan in returned that would in some way really be something that He would Appreciate. At this point Bhagavan Adi Da had 53 one-faced rudraksha beads on His Mala. The idea came that perhaps the entire worldwide community could come together and we could find a way to acquire the remaining 55 one-faced rudraksha beads and bring these to Adi Da when we presented Him with The Dawn Horse Testament.
Devotees everywhere were excited about this idea. And so I contacted Gupta (initially by telegram as the phones were not reliable at that time in India) and asked him about this. He expressed that it was going to be impossible to get so many beads all at once. Just could not be done. I did not give up. I asked him how many he thought he could get. He said that he didn’t know. Perhaps twenty or thirty if he went all out. I told him that we needed fifty-five and he said that this was just not going to be possible. I said, “Well, please try.” “How long do we have?, ” he asked. I told him that it was three to four weeks before I would need to leave with the published copies of The Dawn Horse Testament. And the beads would need to come from India to the United States. We decided that the best thing to get the beads to California would be to have Gupta fly to San Francisco from India.
We thought that we should just go ahead and get as many beads as were possible. But I told Gupta that in order for it to be the fullest and best gift that we needed to come up with 55 more beads.
On his part, Gupta got on his motorbike and traveled north from Hardwar into the areas where those who harvested the rudrakshas from the trees lived. He went from location to location telling everyone that we needed to do a gigantic push of all of the beads that were available to find the maximum number of one-faced beads. Many rudraksha trees are in remote locations, and not typically harvested just because they are not so convenient to get the beads from these locations. But Gupta pushed and prodded harvesters to do their maximum to look through every bead. In order to determine the number of faces on any bead, you need to open up its outer shell and clean off the coverings, and Gupta encouraged harvesters all over the foothills to do this to the maximum degree. And he went to every other rudraksha dealer that he could find and scouted out every available rudraksha bead. In the midst of this traveling, Gupta told me twice that he encountered cobra snakes in the wild. And that he returned to Hardwar with not enough beads. He said that his wife heard the whole story and told him that this was not good enough. And that he needed to return back out on the road looking for more, because “the Guru should have all of the beads that were required” and that they must be there if the Guru needed them.
At the same time that Gupta was doing this, I was working on my side. We had a grand fundraiser at the Great Tradition warehouse in Santa Venetia in Marin County. Over two hundred devotees were present in the room and devotes around the world were connected up by telephone. We raised $29,000 that afternoon, including a generous $5,000 donation from Neal Stewart.
I also called other rudraksha dealers in the United States. I was able to get four or five beads this way.
I continually called Gupta and got update reports on how many beads he had found. The entire world’s collection of one-faced beads were scoured. And finally after so many days and weeks of work, Gupta had enough beads. I believe that he arrived with 52 beads. And I had come up with five myself from US dealers. And so we had a couple of extras. And we were therefore able to eliminate two of the smallest of the beads that we had acquired.
There are four basic colors of rudrakshas. Black, brown, red, and white. White, or light colored, or more like a blond color, are considered the most auspicious. And then the larger the better. We were able to come up with almost half of the new beads with a blond color. In the future it became clear that we could replace the smaller one-faced beads with larger ones. And the darker colored ones with blond ones. But we always could be improving the rudraksha mala.
I picked up Gupta in San Francisco on September 26, 1985, and we drove north to The Mountain of Attention. Gupta stayed at Quiet Dogs in the back room on the right side. He gave me the 54 beads that he had brought and I added in the six extra that I had. They fit in a small bowl. We had a crew of devotees all ready and three low tables set up with denture brushes, needles, and bright lamps. in the front room of Quiet Dogs. Gupta, who was jetlagged from the airplane trip went to bed. We all stayed up all night and cleaned rudraksha beads. By the morning the same small bowl of rudraksha beads again contained the 60 beads. But now they were completely cleaned. When Gupta saw them in the morning, his mind was completely blown. They had been perfectly cleaned by a crew of fifteen devotees overnight.
Gupta and I had decided on $400 a bead which was a fair price at this time. Generally they were $500, but with so many at once, the price could be less. Gerald Sheinfeld decided that this was too much money. Not because he knew anything about one-faced rudraksha prices, but just on general principles. I told Gerald that Gupta knew that these were for Bhagavan Adi Da and he was giving us the “renunciate Realizer” price and that Gupta and I had been doing business together for years. But Gerald just did not want to accept this. I told him that Gupta was my friend and that he should not treat him like a worldly businessman. But Gerald was undaunted in his feeling that he could save the day and get a cheaper price. He went into the room with Gupta and bargained with him.
An hour later, Gerald left. Gupta came out and told me that he wanted me to take him to the airport immediately. He was really upset and angry. I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Give me the beads and take me to the airport, I have decided to leave.” It took me about an hour to quiet Gupta back down. I told him that we all also found Gerald offensive when he would get this way. And that Gerald was not speaking for all the devotees, but just for himself in his bargaining.
With the $29,000 and a little more that had come in after the initial fundraiser, and paying $400 for the 54 beads from Gupta, there was enough money to pay for Gupta’s airplane ticket and to cover the rudraksha expenses with a little to spare. Gupta had brought for Bhagavan Adi Da a very large beautiful 21-faced bead. This was his personal gift to Adi Da which I also carried with me.
We strung the one-faced beads on a strong nylon unknotted cord. I travelled with them down to Fiji with the string of beads around my neck the entire way. It felt like the safest way to guarantee that they would be safe. Even a handcarry bag could be left somewhere, but the beads around my neck would not be lost. During the airplane ride, I took a couple of hours and carefully looked at every bead. I was looking for one thing in particular. Just as we had given Bhagavan Adi Da three Om-beads, with the Om sign shown on the beads, I was looking for Da beads. Beads that had the Sanskrit Da symbol on them. And sure enough, I found a few beads where I could make out such Da shapes on the beads. Feeling very satisfied by this, my excitement to bring these beads only increased.
My formal service during this time was as the Hermitage Service Order representative for The Dawn Horse Press. What that meant is that I worked to make sure that all of the Dawn Horse Press publications were aligned to Bhagavan Adi Da and the Free Renunciate Order’s Admonitions and Requirements. I was the individual designated to guarantee that everything was done in the most correct manner according to what Bhagavan Adi Da would expect for each book publication and the Laughing Man and Crazy Wisdom magazines. And I worked with William Tsiknas who was a main Free Renunciate Order person working under Adi Da relative to His Written Word and publications. And the editorial team altogether, which included Nina Jones and Zoe Sanders (proofreader). So it made sense for me to be given the wonderful opportunity to bring many boxes of The Dawn Horse Testament with me to Fiji. Along with the books themselves, I brought a presentation box that had been skilfully made by wood craftsmen in Marin County to present to Bhagavan Adi Da, His copy of The Dawn Horse Testament. The Testament book itself was wrapped in a beautiful cloth bag. And this was put in the center of the presentation box. Surrounding the entire bag at the perimeter of the box, was a indented space or trough for the 55 one-faced rudraksha beads.
Bhagavan Adi Da had not “gathered” with devotees for many months. 1985 was the year that Bhagavan Adi Da’s Name and reputation was negatively bandied about in the newspapers in response to a small group of angry or “dissident” former devotees. It was our “scandal” year. This was deeply disturbing to Bhagavan Adi Da and He had “shut down” His interactions with devotees. My arrival with The Dawn Horse Testament was the first night when Bhagavan would see His devotees in a group for many months. The gathering was to be in the Giving Coat.
When my boat arrived at Naitauba, Bhagavan Adi Da, being informed very well of the timing of my arrival, was already gathered with devotees in the Giving Coat. I came directly from the boat to the Giving Coat, without even time to change my clothes or to take a shower. Bhagavan Adi Da came over and greeted me at the door of the Giving Coat. He gave me a wonderful hug. Later on, He was to comment on how “uptight” I had been at my arrival. But I was unaware of my state at that moment, and just so happy to see my Beloved Guru.
Bhagavan Adi Da was seated on a chair in the front of the Giving Coat, and I was given help bringing in all of the things I had brought with me from California into the Giving Coat. We quickly opened the presentation box and placed it on a table in front of Bhagavan Adi Da.
He removed the lid which had a picture of the Dawn Horse logos on it. Inside the box was immediately revealed a circle of beads surrounding the center where The Dawn Horse Testament was resting. Bhagavan Adi Da did a double-take to see these beads. He looked me in the eyes to get confirmation that He was in fact receiving what He thought He was receiving from seeing the strand of beads. “Yes,” I nodded my head. “Is that all of them to complete the mala?,” He asked incredulously. We had been proceeding bead by bead for years building up the mala. At this rate it was certainly many more years before the mala would be complete. And that was how we all thought it was going to progress. But here, somehow miraculously, were 55 beads to be able to complete the mala. (I had the other five beads with me as “back-ups” in case they might be needed for any reason. Adi Da asked, “Will this complete the mala?” And I happily nodded. I have watched the videotape of Bhagavan Adi Da receiving The Dawn Horse Testament and the beads. And it is one of those extraordinarily happy moments in the lifetime of Bhagavan Adi Da, where devotees brought Him a true gift. A mala of 108 round Nepalese rudraksha malas is and was unheard of. Gupta, the rudraksha dealer, said, “Don’t even talk about this.” That is the Indian way. In the West, we boldly and happily confess that Bhagavan Adi Da had now received a mala that was worthy of Him. Here is a picture taken when Bhagavan Adi Da was looking at the beads themselves. For now, The Dawn Horse Testament remains unopened in the center of the presentation box. And the following picture is the box for The Dawn Horse Testament finally being opened.
Later on, Bhagavan Adi Da received a mala with the Dawn Horse logos as a pendant. And finally He decided to put on the mala of 55 rudrakshas Himself. Here is a picture of Bhagavan wearing that mala and looking at the beads with His fingers at the same time.
We immediately got to work on how the final one-faced mala would be presented.
In the creation of all of these special malas, every element was fully considered. That includes the caps for the beads, the stringing and knotting and any spacer beads, the medallion or pendant that will be attached beneath the mala, and many other elements. Bhagavan Adi Da would always be presented with design considerations and be very involved in every aspect of the creation of each of the malas.
I have the original of one of different suggestions for the gold caps for the One-Faced Rudraksha Mala which I will post here. I believe that Bhagavan chose #13 as the style for the caps. This is for the early One-Faced Rudraksha Mala as it was growing bead by bead. The medallion can be seen in the early photos up until 1990 or so. When we were designing the new ornament or pendant in that year, Bhagavan commented in Notes from March 3, 1990 that this early medallion was too small for the significance of the One-Faced Rudraksha Mala, and that the new medallion should be much larger.
Below the Master bead, on the completed One-Faced Mala, hangs a medallion with three orange persimmons over a Sanskrit Da. The three persimmons, of course, depict the three stations of the heart, representing the gross, subtle, and causal dimensions of existence. I believe that this was given to Bhagavan Adi Da on the April Celebration of the opening of the Melrose Ashram. in 1990. Bhagavan did not ask for a change in the caps, but only the medallion or pendant
For the first few years, the Master bead for the One-Face Mala was the 21-faced bead which Gupta had given as a personal gift.
In 1989 or 1990 we were able to gift Bhagavan Adi Da with a triple-bead, or a Holy family bead, which Bhagavan Adi Da had received, as the Master bead. This is also called a “Gauri-mat.” I have described that any individual rudraksha bead has a certain number of segments or “faces”, “mukhi”s in Hindi. These are mutants of the standard five-segmented or faced bead. Another mutant and much revered form of rudrakshas are “double-beads” also called Siva-Shakti or Gauri-Shankar” beads. This a bead formation in which two beads are mutantly joined together and when the bead shell is removed they remain attached as a single bead. These beads are said to represent the male and the female principle as one–therefore Siva-Shakti is given as a title for this type of bead. Rudraksha beads are associated with Siva (just as tulsi beads are associated with Vishnu) and are mythologically said to be the tears of the form of Siva known as Rudra, hence the name rudraksha. The double bead is also called Gauri-Shankar, which is the name of Siva’s wife Gauri, and a name of Siva himself, Shankar. So it is a representation of Siva and his wife Gauri. The triple bead is called the Holy Family. It is said to be Siva, Shakti, and their child Ganesh. These are extremely rare and almost never are available. I believe we paid $5,000 for our bead back when this was a considerable sum. When we purchased it, Gupta said that it was the finest bead that He had ever seen and believed it was the best in the world. It has between the three fused beads there are sixteen mukhis or faces, which for this purpose is considered the perfect number.
After receiving the triple bead, Bhagavan Adi Da joked that He would now liked an entire mala of 108 triple beads. And that the Master bead on this should be the size of a grapefruit. Of course such beads are extremely rare. Gupta did later have another even nicer one that he offered to us for $15,000. But we were never able to afford this.
It should be said that because these beads are so valuable, the market is flooded with fake rudraksha beads in these special formations. Bhagavan Adi Da was looking at a book on Goraknath in Decemer, 1979 and it spoke of faked one-faced beads, and sent me a Note to be mindful of this. What is done is a forger will cut out a piece of a rudraksha to make it seem like there is only one face. Or alternately to add in extra segments to make it seem that there are more and more facets or faces or segments to the bead. I have purchased many of these fakes in my time. And we have had one of the beads that was on the one-faced mala prove to be a fake, and had to replace it. The way that this became obvious, is that over time the glue that is used to hold the bead together gave out and a segment became lose and obviously showed that it was a constructed rather than a genuine natural bead. There are now elaborate “laboratory” tests that are made and rudrakshas can be “certified” for safe purchase. In the matter of one-faced beads, I have relied on Gupta to help ensure us that we had only genuine beads. Gupta’s father was a rudraksha dealer, and his father before that. But the one bead that proved to be a fake that was on the rudraksha mala was immediately replaced by Gupta when it was discovered to be fake, and he was embarrassed that even he was tricked by this one-faced bead.
That year on Bhagavan Adi Da’s Jayanthi or Birthday celebration, that is in 1985, Bhagavan Adi Da wore both the mala of 53 beads which was completely strung, and the mala of 55 rudraksha beads that was not yet formally strung, which had been given to Him. This was to be His practice on special occasions until the one-faced mala was finally strung.
In 1988, the rudraksha mala came back to California. It had developed a problem with insects. Rudrakshas, as a naturally occurring bead, are susceptible to being eaten by insects or to mold. One way that is naturally prevented is that sandalwood oil is rubbed into the mala to protect them. I believe what happened with the one-faced mala, is that it was so special that it was not routinely oiled as were other malas. It was “closeted” away. And when finally someone opened up the bag in which it was being stored, there was some rudraksha “dust” on the bottom of the bag, and there was an insect that they were able to trap in the bag, and bring back to me in California. I sent this to a devotee who has entomological background, Jonathan Lynch, who was in a professor living in Pennsylvania. He had the insect identified, and it was a saw-toothed beetle. It was very small, only 1/16 of an inch big, but the mala was obviously infested by this. Jonathan gave me advice that the mala could go in a freezer immediately to end the infestation and that it needed to remain there for longer than the insects lifecycle, which Jonathan advised me was thirty days.
After this I received from a rudraksha expert, an elaborate procedure on protecting rudraksha beads. I checked with Gupta and he thought that the procedure would be useful. It involved creating a mixture of natural beeswax, sandalwood oil, and neem oil. And heating up this mixture in a crock pot. Upon telling Bhagavan Adi Da about this, I was given permission to do the procedure for this treatment in Plain Talk Chapel. I had large blocks of pure beeswax to use and filled up a good-sized crock pot half way up. I had many ounces of both sandalwood and neem oil as well. Neem oil smells rather strong and not very pleasant. But the sandalwood oil is, to my opinion, one of the most wonderful scents. It is used naturally to oil malas on a regular basis. Keeping the rudraksha mala oiled keeps it “conductivity” strong. And sandalwood naturally keeps insects and mold away. Neem oil is specifically used for the same purpose.
I experimented with the mixture on regular five-faced beads until I got the process down. Too much beeswax coated the bead too much and left a residue. But thinned out with the sandalwood and neem oil, the bead was just “nourished” by the mixture, and a beautiful sheen was added to the beads. I had waited until the one-faced beads had been in the freezer for more than a month, which was longer than the life-cycle of the saw-toothed beetle and had been recommended by Jonathan Lynch. I did not want any live beetle eggs to be associated with the one-faced mala. It was very satisfying to have coated all of the one-faced beads and to know that they would be safe from insect and mold for an extended period of time. I was told to do this with some regularity–perhaps every five years–to continue to protect the beads.
Bhagavan Adi Da has worn His One-Faced mala countless times. It is the single mala that He has worn the most times. On every major celebration this has been the principal mala with which He is associated. Ruchiradama Quandra Sukhapur discussed with me after the Mahasamadhi whether Bhagavan should be buried with the One-Faced rudraksha mala around His neck. I recommended against this, feeling that it should be used for all time as a relic of His Blessing. I felt that He Wore it all those times on the most Sacred Occasions, and therefore there was no other Sacred Item that was its equivalent. It can easily be recognized by the triple-persimmon and Sanskrit Da medallion below it and the triple-bead that forms its Master bead. With its associated spacer beads, the One-Faced rudraksha mala, when worn by Bhagavan Adi Da, wrapped around His Neck three times. In order to keep the mala in place, two gold clips were made, so that when the mala was wrapped around Bhagavan’s Neck these three times, the beads would stay in order in a beautiful manner.
I will put here three of the many photos that we have of Bhagavan Wearing the One-Faced rudraksha mala.
After Bhagavan Adi Da had received the One-faced rudraksha mala, I was intent on giving Him other auspicious Rudraksha malas. I will describe some of the most significant of these.
The first is a mala of 108 Shiva-Shakti beads. It has been discussed above that the Shiva-Shakti bead is one that Bhagavan Adi Da had recommended as a suitable Master bead on devotees malas. It represents the sign of the male and female principles united as one. Adi Da had spoken of how He and She Is Me. He incarnates in His single Bodily Human Form, by virtue of His Divine Self-Realization. that Which transcends male and female. And yet, His own Embodiment had shown an embrace relative to the male-female relationship, showing how intimate relationship can be compatible with genuine Spiritual sadhana. There is a Hindu God/Goddess known as Ardhanarishwara who is half-male and half female. This is Shiva and Parvati united as a single manifestation. The same is signaled with the Form called Hari-Hara, which is Vishnu and Laksmi as a single androgynous God/Goddess. Bhagavan Adi Da, although in a human form very masculine, in a Spiritual Form combined both male and female. And His Sign as an embodied human was One who had Mastered the male-female relationship. He was surrounded by women during the years of His Teaching and Blessing Work.
For this mala, we acquired the largest and most auspicious Shiva-Shakti beads which could be found. Many of these were gigantic and a single bead was $500. These were strung most beautifully with gold-caps.
It his hard to tell from the photograph that each of these beads is actually two beads fused or mutantly attached to each other, like what is called “Siamese twins”. As you can see from the photograph, there are beads of all of the colors of rudraksha. Bhagavan did not wear this mala as often as the One-Faced mala, but only sometimes. There were very special occasions when Bhagavan Adi Da wore this mala as well as the One-faced mala, the Nine-faced mala and the Candra-mala, which will be described below. I believe that Bhagavan Adi Da received this mala on His Jayanthi in 1992, as I have a record of having purchased the beads for it in March, 1992. As can be seen, a very special Shiva-Shakti bead is the Master bead for this mala. . When Bhagavan was Given this mala of 108, plus a Master bead, of Siva-Shakti beads, individual devotees and region sponsored every one of the beads, and a large list of the names of these individuals was given to Bhagavan Adi Da, which is still in the files. He was also given a beautiful box from India that contained the beads, and a cloth bag for the mala that was made by Lena Norgren. The work on preparing the setting and the medallion occurred in 1993
The original bill for the beads for this mala shows the break down of the specific beads.
The largest is a 14-faced Gauri-Shankar which I believed served as the Master-bead, then there five 13-faced,ten 12-faced. seven 11-faced, ten 10-faced, twenty-nine 9-faced, eleven 8-faced, and thirty-eight 6-faced, 7-faced, 8-faced, and simple 10-faced and 12-faced, for a total of 111 beads. The total cost for the beads themselves, in 1992, was $8750.
Another of the most special malas that was gifted to Bhagavan Adi Da was a mala of 108 nine-faced beads. Again as mentioned above, the nine-faced bead is one of those that Bhagavan Adi Da recommended as especially auspicious for a devotee to have as a Master bead on their personal mala. Nine is the number traditionally associated with the Goddess in Hinduism. For this mala we again acquired the most special, large and auspicious nine-faced beads which could be found, of all colors. An especially large nine-faced bead is the Master bead for this mala. And again with the caps this mala was so large that gold clips have been provided to Bhagavan Adi Da so that it could rest around His Neck in an orderly and comfortable fashion. You will see some times when this along with the One-Faced and Siva-Shakti and Candra mala are all being worn simultaneously by Bhagavan Adi Da. I believe that this was given to Bhagavan Adi Da in 1990 or 1991.
In 1993, another auspicious mala was gifted to Bhagavan Adi Da. On His Jayanthi that year, I had the opportunity to be the devotee who gifted Adi Da with this mala on behalf of all devotees. This is called the Chandra mala and is a traditional mala. It is a mala with a one-Faced bead as the Master bead, but then a two-faced bead, a three-faced bead, a four faced bead, etc, up until fourteen faces and then a thirteen-faced bead, a twelve-faced bead, etc. returning to the single one-faced bead. So there are beads to describe the two fortnights of the twenty-eight days in the moon cycle. “Chandra” means “moon”. There is a Siva-Shakti or double-bead as a Master bead below the one-faced bead. On this particular day, there were some twenty of us that were invited into Bhagavan Adi Da’s Bedroom at Aham Da Asmi Sthan to present Him our personal gifts on His Jayanthi (as representatives in some sense of all devotees, because all devotees could not fit into His Room) and also this worldwide gift of the Candra mala. Bhagavan was seated behind a table and I was able to give Him the Chandra-mala and describe its tradition to Him. It was a complete surprise and He loved it.
After Bhagavan Adi Da had received these malas, the One-Faced Mala, the Siva-Shakti Mala, the Nine-Faced Mala and the Chandra Mala, Bhagavan can be seen on special occasions wearing some combination of all of these malas. And on special Celebrations, He would on many occasions wear all of them at once. His entire Chest would appear to virtually be covered with rudraksha. I will put some photographs here of Bhagavan Adi Da covered with these Sacred Malas.
There were times when hat and clothes were made for Bhagavan Adi Da, in which the clothing itself was combined with rudraksha beads.
Just before Bhagavan Adi Da began His travels in 1988 in which He would visit New Zealand then come to the Mountain of Attention, He asked for a special mala for “everyday” use to be created for Him. This was to be a simple rudraksha mala that He could wear at any occasion, rather than a high holy day, which is when He would wear His more elaborate malas. He had seen a picture of Swami Muktananda wearing a mala in the March 1993 issue of “Siddha Path” magazine. It was on the inside of the front cover. He thought this would be a good basic design to make a new mala for Himself. It was simply 108 beads plus a smallish master bead, all with very simple gold caps. So this is another mala that Bhagavan Adi Da can be seen wearing often.
Adi Da also saw a mala worn by Swami Muktananda in the book Glory of the Guru which He liked. He told us to look at this mala as well in making the mala for Him.
This is the mala that was created for Bhagavan Adi Da to wear in everyday use. At the time when Bhagavan Adi Da gave some Notes on this, in September, 1988, He said that He would also like a Buddhist mala for everyday use as well. For this purpose, a bodhi seed mala was also given to Bhagavan Adi Da at this time.
There is another form of rudraksha malas that is worn often by the Shankaracharyas or offical heads of the Shankar orders in India. This uses very large beads, of 23mm or so size, but then only 33 of these beads. And the most special of these have a kantha jewelry formation as the pendant below. In 1996, but certainly by 1997, Beloved Bhagavan Adi Da was presented a beautiful kantha as a gift from devotees.
Over the years, I tried to provide for Bhagavan Adi Da any rare or auspicious rudraksha items. The Indian mentality worships anything that is unusual as a Sacred item. So any kind of mutant or rare rudraksha item is given a name and sold as a special item to be worshiped and revered. The simplest example of this are the multi-faced beads. Anything that is not a 5-faced bead is a special rudraksha, although six-faced beads are also very common. And there are traditional lists of the auspicious qualities and reasons to have and wear any of these beads. So all of these were given to Bhagavan Adi Da. There are both such beads of the Himalayan or Nepalese variety and of the Indonesian variety. It is mostly the Nepalese larger beads that are most prized in these higher faced forms. There are many faked beads in these categories, created by carving and cutting and gluing. I do not have any inventories any more–everything and my very thick rudraksha beads files were lost in the fire. And I have no access to Notes of Bhagavan Adi Da at this point, but my memory reminds me that we had everything through 22 faced beads in the Nepalese variety. I always wanted a 23-faced bead for Bhagavan of the Nepalese variety, but I believe we only had that in the Indonesian variety. I did get one that was obviously fake. I knew it was 99% chance of being fake when I bought it, by then over the internet. And it was, of course fake–well done but obviously not right.
There were also a wide variety of beads with various protruding elements. One of those that is most common is what is called a Ganesh bead, because it has a “trunk” on it. We made Bhagavan Adi Da a mala which had as its Master bead, a Ganesh bead.
Another special bead are beads that are extremely large. The average Nepalese bead is between 15-18mm in diameter. But when beads are much larger they are also considered auspicious. I purchased a gigantic quantity of very large Nepalese beads at one point in the early 1980s. We strung many 108 + 1 malas with these beads for Bhagavan Adi Da’s Environments and for the Murtis at the primary Holy sites at the Sanctuaries. It was a common activity for devotees to get together and spend an evening or an afternoon together cleaning the beads.
With frequency Bhagavan Adi Da would ask some question about rudraksha beads, or malas of all kinds and varieties. Or I would write to Him about some item which was now available and of which He might be interested. In the early days, we simply wrote a letter directly on the typewriter, and Bhagavan Adi Da would sometimes make a note right on the sheet of His Response or comment, or sometimes a correction to what was presented to Him. Here is a letter from early 1979, before Bhagavan Adi Da had taken the name “Da” in which I am sending Him a variety of beads and malas. He marked in ink which ones He wanted for His Purposes.
Here is another sheet where Bhagavan Adi Da is indicating which rudraksha items He wants from a group. I no longer know to what the numbers refer, but as can be seen Bhagavan wanted to acquire beads number 7, 3, and 1.
1–In late 1983, my intimate partner and I visited Adi Da Samrajashram in Fiji. Occupying the entire Fijian island of Naitauba, it is the principal Hermitage Ashram and Empowered Retreat Sanctuary of Avatar Adi Da. One evening we were invited to what is now known as Aham Da Asmi Sthan, Heart-Master Adi Da’s Residence, to participate in a gathering with Him. This was the first time I had gone to that auspicious dwelling of Adi Da Samraj, and as I rode in the back of a truck on the road through the palm trees and jungle, I was full of expectation. It had been a difficult time for me, because as a visitor to the island I had not been involved in many of Adi Da’s gatherings. Instead, I had been asked to serve elsewhere during the numerous occasions of Adi Da’s Instruction to the residents, which increased to no end my longing and ardor to see Him. Even on this night, I was told that Adi Da would first be gathering with the Island residents and then at some point later on, I would be asked to come over and join the group.
In the back of the open-bed truck, a devotee was excitedly telling another devotee what had been discussed in a gathering earlier that morning. He was shouting, but the engine noise and the wind were loud. I was frustrated in my attempts to overhear my Divine Guru’s Instruction. He was intentionally not including me in the discussion. It was a very painful circumstance. After five minutes, I was in tears of upset. I blurted out to myself in my own mind, “Why am I always excluded? Here I am in Fiji, on this very island, and still I am not involved in Adi Da’s ‘Considerations’! This is the last week of my visit, and I have hardly seen Heart-Master Adi Da. And everyone else is seeing Him all the time.” I sobbed, and turned away from everyone else in the truck so I would not be seen.
After just a few moments, the ridiculousness of it all became obvious to me, and I saw that what was wrong was simply my relationship to things. With a fierce intention I resolved to find Bhagavan Adi Da in my heart-feeling right now, even in the truck, and to feel His always Freely Given Love. I knew that I could not always be around His bodily (human) Form in any case, and it was simply my ego-possessed search that was being Graciously undermined by my time on retreat. I remembered the tradition of Instruction by which the Sat-Guru Teaches his devotee how to always find him, by creating distance between himself and his devotee, in order to increase the strength of the devotee’s Remembrance of the Sat-Guru. For example, Krishna constantly alternated between intimacy with and separation from his devotees, in order to reveal to them how they must constantly find the Guru’s Grace, no matter what the circumstance.
Such separation from and longing for the loved one is known as “viraha”, and it is epitomized by the great sadhana of the gopis. It is described in the book Gopis’ Love For Sri Krishna:
This wound of the devotee’s heart inflicted by the oblique glances of Shyama (Krishna) never dries up. It remains ever green, and the acute pain he feels in every moment gives him greater joy than even the bliss of absorption in Brahma [the Hindu “Creator” residing in the heaven of the Gods]. This wound was very deep in the hearts of the Gopis. They are, indeed, supremely lucky who get this wound which goes on gaping more and more as the days pass and which does not heal up even when the swarthy-complexioned Lord appears in person and offers His services as a surgeon. The sight of the Blue Beauty, instead of healing the wound, makes it greener, but His disappearance also becomes unbearable. He is the only doctor who can heal the wound; but instead of healing it He makes it greener than ever. It is pleasanter to have this wound ever green: Hence to suffer acutely from the pain of this wound and repeatedly to do things which may cause it to grow becomes a part of the daily life of the devotee following the path of Love. He derives supreme joy even from this suffering. Hanumanprasad Poddar, Gopis’ Love For Sri Krishna (Clearlake, Calif.: The Dawn Horse Press, 1980), p. 28.
I understood that Avatar Adi Da was Giving me this Gift and Instruction, and I let go of the mood of self-pity. He has said that such longing for the Sat-Guru is good, but it must become actual present heart-Communion, rather than simply an aggravation and an unfulfilled desire. Thus, in this particular moment in the truck, I understood that no matter what the circumstance, there was no reason to presume separation between me and my Beloved Divine Master. It was always possible to find Adi Da in the present. As He has Instructed, I turned to Him in that moment through Remembrance. I began actively and moment to moment feeling Avatar Adi Da Samraj there in relationship to me, even as I was riding standing up in the truck. And I began intentionally preparing myself to see Him at Aham Da Asmi Sthan, as I later undoubtedly would, by surrendering into His Blessing Grace as best I could right there and then. I held in my hands a rudraksha mala (a rosary of sacred Indian wooden beads) that I was bringing as a gift to place at His Feet, and I consciously put as much energy into it as possible.
When the truck finally arrived at Aham Da Asmi Sthan, my desire to see my Beloved Sat-Guru was at a high pitch. All the residents in the truck quickly went over to Adi Da’s bedroom, and I began to walk to a bure or Fijian-style hut, where I would wait until called. Before I had gone too far, there was a change of plans. I was told that instead of going elsewhere to wait until Adi Da was done giving Instructions to the Island residents, that I was invited to come to see Adi Da now, along with everyone else. I was so happy–it was the answer to my prayers. On coming into the room, I could hardly close the screen door. In my excitement, I knocked over a drink with my foot, causing quite a commotion. Still, I one-pointedly placed the rudraksha mala at the side of my Beloved Guru, bowed down, and returned to find a seat in the middle of the group gathered there. Moments later Adi Da picked up the mala and tossed it towards me. At first it hit by mistake Ruchiradama Nadikanta, one of the members of the Ruchira Sannyasin Order, who most directly serve as the culturally guiding force around Adi Da Samraj. She quickly returned it to Him. He laughed, and He tossed it, this time directly into my lap, At that moment in the history of Adidam, there were a group of “Enlightened” devotees, and Ruchiradama Nadikanta had been the first of those. Bhagavan Adi Da remarked that it was appropriate that it should come to me by way of the “first Enlightened devotee”.
It is traditionally regarded as a most wonderful Blessing for the Sat-Guru to give or Bless the mala of His devotee. Adi Da has regularly Blessed His devotees’ malas by oiling them to Empower their use in Invocation and Remembrance of Him. But to receive a rudraksha mala itself was so special. I was overwhelmed with joy at this Gift from Da Love-Ananda, and I sat holding it in my hands. Much later in the evening, Heart-Master Adi Da suddenly, for no apparent reason, began to address me. He told me how much He Loved me. And He told me that He spoke about me every day. He turned to those who served Him most directly on a daily basis, and said to them, “Don’t I? Don’t I talk about James every day?” They nodded in agreement, “Yes, You do, Beloved Gurudev.” As He was speaking, Adi Da was beaming at me and Communicating an intimacy beyond description. I was weeping in love, telling Him that I understood what He was saying, and that I loved Him too, and that I felt His Love. Over and over again He wanted to make sure that I understood how much He Loved me, and that it was every day that He thought of me, spoke of me, remembered me. He spoke on and on, and at a loss to respond to such Love, I merely told Him, “Yes, I understand. Yes, I love You, too.”
In the moment I simply felt His Love, and I was broken open by the penetration of His Grace. But I also understood that what He meant was not that He actually spoke out loud about me each day—not that I knew, or would ever really know, exactly what Heart-Master Adi Da does, or how it is that He Works Spiritually with me. But it really did not matter. What He was saying to me was absolutely true. He Loved me beyond all bounds, beyond anything that I could know or understand. And, just so, He Loves all His devotees in the same way. The Play of it might be differently expressed in each case, but He Loves all His devotees. As He was to say just a few months later at the “Love of the God-Man” Celebration in early 1984 (when He returned to California for ten days and Blessed the general community of His devotees with many ecstatic occasions of Darshan), “I may not know their names, but I know their hearts.” I understood that what He was telling me was for the sake of my Spiritual submission and reception of His Love, and not for me to “own”, or to use to glamorize myself in any way.
Heart-Master Adi Da continued His Shower of Blessing. He told me that I did the sadhana of a Spiritual friend in relationship to Him, and that He and I had always enjoyed this relationship with one another. Such Spiritual friendship (or sakhyatva) is traditionally described in the Bhagavata Purana, the supreme classic of devotional literature in the Vaishnavite tradition, as well as in the Vishnu Purana, and elsewhere. In the Bhagavata Purana, nine forms of the expression of devotion to the Divine, or the Sat-Guru, are described: (1) sravana, or hearing the Leelas and Teaching of the Divine or the Sat-Guru; (2) kirtana, or singing and praising the Divine or the Sat-Guru; (3) smaranam, or remembrance or contemplation of the Sat-Guru, or the Divine; (4) padasevanam, or service to the Sat-Guru (literally service to His or Her Feet); (5) archanam, or offering worship to the Sat-Guru; (6) vandanam, or prostrating to the Realized Guru’s bodily (human) Form; (7) dasyam, or assuming the relationship of service to the Sat-Guru as Master; (8) sakhyatva, or friendship (service to the Sat-Guru as a submitted friend); and (9) atmanivedanam, or self-surrender, literally offering oneself to the Divine, or the Sat-Guru, altogether. These nine modes of bhakti (or devotion) are traditionally offered as alternative means by which the devotee may practice the sadhana of devotion to the Divine, or to the Sat-Guru. Heart-Master Adi Da recommends forms of all of these practices in His all-comprehensive Way of Adidam.
But on this particular night in Fiji, and at this time in my sadhana, Sri Gurudev Adi Da was awakening me to His Divine Love as the very basis and context of my sadhana. He told me that our Spiritual friendship was by no means an ordinary friendship—not the kind of friendship enjoyed by men when they go out to bars and have a good time. It was not such a secular kind of friendship. It was friendship developed as a Spiritual relationship. Such friendship was simply the form of relationship that He naturally had cultivated in me in response to my devotion to Him. Sakhyatva, or friendship with God, is described traditionally as a type of devotion that is most difficult to practice because the Spiritual friend is constantly called to be giving of himself in every action, in every thought, word, and deed. All personal desires and conveniences are given up in favor of this Spiritual sadhana alone. The Spiritual friend of the Sat-Guru must always be available and present in this friendship for the Sat-Guru.
I left the gathering that evening so in love with Heart-Master Adi Da. I felt healed at the heart and made whole. During the following days I would periodically weep in Remembrance of my Beloved Guru. In the next few evenings before I was to board the boat to leave Adi Da Samrajashram and return to my regular service, Beloved Adi Da continued His wonderful Communication to me of His Love and Grace. I was so deeply in love with Him. One morning I was asked to read the Ruchira Avatara Gita (Adi Da’s poetic Epitome of the Guru-devotee relationship) at the Ruchira Avatara Puja (our daily devotional ceremony of worship of our Divine Guru). I could hardly do so. Each line was so full of the emotion of Remembrance of my Beloved Guru that I was overwhelmed by His Love for me, by His Grace, and by the Miracle of Who He Is. My voice choked with emotion and tears clouded my vision, and I had to make long pauses in order to collect myself.
After I had returned to California, every day for weeks I would feel again His Love for me, His Regard and Blessing. For no apparent reason I would be suffused with an ecstasy and a bliss that filled the body-mind, and I would know it to be His Grace, and I would fall apart in tears of gratitude for all I had been Given. There was no doubt in me that I still required years of sadhana to purify the body-mind of its tendencies. But it did not matter at all—I was already Graced with a relationship to Heart-Master Adi Da Love-Ananda that was itself Liberating. All I needed to do was Remember Him, Commune with Him.
During my trip to Adi Da Samrajshram, Sri Gurudev Adi Da wrote the following short Essay, entitled “The Way of Devotion to the God-Man”, which for me summarizes His Instruction and Calling:
Do not indulge in vagueness, weakness, reactivity, or un-Happiness in My Company. I Am the Person of Love, Who has spontaneously taken on human form for the sake of this world of beings. I Am here to Be Love and to Do the Work of Love. Therefore, give Me your attention and feel My Regard.
Commune with the Person of Love in every moment. By this Means, always feel Love. Give Love. Receive Love. Be Love. This is the First Discipline, the Origin of the Way. (November 30, 1984)
The essence of what I knew about Spiritual practice was communicated in these few lines. And for me the summary of His Words was the sentence, “Give Me your attention and feel My Regard.” For I understood the practice to be to turn myself to Adi Da. And whenever this is done, and He is feelingly Remembered, His Regard and Blessing are felt, simply but profoundly. I needed to simply allow myself to be Attracted and Distracted by Him and to give myself over to whatever His Regard and Blessing might be in any moment. I would remember receiving Beloved Adi Da’s Gaze, or any number of occasions when His Love had Drawn me to Him so deeply that I could only love, love with a heart surrendered and given over, love with a heart which had been awakened to an utter faithfulness and submission because nothing else that it had ever known could equal the Attraction of that Love.
2-In 1979 I was sitting with Adi Da in Bright Behind Me. He was oiling rudraksha malas. As I described above, Adi Da throughout His Lifetime, Blessed the malas of devotees with sandalwood oil, I was sitting with Him as He oiled several different malas. In the midst of this process, one of the malas broke in Bhagavan Adi Da’s Hands. He looked over at me and said, “Something is going on with this devotee that requires My Attention. Something is happening with him. See if you can can get him on the telephone and ask him what’s up.” I bowed and left Bright Behind Me and went to the second floor of Huge Helper where at that time there were two telephone booths. I called up the devotee and told Him what had happened, and that Adi Da was now asking me find out from him what is going on. Almost immediately this man burst into tears. He told me that he and and his longtime wife had just broken up and he was deeply troubled. He said that was at the end of the rope in terms of the emotional-sexual purification that was going on. And he said that he needed Adi Da’s Help desperately. He was so grateful that Adi Da had me reach out to him and make contact. He expressed his devotion to Adi Da and said that he immediately felt reminded that his relationship to Adi Da was prior to anything that occurred in his ordinary life. After a few minutes in which he told me more details of the separation between his wife and himself and his practice relative to it, I got off the phone. I returned to Bright Behind Me. As I walked in the room with Adi Da He asked me, “What’s going on?” I told him that this man was going through a break-up that “was testing him to his core, and that he felt that my calling him on behalf of You made all the difference in the world for him. He was so grateful that You had made contact with him through the phone, and expressed his devotion”. Adi Da listened attentively and then smiled and nodded at me, “Yes,” He said. “I figured something like that was going on. Give Him my Love and Blessings.”
3- A Snowstorm and a Blessed Mala for Surendra
One evening in 1997 or so, Surendra Singh was visiting the Mountain of Attention from India. It was his second visit to see Adi Da. This was a stormy time both in the weather and in Adi Da’s relationship with His devotees. Adi Da was not seeing devotees during the exact time when Surendra was there. He was calling for His devotees to get straight and to rightly align themselves to Him and their practice before Darshan would be lawful and appropriate. But here was Surendra, only in California for a few days and he was leaving the next morning, first thing, to make a mid-morning flight in San Francisco. Adi Da had me called and gave me a message for Surendra. He told Him that He wanted to have Darshan with Surendra but that such Darshan was not happening right now. And that therefore Surendra should come again at another time in the future and there would be Darshan. He told Surendra that He wanted to Bless him and his family. And that anything that Surendra wanted to have tangibly Blessed by Bhagavan Adi Da, Surendra should just let Adi Da know, and He would Bless it.
Besides from this, there was a terrible snowstorm. I received this call in the evening, around 10 PM. The snow had come down so hard, that there was no way that the roads could be used until snow plows came the next morning. So that was the physical situation.
I was living at the very top of Shenandoah Circle at that time. That is where I received the call. Surendra was staying at Quiet Dogs, on retreat, where, when the roads were plowed, I was going to pick him up the next morning to drive him down to the Bay Area. So I called Surendra and passed on the message about Bhagavan Adi Da being willing to Bless anything for him. I asked him if he had any ideas. He did not, and besides everything else, it was already evening, and where was he going to get anything anyway. We could not go into Clearlake or even to the Adi Da Bookstore at the Sanctuary, which was closed at that time. So I suggested to Surendra that we should ask Adi Da to Bless a large rudraksha mala, the size that could go around a large Murti of Bhagavan Adi Da. Surendra loved the idea. Being a rudraksha dealer, I had them on hand. And so I found the very best 18mm mala that could fit around a murti and put it in a bag. And then I set out by foot in what was over a foot of snow with more coming down every second. It was a big storm. I walked from the very high point of Shenandoah circle all the way down to the Manner of Flowers. I went around through the back gate and knocked at the kitchen door. In the snowstorm this took over a half hour. It was now well after 11PM. I told the household server that this was a mala from Surendra that he would like to have Blessed for himself and his family. I hiked back to the top of Shenandoah Circle, my shoes and pants now wet from the snow. I figured I could try to get a few hours of sleep. Around 3 o’clock another call came from Bhagavan’s House. “Come immediately and pick up the mala”.
So I started on the trek down the hill again, onto the main Seigler Canyon Road, and then behind the Manner of Flowers to the kitchen. When I got to the door, the household attendant told me that Adi Da after oiling the mala, had worn this mala continuously ever since I dropped it off until, she had called me. He had had it around His neck for three to four hours. I gratefully accepted the mala and walked back up the hill again, again a half hour walk in that snow. I stayed up until the roads were plowed around 5:30 or so and then immediately picked up Surendra. I laughingly told him that he owed me “big time” for my four half hour treks in the snow up and down the hill to the top of Shenandoah Circle. But I myself felt completely Blessed to be associated with Bhagavan Adi Da’s deep Blessing for Surendra and his family.
4- Let me tell a story of a wonderful moment in my relationship to Adi Da from the years of His Teaching-Work, before His Divine Self-“Emergence”. Its sweetness is lodged in my memory forever. It occurred on the Celebration of the Jayanthi (Birthday) of Heart-Master Adi Da Love-Ananda in 1984, when I had been Graced to visit Adi Da Samrajashram for a seven-week stay. It was a warm evening, and we were all gathered around Heart-Master Adi Da in an open-air hall known as the Giving Coat (now Temple Adi Da)
I had brought a small, beautiful tie-dyed pouch, which my intimate partner and I were giving to our Heart-Husband in gratitude and love. It had nine little pockets that held small, Spiritually auspicious Indian rudraksha beads of different varieties. It was a delightful moment. At the beginning of the evenng, Heart-Master Adi Da opened a number of gifts, and a close friend suggested that he and I wait until a later moment, and surprise Heart-Master Adi Da with our gifts after He imagined that He had already been given everything. With a moment’s thought I agreed, and the night passed in anticipation of the moment when I would present our gift to Him. Periodically, I glanced at the pouch, which I kept hidden behind my shoulder bag, expectantly awaiting the right time.
Three hours or so into the gathering, my friend presented his gift, and so now I approached Heart-Master Adi Da’s Chair, where He sat Radiant and Happy. I knelt in front of Him and showed Him the pouch. Heart-Master Adi Da took the cloth bag in His great Hands, and He began to open the pockets. When He saw that it was rudraksha beads, He laughed, for I am always giving Him rudraksha beads. He uses them sacredly, Empowering them with His Energy and placing them in the sacred environments at the Sanctuaries, and He had spoken in the past of how much He appreciates them. This evening He told me what a pain in the ass all these rudraksha beads were—and how since I was always giving them to Him, He was always having to deal with them! He had a pained look on His face, indicating the burden that all these beads were. After a few moments, He broke down in laughter. “I was only kidding!” He exclaimed. I laughed, because I knew it anyway.
My intimate partner had been sewing the pouch up until the last moments before the gathering, and so she had had no time to check her work. A piece of thread came off one of the buttons, and Heart-Master Adi Da laughed, exclaiming that it was broken. He now accused me of giving Him a broken gift on His Birthday. It was somehow incredibly funny, because He was having such an infectiously good time giving me a hard time, and He was so sweet. I said that we would fix the pouch. And then I started to open the nine pockets of the pouch with Him. It was His gift, but somehow I could not keep away, and together we opened each pocket. I was so in love with Him. I savored every second of our interaction. Each moment was an eternity of pleasure, just being there with Him. He was so Happy, and I was so happy—and so fully able to tell Him how much I loved Him, without even having to say it. It was just there. It poured out of me, and how could it not? He was Radiant, and I was beaming in my love for Him, giving Him back that Love that He was Showering upon me.
“What are you doing pulling out those beads?” He barked at me. “You are showing My beads to everyone!” I startled from the force of His Shout, but I knew He was having a lot of fun teasing me. I laughed, and talked to Him excitedly about rudraksha beads. Actually, we were shouting at one another. I think what we were saying was making some sense, but it did not matter. I was completely ecstatic to be there with Him—and to enjoy the love that we had for one another, which was greater than anything else I knew or understood. I certainly was not double-checking anything I was saying! I mentioned that Ruchiradama Quandra Sukhapur Rani could inventory His rudraksha beads—”What does she know about rudraksha beads? How could she inventory the beads?” He shouted back. I could not stop laughing. And during this mirth and this chaos of feeling and love and emotion of gratitude and regard, somehow we continued to talk about something. Was it five minutes? Was it three weeks? I do not know, because it was timeless. And then I started to steal little kisses on my Heart-Master’s legs in the midst of conversation. There is a tradition of gopals, or male cowherds, who fall in love with the Sat-Guru just as the gopis do and love the Sat-Guru with the same passion and absorption. I knew about this tradition, but it certainly was not in my mind at this time. I was only there, and in love, and placing kisses on that Body which was more Attractive than anything else, and which I was moved to kiss, and so in love as to not feel any inhibition about it.
And finally in an instant my heart’s desire is fulfilled, and I hold my Beloved Guru’s head in my hands, and He holds my head in His. I kiss Him on His left cheek. And then our heads, in each others hands, move away, and the attraction and love cannot be fulfilled, and we kiss again, this time I on His right cheek. But the desire is there, and my love is too great, and in the midst of the cheek-kissing I am thinking about His lips, and cannot quite bring it to consciousness as a prayer or intention, or even admit it fully as a desire, but I want to kiss Him on the lips, which is of course too much and not possible. It is just too unconventional. And then we kiss on the lips. And even though, on the one hand, I cannot believe it is happening and I am too excited to be present there with Him, on the other hand, I somehow wanted it so much for so long that I am right there. And I am able to enjoy and savor His tenderness.
And all at once I climb Mount Everest, rise to the crown in ecstasy, and swoon in my lover’s arms. I am “drifted in the deeper land”. I am twirling in somersaults around and around. And still somehow I am laughing and joking with Heart-Master Adi Da about something, and maintaining a semblance of being a person, and then crawling away from His Chair to who knows where I was sitting to continue the Birthday Celebration, a foolish guy with a big mouth who cannot stop prostrating every moment before the Great One, and who is as “in love” as he has ever been, and knows that his life is different forever now, and that he might as well leave behind everything he has ever known or believed or presumed somewhere else, because it is a whole new ball game. Except that all this is in retrospect. In the moment it is just this FEELING in the heart that is Consciousness Itself, perfectly still, and already Realization.
Writes Jalal al-Din Rumi, the Sufi love poet: “Come! How much for a kiss of those precious rubies? If a kiss costs a life, it still must be bought!
“He is selling a kiss for a spirit! Go, buy! He is giving them away for free!” from William C. Chittick, The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi (Albany: State University of New York, 1983) p 303.
Soon after this event, Bhagavan Adi Da did invite me to come to pick up His Stash of rudraksha beads so that I could begin the process of inventorying His rudraksha bead collection. I went out to the Matrix, and walked into just outside where His bedroom was. I expected someone to give me the box of rudrakshas and then I would be on my way. But instead I was told that Bhagavan was waiting inside. So I went in, even now expecting that with this change in plan, He would be accompanied by members of His Household as He often was. But I was surprised to see Him completely alone. He was sitting on His bed. A wooden box was in front of Him. I bowed down before Him. And soon He had taken the lid of the box and showed me that it contained His Collection of rudraksha beads. A high percentage of everything that He had, I figured I had likely given Him, but it had been over the process of many years, since the early 1970s and I had never myself seen His Rudraksha collection before. However, although seeing the beads was wonderful, what was most special about the occasion was simply being with Him. I started to take individuals beads and pick them up and describe to Him what it was. One thing I was showing Him were the beads that had a different number of faces on them. I showed Him how to recognize the various faces on a rudraksha bead and therefore to be able to determine or count how many faces any particular bead had. After I showed Him this on a few beads, He asked to look at one of the beads, and indicated that He wanted me to assist Him while He would like Himself to count the faces on that bead. And so we did that next bead together. He was pleased to be learning and deepening His understanding of the beads themselves. Of course, a Divine Realizer, like Bhagavan Adi Da, enjoys an understanding of everything and all objects from the ultimate point of view. And He intuitively knows the significance of every thing. And as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Adi Da loved rudraksha beads. This is because they are inherently one of those things in nature that has a special quality to them, and is receptive to Spiritual energies and forces. And there is a long tradition of reverence for this particular plant and its role in aiding the Spiritual process.
So it was wonderful to be going through everything and me very quickly explaining to Him what He had in the box. At the same time, I would tell Him everything I could about what I knew was available in the world of rudraksha and what else I hoped at some point to acquire for Him as gifts from devotees.
At some point our conversation drifted to other Sacred objects. I would later provide for Adi Da many lingams, saligrams. and statues of Indian Gods and Goddess, as well as many other varied Sacred objects. But on this particular trip to Naitauba I had brought with me three extremely large gem quality golden cowrie shells. I had been involved in a car accident a few months before I had come on retreat. I had been rear-ended by a large garbage truck on a country road. As a result of this, there was a financial settlement that had allowed me to not only come on retreat, but also buy these golden cowries. There was a store in Marin County at that point that was called “The Golden Cowrie”. I went into the store searching for a gift to bring to Bhagavan Adi Da, knowing that I would be going on retreat to see Him. I knew that in Fiji, one of the most auspicious and revered items were golden cowries. These are gifts for the Tuis or Fijian chiefs, understood to be Spiritual items. I had previously purchased a golden cowrie for Adi Da at Jack’s Handicrafts in Nadi. It was a very expensive and a very good shell. And so I knew something about golden cowries. I explained to the owner of the Golden Cowrie shell that this golden cowrie that I wanted for Adi Da was very important, because He was such a unique and special Divine Realizer. Over and over again I let her know that He was the most special and discriminating customer that could be found. We looked at all of the golden cowries that she had in her shop, and she saw me gravitating towards the very best, and not worrying about the cost. Finally after over an hour, she said, “You know the very best golden cowries that I have are my personal ones, at my house. For your Teacher, I would part with these. I have been holding on to them, knowing that they really should go to a museum or a special collection somewhere and I can see that your Master is the home that likely they have been meant for. Do you want to come to my house to look at them?” I said yes, that I would love that, and that she was correct. And that the perfect home or location for these cowries would be Adi Da’s own Personal Environments which were Sacred Temples.
So we went to her house. And I spent a couple of hours with her and her family, showing them pictures of Adi Da and Naitauba, while they showed me the cowries that were there. And I bought from her, three specimens, of the largest and most beautiful golden cowries that could be found. They were a deep orange color, with pristine white borders and very large. When I arrived at Naitauba I showed Marcia Cohen, who was one of the members of Bhagavan Adi Da’s household, who often served Him with His Art. When she saw that I had not one, but three of these large and exquisite shells, she exclaimed, “Show off!” Normally I would not have had the finances to give such a gift. But that insurance claim had made it possible. At one early point during my retreat I sent the gift of these three cowries to Adi Da at the Matrix along with a card.
After Adi Da and I had completed looking at the rudraksha beads, Adi Da began to talk about golden cowries and how much He had Appreciated that gift. And He got up from the bed and walked around the room and showed me where He had placed each of the three Golden Cowries that I had given Him. And then showed me His other Golden Cowries, and we had a discussion about them.
I would later, in the 2000s, again gift Adi Da with two golden cowries. There was a man from the Philippines who sold many shells as a business. He had boats and a fleet of divers, and I got in contact with him. I told him that I wanted golden cowries for Adi Da, who was a great Spiritual Being. I told him that neither time nor expense were a problem. That I would give him whatever fair price he wanted. And that I could wait until he had done a good search. But that I wanted the very best. He happily accepted this request appreciating something about looking for a shell for a Divine Realizer, and for a year he had his divers looking for the best golden cowries that could be found. And when he finally sent them to me, he was able to tell me the day that each of the shells was found, and the location where the divers found them, as well as the depth in the water where they were found. (Typically shells that are found at a greater depth have a darker color as they are less exposed to sunlight. And they are considered more auspicious.) He sent me the two shells and without my asking, sent a third one. It was smaller and not so perfect, with just a tiny flaw, unnoticable except to a collector. That one was for me, as a gift. These were the later years, when I really did not hear much about Bhagavan Adi Da’s Response when He was given a Gift, so I never heard about His response to these two golden cowries.
After we had looked at various things around Bhagavan’s Room, I hugged Bhagavan Adi Da goodbye and bowed and left the room. He had given me the box of His Rudraksha collection to take with me. And I spent the next three weeks on my retreat, going through every bead and mala that Bhagavan Adi Da had and describing them for an inventory.
This was sent to Bhagavan Adi Da. He made comments on it, and then I worked on it some more until the inventory was completed. In the midst of this inventorying process I wrote a poem to Bhagavan Adi Da. It was named, “Ode to the Rudraksha Berry”. This poem along with my copy of the inventory were two of the many things I lost in the Valley Fire. But what it declared in five or six verses was my gratitude to the rudraksha berry. I was thanking the rudraksha berry for giving me the opportunity to serve, to gift, and to become intimate with Bhagavan Adi Da. I said that it was the greatest berry that could possibly be, because it had given me the means to be in relationship with Adi Da.
5- In 1990 my daughter Vina was living at Naitauba as a companion to Bhagavan Adi Da’s daughter Naamleela. Her eleventh birthday, October 3, was approaching. Bhagavan Adi Da wanted to give her a rudraksha mala as one of His Birthday gifts to her and so I had one sent to Him to give to her, with a Shiva-Shakti bead as a Master bead. (He also gave her a number of yellow saris, which was her special “color” given to her by Him, so that she would have her own color, just as the Brahmacharinis, his daughters, wore green.) Vina was going to have a birthday party which all of Bhagavan Adi Da’s daughters were going to attend. They excitedly asked Adi Da if He would please come, as that would be very special for Vina. Bhagavan Adi Da spoke to them about this, and made it plain to them that Vina was His devotee, not His daughter. Therefore, it was not appropriate for Him to come to her birthday party, as He would have done for His daughters. He said that He would find the right way to give her the rudraksha mala, in a way that was more in line with her right relationship to Him as His devotee.
There was a Darshan occasion on the porch Bhagavan’s Residence in Qaravi Village on Vina’s birthday. It was a formal silent occasion. Vina was attending along with the retreatant group, and many of the devotees on the island. I was grateful to also be present. At one point in the middle of the occasion, Bhagavan Adi Da looked in her direction and with His index finger, indicated to her that she should approach Him. She was confused at first, as people did not typically or hardly ever, approach Bhagavan Adi Da in the midst of a silent Darshan occasion. So He persisted in signalling to her to come forward. She finally did so. He took the rudraksha mala which had been prepared for her and put it in her hands. She was overwhelmed with His Love and His Blessing and returned to her seat with the mala, sobbing in joy and gratitude. Bhagvan Adi Da later explained to the Brahmacharinis, that to give Vina the rudraksha mala in a Darshan occasion was a fitting way to express Vina’s right relationship to Him.
Sadly, Vina lost this mala in a way that really was not her fault. She had been swimming at the Matrix with Bhagavan’s daughters. They each had laid out a towel on the beach, and Vina had carefully placed her rudraksha mala on the towel rather than risking taking it into the water. At some point Bhagavan Adi Da came by the daughters and Vina where they were swimming and invited them to go to one of the bures to spend time with Him. So they all came out of the water, leaving their towels were they were, so as not to delay Bhagavan Adi Da, and went off the bures. Several hours later, when Vina came back to get her towel and the rudraksha mala, to her shock and dismay, she found that the high tide had come in and washed them to sea. A tremendous search began, but it was not successful. Vina was broken hearted. And so I paid to have a replacement mala given to Vina as soon as possible. It was not the same as one Blessed by Bhagavan but it did fill the gaping hole that was there.
6- In 1999 on Bhagavan’s Jayanthi, I was invited along with many others to celebrate with Bhagavan in the Living Room at the Manner of Flowers. He was sitting on His Chair in the front of the room, and light jazz music was playing. The devotees present were wondering and talking with each about in a casual but respectful fashion, so that Adi Da could easily interact with anyone present in a natural manner. People would periodically approach Bhagavan Adi Da and say things to Him.
I approached Him on my knees on His right side, to the left facing the Chair. I bowed and then offered a rudraksha mala which I had brought as my Jayanthi gift. It was a largish Rudraksha about 10mm in diameter, with a Naitauba shell attached below the Master bead. This is an unusual size, different than what Bhagavan mostly had, and so that is why I went with this mala. Bhagavan received the mala and held it in His closed right hand.
I had so often given Bhagavan rudraksha malas, dating back to 1974 when I worked in the Dawn Horse Bookstore. So I talked with Bhagavan about this. I told Him, as He well knew, that I so often was giving Him rudraksha malas. And I asked Him if He would like me to continue to gift Him in this way, or if there was something else that He would rather receive from me. He replied that really He now had enough rudraksha malas and He appreciated them, but He really did not need any more. “Instead”, He said, “what I would like, is that every celebration you work on a Sacred gift with the community’s artisans. And what I would like is for you to include Me in the consideration each time, so that I could give My Input and be part of the group that was creating this Sacred Gift.” And then He drew me to Him for a big hug. I have a picture that Tamarind took, of Bhagavan hugging me on this occasion. And you will see in the picture (when I find it to post it here) that while He is hugging me, He still is holding the rudraksha mala in His Closed right fist. After He released me from the hug and I resumed kneeing to His right side, He reached out His hand and indicated for me to give Him my palm. And then He very forcefully placed His whole right hand with the rudraksha mala in my palm. It was not just placed there, He pressed it down into my palm with force. And He held the mala and His hand there for a little while, And then He withdrew His hand leaving the mala. It was like an initiation in some sense.
It meant so much to me. Because without Him consciously knowing it, I had lost the mala which He had previously given me in 1983. Which had been dear and precious to me. And I always felt it as a deep wound that this mala had been lost and that I no longer had that Blessed mala from Bhagavan Adi Da. So here He was giving me another, a replacement mala.
As it turned out, Ruchiradama Quandra Sukhapur, who was not present for this discussion, did not allow this gifting process to occur. I believe that she must have felt that it was her role to do this. But the very first gift that I suggested that should be worked on, a life-sized marble statue of Bhagavan Adi Da, she would not allow to be communicated to Bhagavan. And afterwards, everything needed to go through her and be approved or modified as to what she felt would be appropriate. Enough said.
7–In early 2008, Bhagavan Adi Da received an astrology report regarding His Health. One thing that was suggested, is that wearing three 11-faced beads on His Body would serve Adi Da’s Longevity. And so on Adi Da Guru Purnima in 2008, the last Guru Purnima of Beloved Bhagavan’s Human Bodily Lifetime, He received this mala. He wore it several times, but it was not something that He Wore on a daily basis. Here is a picture of the three eleven-faced beads that went on the mala:
And then below is a picture of the mala being gifted to Beloved Bhagavan Adi Da in late July, 2008 and then of Him wearing this mala.
8–When Bhagavan Adi Da took Mahasamadhi on November 27, 2008, I was grateful to be at Naitauba. On Sunday, November 30, Bhagavan Adi Da’s Body was moved from His Bedroom via a stretcher, to a flat bed truck that was waiting just outside of the verandah. I was one of those who was carrying the stretcher upon which His Body was transported. As we lifted Bhagavan Adi Da up from His Bed on the stretcher, the rudraksha mala which I was wearing got caught between the stretcher itself and the headboard of His Bed. The pull of the weight broke the rudraksha mala and although the largest part of the strand of beads stayed on my neck, other beads scattered on the floor. I was able to take the part of the broken mala that remained and with one hand (the other on the stretcher bier) quickly put it in my pocket. But there was no time to do anything else but to release any concern about the mala and to proceed with carrying Bhagavan Adi Da’s Body. Only the next day, did I ask Gina Macione, who was an attendant in Bhagavan Adi Da’s Bedroom, if she could help me find the missing beads. She did find some of the, but some were never found. And so I had the mala restrung with new beads. It felt interesting to me that my mala would be broken in the very process of carrying Bhagavan Adi Da out of His Bedroom on the way to the interment ceremony at the Outshining Brightness. It certainly signaled the end of one era and the beginning of a new one.
Rudraksha beads at Naitauba.
There are two rudraksha trees at Naitauba. These were acquired in Suva I believe, and were brought when they were plants just a few feet tall. Now they are towering trees. Bhagavan Spoke wanting to have rudraksha trees planted at Naitauba on November 24, 1989. He suggested that He would to have them around the Mahasamadhi site. And perhaps two or three plants at the Matrix. And then also at the Field of Emphasis. He also liked the idea of a rudraksha tree in association with the Sacred groves. And He talked about having both the Nepalese and the Indonesian varieties of beads. The two trees that are at Naitauba are the Nepalese variety. And they are pretty close to Temple Adi Da. The beads are now used occasionally as Master beads for devotee’s malas. Recently, in 2015, the first Siva-Shakti bead was discovered coming from these trees.
New One-faced bead gift on Da Guru-Purnima, 2016
As recently as 2015, Ruchiradama Quandra Sukhapur requested a one-faced bead to put on a mala for use in the special Sukra Kendra at the “Brightness”, Adi Da Samraj’s Mahasamdhi site. I asked Gupta for what might be available and he sent me eight different beads for review. The smallest was $2500 and it was just too small to be useful. The largest and best of the beads he showed me was $8500. Most of the beads on the One-Faced mala are of this size and quality. So that was a good indication to me of the value of the One-Faced Mala in 2015 terms.
It was finally settled on a bead of acceptable size and good quality that was $3,500. This was eventually gifted by devotees to Bhagavan Adi Da on the occasion of Adi Da Guru Purnima in 2016. It was the first One-Faced bead which Adidam had acquired in many years.
To those blessed devotees who have contacted Bhagavan in the Heart, he is the eternal presence, the unchanging reality, the substratum of all appearance. But even we, the many who have not understood and utilised properly this rare opportunity of Bhagavan’s advent in our midst, can be still spiritually benefited by him. The potency of his grace is such that it will, in course of time, effect a spiritual transformation in us, annihilate our ego, the source of all evil, and absorb us back into the Life Eternal. Let us open and surrender ourselves to his grace. Viswanath Swami pg. 249 The Power of the Presence: Transforming Encounters with Sri Ramana Maharshi, edited by David Godman. Boulder, Co.: The Avadhuta Foundation, 2002
This is the final paragraph in an autobiographical account of Viswanath Swami’s life and remembrances of Sri Ramana Maharshi. Viswanath Swami was one of the most celebrated of Ramana Maharshi’s devotees as exemplifying or embodying practice of his way. He lived from from 1904 through 1979.
I found especially important the sentence in this account where it is said, “even we, the many who have not understood and utilised properly this rare opportunity of Bhagavan’s advent in our midst”.
It is this self-understanding that I believe gives integrity to Adidam and our practice. Certainly the same can be said for the way in which all of us devotees understood and utilized the rare opportunity that was the Appearance of Adi Da Samraj. Adi Da and all that He offered and offers is so great. Yet, the truth is that Adi Da struggled with our lack of response to Him, and the world’s non-response to Him. He was Giving with both hands and great arms of love, but we could only use His Gifts just so much. There is no doubt about this to any who know the intimate history of Adi Da’s Own relationship to His devotees and to the world. It is on that reality-basis that I feel that we can move beyond our own cultism and past-history and embrace the continued future of Adidam.
I may add to this post, but it is greatly relieving to me in some sense to see this quote from Vishwanath Swami, and to acknowledge this.
This talk, now turned into an essay, first appeared in print in Scientific Proof of the Existence of God Will Soon Be Announced by the White House! in 1980 under the title, “Radical Politics for Ordinary Men and Women”. But I remember Bhagavan Adi Da talking about the manuscript for this and the other similar essays that He was working on, back in 1975. With the present state of the culture in the world and within Adidam I find it more and more relevant and useful. It has helped me a lot and is a present calling to all of us much as ever. Of course the full essay itself is recommended, and that is in Not-Two Is Peace.
From “Reality-Politics for Ordinary Men and Women” which appears in Not-Two Is Peace: The Ordinary People’s Way of Global Cooperative Order, by the World-Friend, Adi Da Samraj, Is Peace 723: Middletown, Ca., 2009, pg. 121-2, 124
The existence of the big political “system” does not make any ultimate positive difference in the daily life of the individual. You can and must live a truly free, responsible life, regardless of the “system” or the “news”. Of course, it can be done a little more easily if the “system” is relatively accommodating and the “news” is relatively benign. You would have to be more inventive to do it in an absolutist society, or during a war in a bombed-out town. Nevertheless—regardless of the larger politics or the state of the “news—the truly human (and humanizing) politics of intimate, cooperative living can (and indeed, must) be done. And, therefore, the ego-transcending discipline of intimate, cooperative living is the only real and true politics—or the only genuine “realpolitik” (or Reality-politics) for ordinary (or truly human) men and women.
The true change that you must create is not principally in the “system” itself (or in the parent-like world of competitive egos) but in the ordinary, daily associations between yourself and other human beings. People who would be free must live in a non-egoic manner, in intimate cooperation with one another. Human beings must truly understand themselves—in all of their external and internal egoity—and they must, on that basis, adapt to a cooperative and mutually tolerant arrangement of daily life, in which they are each personally responsible for the character of daily existence and in which they simply live together, intimately and seriously, free of reactive and dependent association with the parent-like abstract world of the “news”. . . .
The true politics of the individual is in relation to what is intimate to him or her. Truly human politics is in the sphere of directly effective relationships, experienced on a daily basis—where the individual’s voice and experience can be directly heard and sympathetically felt. That fundamentally is politics. All the rest is only the vulgar and inherently disheartening daily “news” of the world-mummery of human egos. . . .
In a true cooperative human community every one knows what every one else has the tendency to become (when irresponsible) and the possibility to become (when responsible). And all serve one another at the level of that understanding. They all also know the functional character and capability of each one among them, and they amuse and enjoy and serve and employ one another at every appropriate level. Right responsibility for functional life (and, thus, for the positive unifying of the structures of the human individual, and of all of the members of the collective itself) must always be assumed, and demanded in a truly human (or truly ego-transcending, and cooperative and mutually tolerant) community. When it is not, that failure of responsibility (and, thus, of individual well-being and of collective unity) will, inevitably, weaken the community—and, thus, enable (or even oblige) shrewder men and women to exploit and oppress the members of the community, and make them slaves to their own egoity again.
This post begins with stories of those who served with Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi in the kitchen. For many years he very intimately served alongside the kitchen staff preparing the Ashram meals. This was a regular and every day occupation of his. When many of the stories of this first appeared in a book published in the late 1970s, (entitled Ramana Smriti) Adi Da Appreciated them very much. He felt that they balanced out a picture of Ramana Maharshi that was being presented characterizing him as a merely silent sage sitting on his couch, or talking about high scholarly matters.
This first is a paragraph from Subbhalakshmi Ammal:
To serve Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi at mealtimes was a dangerous adventure. Our womanly desire was to fill him to the brim. His rule was to clear his plate no matter what or how much was served. Not a speck of food would be left uneaten. So we had to be watchful and serve him much less than we would like to. It was not easy, and we would often fail. He would scold us bitterly or, what was infinitely worse, would fall ill and suffer. I cannot understand how he manged to produce illness when a lesson was needed, but our life with him was crisis after crisis. pg. 267 account of Subbhalakshmi Ammal from the chapter “Kitchen Workers” in book 3 of The Power of the Presence: Transforming Encounters With Sri Ramana Maharshi, Part Three, edited by David Godman, Avadhuta Foundation, Boulder, Co., 2002
Bhagavan would take any amount of trouble to teach us the virtues necessary for Self-discovery. Our life in the ashram was a school of yoga, and a hard school too. For book-knowledge was nothing to him. Only character and genuine spiritual experience counted.
With time he ceased working in the kitchen, but we could still find him in the dining hall. When all would leave after food, he would linger on his seat and we would collect around him to chat and listen to his precious words. He would teach us and guide us, and we would forget the years that had passed and be again the happy crowd of yore.
One had to live and work with him to know what a great teacher he was. Through the trifles of daily life he taught us Vedanta both in theory and practice. He led us with absolute wisdom and infinite kindness. We were changed to the very root of our being, not even knowing the depth and scope of his influence. It is only now, after so many years, that we can see the meaning of his orders, prohibitions, reprimands and storms that we had to endure. At that time we understood so little and just obeyed, merely because we felt that he was God. Even that feeling we owed to his grace, for from time to time he would left us seem him as he really was: the Lord Almighty, and not the human frame to which we were accustomed. We were women, simple and uneducated. It was our love for him, a reflection of his love, which chained us to his feet and made us stay. For him we gave up hearth and home and all our earthly ties. We only knew that we were safe with him, that in some miraculous way he would take us to our goal. He himself was our goal, our real home. More than that we did not know or care. We were even slow to learn the lesson of equality between man and beast that he was so anxious to teach us. Tu us, he alone existed. His radiant form was enough for us. We did not know then that it was not enough, that a human soul must learn to embrace the universe and realise the Self’s own presence in every living being. We would concentrate too much on him and resent his compelling us to enlarge our attention to the manifestations of the Self that were all around us. His occasional harsh treatment would bewilder us and make us cry. Now we see that it was love that suffered as it laboured.
Yogis control themselves severely for long periods to reach the state to which Bhagavan would take us by making us work near him in the kitchen. He would make the small tasks of daily life into avenues that led to light and bliss. We experienced ecstasy in grinding, rapture in cooking, joy in serving iddlies to devotees. Why? Because while we were doing these things , we were experiencing the state in which the mind is in the Heart. Our hearts were with him and in him, and he was in all the work we did. Someone who has not had this experience cannot really know how much bliss a human heart can contain.
Although physically he is no more with us, he still directs us, as in the past. He will not let go his hold on us until we reach the other shore. This is our unshakable faith. We may not always be conscious of his guidance, but we are safe in his hands.
Sri Krishna, in his mercy, became a cowherd to teach simple milkmaids the way to salvation. Similarly, Bhagavan, the same Supreme Being in another form, took to cooking in order to save a few ignorant women. With his eyes he served his devotees the food of the spirit, with his hands, the bread of life. pg. 269-7,,
account of Subbhalakshmi Ammal from the chapter “Kitchen Workers” in book 3 of The Power of the Presence: Transforming Encounters With Sri Ramana Maharshi, Part Three, edited by David Godman, Avadhuta Foundation, Boulder, Co., 2002
* * * * * *
A devotee once arranged for big feast for all the inmates and guests of the ashram. Bhagavan had a bad cold that day. Whenever he was afflicted in this way, he would not take milk, curds [yogurt] or coffee. That day the people in the kitchen prepared some sweet pancakes and planned to serve them with almond milk. We were all sad that Bhagavan would not be able to eat any. Chinnaswami [Ramana Maharshi’s brother and the sarvadhikari or overall manager of the Ashram], who was naturally anxious that the feast should go off without a hitch, assured us that Bhagavan would eventually relent and eat what we had prepared.
When it was time for us to eat, Raja Iyer started serving pancakes to Bhagavan, who immediately asked him, ‘Are they sweet?’
‘No,’ lied Raja Iyer, thinking that Bhagavan would be more likely to take some if he answered this way.
‘Then put some rasam [a savory thin watery soup which is flavoured with spices] on them,’ said Bhagavan.
I had the almond milk in my hands so I poured it over his pancake.
Bhagavan immediately flared up. ‘What! I ask for rasam and you serve me milk? Go and get some rasam?’
We then had to serve him rasam with one extra pancake. He mixed all of it together – sweet pancakes, almond milk, and rasam [Ramana Maharshi often mixed all of his food together this way, indifferent to the various tastes] – and then ate the strange-tasting, homogenized pulp on his plate.
When he had finished, he continued complaining, ‘I ask for one thing and get another. I ask for plain pancakes and get sweet ones. I ask for rasam and get almost milk. You expect the swami to eat as he is told. You seem to know what is best for your swami.
The next day Bhagavan refused to drink coffee. Since I believe that he was doing this punish us for our misbehaviour the day before, I gave up coffee too, as a penance, and a hard penance it was!
After a month had passed like this, I burst into tears before Bhagavan. ‘Swami, I offended you, but there must be an end to the punishment. Please have your coffee.’
Bhagavan looked surprised.
‘No, I do not think I gave up coffee to punish you. Why should I punish anybody? I gave up coffee because it does not agree with me. Ask the doctor. He will tell you. He advised me to avoid coffee.’
Then, turning to the audience, Bhagavan added: ‘It was the same on the hill. If I did not take coffee, nobody would touch it and all would curse the swami for depriving them of coffee.’
A few days later Janaki Amma brought a huge pot of coffee and placed it before Bhagavan.
‘What am I do do now?’ he asked. ‘Coffee has come by itself. Nobody asked Janaki to bring it. Now, if I do not drink it, nobody will touch it, and Janaki will be upset.’
He tasted some of Janaki’s coffee and began to take it regularly again soon after that.
You may ask what this storm in a pot of coffee has to do with liberation and realisation. Those who have not lived through it cannot appreciate the deep, spiritual effect of these anxieties and conflicts. Our sense of ‘I’ would hurl itself against the rock of truth, but the rock would not yield. The ‘I’ had to yield and in that yielding was the highest blessing. Bhagavan’s anger would sometimes seem to shatter us to pieces, and blessed indeed were they who saw in his wrath his utmost grace. pg 252-4, account of Shantammal from the chapter “Kitchen Workers” in book 3 of The Power of the Presence: Transforming Encounters With Sri Ramana Maharshi, Part Three, edited by David Godman, Avadhuta Foundation, Boulder, Co., 2002
account of Sundaram (Sadhu Trivenigiri)
It would sometimes happen that some soup or vegetables would remain after serving everybody. It was Bhagavan’s standing order that such leftovers would be used as stock for the next day’s breakfast sambar [a brpwn spicy sauce made with dhal and vegetables used in every meal]. As iddlies with sambar was our standard breakfast, and since we needed sambar every morning, the leftovers from the previous day came in handy. But this order created a serious problem, for custom demanded that no leftover could be used the next day. Food cooked the day before was considered polluted and polluting. It was a matter of custom only, because fried food was excluded from the rule, and sweets and vadai [lens-shaped deep-fried savory]were kept for days. Bhagavan would come to the kitchen in the early hours in the morning, see what was left over from the night before, warm it up, dilute it, and add some more ingredients for the morning’s sambar. He would sometimes use a pot that was still black from the previous day’s cooking, when tradition demanded that it should first be washed and smeared with a paste of mud.
The injunctions against food from the previous day is very much respected in the higher castes of South India, and no doubt it is a very salutary custom. But Bhagavan, insisting that the avoidance of waste overruled everything else, would never permit God’s gifts to be thrown away. As for giving leftovers to beggars, it was not practicable, for Bhagavan insisted that beggars be given the same good as everybody else, and not some inferior stuff. Even doges had to be fed the common meal, and first, too!
The ladies would come in the morning to clean the kitchen and make it ready for the day’s cooking. When they found Bhagavan there brewing the morning’s sambar from the previous days leftovers they would be deeply distressed, but would not, of course, dare to admonish him. Bhagavan watched them and waited. Their distress was real and deep for they were risking loss of caste. On the other hand, Bhagavan’s instructions were clear – no waste of food in the ashram, and the same food for all. It was a tug of war between the wisdom of the Guru and the cultural habits of his followers.
The ladies tried to be in the kitchen very early, but he was always there first, cooking the sambar. One day some of the sambar was taken to a devotee’s house, but when it was discovered that it was a sambar cooked from the previous day’s leftovers, a special ceremony was ordered to purify the house.
On hearing this, Bhagavan told the ladies, ‘Call the purifiers and get your kitchen purified. I shall never more enter your kitchen.’
The women, for the sake of their orthodox customs, lost Bhagavan’s constant presence, company and guidance. It was a real tragedy. All the devotees in the ashram believed that Bhagavan was God incarnate, and that he came to purify us, bless us, and put our feet firmly on the path to liberation. Yet when God himself went against their religious customs, they preferred to cling to their customs rather than to God. Thus again and again we drive God from our midst. A disciple is expected to choose between truth and convention. Blessed were those who had no other rule than obedience to Bhagavan.
It was clear that Bhagavan was trying to each us the simple lesson that in his presence no rule was valid except the rule of absolute surrender. But it was not an easy lesson to learn. Again and again old habits and loyalties would assert themselves and make us it our will against his, to our greatest harm. . . .
Bhagavan was neither a rebel nor a reformer. He did not discourage people from following their religious custons at home, but in the ashram he would not take all the customs for granted. At Ramanasramam he was both the religion and the custom, and those who forgot it had to face his very strong will! pg. 236-239, account of Subbhalakshmi Ammal from the chapter “Kitchen Workers” in book 3 of The Power of the Presence: Transforming Encounters With Sri Ramana Maharshi, Part Three, edited by David Godman, Avadhuta Foundation, Boulder, Co., 2002
In 2001, Bhagavan Adi Da was temporarily staying at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite Valley. I had just returned from a trip to India in service of Bhagavan Adi Da. I was invited to come to Bhagavan Adi Da to bring the prasad and gifts from India to Him . The full story of this trip can be related in another place, but her I would to focus on one incident. I brought with me a white marble statue of Ganesh that had been carved by the Bharadwaj family in Jaipur, who have made so many marble murtis for Bhagavan Adi Da. It was about a foot in height. Bhagavan Adi Da was staying in one of the cabins that are part of the Ahwahnee hotel that are outside the main hotel building, but behind it. And there was also rented another cabin that served as a kind of office and what we called a “runner’s station”. Here things that we coming in or going out of Bhagavan’s Own Residence were brought. I brought the Ganesh statue here to offer to Bhagavan Adi Da. I had brought it from India and I have to say for the sake of the story, that the statue was completely unbroken and complete when I personally put it in the hands of Ruchiradama Quandra Sukhapur just outside the runner’s cabin to take to Bhagavan Adi Da.. I left and returned to another room which had been rented for devotees, where I would mostly situate myself during this trip.
No longer than ten minutes after I had left the runner’s station, I was called back there. I got on the telephone to speak to Ruchiradama Quandra Sukhapur. I thought it would be some words about the statue and it was. However, what I heard was quite a surprise. Bhagavan Adi Da wanted me to know that while He Appreciated the Ganesh statue very much, He was disturbed that it had a broken ear. He told me that Surendra should take more attention in packing up the statue so that breaks like this should not occur in the future. And He wanted to know what would traditionally be done with a statue that had been broken like this. He wanted me to find out from India about this.
I was shocked about the broken ear. As I thought it through, it became 100% clear what must have happened. Ruchiradama Quandra Sukhapur must have knocked the statue into perhaps a doorway or a wall and have broken the statue. And for her own reasons, she just did not say anything to Bhagavan about having done that. So He presumed that I had brought the statue in a broken condition, along with the now detached ear. Within a few minutes the statue was returned to the runners station to see if it could be repaired and so I could see that it was a simple and clean break. Marble is very soft, and really just knocking it, even relatively gently, against a doorway, could cause such a break.
However, the criticism of myself and Surendra about the statue being broken was very light. So I figured that somehow in His Psychic and all-knowing manner, Bhagavan Adi Da “knew” that Surendra and I had not broken the statue. I never even bothered to say anything about this to Ruchiradama Quandra Sukhapur or Bhagavan. It was so clear that she had her own reasons for telling Bhagavan that the statue was already broken. And that Bhagavan did not choose to confront her about this at this point. But it was my feeling that He had to say something about it, so that she understood that it was not just nothing that this statue was broken.
So I did call Surendra and asked him if he would ask the marble sculptors, who are from a brahmin caste family, what would traditionally be done with such a broken statute. I did not tell Surendra that Bhagavan had told Surendra to take more care in packing statues, because his packing had done just fine, and the statue had arrived with me as excess baggage my airplane trip from India just fine.
Surendra told me that Kamal Bharadwaj, who oversaw the Pink City sculpture studio, gave a response about the traditional orientation to any break of a statue. He was 100% clear that such a statue should simply be “thrown out” or in India, traditionally submerged in a river, lake, or ocean. A statue that had been broken in any manner was no longer considered Sacred. It was now polluted and “un-whole” and therefore should not be used in any temple or Sacred capacity.
The next day i got on the telephone and passed on this information Ruchiradama Quandra Sukhapur to give to Bhagavan. I told her that according to the traditional accounts, the statue should no longer be used, and we should get a replacement for it. But I added more commentary to this.
I had studied the life of Upasani Baba of Sakori, who passed away in 1939. He was a saint well-known to and Appreciated by Bhagavan Adi Da. Upasani Baba used words in unconventional ways. He would break them down in different places than is usually done, and based on this, give them new pronunciations and interpretations. These would not typically be acceptable to brahmin Sanskritists and the keepers of the traditional rules of language. However, it was understood that since Upasani Baba was not an ordinary man, but instead a Realizer, that He had the right to establish new “rules”. It was the Enlightened insights and understandings of the Realizers that had originally set the rules, and they were a higher authority than the rules themselves. So if something was prescribed by a Divine Realizer, it was a higher law than any traditional prescription. And I passed on that Bhagavan Adi Da, as a Divine Realizer, was a higher authority or source of Wisdom relative to a broken statue, than the traditional rules. So I pointedly expressed that if a marble statue were broken, but then repaired in such a manner that it was Pleasing to Bhagavan Adi Da, that such a statue need not be thrown out. It could be used just as readily as any other statue. It was, after all, Bhagavan Adi Da’s Own Use of such a statue that would give it relevance within the genuine context of Adidam, not any traditional artistic form or symbolic meanings. Bhagavan simply accepted this principle as being correct.
And this was a principle that I invoked or used many, many times in my relationship with Bhagavan Adi Da. My own service at Bhagavan Adi Da’s Feet was often to research some aspect of a traditional understanding so that Bhagavan could be informed about this. Each incident of this is a story in itself. Once He asked me to determine the traditional directional orientation for a meditation hall or Sacred site. Another time He wanted to know about devotional worship of lingam stones and gender issues. He once asked me if paduka shoes should be placed so that the spindles are facing Him, or facing away from Him. He often wanted to know about the way that some word or phrase might be translated or pronounced. And I learned that His Own Wisdom or Insight into any of these questions was always senior or superior to any traditional or cultural understanding. He would always tell me, based on genuine Spiritual principles which often He only knew, just what should be the solution to the very research question that He had asked me. Perhaps there had been some genuine wisdom somewhere in the mix of a traditional or cultural custom or heritage. But that might have been long in the past. And Adi Da was a Divine Realizer who came into a culture or world-society where genuine Wisdom relative to virtually every thing had been lost. So His entire Work was an establishment of truth and right life and right orientation relative to everything in the cultural wasteland of the Western and increasingly Westernized total world of the 20th and early 21st century.
What Bhagavan wanted me to find out whenever I would research something was not simply the outward observance or practice. But to try to get out what was the cultural or Spiritual understanding underneath the practice. What was the point of such a practice in terms of what is right Spiritual life. It was on that basis that He would determine what kind of practical recommendation He would make in the establishment of the genuine culture of Adidam. It became clear to me that even before asking about a traditional custom or practice that Bhagavan Adi Da already “knew” what were the essential points of any “consideration”. But something about receiving information about a traditional cultural orientation would add a certain depth and fullness and “linking up” quality to the overall discussion and eventual decision about how to orient ourselves to some area. Just as in the story above about Ramana Maharshi establishing a principle of no wasting of food, as senior to a prohibition against using leftovers, Adi Da also would penetrate traditional rules and customs and even ordinary inclinations of men and women in establishing right life and Spiritual principles of a true and genuine culture. In Adi Da’s case, His establishment of a genuine culture included every aspect of life, including the domain of use of money, sexuality and relationship, and dietary wisdom, as well as sacramental worship and meditation. In every one of these areas, His Own devotees tussled with Bhagavan Adi Da about their own preferences and bargaining for what they “preferred” and His Clarity and Wisdom always shone through, even as His Strength and Heroism and Compassion was required in this Work.
The following is from a devotee of Ramana Maharshi named Viswanath Swami. David Godman writes of him: He was a distant relative of Ramana Maharshi who ran away from home to join Bhagavan at Ramanasramam and eventually ended up spending most of his life there. He served both Ganapati Muni and Bhagavan during his early years in Tiruvannamalai. A good Sanskrit and Tamil scholar, he ended up translating many of Bhagavan’s texts.
Viswanath Swami narrates:
Many of Sri Bhagavan’s activities, utterances, and reactions were to some degree predictable. When you live in close proximity to a great being such as Bhagavan, becoming drenched in his presence and teachings, you start to believe that you understand him, at least to a certain degree. However, once in a while Bhagavan would spontaneously say things that astounded us all, making us realise how little we really knew and understood him. I remember one such statement very well.
Bhagavan once told me, ‘All sorts of beings gravitate towards the presence of a jnani – devas [ inhabitants of the heavenly realms] , rishis [sages], Brahmanishtas [those established in Brahman], siddhas [perfected beings with supernatural powers] and yogis. Some come in a normal human form, but others turn up in their subtle, astral bodies. Some of these great beings show up in the guise of beggars or madmen, and some of them even manage to appear in the forms of birds and animals.
‘Among those who show up in a normal human body, and who subsequently stay on and become devotees, there is a huge range of spiritual attainment: complete beginners mix with highly advanced souls. The most advanced are ripe fruits, just waiting to fall. They only have to come into the presence of a jnani in order to plunge into a deep experience of the Self…. pg, 24-25 from the chapter “Mastan” in book 3 of The Power of the Presence: Transforming Encounters With Sri Ramana Maharshi, Part Three, edited by David Godman, Avadhuta Foundation, Boulder, Co., 2002
On December 21, 2004, I spoke with Bhagavan Adi Da about the traditional understanding of the Divine Master being surrounded by Spiritual beings of a more subtle nature than humans. He took the opportunity to correct a presumption I was making at that moment, that these were simply “benign” higher beings, coming for Blessing, making sure that I understood that as Avatar He was having to deal with, or serve, higher beings that themselves were egoic and needed further Instruction. Here is that discussion:
JAMES STEINBERG: Beloved, the tradition is that around the Avatar, the spirits congregate to receive instruction and to partake of the center of the cosmos, they feel the blessing and the talks and discourses, and they want to be there too.
AVATAR ADI DA SAMRAJ: Yes, there’s certainly all that, but there’s also not coming to learn or be blessed or awakened only. There’s coincidence with all kinds of energy, attitude, tricksterism, provocation, threat or apparent threat anyway, and it can be virtually anything, so it’s not just I’m there and everybody’s coming for blessing.
Look at you all. It’s been thirty-two years of struggle, most of it sort of innocuous enough, but it’s still dealing with opposition or oppositeness or self-possession in people. So what makes you think discrete or apparently separate energies, or persons, or apparencies of some dimension of energy that’s slightly different from this are going to be anything but egoic? Why would they come for blessing if they weren’t egoic? Egos come for blessing. Those who are most right in it come truly to be blessed and to surrender. Why is it presumed that just because I am who I am that that means the whole universe is aligned to Me in some devotional manner? If that were all there were to it, why would I have to appear here to begin with?
So My work here is to make a great difference, not merely to be a friendly guest, smiling goofily at the head of the room. There’s barely even a roomful yet even to listen to Me and it’s been more than three decades. Bullshit sells like hotcakes, not truth. Flies swarm on shit [laughter], bullshit especially, horseshit too. It has to be some variety of shit or they don’t show up [laughter]
from G. V. Subbaramayya:
When Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi was once asked about the state of the jnani, he replied, ‘The jnani weeps with the weeping, laughs with the laughing, plays with the playful, sings with those who sing, keeping time to the song. What does he lose? His presence is like a pure transparent mirror. It reflects the image exactly as it is.’
One might deduce from this that Sri Bhagavan would only cry when grieving or extremely joyful people came into his presence, but this was manifestly not the case. He would frequently burst into tears when he read out scriptural stories or dramas that had high emotional content. On such occasions Sri Bhagavan would merge so completely into the characters and the situation, he would feel their anguish, their joy, their pain and their suffering. Often this would result in a flood of tears from him.
When Sri Bhagavan read these stories to us, it would not be a dry, objective narrative. He would act out the parts and the emotions of the various protagonists in a way that thrilled us all. His tone, his face, his gestures would make the scene come alive before us and at the climactic moments of the story his voice would get choked, tears would flow in profusion, and a complete emotional breakdown would often stop further proceedings. I remember two such occasions when we were so caught up in Sri Bhagavan’s re-enactment, we too ended up in tears.
The first occasion was when Sri Bhagavan was reading out the passage in Arunachala Puranam in which the sage Gautama is in his hermitage. The second was when Sri Bhagavan recited from the Malayalam Ramayana the anguished rebuke of the bereaved Tara as he was complaining to Sri Rama, who had just slain Vali. On both of these occasions, those of us present were so much overwhelmed, we too also sobbed and wept with uncontrollable emotion. We could then realise that Sri Ramana was no dry-as-dust philosopher but one who high-strung nerves and sensitive heart reacted to the least emotional appeal. Sri Bhagavan himself once observed that he could sit unmoved through any amount of philosophical discourse, but he could not remain unresponsive to a passage, however small, that stirred the sentiment of devotion or sorrow.
I once managed to make Sri Bhagavan cry as a result of one of my own readings. I had been asked to translated one of Major Chadwick’s poems in praise of Sri Bhagavan into Telugu verse. It had been written to commemorate Sri Bhagavan’s sixtieth birthday. The fifteen verse contained the following sentiments:
On this occasion as we gather at the feet of Sri Bhagavan we should neither discuss philosophy nor estimate our individual progress in spirituality but simply pour our hearts out to him who has graciously lived with us and befriended us these sixty years . . .
I could read no more. My voice became choked and I began to cry. Sri Bhagavan looked at me lovingly, with tears of his own streaming down his cheeks.
Some casual visitors might have wondered how an apparently stoical jnani like Sri Bhagavan would ever weep and show tears. The fact was, Sri Bhagavan’s heart was soft as butter, and it would melt at the slightest touch of sympathy. It was full to overflowing with the milk of grace.
pg. 125 from the chapter “G. V. Subbaramayya” in book 3 of The Power of the Presence: Transforming Encounters With Sri Ramana Maharshi, Part Three, edited by David Godman, Avadhuta Foundation, Boulder, Co., 2002
Suri Nagamma writes of Sri Ramana Maharshi and his interactions with the cow Lakshmi:
Lakshmi’s great devotion and possessive way in which she would always approach Bhagavan, along with the great kindness and attention that he showed her, convinced many of the devotees that there was some special bond between them. Many of us felt that although Lakshmi now wore the form of a cow, she must have attached herself to Bhagavan and won his grace by love and surrender in her previous birth. It seemed hard to us to explain in any other way the great solicitude and tenderness that Bhagavan always showed in his deaings with her. Because, although he was all love and kindness and had solicitude for all, he was normally very undemonstrative. The open expressions of his grace that Lakshmi used to receive were quite exceptional…..
pg. 288-9 from the chapter “Lakshmi” in book 3 of The Power of the Presence: Transforming Encounters With Sri Ramana Maharshi, Part Three, edited by David Godman, Avadhuta Foundation, Boulder, Co., 2002