Perhaps no woman in American history was more in touch with the meaning of Easter, than Ma Jaya. Being a Jewish Mother who had the ability to fill the Unitarian Church in San Francicco with a FLASH OF WHITE LIGHT, is no easy task. We all gasped, including Wavy Gravy who was sitting next to me. Spotting him as she looked at everyone of us, she invited him on stage. The church was packed. I would see Jaya two more times in a small room. She induced a vision.
Jon ‘The Nazarite’
In the 70’s I went to the Unitarian Church in San Francisco to see
Joya Santana, today known as Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavita, who was given
the name Tenzin Yangchen by the Dalai Lama, which means ‘Keeper of
the Dharma’, and Yangchen, ‘Goddess of Wisdom’. I considered myself a
follower of Meher Baba at the time, and was looking for a living
The Unitarian church seats about three hundred people, and I found
myself seated next to Wavy Gravy. This was the first time Joya was to
appear in public, her enlightenment achieved after she took up Yoga
to lose weight. She was a typical Jewish Brooklyn housewife, and
practiced Kundalingi Yoga by mistake, and had miraculous visions.
When Joya emerged, there was a collective gasp, and simultaneously
everyone sat upright, as she was bathed in a powerful white light
that hit us like a force. I had read of this light in studying the
Hindu religion and smiled to see it in person, knowing it was
possible. Some people laughed with joy, and then Joya smiled,
sheepishly, uttering her first words in public;
“I promised my Garu I would’nt do that, but, I couldn’t help myself.”
She then sat down and studied her audience. Spotting Wavey Gravy, she
beckoned him up to sit next to her. She was a delight, and I would
see her several more times. In a private home in the Berkeley hills,
we meditated and I had a vision of a crystal ball entwined in vines.
I then saw her and these beautiful Hindu women running down a green
grassy hill to a temple that was lit pink with the setting sun. Joya
then told us about her visit to India to the shrine of her deceased
Garu, who was also the Guru of Ram Das. It was Ram Das and a
gentleman known by the name Padwa who were instrumental in getting
the Dalai Lama out of Tibet.
Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati grew up in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, just a short walk from the famous Coney Island Boardwalk. The homeless people who lived under the Boardwalk taught her “There are no throwaway people,” and inspired her to begin a life of service. When she was in her thirties, a weight loss class led her to learn a simple yogic breath that would ultimately bring about her spiritual enlightenment. From there, her personal spiritual journey moved quickly and at times chaotically. As a modern urban woman, she tried to live a normal life and raise a family; at the same time, as a person of rare spiritual gifts, she daily opened to a series of mystical visions and experiences. She had an experience first of Jesus Christ, then of Shri Bhagawan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri, and finally her guru, Shri Neem Karoli Baba. Since then, her teaching has expanded to express many spiritual lineages. She has followed Christ’s instruction to “teach all ways,” going beyond religious differences
Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati (died April 14, 2012) was a spiritual teacher born to Jewish parents in Brooklyn, United States. Her outlook has been influenced by Jesus Christ and the Hindu saint Bhagawan Nityananda. She has also been informed by the teachings of Neem Karoli Baba, Ramana Maharshi, Narish Keit, and Shirdi Sai Baba.
America’s favorite clown philanthropist throws a benefit starring Steve Earle and John Trudell May 20 at the Rio.
When the Seva Foundation teamed up with Wavy Gravy in 1978, organizers found themselves with a steady supply of funding and musicians. Gravy is knee-deep in famous names and has the personality of an entire circus, hauling everybody he knows into his philanthro-activism. A few phone calls from Gravy and Seva’s latest benefit concert comes together, and it turns out that when the hippie clown blows the horn, water turns into wine and the Avengers assemble: the Sunday, May 20 show at the Rio Theatre features Steve Earle, John Trudell, Dave Alvin, Peter Rowan, Nina Gerber and other roots rock luminaries in a benefit for Native American health care.
“I’m very, very blown away by my ability to raise money,” Gravy admits. Born Hugh Romney and raised in New Jersey, he’s made a lot of the right friends since the 1960s, among them Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, John Coltrane, Phil Lesh, Ani DiFranco and B.B. King.
“Basically I was a teen beatnik who ran poetry readings at Gaslight,” Gravy says, waxing nostalgic about the New York café in the days when they were all still kids in the first frenzy of drugs and art. “I persuaded the owner to put on some folk music nights, and when I first introduced Bob Dylan he was wearing Woody Guthrie’s underwear—he really was, I’m not making this up—and his guitar read ‘this machine kills Fascists.’”
He ended up sharing a studio over the Gaslight with Dylan and running with Ken Kesey’s wolves, working as an entertainer/activist at Woodstock alongside the performers and setting up big-name stages and communes across the country.
And he’s still at it, while the other flower children stir their tea in corporate lunchrooms and shed a single tear for the past. The eternal emcee works closely with Seva, best known for reversing blindness in nearly 3 million people by growing sustainable global eye-care programs throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America.
The May 20 show, a project to set up Native American reservations with preventative health care services, benefits a domestic agenda some longtime fans might not know about.
“If we were going to help anyone [in the U.S], it should be the people who have been the most abused,” Gravy says. Seva has funded Native American–run clinics on reservation land and has begun to look at poor diets as a leading cause of type II diabetes among native populations.
According to the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2010, 546,400 cases of diabetes were found among Native Americans living in the U.S. Another 1,027,000 had pre-diabetes, a condition in which the blood sugar level is higher than normal but hasn’t yet reached the range of diabetes.
“We’re now getting deeper into traditional foods,” Gravy says. “The spread of diabetes on reservations is caused by the commodities they’re given, and we’re setting up programs helping them eat better. It used to be that if you saw a vegetable on a reservation, you’d want to take a picture of it. They were that rare.”
So don’t eat the food the government hands out, and don’t use their blankets either. Indigenous reliance on the U.S. government has been a traditionally bad idea, and Wavy Gravy stresses the importance of helping Native American groups to help themselves.
“We’re even working on bringing back the buffalo,” Gravy says. “It’s an excellent source of lean meat, and socially excellent for Native Americans to eat.”
But it isn’t subsidized and is expensive to raise, which is where Wavy Gravy and his roster of X-men come in. A variety of scientific studies have shown that simple lifestyle changes such as better diet, regular physical activity and mild weight loss can significantly delay the onset of type II diabetes, but preventative care isn’t very high on the to-do lists of multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical companies.
Good thing Gravy isn’t in anything for the money—he’ll settle for a lifetime supply of “Wavy Gravy” flavored Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and a South Dakota buffalo.
“They’ve named a bison stud after me,” Gravy says of the Winnebago reservation, but the Wavy Gravy that’s roaming the grasslands has been getting picked on by another bison named Mike.
Wavy instructs anyone getting picked on by a buffalo to stand on his or her head. “Gravity will eventually turn that frown into a smile!”