More Enlightened Homeless

My friend Hollis Williams was genty trying to convert me. He took me to visit the home of a Kesey cousin where he stayed for a month. Kesey ran a open house Christian center where some homeless people were allowed to stay. H reminded me off my friend Hatoon. Willy is buried where Saint Peter died in Nero’s circus. He was part of the real obscene entertainment of the emperors.

Jesus did not have casual contact with the poor, the homeless, and the ill. Then, it was on to better and bigger things. Biblical lessons on humility, come from the least of us.


Losing Hatoon

Eugene police officer Randy Ellis was visibly upset as he stood next to a barren tree on the corner of East 13th Avenue and Kincaid Street on Tuesday. He twice choked back tears as he recounted the few details he knew about Hatoon Victoria Adkins, known to most only by her first name.

Volunteers helped move her belongings to a temporary storage facility while Ellis and other community members stood around the bench and small patch of earth outside the University Bookstore, staring blankly at the former site of Hatoon’s makeshift shelter in the gray light. “I went to the hospital when they brought her in; the prognosis was not good when they brought her in. I left when they took her up to surgery,” Ellis said with tears welling in his eyes. “I’ve known Hatoon for 20 years. It’s a sad day for the University neighborhood when Hatoon’s not going to be here.”

Ellis heard she had died at 3:25 p.m. Around the same time the University Bookstore announced her death in the store. News of her death spread rapidly across campus. Chris Boyd, who has known Hatoon for the nine years he has worked at the bookstore, said shoppers and employees became emotional when the announcement was made.

“I don’t think she understood how big a part she played in people’s lives,” said University student and bookstore employee Emily Rogers. “Every time I walked past the corner there she was talking to somebody; she had someone over there, and they were just listening intently. It seems like she’s talked to almost everyone on this campus at one point or another.”

Several community members held similar sentiments. Recounting memories of Hatoon, they noted her as “a fixture” of the community.

Ellis said little about Hatoon’s life was known to be fact. Over the course of three decades she became a well-known member of the campus community who was subject to myth and speculation — a factor magnified by her mental illness. He has been working for the last month to find a new place for Hatoon to stay within the neighborhood but had been unable to locate her relatives or children.

“A lot of it is just not able to have been confirmed enough to where I would feel comfortable saying ‘this is truth, this is the reality of it,’” he said. “Everybody thinks they know something.”

Professor emeritus of English Edwin L. Coleman said he had been friends with Hatoon for 30 years.

“Hatoon was quite a character. She had her moments of brilliance, even though she would sometimes get off into her own world.”

When Coleman first met her she was not living on the street, but he could not say when she took residence on the streets of the University neighborhood.

“I just talked to her yesterday; she was asking about my son,” Coleman said, adding that he retired three years ago but is often on campus. “I always asked her about her daughter. That was really a source of pain (for her) because she had lost contact, not because of distance, but because of their poor relationship.”

Coleman said Hatoon told him that her daughter had married and moved to Seattle. “I’m going to miss her; I really will. She’s sort of an icon,” he said of Hatoon. Ellis echoed Coleman’s sentiments.

“Hatoon was what everybody wants to believe a homeless person is in Eugene: a person who had a family, had a home, and for whatever reason developed some mental illness that caused them to decide that they needed to live a different lifestyle,” Ellis said. “But she functioned. She knew her Social Security, managed to take care of herself, never caused any trouble, never got herself arrested and was a good addition to the neighborhood. It’s a damn shame.”

Rogers also noted that Hatoon was a positive presence to those who lived and worked around her.

“She would always compliment me on how I looked, and she would compliment a lot of people on how they looked. She loved little kids, and she would always go up to them and kind of coo and make funny little talks with them,” she said. “She was just a part of our lives every day. I will miss her a lot, and it’s going to be really strange going by there and not seeing all of her things there. It was great that people just let her be there and just sort of accepted her.

The Enlightened Homeless


Wayf_154Hollis Williams was 57 when he died. He did not have to die so young. I looked at the letters that denied him medical help over a long period of time. This morning, I will be looking at an empty building where a memorial for Hollis may be held. He was loved by many in this town of Springfield that has no program for the homeless. I intend to change that. I am going to ask the creator of the Simpsons for help. I am now in the anger state of this tragedy. Robert Ryan, the Catholic mouthpiece for Satan Paul of Rome, is offering a budget that repeals Obamacare. Over my dead body!

There is a link between being homeless and being enlightened. I will make being homeless a religious act, and a religion. The evil war the Christian-right wages against secular institutions that help homeless Americans – will come to an end!

Jon Presco

In looking at the genealogy of Pharamond and Rosamond I came across the original surname (Harutyunyan) of a homeless woman who died here in Eugene years ago. Victoria Hatoon Aikens was of Armenia descent, she telling me her ancestors were Armenian nobles who were forced to flee for their lives. You could say this homeless woman who slept outside the Knight Library, was mentally ill. But, then one wondered. Was she a Mast, a “god-intoxicated one”.

“Current historical research suggests that Pharamond may indeed have been the same person as Varazdat, a deposed regent and prince of the exiled Siunia Dynasty. The Siunia Dynasty or Siak, Syunik were the first dynasty to rule Syunik, beginning in the 1st century. Their rulers belonged to an Armenian family of descendents of Sisak.”

Varazdat Harutyunyan (29 November 1909 – 20 March 2008, also Harutiunian, Armenian: Վարազդատ Հարությունյան) was an Armenian academic, architect and writer. Harutyunyan was born in the Ottoman Empire, in the town of Van, but he and his family were forced to flee into Russian territory during the Armenian Genocide. They settled first in Tbilisi and then in Yerevan. In 1946, he obtained his Ph.D., and then Doctor of Science in Architecture. In 1964, he became a Professor of History. In 1996 he was elected Academician of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia. In Armenia, he was also president of the Society for Protection of Historical Monuments. He was the author of over 40 books and over 800 articles, mostly on Armenian architecture.[1]“

Hatoon broadcast a light that hundreds noted was gone after she died, so much so, a permanent monument was made for her next to the U of O Bookstore under a tree, her last residence. I was reminded of Hazrat Babajan when I beheld the flowers and burning candles.

Babajan AWOKE the Avatar sleeping in Meher Baba. At birth she was named Gulrukh, “Face like a Rose”. She upset the Muslims when she announced she was God.

Jon Presco

“Adkins suffered from mental illness — those who knew her described
her as drifting in and out of lucidity. Ellis said Adkins made her
own choices and was able to surround herself with a family of
friends. She did not consider herself homeless or mentally ill, Ellis
said; she had a home right there outside the bookstore.

“We should not allow her life or her memory to be devalued by these
meaningless labels,” Ellis said.

Hazrat Babajan

Hazrat Babajan (c. 1806 – September 21, 1931) was a Baloch Muslim saint considered by her followers to be a sadguru or qutub. Born in Balochistan, Afghanistan, she lived the final 25 years of her life in Pune, India.

[edit] Early life & realizationThe earliest recorded account of Hazrat Babajan, who was named at birth Gulrukh, “Face like a Rose”, states that she “is the daughter of one of the ministers of the Amir of Afghanistan”.[1] Later accounts report that Babajan “hails from Afghanistan … and was the daughter of a well-to-do Afghan of noble lineage”;[2] “born to a royal Muslim family of Baluchistan”.[3][4] The precise date of Babajan’s birth is unclear. Biography variants range from 1790[5] to c. 1820.[6] Her education was in keeping with her family’s social status of that time, and well-educated, she was fluent in Arabic, Persian and Urdu, in addition to her native Pashtu, becoming a hāfiżah, one who learns the Qur’an by heart. An introspective child, and spiritually inclined, from “early life she developed mystical tendencies, and unlike girls of her age, she used to pass a good deal of her time in prayers, meditation and solitude”.[7]

Following the conventions of Afghan nobility, Babajan was reared under the strict purdah tradition, in which women were secluded from the outside world, and also subservient to a custom of arranged marriages. She opposed an unwelcome marriage planned for her, and ran away from home on her wedding day at the age of eighteen. Disguised in her burqa, she journeyed to Peshawar, the frontier city at the foot of the Khyber Pass; nothing definite is known about her life until her subsequent move to Rawalpindi many years later. It was in or near that city she eventually came into contact with a Hindu sadguru. Following instruction from the guru, “she went into seclusion in a nearby mountain outside Rawalpindi and underwent very severe [riyazat] (spiritual austerities) for nearly seventeen months.[8]Thereafter she came down to [the] Punjab and stayed a few months in Multan. It was in Multan, while [Babajan] was 37 years of age, she contacted a Muslim saint … who put end to her spiritual struggle by giving her God-realisation”.[9] After that experience she returned to Rawalpindi to reconnect with the Hindu guru who, after several years, helped her return to normal consciousness.[10]

[edit] Travels and pilgrimagesAfter a second stay in Rawalpindi with her earlier Hindu master, Babajan embarked on several long journeys through the Middle Eastern countries Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. “It is said that she traveled to Mecca disguised as a man [apparently to avoid detection] by way of Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and doubling back into Arabia”.[11] At the Ka‘bah, she offered prayers five times a day, always sitting at one selected spot. While in Mecca, Babajan often gathered food for the poor and personally nursed pilgrims who had fallen ill.[12]

From Mecca, Babajan made pilgrimage to the tomb of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in Medina, where she adopted the same routine of offering prayers and caring for fellow pilgrims. Leaving Arabia, she passed through Baghdad, Iraq and back to the Punjab. She then traveled south to Nashik and established herself in Panchavati. From Nasik, Babajan traveled on to Bombay, where she stayed for some time and her fame grew.

In April 1903, she made a second pilgrimage to Mecca, this time sailing from Bombay on the SS Hyderi. About 1904, Babajan returned to Bombay and soon afterward proceeded to Ajmer in northern India to pay homage at the tomb of the Sufi saint Moinuddin Chishti who established the Chishti Order of Islam in India. From Ajmer she again returned to Bombay and then soon after traveled west to Pune. [13]

Babajan in Pune under her neem tree[edit] Residence in PuneBy 1905 Babajan arrived in Pune, where she established her final residence. Now an old woman, her back slightly bent, shoulders rounded, white matted hair, and shabbily dressed, she “was seen sitting or resting at odd places, in different parts of the City”.[14] Babajan finally located to a slum area called Char Bawdi (Four Wells) on Malcolm Tank Road, part of a British Army cantonment.[15]

The Char Bawdi area at that time has been described as “a picture of dirt, desolation and ugliness, a breeding spot of plague and pestilence and a regular haunt of dangerous riff-raffs by night”.[16] After several months’ exposure to the natural elements, Babajan grudgingly allowed her devotees to build a basic shelter of gunny sacks above her. Children were in the habit of throwing stones at her.[17] She was a homeless faqir; she knew how they lived. The gifts from her devotees were shared among the poor and destitute, and in some instances stolen from her by thieves.[18] She remained indifferent to the material offerings or the loss. Gradually, out of devotion, or mere curiosity, increasing numbers of people from Pune and elsewhere sought her out. Several alleged miracles have been attributed to Babajan.

According to one observer, within a decade of Babajan taking residence “the [Char Bawdi] locality underwent a metamorphosis surpassing all expectations. What with the featural changes in the buildings all around, electrified tea-shops ringing with the clatter of cups and saucers, a concourse of peoples consisting of all ranks and creeds waiting for Babajan’s darshana, a street bard entertaining the crowd with his music, the beggars clamouring for alms, easy-going idlers standing indiscriminately hampering vehicular traffic and the whole atmosphere heavily laden with sweet burning incense perpetually kept burning near Babajan, presented a scene typically Eastern, leaving an indelible impression on one’s memory”.[19]

[edit] Master to Meher BabaIn May 1913, Merwan Sheriar Irani, then nineteen years old, was riding his bicycle on the way to class at Deccan College, when he looked up and saw an old woman sitting under a neem tree surrounded by a crowd. He had cycled past on previous occasions but had never paid much attention to her, though he was aware that she was regarded by some as a Muslim saint; yet others thought her “a mad woman or a witch or sorceress”.[20] His father, Sheriar Irani (Shahr-yar Moondegar Irani), held Babajan in high regard. Born into a Zoroastrian family, Sheriar Irani had been an itinerant dervish for a number of years[21] before finally settling in Pune and marrying. Babajan beckoned the boy, who in turn was drawn towards her. For several months thereafter Merwan Irani would visit the saint; they would sit together yet seldom spoke. One night during January 1914, he was about to leave, and before doing so kissed Babajan’s hands, and she in turn held his face in her hands. She then kissed him on the forehead,[22] during which he received her spiritual grace (barakah).[23] The event subsequently left Merwan Irani in an enraptured state in which he remained abstracted from his normal surroundings for nearly nine months.[24] The young man would later become known as, Meher Baba.

[edit] Final yearsSeveral months before she died, in 1930 then journalist Paul Brunton (Raphael Hurst) visited Babajan. He wrote: “She lies, in full view of passers-by, upon a low divan.… Her head is propped by pillows. The lustrous whiteness of her silky hair offers sad contrast to the heavily wrinkled face and seamed brow”.[25] The meeting was brief. Yet Brunton was clearly emotionally affected, and afterwards, in his hotel room, he reflected: “That some deep psychological attainment really resides in the depths of her being, I am certain”.[26]

On September 18, 1931, one of Babajan’s fingers was operated on at Sassoon Hospital, but afterwards she did not appear to be recovering.[27] According to one version, a few days before she dropped her body, Babajan muttered, “It is time … time for me to leave now. The work is over … I must close the shop”. One of the devotees pleaded, “Do not say such things Babajan, we need you with us”. But she cryptically replied:

“Nobody, nobody wants my wares. Nobody can afford the price. I have turned my goods over to the Proprietor”.[28]

[edit] Shrine in PuneHazrat Babajan died in the Char Bawdi section of Pune on September 21, 1931. On Wednesday, September 23, The Evening News of India reported her death. The newspaper article informed that the “Muslim community in [Pune] has been greatly moved by the death of the famous saint…. Her funeral yesterday … was very largely attended with thousands of people both Muslims and Hindus taking part in the procession”.[29] The white marble dargah (shrine) of Babajan was built alongside the neem tree under which she had sat for so many years, by the roadside which is now a busy thoroughfare. “It is a small one roomed dargah with the turbat [grave] placed under a tree. The trunk of the tree emerges through the rooftop”.[30] Her dargah is frequented by people of all religions.

[edit] Biographical discrepanciesThere are a few discrepancies to be found in the current biographies of Hazrat Babajan which require due mention.

Firstly, it should be noted that much of the accepted information about Babajan appears to have been established solely on the authority of Meher Baba, a fact acknowledged by Dr Abdul Ghani Munsiff, who in 1939 wrote the first life-sketch of Babajan. According to Ghani, “the information gleaned from different sources is meagre, since Babajan herself was never communicative to anyone with regard to her life history. The facts of her early life and those relating to her spiritual career have all been confirmed by Hazrat Meher Baba, her chief disciple and spiritual Chargeman (Khalifa)”.[31] Yet Meher Baba appears to have provided/endorsed two different versions of Babajan’s life.

[edit] Earliest recordsOver a decade before Dr Ghani’s life-sketch of Babajan appeared, in 1927 Meher Baba gave a public talk on Babajan, which a devotee had recorded in a diary at that time. This is currently the earliest account of Babajan’s life. The people being addressed were predominately women, and the story was told to provide a moral. To summarize the essentials of that brief talk:

Hazrat Babajan is the daughter of one of the then responsible and chief ministers of the Amir of Afghanistan at Kabul. From early childhood she had a natural inclination toward spirituality and the realization of Truth. When Babajan was fifteen years of age her guardians began to arrange for her marriage … at this juncture she made bold to leave the family home. For fifty years thereafter she led a life of complete resignation and renunciation. After wandering from place to place for fifty long years she at last came across her Master, and became God-Realized at the age of about sixty-five. After being God-Realized Babajan lived for some time … in the Punjab. During this stay many people began to respect her as a saint. Her occasional remarks, declaring herself to be God [Ana’l-Haqq, I am the Truth] upset the Muslim population, and fanatical Muslim Baluchi soldiers (sepoys) of a local military regiment buried Babajan alive. After a lapse of many years, during the First World War the Baluchi regiment was transferred to Pune, and in that city the same soldiers came face-to-face with Babajan sitting under her neem tree at Char Bawdi. Fanaticism was transformed into devotion, and as long as the regiment remained stationed at Pune, the soldiers came to pay their respects to Babajan.[32]

Ghani’s later, and extended, version of Babajan’s life, published in 1939, provides a different account: She left home at the age of eighteen on her wedding day. Eventually came into contact with a Hindu sadguru at Rawalpindi. Later went down to the Punjab, and when she was thirty-seven met a Muslim saint in Multan who gave her God-Realization. After the Baluchi soldiers encountered her again in Pune, “her saintly fame spread far and wide, and she came to be universally known as Hazrat Babajan”.[33]

[edit] Babajan’s ageAccounts of Babajan’s age at the time of death differ, with dates of birth ranging from 1790 to circa 1820. The earliest dates are provided by Charles B Purdom and Bhau Kalchuri. Purdom was merely reporting the opinion of devotees so he wrote; “her actual date of birth is not known; it is supposed to have been about 1790”[34] whereas Kalchuri states Babajan was born “between 1790 and 1800” and that her “physical presence on earth lasted between 130 to 141 years”. [35] At the other end of the scale, in his colourful spiritual travel book, A Search in Secret India (1934), the then freelance journalist, Paul Brunton, recounts that he learnt “from former Judge Khandalawalla, who had known [Hazrat Babajan] for fifty years, that her age is really about ninety-five”.[36]

Oregon Daily Emerald, OR
March 7 2005

Community gathers to remember Hatoon

The Saturday memorial commemorated a woman who “lived life her own
way” and lived happily
Ayisha Yahya
News Editor

March 07, 2005

She will be remembered for her entrancing stories. Her bursts of
humor. Her bright lipstick.
She will also be remembered for her caring nature. The insights she
brought to those whose paths she crossed. Her intellectual spark and
the many lives she touched over the years because she lived her life
just as she wanted.

Students, faculty and community gathered on a sunny winter afternoon
to pay tribute to Hatoon Victoria Adkins. Adkins, a long time
resident at the campus, was killed on Tuesday as she was crossing
Franklin Boulevard on her bicycle. Most recently, Adkins, 67, had
made her home on a bench just outside the University Bookstore, where
she covered her things with a blue tarp. In the days since her
demise, Adkins’ bench has evolved into a shrine with flowers, candles
and tubes of lipstick, which she loved.

Eugene Police Officer Randy Ellis, who knew Adkins for many years,
said she taught people everything from tolerance to vulnerability to

“We learned that we’re not invincible,” Ellis said, adding that the
impact Adkins had on those who knew her was evident from the
outpouring of love since her death.

“We wanted what was best for Hatoon, but only Hatoon knew what that
really was,” Ellis said. Ellis said Adkins, who was known for her
many diverse stories, taught people to listen. “Listening is
something that few of us really know how to do,” Ellis said.

Ellis said Adkins’ life was not a failure. “She lived life her own
way,” he said.

Adkins suffered from mental illness — those who knew her described
her as drifting in and out of lucidity. Ellis said Adkins made her
own choices and was able to surround herself with a family of
friends. She did not consider herself homeless or mentally ill, Ellis
said; she had a home right there outside the bookstore.

“We should not allow her life or her memory to be devalued by these
meaningless labels,” Ellis said.

Before Adkins’ death, Ellis had been talking with the University to
try and arrange a trailer for Adkins to live in. And over the years,
many different people had taken her into their homes for short
periods of time.

Marcus Larson | Freelance photographer

Poppe, an acquaintance of Hatoon Victoria Adkins, bows his head in a
moment of silence during Adkins’ memorial service outside the Knight
Library on Saturday. Adkins, 67, died at Sacred Heart Medical Center
from injuries sustained after she was struck by a motorist March 1.

University Bookstore General Manager Jim Williams also knew Adkins
for many years, saying she was a “good neighbor” — she often helped
the bookstore staff take out the trash each morning.
He described her as a magnificent, if somewhat complex woman. “Hatoon
was not really homeless … she just chose not to live cooped up
inside a building,” he said.

Adkins was not a regular face just at the bookstore. She was often
seen at the Knight Library, and she once lived outside it. Many also
crossed paths with her at the Student Recreation Center where she was
a regular patron. Those who worked out with her or saw her exercising
remember her strength — one man said she could easily “outpress 15
frat boys any day.”

“She was my role model for working out,” Tevina Benedict, who helped
organize the memorial, said. “We all need to keep our bodies strong.”

“That chick was buff,” said Professor Emeritus of English Ed Coleman,
who knew Adkins for 30 years.

Adkins was also a regular visitor at Blue Heron Bicycles on 13th
Avenue, where she became close friends with Kerri Vanden Berg. Vanden
Berg said Adkins was quite conscious of people’s belief or disbelief
in the things she said. After many long conversations with her
throughout the years, she said Adkins “began to make perfect sense.”

“So many times, you put my own life into perspective,” she said at
the memorial service. “I missed you today, I’ll miss you tomorrow. I
am blessed.”

Many others recalled Adkins’ concern for them. She would ask about
their health or about their children, tell them how nice they looked,
share her thoughts and opinions. Adkins was born April 30, 1937, to
parents of Armenian descent. She is survived by a sister, son,
daughter and granddaughter. In a letter, read by Williams, the family
members expressed how much they would miss her.

“Never one to hold back opinion, Hatoon encouraged open hearts and
open minds,” the letter said.

Referencing Robert Frost’s poem “A Road Not Taken,” Ellis said Adkins
had taken the path less traveled and all people should try to do the

“Decide to be happy; make others happy,” he said. “Do not wait for a
better world; make a better world.”

After being injured as a passenger in two automobile accidents, one in the United States in 1952 and one in India in 1956, his ability to walk became severely limited.[12][13] In 1962, he invited his Western followers to India for a mass darshan called “The East-West Gathering.”[14] Concerned by an increasing use of LSD and other psychedelic drugs,[15] in 1966 Baba stated that they did not convey real benefits.[16] Despite deteriorating health, he continued what he called his “Universal Work,” which included fasting and seclusion, until his death on 31 January 1969. His samadhi (tomb-shrine) in Meherabad, India has become a place of international pilgrimage.[17]

In Sufi philosophy, a mast (pronounced “must”)[1] is a person who is overcome with love for God, with concomitant external disorientation resembling intoxication. The word originates from the Sufi phrase “Mast-Allah” meaning “intoxicated with God.” from Persian mast, lit. “intoxicated.”[2] Another interpretation of its origin is that it is derived from masti, a Persian word meaning “overpowered.” [3]
[edit] Overview
According to Meher Baba, a mast is one who is entranced or spellbound by internal spiritual experiences and ecstasies, who cannot function outwardly in an ordinary way, and may appear mad to a casual outside observer. Such experiences, according to Meher Baba, stem from the station of a mast’s consciousness (his or her state of consciousness) on inner planes of involution. In the book, The Wayfarers: Meher Baba With the God-Intoxicated, English physician William Donkin documents in great detail Meher Baba’s numerous contacts with masts throughout Southern Asia (mostly Iran, India, and what is today Pakistan). The introduction, written by Meher Baba, explains their unique state and their outward characteristics. Meher Baba carefully distinguishes the mast state from madness, saying that in the case of the mad person, the mind is sped up, while in the case of the mast it is slowed down.[4] Meher Baba also made a Sufi analogy (reflecting the poetry of Hafez) to the drunkenness of one intoxicated with wine, but in this case the wine is the love of God. Meher Baba contacted hundreds of masts all over India, Pakistan, and Iran, saying that he was freeing them from enchantment and helping them to continue on the spiritual path and to be of inward service to humanity.
Masts can be in varying degrees of the states of salik or majzoob. Salik means more in touch with outward surroundings — grounded and ordinary. Majzoob refers to that state of being immersed in the inner plane and divorced from the outside world.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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1 Response to More Enlightened Homeless

  1. Reblogged this on Rosamond Press and commented:

    There is a monument to Hatoon that needs to stay put.

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