Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati
As Remembered by Ken South
I met MA for the first time at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1993, where I also met, for the first time, my former partner, Nick, who was there because of his interest in all things in Eastern religion. Nick knew a lot about MA, but hadn’t met her before. Our “first date” was when we were invited to a darshan that night in MA’s hotel suite at the Parker House Hotel. I’d didn’t have a clue what a darshan was, but who better to introduce me than MA! Nick and I were sitting at her feet, and in her unique way and in her best Brooklyn accent she looked at us and said “So are you two lovers/” I looked at Nick and said, “well we’ve been life partners for the last 8 hours!”
I was at the Parliament in my capacity as director of the AIDS National Interfaith Network, but I really knew very little about true “interfaith” worlds or issues. MA and Kashi because my graduate course. I soon made my first trip to Kashi and had the honor of getting a tour of the community by MA herself, driving me around in a golf cart! Several more trips to Kashi, especially to be there for Saturday darsharns were all memorable events in my life.
One trip in particular was just a bit incredible. Since MA was then on the Parliament of the World’s Religions Council, she was invited to a three day planning session for the next Parliament meeting. She invited both me and Arlo Guthrie to go with her…our talks and the stories told were priceless!
One trip to Kashi included a visitation trip to AIDS hospices, nursing homes and hospitals with MA and a caravan of Kashi devotees. I had the distinct honor of traveling with her in her bus where we had the chance to have an incredible private darshan. When she walked off the bus that day she gave me my spiritual name: Ganesha.
I am very humbled that she reached out to me to help her with one of her dreams, that of creating housing for low income elderly. I was pleased to write the feasibility study for what is now By The River.
MA touched my life in so many ways, as she has done with thousands of others across the world. I offer these few memories in her honor , with profound respect and intense gratefulness for all she added to my life. “Always at her feet”
February 20, 2013