A Tribute to Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati.

Via Swami Matagiri
on Apr 19, 2012
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Photo: Swami Dhumavati

Ma Jaya used to say, “I asked to teach the hard ones,” and we came to her.

She embraced us all. Now she is gone, only three months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. We gather in little groups and tell each other stories that make us laugh and stories that make us cry.

Some stories come from people who met Ma almost 40 years ago and never left, like me. Others come from those who rushed home to Ma’s beloved Kashi ashram, knowing there was no other place they could be as our beautiful Ma lay dying.

I can look around the room and see people of every race, every gender, every religion, every age. Ma never cared about any of that because she could see our souls, and to her they were all perfect. And yet, everything we brought to her became part of her play—she could discuss hairstyles with her gay guys, or explain the Ramayana to a scholar, all with the same enthusiasm. In the space of an hour with Ma, we could watch for ourselves the dance of form and formless, or see directly into the mysterious union of human and divine because it was all happening right in front of us.

She would say, “I had a choice, to teach the scriptures or to live the scriptures. I chose to live the scriptures.”

Then she’d make that into a joke, something about not wanting to do all that reading. And yet that’s exactly that she was doing, and we got to watch.

Listening to all the stories, I realize that each person she ever touched—and there have been many thousands over the years—holds a little piece of her. Like many of us, I never wanted to join an ashram, I just wanted to be with my Ma. Now I finally get it—the better we treat each other, the tighter we weave our stories together, the more closely we will hold her. (She told us that, of course, but we didn’t always listen.)

Then what? Ma often repeated something she was told by her guru, Neem Karoli Baba: “God is in the sharing. Share me.”

She’s been gone four days now, and I’m still feeling waves of grief that make me gasp for the next breath. There are too many words that come when I try to share what it is to have Ma Jaya as a guru, and no words at all to say what it is to lose her.

So I’ll just start here, with a weak beginning to a very long story.


Editor: Brianna Bemel



About Swami Matagiri

For many years, Swami Matagiri Jaya was happy to edit books, videos, and tapes and for her guru, Ma Jaya. Ma encouraged her to write, but she usually managed not to. Lately she has realized that she has a lot to share and there’s no point in being shy about it. She has lived in a spiritual community since 1975, and was ordained as a swami in 2011.


12 Responses to “A Tribute to Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati.”

  1. Rondo Mieczkowski says:

    Beautifully said!

  2. ValCarruthers says:

    My deepest condolences. Thank you for sharing how it was to be in her presence.

  3. Uma Simon says:

    Beautifully expressed, thank you.

  4. pranalisa says:

    i am grateful to have experienced Ma's amazing energy in person once at Kashi in Atlanta. so grateful. a lovely tribute to her life…

  5. Thank you, Swami-ji, for saying what so many of us could not find words to express. My life was changed from the first time She took my hands into hers, and told me to look into her eyes, and in that moment consumed then five years of grief, and pain, absorbing it like morning sun absorbs the night.

    May our Tsawa Lama now be enthroned upon the Lotus Seat of Hearts.

    Love you. Namaste!

    ♥ मा मा मा ♥ ♥ Jai Śri Mata Jaya Sati Bhagavati, Santa Maharajni. ♥♥ मा मा मा ♥ ♥

  6. Sati Devi says:

    Thank you Swami- that was beautiful. Lots of love, Sati Devi

  7. Giri Das Jaya says:

    Swami, Thank you. My deepest love to you and all. Love, Giri Das Jaya

  8. Ganga Ma Jaya says:

    Swami, you captured the beauty of our beloved Ma Jaya and her satsang. Thank you for finding some words at this time of pain without words for so many of us. Blessings. Love, Ganga Ma Jaya

  9. ValCarruthers says:

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    Valerie Carruthers
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  10. Radha Krishna Jaya says:

    Oh yes, the experience of Ma's Maha samadhi is so beyond words but words help us all to try and capsule it and perhaps it can help us to go through our grieving process.. Thank you Swami for these words of your experience with Ma told from such a deep place of your heart. Much love and peace to you during this unique space of grief none of us could ever have imagined. Blessings and Love, Radha Krishna Jaya

  11. […] a few days before she slipped into a coma, Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati looked out over the pond on her ashram. She noticed several turtles contending for space on a […]

  12. Nick Thabit says:

    Namaste Matagiri,

    I didn't know she'd passed. I am in shock. My heartfelt condolences, and thanks for having known her. I always planned to se her again at some time; now that time is gone. I can't say more now. Thanks for sharing your exceptional story, as it goes on.

    Kali Das