3 Jaya Sati Bhagavati, Ma

Jaya Sati Bhagavati, Ma

(1940– )
   American guru
   Joyce Green was born on May 26, 1940, the young-est of four children in a working-class Jewish family in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York. Her father, Harry Green, ran a stand selling hot corn, and her mother was a legal secretary. The family was often impoverished and the mother died when Joyce was 13 years old. Joyce attended Lincoln High School but did not graduate. At age 15, she married Salva-tore DeFiore, an Italian Catholic businessman. She became a housewife and mother of three children.
   In 1972, Joyce learned a yogic breath disci-pline in a YOGA class and practiced the breath for seven days consistently. As a result, she was awakened to spirituality by a vision of Jesus Christ, who told her, “Teach all ways, for all ways are mine.” She was visited by Swami NITY-ANANDA of Ganeshpuri, not in physical form, who became a teacher to her. In 1973 her guru NEEM KAROLI BABA appeared to her, also not in physical form, and gave her teachings. As she deepened her appreciation of the teachings of these two Hindu masters, a group of students began to grow around her and she became known as Ma, or mother.
   In 1976 she founded Kashi Ashram in Sebas-tian, Florida, where she continues to teach in the Shaivite (see SHAIVISM) lineage of Swami Nity-ananda. The ashram is a residential community with members living on the campus and nearby. In addition to interfaith services, the ashram Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati (b. 1940), American guru and founder of Kashi Ashram in Sebastian, Florida (Kashi Church, Sebastian, Florida) provides a school for its own children as well as children from the larger community. First drawn to Hinduism by the inclusiveness of its tenets, Ma has incorporated many Hindu practices in an interfaith setting at Kashi Ashram. Temples devoted to GANESHA, HANUMAN, SHIVA, DURGA, KALI, LAKSHMI, SARASWATI, KRISHNA, the DASHA MAHAVIDYAS, and Ma’s teachers are on the grounds of Kashi. Spiritual practices include MEDITATION, KALI YUGA, KIRTAN, and DARSHAN from Ma, and celebration of Hindu holy days. Kashi commu-nity also includes temples and shrines devoted to Judaism, SIKHISM, Christianity, and Buddhism.
   In 1990, Ma founded the River Fund, Kashi’s service organization, and inspired the founding of Mary’s House, a home for children who have acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). In 1994, she founded the River House, a respite for those with AIDS and other life-challenging illnesses. She and her students work with indi-viduals who suffer from AIDS, homelessness, and abuse and those near death. She has become an advocate for those who have human immunodefi-ciency virus/AIDS (HIV/AIDS), for gay rights, and for the rights of women and minorities. Through the River Fund, which she founded in 1990, she and her students engage in service to communi-ties around the world.
   In 1996, Ma founded the Dattatreya Kali Saraswati Order of monks and SANNYASIS (renun-ciants). She has developed the teaching of Kali Yoga, a system of ASANAS (postures) drawn from ancient roots and adapted for modern times, as well as spiritual teachings in the traditions of KUNDALINI and tantric yoga (see TANTRISM). Kali Yoga emphasizes the divine feminine and selfless service to humanity.
   Ma teaches internationally and regularly gives satsang group teaching in Florida, California, and New York. Her interest in joining people of diverse faiths led to her nomination as a trustee in the Governing Council of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. She has worked with Tenzin Chogya, brother of the Dalai Lama, to establish World Tibet Day to honor the culture of Tibet and to raise awareness of the plight of the Tibetan people.
   Ma has taken an active role in the interfaith movement and is a delegate to the United Reli-gions Initiative. She serves on the advisory boards of the Institute of Religion and Public Policy and Equal Partners in Faith.
   Also an artist, Ma Jaya has created works illu-minating Hindu themes that have been shown in numerous galleries and museums. In 2004 Ma Jaya was honored by inclusion in the International Hall of Honor at Morehouse College, and she received the Inter-Parliamentary Paradigm of Peace Award, ratified by 26 governments around the world.
   Further reading: Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati, “Kali Who Swallows the Universe,” Parabola, Summer 1998, pp. 18–21; ———, “There Are No Throwaway People: The Journey from Brooklyn to God.” One Heart Magazine, November 2000, pp. 32–35; ———, “Teach All Ways for All Ways Are Mine,” Journal of the Communal Studies Association (2002); ———, “How the AIDS Pandemic Changed My Life” in Awakening the Spirit, Inspiring the Soul (Sebastian, Fla.: Skylight Paths, 2004); Andrew Cohen, “Compassion in Action.” What Is Enlighten-ment? Spring/Summer 2001, pp. 66–67; Lavina Mel-wani, “The Selfless Life of Serving Siva in All: Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati, AIDS Angel of Kashi.” Hinduism Today, February 1999, pp. 37–38; Regina Sara Ryan, The Woman Awake: Feminine Wisdom for Spiritual Life (Prescott, Ariz.: Hohm Press, 1998), 192–202; Wayne Teasdale, The Mystic Heart (Novato, Calif.: New World Library, 2001).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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