ROSELAND, Fla., April 25, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Beloved spiritual teacher, leader and guru to many, Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati lost her battle with pancreatic cancer on April 13th at her home at Kashi Ashram in Sebastian, Florida. She was surrounded by family and several hundred of her students who came to visit Ma shortly before she passed away. A Gandhi Foundation award winner, she is widely known for her humor; compassion for the sick, suffering and dying; and advocacy for human rights of those with AIDS and the GLBT community. She has been honored internationally as a humanitarian and was an accomplished author and artist. Ma founded the Kashi interfaith, spiritual community 35 years ago, and it has since grown into an international spiritual and service outreach organization. A memorial in Ma's honor will be held on her birthday, May 26th, at Kashi.
Ma grew up in an impoverished Jewish family in Brooklyn. She always remembered her first teaching from a homeless man who lived under the boardwalk. He told Ma, "Girl-child, there are no throw-away people."
Ma Jaya spent her life inspiring people to serve others and shared her message of kindness with thousands.
"There are few people in one's life that create only the warmest and most powerfully positive impact imaginable. Ma Jaya was one of those people to me and my family," said actress Julia Roberts. "She was a beautiful person who shined with love and understanding in all ways. Her transition was deeply sad news and yet, as with all she did, it brought me even closer to her words and her teachings."
When asked what her own legacy would be, Ma simply said, "non-judgement."
She founded numerous institutions, including Kashi Church Foundation, The River School, The River Fund, Kashi School of Yoga, and By the River affordable senior living community. Her present and past affiliations include Trustee Emeritus of the Council for the Parliament of the World's Religions, Advisory Board Member of Equal Partners in Faith, Advisory Board Member of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy, Delegate to the United Religions Initiative, Member of the Board of Directors of the AIDS organization Project Response, and member of the Parliament's General Assembly. Ma also founded orphan centers in Uganda and India
Ma Jaya leaves a legacy filled with selfless service. Her honors include: Interfaith Visionary Award, 2010 from the Temple of Understanding in NYC; Humanitarian Service Award 2007 from Gandhi Foundation USA, Martin Luther King Center and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Recipient of the title of Mata Maha Mandaleshwar 2006, the first American woman to be bestowed this title; Interparliamentary Paradigm of Peace Award, by 26 governments around the world; inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers, Morehouse College, Atlanta 2002, where her oil portrait was later revealed alongside those of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela in their International Hall of Honor; United Foundation for AIDS Award; Universal Way Award; and Woman of Peace from Sikh Dharma of North America.
Through her example, Ma's students have made service a part of their spiritual lives through ongoing programs, such as The River Fund's Feed Everyone program, Under the Bridges and on the Streets in Los Angeles, Kashi Atlanta's Street Meals, and the New York River Fund's Feed Everyone that feed and take care of hundreds of people each week.
Ma Jaya's paintings have been exhibited in more than thirty galleries and one-woman shows in major metropolitan cities. She was the author of the recently published book, The Eleven Karmic Spaces: Choosing Freedom from the Patterns that Bind You. She also originated the path of Kali Natha Yoga, an ancient form of yoga based on Eastern sacred roots.
Ma's vision, teachings and service work will continue through the efforts of her students and affiliated charities. In lieu of flowers, donations to Kashi are appreciated. Kashi is a non-profit, tax exempt 501(c) 3 charitable organization. To learn more about Ma Jaya and Kashi, visit www.kashi.org.
Contact: Anjani Cirillo
Director of Community Relations
1-800-226-1008, ext. 112
SOURCE Kashi Ashram