I began attending yoga classes and the Spiritual Growth and Meditation class taught by Swami Jaya Devi in early 2005. After a few months I learned Kashi Atlanta had residents. My curious mind was off and running. What did that mean? Where did they live? What did they do? Who were these residents? How do I become a resident?
In April of 2005 I met Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati, my beloved Guru. I longed to be closer to her. She is such an inspirational being. She is the most fearless person I have ever met. She opened my heart and taught me how to love unconditionally.
In October of 2006 I went to Kashi Ashram in Sebastian, FL for a weekend intensive with Ma. During part of the intensive, Ma would come out and do painted Kali Readings where one person would sit before her and she would paint as you asked questions as part of the afternoon session. The room would be full of all the attendees and everyone in the room benefited from the readings. I was blessed to receive my painted Kali Reading with Ma. It was then that I said to her, “Ma, I want to come home.” She spoke about how Kashi shines such a light, that to live there is so much grace, but that you have to consume the shadows. She told me to talk it over with Swami Jaya Devi, to be happy, that she could feel my desire and that desire would take me closer to God.
When I returned to Atlanta I immediately scheduled a one on one session with Swami Jaya Devi. I told her I wanted to move to Florida. Swami advised me to first become a resident here, in Atlanta and then see what happens.
The rest is pure grace. It is the grace of my beloved Ma and Baba. My condo had been on the market for some time. It sold. An apartment on the street where the residents lived opened up at the exact same time. I was literally and physically moving closer. It was spring and my life was reflecting what was happening in nature. It was all blooming.
One early morning during member’s meditation, Swami Jaya Devi said go to a place that is sacred for you. In my mind, I dug a hole in the earth underneath the main temple in the ashram. I pictured myself crawling in there. Buried in the breast of the Mother. Safe. Swami Jaya Devi said out loud, “the ashram houses are all temples.” Then she said, “Devaki, I know how badly you want to be a resident.” The words struck the chords of my heart. Tears filled my eyes. Tears of gratitude and love.
December came. It was a Friday night and we were in the middle of our Holiday Street Meals Prep night! The room was an explosion of stuff and people including, adults and kids of all ages. Everyone was helping to fill backpacks with supplies (hats, gloves, socks, chapstick, homemade cookies, water…) to deliver down at Peachtree and Pine shelter the next day.
Jaya Das came over to me and told me he needed to talk to me. Immediately my unworthiness came up and I feared for the worst. We were outside and he asked me if I still wanted to be a resident. Beaming I replied, “YES”. At that point, we had more people than resident houses. That February I officially became a Kashi Atlanta resident and moved in across the street from one of the resident houses with another member of the community.
It’s hard to say how things changed. As everything and nothing at all changed. One night I woke and I felt the earth beneath me coming together becoming whole again. Healing. The ashram was growing. I felt this immense comfort, this sensation that the earth was happy. That I was right where I was supposed to be.
About a year later I moved into Agni House. Holy wildness started. I felt like I was coming unglued and undone at the seams right before the transition was completed. Everything came up and somewhere I knew it was coming up to be healed. (Swami Jaya Devi reminds us of this often, but many times I forget, except this time I remembered). I’m pretty certain I went a little crazy. I remember Jaya Das calling and telling me we could stop and I could stay where I was. I knew I wanted to move. The fear felt larger than me.
By the grace of the Mother I managed to move into Agni House.
I know without a doubt in my mind that it is pure grace to live in Ma’s ashram houses. I feel the essence of Baba’s blanket wrapped around each of us, around all the ashram houses. There is a deep rooted protection. I’m not really certain how to put it into words. I know this is a rare and wild experience.