On the last day of Woodstock in 1969, a young man tucked $50 and a plane ticket to Rome into his pocket, and headed toward Kennedy airport. He would leave the next day, going on faith that he would somehow make his way to India.
Shivaya eventually spent many years in India, and lived some of those years as a sadhu (wandering spiritual seeker), roaming throughout the country with no money and no possessions. Evenings often found him sitting by a dhuni (fire) with other sadhus, shaking his chimta bells and singing the names of God. Years later, he returned to the U.S. transformed, having experienced a life that most westerners cannot even imagine.
In his later years Shivaya, a charming and charismatic storyteller, shared his experiences of those years in India at our kirtan events. We would sing a few songs, and then take a break to listen as he regaled us with stories of his adventures and misadventures — his meetings with some of India’s great saints (including his guru, Neem Karoli Baba), and other unknown masters living and teaching quietly out of the public eye; the common people who touched him deeply, including lepers, beggars, and simple mountain people who had never left their villages, and had never heard of America; close brushes with wild creatures he encountered while living in caves and in the jungles of India; and direct experiences of the Divine, visions of deities, and miraculous healings.
In November 2013, Shivaya passed away. His huge aura, his sweet nature, and his loving heart made a deep and permanent impression on us. And his inspiration lives on. The stories of his experiences and encounters during that time are profound and magical. You can listen to some of his stories at www.shivaya.bandcamp.com