With joy and gratitude for her life, we want to tell you about the passing of Nayaswami Maria.
Many of you may know her through the creative and inspiring work she did on the Ananda website for the past five years. Maria died peacefully at her home at Ananda Village on Tuesday, December 7 at 3:33 pm, only three weeks after being diagnosed with brain cancer.
Born in the Soviet Union in 1958, Maria lost both of her parents while still a teenager. She and her older sister, Bella, were able to immigrate as refugees to the United States in 1979 with the intention of seeking the freedom to live a spiritual life. While traveling from the Soviet Union to America, they met a consulate employee, who later gave them Autobiography of a Yogi in New York. In 1980 she and Bella moved to Ananda Village.
Maria has spent the past 30 years serving her Guru in various ways: in Ananda Assisi, in Ananda Seattle, on Swamiji’s staff at Crystal Hermitage, as a Lightbearer and teacher, and for the past five years she has been the driving force and creative energy behind Ananda.org. Through this website, she was able to bring inspiration to millions of people around the world. With no background in website development, Maria taught herself this skill through seeking out the training she needed. Under her direction, our website has emerged as the single most important tool that Ananda has for serving people at a distance. In 2009 she and her husband, Devarshi, the head of Ananda’s Kriya Ministry, took Nayaswami Vows.
Over the past ten years, Maria has survived two serious bouts with cancer involving major surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Still she continued to serve whole-heartedly in the demanding work of keeping a website vibrant. Once when she came into work during the middle of radiation treatment, someone said to her, “Maria, you don’t have to come in to work.” She replied, “You don’t understand, I must come in to work. It’s what gives me the strength to fight this battle.”
In February 2010, Maria gave a beautiful talk during Inner Renewal Week at The Expanding Light in which she told the story about a humble Indian squirrel, who asked Lord Rama what he could do in the great battle of the Ramayana. After telling the story, she said, “I really want to be a part of this great work that’s happening, but what can I do? I can serve God all day long, day in and day out, year in and year out, until my breath leaves my body — in samadhi or in death, whichever comes first — in the hope that at the end of it, my Guru will take me up in his arms and say, ‘Well done!’ And I can see in all your eyes that I am not alone.”
Maria first realized that she had a brain tumor while helping to lead a Kriya Retreat at Ananda’s Dallas center. In spite of starting to experience headaches and extreme dizziness, she gave the Sunday Service talk that Devarshi said was the most beautiful and inspiring he’d ever hear her give. When she told Devarshi that she knew she had a brain tumor, thinking more of consoling him than of her own needs, she said to him, “Don’t worry. I’m free.”
Within a few days, she was unable to walk or open her eyes. As Devarshi was taking her in a wheelchair to get a brain scan, she could feel his concern for her, and said to him kindly but strongly, “Detach yourself, control the reactive process(1), live the teachings.”
After being medically diagnosed with brain cancer, she spent the remainder of her time consciously disconnecting from any involvement with the world, and going deep within to commune with God. During this time, there was constantly a vibration of great peace and sanctity around her.
In a recent talk, Swami Kriyananda said of Maria, “I have seen her change over the years — she had cancer of the breast years ago, and she had chemotherapy and went through a great deal of pain because of that — and now she’s reached a point of maturity where nothing can touch her.”
Nayaswami Maria’s last words, spoken a few hours before she died, were “Aum Guru.” At the very end, while Nayaswami Devarshi, Jyotish and Devi meditated and prayed by her side, she took a few deep breaths, relaxed, and her soul slipped from her body into the arms of her Guru. We are sure Master greeted her with the words: “Well done.”
- Controlling the reactive process is how the Kriya Yogi is able to rise above the extreme ups and downs of human emotions and become one with God as divine bliss.
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Swami Kriyananda’s Words About Maria
November 21, 2010, Los Angeles
Listen to audio (MP3, 2 MB)
There is one woman at Ananda Village now who is on the point of death. Her brain is completely frazzled. There’s all sorts of things going on: tumors, and so on. There’s just no hope for her.
But she’s taking it very calmly, very peacefully, and she says that it’s just right.
I have seen her change over the years — she had cancer of the breast years ago, and she had chemotherapy and went through a great deal of pain because of that — and now she’s reached a point of maturity where nothing can touch her.
It is so thrilling to see people reach that point of understanding, where death itself is welcome — it doesn’t matter. You know that you have accomplished what you needed to accomplish, you know that you are who you want to be, and with all of this, you’ll see that underlying all of life, there is bliss.
At the end of it all — when you’ve gone through it all, at the end of this long trail, seeking who you really are — you’ll understand that it was well worth it.
Every saint who has ever found God said that it was well worth it.
Archived Talk of Maria’s
Inner Renewal Week
February 4, 2010
- Video 23 minutes
- MP3 Download 20 MB
Tributes to Maria
December 8, 2010
A shining light has passed out of this world, and into another. It’s joyful and sad at the same time.…
Good bye, dear friend!
December 8, 2010
It is always hard to lose a great soul. Even though one mentally understands that the soul simply leaves the body as we all change the clothes at the end of the day, it is still very sad to say good bye to a great friend. I first got in contact with Maria through e-mails…
Saints in the Making
November 25, 2010
I am inspired to write this blog by the example of one of Ananda Sangha’s dearest spiritual sisters. Our sister has reached the point in this life when God is calling her Home. She lies in her bed at home, close to…
Share Your Story or Comment
In the Kriya Initiation offering ceremony, the minister makes the suggestion to “place your flower on the altar facing out, so that everyone might enjoy it.”
If you knew Maria, please take a moment to share a “rose petal” from her life, as you experienced it: a fond memory, an inspiring thought, or a funny, uplifting story.
The first and only time I met Maria in person was in Ananda Village, two years ago; in that moment, the thought came at once to my mind: “Here’s a hard-looking woman”.
Yet, circumstances put her and I working together since then, at a distance, and even though our communication was pretty minimal (e-mail and an occasional Skype call), I was won over by such an intense sweetness and sense of fun from her as to shatter to pieces the “first impression” picture I’d had in the Village.
In these days, I’ve come to know the general lines of the story of her life, and I learned to appreciate so much more all of the good qualities I came to know from her. It’s an inspiring story.
Now, reading about the way of her passing, I can’t help but feeling uplifted and, although it’s hard for us who were left behind to avoid feeling sad, I am very happy for her, that she could go as she wanted to: “completely baked”. [This is a reference to the time Maria said, while facing cancer some years ago, “I’m not done being cooked and I don’t want to go half-baked!” — in other words, not completely united with God. —Editor]
Joy to you, Maria. It was a blessing for me to get to meet you in this life.
I was deeply saddened by the news that Maria had made her transition and yet I know that she is free and surrounded with so much love… I celebrate her journey as well.
I am deeply grateful to Maria for all of the love, dedication and service that she gave to so many people, known and unknown. I was blessed to be one who received Kriya Yoga initiation from she and her husband Devarshi. This is always be a blessing to me, and the experience is one of the highlights of my life.
Thank you Maria for all of the love and service that you gave so generously of yourself. I am honored to have traveled this path with you, for even a very short time.
i had no idea it was our Maria Swamiji spoke of. I can hardly believe this, for no life I saw was more vibrant than hers. She was so special to me, as she initiated me last year into Kriya with Devarshi in Ohio at a grand stone encircled alter built for Jesus, and her face shone with beauty. Indeed, there was a shining light all around her. So profoundly inspired was her talk, that I was compelled to approach her. She sat down there on the step of the alter, to give me her attention. I grasped one of her hands, and then was so overwhelmed that I gathered the other and pressed them to my heart, releasing a flow of tearful emotion. I was crying so hard I was heaving. She softly said “take it inside”, and smiled the healing smile of a divine mother.
I read the news of Maria’s passing away with great shock and disbelief and amidst many tears. I am one of those millions of devotees whose life has been transformed ONLY because of the Ananda website. (ananda.org has been the homepage of my browser ever since and I like to say that it is my lifeline!)
I like to watch the slideshow of Swamiji’s 2008 birthday celebration very often (https://www.ananda.org/free-inspiration/slideshows/SK_2008/Swami_Kriyananda_s_Birthday_2008/). The slides are accompanied by the song, ‘Though green summers fade and winter draw near….’, which has buoyed me every time I was faced with my own little personal challenges. But sometime back, when the Ananda website was redone, this slideshow was removed. And so, when I wanted to see it again, I was distressed to not find it! I sent an email to the webmaster requesting if it could be put back on the website again; I added that I liked to listen to the song that goes with it. I received an email from Maria saying they had to remove the slides because of space constraints but that she would be happy to send me an mp3 of that song. A few minutes later, I received another email from her. I opened the email expecting to find the mp3 file. Instead, Maria had written that she was touched by my request and that she has uploaded the slide show once again on the website! I was completely overcome by her sweet act of kindness towards me. She exuded the same sweetness in all her talks, which could be tangibly felt even through the internet! Her faith and love for God were also so absolutely child-like and sweet. In one of her talks, she narrated the story of how God placed an extra quarter that she desperately needed for car wash. Can it get simpler and sweeter than that?
In my own humble way, I offer my gratitude and prayer to Maria as her soul embarks on the next stage of this journey.
In Master’s love
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, Maria was was right there for me. She said, ” Don’t worry Jivani, we’re going to beat this.” She was a constant source of support and love. Maria lived her life as a warrior for the Light. Now she is in that Light.
Thank-you for your beautiful example!
Jai Guru! Jai Maria! AUM
When I moved to Ananda in 1997, Maria kindly took time from her busy schedule to take walks around the village with me, during which she’d offer valuable, honest feedback about a difficult situation in my life. She also gave me treasured spiritual advice that I’ll never forget: she told me if I really wanted to grow spiritually, I needed to commit to being a channel of service to Ananda in some important way. Up until that point I’d been volunteering a few hours a day, but hadn’t committed to serving on a regular day-in-day-out basis. I did heed Maria’s advice, began to serve ‘full time,’ and soon found myself growing in attunement and countless other ways.
Maria (and Devarshi) have also gone out of their way to make the Indians feel at welcome and at home whenever Keshava and I brought them to the village. Maria would make a cake and whipped cream, or chocolate covered strawberries, and special teas. Her inspiring (and humorous) discussions of serving at Ananda would make this afternoon one of the Indians’ favorite experiences.
We were in India when I learned of Maria’s brain tumors. Since then I’ve tuned into her during each meditation, and I’m deeply grateful for the experience of stillness and joy she’s sharing. Although it’s tempting to be sad – we will miss her physical presence dearly – we know Master has her by the hand, and she is soaring with joy in His infinite light.
I didn’t know MARIA but i find the Ananda website inspirational so i give thanks to her for this and wish her peace and happiness in her passing
Best Wishes and Love
Rarely does one meet someone so consistently, unequivocally herself. And what a great Self she is. Maria lived, served, loved, died all in the same spirit of clear, determined commitment to God and Guru. Our communication was mostly by e-mail. The fun of writing to her was to make your point in as few words as possible! No fluff. Just truth, straight-up. That was and is Maria — a blessing for all of us and for Master’s mission in this world. Go with Love, may joyful blessings, speed you safely on your way……
As with any, especially long-time, member of Ananda, Maria would surely want to be remembered for her love and devotion, and I do pay tribute to that.
Beyond that, what I will always cherish about Maria is her incisive wit and penetrating intelligence, coupled with a strong desire to always be fair. When I returned to Ananda in 2004 after a long time away, there was some mild hysteria about whether an HIV-positive person could be allowed to live in a group house. After listening to experts testify that such fears were irrational, it was Maria who came to my defense and declared that “we should not be ruled by superstition.”
I also have great respect for her mastery of English, which never ceased to amaze and amuse. She was one of my favorite Sunday Service speakers.
God bless you, Maria, and thank you for touching my life.
Thank you for the blessings received through your passing into gurudeva’s lap. What a Joy!!
Thank you for your friendship and your sweet smile.
Thank you for your strength and example in how tho live for God Alone.
In divine friendship,
I’ve known Marushka (as I called her — she called me Ruru) for nearly thrity years. I worked with her in Seattle and then off and on doing Ananda web projects over the last few years.
One strong memory I have (fittingly enough) was of an Astral Ascension Ceremony she performed while we were in Seattle. She spoke eloquently, calmly, and with great compassion for the loss people were experiencing. Everyone left the ceremony uplifted and reassured, released from the (false) feeling that one should feel badly at the death of another. She conveyed with certainty that death should not to be feared but welcomed when it comes, that it provides a break from the hard work and spiritual challenges of physical life. I thought at the time that it was the best talk I had ever heard Maria give. She spoke from certainty and with great love.
I also remember a recording we made of Maria chanting “Reveal Thyself”. It was sweet and pure and full of Divine yearning. I don’t know if anyone has a copy of the recording but it would be nice to make it available if possible.
I will miss her quick wit and ready sense of humor as well.
Farewell for a time, dearest sister in God and Gurus. Thank you for all you have consciously and courageously done to show us how a deeply devoted disciple of God and Gurus can leave this world in triumph and freedom.
We will miss you very much, but we would never want to hold you back, as you know. So go now with all our love, blessings, and deepest gratitude.
Maria, thanks for being the great warrior of light that you were in this lifetime. Thank you for telling me I was driving too fast one day several years ago, on one of our Ananda roads. You were right, and every time I am tempted to do so again, I hear your voice in my head.
Your last words to me were: “Did you have fun teaching in Chicago? Were there photos? Would you write a blog for the website about your experiences?” I said “Yes” to all–for how could one ever say no to you?
I enjoyed our sunset communion a few days ago when I stood out on the ridge near your home, knowing you were leaving us soon–trying inwardly, in the best way I knew, to say goodbye to you. You were so present with me–thank you! And it was a spectacular sunset.
To keep myself calm when I first heard the news that you might be leaving us soon, I just told myself that you were just moving to another Ananda Colony. And of course, in a way, that is very true.
May Divine Mother and Master hold you in their arms right now and bless you a thousand times over for all you were and are.
Devarshi, you are equally a great warrior of light and always were as her husband and companion. I admire you so much! You are in my prayers now and always.
Maria always had a twinkle in her eyes, as though she was seeing passed the current situation, into the eternal now. She was courageous and compassionate. I will miss her.
Although I am new to Ananda and have never met you I feel blessed just for having seen a picture of you and for having heard from others how much you meant to them and how much you were loved.
Freedom, FREEDOM — you are so blessed. Om Shanti, Peace… d
The last few days before her transition, she was all I could experience in meditation — her joy and freedom in God. Never any sadness — she was wrapping us all in her light. Thank you Maria for your life and for your Love.
Bless you, Maria….Yesterday as you were “passing” – but I didn’t yet know it, I was walking around the office asking, “Is there any word of Maria?” – Of course, there wasn’t any word yet….
But later on, once we knew – I felt a joy in my spine as though your own expansion in spirit was lifting all of us, as well… And this morning, right as I was coming awake – I had this very clear thought, and blessing, “Anything that causes separation from God causes suffering – And all bliss comes from merging in Him, so why not simply merge in the field of blue?”
It was so simple, so clear, and so childlike…and I immediately thought of you – expanding in the Light… and it was lifting our sails, as well, if we but let it. Such is the joy of life in God together that now, even in parting, you give yet another gift….
Thank you, dear Maria, for your dedication to God and Guru, and for your friendship and joy through the years….
Dearest Soul Sister,Maria, you are wrapped in Divine Mother’s and Guru’s arms. On several different occasions you have touched me deeply and I felt my soul dance. When you did the ariti during Sunday Service I experienced your deep joy and devotion to our masters, and it was such an inspiration to me. While we have only met and chatted briefly a few times over the years, I have always felt your wonderful spirit calling to my soul. I will remember you always. Sharmila
I met Maria in October of 1980 in the middle of Washington Square Park in New York City, where I was visiting friends. A yoga teacher was demonstrating asanas in the park and as I was watching him, a sweet, accented voice came from behind me asking him,”Are you a saint?” I turned and saw a lovely, wide eyed young woman—it was Maria. We introduced ourselves and as we spoke, I felt to tell her I practice Kriya Yoga. She became very excited and told me she and her sister Bella had just arrived in the U.S. from Russia, had read Autobiography of a Yogi and were looking for a place to learn Kriya.
I myself was preparing to move to the Ananda ashram in San Francisco that fall, so I gave her the address and phone number of the ashram, as well as that of Ananda Village. We parted company and I wasn’t sure if I would ever see her again.
A few months later, I was living in the San Francisco ashram, and we received a phone call from a lady named Bella, looking for a ride to Ananda Village for her and her sister. I offered to take them and we agreed to meet in Union Square. As I was driving there, I suddenly remembered my encounter with Maria in New York, and I became sure it was she and her sister whom I was on my way to meet. And indeed it was—we were both amazed at how Master had brought us together once again in the middle of a big city. I’m not positive, but I believe that this was their first time to see the Village.
I am sure that it was Master who “introduced” me to Maria so that she could find Ananda as quickly as possible and begin her real work for this incarnation. Through the years she has been a deeply inspiring friend, calm and impersonal in facing her own health challenges, and always deeply concerned for the well being of others. Her friendship has blessed and enriched my life and I will never forget her.
Death comes to us all. So many fear it. I am pleased to see the light surrounding Maria’s passing. Personally sad for Devarshi, Ananda community and myself for a time at her parting, yet smiling for her release into the infinite. Also happy at her example of passing with dignity and calmness, an example that defy’s the programming of our society. Joy in release, a new adventure, a broader self. That is what is evidently present.
I took the Raja Yoga course from David(Devarshi) and Maria in Seattle in 1993, where I finally rediscovered my spiritual family at 24 years old. Then I took my Kriya initiation training from Devarshi and Maria @ Ananda in 1996. They were my guides and initiators into my spiritual path and although I have not seen them for many years, I am eternally grateful. Maria, you have touched so many lives. Thank you! Thank you!
Only now i’ve understood how blessed i was having a talk with you this July. You know, sometimes it happens that when we’re loosing something it makes us sad and at the same time turns our memories about the person into the precious moments of our life’s. I’ll always remember you as “squirrel with 2 white strips at her back” and BIG KIND HEART! I feel deep light sadness about you!! And a great JOY that you’re in the hands of our GURU now!!!
Blessed be your reunion Maria
I offer my heartfelt gratitude for 25 years of warm and joyful friendship, blended with the inspiration that comes from watching a soul blossom before your very eyes. Kindness, sincerity, and a lightness of spirit were hallmarks of her friendship. Thank you for showing so beautifully how life can set us free, and bless your next step. Daiva
Maria and I served together in cooking at Assisi when the temple was being built. It is quite a bonding experience cooking for a hundred or more people/meal several times a day. I wish I could find the picture of her cutting vegetables with such devotion that her eyes took on the almond shape of Krishna’s eyes or children’s eyes. It was used in at least one brochure I believe. Another memory sticks out of when we were cooking a large pot of soup that I had placed on the stove that she was to stir and finish the ingredients and seasoning. She looked at the pot and said in a factual, slightly dry way as if she was commenting on the weather or the news, “I see I will have to make an adjustment for the altitude impaired,” and went and got a step stool to stand on, as the top of the pot was taller than her head.
As with so many things shared with devotees it not the event themselves, it is the soul depth of sharing that makes it special. That gives life meaning. Thank You Maria for sharing your life in such a deep soul way. The world is richer for your life and a bit dimmer in some ways now that you have left.
Your simple heartfelt hello did so much many times for me to feel connected to the community and greater reality.
In remembering Maria so many little things that are hard to put in words and share meaningfully come to mind; also the human pain of the empty spot in my heart makes it hard to write through the tears. Her soul joy is so tangible now when I meditate and pray for yet the human side of me still feels the loss of a true friend in God.
I love you Maria! Blessing until we meet again in God.
In the final Dallas Service, Maria was radiant. There was no external sign of her troubles.
Till the end she was focused not on her own needs but on the needs of others, passing out blessing after blessing, something that I felt even in as insubstantial connections as email.
Her work on the web site thoughtfully focused on the thousands around the world in need of spiritual sustenance and just not the smaller numbers physically present at Ananda Village, or in Ananda Centers… beginning the fulfillment of Yoganandaji’s prophecy of reaching millions.
The web outreach and her life story itself are symbolic of the transcendence of the limitations of geography, politics, distance and ultimately her own physical frame.
Maria was inspired and inspiring, an example devotee and will be missed in the Village and around the world by the many she blessed physically and at a distance.
Maria and I were talking about website development about 2 years ago. I was struck by her practical approach to the challenges and tasks she was wrestling with. She approached each subject with directness and clarity. Yogananda did the same.
Underlying this practical nature was a glint of deep devotion and sincerity that shone through to let us all know what a deep and advanced soul she was. This combination of practical on the outside and God connected on the inside made her worthy of great respect and love at the same time. Blessings to Dave and all,,,,,,,,,,,,,,with God’s Love,,Jeff
During these last few weeks since Maria’s diagnosis until her passing, I feel Maria has been teaching me so much about the spiritual path. Soon after the news came out, we corresponded with Devarshi and, through him, Maria. Then Bharat and I had our evening meditation. We found out afterward that both of us felt quite lifted by an extraordinary sense of divine peace. Feeling this peace, I thought: This is who Maria IS.
And it occurred to me that she had the strength to choose to be who she is, and to release all that she was not–any regrets, fears, negative thoughts, and so on. It was as if she offered the tiny non-self into the Great Self and all the smallness was gone.
It was a beautiful and powerful message.
Maria, I have come to know you more deeply during these last two weeks of meditating with you and praying for you than I ever have before, and I’m deeply grateful for the inner power you are sharing with all of us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Maria has always been special to me. She and Devarshi were the first ministers I met at Ananda. They taught the “How to Meditate” class at the Expanding Light which I attended nearly 12 years ago. Through the years Maria has given me practical advice. The most memorable – you should at least enjoy 50% of your job (all jobs have pluses and minuses) or you better start looking for a new one. She would always make me laugh when she called herself “A Russki” (being from Russia).
At the end of August Aumkara and I were driving home from Swami’s talk in LA and stopped for a late lunch at the Peach Tree Restaurant somewhere off the beaten path in central California. We weren’t quite sure why Divine Mother led us there until the radiant faces of Nayaswami Devarshi and Nayaswami Maria walked in.They took a break from the road to purchase two hot teas “to go”. It was such a sweet surprise and blessing to see them there even for a few moments. As they departed for the village we all said in unison “we love you, have a safe drive home”. That was the very last time I saw Maria. Good bye sweet spiritual sister, you will continue to uplift my soul.
What a wonderful example you have been and continue to be of a life dedicated to God and Gurus.
You have shown us through your life what can be achieved through love and devotion to God. Thank you for this gift.
This year, ananda.org brought many blessings and enriched not only my life but my friends too. It is simple but beautiful and i used to wonder who did that..only now i know.
By your work, you have lit the way for many..
My heatfelt thanks,
Blessings and joy Maria,
and yes “well done’
Many Blessings to you dear, sweet Maria and to your husband and family! So many blessings!!!
I remember when you first married and shared at a monastic training about choosing your husband; I thought about it many times over the years how you chose out of sharing devotion to God! How many fantastic blessings you two must have in that connection. :)
You also told a cute story about your then shy husband who looked at you so lovingly as you spoke about why you married him as an example of loving God together and not just another handsome face.
You were an example then as you are now upon leaving this life: One devoted to God.
OHHHH, Babaji, what you do to our hearts and minds! It is Christmas every day! Thank you for kriya!!!! NEVER give up on us! (I know you can’t!)
Thank you Maria for living the truth beautifully and sharing it with us!
Thank you so much for a such a beautiful tribute to Maria. Her life was truly an inspiration. She has uplifted many many souls. I feel blessed to have her as a friend. I know her soul is now dancing with God!
What a magnificent job you have done of your final exam for this incarnation. I know that Master is very pleased. Your calmness and focus during this transition have been deeply inspiring. I feel honored to have participated in the prayers for your freedom. Every time I prayed for you, I felt your spirit soaring and that feeling intensified during our astral ascension ceremony for you last night in Seattle. We are thrilled for your freedom and wish you “more and deeper” until you finally melt into Him.
The legacy you have left for Master’s work is impressive as the website is a wonderful way to reach out to devotees everywhere. While we will miss you on the human level, we know that you are home now and would not wish it any other way.
In Divine Mother’s Love,
Maria was and is a spiritual friend and mentor. She helped me find the courage to take on a project that was beyond my scope, knowing it would push me outside of my “little self” and into the arms of God and Master.
Despite already working long hours on ananda.org, she patiently sat with me and taught me the skills I needed, with the perfect balance of loving support, no-nonsense feedback, many cookies and much laughter. She also knew when it was time to push me out of the nest, so that I could continue to develop confidence and strengthen the trust in my own inner knowing.
In the example of her passing, she continues to give, pushing me once again beyond the “little self”. Thank you and bless you, dear one. See you in God’s light!
Maria has been one of those people in whom the stripping away of the layers of worldliness has been especially clear. When Maria and her sister Bella arrived at Ananda Village in 1980, they still carried the weight of their past lives in Russia — in other words, they were without much joy, and they had a hardness about them that was difficult to break through. Haven’t we all known at least a few people like this? Most of them never change, but Maria was different.
I watched her systematically remove these negative qualities, layer by layer. At first, of course, there didn’t seem to be much change, but as time went by her divine nature began to show in small patches. Her sense of humor began to emerge, somewhat shyly at first, but slowly gaining confidence. After her sister died in 1998 (also of cancer) I saw a new dedication in Maria, and each time I served with her I noticed yet another dramatic improvement. She knew that her life was likely to be short and she was determined to make as much progress as possible, letting go of the non essentials and focusing on service and kindness.
Last summer Jaya and I got to spend a couple of hours with Maria and Devarshi and I was reminded that when you are in divine friendship it doesn’t matter how long you have been apart. Time and space seem to disappear, and it’s as though you have been together all the time. Rest in God, Maria. May we all have your dedication and determination.
I first heard of Maria when I read an article written by her in an issue of “The Crystal Clarity.” It was a delightful story of her sister, her nephew and the strawberries. I marveled at her ability to find meaning in the most simple situations in life. I had the pleasure to meet her in the office complex during my recent visit to Ananda Village in last June. Little did I realize then that she would be on this earth for a short while.
I, along withthe members of Ananda Sangha Mumbai, offer my humble prayers for her onward journey.
The night my my earthly sister died, only 4 months ago from a brain tumour, I was hurting terribly. I emailed Maria, a dear friend and sister to me, who wanted to be informed of her passing. I was hurting. Maria’s reply to me, straight from the Guru, harboured no self-serving sentiment from me. She simply said all that was needed, “Try to be happy for her. She will feel your pain!”
Her advice has now been invaluable once again, and turned upon herself.
From Joy she came, in Joy she lived, in sacred Joy she melts!
Ah, dear Maria, AUM, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
Your sister, maitreyi
Although I did not know Nayaswami Maria, I am one of those whom she touched through Ananda.org, from which I have the opportunity to learn of the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda, and how to live those teachings. I also recall watching a few of her Sunday Service talks in the earlier years. She made the teachings come alive with warm and humorous accounts from her personal life. Reading of her passing is itself an exemplary lesson on how to prepare for the final exam.
Thank you for touching my life.
Dear Maria, My sweet spiritual sister, I have known your warm friendship for many years. I will miss seeing you here in our midst but I will always feel your abundant love for all. I know that you are now a shining light in the astral heaven.
In the words of Swamiji:
Go with love, may joyful blessings speed you safely on your way. May God’s light expand within you; may we be one in that Light someday.
Farewell, dear sister. It has been a blessing to share this path with you in this lifetime.
I was fortunate to be one of the newly initiated kriyabans in Dallas the weekend in November Maria and Devarshi came, when Maria began to understand her condition. It is true that she never betrayed the slightest discomfort. Instead, she was a pure and clear channel of motherly love. I don’t say this lightly. It was more than I have ever seen in another person, including myself. During the reconciliation ceremony, she exuded such unconditional love, that I felt in truth that Divine Mother was talking to me. Many of us were in tears feeling that longed-for touch.
Her Sunday Service talk was loving, tranquil, funny and sincere. Some of her words I remember were that “Sometimes Life doesn’t suck”, (i.e., Starbucks cappuccinos, haha!) meaning that the world has its attractions, and yet, for her, the most important quote she could think of was Krishna’s warning to Arjuna, “Get away from my ocean of suffering”. We think, if only I could find the right mate, the right doctor, the right clothes, I would be happy in this life, but of course, it is delusional. She said not to procrastinate, to help each other, to win our final freedom. Her words were full of energy, and also peace. Devarshi looked at her so admiringly, for he must have known what she was experiencing physically.
I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling an instant affinity for Maria from the moment I saw her on the website. I feel completely blessed to have been able to come to Dallas for this kriya weekend with Maria and Devarshi. Now, I feel blessed to have been a distant witness to her beautiful passing. Victorious Maria! Thank You!
There was a point during our prayers and concerns for Maria when Nakula just stopped and said, “I’ve been thinking about Maria and praying for her quite a lot and I really feel that she wants us to know that she is completely happy and free.” This is the unabashed mother energy that Maria always exuded–of course she would care about us even when she couldn’t tell us so with her own words. And Maria, we will also miss your humor, but most of all your love.
Well Done, Maria. Your blessed us in so so many ways. Om Guru!
Maria’s detachment and inner freedom from what holds us to this world are truly extraordinary. How many of us can honestly say that we are “ready” to die?
What ever it takes, Maria was ready to go. Never one to be especially patient, perhaps she was more than ready – even slightly impatient — to go!
Over the years, she had obviously disciplined her mind so that she could focus it entirely on the task at hand – in this case, preparing to leave, without hesitation, regret or self-pity. Her purity of soul is awe-inspiring. I am grateful for the example she has set for us all.
Maria was an angel. I have listened to her talk about the little squirrel many times and love hearing it over and over. When she & Devarshi were in Seattle, I bought my first mala from her at the boutique. She was such a bright soul who continues to be present with me in my meditations. Love & blessings to you, Devarshi.
In Masters joy, Lajjana
I met Maria when I came to Ananda in the late ’80s and got to know her pretty well since she was married to my brother (Devarshi). Our relationship was a bit difficult at times, since I thought (then) that she was being hard on me. But, being new on the path, of course I was right about everyone and everything!
Over the years though, I came to know a person who embodied a no-nonsense approach to Master’s teachings. Tough when she needed to be, but always filled with Divine Love. I also reached a point where I took her suggestions for my spiritual well-being as much more than mere suggestions; if she said it, I’m going to apply it (to my life). That’s the Devotee I know.
The human who has been part of my earthly family has had no less of a profound effect on me. She was a loving aunt to my three children–I know that their lives are better because of it. And the friendship she always gave me will be greatly missed. I could always be comfortable conversing with her, ever feeling Master’s vibrations behind her words, in her eyes.
Maria has moved to a better neighborhood–one that the average person can’t usually experience. But those of us who share this spiritual bond can visit with her by raising our vibration. And so I have felt her presence these past few weeks. All of us who know her are better off because of her efforts. This is the grace of the Guru in action.
Bless you, Maria! How could I ever have found my spiritual family again, without you and these great ananda.org web pages, as I’m living on the other side of the globe and there’s no one else from Ananda in my country.
I haven’t met you personally, not at least during this life time, but as I watched your talks, I somehow felt you as an old friend straight away. And now can feel your uplifting presence even closer during prayers and meditation.
I’m deeply grateful to you and your husband Devarshi. Without you I wouldn’t be what and where I am now. You are my spiritual hero.
In Masters love and joy,
Maria was an old friend and source of deep inspiration to me. We forged a bond many years ago in Seattle. She and Devarshi were, along with Puru, the ones who brought me onto this path. My heartfelt memories are of her in our Raja Yoga class, lighting candles and turning down the lights, for our meditations together. I can see her chanting, bathed in that light – then in bodily form – now no longer limited by the confines of that form. . . radiant and joyful.
She once said to me, of her marriage to Devarshi: “Isn’t it wonderful that we love Master more than we love one another?”. Spoken like a true devotee. Go with love, dear friend.
I cannot tell you how blessed and grateful we feel at Ananda Dallas that we were able to share and celebrate in Maria’s last sacred Kriya initiation. Busy with preparation for the ceremony and for our Indian Banquet I did not share much conversation with Maria, but the few words we exchanged went right to my heart. I remember pausing at the time, with a sense that they held a particular significance. But after hearing her diagnosis I knew for certain she was being such a pure channel and wonderful example for us all. I know that this was a very special time for us and those blessings that both she and Devarshi brought us as Master’s channels will reveal themselves even more so as time unfolds.
Every Kriya from now on I will be thinking of you Maria….roses to the left, roses to the right, roses front and behind… thank you Maria, (thank you Divine Mother!)
We hold your memory dear in our hearts and we will miss you….
Maria and Devarshi have been a deep inspiration to my husband and myself since coming onto the spiritual path
Each year we would visit the village we would make a point to connect with them.
Maria and Devarshi were my husband’s first meditation teachers at Ananda Seattle in 93. As Joel so eloquently put it last week at her astral ascension ceremony in Seattle : “Maria had a way of looking right into your soul”.
From the minute we heard about her illness, we were able to feel in meditation her radiance, bliss, willpower and dedication to our Guru as his child of God. We had the strong inclination that through her life and transition she was showing all of us what it takes to become “free” in this lifetime. We are eternally grateful .
We will miss her but we will draw on her compassionate loving spirit as we all move closer to Gods infinite consciousness.
In Masters joy,
Joel and Chandi Holliman
Maria encouraged and supported each soul in her straightforward no nonsense way. She spoke to many of us including me as if Master were encouraging me personally. (And I truly think he was through her)
After her amazing Sunday service about the Guru disciple relationship at Master’s 90th Anniversary of coming to America recently in Boston, I said to her, “Maria, that was a blockbuster!”
She smiled and said simply in her sweet voice, “It was Master”.
She sweetly and tenaciously encouraged me to write more blogs for the Ananda website and gave me excellent feedback about what she was seeking from me. I promise Maria, to write more blogs!
You are one of my dearest friends as I know you are to so many!
Master uplift you and hold you ever in the Divine Light!
I first met Maria and Devrashi last year in Cinncinati for a kriya retreat. It was my first time meeting Ananda ministers. I was still new to the path and had not had much experience with chanting. I did not take the kriya initiation but I happened to walk outside the initiation room in the retreat center after the ceremony. Maria was in the room on her own, chanting to God. I can honestly say it was one of the most beautiful times of listening to a chant – I could not move, I simply sat outside and meditated on the experience and energy of someone truly loving God. It was truly profound and a great example of deep devotion.
Dervashi and Maria took time out both times I visited Ananda. It was clear to me that all that they do and their lives together was totally dedicated to God. A shining example. It is a complete priviledge to know you – your lives are such a testament to the purity, power and practicality of this Path. A powerhouse of Love, Light and Devotion – Maria – a true friend!
Thank you for your continued inspiration and example during your final exam. Reading about your life I am now looking at my own life to see where I can deepen my commitment and service to God and how I can get myself (desires, ego, delusions, selfishness) out of the way to truly serve others in Master, in the same spirit you do. Thank you for this.
In gratitude and with deep blessings…
Learning about Maria… it now really means a lot to have been at the village this summer. Maria led our Kriya review class, the morning after the initiation…
I sat in front, so close to her, as the room was small and I had to keep moving closer as people came in. It was a really good session with her, and actually it’s like she’s been with me every time I sit for Kriya, as I remember her words, and feel again in my body that which she described. I was thankful for being so close, and being able to hear her breath.
Devarshi had planned on teaching the class, but sent Maria instead at the last minute~ I think that’s how it happened. How lucky to have been in that class!
Maria, I have just heard of your passing and wish to share my “rose petal”. I met you on the internet. My mind was full of questions and doubts regarding my spiritual journey. You approached me like a long lost friend and introduced me to the caring environment of the Ananda community. Through your help I connected with Dave Warner (Devarshi) and took my Discipleship and Kriya vows by distance. In 2009 I met you in person at Winter Renewal Week. I had just come from 40 degrees Centigrade in Australia to SNOW and was definitely under-prepared! You sent me gloves and a beanie before I could ask. Thank you from my heart. The effects from the ripples of such simple acts of kindness are felt for a lifetime.
Though i never met Maria, but surely, if one listens to your Sunday Service and anecdotes , One finds a living saint in you.Definitely Maria, you will be missed by people who know you and also by the people who never met you but read about you or listen to your talks.
I did not know Maria personally. Being member of the healing council in the Netherlands and Assisi, I receive sometimes a special request for healing prayers from Mary Kretzmann. When I opened the prayer request for Maria I first saw her picture, I had the feeling I knew here. She looked so familiar to me, when I looked at her I felt a deep love in my heart. I read her story and she even more touched me. I started praying for her.
I had a difficult time myself, as well physically as mentally, so she was for me an example. The day after her leaving the body, I had a difficult time to focus in meditation. Suddenly Maria came into my head, immediately my meditation deepened and I felt such a tremendous peace in myself. It was as if Maria, although I didn’t know her, gave me her strength and devotion to meditate and focus. It was an amazing feeling. Since that day, sadhana go deeper and my daily struggle is less.
Thank you Maria for your loving example. May we be one in that light someday. Aum
thank you from the depth of my heart for sharing —
i did not know maria – until now. just now, before starting christmas meditation, i watched her talk including the “squirrel story”. somehow, it answered all the doubts that had besieged me during most of this past year. thank you, maria, for saving me from them whilst already sitting on Guruji’s lap, thank you all for sharing, thank you Guruji for leading me to this link today, for opening the door wide every time i’m hammering on it thinking it’s closed, thank you God for all your blessings.
It has been real comforting and inspiring to read and listen to all the comments about Maria and Devarshi. Thanks to everyone. And to them especially. Her favorite Sunday Service for me is still up on the website. It is a neat one! December 7, 2008. You might enjoy checking it out.
Thank you Maria for your wisdom and joyfulness and spiritual calling to each of us.
It was june 08 that I travelled with a group of pilgrims to ananda village and we visited homes of members who were staying at the village.
It was one such evening that we visited devrishi and maria and their home it was maria who looked in absolute bliss and this was an attraction that spiritual life is not only about reading only it is also practising teachings in real life.
And that evening after spending time with them so many doubts about god just left my head forever.
I know guruji will always be with all of us forever.
OM GURU…OM GURU…OM GURU…
To Maria with love:
Maria was a spark of the same divine light from which we all emanated out into this world, but she lived more in attunement with God and Guru than most of us have been able to. The Divine energies flowed freely through her and out into the world around her filling all hearts with joy and peace.
I read somewhere in Sri Aurobindo’s writings that sadness binds the soul to this earthly domain and makes her journey difficult, so I am making an effort to feel joy and to project this joy towards her soul as she makes the divine journey back to God. But I must confess that this joy is mixed with a tinge of sadness thinking she will no more be among us in flesh and blood.
I am sure she will be watching over us from up Above and blessing us and protecting us. A nursery rhyme comes to mind as a tribute to her soul –
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are,
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky!
Thinking of Maria on this night when Christ was born….I first “met” Maria through the website, via email conversations about various things, including the Sunday service talks that our Ananda Boston meditation center watches together weekly.
Then in August 2010, just a month before her and Devarshi were to lead a pilgrimage retreat in Boston to celebrate Yogananda’s 90th anniversary of coming to America, she invited Kristy and I to their house for a get together. Maria prepared some wonderful treats and tea, and we had the opportunity to get to know each other. I couldn’t help noticing the lightness and brightness of their home, especially the bedroom, which was completely white, bright, and filled with calmness, where I could later imagine Maria filled with the purity of the Divine within and all around her.
During the retreat, Maria’s talks were especially deep and blissful. It was part outward retreat to some of the sites and places Yogananda visited, but more strongly, it felt like a journey deep within–the presence of the Masters flowing through her and Devarshi in every aspect the weekend retreat. Maria mentioned in her talks how difficult it was to pull away from her work with the website to come on the retreat, and I was thinking how fitting it was to realize she was being pulled away from service to God and Guru on one front to do the same service, but just in another way, by leading the retreat.
In praying for Maria in those days leading up to her freedom, I came across a passage from Yogananda’s “How to Have Courage, Calmness, and Confidence” on page 26 in the chapter called “Calmness: the Source of Power.” It reminded me of one of Maria’s wonderful talks during the retreat when she lovingly challenged us to join her in affirming daily and often: “It’s now or never!” on the path of self-realization.
“Life is change. Remain ever calm within. Be even-minded. When working, be calmly active. Someday, you will know yourself to be subject no longer to the tides of Destiny. Your strength will come from within; you will not depend on outer incentives of any kind of motivation. As a devotee on the spiritual path, give little weight to the trials that beset you. Be even minded. Walk with courage. Go forward from day to day with calm, inner faith. Eventually, you will pass beyond every shadow of bad karma, beyond all tests and difficulties, and will behold at last the dawn of divine fulfillment. In that highest of all states of consciousness will come freedom from every last, trailing vapor of misfortune. Today!–now–set out for that promised land–distant-seeming, yet ever near: the unshakable state of absolute fulfillment in God. O Devotee make haste!”
Thank you Maria for your love, your inspiring example of courage, and a life dedicated to service! We promise to get busy for God: it’s now or never!
No escribo muy bièn el Inglès, asì que este pequeño homenaje a Ma`rìa lo hago en mi propio Idioma, porque lo importante es expresar los sentimientos del alma, y del corazòn que tienen lenguaje universal.
Conocì a Marìa hace ya mas de 4 años, la primera vez que estuve en Ananda Village. Ella y su esposo Dev muy amables nos invitaron a dos amigas y a mi, a comer a su casa. Me pareciò tan dulce, tan linda y tan gentil, la recuerdo tan generosa, su casa tan limpia y arreglada, su jardìn tan bonito y cuidado, toda su casa irradiaba felicidad y mucha paz. Me traje una muy grata impresiòn de tan bien avenido matrimonio. La segunda vez que fuì a California, saludè a Marìa en su Oficina, su lugar de trabajo y siempre con la misma bella sonrisa en su rostro, nos dimos un efusivo abrazo. No puedo creer que ella ya no està mas aquì. Deja recuerdos imborrables y todo lo mucho bueno que hizo en su corta vida. Ahora està en la Luz y en la Gloria de Dios. Marìa rindo un tributo a tu efìmera, pero tan fructìfera existencia y Dios bendice a tu familia y les otorga su consuelo. Con cariño Alicia S. Reyes
— Translated with Google’s Help —
I do not write English very well, so this small tribute to Maria I do in my own language, because the important thing is to express the feelings of the soul and the heart, which has a universal language.
I met Maria over 4 years ago, the first time I was at Ananda Village. Devarshi, her husband, very kindly invited two friends and I to eat at their home. It seemed so sweet, so cute and so kind, so generous. I remember your home as clean and tidy, your garden so beautifully preserved, and your whole house radiating happiness and peace. I got a very good impression of such well-matched marriage.
The second time I went to California, greeted Maria in her office, and with the same beautiful smile on her face, she gave us a warm hug. I cannot believe she is no longer here. I will keep lasting memories of how much good she did in this short life. She is now in the Light and the Glory of God.
Maria, I pay tribute to your fleeting, but very fruitful life, and God bless your family and give them consolation.
Alicia S. Reyes