ADI DA (Religious Movement)

The full self-given name of Adi Da is Ruchira Avatar Adi Da Samraj. The name means: Ruchira=shining or bright, avatar=a direct incarnation of God (see also Mother Meera and Sai Baba, Sathya), Adi=first, Da=the Giver (God), and Samraj=divine ruler—hence, he claims to be the shining divine descent of the God-Man.

At birth in 1939 at Long Island, New York, he was given the name Franklin Albert Jones. As a baby, he says that he recollects being conscious of a divine state which he now calls the ‘Bright’; at the age of two he decided to relinquish the bliss of this original state and enter the world. When 25 years old, Adi Da enrolled with his first spiritual teacher, Swami Rudrananda, which was followed four years later by entering a period of study with Swami Muktananda, and in 1970 he claims to have fully attained Self-realization. Two years later he started teaching and opened his first ashram in 1972. During this time he taught using the names Franklin Jones, Bubba Free John, Da Free John and Da Avabhasa.

In 1983, Adi Da moved to Fiji in the South Pacific, which has since become his primary residence—he became a Fijian citizen in 1993. Over the period of his life mostly in Fiji, Adi Da has written twenty-three ‘source texts’—his writing is characterized by unorthodox word capitalization—five of which are described as the Heart of the Adidam Revelation. The titles of these works shed some light on his teachings: Aham Da Asmi (Beloved, I Am Da), Ruchira Avatara Gita (The Way Of The Divine Heart-Master), Da Love-Ananda Gita (The Free Gift Of The Divine Love-Bliss), Hridaya Rosary (Four Thorns Of Heart-Instruction) and Eleutherios (The Only Truth That Sets The Heart Free). All Adi Da’s works are published by Adidam (the name given to the Adi Da community) through their Dawn Horse Press.

The community itself is spread world-wide, although mostly through the US. There are six main centres located in California, New Zealand, Australia, Holland, London, and Fiji, plus there are fourteen other centres, eight in the US (including Hawaii), two in Canada, two in Australia, and two in Continental Europe. In the UK, groups meet regularly in several towns and cities spread mostly in the south. The number of people involved in Adidam as a whole is not large because, as Georg Feuerstein points out in his chapter analysing Adi Da in Holy Madness: The Shock Tactics and Radical Teachings of Crazy-wise Adepts, Holy Fools, and Rascal Gurus: ‘most people are in need of a prolonged period of intense preparation in which they must learn to discipline their attention and energy’ (1992:86).

To this end, Adi Da developed a structure to his teachings which he calls the Way of the Heart, the first step being a five-week introductory course, after which the aspirant can apply to become a pre-student, undertaking further courses, applying later again to become a student-novice. The highest level, or First Congregation, is comprised of those devotees who have fully dedicated their lives to Adi Da and are renunciants, although not necessarily celibate.

The levels of these teachings centre on the act and degree of surrender to Adi Da who demands a complete and uncompromising abandonment of the individual egoic self (see Self-religion, The Self and self) so, he claims, saving the person from all life’s sorrow, despair, anger and lovelessness. In its place, the devotee is allowed to rest in Adi Da himself who, he says in Da Love—Ananda Gita, is the perfect one: ‘I Am That Which Is Always Already The Case. I Am the Non-Separate and Only One, the “Bright” One, and Indivisible and Indestructible One, Who Is all and All. Therefore, surrender Only to Me, and accept all your experience As My own Play.’

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