I’m gradually collecting information for a book on the life of Dr. Ajari Pemchekov, a Russian teacher of Buddhism and Christianity in San Francisco in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.
Though he was (and is still) called Dr. Ajari by his followers, he was also known as Neville Warwick.
If you knew Dr. Ajari, tell me one of those infamous stories. Did you firewalk with him? See him play at a holy-man jam, or directing parking for a talk by Kalu Rinpoche? Did you live in the hando and burn goma on the beach? I want to know. Please contact me.
I was around Kagyu Droden Kunkhyab on Fell Street in the Haight in the early 1980s when Kalu Rinpoche was there, and as a translator for Lama Tsangtsing and others in 1985-86. Dr Ajari would come by from time to time with some of his troops, and the lamas were very amused that he would always give them 20 dollars whether they answered his questions or not. He was generally considered to be something of a nut-bar, although I have to assume that there was some cultural misunderstanding. He was always very nice to me.
Eric, were you ever a witness to one of the fights between Lama Lodru and Dr. Ajari?
No, but I can just imagine. I understand that he is referred to as “Lama Lodru Rinpoche” now that Jamgon Kongtrul III and Kalu Rinpoche Sr. have passed on, and the control system is suspended. I guess that’s California for you.
Jenn – I suggested to Mansur Johnson that he contact you, as his memoir of Samuel Lewis includes a lot of storied involving Dr Ajari. http://www.mansurjohnson.com – It’s a great book.
Thanks, John, I’ll check this out. I haven’t made much progress on the Dr. Ajari front this summer, but it’s a long-term project, so that’s fine…more time for information to trickle in. I appreciate your help!
VK told me he forwarded my story & photos to you yesterday.
The story is personal and i would not want it published.
Please contact me about it if you wish.
Here is one of my favorite Dr. Ajari stories.
One night in early fall of 1977, I had gone to Ashland, Oregon with friends to
see the Star Wars movie.
Coming home over the Siskiyou Mountains, the car began shooting FLAMES out
of the exhaust pipe.
We didnâ€™t know what was going on, and fortunately made it back to Mt. Shasta safely.
When we arrived, there was the group, in front of my old apartment building.
It must have been midnight or so.
Dr. Ajrari pacing back & forth, with mala in hand.
I got out of the car and he says…
â€œWHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?
Iâ€™VE BEEN SWEATING BULLETS!â€
I still laugh out loud when I think of it!
He was one in a million.
With Love, Ladybear
Does anyone recall spending time at Kailas Shugendo with cellist Arthur Russell (a.k.a. ‘Jigmé’)? Any memories of Arthur or his relationship with Ajari?
I knew Dr. Ajari…I have been wait for so long to be asked by a stranger if I knew him. Dr. Ajari and Sisters Niratma and Mandarava made their gracious and mysterious entrance into my life threw a mutual friendship with Chodok, in 1991.
A Lousiana native at the age of 19, I moved west, for spiritual enlightenment and adventure. After 1 year in LA, I moved two SF, where we all met. Our time together was nearly a year. I lived at St. John’s Order and my experience there, while profound, was life-changing. Because of the sacredness of those relationships, few have heard me speak of them.
I would be happy to share some thoughts on that time. Please, feel free to contact me anytime.
Re: Dr. Ajari Vajrabodhi Neville Warwick Pemchekov…Yes I have the good fortune to have memories of associating with him, VK, Marichi, Mandarava, Nairatma, Thubten Norbu and some really interesting Tibetans in between firewalks, Hanya Haramita and playing in the Mantric Sun Mountain Band…What great times for over a year in the hondo on Pine St…Can anybody get me a on a futon?
I knew Dr. Ajari from the ashram of Dr. Rammurti Mishra, Shri Brahmanda Saraswate. Dr. Ajari would come by from time to time, and spent time talking to me. He told me he belonged to the Knights of Malta.
One time he took me to a house, I think it was on Potrero Hill in San Francisco, that he said was part of Mother Theresa’s order. We went into a room filled with statues of Ganesha, all shapes and sizes. We meditated there for a while.
He was a powerful man.
My husband Evangelos Alexandrou and I ran a Yoga Ashram/Christian Orthodox Church in San Jose from 1969-1986. Dr. Ajari and his troop would arrive weekly for years around 10PM when we all got out of bed and I would fix a meal for him. He then proceeded to our fireplace and start a fire ceremony tossing in pounds of butter, whiskey and other food sacrifices. Sometimes after the fire died down to coals, his disciples would scoop them up and spread them out on the patio. After prayers, they would proceed to walk over them. He asked me to walk over them once and I did because I didn’t think about it first and to my surprise I wasn’t burned. On occasion they would all bust out their fiddles and play what I would call barn dance music. My husband and Dr. Ajari would stay up half the night arguing about religion and they loved it. We visited their home and futon shop in San Francisco several times over the years. Dr. Ajari was always bringing us gifts from their shop. He really was one of a kind on this planet.
strange powerful man. we used to go to his movie nights but we turned off by his overhanded manner with his followers. then we went to Japan to study. now I am back and trying to study shigendo. strange life thing sometime go around in a circle. but I did respect him as a teacher. i just could Not be one of his followers.