"Aravinda was given two names by people who loved her" were the words that opened the August 2014 memorial service for Aravinda, also known as Louise Bertrand.
As Louise, she became known to the members of the Wellington Study Group around twenty years ago. Formerly a member of the School of Philosophy, Louise had been introduced to John and Mavis Boyd and then to the WSG through her doctor, an Indian man who called her the God woman. Out of her love and regard for Ramana Maharshi and the Sankaracharya, Louise had developed a great affection for all that was Indian and always enjoyed talking about Indian philosophy. Her doctor knew she would enjoy meeting the Boyds and they soon became close friends.
Louise became a devotional member of the WSG, adding her particular brand of no-nonsense practicality to the group, turning out her exquisite needlework equally as well as her well-polished doorsteps.
Despite her wicked sense of humour and occasionally pungent turn of phrase, none could doubt Louise's devotion to the spiritual. That this was devotion to the great Life-force itself, rather than to individuals, became obvious when ten years ago she encountered a living Spiritual Master. Louise understood at once that here was someone who had fully realized Life itself and is willing to share all that He is with those who are equally attracted to the Divine.
Although the choice was not an easy one, Louise eventually let go her attendance at WSG groups. She maintained her affection for friends in the organisation, continuing to act as housekeeper and cleaner at Hobson Crescent and manage the bookings for outside groups, virtually right up to her death at 75 from the cancer that fatally obstructed her lungs and prevented digestion.
Refusing most medication and holding fast to her love for the Life that she had now also realised, she was able to pass peacefully.
During her final days, Spiritual Master Yanchiji who had first re-named her Aravinda (meaning Lotus) visited her several times and added Ma to her name, meaning one who was now wholly living in Love.
With love from Linda Hansen (previously known to some readers as Bremford)