The difficulty of writing an obituary on Jasper is he was such a complex character. Inevitably there are going to be many misunderstandings in any verbal portrait of this larger than life intrepid explorer of many of the implications of William Blake's famous motto that `the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom'
Yes he was excessive, excessively warm hearted...even to those who unashamedly ripped him off in various unsavory ways. But he was not under-valued because he was passive or because he was psycholgically dim. No, although VERY SUS, he just didn't take any account of the `slings and arrows of (his) outrageous fortune.'
In many circles the name `Jasper', like a brand name, is synonymous with outrageous behaviour. Oblivious to self concern, this gentle fire in human form, like the picture of the fool in The Tarot, would smash through bureaucratic barbed wire to reach a stranded friend.
One thing is for sure, Jasper challenged everyone in close contact with him to be a Warrior of The SPIRIT...and never be offended by his over-the -top behaviour.
When I first met him in 1966, he already had a romantic reputation for choosing a vagabond life centred on the chillum, rather than that of being an Oxford undergraduate. He had gone to India to study...but on his return to England he was bust at London Airport...which led to Jasper coming into close Contact with Ronnie Laing and Ronnie's anti-conformist approach to psychiatry.
It was soon clear that like a Siren, the Spirit of the sadhu life was calling Jasper to return to the warm embrace of Mother India...and like an obediant lover...he gladly let the prospect of going native take him over. And going native he did---BIG TIME. To the extent that he went through various difficult initiations on the steep upward path of becoming a naked Nath sadhu.
The name of Ram Giri was given to him when he was apparantly recognised by a whole village as a reincarnation of their spiritual teacher who had died of ......pneumonia. Jasper was staggered as he had developed pneumonia when he was born......and what he didn't know then was that pneumonia would bowl him out again.
Living the sadhu life in temples and ashrams, Jasper learnt to speak not only Hindi fluently but also many of the Himalayan dialects. In 1984 he came to see me when I was staying in Sri Babaji's Ashram near Herakhan in the Himalayan foothills. Jasper and Babaji conversed in demotic Hindi and a part of their conversation went like this:--
Babaji: What's that around your neck?
Jasper : It's my Nath beads.
Babaji: You're not a Nath!
Jasper: Yes I am.
Babaji: No...you're a dope dealer from Almora.
Jasper: No, I'm Ram Giri...a Nath sadhu.
Babaji: No...you're a dope dealer from Almora.
Jasper: O.K forget it> Next life I'll live all the rules of a Nath sadhu.
Babaji : No next life...you'll be a dope dealer with a chai shop.
Jasper: Alright Baba, the life after that one I'll be a real Nath yogi.
Babaji : No ! In that life also... you'll be a dope dealer running a chai shop in Almora.
But although Jasper was a dyed-in-the-wool substance reveller, he was not an aimless iconoclast ashamed of the echoes of his aristocratic lineage. He knew full well that it is part of the English aristocratic tradition that those touched by the gods should inhabit circuits of existence despised by the smug. Like Van Gogh, Jasper will always be a beacon for those souls too alive to allow their human SPIRIT to be domesticated into wishy-washy meek conformity.
Although he was a Gypsy king travelling through the outskirts of the ineffable, it was only in India that his intense sadhu psychic-plumage could be fully brought out into the light. There his generous, deeply religious, warm-hearted way of life harmonized with the Hindu, sadhu vision of reality.
Jasper's regal vision, enabled him to unite the high and the low with a single massive draw on his " Bom Shiva" chillum. And with that invocation to Shiva, the Jasper Newsome psychic circus would yet again be on the road.
Bless him! Bless him! Bless him!
Om Namaha Shivay
From Mrs Sokolov Ratiu
Having just come upon your site AND your obituary for MY BROTHER Jasper R.N.Newsome I thought I should just mention that actually Jasper or JAP as he was always referred to in our family was NOT busted at London Airport on his way back from India BUT after a family trip to Morocco !!! His first trip to India was NOT to study but to be under the patronage of a famous Indian ornithologist & friend of our Mothers Sheila Sokolov Grant nee Grant Duff. At this point in his young life he was passionate about birds - the feathered kind !
Having said all that I am touched that he made such loyal friendships, thank you for appreciating him.