Jagat seemed not at all bothered by the criticism. “I’m a controversial figure,” she told me. “This goes with the territory. I’m not, like, love-and-light Suzie. I’m very direct and I talk about shit people don’t want to talk about.” The “shit” she might be referring to could be how a galactic federation of aliens are impacting world events. Or it could be the idea that the COVID-19 pandemic was planned. Then again, it might be the views of conspiracy theorist David Icke, whom Jagat hosted on her podcast, Reality Riffing. When I brought up that Icke is well-known as a Holocaust denier, Jagat laughed it off. “I mean, supposedly, yeah,” she said. (In his book, And the Truth Shall Set You Free, Icke argues, alternatively, that the Holocaust was funded by the Jews, and also maybe it didn’t happen.) “David Icke is bigger than ever, that’s the other part of the thing, you know, David Icke, his popularity has grown massively and part of the reason is because a lot of the things he’s been saying for the past 20 years are coming true,” she said.
She claimed that her guests did not necessarily reflect her own opinions, but still, one has to wonder why she would choose to platform people like Kerry Cassidy, who once said The Matrix was a documentary and falsely claims that COVID-19 is “activated” by 5G, or, more recently, Young Pharaoh, a right-wing rapper whose anti-Semitic tweets got him dropped from the Conservative Political Action Conference speaker lineup.
Jagat dismissed outcry as “people who are mad or jealous or angry that you’ve gotten where you’ve gotten.” There was an answer for everything. The offense she caused as a boss? Millennial oversensitivity. “I am a straightforward, shoot from the hip, you know, kind of East Coast, no bullshit kind of person.” Accusations of cultural appropriation? A misunderstanding. “I’m not a Sikh and kundalini technology is not Sikhism. My teacher [Harijiwan] is a Sikh.” As for the whitewashing of Sikhi—“Now we live in a world where if you have a certain body or you’re from Western culture, you can’t answer the call of your soul if you want to convert or practice a certain religion.” The allegations against Bhajan? Beside the point. “Yogi Bhajan is a historic figure, and he remains a historic figure. I’m not, like, spending my days trying to figure out whether George Washington was doing some things that I wouldn’t agree with in 2021.”
Jagat was a guru in the millennial girl-boss mold, pedaling an Instagram-friendly spirituality that encouraged adherents to follow their dreams, get rich quick, and become more desirable. And Jagat knew just how to sell it in the era of the trillion-dollar wellness industry, calling herself “CEO of seven global businesses” in addition to guru. The shtick worked. At the time of her death, Ra Ma had recently fêted its eighth year in business with a weeklong celebration full of packed classes; its site attracted 2 million unique visits each month and 20,000 online subscribers, who paid at least $19 a month to access its content (most paid many multiples of that to access Ra Ma’s special workshops). It has locations in Venice Beach, New York City, and Mallorca, and an online shop that sells crystals, jewelry, and items from Jagat’s clothing lines: Robotic Disaster, a streetwear label with a spiritual bent, and Guru Jagat collection, a line of ethereal white dresses at around $300 a pop. The launch of the clothing line was featured in Women’s Wear Daily; Jagat herself appeared in glossy spreads in women’s magazines like Harper’s Bazaar and on Vogue.com. Jagat was loved for her irreverence: The way she talked—frankly and conspiratorially, like she was letting you in on some inside joke—was more the kind of thing you’d expect in the ladies’ at a bar at 2 a.m. She swore. She told long-winded stories that verged on TMI. She liked to wear her leonine blond hair long and loose, or piled up and pouring out of a headscarf, in defiance of the traditional turban worn by women in the kundalini world.