The Life of João Pereira, the "General of Comfort".
By Rodrigo Borges Conti Tavares / English review by Moonvine
 

 

The Life of João PereiraApril 13, 2012 - Today the website The Juramidam Family presents the final research on the four so-called "Companions of Mestre". This series, which began in 2009 and over the last few years has researched the lives of Maria Damião, Germano Guilherme and Antônio Gomes, comes to an end with João Pereira, native of Porongaba, Ceará, and one of the first disciples of Irineu Serra.

On this important pioneer, who despite being known in the doctrine as "General of Comfort" -- according to some for the softness of his hymns --, it is surprising to learn that he was a follower of strong personality, with a thunderous voice, sometimes even being described as intimidating. About this rank he received in life, we shall see later that it did not come from his hymnbook, but from a peculiarity he had during the ceremonies, proving once again that the spiritual mission of Raimundo Irineu Serra would have the aid of a very special group of pioneers.

"Regarding his life among us, João Pereira was the husband of Mrs. Maria Marques Feitosa, "Maria Franco", and it was by bringing her to the doctrine to be cured of alcoholism -- a history very similar to many followers -- that the ranks of the mission of Irineu Serra would be strengthened with a follower who would later be immortalized in our history along with the other three so-called "Companions of Mestre". Also, his stepdaughter was Mrs. Raimunda, who would become the first wife of Mestre and who accompanied him during much of his mission with the Daime.

*Raimundo Irineu Serra had two previous partners: Emília Rosa Amorim (with whom he had his only son, Walcírio Genésio da Silva); and Mrs. Francisca.

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God came to the world
To heal and to save
To teach the Holy Doctrine
To those that seek

The first research on the life of João Pereira came from the site "Cadernos de Hinário", which brings the following words:



Regarding the quote that João Pereira was part of the barracks band at the time that Mestre served in the Territorial Guard, the book by Paulo Moreira and Edward MacRae -- "Eu Venho de Longe" (I come from far away / 2011) -- presents a report from the police force which contains the name of João Pereira and Germano Guilherme. Besides this document, the book also tells us a bit about the time in which Mestre Irineu served with those who would become his first followers.

Photo above (26) / Germano Guilherme and João Pereira
are mentioned in the commendation list of June 23, 1922.

"The entry of Irineu to the Police Force also marks an important reversal of roles in his life: from chased by the police, he became a member of that institution. It is said that Irineu on his days off, quietly continued to make use of Ayahuasca (personal account of Cecília Gomes to Saturnino Brito do Nascimento), because the vine and the leaf abounded in the region of Rio Branco (...). Immediately upon entering the Police Force, Irineu became friends with Germano Guilherme, the musician João Pereira and João Leão, who would become his first disciples (...)." [Eu Venho de Longe, p.113]

Teófilo Maia has also written about João Pereira after conducting rich research on his life with Mrs. Maria do Dito; Mrs. Valdirene, granddaughter of Mestre; her husband, Mr. Carlinhos; Mr. Paulo Serra, adopted son of Mestre; and Vó Preta. And he kindly reported by e-mail:

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Oh! Sovereign Virgin
Oh! Powerful Virgin
Give us Thy splendors
May Thou cover us with roses

The story of his hymns, of praise and love for the Virgin, is also the supplication for his personal challenges and trials. From what we know through accounts, he came to the mission of Irineu Serra carrying a strong personality, sometimes intimidating, but it was in his simple life as a carter and the teachings learned in the Daime that João Pereira went on to become a follower of great importance to the doctrine, a vehicle for the instructions that were being transmitted through the hymns received.

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I want Mommy to teach me
To love this child
As you presented Him to me
So gallant and so delicate

It was on this path of contrasts that João Pereira became the first follower to mention in a hymn the entity "Maraximbé", which, according to the fraternity itself, is an entity related to the discipline and trials in the universe of the sacred drink, as the hymn mentions, and for which one has to "bend over to be whipped" in accordance with the crimes committed. It is the figure of the "lasher", of the "disciplinarian" in the Daime universe of the Master Teacher [Bayer]. Eduardo Bayer also says that Maraximbé is a shrub of the Alto Purus, which the Kaxinawá Indians use in the form of ash to create a strong rapé.

According to the book of Paulo Moreira and Edward MacRae, "Eu Venho de Longe", what we did not know is that, in fact, Maraximbé is the name of one of Mestre's calls, which it is said only the deceased Mrs. Percília Matos knew in full. Regarding the hymn of João Pereira, it can also be sung in the form of a call.




Interestingly, João Pereira received his hymn Maraximbé in the same way as another companion, Antonio Gomes, who was the follower who first mentioned the name "Juramidam" in a hymn. In relation to this connection of Mestre with his disciples through the hymns, Walcírio Genésio da Silva, Mestre's son, explains:

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I called Maraximbé
For Him to come here
Bring your body and stay firm
Bend over to be whipped

You must remember
You must think a bit
About the firmness that you applied
And the oath that you took

Oh! My Divine Father
My Ever Virgin Mary
Forgive Thy children
And the crimes that I committed

About João Pereira having received the rank of "General of Comfort", much is said among the veterans of the strong works they had in the time of Mestre, and in which few could stand upright, and it is in the following rich narrative of Francisco Grangeiro that we learn about the origin of João Pereira's rank and also become more familiar with his personality in the salão during the works. The fact is that, according to Francisco Grangeiro, the rank is actually of "Commander".



Another rich narrative about this practice of João Pereira in the salão comes from the book "Eu Venho de Longe", from the time that the doctrine was undergoing some changes back in the 1940s. In this case, some changes had been made in the dance steps of some hymns.

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I pray prayers, I sing hymns
To raise this tower
To live with joy
To have pleasure and have love

At the end of João Pereira's hymnbook, a hymn that has became known over the decades is that of "January 6th", and that also gave title to his hymnbook. In correspondence with Ricardo Plácido, he writes that, according to Saturnino, João Pereira received this hymn in a square in Rio Branco, where, even without taking Daime, the force came and he received the hymn. Before this episode, the fact is that he was really moving to Rio de Janeiro with his family. Knowing this intent of João Pereira, Mestre gave him two bottles of Daime; one for guidance and another to take with his family. João Pereira meditated about which Daime he should take first and he decided to take the Daime of guidance, and it was in this Daime's vision that he saw that he should not make the trip, thus deciding to stay. According to accounts, the ship that he was going to sail on sank.

Regarding this information, apart from the testimony of Saturnino, the story of the two bottles of Daime and the cancellation of the trip is well known among the fraternity of Porto Velho, and in correspondence with the teacher Arneide Bandeira Cemin, she confirmed having heard a similar story among the Daime people of the state of Roraima.

According to Ms. Percília, the family of João Pereira left the doctrine a year after his death, moving to São Paulo, where Mrs. Raimunda, his stepdaughter and ex-wife of Mestre Irineu, came to die being run-over by a car.

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When I arrived at the palace
I fulfilled my obligation
I saw an Excellence
A Most Excellent Ancient One

I made my salute
He paid attention to me
I asked of him the Holy Light
Of Thee the Holy Pardon

Now that you arrived
Made your obligation
You are in the Holy Light
Of me you have the Holy Pardon

Concerning the last days of João Pereira, Teófilo Maia continues with the narrative of his research done in Alto Santo:



Also, according to the book "Eu Venho de Longe", by Paulo Moreira and Edward MacRae:


According to the accounts given to Teófilo, when he was feeling almost recovered and without fever, João Pereira broke his diet after he insistentely convinced Manuel Belém that he was cured, the latter having cooked -- without telling him-- "duck in tucupi", a dish typical of Pará cuisine, and which João Pereira had found. There is a variation of this account, when Paulo Serra says that it was Manoel Belém who convinced João Pereira to eat the aforementioned dish, but the result, no matter by what means, was that the disease returned with increased strength, only this time it did not leave him, as tells Teófio,



João Pereira died in the early '50s, date unknown, although the identification of his gravestone shows the year of 1952. It is believed that with the reform of the Cemetery Palmeiral some dates were lost (M. Paulo 2011). According to Bayer, the date would have been the year of 1954.

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Love, love
Love in my Mother
I step firmly and follow in front
With love in my heart

Love, love
Love in my Father
I follow in front and it is the truth
I am the son of reality

Through the punishment given by Mestre to Manoel Belém, we can get an idea of how all the followers were important in the life and mission of Irineu Serra, while it was also required of them firmness on a daily basis in order to follow the often challenging path presented by the sacred drink.

João Pereira died without a caretaker for his hymnbook, which today is very much admired and sung among the centers of Daime, and a surprising discovery is that the disease and the circumstances of his death struck the community with such impact that his hymnbook was not sung for three years [M. Paulo 2011]. Still, regarding this hiatus after the death of João Pereira, Paulo Moreira and Edward MacRae tell in their book, "Eu Venho de Longe":



In correspondence with Ricardo Plácido, he tells us that even though the caretaking of the hymnbook of João Pereira was in the hands of Francisco Grangeiro, years later, presumably at the former headquarters of CICLU, Grangeiro came to Saturnino, son of Luiz Mendes, and told him to prepare to receive in miração the caretaking from João Pereira himself in a work, which was performed and the transfer was confirmed by Grangeiro, and the caretaking is still in charge of Saturnino.

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I tell to my Master
That I lived in the desert
By the petals of this flower
I ask my Master not to forsake me

Of the four companions, the image that remains is that of each one playing a major role in the fortification of the doctrine, literally forming, along with the followers of the time, "The General Staff of Mestre". In turn, Mestre himself recognized the value of these followers in the composition of his work, also recognizing the unifying power that they had to keep their families together within the community, as is clear in the cases of both João Pereira and Maria Damião where their families dispersed from the doctrine after they had passed away, and which remains today without their representatives.

Decades later, besides the accounts that exist today, the legacy that these four pioneers left for the Santo Daime doctrine remains immortalized in their hymnbooks, in which we can understand the mission they represented, the importance of the teachings they transmitted and, above all, the concordance and the order they had with Mestre's own hymnbook, "O Cruzeiro", being formalized in life by Irineu Serra himself, as the doctrinal basis of the Santo Daime.

Mestre's Salão

Thus, among the bastions of the doctrine, this series of four studies on the Companions ends appropriately with the sentences of the last hymn of João Pereira, who is living proof of the presence and beauty, in matter and spirit, of our Mestre Raimundo Irineu Serra, the General Juramidam.

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On the left side I'll follow
On the left side I have to go
With the power of the Eternal Father
And of the Ever Virgin Mary

Mestre orders me to stand in line
On the left side of the General
He orders me to firm myself
And to compose myself in my place

***

Note: the segments of hymns in this article were received by João Pereira, with only the last being complete.