Jerry Garcia's Last Trip

The ashes of Grateful Dead lead guitarist Jerry Garcia were scattered in India's holy Ganges River after last week's lunar eclipse, London's Independent newspaper reported yesterday.

Deborah Garcia, the musician's fourth wife, and Bob Weir, his best friend, acted in secret at dawn last Thursday nearly eight months after Garcia's fatal heart attack. They feared thousands of Deadheads might have come to the town of Rishikesh for the farewell if word got out.

They were accompanied by Washingtonian Sanjay Mishra, a classical guitarist who recorded his "Blue Incantation" CD at the Dead's Club Front studio in San Francisco last year. Garcia had hoped to visit India with him.

Mishra met the Garcias 18 months ago when they came to Greenpeace headquarters here, where Mishra was public affairs director. He gave them a CD of his music, which fuses classical and Indian techniques. That led to the recording gig with Garcia playing on three tracks.

"They became good friends," said Rick Hind, a Greenpeace legislative director.

Three additional Greenpeacers were also in India last week, but Hind said it was unclear whether any but Mishra attended the Garcia ritual. "It's kind of ironic. They were there fighting incinerators in India and spreading Jerry's ashes." SO NOW YOU KNOW...

Loyola Marymount University in Southern California had invited Jay Leno to speak at its 125th- anniversary celebration this September. But Leno has backed out after students complained he wasn't scholarly.

"Some students apparently felt that a university of our caliber should have someone more cerebral than a comedian," said spokesman Craig May in the Chronicle of Higher Education. (After all, Loyola counts Johnnie Cochran as an alum.) Students got their dander up after the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the school was to pay Leno $150,000 for the appearance, a figure both Leno and university flacks disputed.

May said some students had argued that if Loyola was going to invite a comedian, it could at least get one who was hip.

Perhaps they're just holding out for the Dancing Itos.

Former JFK and LBJ press secretary Pierre Salinger is no longer a vice chairman of Burson-Marsteller's Washington public relations office. He's now a consultant. Nobody is calling this a demotion. "It was a view that it would be better to have me as a consultant and spend my time getting new clients," Salinger told The Source.

Ambassadors from 14 nations -- including Russia, Ethiopia, Iceland, Sri Lanka, China and Djibouti -- shared a Passover seder with several White House and State Department officials last night, hosted by the American Jewish Committee.

AJC President Robert Rifkind told the envoys that because he'd been to many of their fetes, he was reciprocating with "a national day celebration for the Jewish people throughout the world."

The meal included such culinary standards as gefilte fish and matzoh ball soup. But beef brisket gave way to prime rib, and flat matzoh to grapefruit-size matzoh rolls.

Simon and Schuster's Pocket Books appears to be first out of the gate with "Unabomber: On the Trail of America's Most-Wanted Serial Killer." The paperback will hit stores in a mere 17 days, according to Pocket President Gina Centrello. Authors: Mark Olshaker and John Douglas, the latter the ex-G-man who created the FBI's first profile of the Unabomber. Oprah, Holding Forth

Oprah Winfrey glittered at the Kennedy Center last night as she told an audience of 2,500 of her childhood ("I've managed to talk my way out of Mississippi. Thank you, Lord"), her big break as Miss Fire Prevention in Memphis and the tawdriness that has overtaken television talk shows.

In her hour of reminiscences, she recounted trying to please a producer in the late '70s by getting a perm. Her hair fell out. "You come to learn a lot about yourself when you're bald and black and an anchorwoman in Baltimore," she said. On the other hand, "I've always run my life on instincts. Nobody expects me to win, so I've had no pressure."

She would like to do more acting, she said in an audience Q&A session, but "I won't do any movies that promote violence. I'm just waiting for a movie in which people sit on the porch and drink some tea."

Appearing as the last in this year's Distinguished Speakers Series sponsored by the Greater Washington Society of Association Executives, Winfrey wore tons of diamonds -- but no rings. "I have short, stubby fingers," she explained. "If I ever get married -- which I don't think I will, in case that question is coming up -- I'll wear a simple gold band." Making His Pointe

Some guys can't wear short shorts, but others can wear the hell out of a tutu. Dance instructor Kim Nofsinger of La Crosse Dance Center in Wisconsin delights Sandy Olson and her daughter, Megan, 4, Saturday in a performance preview. CAPTION: Sanjay Mishra, left, making "Blue Incantation" with Jerry Garcia last year. CAPTION: Leno, above, lowbrow; Salinger (in '88), rassigned. CAPTION: Winfrey at the Kennedy Center.