This is part of my column One-Eyed Mama where I share the everyday miracles I encountered in my life while dealing with vision loss and an empty nest – both at the same time
I first encountered Osho in the basement office of a mutual-funds distributor I was interviewing for eShe. While Namrata Durgan narrated her professional journey to me, I was acutely conscious of this huge framed photograph of Osho staring into the back of my head. My questions gradually moved away from finance and into more esoteric realms of dance meditation, silence camps and the crazy world of Osho love.
Namrata introduced me to her dad Kul – a veteran journalist and author, who is now a facilitator at Delhi’s Oshodham – and her mom Rashma, who left her four little children in the care of her husband and mother-in-law in Nairobi and flew to meet ‘Bhagwan’ Rajneesh in Bombay in the mid-1970s. Eventually the whole family followed Rashma into Osho devotion. Their home now has a Bohemian vibe – like-minded visitors coming and going; deep discussions over chai on ecstasy and surrender; a sense of chilled-out comfort and warm welcome.
But it’s still Namrata who represents the essence of Osho to me. Though she has crossed 50, her face has an ageless quality. The only makeup she wears is an expression of wonder, as if life is a perpetual song-and-light show she has a secret pass to. She floored me the first time she voiced the most silent, unspoken truth of my heart back to me.
Namrata and her husband chose not to have kids – an unconventional decision for an Indian woman, but it also struck me as a more evolved one. Eventually, she ended up mothering her entire family – from her parents and in-laws to her niece and nephew, and many of her friends. Through her, I began exploring Osho’s philosophy – “What philosophy? He’s a mad man!” she would laugh. I went for camps held at Oshodham by Swami Cool (as I call her dad), first by myself and then along with my elder daughter.
“What is your daily spiritual practice? Do you meditate? Dance? Chant?” I asked Namrata. She looked at me kindly. “Once you are connected to him, every moment of life is a spiritual practice.”
DIPPING INTO OSHO
I’ve never been one for gurus, but I was curious about Osho. His defiance of social conventions and his revolutionary ideas on religion and humanity excited me. I’d heard about his cult status and the controversies that surrounded him, but I wanted to try his thoughts out for myself, and taste Osho in my own mouth before I made up my mind.
Soon, I understood what Namrata meant about Osho’s no-philosophy philosophy. Oshodham camps introduced me to Sufi whirling, tree-hugging, walking barefoot on stones, and the white-robe evening meditations. I was taken to mystical places inside my own mind, hurled across time zones and spaces of dark and light, flung into silence and carried along with an inner music. I cringed in old-suppressed agonies, and rose in newfound raptures.
I had sought an introduction to Osho and I had got introduced to my own self.
I didn’t join the world community of Osho sanyasins (devotees who commit to a lifetime of love to Osho) but I developed an easy friendship with the long-gone teacher in my mind. Swami Cool has put me on his Whatsapp broadcast list and sends me daily messages that he says come from Osho. My all-time favourite is this one, which he sent with a photo of moonlight over water and rocks:
We are very short-sighted. We only see so far. Because of the short sightedness, the rock seems to be worth chasing, not water. Those who have seen reality in its true form of eternity, they say something totally different. Let softness be the gift.
COFFEE WITH OSHO
This March, I was alone at the Majlis Ayurvedic Health Centre in Kerala undergoing treatment for my Monet eye (which sees the world the way Claude Monet would have painted it). Every afternoon, after my daily eye therapy, I was led back to my room and told to sit in semi-darkness for the rest of the day to let my eyes rest. At 4 pm sharp, they’d serve me delicious filter coffee filled to the brim in a thermos bottle along with a steel glass and bowl.
I would use the time alone, in the dimly lit room, to call up my loved ones. One day, my mom told me she often listens to Osho lectures on YouTube in her spare time. I’d never heard my mom talk about Osho, and she’s one to choose her teachers carefully, so I was a bit taken aback. I took it as a sign to do the same.
I put on YouTube on my laptop and clicked on the first Osho lecture that the algorithm served me. It led to another, and another. I sipped on hot coffee and listened with my eyes closed. Osho talked of letting go of ego, of mental constructs that blind our vision. He dared me to challenge my notions of identity, of ownership, relationships and roles. I listened with my heart.
The evening coffee with Osho became a daily ritual for my entire two-week stay at Majlis. The darkness of my room only heightened the sense of intimacy. Sometimes, if I was in a bad mood, I would frown at Osho’s occasional lewd jokes and change the video. But mostly I just listened to whatever story he narrated and whatever guidance he gave.
I found his lectures in Hindi more satisfying than the ones in English – he seemed more in his element in his natural tongue. His voice and his long silences added depth and self-introspection to my healing journey.
Namrata sent me this one on my last day in Kerala:
I laughed and shook my head with affection. Osho reminds me of my favourite god, Krishna. Mischievous, charming, hypnotic, twinkle-eyed. “How’s the ego-mind doing today,” they ask me whenever I get wrapped up in my worldly worries.
It was great having coffee with you, Osho my man. We must do it again sometime.