Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Neo-Sannyas - A new momentum.

A New Momentum in the Neo-sannyas Movement. By Swami Aatmo Neerav

For thousands of years the culture of sannyas was hidden in the wombs of the East and remained a privilege rare to the common world. It required great penance and unswerving self confidence, determination, honesty, sacrifice and devotion on the part of those who wished to walk this non-worldly path of spiritual enlightenment. For this, seekers had to pass through years of austerities, discipline and purification before a master would initiate them into sannyas.

Osho was not in favour of this concept. He argued that with time, the original concept of sannyas had lost its grace and honor and had become a refuge of the escapists. So in 1970 he invented a revolutionary vision of sannyas known as neo-sannyas.

His sannyas was different from the old concept of no possessions, no family and no profession. Osho did not want his sannyasins to renounce the world but practice meditation in the market, while also embracing their worldly duties. Though this looked easy, it was a bigger challenge for the sannyasins to meditate and remain aware while being in the crowd.

It came as a shock to traditional fundamentalists and priests who thought Osho’s concept of sannyas was just too easy, and they predicted that it wouldn’t work. But the consequences were quite contradictory.

Just in seven years after its establishment, the movement of neo-sannyas had gained so much momentum that every year thousands of people were being initiated at the Pune Ashram. Young sannyasins in mala and orange sprang up throughout the world. This crowd of young and educated individuals further grew when Osho went to America and established his commune, Rajneeshpuram. By 1985 the number of his sannyasins had accelerated beyond millions and the red clads in malas could be seen in all major cities of the world. It was a period of honour and glory for the neo sannyas movement.

But unfortunately the neo-sannyas movement felt a great jolt in October 1985 when the American government plotted and destroyed Rajneeshpuram. Especially after Osho left his body in 1990, the movement seemed to take the journey of a setting sun.

Furthermore, the management at the Pune Ashram formed unnecessary rules that resulted in much confusion. They instructed camp-conductors to wear black clothes and ordered them not to organize camps for more than three days. Orders were made not to celebrate Osho’s birthday, Enlightenment day, Mahaparinirvana and Master’s day. All Osho pictures were removed from the different departments of the Pune Ashram and instructions were made for others to follow the same. Songs mentioning Osho and the word, master, became banned in the Ashram. While great efforts were made to destroy sannyas, initiation was gradually discouraged and wearing Osho’s mala was seen as a “crime”.

All intimate and dedicated disciples who loved Osho were asked to leave the Ashram one after another and their entry became banned inside the Ashram premises. Committed sannyasins who were working in different departments of the Ashram since many years got replaced by paid non-sannyasin workers. Dedicated Osho disciples doing his work for many years were discouraged to continue and great threats were made on the basis of fabricated trademarks and copyrights so that people would stop working out of fear.

Despite the prevailing confusion a few devoted disciples who had been banned by the management of the Pune resort continued with Osho’s work and established communes independent from the control of Pune Resort. Old Indian sannyasins like Swami Narendra Bodhisattva, Ma Amrit Mukti, Ma Yoga Neelam, Swami Chaitanya Keerti, Ma Dharma Jyoti, Sw Anand Vijay, Sw Anand Swabhab, Swami Chaitanya Bharati, Swami Anand Vairagya, Swami Vairagya Amrit and Swami Anand Arun from Nepal started giving sannyas and spreading Osho’s message throughout the world. The newly established communes again started to work as true Osho meditation centres and the neo-sannyas movement which was almost dead regained its pace of acceleration.

Recently this movement has attained a glorious momentum in Nepal. Today there are 4 active Osho communes and 70 meditation centers spread throughout the country with 65,000 initiated sannyasins. Every month Swami Anand Arun and other camp conductors trained in Tapoban conduct several meditation camps and initiate about 3000 people from all over the world every year. During this year Swami Anand Arun is traveling to 11 different countries in Western Europe, North America, Asia and the former USSR to conduct meditation camps, facilitate sannyas and open meditation centres and communes. When asked about his pace of work he says, “This is what existence wants. Its people’s love for Osho that invites them into sannyas and its Osho’s energy and compassion that accepts them. I am just a medium.” He adds. “Osho’s neo-sannyas and his meditation techniques are the only way to create the new man and the best solution to the prevailing global crisis. In 1969 when I had my first interview with Osho, he had said to me, ‘If you work hard the whole of Nepal will plunge into my colour like Tibet has plunged into Buddhism.’ I didn’t believe him then but today I can see it manifesting.”

Seeing “the work” happening in and through this little country in the mountains proves that the concept of neo-sannyas that shook the world in the seventies has lived and is thriving with the same glory. It also ascertains that good intentions never die but manifest themselves in due time.

Becoming a rippleless lake with Ma Anand Madhu. - by Swami Aatmo Neerav

"I gave that watch to the first of my sannyasins. The name of my first sannyasin is Ma Anand Madhu -- a woman of course, because that's what I wanted. Nobody has initiated women into sannyas like me. Not only that, I wanted to initiate a woman as my first sannyasin, just to put things in balance and in order." (Glimpses of a golden childhood) -OSHO

When Osho started giving sannyas in 1970, Ma Anand Madhu was the first lady who decided to become the disciple of Acharya Rajneesh (As Osho was known in those days). A long mala and orange were a compulsion and being a professor and a lady from a renowned political family, it was a bold step for Ma Madhu to accept the controversial guru as her master.

As a sannyasin Ma Madhu became very active in organizing meditation camps for Osho and she was also a member of the kirtan mandali or travelling music groups which carried Osho's message to different parts of India in the early days. Later Ma Madhu became the personal secretary of Osho and contributed much to the growth of Osho's work. Osho wanted Ma Madhu to open a commune in Gujarat and had given it the name, 'Biswa Neer' or World family, but Madhu Ma had recently taken silence camps and her love for silence had only grown over the months. So when she asked Osho if she could go to the Himalayas for a long silence retreat, the master gave his blessings and sent her with his shawl as a gift.

After fourteen years of penance and meditation on the banks of Ganges in Rishikesh, Ma Anand Madhu attained ultimate realization but still preferred to remain in silence. However after many requests of old sannyasins, Ma Madhu came out of silence and today meets only Osho sannyasins for an hour in her room at the Gujarati Ashram in Rishikesh. Here is a little story of my second meeting with her.

It was my second meeting with Ma Anand Madhu, the first initiated disciple of Osho. And this time I had the money and the heart to think of a present. When I first saw the towel in an Ashram shop, I knew this was exactly the gift. Like her it was soft and in orange and my heart said yes.So with a two dozen sannyassin caravan we started our journey to her place. Through the narrow lanes of Rishikesh, over the Ganges on a boat and finally on the same tempo ride I had taken earlier, we arrived at the gates of the Gujrati Ashram.

It was different for me. The Ashram was cool, silent and clean and it was also a place I had come earlier. With polished cemented floors the simple structure of the Ashram not only radiated physical coolness but also the nourishment that touched the heart. I was touched and I knew that I could only be silent.

I also knew that on the floor over this entrance lived a beautiful lady that I deeply loved. I hadn’t met her and I was already influenced by her overflowing presence. Maybe our love had grown over the year and had made me more receptive of her beauty. This I did not know. I looked above and admired the importance that this place so gracefully held along with its plainness.

A bald sannyassin in orange said that we could leave our bags downstairs and go up. So in a group with our own silence and gifts we all went to the upper floor where Ma Anand Madhu lived. I could already hear her soft stern voice repeating the same greeting with which she had greeted me last year. She welcomed each sannyassin with the word Osho.

As I entered I felt a thickness of an overpowering presence spread throughout the room. Though I could not see it I felt a large radius of energy surrounding her which influenced everyone that came to her presence. This was the same nourishment I had felt at the entrance of the Ashram only that this time it was stronger. My eyes were wide open, my mind was silent and I felt a tremendous well being at my heart centre. My heart guided me and I silently bowed down and touched her little feet. She softly touched my back and said, “Right”. I put my gift in her hands and after looking at it she said, "This was important."

Swami Anand Arun had come earlier in the morning and was already sitting with her. He introduced each of us with compliments bigger than ourselves. Such beautiful adjectives can only come from someone like him.

After some time it was Madhu Ma’s turn to play her games. She made fun of everyone and everything. After giving each of us some snacks and sweets she insisted that she would cut apples for Swami Arun and asked him if he liked them peeled or normal. While Swami Arun cracked jokes, Madhu Ma ridiculed him with her witty answers which only made us laugh more.

When Swami Arun told Ma Madhu that he was condemned of trying to pollute Osho for advocating the five disciplines, ‘the panchsheel’, Ma Madhu boldly replied, “These were the same disciplines Osho gave us for meditation when he was taking camps and you have not added anything. Don’t worry. Positive and negative are both needed for a balance. It’s good.”

As I was sitting right in-front of her she would look at me and ask me questions like, “How many meditations do you do in a day?” or “How many meditations do they do in Tapoban?” But every time I tried to speak I only found that I had no words or thoughts to respond to her questions and I only smiled back. She understood this and would smile back at me and somebody else would answer the questions.

Ma Anand Madhu inspires and ignites that flame of love, silence and celebration that we all carry. Her being is a living evidence of that beautiful potential that our beloved master always talks about and I feel more than blessed for having met her twice. Through words I only try to express this overflowing experience in hope that a fragment of it is carried.