Monday, March 15, 2010

Encounters of the Spiritual Kind: 4


Here is the story of the first encounter of Ma Prem Jyoti with her guru Osho, then known as Acharya Rajneesh. The story is taken from One Hundred Tales for Ten Thousand Buddhas, by Ma Prem Joyti. I have retained the initial caps in the original for pronouns used for Osho.

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I am twenty-six years old. It is Sunday, 21st January, 1968 and today Osho will be speaking at 4:00 pm in Shanmukhananda Hall in Bombay. One of my friends, knowing my quest for truth, advises me to go and listen to Him. I have already heard so many so-called saints and mahatmas that I am disillusioned by this religious game going on in India. But somehow, Osho, who is known as Acharya Rajneesh, attracts me. I decide to go to his discourse.

At 4:00 pm I find my way to the second floor balcony of Shanmukhananda Hall, which is over-crowded. Lots of people are standing on the sides near the walls and there is quite an excitement in the air. It is very noisy. This is one of the biggest auditoriums in Bombay, with the capacity to hold about five thousand people. I find a seat, make myself comfortable, and try to relax.

Within minutes a man with a beard, wearing a white dhoti and shawl appears on the podium, namastes the audience with folded hands and sits down in the lotus posture. I am sitting quite far away from the podium and can hardly see His face, but my heart is throbbing with excitement in anticipation of listening to this unknown man.
In a few moments I hear His sweet but strong voice addressing the audience as “Mere Priya Atman--my beloved souls.” Suddenly there is pindrop silence in the auditorium. I experience His voice taking me into a deep relaxation and I am listening to Him in utter silence. My mind has stopped: only His voice is echoing all the questions which have been bothering me for years.

The discourse is over, my heart is dancing with joy, and I tell my friend, “He is the Master I am looking for. I have found Him.” I come out and buy a few books and a magazine called Jyoti Shikha. As I open it, I see that the headline on the page reads “Acharya Rajneesh’s 36th Birthday Celebration.” I can’t believe it--I am sure it is a printing mistake and it should be “63”. I ask the girl at the counter; she laughs and says that “36” is right. I still can’t believe that I have heard the discourse of a man who is only thirty-six years old. From His speech He sounds like an ancient rishi of the times of the Upanishads.

I start reading His books and find myself totally unburdened of my knowledge. His words leave me alone in utter emptiness. My heart is longing to meet Him. I find the phone number and address of the centre in Bombay called “Jeevan Jagriti Kendra”. I call there and inquire about Osho and am told of the coming meditation camp at Nargol where I will be able to meet Him. I am overjoyed and wait impatiently to go to this meditation camp.

Finally, the day of His first close-up darshan – when I will be able to sit near His feet – at Nargol has arrived. There are about five hundred people in the camp; it is a beautiful place on the seashore, surrounded by tall trees. I find my tree near the makeshift podium and make myself comfortable underneath it.

My eyes are glued to the pathway from where He will be coming, and in a few moments I see Him coming in all His beauty and grace, wearing a white dhoti and a shawl wrapped around the upper part of His body. I can literally see some kind of pure light surrounding Him. He has a magical presence, not of this world. He namastes the audience with folded hands and sits in the lotus posture on the little square table covered with a white cotton sheet.

He starts speaking, but His words are slipping away above my head. There is utter silence all around except for His voice and the sound of waves from the distance. I don’t know how long He spoke: when I open my eyes he has already gone. I am feeling something like a dying experience. He has tugged at my heart like a magnet pulling a piece of metal, and I am unable to sleep the whole night. Wandering on the seashore I look around with empty eyes. The sky is full of stars and I have never experienced such silence and beauty before. My heart wants to shout, “Where is He? I want to meet Him!”

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