An Interview With a Sannyasin
Ma Yoga Abhita talks to
'The Mining Company'
The following interview
was published on the internet on the web pages of a large search information
company called the Mining Co. The questions were asked by Keith Hansen
in his section on Mysticism. Ma Yoga Abhita lives in the UK.
Q: What would you say would be the main teaching of Osho if you were to put it into only one sentence or two, the heart of his Message? What was his message to modern man?
First I would like to give
this disclaimer: please note that the following
responses are my personal understandings of Osho
Spirituality based on celebration of life; "life is not a problem to be solved, it is a mystery to be lived." Be total in everything you do. Meditation is the key; "the way is in".
Q. What brought you to the Meditation Centre in Poona
I had been a sannyasin (follower/disciple of Osho) for 6 years and had always yearned to go to Pune. At the time I was running a business with another sannyasin which took up all my time and energy. We worked very hard. In early 1996 I decided that this year, come what may, I was definitely going to Pune. In early Autumn the business went bust!
The reason for sannyasins to go there is to be in what Osho calls the ‘Buddhafield’ - the energy-field around an enlightened master, and also to be in a community of anything between 7,000 to 15,000 people (depending on the ‘season’) who are actively seeking, meditating and committed to their own personal growth.
If you have certain issues within your psychology or psyche, it is impossible to ignore them in this atmosphere. Many people find that just being there is an intense experience. It is a safe place to be absolutely who you are in this moment - it is a very, very loving place but can also be very uncomfortable as you experience parts of yourself arising, that you would normally, mostly unconsciously, find ways of ignoring or running away from.
Q. How long were you there?
Q. What was the most memorable experience at the Meditation Centre?
There were many beautiful experiences, but the
most emorable for me would be the times
when I could feel Osho’s presence most
strongly. Osho died or "left his body" in early 1990.
I became a sannyasin later that year (see #11) - and since
that time, in some inexplicable way, I have always felt
In Pune, I came to the source of this energy that touches my heart so deeply. Towards the end of my stay there I felt Osho very strongly in the White Robe brotherhood meditation (see #8). Quite often I would be sitting in discourse, eyes closed and I would just be somewhere else, I don’t know where, for an hour or two. I would feel my third eye (traditionally known as the chakra of inner perception) buzzing with energy - at times very peaceful, at times ecstatic. I absolutely loved White Robe. The other place where Osho’s energy is very strong is in the samadhi, where his ashes are. It is open during the day for people to sit and meditate in - after an hour in samadhi I would come out completely stoned!
The other highlight for me was the weekly sannyas
celebration in the big meditation hall - the best
parties I have ever been to; a true, true
celebration. There was always
Sometimes the music would be soft and lilting,
sometimes silence, then uplifting, soaring,
then wild celebration.
Q. Did you find enlightenment there? Explain. Did being there change your life? Explain.
Enlightenment is a term I would only use for people
like Osho, Jesus, Buddha etc. To me, these
people are enlightened.
Q. How would you explain the method of meditation that Osho developed?
In a few words: "meditation for the modern man".
The idea is to release the years of repressed and pent up emotions and tensions, to really move the energy, and then to sit and use this energy to move inside and be a witness to all that is happening inside and outside of you. This is also why there are so many therapy groups in the commune; simply to clear the way so that the silence of meditation can really happen. The commune is the biggest therapeutic and spiritual growth centre in the world.
Q. Why would you say that Osho has been misunderstood by the media in America?
Because they were too stupid to see what he was
really saying! And also because Osho deliberately
The way I see it, it was also another prod at the Christian belief that poverty is more holy than wealth. I recall that Osho once said that if he shocked Americans into opening their mouths so wide in amazement, then maybe he could drop a bit of sense into them! He also said that if people were capable of hating him, they were capable of loving him too. Osho used the media to get his picture onto TV and into newspapers all over the world - he didn’t seem to mind what was written about him, as long as as many people as possible saw his picture he knew that was the best way to reach them. Many people have come to Osho through sheer curiosity. In effect, he conducted, in his own way, a huge, international publicity campaign, for free.
Q. What was a typical day like at the Meditation Centre? Was there a certain routine?
It is difficult to describe a typical day, there
are many ways to participate there and
everyone is free to do what they choose.
There is a huge program of different therapy and meditation groups, which most people come to participate in. Some people work full time, others ‘jump in’ to different jobs that attract them when they feel like it. Other people use the art studios to paint, sculpt, act, etc. There are numerous different classes in martial arts, dance and so on. There are full health club facilities - pool, sauna, jacuzzi, tennis, etc. Many people come to relax and recharge their batteries - it is a very lush, green, beautiful place. People eat in the outdoor restaurants and cafes - quite often serving special Italian or Japanese food (depending on who is doing the cooking!). There is a bar open in the evenings and, once a month in the busy season, a big commune party.
Something happens almost every evening - theater,
comedy, lots of live music from around
the world, special concerts and
There are a number of special celebration days (Osho’s birthday, death-day, enlightenment day and others) when the whole commune is decked out and all kinds of festivities go on. I was there for the seventh anniversary of Osho leaving the body - seven years is meant to be an auspicious number - and there was a week long, full-on festival, culminating in a huge carnival of 2,000 people dressed up along with seven different floats, music, clowns, stiltwalkers and all kinds of things.
Q. Define for us darshan and sannyasin.
In India, the literal translation of ‘darshan’ is seeing - but its meaning goes deeper than that. Osho would give darshan in the early days to sannyasins and visitors. This would be in the form of intimate talks, answering questions and giving advice. There was also energy darshan - when he would ‘give energy’ to people - like the energy-bopping I mentioned before. I can’t really think how to explain this! For Sannyasin see #11.
Q. What is the reason for the orange robes?
Osho used many tricks and devices to wake people up and I think that this was one of them. For instance, in [the days when orange robes were common practice]... people had to be sure they wanted to become a sannyasin if it meant wearing orange and a mala at all times, whatever line of work they were in. It would also have been a good publicity stunt - these people could not fail to be recognized.
A mala is a necklace of 108 beads with Osho’s picture hanging as a ‘pendant’, like a rosary. Malas were usually worn in India by traditional sannyasins of the old Indian religions. Traditional sannyasins are ones who renounced the world and all material items - they would wear orange robes, shave their heads, and travel with just a begging bowl. For Westerners with jobs and possessions, this would have been seen as quite shocking.
My guess is that Osho was poking fun at the idea that renouncing the world and materialism was a spiritual thing to do. If we live in the world, why renounce it? It can also be seen as a challenge to the old Christian view that poverty equals godliness in some way. Osho is against poverty and says that Christians like Mother Theresa exploit the poor by ‘serving’ them, rather than by working to eliminate poverty.
Q. Why are there name changes? What does your new name mean?
For me, taking a new name was a symbolic way of
letting go of the past, becoming new or
reborn. A way to symbolise the wish to
drop all the false parts of one's personality that have been
imposed from one's conditioning, from parents ("you’re not
good enough", etc.), society (how you should behave) and so
on. For me, taking sannyas and receiving a new name was
My sannyas name is Ma Yoga Abhita. Ma is the female prefix (men are called Swami), Yoga, (the second word is like a surname) means union with the divine, and Abhita means fearless - fearless union with the divine. Most sannyasins are known by their last (or ‘Christian’) name. Over the years my name has started making more and more sense to me. The names people get are really uncanny sometimes - they always seem to really hit the truest, most fundamental, innermost quality of that person, even if, at the time, it seems to be the last thing they would imagine themselves to be. Taking sannyas is also a way of declaring to yourself that you are a seeker, on the path, and that path for you, is by becoming a disciple of Osho. It is a purely personal choice that is entirely up to you. There are people around the world who love Osho, read his books and do his meditations, but don’t take sannyas.
12. What was Osho’s view of God?
That there isn’t one! In his early talks I know
that Osho used to refer to the term ‘God’,
but in the sense of what he called ‘godliness’,
in an effort to help people understand him. The idea
of a God and Devil, Heaven and Hell, or any power outside
of ourselves is an excuse for us to look elsewhere rather
than within. But he does refer to the term ‘existence’, a