As the rickshaw pulled to a stop, I looked up and read the sign at the top of the gate – Shree Rajneesh Ashram. Quite a large fellow with a German accent (Haridas) greeted me and I heard myself say, “I’m not where I was going, but I’m sure I am in the right place.” At the Poona train station, I had told the rickshaw driver, “Sai Baba Ashram, not Rajneesh Ashram.” He responded, “Yes, yes, baba.” Mistakenly I had been told there was a Sai Baba Ashram as well as a Rajneesh Ashram in Poona and so I thought I would be able to visit both but had decided to start with the Sai Baba Ashram.
As soon as I stepped out of the rickshaw – I knew there had been no mistake. After only a day or so, I went to the front office and asked Arup for a Sannyas Darshan. In fact, I showed her I already had a mala; I just needed Bhagwan’s photo attached. I arrived wearing a Tibetan mala I had bought from Tibetan refugees in Pokhara, Nepal, and all green Indian clothes. Later I heard Osho say green was the color of the Sufis. I looked Arup straight in the eye and asked if she couldn’t see I was already a sannyasin. She was not impressed and so I was instructed to do the meditations.
My first exposure to meditation was through Meher Baba. Interestingly enough, in the book Dimensions Beyond the Known, Osho says Meher Baba and he had used the same meditation technique. It had been seven years earlier, while selling Kansas City Free Press newspapers on a street corner on the Country Club Plaza, that I had been introduced to Meher Baba. An older fellow named Charlie walked up to me and started telling me about him. We walked over to a coffee shop and I learned about this modern-day Master who was from Poona, India, and who had dropped his body six months earlier.
My connection to Meher Baba was totally a heart connection. I had tried to read his book God Speaks but was unable to take it in. I had totally forgotten Meher Baba was from Poona, but it was the connection to Meher Baba that took me to Poona, both for the Shree Rajneesh Ashram and looking for the Sai Baba Ashram. The interest in Sai Baba stemmed mostly from the fact one of Meher Baba’s Masters was Sai Baba of Shirdi and this current Sai Baba was proclaiming to be a reincarnation of him.
While staying at the Sunder Lodge, I met a beautiful German sannyasin named Gatha and we established a nice connection. After being in Poona for some time, she asked me how I was feeling. I remember telling her, “I’m more in love than I have ever been in my life.” I felt I was swimming in love. When I told her of my meeting with Arup, she suggested I go with her and see Laxmi who was a friend of hers and also Arup’s boss. Because Enlightenment Day was nearing, the soonest I could get an appointment for a Sannyas Darshan was March 28th, exactly one week after Osho’s Enlightenment Day celebration on March 21st.
On the day of the celebration of Osho’s Enlightenment I was aware of the anticipation of the unknown. I had only seen Osho in discourse and had not had a darshan (a face-to-face meeting with him with only a small group present) so I really did not know what to expect but could feel a heightened energy around. I also remember consciously taking myself inwards. I wanted to be as present as possible for that first meeting. I spent the entire day not meditating but “being” meditation. I was aware of all the emotions, thoughts, and even body sensations that were visiting but I stayed anchored in that heart space where one is just being.
I believe 1976 was the last year that Celebration Darshans were held in Chuang Tzu Auditorium before moving to the much larger space of Buddha Hall. In that time on Celebration Days, people filed into Chuang Tzu past Bhagwan for darshan. I remember standing in the queue which was long and stretched out towards the front gate. We began lining up in daylight but it was dark before I finally arrived at Osho’s chair. Music was playing during the entire time. As I Kundalini meditation neared the entrance to Chuang Tzu, a beautiful female voice was singing Elton John’s “Love Song,” so appropriate as I was sinking deeper and deeper into heartfulness.
“Love is the opening door
Love is what we came here for
No one could offer you more
Do you know what I mean
Have your eyes really seen.”
Just as my space in the line reached the entrance to Chuang Tzu, the music changed dramatically and became high energy drumming. This increased the excitement and anticipation tenfold. It still was not possible to actually see Osho because of the crowd in front.
Finally, I arrived and it was my turn to approach Osho. What followed I still see as if looking through a dream. It was as if some body memory took over. In front of him I bowed down and touched his feet, and then my body made motions as if it was pouring water from his feet to my head and this happened several times, then my hands folded in Namaste. When my hands touched, it was as if a circuit had been completed and I felt what can only be described as a powerful electric current circulating between my hara (area around the navel) and my hands clasped in front. My body then went limp but I did not lose consciousness and simply watched what unfolded. The same German sannyasin I had met at the gate on my arrival was there, Haridas. He slung me over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes (but very lovingly), carried me out of the auditorium and placed me outside the gate on the ground to gather myself. I had met my Master, a living Buddha.
My sannyas darshan was still one week away and as one could imagine I didn’t know what to expect. Would it be even more powerful? As it turned out it was rather anticlimactic. I followed two Americans who received the names Milarepa and Marpa. Then it was my turn – he told me my name, Swami Prem Purushottama, and asked if it would be easy to pronounce. He said, “Prem means love and Purushottama means God. So, love of God or God of love.” He then asked how long I would be staying and that was it.
To this day, I do not know what the “current” experience was, perhaps some of our Indian friends can explain, but to me it was my true initiation.
Hence, in some ways I have two sannyas birthdays. Somehow by keeping it to myself all these years, it has not been able to be what it is, just another naturally ordinary experience with the extraordinary. Now I set it free.
Thank you, Osho. Your Enlightenment that took place so many years ago made each of our own experiences possible. Your sannyasins are eternally grateful.
A few days after my sannyas darshan, I walked out of Sunder Lodge and made a right turn. Up to that time, I had always turned left. The first building I came to was a memorial to Meher Baba. All the while, I had been staying next door to the Guru Prasad Apartments which is the spot where Meher Baba held his East-West Gatherings. At that moment Meher Baba and Osho were One. Tears of gratitude flowed down my cheeks. Buddham Sharanam Gachchhami.
This is from the collection of stories, essays, poems and insights that is compiled to form the book From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva. Download a PDF or order the book Here.