Review of Veet Tamaso’s book.
This is the first book I have read about Osho and sannyas activities in Australia. It is the third in a trilogy – Brothers? Uncles! Sister? Aunt! told of the heroine’s life up to her marriage; The Missus led her through thirty years of marriage culminating in taking sannyas and leaving her husband – and is very loosely based on Tamaso’s own life. It is a powerful story of a woman setting out to find herself.
The time is the seventies; Australians have begun travelling to Pune and so does a middle-aged couple who want to visit their eldest son they suspect “was trapped in some terrible heathen cult.” However, once at the ashram, both of them decide to take sannyas.
Upon return to Australia, while Taru is delighted about her new name and the feeling of freedom to be herself, her husband hides away his mala and tries to hold Taru on a tight leash, up to a point when she simply walks out of the door with an overnight bag and 40 dollars in cash.
After finding refuge at a Rajneesh Meditation Center she is instantly invited to join a four-day group answering to “Tell me who you are.” She doesn’t find out, but by the end of the group she certainly knows who she isn’t and feels determined to live her own life from now on. Existence provides a simple house in Nimbin while the owner goes to Poona; Social Security helps out with a modest yet immediate cash injection and she plunges into life at the notorious hippie town, and her first sexual encounter outside her marriage. When word comes about a new Rajneesh Meditation Center to be established in Sydney, she packs her bag to begin yet another new chapter in her life while still vaguely concerned about the family she left behind.
There is a lot of excitement to create the new center and all members are determined to combine their energies and start commune life. There are great stories about the ups and downs in communal life and the most important part for Taru is to discover that she is not merely a middle-aged woman but sexually desirable by even younger men.
The story keep shifting from commune life to the left-behind members of Taru’s extended family; some of them are trying to find her, while Taru’s life opens up and blossoms with a beautiful sexual awakening. She realizes how she has been holding herself back her entire life and had denied herself a natural expression of her sexuality: “A new self emerged. No, not a new self, just the original self, who had been buried beneath the expectations of others.”
Meanwhile, simultaneously light is shed on the many indiscretions that happened for years among her all-too-human family members who have lived their own secret sex lives and are quite an interesting bunch business- and otherwise. It shows the interconnectedness and similarities among all and that only with awareness can we go about life’s situations in a much more transparent way.
When the First Annual World Celebration is to be held in Rajneeshpuram, the commune can only afford fares for a few sannyasins and against all odds existence plays again into Taru’s hands and she manages to obtain a small bank loan for the plane fare. She connects with Osho when he enters Rajneesh Mandir: “Just to be in his presence brought such a feeling of joy and contentment, a great unexplained love.” She also runs into her eldest son, Sagaro, who she hadn’t seen since the time in Poona, and wishes she could stay there forever.
Back in Sydney at the commune, Taru reconnects with her father and then decides to move to the Blue Mountains to be closer to nature; she rents a small house which she sometimes shares with sannyasins. She embraces the joy of aloneness yet also thinks about her family; when her father dies, the entire clan attends the funeral and Taru sticks out “in orange clothes and beads,” but is not rejected.
Hearing news about development on the Ranch and the growth of the commune, Taru wishes to be part of it. She subleases the house and flies to the Ranch where she thrives. When her time to leave comes after one year there is sadness yet also joy knowing she will be soon back in her home in the bush – “free as the birds that sang in the trees, the wallabies that hopped through the scrub. Free to enjoy her solitude or the company of friends and lovers.”
This is a milestone in the journey of self discovery and at the same time a new beginning: “Free to Go with the Flow and experience the joy of the Here and Now far beyond the darkness of guilt or sadness for the past or anxiety for the future.”
Bhagawati, Osho News
Veet Tamaso was born in Manly, NSW, Australia. She took sannyas in Poona in1978 and lives in Nimbin, NSW. First published as a nine-year old, she has also written nine teenage novelettes for ‘reluctant readers’, four books on Australian birds, and has recently published a book of ten stories – Out of my Mind. She has hosted radio programs interviewing writers, and presently edits the literary magazine Beyond the Rainbow. www.tamasolonsdale.com