…left her body on 24th May 2017.
High energy meditation and celebration is planned for this Sunday 28th May in Manhattan from 2-6pm at Shambala Studios, 118 West 22nd Street, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10011
Images credit to Satya Subodh, Milarepa, Thomas Raniszewski, Prem Geetesh and friends
Satya Priya took sannyas in the early seventies and spent many years travelling between Pune and New York. She founded and ran the Osho Padma Meditation Centre in New York (oshopadmameditation.us) for almost 40 years. Apart from the regular meditations offered at the centre, every year she organised meditation retreats (Festivals of Meditation) on the outskirts of New York, with live music by Milarepa’s OneSky Band.
Her friends will remember her husky voice, her humour and exuberance, her laughter, her direct ways (no prisoners taken!), her skills at Tarot reading, and many many anecdotes involving her…
Priya ran the Osho Padma Center in New York City for more than forty years out of her small apartment in the West Village. I can’t imagine opening my own home on such a daily basis to all manner of crazy seekers, but this is what she did. And she did it well — with a lot of heart, humor, and totality. Osho Padma is the oldest, most consistent Osho center in America. Countless people found their way to Pune, to Osho, and to meditation through it. I remember one of the first times I attended one of Priya’s Sunday events. Ever mischieveous and wise, she said to me in a break between meditations: “Milarepa, next we are all going to run down the street, shouting and screaming like mad people, all the way to the river.” She studied my face for a moment and then smiled, “Scares you, doesn’t it?” Ahh, Priya. You will be missed.
I never really knew Priya very well until I started living closer to New York. As I hung out with her more, I would sometimes coax her to talk about her past. She was always such a mystery to me. Living in the moment as she did, I know the past was really not her thing. But I did discover she had been a journalist for a teen magazine in the 60’s and that one of her assignments was being embedded with The Beatles on one of their tours. I know John was her favorite. On another occasion, she told me that she was born in a lower Manhattan apartment complex near the Brooklyn Bridge, and that as a child she remembered taking trips to see her grandparents in Queens when Queens was still all farms. Imagine? Priya was quintessential New York.
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So many Priyas to love – you will always be Cappuccino Priya to me. I cherish our gossips over chai and…you know what. In Pune. Your take on everything happening was always fresh, unique and wholly yours. Your devotion to the Master always shines through. May it take you to the other shore. SVAHA!
Priya was an ongoing Piece of Work. May She be Free of Suffering. May She be at Peace. May she know her True Nature….
It was 1982 and Osho had moved to the USA. I had arrived in the States with a one-way ticket, went to the Ranch for the first summer festival, but was determined to stay in the country and, as soon as possible, live permanently in Rajneeshpuram. I found a lovely place to stay, an amazing commune in Gloucester, near Boston. Everything was going very well, however, something was missing. One day a friend called me, telling me she was in New York, that she was getting married and asked me if I wanted to go and see her.
So, I took the bus to the Big Apple. I had very little money, just enough for a few days in the city. It was Halloween and the same night I arrived there was going to be a party. Satya Priya was one of the first people I met. I knew her from Pune; she was warm, loving, welcoming. She went straight to the point – as she always did – asked me if my intention was to go to the Ranch and said she would be able to help me.
After a couple of days I went back to Sambodhi in Gloucester, collected my things and went to live in NYC. Satya Priya found cleaning jobs for me, like a fairy, without an effort from my side, but also none from her side it seemed, she got me going. In a very short time I was settle in the Big Apple, everything was going great, I had the time of my life (a lot thanks to her).
Her little apartment was the center of the city. It was an Osho Center and also, for what I was concerned, the center of Manhattan; everything happened on Barrow Street or around it. In one-room apartment on the ground floor she was living, meeting friends and facilitating meditations. And when we were not there, we were around the corner in a lovely coffee shop, drinking cappuccino. I don’t remember the name of it, but it had an Italian name. She absolutely loved that place!
Some time later, more Italian friends arrived: Melania, Mita, Chiara, Manish, Masta, Satprakash, Giovanni – the Italian gang – as Priya called us. One way or the other we were all gravitating around Barrow Street and Satya Priya. We used to call her ‘The Operator’. Whenever we needed something we would call her and, sure enough, she would tell us what to do, how or where. I don’t know how we could have managed without her.
It was never clear to me what she was doing for a living. Sometimes she was reading tarot cards on the streets, all kind of expedients, but I never saw her once afraid or worried about survival and, sure enough, she provided me and many others with jobs and opportunities.
Beloved Satya Priya, such a character, so unique, a fireball, totally in love with Truth and Osho, a female New Yorker Robin Hood or Joan of Arc. Such a special woman.
Thank you, beloved Priya, may your journey be in bliss and light. You have touched so many people, you have helped so many. I am so grateful I have met you. In deep Love and Gratitude,
Oooh Priya! Sending you off here on my terrace… This is one of the sendoffs I would like to join your friends over in the States!
It is hard to find words to describe how I experienced you.
full of esprit.
confronting up until being a total pain in the neck – and knowing and enjoying exactly that.
me, too, btw <3.
intelligent in the exact meaning of the word. boisterous.
new yorker – and oh, how I loved that, especially.
Sitting with you and friends in your apartment on Barrow Street, frequenting bars and coffee shops around it, alphabet city in the summer… When was that? Around 1990? I forget. Does it matter?
Sooo glad we connected every now and then via email.
Farewell. Enjoy your trip to the other shore and… we will meet again, whenever, whereever, inwhatformever. Love,
Oh Priya, such a joyful being. Always utterly yourself. May you dance all the way.
Beloved Satya Priya,
I feel so much love for you. Fly high as I know you will. Once, years ago, when I was a new sannyasin, I visited your New York Osho center for one day. Most of all, I will never forget the time you courageously came to Pune and stayed in Surya Villas when they would not let you in to the Pune Resort. I felt so honoured that you wanted to meet me because you had read my book. You were so loving and so encouraging and I felt inspired by you. I felt that you had great love for Osho and great courage and were willing to do anything you felt was right for Osho and put yourself on the line. I still treasure that meeting I had with you and the email correspondence we had. I just want to say thank you to you for being such a wonderful person and for running that wonderful New York Center. Love from
Beloved Priya, words are failing but memories of you are abounding. The first one…being introduced to you standing outside the ‘gateless gate’ in ’75 the day after I took sannyas. What an impact you made…always calling me to the higher. Thank you! I don’t think I ever knew anyone with a greater passion and love for Osho than you! Always wanted to come out and visit you in New York but turns out…you’re the one visiting me now and…it’s an ‘inside job’!! Blessed you are, evermore merging in the divine.
Barbara Anand Vasudha
Beloved Priya, Force of Nature. A whirlwind with a sunny smile. A deep devotee. A loving helper. A quintessential New Yorker. We will miss you so much. We thank you for touching so many lives. Fly high. Love.
Oh Priya, you must be in ecstasy on the other shore. Thank you for the many tarot readings along the way, and helping me decide what to do, this or that. And you say ‘what does your heart say?’
A fun anecdote she told me: As we know she lived on Barrow Street in the Village on the first floor. There were also basement apartments. Early on in the 1960’s a new tenant moved in right under her. It was hell, he was a very bad musician. She screamed at him at no avail. Finally, after a month of this she called the police. Turns out it was Ornette Coleman of the free jazz movement.
Ma Satya Priya is a friend whom I also consider a teacher; she had that way of getting thru my defenses and bring simple understanding to issues when I would see them as quite complex. She was the one who encouraged me to start dating again, as for many years after the HIV crisis began I had chosen to be celibate and was understandably fearful of sex.
For me she is a bright shinning light able to see into core issues, with a sharp tongue, never holding back and missing an opportunity to point at the truth. Her love was intense. I got to know her well after the Ranch in ’86 when I often stayed in her apartment/Osho centre in Greenwich Village and on many trips to Pune when we shared an apartment for awhile. Cappuccino at midnight in the Village – I called her Cappuccino Priya.
She had lived her life with totality and was a fascinating storyteller: touring with the Beatles, Tarot reading on The Village sidewalk. I was with her in Pune when the unthinkable happened and she was “banned forever”. It was quite confusing at the time because I see her as the most authentic sannyasin, a devotee and true practitioner of Osho’s teachings. I thought: “Priya??? banned??? Now it’s clear there’s something fucked up going on.” But her response was brilliant, she didn’t miss a beat; it was just another golden opportunity to see herself. Here is an excerpt from an open letter she wrote in response shortly afterwards – I love you, beloved:
Banned Forever: The Layers of the Onion. Osho works in mysterious ways, and I feel He has removed much of our seriousness without us even noticing. “Banned forever” – what does that mean? Osho has given new meaning to words having to do with the measurement of time, such as “soon” or “never.” He would say, “Come now, soon I will be gone.” Years later He was still there, but soon He was gone.
Then there’s the famous story of the young man at his first darshan who told Osho he was going to stay forever, and Osho said, “Next time, you stay a little longer.” There also He took away the seriousness.
I hadn’t really unpacked yet, so it was easy to move over to the Surya Villa Hotel. I then found out that on that day, the Times of India carried the story that Osho International Foundation had lost the US trademark case. I have been running the Osho Padma Meditation Center in New York since 1987, and I find it quite mysterious that I was there at that moment.
As I was hanging out at the restaurant at the hotel, someone gave me a book, Love Song for Osho by Ma Anand Devika. What a perfect gift at the perfect moment! If I needed a reminder that the only thing that matters is the love affair with the Master, there it was. The book is pure innocence. I got together with Devika, and she is still the embodiment of innocence. I am so grateful to beloved Devika for exposing herself so totally in her book. The energy and the love I felt from the book somehow came right into the experience of being banned.
I felt I wanted to share this experience. As time passed, I received quite a few emails, even from people I don’t know. I saw that most of the attention was directed at “them” – the ones who ban. And that was not my focus. I was watching myself and what was going on inside me. I told people I don’t care about “them”. I only care about myself and my own inner journey. It’s so easy to forget that this is about the inner journey.
A couple of days after feeling free of the Resort, I suddenly had this sensation in my body of feeling free of Osho in the body. It was as if His body fell away from me – not the Master, but the body of Osho. This was an amazing feeling, impossible to describe. Then, a day or two later, I had the sensation in my body that desire itself had fallen away. Soon I saw that desire was contained in my attachment to Osho’s body. I remember hearing Him tell us to put all our desires on to Him. I had never realized that that’s what had happened, and once free of His body, I was free of desire.
Now, I had to see what that meant to me. How did this feel? What I found, and continue to find, is that I do whatever I’ve been doing, but somehow in a more relaxed way. And I see that relaxation is possible only when we are free of judgment.
A friend said that some people are now going to ask, “Do you think you’re enlightened?” I know nothing about enlightenment. I have only hoped to be free of judgments and to be more loving, more aware of what I am doing, to live totally courageously.
I find myself actually grateful to the organization that runs the Resort. No matter who was in charge, throughout my almost 35 years of sannyas, I never really felt accepted. Somewhere I always wanted to be accepted, even though I did not make any effort to please. I am now freed of that burden. I feel that for quite a while I was trying to believe that there was an Osho place where I could go. But the Osho place is right here. Now, the Resort, as an authority, has really ceased to exist for me, and only the love affair with the Master remains.
Oh Beloved Priya, I do not know how and when we met sometime in Poona 2. I only remember this deep connection, the warm rocky sound of your voice, your wild laughter, the melting fire of your heart and eyes, the taste of Osho through and through in this exchange… So forever NOW as it is with all the fellow travellers who have transitioned to this Noah’s arch of consciousness. Your laughter intoxicating, unlimited…
Thank you, Priya, for being there when I was based in NY. For our tea times at “Tea and Sympathy”. For always knowing a great place to eat, for helping with my mum when she was sick and taking us in. For being there. Thank you for your totality and dedication. I love you.