Shahido and Diti’s travels across the Indian subcontinent continue to Nepal, where they visit the Osho Tapoban and Upaban Centres there
I feel inspired to write about Diti’s and my journey to Nepal, especially as Arun, whom we met in Nepal and invited to come to Australia, agreed to come. A few months ago I had a phone call from Ramesh, a Nepalese sannyasin in Sydney who then came to visit us at Mevlana with his partner and two other Nepalese sannyasins, Siddhartha and Sanu. They are all studying in Australia and have been here for three years or more without contacting us during all that time for various reasons. It was such a joy having them stay; they jumped in and helped me with all sorts of jobs, the girls with the cooking and cleaning, the boys with the DVD’s and the books.
I could see how love and awareness is very much present in their lives. Subsequently Siddhartha and Sanu have visited us four times bringing other Nepalese sannyasins with them. At Osho’s birthday celebration in December we had nine Nepalese sannyasins staying, and once again they joined in and helped me set up for the celebration.
Siddhartha said he would like to bring the founder of Osho Tapoban, Arun to Australia and asked me if I would help for this to happen. Of course I said yes and so began the journey of a lifetime for me as I had always wanted to go to Nepal and see the Himalayas that Osho and so many other masters had spoken about but I had never had the courage to venture to.
Diti and I bought airline tickets to Nepal and set off into unknown territory. I didn’t have a re-entry visa into India as I had used up my double entry visa on a previous visit in June last year, so we had to go to the foreign registration office in Delhi to apply for one, which was quite an experience. It took us one whole day but we had fun and enjoyed meeting lots of people in the queue for visas. After a whole day we spent there I thought I had one, which turned out not to be the case. However, we were not aware of that at the time and set off for Nepal.
Upon landing in Kathmandu we purchased our entry visas (they have a good system to pay for visas at the airport) and were met by beautiful Gyan Deepak who had a taxi waiting for us. In no time we were on our way to Osho Tapoban, which is about a half hour journey by car up into the mountains. It can take much longer due to traffic jams in Kathmandu which are unbelievable, but one good thing travelling at 5 miles per hour through the streets is that we had a birds’ eye view of all the shops which were the most amazing I have ever seen. Truly shopping to die for, but all desire for shopping left me.
Arriving at Tapoban we received a very warm welcome. We found that Sanu, our Nepalese friend in Sydney had put the Osho Mevlana Celebration photos up on Facebook, so everyone knew us from seeing us there. We had so many hugs, it is impossible to describe what it was like. My respect for Facebook increased 100%!
We began our descent down the 350 steps to our rooms. Tapoban is built in a forest, on the side of a mountain. I had heard about this from a friend and was a bit worried about whether I could make it or not as my knees are not so good, but the fear was all in my head and I found I could do it easily. Our room was very cosy with all the comforts of home. The dining room was even further down the mountain but we managed to also find our way there. The beautiful meditation hall was on the same level as our room so that was easy.
Forty five people live in this commune; they eat together, work together and meditate together. I loved the feeling of being with so many beautiful people. Maroon robes are worn at all times. The weather was chilly in the mornings and at night, sunny during the day. We woke up to the sounds of Dynamic Meditation every day. There was Dynamic at 6 a.m. for people who go to work and Dynamic at 7 a.m. for guests. There were several westerners there participating in a meditation camp and a Mystic Rose group. Five daily meditations and meditation camps are on their regular program, and satsang on Saturdays is open to the public, which was attended by about 300 people the Saturday we were there.
We had three meetings with Arun as he wanted to hear about Osho’s work in Australia and to see if it was a possibility for him to come to Australia. We all agreed it was a good idea and a date was set. He suggested we take a quick trip to Pokhara to visit Osho Upaban, so of course we agreed as we both wanted to see more of the Himalayas and to visit another Osho ashram. Gyan Deepak arranged tickets for us to fly to Pokhara; his travel agency in Kathmandu, Osho World, arranges tours for visitors. There is one trek that Diti and I would like to do one day: it’s a 10 day Vipassana walk around Mt. Kailash. I will have to get fitter if I want to do this one!
While we courageously headed out into the traffic of Kathmandu with the help of a driver from the ashram, Gyan came running from his office and hopped in the car to help the driver find a way to the airport through the back streets. What an adventure that was! Anyway we made it to the airport in time. Gyan had our tickets, came into the airport with us, paid our departure tax and saw us safely into the departure lounge, which was full of people travelling everywhere. No westerners except for us. It is a very busy airport as flying is the way to travel in the Himalayas; no more falling off the edge of mountains in buses. We are grateful for this swami who took such good care of us. We had a 20 minute flight to Pokhara and yes, there at the airport was another gorgeous swami called Yogananda.
He is the organizer of Osho Upaban, a small commune of 10 people and 3 children which is still in the throes of construction. It is located in a huge valley on a ridge between two fast flowing rivers. The ashram looks out to the Annapurna mountains with full view of the Fishtail mountain, one of the most stunning mountains in the Himalayas and not climbable; an absolutely spectacular position for an Osho ashram. Yogananda told us that he and Arun had looked at many sites for an ashram before settling on this one.
I have to tell you about the Osho white robe meditation that we experienced here. I had all my rigid ideas shattered about how white robe should be. While in India and Nepal the experience at each ashram was different, including Pune, Pokhara was the best. We entered the meditation hall where already about 50 teenagers and kids not in white robes waited, and a few oldies in white robes sat on the sides. Yogananda put on some good dancing music, gave a little talk about dancing to the max, and they danced to the max! When the music stopped he gave them a little talk about lying down and going inside. The silence was incredible. He then put an Osho audio tape on and all the teenagers got up and walked out, leaving the oldies to listen to Osho. I loved it.
Yogananda is teaching meditation in his own way. Not exactly how we would do it but it works. What’s more, those teenagers come every night to dance. I might say there is no other opportunity for them to dance in their village except at the Osho centre. I asked him where he gets the teenagers from and he just invites anyone to come for a dance that he meets in his everyday life… Sasil, a little 5 year-old boy who lives in the commune, dances like I have never seen a child dance. I was blown away by these three kids in this commune and so was Diti. We could only stay for two days and I would love to go there again.
Yogananda combines his work as an engineer with the local council and Osho’s work. The two seem to go together. We met many sannyasin engineers on our trip and it turns out that Arun is a civil engineer and turned many engineers on to Osho! Yogananda is truly an amazing person. He took us on a little tour of Pokhara, which is a tourist town and starting point for treks into the Himalayas. He showed us a resort on the lake that the sannyasins had put a bid in to buy when Osho was looking for a place to settle after the ranch. The only way to the resort was by boat, but the Nepalese government refused Osho residency.
After our two day visit was over we made our way back to Kathmandu and Osho Tapoban. Arun organizes two other communes in Nepal, one of them where Buddha was born and I would love to visit on day. The Nepalese people are so warm and friendly and we felt very much at home with them. Many more experiences happened to us but it would take pages to write about all of them. We travelled wearing our maroon robes in Nepal; it felt so good with none of the discrimination that we feel here in our country.
Arriving back in Delhi I had to spend the night at the airport as my re-entry visa wasn’t o.k., but I didn’t care. I felt so happy, nothing was a worry. Diti and Zahira were worried about me but I was fine. We stayed in touch using our mobiles as we were leaving Delhi at 7 a.m. the next day bound for home. This was a journey to be remembered and I recommend staying in Osho ashrams and seeing the country at the same time to anyone who wants adventure and meditation combined!
Read the whole series: Shahido’s Travel Log
Shahido is a nurse by profession and worked at the ashram’s medical center during the seventies. She cherishes the life changing experiences we all share since those days. Nowadays she lives in Australia and distributes also Osho’s books there, and loves traveling to India.