In Search of the Essence of Life

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Sarita’s extraordinary childhood takes her single-pointedly to India and then to Osho

Sarita was searching for the ‘essence of life’ from the age of four. “Yes, exactly these words were in my head at that age, ‘essence of life’!” At nine, while sitting in the back yard of her parents’ home under a tree she contemplated, as she often used to, on these central questions: “What is the essence of life? What is the nature of the cosmos, what does it all mean?”

Sarita as a child of 6
On the road
Osho in 1973
Just after taking sannyas
Meditation during the Mt Abu camp in 1973
Osho in discourse on Lao Tzu terrace
Whirling in Queens Gardens, Pune
Sarita receiving energy darshan
Sarita in Corfu 2010

On that particular day her query was so single pointed that she told herself she would not leave the spot until she got an answer; “Now, I can’t wait any longer!” The answer must have been a satori because this is how she describes it: “I entered into an ever expanding universe and came into what I knew to be the source of this universe, the very navel of it, a space made of soundless sound reverberating through all creation. I knew sounds result from vibrations and when I tried to decide if the essence was music or movement, I concluded that because sound is of vibration, movement must be the core. It was then that I knew I was going to study dance and that through dance I would be able to live the ‘essence of life’.”

She took dance classes and when she was 15 she hitchhiked to New York where she got a job as an au pair, studied with the Joffrey Ballet and won a Modern Dance scholarship. But she came to realise that whatever she was learning was quite superficial and “empty, just skimming the surface.” Looking around for new possibilities she enrolled in a Khatakali Indian dance class which created another awakening: “I entered the studio; the Indian dance teacher had a small statue on her piano, and I walked straight towards it – I felt as if something inside me exploded – “Ah, this is what I am looking for!”

The teacher explained that the statuette represented Nataraj, a depiction of Shiva dancing, the God who creates the universe through dance. After a few classes Sarita knew that she had to go to India, because she felt that there a deeper understanding of the essence of life through dance would be revealed.

Virtually penniless she left the States, hitch-hiked through Europe and the Middle East, and finally reached India when she was 17. “I didn’t know anything about meditation, but arriving in India I was immediately drawn to this path. In Bodhgaya I did a ten-day Vipassana retreat with Goenka and followed him to Mumbai for a month-long retreat. While in New York I had read Janov’s ‘Primal Scream’ and believed that to find one’s true being we first have to pass through madness, catharsis, screaming, in order to ultimately reach our true essence of bliss. I also knew that I would not be able to go through this on my own, I could get lost; I needed a guide. Despite this insight I thought I was crazy to be India, because in India they just want to transcend…it did not make sense.”

In Mumbai, she met Krishna Prem and his girl friend at the hotel where she was staying. He told Sarita that they were going to meet someone that evening, someone she might want to see as well. Arriving at an apartment complex, she was impressed by the large living room with the walls lined from floor to ceiling with books. About 30 people were present, all dressed in orange clothing. Krishna Prem had not explained anything about man or event; she had no idea what to expect: “Then Osho floated into the room, sat down and I was mesmerised by his movements. That was the first thing I noticed. Because I was looking for the ‘essence of life’ through dance, I could immediately see that he ‘has’ the secret, that he is the ‘dance teacher’ I had been looking for. The way he moved, how he sat, his gestures were phenomenal; I could see they were coming from the source. ‘He has it! And I have to learn from him!’ I said to myself.”

In that discourse Osho talked on the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra and commented on a sutra Sarita still remembers by heart: “While engaged in sexual union stay attentive of the fire in the beginning and so continuing, avoid the embers in the end.” When Osho gracefully walked back to his room, he stopped in front of Sarita and looked into her eyes for a long time. This discourse made a tremendous impression on her.

She told Krishna Prem that she had liked the experience, and he said she had to come to Chowpatti beach the following morning at 6 o’clock for a special meditation and that Osho would come afterwards to transmit shaktipat. “So I went and did Dynamic Meditation. It was a revelation, because that was exactly what I was looking for: to go through madness, come out the other side, find silence and then dance! I felt the meditation was ‘custom made’ for me!”

At 8 o’clock about a hundred people gathered in front of a small podium on the beach. One of Osho’s close disciples, Yog Chinmaya stood up, showing them a bronze cast of Osho’s feet and a bowl with flowers. “He explained that we should take one of the flowers, pour our ego into it and when we had completely emptied ourselves to put the flower at the ‘golden feet’ of Osho. I was afraid that if I offered the flower, I would find myself a hypnotized zombie afterwards! However, I gathered courage, thinking, ‘The only way to know is to experience it.’ I put my heart and soul into it, and was completely amazed to feel something like a thunderbolt of light shoot through me as I placed the flower at his golden feet.

“When Osho appeared we were told: ‘Now look into Osho’s eyes and give him all your suffering!’ While doing so, people started crying, screaming, laughing and rolling on the ground, giving all their anguish to him. After twenty minutes, Osho guided us to sit or lie down and receive the blessings of the divine. He caressed us with his voice, saying ‘Feel the divine penetrating you and moving within, feel it, feel it.’”

Due to shaktipat and Dynamic Meditation Sarita’s energy was opened up and it was difficult to sit in Vipassana silently. “Sometimes screams wanted to come and I could not hold them back. Goenka suggested to just watch the desire to scream, but not scream. When I told him that this was impossible because the urge to scream was really strong, he suggested I meditate alone in a small room and when I felt I could be completely silent to join the others. I did that for the whole month while feeling Osho’s presence very close to me, many times laughing, and supporting me to go deeper and deeper into meditation.”

At the end of the retreat in April 1973 Sarita joined the meditation camp in Mount Abu in Rajasthan. She arrived the night before it started and still nobody had told her anything about Osho or Sannyas; but she met Sushila who asked:
“Have you read any of Osho’s books?”
“No, I do not know that he has any books.”
“You have to read a book tonight. And tomorrow you take sannyas!”
“OK, but I do not know what sannyas is.”
“Just read the book,” and Sushila handed her ‘I am the Gate’.

She read the whole book and sat in front of Osho the next day. His first words were:
“Where have you been?”
“With Goenka.”
“Where are you going?”
“To the Himalayas.”
“You come to Mumbai; that will be good.”
He then he gave her sannyas, saying, “This will be your new name, Ma Ananda Sarita. Ma means Mother of the Universe, Ananda means Bliss, and Sarita means River. If you continue with meditation, you will become this.” From this day she remained with Osho and his community for the following 26 years.

“The first discourse I heard was on the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra and now I am teaching Tantra. I was called exactly at the right moment.” She learned many Tantric meditations directly from Osho and later also channelled a past life rich in insights and techniques, which she now passes on to her students together with her own experiences; while living in the commune for those 26 years her focus had always been how to integrate relationships with meditation. The experience of cleaning in Osho’s house for 8 years created the foundation of all her self-transformational work: “It is the most fantastic transmission I got. Cleaning is basically disappearing as a self, devotion.”

“Whatever I have received from Osho is a miraculous and infinite resource. I am teaching without any effort, it just comes through – a transmission. He has given us so much – and much of it is unspoken. We have soaked in so much of him into the very marrow of who we are. So sannyasins, each one in their unique way, are expressing that. My way is to express it through Tantra and Holistic Healing.”

By Punya from an interview with Sarita, 2010

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