Kavyo tells us about growing up as a sannyasin child
Don’t we sometimes wonder what happened to the children who were born to sannyasin mothers? To grow up as a child at the Pune ashram or in Rajneeshpuram was surely different from say, in rural Tennessee! The folks at Viha Connection had the inspiration to ask several now grown-up sannyasins about their experiences and how their life unfolded. Eight stories were published in Viha Connection’s last two issues and we are publishing here one of them, Kavyo’s:
I was born into sannyas as a third-generation sannyasin in Pune, October 1978. My grandma, Geeta, was the first Spanish sannyasin, and her home became a center where they would gather and do meditations. Both my parents, Yashu and Harida, took sannyas through her. They were musicians and super-devoted to the ashram.
I’m not saying it’s always been easy; I’ve always felt totally different from the general crowd. But kids’ choices will always be made for them, and this choice my parents made is one I’m very grateful for. I also believe the theory that we choose our parents and the life we are born into. My vision of sannyas is that it’s a way of life, not of beliefs and discipline.
I received my sannyas and only name when I was 11 days old. After I received my name and energy darshan we moved away from Osho, and I started to make noises, so they asked us to leave. At the door of Buddha Hall I started crying, and my mama always told me she didn’t know what to do with me to calm me down, as I had never cried before, not even at birth.
We left Pune to go to New Jersey when I was two years old, so I went from being with kids 24/7 to being alone, as I was the only kid there for two months. In that time I cried so much that when Osho got there even He asked about me. Everybody was busy, so I got to spend the afternoons with Him. I think I slept a lot, because whenever I hear His voice I end up falling asleep. I can’t remember any of this, so I don’t feel that fortunate, but the experience is in here. There is this deep blissful feeling that I have when I hear His voice. It’s a memory feeling.
I have one memory of Osho, and it’s in the big hall in Rajneeshpuram. I always sat with my mama. She was one of His favorite musicians and played the flute for the morning satsang and the darshans and celebrations. At one point they’d moved the musicians to the back, so we were far, far away from the podium. We were doing the Gachchhamis, and when everyone was bowing down I snuck a peek and the hall looked huge and white with a blanket of red people, and He was at the very end. Funnily enough, I’ve only rarely seen Him in my dreams. One of them happened in a key moment in my life where we sat with a low tea table between us and I was serving tea. Osho was dressed in nothing but a white lunghi and advised me to just follow my heart. I turned that advice into a guideline for myself.
As a little girl I felt very different from others, but as I grew older I learned to make myself a part of and adapt to places pretty fast and easily.
There are many ways you can look at the experience of growing up in sannyas, but for me there will always be more pros than cons. I was raised with a whole different set of ideals, a way of life that is so different from normal society. We were given the tools to understand, handle, and let go of situations, giving us the chance to deal with them in a very healthy way, both emotionally and mentally, openness and compassion and somehow a very much-needed irony toward certain things. I grew up with a lot of love and the power of knowing, and even though I forget at times and go off track, I always find my path again.
However I think sannyas conditioning can be pretty heavy-duty, and with this sort of upbringing you lose a bit of your innocence a little too soon, and with that comes losing your childhood, because you find yourself in surreal and different situations than other children your age.
My mama was and my father still is my best friend. I can tell them everything, and that is a great feeling. However there were also moments when I think our parents and the grownups were so busy the whole time that we kids were alone, although we had each other. I was in the commune from my birth until I was five, so a bit too small to live that way, and I got to sleep with my mama a lot, so was not that affected, I guess. My mama and I left America when I was five. That was a choice I regret her making, but then again, it gave me the chance to live a bit more of a normal life. At first we went to Spain, where the kids were terrible to me. In the 80s in Spain a girl’s name could not end in an O, so they were so cruel. When I was seven I went to live with my dad and went to a normal school in Amsterdam. I still always felt different from the other kids, but at least by then I wasn’t a tree-hugger anymore. I’ve learned to blend in a bit, realizing that you can’t walk around healing trees and being as honest and straightforward as I am.
Being in Europe brought some stability and much-needed routine, and I formed a little bit of organized mentality there in those seven years.
The negative aspects of my sannyas experience have related to freedom. There was too much freedom in Pune One, where we even lived separate from the grownups. I was the smallest one in the kids’ hut, being two years old at the time. In Pune Two there have only been restrictions in the Ashram, to a point where I don’t feel welcome there at all. I went from being subject to the teenager rules and conditions to having limited access because I had my first baby girl. When I was born there getting in was free, but later on not only did we have to pay but I had to pass an interview with a counselor who usually was a really uptight new sannyasin.
I’ve got two girls, Jazmin and J.J., and now I realize there is no right way to bring up kids. We all do what we can. I’m not a perfect supermom, but at least I’m there with them and am trying to be as involved as I can with their stuff, though not in an obsessive way. I have been with my partner for 11 years now, which has been a total challenge, but so worth it. He is not a sannyasin and doesn’t really get the people, but he likes Osho’s teachings.
Sannyas is very much a part of me, although there have been times I’ve felt less fortunate in the normal and organized world. I’ve never been ashamed or anything like that of saying where I come from.
My mama passed on three years ago, and I’m just now getting out of that vortex. Sannyas is what has helped me to let go. I feel this huge void there that will never be filled again, but I’ve accepted her leaving the body now and am eternally grateful she was my mama. Her cremation took place in Mapusa, Goa. I was blessed by having her two best friends and my father there to help me. Nirupa had experienced this before, knew exactly what had to be done, and guided me through the process. This was so healing for me, as I had been experiencing some guilt, feeling that I’d let her down. The ceremony was beautiful, filled with kids whose parents later thanked us for this, as it was a very different way of dealing with death. My girls and I just got back from India where I finally let go of my mama’s ashes on Anjuna Beach, the first beach she took me to when I was one month old.
I’ve kept my own kids a bit more naïve. They don’t meditate yet, as I don’t live in a sannyas environment anymore. I don’t believe in forcing them into it, because I know they will follow their own paths. It won’t be very far from mine, because I do try to infiltrate some of my ways. At the same time, I’m trying not to fill their heads with my own conditioning. I believe in self-responsibility, but I will be there in case they fall back. For me, my kids are my pillars, and I’m hoping we will have the same relationship as I had with my mama.
At the moment I live in Peru, and at one point I really felt like meditating with other people, so I put up a message on a Forum page I found when I was searching for a center. I got a response from a man who had a midlife crisis and had a life-changing experience reading Osho’s books. Together we set up a group of people to meditate, but recently I’ve not been attending these meetings because the people there just want to talk about His teachings and seem to have a lot of resistance to meditating. I did get through to a few of them, and they and I meditate on our own. I was eager to set up a center, but I’ve realized my kids need my input more than ever now that they are settling in a new place again and I really want to give them the support and comforts that they deserve. A center would take up a lot of time, which I don’t have yet. But I’m certain it will all come…just because it feels right!
Text by Kavyo, previously published in Viha Connection