Music, Family Life and … Osho

'My sarod and I' by Chinmaya Profiles > People

Marga’s interview with musician Chinmaya Dunster.

How did Osho come into your life?

It started in the late seventies when I met a woman who was a sannyasin. Osho clearly says that the women lead and the men follow…. She introduced me to sannyasins and to some of the meditations at the Kalpataru Meditation Center – in London where I was living. I fell in love right away, not only with her, but also with the sannyasin lifestyle and their way of being. But it took three years before I finally took sannyas in 1982.

“Why should I need this man with the beard?” I asked myself. I didn’t want any leaders and could not see the point of needing someone to lead us and tell us what to do. I must have been quite stupid because it took me all this time to realise from where we got all this wonderful sannyasin life style: from the guy with the beard! One day I looked at his picture in a workshop and suddenly got it….

the family in front of the new car
Naveena and Koyal
on Chapora Fort
with Koyal
Chinmaya in Goa
at the Assagao Mehfil Festival
in concert
with Adarsha, Prabodh and Darshina (holding Koyal)
with Svargo
with Shastro, Zeuben, Palash and Naveena, Goa
Tambi Surla Temple, Goa, 2008
not happy
with Bikram and Karunesh
Chinmaya and Naveena while filming
Celtic Ragas Band
pictures from the past

When did you eventually go to Pune and what happened there?

I went to Pune in the mid 80’s, when Osho had come back from the Ranch. I had already started studying the sarod, this beautiful Hindustani instrument that I play. I used to play at home by myself until I found a teacher in London and then later in Pune. It is hard practice to learn Indian classical music, but slowly slowly I started to bring the sarod to the commune and play in the garden. Then people came up to me and said how nice it was and one or two Indian sannyasins brought tablas and started to play with me.

Milarepa heard me – he was the head of the music department in that year (1988) – and he said, “Wow I like that, that’s a fantastic sound. I have never seen that instrument before, let’s try it out!” He brought me to the music department and I played a couple of times for Osho while he was still in the body.

When Nivedano started with the pumping Oshoba, which Osho absolutely wanted to have for the White Robe, there was no space for me with such a subtle instrument, but on the nights Osho did not come to discourse and the Oshoba band took a break, Milarepa called me and we experimented with mixing Indian and Western music. We had guitars, the sarod, and any other instruments played by those who happened to be around. It’s a pity these experiments were never recorded! We also played live Nataraj and I became more and more confident with the instrument.

Just before he left the body, Osho had asked Bhikkhu and Waduda to start a record company to distribute the meditation music in the West, and they founded Tao Music which was based in Germany. They were also interested in producing music by sannyasin composers so they asked Prem Joshua to work on a CD. In Munich he gathered his musician friends, me included, and under the band name Terra Incognita, we made the CD called ‘No Goal But the Path’. It is amazing that after all these years it is still popular – it can be bought at the Resort in Pune, but unfortunately not in the West. This is how my relationship started with Bhikkhu and Waduda, and after 23 years I am still making records for them (the company in the meantime changed its name to New Earth Records and moved to the States).

Some wonderful music came out of the commune, all because of the connection with Osho and us connecting with each other in Pune.

Since then you have come out with how many CDs? Any new CDs in the pipe-line?

Too may to list here, I guess. Approaching twenty. Plus CDs I’ve produced for other sannyasin artists like Gopal, Lolita and Anand Richa. Right now I’m not thinking about another as my latest ‘Meditation Ragas’ has just being released.

Apart from the sannyasin life style and the music around Osho, what has touched you the most? What had the strongest impact on you?

The most important thing I heard Osho say, and which I took to heart, was that when we realise that everything is the way it is supposed to be, we are Buddhas.

I was always involved in politics and in environmental issues, in changing the world and judging everything. When I heard things like: “Accept things the way they are, without judging and wanting to change them. This is the way they are supposed to be,” I could let go of all that tension.

I also heard him say that it is OK to make mistakes, that it is even best to make lots of mistakes. “Make as many mistakes as possible; the only way you learn is by making mistakes.” That was very important for me. Just to say, “OK, it’s fine the way I am. I might not be perfect, I might make mistakes and it is fine to be like that.”

Another thing I learned was not to take things seriously (as we tend to do particularly in our early twenties). With Osho there is a non-serious and celebratory approach to everything.

Tell us something about your family life.

I have been with my partner, Naveena, for 14 years and we have a 3-year old daughter, Koyal. I love this family life. The interesting thing is that I was 55 years old when my daughter came along. And if she hadn’t, I might as well be asking myself what I should be doing with the rest of my life? I’ve done everything I wanted to do, made music, painted pictures, travelled here and there. She has actually given me something to do for the next 20 years: to make a living and support her growth – that is a nice goal!

At present we live in a village in Goa. I love nature. I was brought up in nature and now I live deeply in it. I am certainly finished with cities. Being in nature and being with the family makes a perfect life. As long as there is nature and some musician friends around – I could live anywhere.

Osho has given a lot of guidelines to parents for raising a child. How do you relate with these?

I can relate pretty much exactly with everything he has said, even if sometimes his guidelines feel pretty impractical in view of the society in which we have to live and adjust to. Osho encourages us to be ourselves and that whoever we are is perfect. I always keep that in mind while being with Koyal.

Sometimes she wants something which I cannot or do nor want to give her – then she can scream for hours. It drives me crazy. In those moments I just have to say, “That’s the way she is, that’s her!” If she wants to make a hell out of her life, she has the freedom to do it; but from my side I give her all the love and support I can and remain positive. If she has to learn a difficult lesson she has the freedom to do it.

Osho gave us some ideal solutions, and told us many crazy stories about things he did as a child. Such a rebel he was! But he was raised in a safe rural environment in Madhya Pradesh, years ago. Not much else could happen to him there except fall in a well (and drown). Now we live in a society full of age-old repressions that are being released and, for instance with nudity, we need to curtail her freedom in order to protect her from the society that could easily misunderstand us.

We have to increasingly do that as she gets older and as long as we live in India, where life for a woman gets more difficult. Sadly it becomes more and more difficult to bring up a child with that outer freedom Osho experienced.

Are you planning to send her to an alternative school?

We have no plans at the moment. She goes to a play school with kids who are mostly foreigners like us, or the children of mixed Indian/Western couples. She also plays with our Goan neighbours’ kids. It is still early to think about it, but we certainly would not want to press her into a traditional school with all the achievement issues and the high pressure. On the other hand, my sister’s kids passed through the standard British Government schooling and are at University now. You could not find two more well-balanced kids on this planet! So even ‘straight’ education is a possibility, if that’s the kind of person Koyal turns out to be.

I have seen that you have filmed birds in your garden.

I have filmed nearly a 100 species of birds around my home. I add my own music to the videos – it is impossible to record their song – there are too many disturbing noises around: dogs barking and cars going by. Filming nature wherever I go in India is a hobby…a fun thing to do. I put the results up on YouTube. To date I’ve had 300,000 views!

Based on an interview taken in Goa by Marga from the Italian Osho Times

Read today’s review on his latest CD: Meditation Ragas

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