Recollections by singer and song-writer Pratibha from Denmark.
While archiving photos, Punya came across the one above and wrote to me, “I recognise you on this photo. I did not know you were playing music already in Pune 1. I only know you as a singer later in the eighties. Tell us about those early times.” And so I did:
Two years had passed before I found myself in Osho’s presence again – this time in Pune. After having had magic and awesome experiences, like meeting him first via a mala in Teheran while travelling overland on my way to India, and then the incredible meditation camp in Mt. Abu, Rajasthan, I was terrified of meeting Osho again. ‘You come see me in Bombay!’ he had said in our private darshan in Mt. Abu, after my boyfriend Sangeet and I had gone to see him to ask if he would teach us Tantra. I had held his hand while he wrote my new name and all three of us sat together like old friends meeting after a long time. I wasn’t too much in a hurry to go back and see Osho again. First of all my English was not very good and I had not gone to India to find a guru in the first place… I was so happy with my life together with Sangeet; we were living on the island of Bornholm in Denmark growing weed and other vegetables, playing music around fires, swimming in the sea – living it up in nature with friends and animals.
So finally in summer ’76 we arrived at the ashram in Pune. In my first darshan I told Osho that there was much fear in me and that I did not know what to do about it.
You do one thing…let the love in from the front door and fear will have to escape from the back door,”
Music Group? Was it every evening? Or once a week? I don’t remember, but it took place in Radha Hall where also the meditations were happening. I remember my first Kundalini. Me, just out of Denmark where we did Dynamic mostly in the nude, slipped off my robe in the middle of it, to the horror of meditation leader Christ Chaitanya. I believe I was wearing underpants… because in those days to wear underwear was not very common…. Anyway – evening music groups were led by Govindas who used to play his bouzuki, a Greek string instrument, Kabir on flutes and ‘Tabla’-Bodhi on tablas. This gave a solid foundation to the rest of the band which consisted of several guitars, ektaras, tambouras, dolaks, congas and other instruments. The people who didn’t play danced around the circle of musicians. A candle was lit in the center – that was the only lighting.
Dadaji and Mataji (Osho’s parents) were always present, sitting a little to the side and Dadaji with a small tambourine. One evening I mustered the courage to pick up the tambourine which was lying next to Govindas and threw my energy into this instrument. I later got lots of compliments for my double-beats and all… and was invited into the circle for good. Govindas would always start the session reminding us to wait with playing until it was ‘happening’ and that no one would know beforehand whether the long piece would end on a crescendo or fade into silence, and reminded us that the dancers were also an active part of the magic. Once a month we were invited to play and dance for Osho in the evening darshan which took place in Chuang Tzu auditorium, a large high-ceilinged porch in the garden of Lao Tzu house where Osho lived. That’s where the photo was taken.
Many afternoons I used to sit with my guitar in the front garden singing and improvising with a group of friends or I’d climb up on the water tank on Krishna House roof where nobody could see or hear me, singing away into the blue sky or to the stars at night. Another of my ‘music rooms’ was the garage roof behind the medical centre at 122 Koregaon Park. At the time I was playing less and less guitar but rather improvising more vocally and travelling with the sound of the voice.
I don’t remember playing much music in Hawaii, my stop-over between Pune I and the Ranch; too busy body surfing and painting walls and sewing curtains for the newly built Kalani (Honua) Centre on the Big Island. When my boyfriend got the call to go to the Ranch I went to Copenhagen where I spent three glorious months playing music group with Bindu, Palash, Harisharan and Sadhu in Christiania every Saturday. By the month of May it was time for me to come to Oregon where I stayed until the end – except for a short period which I spent in Vancouver singing with Almasto, Swaprem and Prafullo at Osho Satsang Sundays.
Too busy with building and living the dream, for me music went into the background for quite some years – but there was recorded music everywhere! Day and night. And I discovered my new ‘God’, Pat Metheney, who more than once saved my life! Someone had gifted me with one of those modern ‘walkmans’ and with my headphones on I could escape and disappear into the vast universe of his wonderful music.
A couple of times I managed to get invited to sing with Jalalo for the celebrations in the Mandir, but that was it.
After the Ranch folded I spent two years in Seattle where I learned massage, passed the State Board Exams and enjoyed the many parties with sannyasins who lived around town in communal houses. Swagato persuaded me to come back to Pune and paved my way by telling everyone that “a fantastic Danish singer is on her way….” And so I spent nine months in Pune, in winter ’88/89, singing my heart out from morning to night – satsangs, sannyas celebrations, evening darshans, cabarets – all kind of music with amazing musicians from around the world.
One evening I was unable to go to the evening discourse because I had a bad cold. Those who were sick or had a cough could follow the discourse on a TV screen on Krishna House roof… so there I was sitting with mucus dripping into my lungi and heard Osho say, “Nothing is said – nothing is heard – and the heart starts dancing with the master.”
I was electrified, “Oh wow! This is a song!” I thought to myself and spent the rest of the discourse repeating these words over and over again in my head so that I would not forget them. I rushed home, grabbed my guitar and the song just flowed through me so beautifully. Next day I met up with Bindu and sang it for him; the only change needed was to finish it by repeating the chorus. For years I couldn’t claim this song as mine because I didn’t feel I ‘made it’ – it had just come through me. (I didn’t know at the time that this is how many songs are born….)
“Hey Mila! Wanna hear the new song?” I bursted out, when Milarepa, the then head of the music department came around the corner where we sat in Mariam canteen. “Yeah, let’s play it tonight!” And that night was recorded and that is what you hear on the tape called ‘Buddhas Within’. It’s the live recording of that night! (I think Satyam added a vocal to hide some blemishes….) After I left, my long-time friend from Denmark, Leena, wrote to me that the song had become a hit. Over the years it must have been played a ‘million times’…. I still love it and treasure the intimate connection I had, and have, between the words and the music, the way they came together.
I went on composing instrumental pieces or playing other people’s songs, too shy to share myself through words – until one day Rishi, our Danish drummer/producer, said, “Your melodies sound as if they have words.” My feeling was an immediate “Oh no!” but somehow his matter-of-fact remark opened a window in my head and allowed words to come. Slowly words arrived and, since then, many songs have come through me – to date I have made three CDs with my songs.
Sometimes inspiration comes from a sentence or a chord, as if an echo of a song is already waiting out there in the universe. All I then need to do is to pick it up or draw it in. I love this process very much. One more thing I wanted to share: At the end of my stay in May ’89 suddenly my singing stopped. I couldn’t sing one more song. It felt like a routine. I needed a break. I spent a couple of weeks in the art department painting on fabric which was then worked into clothes or bedspreads. (This break did not last very long, though. Back in Germany I became part of a band and played in Tao Meditation Centre and the Far Out disco in Munich.)
Crying, shaking and perspiring I sat down to write Osho a letter. I was in the process of leaving and felt guilty that I had turned down the invitation to go on the ‘Ah This!’ tour with Miten and Swagato. It felt as if I had let Osho down. I had absolutely no wish to be a ‘somebody in the world’. And I was scared of the wide open space in front of me; I felt like a bird leaving its nest but yearning to fly. On some unconscious level I think I knew that I was not going to be seeing Osho ever again. How would I find my way and make choices? How would I flower?
I like to share Osho’s answer with you – it is my ‘Bible’ to this day:
No need for any guilt
I want all my sannyasins to drop all guilt!
Follow your heart and your joy
No need for the fear
Only the mind fears
So relax – all flowering
Is in relaxation!
Six months later we musicians came together in Tao Centre to sing and play for his ‘Leaving the Body Celebration’ – I had just met Omesh and a whole new life chapter opened up for me.
Text by Pratibha
Lyrics, chords, sheet music, and three versions of the song can be heard on: sannyas.org/Nothing_Is_Said
Pratibha grew up in Denmark and took sannyas from Osho in Mt. Abu on 19th January 1974. She started to play the guitar and sing when she was 13 years old. She has sung for Osho and played in Music Groups and Evening Meditations. Since Osho left his body she has been singing and playing in various countries and a variety of settings: concerts, Heart Dance events and workshops. She has composed and produced three CDs: ‘Heartdance’, ‘Here with You’ and ‘Echo of a Star’. www.pratibha.dk