Bhagawati interviews Nirava en route from Bali to Corfu.
It’s not often that an entire family from abroad comes to visit us on Bali, so meeting up with Prem Nirava, her husband Gabriel and their endearing toddler Serafin was a charming and rare event. Naturally the idea came up to do an interview about her life so far.
A basic question first – where were you born and where did you grow up?
In a small village in Ticino, the Italian part of Switzerland, which to me is a magic part of the country where the presence of the nature is still so much bigger than the human one.
Many of our readers know your uncle Kalyan [cellist] – was it because of him being a sannyasin that you wanted to find out more about Osho?
Yes, his stories about Pune made me curious. The way people lived together meditating and participating in intense group processes fascinated me. He also was the first person who told me about meditation. That helped me a lot to deal with my daily problems as a teenager and awakened the interest to go deeper in this practice.
He also introduced me to the subtle quality of music born out of silence, to his own creations and mantras and to the music of Deva Premal and Miten, which I often listened to and felt inspired by.
When and where did you take sannyas?
After I finished school at age 19 I decided to travel to Pune because I wanted to experience the place myself. It was my first trip alone and India and the ashram were quite a challenge! The first thing I did right after arriving was an all-night AUM meditation – and it was a pretty strong experience for me.
I stayed for two months and did two more groups. After that I felt that this field was too much for me and I continued travelling to Australia and Thailand.
10 years later I connected again with Osho and the sannyas field during a holiday on Corfu. Singing with Deva, Miten and Manose “In the light of love”… it was an amazing week of joy, opening, crying, melting, inspiration, connection and dancing. The singing, the Osho talks and the beautiful place opened my heart so much that I felt a strong longing to take sannyas.
So I walked straight up to Miten and asked if he had a name for me. He answered, “I clearly get the name Prem Nirava but right now I do not remember what it means. I have to ask Deva about the meaning first.” When he told me later that it means “love and deep silence” I was profoundly touched and felt a real sense of re-connection to my essence. Some months later I was at the festival in Miasto in Italy and spontaneously a good friend of mine said, “You did not have a real sannyas celebration yet!”… and there I was dancing and celebrating in the full Buddha Hall!
How did you and Gabriel meet – and when did you decide to travel in search of…?
Gabriel and I got to know each other on the very last day of Gabriel’s university career. It was a goodbye aperitif-gathering at the Institute for Psychology where we both studied. I still had 3 more years to go until graduation; this was exactly 10 years ago. And we spoke about India. He had travelled throughout India for almost one year but did not have the courage to visit the ashram in Pune. I had been to Pune and did not have the courage to travel all through the county… and so we had a lot to talk about and share.
What followed is a beautiful and intense love story with lots of up and downs, a strong growth process, and a natural and a spiritual child: Serafin and Herzzeit. Both are our living teachers and were born out of our shift time, when we decided to leave our jobs as psychologist and psychotherapist. In the beginning there was just a strong calling (especially for Gabriel) for a new and more connected life. Our hearts told us that there must be more than just having a comfortable life in Switzerland. So we went on the journey – which was much more challenging than we expected. We had to deal with fears, insecurity and questions we had no answers for – such as “what are you looking for?” After two years the search is not over but we are much more relaxed in it and open to more possibilities.
Anything to say about your time on Bali?
It was our second visit to Bali. The first time we were simply astonished about the beauty of the people and the country. We travelled over the island and jumped into the colourful spiritual life in Ubud. This time we consciously went back to visit good friends who also have a child and affirm Bali as the best place to raise children in a conscious and healthy way. We like it a lot too – yet to be permanently living there it feels too far away from our family and friends.
Would you say something about your life with Serafin?
Oh wow, this was and still is the most intense, amazing, existential, challenging and magic experience life could give us! And it is really true that life changes completely… we couldn’t believe it when people told us that before – priorities, resources, feelings, role changes. And so we are in this shift looking where life wants us to be as a family.
Serafin is our teacher in living the presence and wonder and enjoying all what life has to offer. He is amazing.
What is it you like to do with your creativity?
Living every day in a creative way! I cannot do any different. But I also have a wish to focus my creativity more on Herzzeit or another specific creative project. Let’s see…
Can you say some more about Herzzeit?
Herzzeit means heart time. On this website we present Herzzeit people who are able to create heart spaces through their work or just by their being. We also present Herzzeit places all around the world which support a deep connection in life. The main goal of this website is to inspire and help people to build trust in that a more alive and joyful life and world is possible, and to help create a community of like-hearted people all over there world.
Please elaborate on the heart spaces too!
Heart spaces are for us moments when the chatting of the mind gets quiet and the door to higher vertical levels of existence opens up. At the same time soft, warm and welcoming energy spreads out and connects our hearts on a horizontal level. A feeling of expansion, being touched, interconnection, trust, depth, pure intention, joy, craziness and truth rises. For us this is the moment when the horizontal and the vertical meet, the controlling of the ego disappears and the heart remembers that there is much more… this is what we are looking for!
In our opinion the phrase “follow your heart” is often misunderstood as merely following one’s desires and doing whatever feels good. In Herzzeit we want to go much deeper. We experience the heart as a door to higher levels of consciousness and to the source of existence. The heart knows what the mind can never understand. Beyond the mind there is much more; the divine energy and intelligence is so immense, intense, colorful and joyful – a power that blows all our understandings and beliefs. Through our hearts we can connect to this source and bring it down to earth, thus creating a new way of being and living.
You always enjoy being on Corfu; any ‘plans’ what’s next?
In Corfu there is a beautiful Buddhafield that grows year after year, more and more. Right now there are 7 seminar/meditation/yoga centres in the region and a new magic place for festivals right amid the olive trees.
After all the travels this year and the quite intense work in building up our internet platform where we collect heart spaces we are in Corfu to just enjoy our family time and all what this field offers.
We don’t have any concrete plans what we will do after the summer, maybe we go back to Switzerland and see what will open up there – we will find out in the next weeks.
Interview by Bhagawati