Eknath & Tai Chi

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Pankaja writes about the video she made of an Indian sannyasin who loves, and is very good at Tai Chi.

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I came to India in December last year also to spend time in the Osho Meditation Resort. My favourite thing about being there is doing the morning tai chi class in Buddha Grove with Raj. So I did that every day, but the idea of being in India without making a film was not on! I love tai chi, and Eknath has that delicious flavour of paradox that I find irresistible…

Eknath was already one of the top students when I started doing tai chi with Raj (then Yogendra), must be 10 years ago. He’s small, quiet, gentle, and used to come every morning to the tai chi or chi gong class before going to his work in the telephone exchange. After 4 o’clock keener or more ‘advanced’ students would meet with Yogendra to practice sword and sabre forms, and Eknath would always be there too. I was really impressed with him because he was such an unassuming person – and didn’t seem to be at all the sort of type to do martial arts, but he was really good!

I remember once his father came to visit, also a really gentle, sweet man, with that same Indian heartfulness. We were all (about 7 of us) learning a sabre form to perform during a festival, and I couldn’t get it right. Eknath went over it with me again and again to help me remember the moves, which helped a lot, though what probably helped most was that we did the performance in darkness, just lit by candles, so my mistakes were well camouflaged!

I’ve never met any other sannyasin called Eknath – but just remember Osho’s story about the musician who would only play the flute alone, in the night. He was the greatest musician of all, but to hear him you had to wait silently, by the river, in the darkness… It was this contrast between the quiet man working in the telephone exchange, and the ardent student learning these gentle yet powerful movements that made me want to make a film about him.

It was great that Raj helped us to film in Osho Teerth park, and I could film him doing push hands with Eknath, and talking about how in Pune we try to make tai chi into an energy art, a meditation, rather than a martial art. I also recorded doctor Manish playing the flute, as a musical accompaniment.

Text and video by Pankaja

Pankaja-Brooke2Pankaja (Panky) spent a year studying at the very first London Film School and wrote 4 published novels before taking sannyas in the early seventies. She has been part of Osho’s communes, mainly in Pune, until Osho left his body. After several years travelling around various parts of the world she settled back in London. Now that it is possible to shoot and edit an entire film by oneself she has resumed that longed for career. Her films have been shown at film festivals round the world, a couple receiving a Special Mention. pankajabrooke.com

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