Remembering Neera who died 7 years ago today, on 12th April 2009.
by Rashid, read at Neera’s send-off on 17th April 2009
The beautiful singer, who many of you will know, or will have heard, was diagnosed with cervical cancer over a year ago…
Neera, 47, took sannyas in 1983. Although she always enjoyed singing, it was in Rajneeshpuram that a shift happened. Shortly after participating in the Tantra group, she was on the truck farm listening to the radio, when she opened her mouth, and found with amazement a voice emanating from her belly in a way like never before. This stayed with her, she found herself singing all the time and from then onward singing became her path.
She travelled between Poona and Japan for 18 years. She sang in the music for the Evening Meeting in the Resort and was part of Oshoba. You will hear her on the beautiful recording made in the Resort of Osho Gurdjieff’s Sacred Dances and on the Heart Dance recording Wild Dances and Silent Songs. She has also recorded with Prem Joshua (No Goal but the Path), Ravi, Chinmaya, and Pramada (Terra Incognita), with Satyadharma (Travelling Light) and with her band in Japan (Baul Essentials), as well as Milarepa (Lotus Paradise), with whom she toured many times. She has travelled “with music” over the world.
She says, “What I’m into is the ‘isness’ of it – the way the voice touches the very core of being. What has fascinated me is to bring that ‘isness’ of meditation into singing. There I find the truth of it. Osho has been my song master as well as my meditation master. Who could wish for better? Ultimately it goes beyond all of that. I’m intensely grateful for that journey. I don’t know where else on the planet you could have such a mystic journey with singing – or indeed any field. I’m eternally grateful that that’s been my path. I can’t think of a more beautiful one.”
Since moving to Devon in July 2008, she had entranced the local sannyas community and friends at gatherings, sharing her being and voice whenever she was able.
Neera left her body not long after dawn on Sunday 12th April. She had spent the night, surrounded by her partner Dinraj, family and friends – with music, silence, laughter, love, being held. She left very peacefully, her breath simply stopped. And she looked radiant.
Neera’s own eulogy
In November Neera 2008 wrote how she would like her obituary to read.
It was left sealed unread until she died.
She lived, she loved, she danced, she sang.
She had moments of pain too,
Not understanding that there were lessons being learned,
And yet she would change none of it.
Finally arriving where it all merged into one,
Grateful for the lessons,
The successes and the failures,
Knowing that ultimately none of it matters
And all that is left is love & presence
And if she could say anything, she would say that.
And thank you to all her beloveds
And forgive me for any hurts I may have caused
Through her lack of awareness, for we are all here
Together in this beautiful game.
And always and above all else, touched being, this, now here, the thread that runs through it,
And never dies.
Om, Love… on and on and on… forever.
How would apple blossoms sound?
by Punya, published in Osho in UK in March 2009
A friend told me over lunch at the ‘Vegi’ in Zurich one November day that I should rush back to Pune and leave my temporary money-making job in Switzerland because he suspected that Osho would not be much longer in his body. He also told me of the incredible music which accompanied Osho’s entry to the meditation hall to greet us all before the White Robe Meditation.
On the first evening I heard the samba beats – the low huge drum beats and the mosquito-like high-pitched scattered sounds of tambourines and agogos. Astonishingly, where one would expect a solo by an electric guitar or a flute, there was a soprano voice. I was not sure at the beginning if I liked it – was it not too high? But the purity of the sound which reminded me of the voices in a children’s choir made the hair on the back of my neck stand up – and this was what the music was meant to do. (You can hear what I mean on the first track of the video below.)
Watch on YouTube – video compiled by Anand Viru, a fellow musician, one of Neera’s many friends in Japan.
After a few months I took the courage to appear with my bag of small percussion instruments and to start playing with the big boys – and this was when I met Neera. I was welcomed by her in the musician’s room, which still daunted me, and she gave me some good advice after I had been rejected to play with one of the groups. (It is interesting to see how feeling inferior, as a musician, made me loose my perspective and interactive skills!)
“Punya, just play with those who enjoy your company and invite you. There is no need to force yourself onto others. There are plenty of opportunities.” Such wise words from this girl! They became my constant reminder and they still come back to me in my everyday work life.
I mentioned the word ‘girl’ as, close to her, I never felt much older than fourteen. So much giggling, but there was silence as well. Once we sat on the marble wall of the porch outside the musician’s room, resting back to back. Slowly, slowly I had a feeling of pink rose petals penetrating my back and then filling my whole body. I looked back in astonishment and saw Neera still resting against me. “Of course,” I said out loud, “I should have known that such a beautiful voice can only come out of a beautiful person!”
Neera returned from Japan where she was busking on the streets of Tokyo and was then ‘discovered’ by a film producer. She told me the man was impressed that they could leave the recording studio after such a short time: “one take was enough.” It had never happened to him in his career! “You cannot improve on perfection!” I would have told him.
Now my percussion instruments rest in banana boxes in my cellar here in Glasgow from where I regularly update this site and Neera is in Devon in the south of the UK. It is not the music which in the past had taken her to India, Japan and the rest of the world which brought her here this time but, sadly, her ill health. A year ago she was diagnosed with cancer and she moved back to her homeland with her partner of seven years, Dinraj, to stay closer to her friends and family and to hopefully find the best care.
Reading through these notes I realise that I have almost portrayed her as a saint. But I know – and all her friends know – that sometimes she can have a terrible character indeed! And she herself agrees with that! (Neera insisted I add this paragraph!)
Related article on Osho News
Adarsha’s Medley – His Gift
Neera on Sannyas Wiki
The Thread Runs Through It available on itunes
Lotus Paradise with Milarepa, available on oneskymusic.com
Neera sings The universe is singing a song (video)
Neera sings I am touched by your beauty (video)
Neera’s Farewell Celebration video by Sammoda