…left his body on 14th October 2016.
Prem Sarito (meaning ‘River of Love’, aka Andrew Young) was an architect, writer, painter and musician. He was born in 1927 in Northumberland, UK. His father was a mining engineer and lived for many years in India; there Sarito went to Bishop Cotton School, a boarding school in Shimla. At age 18 he was drafted into WWII and became a British Army Intelligence officer in Austria with the task of finding and arresting war criminals. Back in England he studied architecture in Newcastle and Durham. He met his first wife, Helen, in England where they got married but soon sailed to Australia, while his parents also moved there from India. Sarito and Helen have two daughters, Kate and Jane (both still living in Australia).
In Australia he worked with architect Harry Seidler; the architect office, still a start-up at the time, worked on the design of the Australia Square building in Sydney (1964) and won the comnpetition. He also worked in the USA (several skyscrapers and part of the University in San Diego, CA), the Middle East, Africa, India, Canada, Central America and the UK.
He dropped out of a lucrative career when one of his students asked him what he was doing with his life. In the early 70’s he went on the road as a hippy (for many years still going back to join his family at Christmas), met some sannyasins in California and after travelling through Asia he arrived in Pune in 1977 where he took sannyas. Until 1981 he worked in the kitchen and as a handyman in the boutique.
His expertise as an architect was highly appreciated in Rajneeshpuram where he became part of the architects’ office. He married Shavda, who ran Hotel Rajneesh in Portland for a while. After the Ranch closed they travelled for a bit and settled in Laguna Beach near San Diego, California, amongst friends from the Ranch and Pune. In 1988 Shavda moved to Guatemala, followed by Sarito the following year. There he built a small commune, called La Iguana Perdida, in Santa Cruz above Lake Atitlan, and retired to painting, writing, playing music; he also ran a small tourist hotel in the vicinity.
He died peacefully in his 90th year of life while making a cup of tea; his body was buried the following day in the local cemetery on a hill overlooking the lake, with much laughter, tears, poems and plenty of his beloved red wine…
Text and photos thanks to Bhagawati, Jane Young, Nirguna, Shavda, Mike Tallon, Deedle Ratcliffe, Stephanie Poulhes – artwork by Chris Waddington
The memorial for Sarito is at the Iguana on Monday 9th February at 2.30pm.
What a perfect way for a Zen Englishman to go: making a cup of tea! A little-known fact about Sarito is his Ranch alter ego ‘Stan’. It seems that in the early days Sheela hired an outside architect named Stan to get all the plans OKed by the county. As she was always interested in the latest plans, her usual questioning would revolve around “Hmm, what does Stan think?” Sarito, invariably would answer “Oh, Stan loves it.” Stan, of course, was long gone and out of the picture, unkown to Sheela. So those of us that had to deal with the plans would quiz ‘Stan’ about the details. Stan the Man, he who knows all…
Derek Peck writes on 16th October:
This beautiful soul of a man departed the earth last night. I feel fortunate to have met his spirit this time around and known him as a friend.
I disembarked on the shore of Lake Atitlan in ’94, in Santa Cruz La Laguna, and rented a small house from him in a tiny community he had started on a little piece of land at the lake’s edge. It was a simple structure, made out of plank wood and bamboo and petate, but with all the fine lines and details that a thoughtful architect would give it. It was my first experience of handmade houses, and I fell in love. It had no electricity or running water, but this just added to the charm for me. And for many months I lived there, experiencing a different life than I had ever known.
I arrived seeking a place to write, and, I later realized, to further uncover who I was and how I wanted to live this life. And it couldn’t have been a better spot. He had shelves lined with books by Jung, and Campbell, and Alan Watts, and many others by Bhagavan Shree Rajneesh, his teacher and guru, a curious man I had never heard of, but whose words I liked.
As the days and weeks passed, Sarito would bring books to read, share writings and poetry of his own, we would make tea, and dinner, and share a smoke on the porch at night. We had fires and sweats in the wood-burning sauna he’d made, and late-night swims in the lake. The small community of travelers living there became good friends and family.
Those first months changed my life, so much so that I consider that lake my spiritual home.
Sarito told great stories of his adolescence, and later travels, in India. Of various saints and gurus he encountered, and of course his guru, Osho.
There were also the stories of being drafted into World War Two at eighteen, of later becoming an architect, of discovering nudist colonies in Topanga and ashrams in India, of great loves and fleeting dalliances, spiritual and sexual journeys intertwined. He was a true Zorba the Buddha in the Osho teaching, the best of the West and East….
I went back to La Iguana many times, and watched a diverse community grow there, of artists and seekers, smugglers and merchants, retirees and new families. And Sarito was a kind of unofficial godfather. Over the years, he touched so many lives, from travelers passing through to others he helped get settled, find land, designed houses for, connected friends, mediated conflicts, and so on.
During my two most recent stays, it was through him that I met the man and the woman who would help me connect with Ram Dass to make a short film, which has been another life-changing gift.
Osho gave him his name, which means River, and he identified very much with the concept of flow, of not resisting life and allowing it to carry you, remaining non-attached but fully in the stream of being and experience, until returning to the great sea.
So here’s to you Babaji. What a beautiful incarnation it was. I’m so grateful to have known you for a part of your journey. May your soul continue on to its next adventure. Vaya con Dios.
River of Love – Osho talks to Sarito in darshan and explains his new name
Approaching Death – an essay Sarito wrote in 2009 for Osho World
More articles by Sarito published in Osho World: www.oshoworld.com
You can leave a message / tribute / anecdote using our contact form (please add ‘Sarito’ in the subject field)…