(10 May 1941 – 24 April 2017)
Pravasi’s Memorial will be held on June 18, from 1pm sharp until 5pm, at the Fairfax Women’s Club (now called Fairfax Recreation Center), 46 Park Rd, Fairfax, CA 94930
An article in The New York Times on May 12, 2017 alerted us that Deva Pravasi (aka Nicholas Sand) died of a heart attack at his home in Lagunitas, California, where he lived with his long-time companion, Usha.
Pravasi’s has been a colourful life that included his involvement with psychedelic drugs since he was a young man. The New York Times in their long exhaustive article about him, wrote:
“One day in 1964, Nicholas Sand, a Brooklyn-born son of a spy for the Soviet Union, took his first acid trip. He had been fascinated by psychedelic drugs since reading about them as a student at Brooklyn College and had experimented with mescaline and peyote. Now, at a retreat run by friends in Putnam County, N.Y., he took his first dose of LSD, still legal at the time. Sitting naked in the lotus position, before a crackling fire, he surrendered to the experience. A sensation of peace and joy washed over him. Then he felt himself transported to the far reaches of the cosmos.
“I was floating in this immense black space,” he recalled in the documentary “The Sunshine Makers”, released in 2015. “I said, ‘What am I doing here?’ And suddenly a voice came through my body, and it said, ‘Your job on this planet is to make psychedelics and turn on the world.’”
He became well-known in the sixties producing vast quantities of the purest LSD on the market. His most celebrated product, known as Orange Sunshine for the colour of the tablets it came in, became a signature drug – at the time legal. (LSD was banned in the USA in 1967.) He was planning to produce 750 million Orange Sunshine tablets. It also was available to American soldiers fighting in Vietnam, whose minds Pravasi hoped to bend in the direction of nonviolence and brotherly love.
“Orange Sunshine was Mr. Sand’s ticket to a life on the run. For years he raced to stay a step ahead of federal agents, and after being convicted on drug and tax-evasion charges, he hid in Canada for two decades under an assumed name. Eventually, after being arrested and unmasked, he was returned to the United States, where he served six years in prison.”
From Canada Pravasi must have made it to Pune. We remember him happily working in the hydroponic greenhouse he helped set up, located in what is now called Lane Number 3 in Koregaon Park, close to the No. 70 property the ashram had rented.
Later he lived in Rajneeshpuram and end of 1985 relocated to Canada to avoid criminal pursuit by federal agents and where he eventually created a large lab to make LSD and other psychedelic drugs on a grand scale. The lab was raided in 1996 and he pleaded guilty to manufacturing drugs in Canada. As he was a fugitive from justice, his prison term was to run parallel with his US sentence and he was returned to San Francisco. In 2001 he was released to a halfway house and completed his parole in 2005. (More details available in The New York Times article by William Grimes.)
“In an interview in 2009 for a National Geographic documentary on LSD, he estimated that he had manufactured about 30 pounds of it over the course of his career, enough for nearly 140 million doses. […]
“I have a vision,” he wrote in The Entheogen Review in 2001, outlining a future in which the police would be replaced by “guides, friends, helpers and lovers” and the human race would ascend to “a new level of consciousness” through psychedelic drugs.
“That is what I have seen in my visions, and that is what I have been working for all of my life,” he added. “That is what I will continue to do until my last breath.”
- LSD and Meditation: The Turning Point – Subhuti talks about his experience with LSD, and its limitations, and reminisces about Pravasi who died a few days ago
- Man is a stranger on the earth – Pravasi’s sannyas darshan on December 5, 1978
- Dreamworld and reality – a selection of quotes where Osho talks about LSD, drugs in general, alcohol and meditation
- External link to collection of material about Nicholas Sand: belhistory.weebly.com
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Pravasi had a house with lots of land near here in Vilcabamba the last 6-7 years together with Usha. They came and went, and sometimes we met up at gatherings. What a trip (literally) he was – lol! His work in Pune 1 with the hydroponic organic farming was really important at the time, as we were so compromised and polluted by all the DDT that was commonly used on the veggies in India at the time (amazing we all managed to stay relatively healthy, when you think of it – but I know we all took on a lot of heavy metal poisoning that we had to cleanse). Anyway, Pravasi – you’re tripping fantastic right now, and lots of love is flowing your way…
Pravasi was in Pune at the same time as me, so I must know him, but time has changed so much! His is an interesting story, with a great vision; for sure he was never a criminal. Many people are thankful for that time, for having had only great memories. Thank you very much, Pravasi, see you soon,
A hero in his own right!! I never knew he was such a gutsy guy!!