(28 June 1947 – 23 January 2018)
Parmanand (aka Parma, Dino, Gerardo Zannella) was initiated into sannyas first with his old name, Dino, and later he received the name Parmanand, that’s why some of his old friends still know him as ‘Dino’.
In Pune 1 he worked in the kitchen and as a handyman. He was also part of the commune in Oregon, where he worked in the welding shop, and back in Pune 2, where he was a main gate guard. He recently lived near the Miasto Commune helping out here and there, but also spent a good part of the year in Goa.
Another name Parmananda had was ‘calimba man’. About fifteen years ago he started a business making calimbas and selling them at markets and fairs not only in Italy but also in Goa (Arpora and Anjiuna). In his calimbas you could see the passion of an artist. They were all handmade and are of beautiful, special design.
He loved meditations like Vipassana and later the Mystic Rose but was much less keen on therapy groups. He was more of a Zorba; he loved to play, he loved good food and wine, good company, football, poker and much more. He has always been a devoted disciple of Osho. He loved his Master very much.
Parmananda loved to crack jokes and gave nicknames to everyone. He even used to call Osho ‘il vecchio’, meaning ‘the old man’ (the wise man).
He was always teasing us teenies in Poona 2. We nicknamed him ‘Gandhi’ just to tease him back! He worked with us in the bakery and that was so much fun!
Other friend, Asupta, remembers:
We used to call him ‘Parmalat’ – by the name of a leading Italian milk and dairy producer.
Parma could also be very grumpy but he had the quality to switch over very quickly and give you big smile and lots of love. He loved to laugh, he loved music and every kind of beauty – in a woman as in nature or in a bird… He was friends with many of Osho’s musicians.
On one of his journeys he was in Prag, which was still part of the East block. There he sold his blue jeans to Russians in order to go to Pune. He was always a great traveller. I think he had been a bit all over the world, for sure I know he was un Afganistan, Thailand, Costa Rica, Mexico, USA, but he always loved to come back to India.
He was also a great supporter of young people. Pradeep writes:
I met him in December 1993 on my first day upon arrival at the ashram. I had just gotten inside and a friend was showing me the locker space and there was Parmanand. He looked at me and immediately his face lit up, happy to see a new young man that had just arrived. He gave me a big smile, then a high five, and as a welcome, said, “Accha, and buona onda” – Great, a good wave. We have been friends since.
Parmananda died in Tuscany, Italy.
Text thanks to Pradeep, alerts credit to Upchara, Mega, Devakrishna
The chipmonk story
One Goan morning I found a dead chipmonk on the kitchen floor. It had died from eating rat poison the goans put out to keep the tree rats at bay. I was woken by high-pitched sweaks coming from way up in the rafters and thought there was a bird’s nest.
As I put on my shoes a tiny chipmunk landed splat on the tiled floor almost between my feet. Its eyes were still closed as it sniffed left and right squeaking desperately looking for its mother. It had just fallen four meters to the tiled floor, I was amazed by its imperative to survive and how life just keeps surging forward not matter what!
Hand to the floor, palm up, I tried to pick it up but instead it nuzzled between my fingers looking for a teat! So I mixed some water and powdered milk and attempted to spoon feed it and it attempted to drink. I went to a woman next door and enquired if she had a glass dropper. She told me her friend arriving that afternoon was an animal vet who amazingly specialized in these small animals, so I went back that afternoon taking the little chipmunk with me.
For the next two weeks I carried it around in a front pocket of my track suit top circled by my hands to keep its body temperature constant. These little things burn hot and have a fast metabolism, but it survived, and grew, and presented me with the next step which was: what to do with it as I was leaving in a week!
Parmanand had arrived a week or so ago and having just discovered the cancer in his body was quite freaked out and desperate, knowing he had to finally go West and face a world he had never managed to handle. A few days later I took the chipmonk along to see if he wanted to take care of it after I left. I told him its story and he was overjoyed and touched and said yes.
He attached a hollowed-out coconut to the top of a stick, placed it in the middle of a mattress with a mosquito net around it and so fashioned a small nest. He was a carer and it became his friend. Before I left I went to see the two of them and with tears in his eyes he told me how grateful he felt to this little animal and saying that caring for it had saved his life!
I visited Parmanand’s house in Goa – it was full of pumpkins. They were there to dry in order to make his calimbas. Then one day he adopted a baby chipmonk. It was beautiful to see him in the role of mothering, so loving and caring to the squirrel.
One day while feeding it, the chipmonk bit him in the finger and would not let go his grip. Parma shouted and screamed, swearing from the pain, and of course I was in tears of laughter. Then it started eating the pumpkin shells which were meant to make the calimbas. Parma was not happy about it, the chipmonk grew, became more energetic, so Parma understood it was time to put it back into nature.
Anand means bliss, dino means religion: a religion of bliss, a philosophy of bliss.
Bliss is my basic message. If you can be blissful you will automatically be good. In the past it has been said again and again that if you are good you will be rewarded by bliss. That is utterly wrong. Bliss is not a reward; goodness is a consequence. When a person is blissful he is naturally good, he need not practise it, because a blissful person cannot create any misery for anybody. Only the miserable creates misery for others, because we can only give to others that which we have and that which we are. The moment you are feeling blissful you can bless the whole existence.
So the past and its teachings have been very topsy-turvy; hence man has remained unchanged. We have to put things right.
Learn to be blissful. And don’t bother about virtue, goodness, saintliness; forget all about them! If you can manage only one thing – to be tremendously blissful, blissful moment to moment – then all those qualities will follow you like a shadow.
The word ‘dino’ comes from a root, an Arabic root: din. Din can mean religion; it can also mean faith, it can also mean trust, but those are all the meanings included in the word ‘religion’.
Osho, Zorba the Buddha, Ch 12 – 12 January 1979
Letters to friends
About ten years ago Parmanand underwent five sets of chemotherapy. During that time he corresponded with Devakrishna who then, with his permission, published it on his website otoons.com. We translated two of the emails as they reflect his humour but also his deep insights.
Hello Krishna, nice to hear your creativity is going well. It’s nice to hear from you. I had my third chemo and everything is fine, the levels are high. It’s hard, but my system is reacting well. I live my normal life; I eat, work and fucking is very good. With the kalimbas it’s going well, there is so much energy to always make more beautiful ones. Well, I have never been so sensitive with myself. The chemo is becoming my teacher. I still have to do three more, but I am trusting, even if I do not take anything for granted. This is what gives me the here and now, as never before. Fuck… the cancer… It’s hard to say but it’s a profound experience, and life is always more than beautiful. I think that without the Master it is almost impossible to face it this way. Again another challenge – and all with a big laughter inside. I’m thinking of selling the chemo as Viagra, even if one has to go through it, at least one comes away with a hard-on – another big laughter. I leave you now, a kiss to that beautiful flower that is Meera. So much love,
Ciao Krishna, nice to hear from you, you are also helping me. Life is more than beautiful, although my dick is sleeping since 15 days. The last chemo lowered my sexual energy but has increased my mood a lot. I am doing the markets, not bad but I still have to find the right markets. Tomorrow I will be going to get my 4th fill of chemo – shit – I feel like I am at a gasoline station; luckily here in Italy it all comes free of charge. I planted some pumpkin seeds and they are growing. How beautiful. What a situation… I am forgetting that I have cancer. End of October when the chemo will be finished it will be more relaxing. And so far so fucking good! Greetings and much love to you and Meera,
Anugyan sends a series of photographs taken with daughter Zoe and Parmanand at a dinner in Goa. Clearly Zoe wasn’t so sure of his intentions and had to be persuaded to give up the mosquito repellent.
And here follows Parmanand’s letter to Anugyan after their meeting in Goa:
Ciao … minchia wery good … you became father end me gran father … life is gest … wen you call me i wos wery sorprise … end also i neeed mangiare … but wery happy to ear from you … on the picter you both looch wery happy … facching good … end i really min facching good … so whith live one never no … me i almost die … end you hawe a baby … now im wery good whit my bodhy the cancer cialo … end i hawe wife … is not this a mistery … end also regular job … facch after 32 year i really did it … but for me no kidt … to let … i cat my bool long ago … so grate anu … i send you both a lot of love … ciao parma…
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In few passages of life we have been close. I still feel your heart. I am touched from your departure, it affects me deeply.
Divine Dino, what a gorgeous human being. I remember your laughter and cheekiness way back from the days in the welding shop at Rajneeshpuram. I look to the sky and watch for your flight… So much love to you,
Ah Dino, I had wondered what had become of you, but not expecting to find you here! We worked together in the juice bar in the restaurant in Pune 1 when I knew you and you taught me much about the science of juicing. We laughed a lot but the one amazing memory I have was of you crying when the weird guy threw a knife at Bhagwan. We were working, so missed discourse that morning, but when we heard about it you spent the whole day making juice with tears running down your cheeks. Then I knew you for the softie you really were! A moment in time I will never forget. Thank you. I remember you with love. See you in the light someday!
Another beautiful fellow traveller has left. Deeply touched in tears, love you Dino,
Oh, sweet man, you will be missed! Your loving heart, your humor, your love for the master… You always stay in my heart!