Dancing in darshan

'My Story' by Gayan

Gayan shares her moments when she danced in darshan for Osho and his disciples – and talks about her studies as a professional dancer. (‘My Story’ – part 1 of 4)

Gayan and Anurakta greet Osho
Gayan with Hasya
Shiva on camel at the Ashram gate
With fruit sellers in Koregaon Park
In Osho's library, working with Lalita
Dancing with Hina
Dancing for close-up darshan
A leaving darshan with Gayan dancing

I remember seeing you dance around Osho during the celebrations in Rajneeshpuram. Would you like to talk about that?

Dancing for Osho began for me in Pune 1, in Chuang Tzu Auditorium during a darshan. Osho had already started having mediums in darshan; Radha, for example, also Savita and Nirvano (then called Vivek), Osho’s caretaker. One evening Osho asked Hina to dance in darshan while he was doing some energy work on people – I was not there that evening, but heard about it afterwards. Hina is a classical Indian dancer trained in Bharatanatyam.

The next day Nirvano came to Osho’s library where I worked and asked, “By the way, do you know of anybody who knows how do dance?” I had never told anybody that I was a professional dancer. So, for a moment, I stood in front of Nirvano unable to open my mouth, but then managed to say, “Yes, actually I’m a dancer. I even have a professional education.” She was all excited and said, “Oh, let me have a look!” So then and there I made a few steps, a pirouette or something like that. After having watched me she said, “I will tell Osho.”

After a little while she came back and said to me, “Osho said you should come tonight and watch Hina dance.” So I went to darshan that night and sat in the front row. Hina danced across from Osho and to his sides, practically between the people sitting in darshan and the ones who had the close-up darshan. When people arrived or left they could have a special darshan; two people were asked to sit next to each other in front of Osho and he gave them energy holding his finger on their third eye.

When Hina started dancing – she does it very beautifully and I love that Indian dance style – I was so much into watching her that I didn’t see that Osho had called me to come forward. Shiva, who was sitting right beside him, tried to call my attention and motioned me to come up. I stood up and danced next to Hina. It was just beautiful, being so close to Osho, dancing in his darshan together with Hina.

You said you were working in the library, Osho’s library. How was it working there?

One of my jobs was to go and buy books for Osho in bookstores in Pune and Bombay. Lalita, who had done the job for years, didn’t want to go out anymore – it was actually quite tiring – and so passed it on to me when I joined her in the library.

I remember going to Bombay in the Ashram van – with Veetmoha as the driver – and others who also had errands to do in town. There was for instance Pratima, who always had a lot of publishing work to do. I went off on my own to bookshops and publishers and, at the end of the day, we all met at the Taj Mahal for coffee and snacks and then drove back together.

Did you get a list of the books that Osho wanted to read?

No, I had to choose the books for him. We had an agreement with different bookshops and publishers – in Poona and in Bombay – that I could take as many books with me as I wanted. They made a list of what I took. Osho would look at the books, make his choice and then whatever he didn’t want was returned and the ones he kept got paid.

I tried to feel, to sense what Osho liked. I had a rough idea, because working in the library and taking care of the filing system I had come to know the books we already had. So I could see what he liked and what he was interested in.

One day I got a message through Nirvano only to get the books that are of interest to Osho and if there were none available, not to get any. Sometimes it was frustrating not to be able to present anything worthwhile, but I understood that bringing uninteresting books was wasting his time unnecessarily.

On what occasion did you again dance for Osho?

After dancing with Hina I was asked to dance again the very next day. Before darshan I met Nirvano in Chuang Tzu hall and, according to what Osho wanted, we moved his chair a bit more to the side so that I had more space to dance. I would be on his right side, practically in Mukta’s spot so much so that Mukta would have to move back a bit. I started feeling a bit awkward, I must say. Why did I get this extra space? Why these changes? Why is there so much attention? It scared me a bit. I thought the dancing to be just a decorative thing!

In darshan Osho called me up before the dancing and touched my third eye. I danced beside him while the people that were leaving or had just arrived were seated in front of him. I was dancing there very happily and sat down again. Then Osho called me to sit in front of him together with Nirvano and he ‘zapped’ us – that’s how we called it – when he touched our third eye. That was an amazing darshan for me; I was totally spaced out by the end of it. I was literally blown away from getting so much energy from Osho.

And then the next day – I was standing on top of our library ladder putting books away – Nirvano came over saying, “There’s a message from Osho.” The message was that I was too good a dancer and that everybody was looking at me instead of him. This felt to me like a joke. Looking at me and not at him? I really had to try hard to hold back my laughter. Nirvano did not say anything further to that and walked away.

Many years later, when Osho answered one of my questions where I say what an incredible gift he had given me by letting me dance around him, he said that I must have thought that my dancing was just something decorative – that is exactly what I thought at the time, but never told anyone. It is nice to see these threads in our relationship with the Master. Nothing is ever lost, everything is taken care of and looked after. It is amazing. He expressed what had just slipped through my head. And then… he never forgets things.

In fact, it was hard for me to relate to what he said about me being too good and that everybody looked at me. My head couldn’t figure it out.

What do you think why he said that?

I don’t know.

To tease you?

For sure!

Are there more memories when you danced for Osho in darshan?

After that evening there was a little break – maybe weeks – until Nirvano asked me to come to darshan and that Osho would like me to dance the Indian way with bells around the feet and hands. “What?” was all I could say. Nirvano then said to me, “So, whenever you feel ready let me know and I will tell Osho.”

Ready means you had to learn how to dance Indian style?

I didn’t know how to dance Indian style at all. I immediately said to her, “No, let’s do it tonight,” because I was not going to learn that; it’s not something you learn in five minutes. I had a vague idea of the movements because I had been interested in Indian dance – I had looked at books and photos. But that was it. I said to Nirvano, “Okay, I will practise with the boys (the musicians) in the afternoon and if I feel it’s OK I will call you to come and have a look.”

I immediately went to see Hina and asked her, “Osho wants me to dance Indian style; do you have anything for me to wear?” She gave me a set of those bells one wears around wrists and ankles, the ghungroos, and also one of her costumes. I would have had the whole afternoon to practise, but I knew that I would not be able to learn this kind of dancing in such a short time.

In the afternoon I met up with Rupesh and Govindas, the musicians, in Chuang Tzu auditorium. I told them what Osho had asked me to do and that I needed their help. Rupesh, who played the tablas, was the one who had the best idea; he told me exactly what to do while dancing, because wearing the ghungroos one becomes part of the music. Ching, ching at every step…. He knew where he wanted to hear my chings and suggested to first let the music begin and then start dancing only when he came in with the tablas.

So we practised. I sat leaning against a pillar close to the musicians – that was going to be my ‘starting point’ – and when they went through their alaap I gently danced – without a ching – to the centre, in front where Osho was going to sit. Then, as planned, started dancing when the tablas came in.

At the beginning my dancing was awful, but after a while it became easier and easier. I started to get into the rhythm and the movements came by themselves. They were inspired by the music and by what I had seen others do. After some time Nirvano came out into the hall, looked at what I was doing and said, “OK, we can have this in the evening. I will tell Osho.”

And then came the evening. It was amazing, because everything just came so easy, even to move into position without making the bells jingle. And the dance came as if I had always done it. It felt as if it was something from way back, from another lifetime, I don’t know. Maybe it was something I had wanted to do for a long time and never had the chance to do before. It was very very beautiful and totally normal in a way – totally easy.

Did you get any feed-back?

No, Osho never said anything about it.

Maybe you would have wanted to learn Indian style dancing?

When I came to India I had no time for anything like that, it was not on my mind. It was all about being with Osho and meditating. And then the idea of doing a dance education was totally off the radar for me; I had just completed one.

When I came to Pune I participated in the Music Group in the evenings. I tried to dance but was too much caught up in the structure I had learned in ballet school that I felt very uncomfortable. I needed to come out of that. At some point I even stopped dancing in Music Group. I didn’t go for nearly a year, or even more. I was so involved in my life in the commune, my relationship with Shiva and the work in Osho’s library that I didn’t even miss it. When I broke up with Shiva I started hanging out with the musicians again and went to the Music Group. Then it was a different thing. I didn’t have those structures in me any longer and began to enjoy dancing around the Buddha Hall, finding my own dance.

Maybe at this point you need to tell us something about your dance education.

I started going to ballet classes when I was about ten – which is quite late – and this only for a few years because other things became more important, like hanging out and having fun with my schoolmates. I had a beautiful teacher. She used to be a solo dancer at the Hamburg Opera House. Her name was Lotte Lobenstein.

After finishing school – I was around 16 – I took a one-year course to become a beautician, because I didn’t know what else to do… Right after finishing the course I got an offer from a really fancy place. The night after I had received that offer, I had a strong dream. It was about dancing; suddenly I understood that I wanted to become a dancer. So next morning I went up to my mother and said, “I don’t want that job. I want to dance.” My parents were taken aback but were OK with it, and my mother called my old dance teacher, who said to her, “Madam, I have been waiting for this call for many years.” I didn’t understand why she had said that because I had never thought that I was particularly talented. I just loved to dance.

When we met – it was that same evening – she said to my parents, “It’s not a problem to start late. There is one thing that is more important. If you want to become a dancer you have to love it and there should be something inside of you that can be expressed through dance.” She also said that there were many famous dancers who had started late in their lives. So my parents allowed me to study ballet.

For about three years I studied in my hometown, Hamburg, under a friend of my teacher who had a school. Her name was Erika Klütz. She was a disciple of Mary Wigman, a famous name in the world of dance.

At one point my teacher said to me, “You should move to a warmer place. Hamburg is too cold for you.” It was true. I used to be sick a lot. So in the middle of my education I moved to Munich, where I studied at the Music High School, which is part of the Munich University. We trained at the Prinz Regenten Theater, which was not open as a theatre at the time because it was still pretty ruined from the war. We had a beautiful dance room there, and I had great teachers.

I finished my education when I was around 23 or 24 years old. So I must have studied dance for about five years all together. During the last year, after I passed my exam as a ballet dancer, I was also studying to become a ballet teacher because that suited me too. Then I became pregnant. I nearly went as far as getting my ballet teacher’s diploma, but couldn’t, because I gave birth to my daughter two days before the final test.

You then still worked professionally even with the child?

Yes, but I didn’t do much. I did a few things in the small, cute theatre of Eggenfelden, the town next to were I lived. There they were doing mainly operettes. I didn’t really start a career as a dancer because of the kid.

Were you sad about that?

No, not really, because to have a career in theatre – at least at the time – you had to sleep with this one and that one… much competition – I didn’t like that atmosphere. You had to be very political, competitive. My friends told me about the difficulties they had.

Your parents didn’t mind you giving up your career?

For them, I was doing everything wrong anyway. It was not only that I had a child out of wedlock; they even tried to convince me to abort the child. Yes, my parents were very unhappy with me, but I was not unhappy with my life.

After how long a time did you come to Pune?

When Hasya was about 1 year old, Anurakta, my daughter’s father, me and a few other people bought a farmhouse about 100km from Munich. That’s the place where I am living again. Two years later, a first group of people from the farm went to India, some overland and some by plane. When they came back they were all wearing orange. The next autumn they wanted to return to Poona; Anurakta bought a big bus and went overland with half the people of the farm. Hasya and I travelled some weeks later, but not overland! It was 1976 and Hasya was then 4 years old.

Did you go back to Germany after your first visit?

No, I never went back. I fell in love with Shiva. After he had asked the office if I could move in with him in Krishna House, where he had a room by himself, I started working in the ashram. First in the kitchen for about a year. Then came a message from Osho: that the kitchen was now finished for me and that I could come and work in his library, as soon as Anupama, who was working there, would be leaving for America.

Before I started working in the library Shiva and I were invited to live in Lao Tzu in one of the three little rooms where Osho’s books had been stored before. They were made into residential rooms. I got one together with Shiva while Lalita, Osho’s librarian, had the one next to us.

Gayan spoke with Punya

Read all parts of this interview in: ‘My Story’ by Gayan

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