(29 May 1945 – 20 July 2018)
Parmartha (Clive Critchley) was born into the post-war, baby boomer generation. He came from a working-class, military family – but was able to go to grammar school and spend seven years as a student, getting a degree in philosophy and economics at the LSE – where one of his tutors was Karl Popper – with further degrees in social work and education, for which he considered himself, and the rest of his generation, extremely lucky.
He was brought up as a Methodist, which coloured his strong commitment to social service and inclusiveness – he was interested in politics from when he was very young, and was a keen member of Bristol Young Socialists. His grandfather apparently took the King’s shilling and fought in the Boer War and the Great War, and his father was a sergeant major in WW2, famous throughout Bristol as ‘The Mouth’ – because his voice carried miles when drilling the troops, and also because he could be heard above all the other spectators at the Bristol football ground!
Clive’s take on this intense militarism was to join the Scouts, where he achieved the distinguished title of Queen Scout by dint of numerous training courses which included camping out and surviving in wild country, as well as voluntary service to the local community and good causes. It is apparently a prestigious award that is not easy to get. Kim Wells, his longtime friend and companion on many walking holidays, remembers one time in Ireland when they had been walking in the pouring rain for hours when Parmartha turned to him and said, “This is the life!”
Maybe some of this same stoicism helped him in the work he undertook later as senior shop steward at Medical Foundation for Victims of Torture, where he worked for many years, using horticulture as a healing modality. When he asked me to write about his life, Parmartha suggested getting in touch with one of his colleagues there who, he said, knew him better than anyone.
Jochen told me that they worked together for ten years, and Clive never missed a Wednesday, rain, shine or snow – but they knew nothing about each other. “I didn’t even know about his sannyas name. Stories are the past. It’s the same with the clients – their story of torture is a big screen between us… remove the screen, don’t go there, stay with nature… Just start digging, planting things, and if they start talking, fine.”
In October 1974, aged 29, having met a pretty sannyasin girl at a party, he followed her and the zeitgeist of the time, and took the overland route to India. Osho (then Bhagwan) advised him to take his time about taking sannyas, and he didn’t take the jump until later in London, when he was given the name Swami Anand Parmartha, which means ‘deepest meaning of bliss”, by mail.
He was very attractive to women, and had many lovers, but was not given to long relationships – though for a short while he lived with Pauline, and in 1969 they had a son, Matthew, together. However she thought, as many people did in those days, that joining a cult and wearing orange clothes with beads round his neck was a sign of madness. So he had no contact with his son for many years, though they did finally meet again just before he went into hospital.
In 1978 his younger brother, Colin, who had been living off the land, with no electricity, in County Kilkenny, followed him to Poona. He was given the name Prabhupada, and after a few months was told by Osho to return and set up a centre in Ireland. On the way back, overland, he got sick and died in hospital in Istanbul, aged 28. Their mother died a year later probably from shock, and Parmartha had to bear the colossal burden of the family pain… which was always there between him and his father. In search of some sort of healing from the devastating impact of his brother’s death, Parmartha went to Ireland himself and spent several months living in his brother’s self-sufficient agricultural commune.
He loved kids and worked in a Children’s Home at one time, and as a teacher and parent figure in the Kid’s House at Medina – the English sannyasin commune in Suffolk where he spent some years during the 80’s. But he was also quite a Jack the Lad in his younger years – always knowing where to find the parties, and he ran the sannyas disco in Hamburg with great success, where he was known as Disco Papa. He was also an accomplished pianist, and enjoyed acting and putting on plays and revues in Kalptaru, the centre in London.
He was always looking for a way to help individuals and society in general – firstly through politics, education and social work – but after he met Osho and took sannyas he included meditation as an essential ingredient. For many years he was the kingpin of sannyas life in London, organising sporting and meditation events, including Dynamic, Kundalini, and silent sitting as well as silent meditation walks on the South Downs.
As well as the strong military influence, he was quite proud that his great-grandfather was apparently a well-known Victorian detective! Parmartha himself had something of a penchant for investigative work, which can be seen in his determination to get at the truth of important aspects of sannyas history, especially around what happened at the Ranch, where he spent nearly a year working in the tool shop. It was in the tool shop that he met Sigrid, a painter from Vienna, and they remained friends and lovers for many years, meeting for holidays and – as she expresses it – learning from Osho that love has nothing to do with time and space. She says that she had nothing but “joy, joy, joy” from Parmartha, and he will be forever in her heart.
Once back in London his response was to try to ensure there was a means for ordinary sannyasins to express their views and share their experiences, an ‘alternative view of sannyas’, as it were. Also to provide a means to bring people together, to create a community – for which he was eminently qualified, having a natural ability to relate to all kinds of people. Hence the newspaper, ‘Here and Now’ and the online magazine Sannyasnews, which he ran for many years with his dear friend Dharmen (Brian), who died last year. Believing that freedom of speech is vitally important he ignored any suggestion he follow the party line – simply ignoring letters from Pune telling him to close the site down.
Over the past few years he has endured health problems without complaint, including an enlarged prostate which meant that he was sometimes unable to pee. At one point the pressure was so intense he tried to walk to his local hospital, but collapsed on the pavement. When he woke up with a catheter in place to drain the excess fluid the relief was so intense that he said it was like a satori!
In many ways he was the quintessential Englishman – stable, reliable, decent, down to earth, a keen and very competitive sportsman, playing football, tennis, cricket – but always with a strong sense of fair play. He told his friend Chris that he felt he had not wasted his life, and was not afraid of dying. He wanted to say that this quote from Baden Powell, the founder of the Scout movement: “A scout smiles and whistles under all difficulties” is something he has lived by throughout his life. He had no time for what he described as ‘bells and whistles’ – which included the candles and gongs his friend Navajat introduced into their latest meditations. And he was very sceptical about people getting enlightened – “It’s just another story, another thing that happens.”
This might give an impression of an Englishman with a very stiff upper lip – but to everyone who knew him, Parmartha was not at all like this, he was very soft, very open and full of care and love. As one of the clients at Freedom From Torture, who had been beaten up by burly Russian guards for years and was terrified of everyone said, “He is a big man, but he is so kind.”
Parmartha died with three close friends by his side – Clive (Jitendra), Vartan, and Nishigandha.
A celebration of Parmartha’s life, with a final farewell, will take place at the St Marylebone Crematorium, East End Road, Finchley, London, N2 0RZ, at 12 noon on Wednesday, August 15.
Text by Pankaja
Read the tributes read during Parmartha’s Celebration
You can leave here a message / tribute / anecdote by writing to web (at) oshonews (dot) com (pls add ‘Parmartha’ in the subject field)…
Thanks for everything.
You made a difference.
Remembering Parmartha in Rugmere, he was the sanest of all of us at the time! He was strong but sensitive. I will always remember he had a jar of ‘Coarse cut’ marmalade. Vinita wrote ‘fuck off’ on it as a joke (ref ‘coarse’ marmalade) and Parmartha thought for weeks that she didn’t like him! A great person,
Christine (ex Devapriya)
Many thanks, Big P, for your unique creation Sannyas News.
The cosmic umpire raises his finger.
The batsman leaves the crease.
A fine innings.
Well played, sir!
Farewell Parmatha. I first met Prams in Rugmere when I was working in Kalptaru, than ended up sharing the flat in Rugmere with him, Chris and Arten. We were in Poona together a few times, and we kind of lost physical touch when I came back to live on the West coast of Ireland. We kept in touch by email. I went to visit him two monthes ago with his dear friend Mr. Akass, when I was in London visiting Neeraj and Pankaja. We had a meal together at Subhadra… and… this is the end, my friend… for the moment. Travel safe, I’ll miss your quiet presence… all my love.
Parmartha, My beloved Editor at www.sannyasnews.org
Other than at facebook, sannyasnews is the only site where I have poured my heart through my words.
Surely will miss this unique English Swami. Many times He edited my articles so smoothly with just a bit of change and I was asking, My God, is this the piece I have written?
Sannyasnews is the only sannyasin site where readers can write their comments and discuss matters sometime as brutal as in the boxing ring.
Many times I have written the way Parmartha was running Sannyasnews is the way to run Osho Commune. He has the knack to adjust contradictory views in a garland of free speech and expressions.
I never thought
You would go
What card you had been dealt
Shows you how much I know about no-mind
I have an excellent detective on the case to find if your last will and testament leaves an inner circle of 21.
Parmartha Conan Doyle.
And the SN coffers have three shillings and tuppence to hire a Swiss lawyer.
Your legacy is in safe hands!
Thanks for all you did, the memories and for the good times.
you’re en route
to your next
and a warm
as I remember
you with much
I will always remember Parmartha from the kids’ house in Medina; he was one of the good guys who was so lovely with the kids and no hidden agenda. What a lovely inspiration it is to read about his life. What a great guy.
Amy O’Hara (Mudita)
Your contributions for world in ‘Freedom from Torture’, Parmartha found their way into the Great NO-BOOK, we’ve been talking about in the caravanserai.
And the ZEN stick, you’ve been using your unique and exquisite way here and there is alive and well; taken over by Existence and / or your Intimates and close friends.
And it’s working, you bet.
Much love Parmartha,
I remember you down-to-earth quality in Medina and appreciate the presence that you brought to us all. Much gratitude,
I met Parmartha during many years of our path with Osho, from the beginning until now.
He has constantly contributed to Osho’s work and to the community throughout.
I will mention one thing: I really appreciated the Osho Dynamic Meditation which he ran week in and week out every Saturday morning in Jackson’s Lane Community Centre, about 20 years ago – it was really helpful to lots of us at the time. Breakfast in Highgate Woods was an enjoyable additional meditation!
I am happy I saw him at some of his final visits to the Saturday morning meditation in nearby Queens Wood cafe, where once again he was there every week.
I read something that Osho said which I thought he ought to know – that “In the beginning when God created the world, he used to live on MG Road…” (until people started troubling him too much)*. I didn’t get the chance to tell him, but here it is anyway!
Lots of love,
Prabuddho – [* quote from Take It Easy, Vol 2, Ch 4, ed.]
Solid as an Oak Tree.
Your love for your master is very evident. Very consistent with his deeds. I am very grateful to have known him. Much love to you, Parmartha.
Sw Deva Amitabh
Much love to you, Parmartha. You have been a great friend to me.
I have fond memories of Dynamic Meditation in Jackson’s Lane, and Kundalini Meditation in Church Crescent, Muswell Hill, where we helped you out collecting the money – Gopala and I. Also it was Parmartha who moved me into Muswell Hill when Bishops Road finished in 1995. Plus those wonderful times in the Winchester Arms on Archway Road – Disco Nights.
Parmartha was a wiz at getting people to come together and celebrate – plus meditate. He was also a great gardener for many years, before he decided to take up Social Work as his job, which suited him very well.
Parmartha, you will be missed by London sannyasins and others – such a strong, sturdy presence in the Sannyas World.
I feel very grateful for having been your friend. Heaven is lucky to have you,
Sorry to hear this.
Interesting to read about his family background and that he had a last minute reunion with his son.
He will be greatly missed.
He became a very good tennis partner, in fact my first regular tennis partner after I had just started playing tennis, playing on Fridays, 2012 and 2013 until illness stopped him.
But of course, it wasn’t just his tennis skill – although nearly 15 years older than me I never succeeded in beating him or handling his unique serve – we always went for a cup of tea after in the cafe and he was always good to talk to as he took a genuine interest in others & their various issues, always being positive and never judgmental.
It is not often that you meet someone with such a clear and compassionate view of life.
Farewell Parmartha! With my gratitude. You really held us all together in London with your Saturday morning Dynamics – so good, so needful. And the post-dynamic breakfasts and occasional disco dance. And then the Silent meditations. You did it all keeping a low profile, no bravado, just keeping things running, nurturing community among a rather bruised and battered mob of London sannyasins without a meditation centre any more after Kalptaru, Medina and The Body Centre were all sold. And your great work with Sannyas News! Thank you so much!
Just remembering Parmartha as a lovely presence and so grateful to know he was about. l always knew he was very good with children.
Ann Booth (Sutra)