The life story of Kamala, a sannyasin who is now running two Osho Meditation centres in Mexico – by Viramo.
Kamala finds her Master
June 10, 1979, Chuang Tzu Auditorium, Pune, India – “Becoming a sannyasin means God has chosen you and the Master has also appeared.” The Master addresses the new disciple who sits awestruck at his feet, eyes wide. “Now it is up to you to make the most of this opportunity,” he continues. “Miracles are possible: surrender! Great surprises are waiting for you: surrender!”
Osho’s new disciple, who he renames Ma Deva Elida, is sobbing softly as the Master leans forward, placing his fingers on her temples and gazing deeply into her. She already has a mala. “I was crying, and crying, and crying,” she says today. “I didn’t even speak English, so I couldn’t understand what he was saying to me. I just had this feeling: Where were you? I have been looking for you my whole life! Years later I found this book that has my darshan, where he says, ‘When the disciple is ready, the Master comes.’”
Deva Elida surrendered, totally. Miracles happened. Four decades later, many surprises have happened – are still happening – and she is living the Dream that Osho left us. The flowers have showered.
Elida Flores Escobedo was born and raised in Acuña, Mexico, a city of around 100,000 just across the border from Del Rio, Texas. The youngest of eleven children, she was raised in poverty by a single mother who struggled to feed her large brood. Elida’s father was a stereotype: a macho, old-fashioned Mexican who believed a woman’s role was to get married and have children. He moved with many women, left home for months at a time, and even had a family in another city.
Although el papá was opposed to women getting an education, Elida managed to leave home at age 16 and attend a Jesuit university in Guadalajara, where she got a degree in psychology. It was in Guadalajara that she became good friends with a student named Maria Elena de la Parra, who would later be known as Praveeta.
In 1977, after she had finished her studies, she received an unusual gift. “There was a teacher who really liked me,” she says. He had gone to Osho’s ashram in Pune in the early days. “Osho told him, ‘Take these malas, give them to my disciples.’ They were the old, original malas. The teacher gave them to me and Maria as a present. I wore the mala with other jewelry and thought nothing of it.”
At the age of 23 Elida had her first existential crisis. She had a good job as a psychologist, living in Mexico City, partying, drinking a lot, living a wild life. “I thought I know everything, I have everything, but… what the fuck? Is this all there is in life? I came from a very poor family, and my goals were to get money and have lots of things. But I felt emptiness. Is this everything? I asked myself. I was at a very fancy disco in Mexico City, and I just vomited. Vomited up my whole life. I was very disgusted with myself.”
True story: “Next morning I went to a library. That feeling of emptiness was still with me, so deep. I was looking for a particular book, when a book fell out of the shelves and hit me on the head. The book was called I Am the Gate. I noticed the picture on the cover, and I said to my friend, ‘My God, this is a picture of the same guy who is on the mala my teacher gave me!’”
(Caution: Master at work. A hit on the head? A little obvious, but don’t underestimate our Master! – Viramo)
“So I opened the book, and I’m reading the pages, and it didn’t take me too long. I said, unbelievable! I mean, it was so strong!” Long story short: One thing led to another, and soon Elida and Maria were on their way to Pune to meet their Master. But Elida had to leave a good job at a government office, working as a psychologist. “I went back to work and told them I’m leaving. My boss was a very good guy. He said, ‘I don’t want to lose you, I want to help you, so you have to promise that you’ll come back.’ He paid my salary for a year and a half. I was supposed to come back to the job, also to finish my other degree in psychology.”
But… things happened
The scene: Poona (as it was spelled in 1979) – The Gateless Gate. Sannyasins everywhere. “I said, wow! To see the freedom of these people, this love. I said, this is home for me!” Elida and Maria turned up at Arup’s office wearing blue jeans and their old-style oval malas. They were not officially sannyasins, but both dived into ashram life. Elida did the Enlightenment Intensive, Primal, and three or four other groups. They stayed four months.
Both women took sannyas at their leaving darshans. At the time Osho was allowing most of his new sannyasins to keep their given (first) names, and adding a prefix: Thus, Deva Elida. Thus, Anand Maria. Years later both women would have name changes. Elida would change her name to Kamala; Maria would became Praveeta at the Ranch. Let’s use those names from now on: Deva Kamala, Anand Praveeta. (On Facebook Kamala is Kamalita.) At her darshan, Osho suggested that Elida/Kamala start a meditation center in Mexico. “I said to my friend, why?” says Kamala. “My plan was to go back to Mexico, pack up my stuff and come back to Pune.”
Two years later, Kamala and Praveeta find themselves in Austin, Texas, knocking on the door of a house which contains a new meditation center, Osho Kaifi. It turns out also to be the home of one Swami Navaneet, who coincidentally took sannyas in Pune just a few days after Kamala and Praveeta. (Navaneet would also play a major role in the birth and development of Osho Gran Kuxtal Retreat Center in Mexico.) It is the summer of 1980. Praveeta and Navaneet hook up, fall in love, and, as often happens in such cases, have a baby. They also get married.
Fast forward to 1982, the early days of Rancho Rajneesh – Praveeta and Navaneet and little Amiten, one year old, land at the Ranch with a group of friends. Kamala, who was in Mexico at the time, soon joins them. Life at the Ranch for Kamala has mixed blessings. On the one hand, she is stuck in Antelope for several years because of some political maneuvering involving her husband and… well, never mind. Back and forth, back and forth every day. The county road. The long hours. “I was very shy,” she says, “and my English was not so good, but for some reason they always put me in charge of something. I was Mama this, and Mama that…”
Kamala worked in various departments, including Mahavira (garage for heavy equipment), Raidas (cleaning), construction, paint shop. And more. “This ma who was in charge of editing the books, she asked me to be her helper. I told her, ‘Do you know that I don’t speak English?’ She said ‘Yes, that’s why I want you here!’ For me, that was one of the best parts of my life – the roots for me to be in the world. I learned so much. After the Ranch it was easy for me to be in the reality of society, because I know that I can do anything! You don’t need to know, you just go out there and do it!”
Fast forward to the post-Ranch era – Kamala finds herself in Los Angeles, living in what she calls the Hollywood House. It is full of sannyasins, all living in the world. One day English Vimal (Osho’s joke writer) asked her to take his job – working in the parking lot at the Sheraton Hotel – because he wanted to go to Pune. She said yes, without hesitation.
(Cue Surrender, Miracles and Great Surprises loop.)
“One of the owners, an older gentleman, became very interested in me,” says Kamala, mysteriously. “He was a very wealthy businessman. He taught me everything about business – how to buy, invest in this, don’t invest in that…”
And he bought her the property that would become Centro Osho Gyan meditation center in Ensenada, Mexico. A little later he bought her a few acres of dusty, barren farmland some twenty-five miles from Ensenada that would one day be transformed into Osho Gran Kuxtal. Kamala’s benefactor didn’t stop there: he also bought her a hardware store to help in the construction of Osho Gyan.
“It is a very mysterious situation,” says Kamala. “Somebody gives you something, and doesn’t ask for anything back. These are expensive properties. That’s why I feel Osho is behind all this.”
Soon Kamala started making money on her own. In competition with the local Home Depot, her hardware store offered lower prices and turned a profit. “In Ensenada at the time, there was nothing – no financial services. I saw many opportunities. I started an investment business with several partners. I was advising people on where to invest, including foreign investors. I became a consultant, even working for the government.”
Today Kamala’s focus is on Gyan Meditation Center and on developing Gran Kuxtal. “The big thing for me is to support Osho’s dream. I am living his dream. I really don’t have anything else to do!”
Stay tuned to read the Portrait of Osho Gyan Meditation Center and Gran Kuxtal…
Viramo has lived the writing life as a newspaper reporter and columnist, book and magazine editor, photojournalist, ghostwriter, publicist, and novelist. He took sannyas in 1979, and has lived in Osho’s communes in Pune and at Rajneeshpuram. Viramo lives in Sedona, USA. He has authored two published science-fiction novels, and served as editor and ghostwriter for the new book about Osho’s greatest publicity stunt, ’93 Rolls-Royces’. marvlincoln.com – viramoblog.wordpress.com – all articles by Viramo on Osho News.
Praveeta – (14/3/1953 – 30/5/2017)