(26 March 1951 – 19 September 2019)
Rani passed away peacefully on 19th September, at 9:40pm, in her beloved home in Samasati, in the rainforest located in the Mullumbimby hinterland in Australia. She was surrounded by some of her closest friends from the Samasati community and Bali, who held her in friendship, love and song through her transition. I was told it was beautiful.
Rani was very loved; she had many friends. I was lucky to be one of them. I met Rani in Rajneeshpuram in Oregon in 1984 during lunch. She was this striking beautiful women with those amazing blue eyes like the ocean she loved so much. From the years I have known Rani, I remember many quirky and funny moments with her. She was one of the most honest and bold people I have ever known, and I appreciated her for this. Rani was interested in the truth of things.
Her friends and family will remember her for her warm, kind and gracious heart. Her generosity, sincerity, her love for life and, yes, her smoking and her Vodka tonic. But most of all she will be remembered for her warm, loving, compassionate heart, always looking out for others and making sure everybody was ok. She will also be remembered for her creativity and the beauty she left behind.
Some of her past history is a little sketchy, as Rani did not spend much time reminiscing or sharing her past. But we do know that Rani was born in Dresden in East Germany. Her mother died giving birth – consequently Rani was adopted by her extended family in West Germany where she grew up with many siblings.
As a young women, Rani studied to be a social worker and her heart’s desire and focus at that time was to some day start an orphanage… based on family-like groups. As often in life things do not happen as planned – it was too difficult working with the ‘system’ and bureaucracy – so she gave up this dream. It was during that time when Rani was feeling low in her life that she had a spiritual experience which marked the beginning of her spiritual search in this life. She went on the hippie trail which brought her to India during 1974.
Back in Germany, sometime in 1978, she did a group, a marathon, with Vereesh who threw a mala around her neck saying, “Do it fast… in case she changes her mind.” Rani then got inspired to go to India in 1979 where she received her name Prem Rani, stayed for some time, and later went to Rajneeshpuram, Oregon. She stayed at the Ranch for a few years on several programs and when the Ranch ended she made San Francisco her home.
It was in San Francisco where she met many of her friends that later moved to Australia where together they created her beloved community, Samasati. Sometime in 1987, Rani decided to travel together with Zeno to Australia, but decided to go to Bali first where they met up with many friends for a fun holiday. It was during that time I met Rani again and we spent some time together.
Rani fell passionately in love with the Balinese people and the Bali island. It became her home… Bali, a place where different cultures live in acceptance of each other… and the kindness of the Balinese people resonated on all levels with her. Rani also met the love of her life, Narayanadeva. Rani always said that the first six years together with Narayanadeva were one of her happiest times in her life.
She felt loved and accepted by Narayana. Moved into self assurance. Grew as a woman, in love and confidence. Her relationship with him and with the Balinese people grew, and she gave them her heart.
Rani then made a magical connection with Prana, the owner of a resort. Prana invited her to be part of it, and Tamansari in Pemuteran was born. She built a beautiful house there which many of us have enjoyed. Around that time she became a shareholder of Samasati in Australia, and when Zeno died in Manali, in 1995 Rani bought Zeno’s house in her beloved rainforest and community in Australia and made it her second home. She travelled a lot between Bali and Australia.
Rani had a passion for diving and underwater photography; many of her photographs are shown in this article from 2010 on Osho News: Rani’s underwater photography.
She then became involved in the Biorock Project in Bali. She met the inventors of Biorock®, Prof. Wolf Hilberts and Dr. Tom Goreau, and was very interested in bringing the Biorock experiment to Pemuteran to heal the destructed coral reefs. It’s a method that offers ideal conditions for coral growth thanks to low electricity and alkaline conditions around submerged structures.
Without going too much into scientific details, Rani brought the method to Bali, became involved in it and for the last ten years became the protector and driving force behind the technology. The Pemuteran Coral Reef returned and continues to grow and expand. It is alive with fish, corals and ocean creatures. A few years ago I went snorkelling there and saw them with my own eyes.
After the scientists left, Rani worked with a handful of locals to maintain and care for the project. Today, tourism is again alive in Pemuteran; people want to see the project and go diving in the reefs. This has resulted in a source of income for the small fishing village. It’s an amazing achievement, especially now when the environment is such a big issue.
After Rani’s relationship with Narayanadeva ended, she started to spend more time in Australia and enjoyed many wonderful years at Samasati and bonded deeply with many friends living in the community and around the Byron Bay area.
Rani’s biggest learning from her separation with Narayanadeva was finding forgiveness in her heart. It was never easy for her to forgive anyone if she was hurt. One day, when she realized it was about forgiving herself, things started to shift. What came through this rite of passage – from the dark night of her soul – was love and compassion, which pretty much has been Rani’s flavour for the rest of her life – along with huge integrity, courage and generosity. Mixed in with lots of fun, Vodka tonics and lots of laughter.
Just over three years ago Rani started to feel shortness of breath. She was after all a heavy smoker so she ignored it for a while. She saw a few doctors, had a few scans and was diagnosed with stage 3b lung cancer.
Rani was told she should probably get her affairs in order, with the understanding she only had a few months to live. In absolute true Rani flavour she organised a memorable party for all of her friends here in Samasati – I think she must have invited over 250 people – provided all the food and drinks you could possible have. There was music, dance – even Miten and Premal graciously offered to play a couple of songs. It was wonderful. I remember hearing Miten calling her the Keith Richard of sannyas. So fitting for a queen.
Little did she know – or any of us – that Rani would beat the odds, and live for another three years. She kept threatening us with a second party which she would call the ‘resurrection party’.
In the last three years, Rani’s body gradually declined, she did do some immunotherapy, targeting her cancer which gave her some more time to live, but eventually that did not help any longer. She spent a lot of time in and out of hospital. In the least year she was on heavy pain relief.
Being a nurse at the hospital where she went to, I spent many of my meal breaks with her. Death is not unfamiliar to me – being a nurse I see a lot of people transitioning. People experience death very differently and for many it’s a journey that brings up insecurities and fear of the unknown. Not for Rani. She was excited to find out what will be next, and opened her arms to this next journey. I have never met anyone so accepting of the dying process. She held it with grace and dignity. It was beautiful and a gift to be in her presence.
I saw Rani a few days before she passed away. She looked beautiful, soft, full of love and gratitude in her heart. Many of her friends and I are very grateful for our friendship with our beloved Rani.
Fly High , Now and Forever, beautiful Friend.
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Rani was perhaps the first Sannyasin I met, although I had no idea that she was one. I had been a student in 1977 in Wuerzburg/Germany and studied drawing the naked body in a University class… and Rani was the model! From the very beginning I felt something unbelievably attractive and mysterious about her, and her body postures emanated something I could’nt find words for! Later, when I had become a Sannyasin myself and met her in Poona, I could understand what her awsome radiance had been all about…! We never came very close though, somehow there was no need!
Have a good journey, Rani!