…left his body on 21 October 2019.
My father, Anand Tejas (David Brown), died aged 99 in Torbay Hospital, Devon on October 21st.
My soul sister, Narayani, and I were with him from when he arrived there early morning 20th until he died the next day at 1pm.
Rarely leaving his side for more than a few moments we travelled with him through all kinds of spaces and places… he had arrived clear and able to speak and communicate as normal.
He left without words, without sight but still able to hear us, still responding within his body, still digging deeper into his wisdom and longing to let go, to be in truth, to allow whatever wanted to reveal itself on the journey… his leaving was light, fine and strangely ecstatic.
But getting there was intense for all of us.
Through it all his face became more and more innocent as he consciously let go of the layers of personality.
His life partner, Inge, called several times from Austria and Narayani put the headphones up to his ear as Inge spoke to him as he was no longer able to speak at that point. There was a moment that took our breath away and brought tears when, now beyond all language, he made a sound as soon as he heard her voice.
Even during his last four breaths, those strange ones when it’s not clear who is breathing, the person or just the body, he still was with the journey, with the unfolding, the dissolution without fear – it was tangible.
We opened the windows… we stayed with him a while and sang to him…
I had some moments alone with him and clearly felt him take my head in his hands and tell me how much he loved me.
For once he could express it with ease.
For once I could receive it.
His name means Blissful Radiance.
‘No hope for the priest, no hope for the politician, no hope for the scholar – but there is hope, Anand Tejas, for you. The question is from Anand Tejas – there is hope for you, every hope for you.
‘And you have become a sannyasin, you have taken a step into the unknown already. If you are going to be with me, you will have to say goodbye to your priest, your politician, your scholar. But I feel confident that you can do it, otherwise you would not have even asked. You have felt that it is meaningless, all that you have been doing up to now is meaningless – you have felt it. That feeling is of tremendous value.
‘So I will not say just be patient and wait for the next life, no. I am never in favour of postponement. All postponement is dangerous and is very tricky. If you say, “I will postpone in this life – nothing can be done,” you are avoiding a situation. Everything can be done! You are simply pretending. And this is a trick to save: “Now what can be done? I am so old.”
‘Even on the deathbed, at the last moment, the change can happen. Even when the person is dying, he can open his eye for a single moment… and the change can happen. And he can drop the whole past before death comes in, and he can die utterly fresh. And he is dying in a new way – he is dying as a sannyasin. He is dying in deep meditation – and to die in deep meditation is not to die at all, because he will be dying with full awareness of the deathless.’
Osho, The Tantra Vision, Vol 1, Ch 8, Q 2 (excerpt)
Tejas travelled to India overland with us; my Mum who later became Vachana, myself, my brother and a friend who became Tejomaya.
We drove in a Ford transit van in January of 1977 and arrived at the Ashram end of February.
Born in UK to a father who was a college Professor in Lucknow University, his mother travelled out to India when he was still a few months old and he spent his first years in Lucknow.
He never lost his love of India and so decided to take a sabbatical year from teaching at Shrewsbury Public School where he had been Head of Geography since his mid-twenties, and travel to India.
Tejas took sannyas in April 77 and remained in Pune for at least a year.
He returned to Shrewsbury School and quietly began teaching again, this time with a large bushy beard, a mala and a dark red suit!
Not surprisingly he was ‘offered’ an (un-negotiatable) early retirement!
At that point our family home in Nesscliffe – formerly also The Nesscliffe Art Gallery – became an Osho Centre called Avadhana, a place where many sannyasins lived, met and visited at various times.
Over the years I have often heard from people what an inspiration Dad was in their lives, even in some instances changing the course of them.
During the 60’s he started the London Artists Exhibition at Shrewsbury School exhibiting the work of the often controversial artists of that time.
He would travel to London and visit various artists and return home full of stories of London and the outrageousness of it all – how he loved it! He helped many artists become well-known and was one of the people who ‘discovered’ John Kyffin Williams, a Welsh artist who went on to become world famous.
As a teacher he encouraged the boys to think ‘out of the box’ and I believe that for him there wasn’t even a box much of the time.
Michael Palin, the famous comedian and television presenter, was his student at Shrewsbury. He said in a replying email to my sister:
‘…the wonderful work your father did in encouraging me to pursue geography…
shows that his work hasn’t been forgotten and please tell him again how hugely grateful I am for his support and enthusiasm all those years ago.’
In a magazine article about education Michael Palin also wrote:
‘I was happy to find that the Geography Master there [Shrewsbury School], David Brown, was also a man of passion.
‘I remember him winning a controversial battle to have German wall maps in the geography room, simply because he said they were much clearer than anything produced in English. He loved bucking the system and having recognised my enthusiasm steered me to a geography A-level in a year less than expected.’
Tejas settled with Inge in Austria shortly after Osho left the body and we (the family) visited him there often.
More recently they lived in Vienna until last summer when Inge became frail and he felt a strong pull to return to UK, basically to die. He was then 97.
Their parting was deep, real and raw.
Two very brave souls.
I accompanied him on a flight back to England and settled him into a Residential Home in Totnes, Devon.
His focus was totally on his inner journey now, on what was essential; he didn’t have much interest in his surroundings.
But his enduring sense of humour did mean that he enjoyed the other residents immensely, particularly those with advanced dementia (of which there were several) who were ‘just expressing themselves honestly’ in his view, something he wouldn’t hesitate to tell the carers when they were trying to quieten them down! And Bert, the escape artist who was constantly setting off the alarm as he made a dash for it out of a door in his wheelchair. ‘That’ll be Bert again,’ Dad would chuckle at the sound of the bell.
He had a top floor bedroom and big window that looked onto a huge chestnut tree and he became more and more contented just sitting and looking at the tree.
Every Thursday, Narayani would come and spend time with him and they would share a space where he could unravel and unwind the threads of the story of his life and come to a peaceful let go of it all.
Around the beginning of October she told me that it felt like this process was complete for him. He had reached an inner sense of being Loved and Loving that he felt he had been searching for all his life. From then on this was a constant experience.
Now he preferred to stay in bed with a deep contentment and presence.
I think his last clear sentence to me at the hospital was:
‘And when are you going dancing next?’
There were many synchronistic events around his death, the most important for me being that I returned to Devon just 36hrs before he went into hospital. I can’t put into words what a blessing that was.
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Thank you – a beautiful article – written with so much love and understanding. Tejas journey became very alive.
Thank you, Surabhi, for what you have written here so beautifully. I didn’t know Tejas in life, but your vital tribute draws me in, and I feel like I know him now. A blessed life, a blessed death… what a gift for us all.