Anandmayee, Osho’s mother in one of his previous lives

Remembering Here&Now

After some deep research into various sources, Bhagawati stitched the story together.

Osho and Madan
Osho and Madan (Anandmayee) early 1960s

Anandmayee’s early life

Anandmayee (then called Madan) was born at her maternal parents’ place in a tehsil [an area of land within a city or town that serves as its administrative centre] called Varora, in Chandrapur District, Maharashtra State, on November 5, 1919. Her childhood was spent at her mother’s sister’s place in Mungeli, Chhattisgarh. Even at an old age, she could remember her activities as a small child; she had been a very naughty girl with a tendency to investigate deeply into everything – every incident and everybody – which turned her into a seeker.

By birth she was part of a Shwetamber Jain community, and already at the age of ten her interest had developed to sit in satsang with sadhus. She practised dance, music, singing, the Sanskrit language, learned about ultimate wisdom, astrology and Ayurveda.

Also, from that early age on she was haunted by a persistent thought – namely that she had to search for her son who had been separated from her in a previous incarnation. Days passed, months passed, years passed; she got married and gave birth to several daughters. Yet the notion that her missing son would meet her soon never diminished in its intensity.

Despite being from a conservative and traditional family, she was rebellious. She wrote poetry and as a social worker had opened an orphanage in her home in Chandrapur (previously called Chanda) where she successfully took care of about three hundred children with the help of her husband, Shree Rekhchandji Parakh.

Seeing Osho for the first time

In 1960, a festival was organized by Jain Mahamandal in Wardha, a city and municipal council in Wardha district in Maharashtra. Osho was invited to come from Jabalpur to give a discourse, and well-known social worker Madan Kunwar Parakh from Chandrapur to recite some of her poems. Madan was 40 years old at that time.

It was a blessed morning; Madan was climbing up the stairs to the third floor of the Bajajwadi (guest house) when Osho came out of the bathroom after taking a shower. Osho saw her first and then she saw him. Both looked into each other’s eyes for some time without blinking. From Osho’s look it appeared as if he had recognized her. To her it felt as if all the blood in her body had reached to her heart. What else transpired in this first meeting between them only they ever knew.

Madan felt strongly to see this strange man again, whose eyes appeared to have the depth of thousands of oceans. She wondered how to go about it, not knowing where he was staying and how to meet; how to find him in such a big crowd? She couldn’t see him anywhere but had a little hope that he would be in the dining area and entered the hall. But also here, the invited guest was nowhere to be seen. Finally she asked an acquaintance, Parasmani Mehta from Indore as to where that bearded baba would be. She answered, “Oh! He is another form of Vivekananda. Why he would be here to eat with us?”

Madan didn’t like the implications and thought to herself, “Does he also feel afraid of women like the old kind of sannyasins because they think woman is the door to hell?” She was determined to find out and went up to the third floor of the guest house in search of this great baba. Reaching the third room, she saw the door was open and Osho was sitting inside. She asked, “May I come in?”

“Yes, you may come.”

Madan recalled later that she felt a little bad because his reply indicated other people weren’t to come in; only she was allowed.

She entered the room and they talked for a long time. When she prepared to leave, Osho asked her to recite some of her poems. Madan answered that she had heard him criticise poetry in yesterday’s discourse. Osho confirmed that, yet insisted, “I want to hear your poems.” Madan said she would be reciting poems during the evening gathering and invited him to come.

That evening, Madan listened to Osho’s talk for 45 minutes: “A beautiful lecture; I felt this is what I too wanted to express.”

Later, Madan recalled, “After his discourse, the poets gathered in a different hall. All of them were local, except for me. We were to begin the programme according to set rules, but when Osho arrived he took a seat and asked me to recite the poems. In that moment I remembered the social system and procedures for poetry recital and it did not feel good to me to change that. But he had entered at once with great daring and authority and I felt a bit outpaced. However, as he had asked, other people too encouraged me to recite and under these bewildering circumstances I recited a poem related to love. As I finished, he repeated his request to recite another one. I hesitated, yet did so. He then insisted for me to recite the third poem! I was feeling shy before so many people but, lowering my eyes, I recited the third one too. After hearing this last poem, he got up and went silently to his room.

“The poem recital ended at midnight. I thought he might be around in the morning but I learnt that he had left by early morning train. I had already invited him to come to Chandrapur to which he had replied that he would do so.

“Upon returning home, I told my family that I had found whom I had been searching for but until now he hasn’t called me his mother.”

The letters

From November 22, 1960 until August 27, 1964, Osho wrote hundreds of letters to Madan, to which she would reply with poems. She was sometimes late with her replies but Osho would always immediately respond. He wrote letters at all hours of the day and night, on journeys, trains, even in waiting rooms. 120 of those letters are published under the title Kranti Beej (क्रांति बीज), translated as ‘Seeds of Revolutionary Thought’. It was retitled ‘Seeds of Wisdom’ for publication in 1994. Another 100 or so are published in Bhavna Ke Bhojpatron Par Osho (भावना के भोजपत्रों पर ओशो).

The Parekh's and Osho at a function
Anandmayee and Osho at a function

Osho met with Madan quite often and they used to talk long on various topics. Osho would listen to her and always in agreement to what she said.

Madan and her husband became important early benefactors to Osho, supplying him with many gifts for the furtherance of his work. The wealthy couple provided Osho with a typewriter (Olympia), tape recorder (AKAI spool), a set of fountain pens, a camera and a wristwatch. Later they presented him with his first car.

On the occasion of the wedding of Susheela, one of Madan’s daughters, Osho attended and gave Susheela a sitar as a gift.

Announcement at Mt Abu Meditation Camp

Ageh Bharti participated in the third meditation camp held in Mt Abu, from October 5-13, 1973 and wrote:

“The most exciting occurrence in this camp had been the initiation of Osho’s past life mother into sannyas. Formerly known as Madan Kunwar Parakh, Osho gave her the name Ma Anandmayee.

The entire congregation stood up when it was announced, “Today Osho’s past life mother is going to take sannyas.” People spontaneously began to dance, to jump high – so much mad enthusiasm! I was standing way in the back and jumped as high as possible to see if Osho might touch her feet or whatever else was transpiring between them, yet I couldn’t see anything.

When I heard friends ahead shouting “Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh ki Jay!” – I too shouted at maximum pitch as if I too had seen what everybody else had. Then I forgot all about this occurrence.”

When Madan participated at the meditation camp in Mt Abu in 1973, Osho did touch her feet and then gave her sannyas. On that occasion she said, “Rajneesh, now you should stop conducting camps.” And Osho did stop after the fourth Mt Abu camp in January 1974.

The Kailash Project

Osho had envisioned establishing a new commune at a farm owned by Anandmayee and her husband, Parakh. They themselves lived in Chandrapur and the farm was about 60 kilometres east, a three hours’ drive at the time, in a village called Saoli. Osho named this communal project ‘Kailash’ and after the Mt Abu Camp in January 1974, he sent the first group of western sannyasins to Anandmayee in Chandrapur who took them under her wing after they had arrived at Kailash.

It was a very small settlement, literally without any frills, hot and bare, a Master’s device so to speak, with Anandmayee directing, teaching the group about Indian culture, customs, food and training them how to cultivate produce. At times she would leave them also to their own devices. The first sannyasins living at Kailash were Veena, Krishna Prem, Divyananda, Yogi, Virag, Veetrag, Teertha, Shiva, Sudha, Gandha, two men called Vedant, Prarthana, Chaya, Chinmaya, Lalita, Haridas, Priya, Somesh, Bakul, Pratima, Anurag, Astha.

Gandha recently wrote, recalling taking a walk with Ma around Kailash, “We came up to a field, and there were two really large silver-coloured snakes wrapped around each other in a mating ritual. We just stood there for a while, watching. Then Ma told me that this had only happened once before – and that was when she and Osho had taken a walk together! That experience had a great impact on me.”

Osho continued sending several more people to Kailash until he moved to Pune in March 1974, while Anandmayee continued her work at the farm until 1977.

Anandmayee old age
Anandmayee left her body in March 2018, aged 98, in Chandrapur

One of Osho’s letters to Madan (Anandmayee)

The dark no-moon night is descending. The birds have returned to their nests and in the gathering darkness there is great chirping on the trees before they retire. The lamps are being lit in the city. In a short while, the sky is going to be studded with stars and the earth glittering with lamps.

Two tiny dark patches of clouds are floating in the eastern sky. There is no companion with me – I am all alone. There is no thought, I am just sitting. How blissful it is just to sit! The sky and the galaxy of stars seem to have submerged me.

When there are no thoughts, the individual existence merges with the universal existence. There is only a small curtain; otherwise everybody is the existence himself.

There is a thin veil on our eyes, and it is hiding existence. This thin veil itself has become the world. The moment its cover is removed the doors to the kingdom of infinite bliss are thrown open.

Jesus Christ has said, “Knock and the doors shall open.” I say, “Just take a look – the doors are already open.”

One man was running towards the setting sun. He asked another man, “Where is the east?” The reply came, “You just turn around and you will have the east right before your eyes.”

All is present – what one needs is to turn one’s eyes in the right direction.

This statement has to be declared to the whole world. Even to have rightly listened to it is to have attained a lot. The trust in the divinity of oneself is half the attainment.

Just today I said to a friend who had come to see me, “The treasure is already within you, you have simply forgotten about it. Awaken the right remembrance, recollect your own divinity, know who you are. Ask yourself – and ask yourself to the extent that only this inquiry remains, resounding through your entire mind and being. Then its arrow moves directly to your unconscious, and a mystical response comes right in front of you on its own accord. To know this is to know everything.”

Seeds of Wisdom (letter 107, written in Hindi between 1960 and 1964)

Related article

Kailash – The beginnings of a new commune – A little-known episode in the history of sannyas. Excerpt from Veena’s book, Glimpses of My Master

Sources

Bhavna ke bhojpatron par Osho (Osho’s letters from the heart) by Dr Vikal Gautam (many thanks to Ageh Bharti who translated various excerpts)
Osho Gatha (Osho Saga) by Ageh Bharti
Osho Source Book by Anand Neeten
The Rebellious Enlightened Master by Gyan Bhed
Glimpses of My Master by Veena Schlegel (Prema Veena)
Osho, India and Me by Jack Allanach (Krishna Prem)

With thanks to Chaitanya Keerti and Satya Anuragi

Bhagawati

Bhagawati is a communicator, writer and author with a penchant for gardening and India.

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