(19 March 1949 – 2 May 2021)
Ma Yoga Neelam met Osho for the first time in 1969 during one of his visits to Ludhiana, and was initiated into sannyas by Osho in 1972. She regularly visited the Pune Ashram until Osho left for the States. She then joined him and lived in Rajneeshpuram for four years.
In November 1985 she returned to India together with Osho and was then appointed by him as his personal secretary for India. When Osho came back to his commune in Pune, she continued to work as his secretary and taking care of his work in India. She was also appointed by Osho as a member of the Inner Circle.
When Osho left his body in 1990, she remained in the Pune commune doing the work given to her by Osho. From 1996 till 1999, she travelled each year to eight different countries in Europe leading meditation events. When she left the Pune commune in 1999 she kept touring across the length and breadth of India conducting meditation camps and lovingly sharing her insights gained from being with Osho.
As asked on many occasions by Osho, she became involved in creating an oasis in the Himalayas for fellow travelers to come together and meditate. Osho Nisarga in Dharamsala is the result of that effort.
Neelam first encountered cancer in 2016, and took it up as just another challenge, a hit of her Master’s Zen stick. After braving through countless chemos and several other procedures, all with her indomitable and cheerful spirit, she knew when the time came to leave the body.
Fighting all odds, she insisted returning to her home, Nisarga. She spent her last night watching her breath, sitting cross-legged as much as possible, often updating her daughter and primary caretaker of how her breath was leaving.
“Now it all has to happen through you. Just have the confidence,” she told her daughter, Priya, and soon breathed her last.
Death Celebration on 2 May: facebook.com/oshonisarga
Neelam’s husband, Priya’s father, Amarjeet Dhall, died last November.
Bio based on info on Osho Nisarga’s website: www.oshonisarga.com – Thanks to Madita, Upchara, Keerti, Sahaj
Osho replies to a question by Neelam
Beloved Osho, please help me. Show me my path: love or meditation. Give me one sutra suitable to my nature.
It is from Neelam. I know her. I have known her long enough, not only in this life, but in other lives also. Her path is absolutely certain: it is love. Through love she is going to achieve. Through love she is going to be. Through love all that can happen will happen to her, and I can say it absolutely.
I may not be so certain when others ask me. Somebody who has come very recently, I have to know better, to penetrate him more, to watch him in different situations, to watch his moods, subtle layers upon layers of being, then… but about Neelam it is absolutely certain. I have known her in this life, I have known her in other lives. Her direction is absolutely clear: love is her meditation.
The Beloved, Vol 2, Ch 2
Ma Yoga Neelam : A Benevolent Friend, a Kalyan Mitra
With Ma Neealm’s departure, I have lost a lifelong friend. But to many sannyasins and Osho lovers who have come in contact with her, she was a mother to them, and they loved to address her as Ma. That too is a genuine feeling of heart. But I prefer to call her a friend – a friend who has been with us on this spiritual path with our beloved Master, Osho. And Osho chose her as his secretary, as he saw in her the potential of being a Kalyan Mitra, a benevolent friend who takes along all other friends on this path, and helps them grow.
I have known Neelam, since 1972, when our gypsy-type Kirtan Mandali came to her hometown Ludhiana to share Osho’s vision with our songs and dance. Her husband, Shri Amarjeet, and she became a wonderful host, making all of us feel at home. Her home in Model Gram also started to become some kind of Osho Ashram for us. This was the beginning of our lifelong friendship.
About 18 months later, I started publishing a Hindi magazine, while staying at her home in Ludhiana, with the full support from both husband and wife. Another thing that happened around that time was that both of them became initiated into Osho’s Neo-Sannyas: Swami Prem Teerth and Ma Yoga Neelam.
In October 1974, Osho asked me to join his Ashram in Pune to edit the Rajneesh Foundation Newsletter, a Hindi fortnightly. I moved away to Pune, but our friendship continued beyond time and space.
Ma Neelam, together with her daughter Priya, used to come to Pune once or twice every year. I remember once she sent a question to Osho: Bhagwan, Naya commune kab banega? When will we see the new commune happening? Osho responded by saying: Mera naya commune to tumhare hriday mein ban na hai, aur baahar bhi bnega. Tum taiyari karo. My new commune has to happen in your heart first, and then it will be happening outside also.
In 1981, Osho suddenly left for the USA, and the Rajneeshpuram commune started developing very fast, really miraculously. Osho had not forgotten her and he would often send me messages to call Neelam and tell her to come to Rajneespuram. As Osho was eager to have her in Rajneeshpuram, so was Neelam, she came with her husband and her daughter Priya during the summer of 1982. Her husband had come only for a short visit as he had to go back to take care of his factory, but Neelam and Priya stayed behind and joined the new commune.
In 1985, after the debacle of Rajneeshpuram, Osho came back to India and went to Manali. There Ma Neelam became his caretaker and Osho appointed her as his secretary, though it was declared much later, after his world tour and return to India in1986.
Osho’s whirlwind 18-months-long tour to 21 countries proved only one thing: that it was practically impossible for him to settle anywhere else than in India. And it was certainly good news for India and to most of his sannyasins around the world, to come to Pune, to their favourite place once again, to relax, meditate and celebrate in the unhindered presence of their beloved Master.
Back in Pune, Ma Yoga Neelam was given a key role to play. She bloomed in full glory with all the grace being showered on her by the Master. She was his secretary for India, and practically a bridge between East and the West. She was Indian who had also lived with people in the West with such an amazing harmony. Through her, Osho provided a much-needed healing touch for those who had felt wounded by seeing the demise of Rajneeshpuram in USA and thereafter finding no place to be in the rest of the world – the old rotten world, where a new Jesus would be crucified again and a new Socrates would be poisoned again. The rest of the world in the 20th century was not ready to accommodate a new Buddha.
Osho assigned a job to Neelam as his secretary for India and also to become a medium to transform the atmosphere around him, bringing about a metamorphosis. As his medium, she did it with style and grace. She invited all top artists of India to the ashram as Friends of Osho and let the whole world know about it. She became a gracious host to all the artists who came to pay tribute to Osho and offered their performances. We were living in a new world of positivity. While interacting day and night with the media, I knew well how the media in India had been transformed so beautifully and ad become Osho’s medium. This way, directly or indirectly, Neelam played a central role. Indeed, she was a Benevolent Friend to all of us.
After Osho left his body on 19 January 1990, Neelam continued doing her work with dedication and totality at the commune till 2000. After that, together with Swami Tathagat, she went out in search of a good place to create a meditation Center, an abode for Osho in the Himalayas. Osho had loved the Himalayas; he had gone to Manali twice, where he had started his Neo-Sannyas movement in 1970. Later, during his world tour, he also went to Kathmandu, Nepal.
As Osho had asked on many occasions, Neelam was deeply interested in looking for a suitable place in the Himalayas. Osho Nisarga in Dharamsala was the result of that effort and the longing to create a space where seekers may go deeper in meditation – with the spirit of joy and celebration.
In the vast world of Osho lovers, Neelam was the embodiment of love and friendliness to all the seekers on the path; this love was her real meditation.
Not a journalists’ delight, but an epitome of love
by Vinita Deshmukh
I was indeed saddened to know about Ma Neelam’s demise from my good friend, Swami Chaitanya Keerti. I was aware recently about her battle with cancer and how she had bravely fought it. It’s so unfortunate that it relapsed.
I knew Ma Neelam as a young journalist of The Indian Express since the early mid-1990s. She stood out gracefully amidst the Inner Circle group of Indians. Being the secretary of Osho, she held a pivotal position and so was always in the media limelight.
Ma Neelam, tall and lanky, had a very pleasing and dignified disposition. Her politeness always made me feel that she was a reserved person and in that sense, really not a journalists’ delight (chuckle). If you asked her a question, you did not expect her to freely wax eloquent, but in her own demure style, she would give you the answers. The rest of it she left it to Swami Keerti, who was the friendly, ever-smiling and always-accessible media spokesperson.
She had attained a glamorous status in the Pune community as she would always be in the forefront, as a hostess, during Osho Festivals when the who’s who of India’s music and performing arts maestros used to come to perform and they were open to the public.
Neelam was so simple and good-natured that one could never find any grudge against her. She was the epitome of love. I felt really bad when SHE walked out of the Osho Commune thanks to its commercialisation and management which bulldozed through some shocking changes. But being an epitome of love and dedicated to her master, Osho, she created a beautiful paradise in Dharamshala.
She is now in the comfort of her heavenly abode. My prayers to her daughter Priya and all her friends, particularly Swami Keerti to be strong to bear this loss. She is sure to inspire all of you.
Senior Journalist, RTI columnist & activist, Former Deputy Resident Editor and Senior Editor of The Indian Express, Pune
Remembering Neelam Ma with love and gratitude
So many incidents that immediately come to mind about Neelam ma’s role in my life as a new sanyasin, a very grounding counsellor for Indians in the early 90s in Pune, among her many other responsibilities. She was always there and available, a smiling presence in that corner glass office. She felt to me like a familiar but cool young aunt, caring yet clear, helpful, standing behind you, for you. I never felt unwelcome, hurried or judged… my issues valid and always heard.
At the time I was working at the reception of the medical centre with Pragitam and the other doctors. It was part of my job to see that payments were made, using the commune card of course. Easy. Except for a couple of heavy duty dudes or their secretaries that just avoided the issue altogether. Radiant Melissa flitted in and out for Anando. Tathagat strode in daring you to stop him for a welcoming hello even. I had no idea what to do with them so just let it be. Meanwhile the doctors noticed and I briefed them about it. They said I had to chase the due payments, everyone had to pay for the services, no matter if they were residentials, supported by the commune financially, or inner circle even. Hmmmnnn.
So I trotted off to Neelam, specially to ask how do I put it to Tathagat… he scared me and I did not want to deal with the consequences of being the one to spotlight him on this issue. On hearing about my qualms Neelam ma just smiled, amused, and said that Osho was very clear about work responsibility and money for services too. So don’t worry, just go do your job and they have to do theirs. Ok. Braver now that I had her as my coach, I went ahead… but Tathagat never ever spoke to me again, only glared through the years. Oh well.
And then there was the time when my beloved, Farid, himself a recovering addict and who I had a roller-coaster relationship with, told me I needed to do the primal and co-dependency group therapies. Oh? Ok. He had officially been a sannyasin much longer than me… even though my father had exposed us to Osho books and meditations from the very beginning despite us being mere kids… But I knew nothing about therapy or how fucked up I was, apparently.
So once again I made my way to Neelam ma – she had to sign off on all such therapy work for Indian participants – and told her I needed to do said groups. She gently asked me whose idea it was that I needed those therapies. Farid, I answered sheepishly. Neelam ma chuckled softly and said, I know Farid very well. Please tell him it is he who needs to do those therapies, not you. Oh? Are you sure? Absolutely.
Of course, years later, as I discussed with Neelam ma on another occasion, I had come to the understanding that, though such therapy work was so far prescribed mostly to non-Indians, as we became more and more Westernised, and as our family structure changed, we would be needing the same inner work too. Meanwhile, as per her guidance, I was happy to just work and do the active meditations and creative groups, which I found, much to my delight, were very therapeutic in themselves and brought about healing too in a far softer way.
I remember other chats with Neelam ma about being a mother and all that involved… school versus freedom of the child, working on your self while being responsible for the child. She readily shared Osho’s guidance to her about her own daughter, Priya, and his insistence on her needing a structured school. About life on the Ranch and how tough it was in the biting cold, having to forage for woollen socks for her daughter. The mother in her, as was my own experience, always a constant parallel reality even as she followed the path for herself.
It was a relief to not have to battle alone through my parental doubts and misgivings about short-changing the child and I feel immense gratitude to Neelam ma for all her sharings. Yes, there were a whole lot of other single mothers around and they became my village, but none of them were Indian, or familiar with the issues there-in… and Neelam ma had already forged a path, her daughter being much older than our kids.
I missed her calm graceful presence when she left the Pune commune, but was happy for her that she was able to manifest Nisarga. Unfortunately, though I much wanted to, I never did manage to visit her there. Today, as I sit with all my feelings, thoughts and memories, I send her all my love and gratitude for her very present presence back then.
In an answer to a question from Ma Yoga Neelam in 1976, Osho said: “I have known her long enough, not only in this life but in other lives also. Her path is certain, that it is of love. Through love she is going to achieve. Through love she is going to be. Her direction is absolutely clear. Love is her meditation.”
A moment to remember Ma Neelam. She left her body this morning after battling cancer over three years with calmness and playfulness. After pouring so much love on anybody who came to visit her, from her endless reservoir within her. After living a life as a modern-day Meera: with boundless romanticism, passion, prayer, meditation and celebration for the one man to whom she surrendered her heart totally. Knowing her, she must have relished her last breaths with so much gratitude as her adventure kept unfolding in her continuous present. Let the way of the heart shine through.
Love upon Love upon Love.
❤️Niyam Bhushan, New Delhi
Memories: me working in RBG, coming in late with Vedam for tea break. She had adready put everything away. She looked at us and started taking everything out again… Her only words were: “As Bokuju said, when hungry eat, when thirsty drink.” A Being. A soul…
Remembering your laughter and joyfulness, I can hear you now, soaring in oneness in the open sky! Gratefulness for having walked some of the way with you.
Love always and ever,
I met Neelam in Rajneeshpuram, Oregon, Osho’s community in the USA. Knowing that she had come from a high class background in India, I was astonished at her level of devotion as I watched her happily cleaning floors and toilets with a joyous smile on her face. (Osho had given her this ‘testing’ work which would normally be impossible for a high class woman due to caste system ethics in India.) We had long conversations about the spiritual path and I became aware I was in the presence of a great soul.
We continued our friendship in Pune 2 and once again I was in great admiration of how she handled her position of being Osho’s secretary for India. It was she who was highly instrumental in transforming Osho’s negative reputation in India into a very positive one.
Once she had established Osho Nisarga I received her invitation to go and teach there. I continued teaching the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra Retreat there once a year for 10 years and every year our friendship deepened. I witnessed her heroic battle with cancer. As it ravished her body, her spirit remained as effervescent as ever. Her sense of humour continued unabated. She was always fun and inspirational to be around and her many stories about Osho were incredibly touching and fascinating. She had phenomenal dedication in every aspect of whatever she was involved in.
Neelam was a pure devotee on the path of Love and a courageous champion of truth. Her beauty, refinement and sense of aesthetics was matched with a profound intelligence of the heart, sensitive to living ultimate reality in everyday life. Her loving nature has brought transformation to multitudes of people. She was adored by so many, and her presence will be missed.
I trust that the inspirational way Neelam lived and died will serve as a radiant example of what is humanly possible, for generations to come.
To Neelam Grace,
In May 1986 I met Neelam personally. It was in Tuscany where I had resumed my medical career after the Ranch and where Satyarti and Anubhudda held Rebalancing trainings, attracting many old sannyasins. And it was there that I met Nandan with whom I had an intense relationship that lasted until Osho separated us in public during one of his talks in spring 1987.
Neelam arrived at the Leonardo da Vinci Hotel shortly afterwards with her Teutonic boyfriend, Kamaal, a handsome, tall, blond man, always joyful like a baby who has just received a new toy. The couple was disarmingly happy and I ended up spending time with them because Nandan was Neelam’s spiritual sister.
Neelam used to wear an Indian sari, her GRACE was bursting, and her simplicity and kindness were able to melt any heart that came close to her even if it was frozen.
She was Simple … Innocent … Mature … Maternal … Serene … Welcoming … Joyful … and with a totally open mind like a Westerner. She was able to reunite Indian Devotion with Western Irony. This was the classic example of what Osho taught, the union of East and West, of Zorba and Buddha. Neelam was Zorba and Buddha… but in the feminine way. What could be more magnificent?
Neelam was waiting for a call from Osho, who was still circling the skies of the Earth to find a place to rest, and so I was lucky enough to spend many weeks with her.
We spent a lot of time together both in the community space that Satyarti and Anubuddha had created, but also touring beautiful Tuscany all the way to the island of Giglio in the Tuscan Archipelago, where we spent some wonderful days.
I remember one morning we rented a boat and went offshore. We looked like four happy children, until the engine stopped and we were left in the middle of the sea without knowing what to do. Kamaal and I were no mechanics and certainly not the kind of macho men who can solve practical problems. Neelam remained calm, smiling, and took everything with joy even in this difficult situation. She remained who she was; a beautiful relaxed human being.
Life was simple next to her, life was serene and full of gifts next to her, you could breathe the fragrance of the Master next to her, you could feel in your bones what Love was next to her.
Then came the day when Osho called her. He had arrived in Mumbai – it was July 1986. She immediately left like a bird called by the song of her beloved. A few days later Nandan, the other flower of Osho, was also recalled and left together with Kamaal. I was left alone as empty as I could be. Suddenly the dream had vanished, but deep down I was hoping for a call from the Master, which came after about a week. I left immediately for Mumbai where I reunited with Nandan and Kamaal.
Neelam had become Osho’s secretary and also his caretaker, in a villa in Juhu Beach loaned by a loving Indian disciple.
Since then she had been spending 90% of her day with the Master. We never saw her much again and surely I no longer saw her sharing the intimacy we had had in Tuscany. Osho was the King and everything revolved around him; our personal lives were secondary, especially for Neelam who had to take care of everything.
After six months spent in Sumila House, the police had begun to disturb and provoke us, and since there was no decent place in India where Osho could restart his work, in December 1986 he decided to return to Pune to the old commune.
Neelam stood beside him with her usual grace and authority that was spontaneous and natural for her, and in the offices of Krishna House she always tried to help all those in need without any discrimination.
Neelam was the Heart of Osho … Neelam will remain the Heart of Osho … Neelam will remain in our Hearts because she was the long hand of the Master’s Heart.
One of the most beautiful flowers on this planet lost her petals yesterday …. but her fragrance will remain in the hearts of all those who have smelled her essence.
All my life I have not been able to learn Swimming, Ma Neelam has taught me how to Float (in the Ocean of Love).
To my dearest Baby Nani, the entire world regarded you as Maa Neelam but for us you were our youngest and most bravest Nani. You showed our family the importance of spirituality and honesty in one’s life. It was such an honour to be surrounded by your profound love and divine beliefs. Even through the toughest times of your life your fighting spirit continued, and as your loved ones, we will continue your fight to live a better life for you. May your beautiful soul rest in peace. Thank you ♥️
Have a nice flight into the unknown.
Thank u for all.
As a workaholic in RBG who loved the dirt, the grease and the metal, the only thing that could get me to take a tea break was Neelam, her otherworldly chai and the, as I perceived it, total acceptance of those grimy, rough hewn, filthy dirty and often quite smelly sannyasins from RBG. Her loving smile and kind words from those long-ago days will remain with me always.
Where to begin with…
One life is not enough to be thankful for the change that my Beloved Baby Massi brought in my life.
The identity in terms of my name is her gift to me.
The melodious voice which I’ve nurtured over the years was noticed by her and polished in her guidance.
The 5 vowels of English language were taught by her.
The happiness quotient from the smallest of things was imbibed upon by her.
The hurdles during the worst times were crossed with ease – all because of the confidence and faith she had instilled in me.
She was an epitome of ethereal beauty… just holding her hand or looking on her calm face would wipe away the insecurities. Her laughter was so magnetic, the vibrations were so strong that it would bring peace from within. The grace, the dignity, the charm – only she could do justice to.
So much happened in such a short span, still she kept a strong front, did not budge but every time stood like a rock to fight this disease out…
The lovely memories that we created together, especially the 10-day workshop in the naturopathy clinic, sharing the same room and being together 24/7, is an addition to move ahead with a smile.
Gone too soon.
Will always be remembered & missed for the concern and deep affection we shared.
Much much love ♥️♥️
Such a very beautiful soul you are – so full of heart and love. Osho loved you / loves you – so very much.
Thank you for all your love and kindness.
Fly high with Osho as I know you will in great joy.
Ma Anand Devika from U.K.
Oh Neelam, I loved you so much. You always has touched my heart. I will miss you and I am sad that we could not meet again.
You will always have a place in my heart… direct beside Osho’s place.
Remembering her polite, friendly & caring nature. RIP.
Neelam is the most gracious person I have ever met. In all these years, I never heard her speak – or write – an unkind word. I remember her well at Mirdad Welcome Center in Rajneeshpuram. Many days, after I finished with the bomb or dope dog’s duties at Mirdad, she would offer me a cup of chai, brewed the old-fashioned way. She served me tea like she served her Master, with presence, devotion and love. And regaling me with tales of her meetings with Osho! Thank you Neelam for illuminating the Path of Love so completely.
Neelam, sitting and walking you always looked like a queen and were such a devotee!
You died like a Zen master. This is no death at all, but bringing light into this world!
Oh Neelam, you were and still are the heart of the ashram and Osho’s work…
We were sitting on a terrace looking out at the Mediterranean sea in my home in Praiano on the Amalfi Coast, south of Italy, late October 1985. The phone rang and someone wanted to talk with Neelam. I passed it to her and after a few seconds a big smile illuminated her face. After a few minutes she told me that Osho has made her his personal secretary for India and that she was to travel back there with Him. Pure joy, innocent delight, celebration.
I love you my friend.
Neelam, blue lady, blue queen, thank you so much. Just the thought of you is easing my breath, uplifting my heart as it always does… You leave us that jewel, Nisarga, where I had the privilege to stay a few times and meditate under your inspiring guidance… Love you, Madame, love you with all my heart…
Om shanti shanti shantih
Love you Ma Neelam, I can’t forget those days with you in the Pune ashram when I worked few months there. Love and regards.
Beloved Neelam. Fly high with the grace. You will be missed by many. Your love and being will continue to live in our hearts. It just seems like yesterday, when we were all dancing and meditating together in Osho’s buddhafield. Just a few days ago we heard your voice from Delhi and you were in good spirits, knowing that the chemotherapy could not be continued. May your spirit fly high.
Love and Light,
Bhikkhu and Waduda
…with love and gratitude
Neelam Ma was overflowing with love for all and enthusiasm for whatever came her way.
In the few days I got to spend in her presence in Nov 2020, she taught me so much, was so loving, accepting and encouraging; she instilled in my being a newfound faith and confidence.
Now, having left her body, the distance seems to have disappeared, for I can feel her radiant, smiling presence.
Blessed to have been with you, Ma. 🙏❤🙏
Sweet, sweet Neelam
Amrit Sundari (Italian)
Neelam had all the colours of the rainbow. She is an Osho devotee par excellence, a mother, a Kali, a seductress, an artist and most profoundly a spiritual traveler. I loved her humour and her light and playful spirit. May this courageous and inspiring woman’s love continue to echo in the mountains for a long time.
You can leave a message / tribute / anecdote using our contact form or writing directly to email@example.com (pls add ‘Neelam’ in the subject field). The tribute will be added manually.