A recent interview with Swami Sanjay Saraswati at Osho Vatika, Gujarat.
Swami Sanjay currently runs the Osho Vatika Meditation Centre in Rajkot, Gujarat. Born into a family of farmers, he learnt farming at a very young age. Perhaps that explains the fragrance of groundedness and ordinariness around him. Sanjay is a man of few words; it is his quiet, simple, raw presence that speaks for him instead. During our interview, he doesn’t profess his love for nature through words, but his love for the soil silently permeates every corner of Osho Vatika. He has lovingly planted mango trees, neem trees and hundreds of other kinds of plants. The most recent addition to this thriving family is rows of sunflowers that dot the fields surrounding the meditation hall. Walking through these gardens, one feels the Master’s energy throbbing, pulsating through the flowers, bees, and even the sweet, unpredictable pooches.
Sanjay Swamiji, when did you first hear of Osho?
Till seventh grade, I studied in my village school in Gujarat. When I was 14 years old and started eighth grade, I moved to the city of Morbi where I lived in a boarding school. It was there in 1967 that I saw Osho for the first time.
My language then was Gujarati, and I barely knew Hindi as we also hadn’t studied the language at my village school. Osho was scheduled to give a Hindi discourse at a nearby engineering college [Lukhdhirji Engineering College], so our matron told us, “Acharya Rajneesh has come to the city to give a talk. If anyone wants to attend, they can go.” I went to the talk and didn’t understand a word he spoke but I enjoyed myself. I still remember how he was sitting on the stage, what he looked like. He had a lungi draped around him and carried a shawl. His appearance was all white except for his black hair and eyes. He had such big eyes.
There was a huge audience and the hall was completely full, yet not a single person moved. No movement, no noise. Just an enveloping silence. It was this silence that touched me deeply. I didn’t know anything about gurus or enlightenment at that time but this much became clear to me – this person in front of me had left an incredible effect on the whole audience. He was only one person but he had left everyone absolutely stunned, transfixed. He had made such an impact! This is how I had my first darshan.
After that, I became so busy with the outside world, with studies, family – I forgot everything about that first meeting.
Then how did you reconnect with Osho?
After I had gotten married, a friend of mine shared a cassette with me without telling me what it was about. This friend of mine has since passed on but I still remember that tape that he made me listen to. It was Mahaveer: Meri drishti mein (महावीर : मेरी दृष्टि में). I was stunned. What a beautiful, melodious voice he had and how clearly and simply he spoke. I asked my friend, “Who is this?” He told me it was Acharya Rajneesh. Until then, I had heard about him through people and read about him in the newspapers. There was all sorts of hearsay: “He’s not a good man,” “He’s a sex guru,” “He should be killed because he is attacking our religion and corrupting minds.” This was the kind of talk I used to hear about him.
Even I had accepted this general view and decided to stay away from him. Until that day… when his voice caught me. It caught hold of me somewhere deep inside. I was stunned. When the darshan had happened as an adolescent, perhaps Osho had seen through me. He must have seen that there was something in me. There must have been some inner ‘knowing’ inside me because of which I was so moved. Had it not been for this ‘knowing’, I would have been blind and I would’ve not understood. It was his words that had moved me. They did the magic. They transformed my way of thinking, me… I then participated in a few meditation camps and my path changed completely.
Were you already farming during that time?
No, I used to work for the government and served for three years. After I got married, I left that job. I then became a salesman in a privately-run business. During my travels, I always carried one of Osho’s books with me. I would read it whenever I had time, especially when I was staying at hotels. Even at night I used to stay up reading and deeply enjoy it. It was magical indeed.
Then, one day, I picked up the book Krishna: Meri Drishti Mein (कृष्ण : मेरी दृष्टि में); Krishna: The Man and His Philosophy. It is a really thick book – a whopping 600-700 pages! I read it in 3-4 days and booked a ticket straight to Pune. It was then I took sannyas. I couldn’t have waited any longer…
I didn’t tell anyone at home about sannyas. My wife, Kamo, was already part of another community called Swadhyay parivar. It was only when I had brought some other sannyasins home that Kamo learnt about my sannyas and she did not like it. She wanted me to be a part of her community, together with her. She pulled at my mala and as a result, a fight ensued; it was a verbal and physical altercation! She tried to take my mala away but I became furious and stopped her. She then realized that something had happened to me. Something had changed. She realized that my acting this way with her was… just very different. She did not say anything about it after that.
When I started going on tours, Kamo began to read Osho’s books at home. That was how Kamo and my journey began on this path together…
What kind of guidance did you receive from Osho?
With Osho, it became clear to me that as a sannyasin, I have to live in the world. The world is like a laboratory, a prayogshala, where one must go through all kinds of experiences. Once you experience this world fully, sannyas flowers on its own. Without the world, very few can ripen. So I have learnt: living in the world, you become mature through it. It is only after you have lived it that you can talk about sannyas.
This is what happened with me. I lived in the world, worked, took care of my responsibilities. Whatever had to happen, happened out of its own accord.
Can you tell us more about some situations where you felt Osho’s guidance?
I went to Pune for my first Mystic Rose in 1991. I didn’t laugh or cry. I couldn’t; it felt artificial. One particular evening, it was time for the evening meditation; I was very punctual so I reached early. There was a rock outside the meditation hall where the ashram office is now located. I sat there and suddenly, laughter erupted from me. I had been thinking, ‘I have come here especially for 21 days but nothing has happened. It is all such a sham.’ Osho must have heard me at that point; he must have felt that I was going wrong somewhere. I then realised how much the Master cares. He did not want me to leave without having tasted laughter. So here I was laughing and then there were the tears. I felt the grace of the Master, his gift. Tears kept coming…
As I moved through life, whatever came to mind began to take shape outside. That’s how life kept moving, flowing.
Did you face any obstacles on your path? Living as a sannyasin isn’t always easy.
There were no obstacles, absolutely none.
Ordinarily, we live to work. But then, there can be a different quality to work which can be prayer. Did you sense this feeling growing inside you – of work becoming prayer? Especially since you worked with nature?
My connection with Osho kept on growing. My relationship with nature only grew after that. Before Osho Vatika was born, many meditation camps were happening in Gujarat. People used to pose a lot of obstacles; they used to complain about the noise, sannyasins, something or the other. They did not understand what was happening. It was then that the decision to buy land happened, to create Osho Vatika. First the dormitory was built, then the garden, adjacent to which a kitchen was erected. Next to be constructed was another dormitory facing the neem tree. I did not have money then but all of a sudden, one of the pieces of land I owned was sold. I got the money I needed to build Vatika and used the remaining money to buy another plot of land. I have seen that property always supports me in my hour of need. It is because of this that I don’t have to ask anyone for help. People are willing to give but there is always some agenda. So now, that’s how the work continues…
Some time ago, I told my son, Paras, that I am now finished with business and want to spend time in Vatika. He took on the reins and now he handles the business while I take care of Vatika.
What is the message you would like to give to new sannyasins?
Ah! What message can I give… (thinks) just read Osho. Meditate. Each person has their own journey. You will get answers on your own as you walk your path.
Living in a family you have played all kinds of roles and fulfilled all kinds of responsibilities.
Yes, I have fulfilled all my roles well. I am content. In whatever I have done, I never once felt that Osho stood in my way. The world has been a supporter, a laboratory, a kind of litmus test to tell me where I truly am in my journey. I had no obstacles. I have enjoyed it all deeply. This is Osho’s message too: Live in the world but don’t be of it. Move in the world, but don’t be of it. Out of this understanding, whatever flowers in you will be real sannyas.
This interview was conducted in Hindi by Ma Dhyan Leela and Ma Dhyan Jyoti, who also translated it into English.