Samarpan invited Keerti to the UK for a holiday, which then morphed into a tour with meditation retreats, interviews and many meetings with friends.
I decided to invite Keerti to the UK for a holiday. However, Keerti being Keerti, was not going to want a polite tour of the UK taking in tourist sites such as Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon and similar monuments of British culture. The musician Prem Chinmaya Dunster suggested a weekend at Osho Leela, which was negotiated while an invitation to spend a weekend at Kidderminster, an historic town south of Birmingham, opened up another venue.
Quite straightforward really, yet far from easy to arrange: as the Zen master says, “Take it Easy… because it ain’t easy!” Making the whole visit a kind of meditation rather than busying around to organise and promote meditation events seemed the way to go.
Acquiring a visa is never easy owing to the mass of information that needs collecting and collating. There was also the matter of time… Keerti was coming to the UK for two weeks and a lot of friends wanted to see him.
First stop was Appleton in London. The Osho Pankaj centre still exists, but since the death of Bipin is no longer as active. Nevertheless, Ma Pramila was there to greet us. Chai and Indian snacks; I could feel the belt around my trousers start to tighten.
Driving in an orange electric car was fun. Every now and then we needed to recharge. Waits of an hour or so became extended coffee breaks, also meditative spaces.
We did a bit of culture. The Van Gogh café showing multimedia representations of Van Gogh’s work, and a party at a photography gallery (nude photos of Glastonbury festival-goers made in a makeshift studio) before we went north spending a night below Chepstow Castle – where there was a car charger which did the job overnight. The next day we searched Chepstow for a phone charger, finding one in a small shop run by a Pakistani. A drive through the Wye Valley, one of the more beautiful parts of the UK, inspiring both writers and painters, poets and engravers.
At Kidderminster, we stayed above a store selling basic necessities with meditations happening in a tent erected on a flat roof to the back of the property. Twenty people visited over the weekend and delicious Indian food was cooked and consumed. Our hosts were Swami Utsav and Ma Simran.
As the only white face at Osho Sambodhi, I did not feel isolated but rather accepted; I was not however going to touch Keerti’s feet, and he certainly did not ask for it. Devotion is wonderful – yet it can be easier to fall at another’s feet than to meditate, which involves looking within rather than stargazing without. Everyone to their path!
After Kidderminster, Keerti had an extended interview with Sarita Sabharwal from her home in London. In the course of her career, she has interviewed many people from classical Indian musicians to Bollywood greats. Keerti spoke mostly in Hindi but the Zoom interview (in 2 parts) is available on her YouTube channel.
Keerti also met with Veena, a close Osho disciple who now lives in Dorset; she has written several books about her time with Osho and later adventures in China. She and Keerti had a long talk outside a pub in the depths of the Dorset countryside; cars occasionally roared past and on one occasion, a horse clip-clopped by. The conversation was a remarkable reminiscing of two sannyasins who were present at the time of Osho (link to video).
A couple of days later we were off again in the orange electric car to spend some time at Osho Leela. After a concert of Indian music, Keerti gave a Tantra Prana retreat which involved a lot of spontaneous catharsis and celebration, with Osho meditations to help the occasion flow and not become ritualised. A wild sannyas ceremony around an open fire seemed to epitomize what the occasion was all about.
Bordering on exhaustion after two weeks of hosting Keerti, I made a final drive to Heathrow. We arrived on time and shared a goodbye hug. Keerti was on his way to Pune for Guru Purnima (a day devoted to all gurus) and to launch his new book, Osho: A Mystic of Love.
The next I heard of him; he was involved in a kind of ‘storming’ of the Osho Resort in Pune. The stormers were barred entry, and the Chief of Police arrived to pacify the situation (see Guru Purnima Celebrations in Pune).
Safe travels, Keerti, and thanks for visiting this outpost of civilisation!
Photos by Samarpan – featured image by Veena
Links to videos
- Veena in conversation with Keerti (filmed by Samarpan)
- Sarita Sabharwal: Soulful Monday with Swami Chaitanya Keerti – Mind & Meditation (in Hindi)
- Guru Purnima Celebrations in Pune – …with a visit to Osho’s samadhi at the Osho Meditations Resort