Birth & Childhood
Ma Osho Priya was born on 8th May, 1958 at Jabalpur (MP) in central India. The seeds of spiritualism were sown in her through her parents. Her father initially followed traditional Sannyas. He was a disciple of Swami Akhandanand. Few years after marriage, he renounced world and family and left home. Her mother was a strong woman and came to live with her in-laws.
With the guidance of her grandfather, her mother started learning and practicing meditation. Her grandfather was a disciple of Dhuniwale Baba. Osho has described him as an awakened being. This saint used to be always close to a Dhooni or Fire place. Whenever her mother found time, she used to sit in Padmasana and practice meditation. She found immense joy within and thus would meditate for 3-4 hours at a stretch.
After realizing the futility of renunciation, her father returned back home.
Ma Osho Priya was born and brought up in this milieu and had the seeds of spiritualism within her since an early age. At bedtime, her mother used to narrate experiences of meditation and told stories from epics like - Ramayana, Mahabharata and other scriptures.
She grew up in a rich atmosphere of music. Her father was a renowned singer in the town. Many artistes used to come to her house to share their art with her father and her house looked more like an atelier. She had a strong inclination towards music. Music always filled her with deep relaxation and the musical notes touched her being very deeply. Music made her feel close to herself and filled her with bliss and enthusiasm. When she was just three years old, her aunt loved to take her along in the neighborhood for singing Ramayana, the great Indian epic.
When she was still very young, a strong desire came from within to play the harmonium. She sat down to play the instrument and in no time she was able to play the right notes of a song perfectly. Her father and her entire family were amazed to hear her play the harmonium with such perfection, almost like a professional musician.
Each day her interest in music started intensifying. She told her father that she wished to take appropriate education for vocal music. Her father was supportive of the idea and got her enrolled in a music school where she learned vocal music for two years. For her singing has always been a method to experience peaceful awareness.
Her father was really happy with her training and her vocals. He appointed a private music teacher for her, who used to come once a week. Her new master was Pandit Madhukar Rao Pathak. He gave her training for classical singing. His method of training was unique; he never let her write notes for the new raga and wanted her to learn the raga just by listening to it.
To memorize by listening to a fresh classical raga for just 20 minutes was a tough task, a challenge in itself. However, Ma Osho Priya feels blessed when she looks back and recollects that to learn new ragas by listening only became like a child's play for her as her total awareness was involved. This gave her a chance to experience total awareness.
This art of listening was the most beautiful gift by her music teacher. She has still not forgotten the ragas taught by Pandit Pathakji, and there is no raga she remembers fully that she learnt later during college education.
She did M. A. in Philosophy and Prabhakar in Music in 1979.
Introduction to meditation
Her introduction with religious studies started when she was a child. She remembers her father practicing meditation techniques as taught by Swami Manukrishna, who in turn had learnt them from Osho. Her father used to take her along to the funeral ground, hills and by the riversides and would ask her to listen to all that Existence had to offer and watch her breathing pattern. From then onwards watching her breathing pattern and listening to natural sounds became the way of her life. Her school was around two miles away from her home. The entire walk to the school and back became a meditation as she would be watching every incoming and outgoing breath. This technique to watch the breathing is popularly known as Vipassana.
She joined Osho’s-Neo-Sannyas movement in 1973. Osho, her Master, gave her ‘Ma Amrit Priya’ as her new Sannyas name. Explaining the meaning of her name he said, "Amrit means the Divine Nectar, and Priya means lover. The meaning of your name is Lover of Divine Nectar. Everybody is carrying that source of nectar within. Everybody is born with it, but has forgotten the way to this source. All that is needed is a kind of remembrance, a loving attitude towards it".
Marriage with Shalendra ji
Ma Priya first saw Shailendra at Osho Ashram at Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, India. She had gone there to celebrate Osho's birthday, with her family. At that time she was studying in 9th standard. She liked him so much that she wanted to see him again and again. But much to her disappointment, constraints were such that she was blessed with this opportunity only once every year and that was on Osho's birthday celebration. He left a strong imprint in her mind.
When she was studying for the Bachelor's Degree, she developed friendship with her new classmate Suman. Suman was the daughter of Osho's childhood friend Swami Sukhraj Bharti, and shared family relations with Osho's family. She opened her heart to her and told her about her fondness for Shailendra. She told her that she finds his face so divine that she could experience meditation just by gazing at him. One day Suman conveyed Ma Priya's feelings to him. Much to her surprise, this time when she went for Osho's birthday celebration, Shailendra responded to her with warmth.
Gradually the intensity of their love and feelings grew even stronger and they decided to get married. His M.B.B.S. and her M.A. degree course were completed simultaneously in mid 1979 and then they started living in Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune. Life was like a paradise at the feet of the beloved master OSHO. According to her, “The joy of listening to the master every morning cannot be compared with anything else in this world. We, the residents of ashram, used to get a chance every 15th evening to be present in DARSHAN, in front of Osho. This was the most precious gift, Existence can provide to a seeker.”
Life at Osho ashram,Pune
Sloth, or laziness, considered as one of the deadly sins in Christianity, was a prominent feature of her personality. She was a pampered child and a spoiled brat. Her mother-in-law and her husband were exactly the opposite- very active, self-disciplined, perfectionists. She knew that to come even close to their expectations would be like climbing Mount Everest for her.
Learning the art of work was the beginning of her new sadhana. Her mother-in-law, whom she used to call Ma, became her new guide. Working for her new family became worship for her.
One of the most significant moments of her life was the day Ma left her body. It's hard for her to forget the morning of 17th May 1995. Ma was a tough master. That morning Ma had asked her to come to her room at 5 a.m., the hardest thing to do in those days, as she was not an early riser.
She had set her alarm for 5 a.m. but got up much before and got ready to go and see Ma, as asked. Ma was standing outside the room, waiting for her. Ma was surprised to see her and gave her a warm welcome.
Ma asked her to clean the bench that was kept in the courtyard. She found it quite strange to have been asked to brush the bench that was covered only with a few flowers, but she did sweep it nevertheless, despite some reluctance. Ma sat on the bench. Ma then asked her to make some tea and rabadi (Indian sweet dish made of condensed milk). She wondered why Ma wanted rabadi in the morning, although she did prepare rabadi to Ma's taste. After that Ma asked her to clean her closet, which was already well organized. Ma said, "I know it's hard for you to organize it properly, but I want you only to arrange the things in my closet." When Ma saw the closet she was really pleased and said, "At last you did it so perfectly". She was overjoyed to see Ma delighted. To get applause from Ma was always the best reward she could ever think of in life.
Next on the agenda was to cook food for Ma. She brought the vegetables of Ma's choice and prepared lunch for Ma. She was on seventh heaven to hear Ma say to someone, "You know, my Priya makes the most delicious food." This was her last lunch in this body.
Analyzing Ma's life she was always filled with awe. Being a mother of eleven children is no joke. Taking care of everyone and everything needs lot of hard work and awareness. Ma's day started at 4 o'clock in the morning. Her day would end around midnight.
Despite being overburdened with work, she was fully responsive of everyone in the family. Ma would tell Osho Priya, "My entire life has gone in working and work became my worship. My actions and work became my way to know the Divine."
Life at Rajneeshpuram
In mid 1981, Osho left for Rajneeshpuram, Oregon, USA. Shailendraj also went along. But life had planned something else for her. The toughest phase of her life started as she was left behind for around 10 months due to some unavoidable circumstances. This was the phase of longing and suffering. Since her love was other-centered, her entire energy was moving out towards Shailendra. The feeling of insecurity, missing, self-forgetfulness had put her in immense despair, so much so that she became sick and lost weight.
Eventually she went to Rajneeshpuram, Oregon, U.S.A, in 1982 and lived there in the auspicious presence of Osho till 1985. Rajneeshpuram was a place where she learnt the skills of work. There the roster of each person would change after a while; the reason was that it was easy to do a regular job as it becomes mechanical and does not require much awareness.
In Rajneeshpuram, she worked in the kitchen, named Magdalena, chopping vegetables for around 10,000 sannyasins. The coordinator of the kitchen was a perfectionist German lady. She wanted each and every piece of vegetable to be cut beautifully and evenly. Sometimes Ma Priya was given to cut around 10 kilograms of onions. This was the most killing thing for her to do as by the end of the worship, i.e. cutting the onions, the prize was a bucketful of tears. These tears were definitely not in gratitude. Occasionally she was asked to clean big utensils. The best part was making bread in the bakery, for which she breakfast she had to wake up at 4 a.m.
Work remained work as long as self-remembrance was not there, but the moment she was filled with self-remembrance along with her actions, work became worship. Her association with Ma Amrit Saraswati (her mother-in-law) in the house and working with the German lady in Rajneeshpuram paved her way to understand Karma Yoga. It is the path of action with awareness. It is being in action without being a doer. It is doing the things while being in total awareness.
In Rajneeshpuram, Osho loved to go out for driving. On his driveway sannyasins waited to greet their beloved Master by standing on both sides in line. There was a small choir of musicians who played different instruments and often sang songs of love and gratitude for their most beautiful Master.
During those days she played drums for the choir. One of the most precious and cherished moments of her life was when on one occasion Osho stopped his car right in front of her. Ah! It was real bliss. Just a look of His eyes melted her. He raised both His hands in a gesture that asked her to play faster. She was not a professional drummer, but in that moment she felt herself as pure and total witness to her actions. She became a choiceless observer to every stroke on the drums. In that process she learnt the essence of Dhyan Yoga- Witnessing consciousness
Departure of Osho
Shailendra and she came back to India together in 1985. Shailendra became Medical officer in OPM Hospital at Amlai (MP) and she joined as a music teacher in the OPM School in the same town. They stayed there for almost 12 years and enjoyed a very happy married life over there devoted to spiritual pursuits. The path of meditation, showed by Osho, remained the foremost precedence for both of them.
She went to Osho Commune Pune in August 1989 and lived there till September, 1990 during the last days of Osho.
Osho left his body on 19th January, 1990 and there was a profound frustration. She felt that now there would be no one to guide her to experience Divinity. She lost all hope, as she was not proficient enough to experience enlightenment on her own. Although, her life was going on smoothly, her spiritual path had reached a dead end.
Meeting with Osho Siddharth ji
Osho Siddharth (Bade Swamiji) first came to Amalai on 27th November, 1997 to conduct Anand Pragya in Orient Paper Mills. He gave them new hope and promised to take them on the spiritual path ahead.
On the fortunate day of 19th January, 1998, she started to hear a source-less melodic sound. In the evening when Shailendra returned from job, she wanted to tell him about this strange wordless voice. She said, “Do you know, something went wrong with my ears. Since morning meditation, I hear some mysterious music continuously.” To this Shailendraji exclaimed, “What! I was going to tell you the same thing.” Both of them could not figure out the source of this melodious sound. Being a doctor Shailendra was sure it wasn’t an ear disorder.
Just around the same time Osho Siddharth came to visit Amalai again and invited them to attend Samadhi Pragya Program at a beautiful hill station Amarkantak. She and her husband were in the first batch of 21 people to attend the Samadhi Pragya program under his guidance. Gradually, while undertaking the program, they understood that the sound they were listening to was in fact Divine Sound. They developed a deep love and trust for him and confidence that they would be able to experience what Osho, Nanak, Kabir, Buddha, Mahavir and many other saints had experienced.
The presence of Osho Siddharth brought hope along with festivity in their life. Their journey of spirituality found direction under his guidance and blessings. Swamiji now wanted them to work with him. He wanted them to conduct programs with him. He trained them for the same.
They came to Sauraha, Chitwan, Nepal for the first time in 1998 and started living there after a year. Osho Siddharth had given her the secret of samadhi and the knowledge of Omkar. She started going into samadhi for 8 to 10 hours daily and had very deep experiences of samadhi.
By then the love for her Living Master had also transformed into pure trust and self-remembrance. She could feel his grace, love, and compassion surrounding her all the time.
Experiencing satori and kundalini
Once Bade Swamiji returned to Nepal and said, "Dawn has come, the petals of flowers are cracking, and anytime the flower of enlightenment will bloom." Swamiji told everyone that in few months we would celebrate a new born Buddha.
Osho Priya took a quantum leap in her sadhana when her devotion became self-centered. She experienced Satori or awakening of Kundalini immediately thereafter.
One of the greatest challenges of singing, she has ever faced in her life, was singing Mahageeta, a great composition of Swamiji. She was in her satori those days and her energy was always at the crown centre. She was grounded in pure awareness. Therefore, the moment she started singing, she fell in samadhi. The person in charge of the studio was at a loss. Swamiji understood the situation and very patiently helped the sound recording technician to complete the job. Mahageeta is a conversation between Ashtavakra, a great Master, and king Janak, a great disciple on the subject of Sankhya Yoga.
Face to face with death
This is about the time when she was living in Sauraha, Nepal. The nation was hit by the bacterial intestinal infection. Despite of lot of care and protection she became its victim. The main symptom of the disease is severe dysentery leading to dehydration very soon. Unfortunately Shailendra had gone to conduct a meditation camp in India. Bade Swamiji (Osho Siddharth) tried all possible homeopathic medicines but they all proved ineffective. Physician from local Bharatpur Hospital was called but her condition deteriorated fast. Very strangely, she had no feeling of sickness within. She was feeling fresh and fine inside although there was a lot going on at the physical periphery. There came a moment when her pulse became very weak, almost impalpable. Different medications, intravenous saline-glucose drip were given, but she was moving closer to death.
Her physical being was shrinking but her consciousness was still vast and blasé. Knowing that the consciousness has no beginning and no end and the death is only of the physical body, she was accepting everything that was happening to her body. This shrinkage of the body was causing no ripples and panic in the formless being.
She was accepting the end of this body. She did her last rituals i.e. looking at her beloved Master's photograph and expressing her gratitude to Osho. She said to Osho, “Osho, if this is how you want, I welcome your decision. Please take care of Shailendraji when I am gone.”
She closed her eyes and was waiting for her death. After an hour when she opened her eyes she felt as if life is coming back to her body. She was ready to leave this form but existence had its own way.
The biggest lesson of life is to learn how to die, how to accept death with grace. In Tibet they call it Bardo of dying. Our victories turn into defeat if we do not embrace death smilingly. Similarly we have won the battle of life, if we depart from this world with peace and bliss.
Enlightenment & Beyond
Osho Siddharth once told them that when Ma Osho Priya and and Osho Shailendra are enlightened, he would go back to Bilaspur. To this, they both resisted adamantly and said: "We would stop our Sadhana, if you leave us and go." Osho Shailendra convinced him saying that they shall work together and continue spreading Osho's vision of love, meditation, Samadhi, bliss to all.
Seeing their sincerity, love and dedication, Osho Siddharth gave his consent to stay even after their enlightenment. By the grace of Existence and Osho's compassion, on 25th January, 2000 the seeds of spiritualism within her flowered in the form of enlightenment.
With inner illumination arose a feeling more intensively of carrying on Osho's work to masses. Shailendra had a vision and intuition that in a new ashram Osho's work would flourish and spread to many seekers around the world. She will play an important central role and Bade swamiji will remain with us as our master, guide, guardian and leader of the spiritual movement. This vision has proved true in letter and spirit with birth and growth of Oshodhara into the greatest spiritual stream on Earth today.