"Sadhu" and "Sadhvi"

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Ageh Bharti writes in Blessed Days With Osho about a disturbance at the end of a four-day event in Ludhiana caused by Hindu chauvinist agitators, excerpted at Osho discourse given on 23 Aug 1970 pm. That disturbance was not the first in Osho's many years of speaking all across India but it was the first organized ahead of time by outsiders. Osho moved quickly to change his course, cancelling other big outdoor engagements he had in Amritsar and Chandigarh.

And it may have given him a sign that now it was time to move toward a more defined sannyas, as immediately on the heels of that event, he told his photographer friend Harish to bring saffron clothes to the next meditation camp in Ajol the end of Aug. In the event, Osho did not start giving sannyas then but soon, at the Manali camp in Sep - Oct 1970. The trend though was certainly to more intimate venues, mainly indoors and/or at camps, with those attending more and more oriented towards transformation as a primary interest.

The numbers of people taking sannyas grew slowly at first but his earlier mode of engaging anyone and everyone had built up a substantial pool of enthusiasts. The camps grew larger and more and more people were moved to take sannyas, both by their experience with his meditations and their connections with those who had already taken the jump.

When Osho's neo-sannyas was just a year old, he introduced a new way of approaching him which was slightly less of a jump than a "full" sannyas. This was at the second camp at Mt Abu, in Sep 1971. Those not ready for the full jump were offered a new possibility, that of becoming a "sadhu" or "sadhvi". Ageh writes:

He told those who are not courageous enough to wear saffron clothes and yet want to take sannyas could wear white clothes and "mala" that had to be kept visible from outside. Such sannyasins would be called "Sadhu" and Sadhvi". Later, when (s)he would gather courage, (s)he could then wear ochre-red clothes. The "Swami" and "Ma" name would be given to them. Moreover, it was hoped that finally every Sadhu (Sadhvi) would become "Swami" and "Ma" one day.

From Laxmi's book, The Journey of the Heart, we have a slightly different account:

Meanwhile in Mumbai several people were being initiated. Initially there were two options available for sannyas. There were sadhus initiated who wore white and continued living as householders. In some cases people were initiated temporarily for a few months in order to enable them to adjust to a new lifestyle. Sannyasins were initiated for long-term. Later the title sadhu and temporary sannyas were dropped. Only sannyas was offered and all became sannyasins.

Neeten writes in his Osho Source Book that at the next camp in Matheran, a new, even "easier" offer was made:

At this camp it was announced by Chinmaya in Osho’s presence on the morning of the 14th, that the friends who did not have the courage to wear orange or white clothes could wear any clothes of their choice, only wearing the mala visible. These people would be addressed as Sadhak [sic] and Sadhika. More than hundred took sannyas from Osho, including Laheru who had been holding back but was now given the name Sadhak [sic] Anand Sagar. This way of initiating people into sannyas was for one day only and the very next day Osho stopped these initiations.

This he cites from Laheru's then-unpublished manuscript. More about Laheru below. And Neeten has also found this from Osho:

So let there be one thousand, two thousand sannyasins, then there will be an atmosphere of easiness, then people will know that there is nothing to be afraid of. First this atmosphere of “there is nothing to be afraid of” must come. Then we will create that step. We can call it sadhu or bhikshu or…I am thinking to call it sadhu. They will be in a white robe with a mala. The robe will be white with a mala – sadhu and sadhvi. And that too will be allowed only for a particular period, for example, for one year. Then he will have to decide either to go back, or to go on. It cannot be prolonged forever – because this is only a step, so we cannot allow anyone to stay on that step continuously. He must go on or back down. So this will be for a period: for six months or for one year. In that one year a person will gather enough courage to jump. No one will go back. In one year we will think about it. You can make provision for it in the constitution, but we will allow it after one year.”
~ from Work Is Love Made Visible, ch 14

So who were these "quasi-"sannyasins? As the above accounts make clear, though the details are not all in synch, it was designed to be temporary. Its time as a device has long passed, so not much may be known about them aside from a few individuals. At this point, the only two about whom we know something are Sadhu Ishwar Samarpan and Sadhu Anand Sagar, who were, as it happens, pivotal and devoted participants in the work of making Osho available to the world at large via his books and tapes (audio) in the "Bombay era".

Sadhu Ishwar Samarpan was the secretary of Jeevan Jagruti Kendra, Osho's first publisher in Mumbai. He took his (white) sannyas in 1971 at Mt Abu. As secretary, he was responsible for all of Osho's publishing in those days, keeping it going and expanding, while financially on a shoestring. His name appeared as the publisher in many books, when it wasn't simply Jeevan Jagruti Kendra, thusly:

Publisher: Ishwarlal N [for Naranji] Shah (Sadhu Ishwar Samarpan), Secretary: Jeevan Jagruti Kendra (Life Awakening Centre)

He was widely known and respected as Ishwarbhai, and Laheru (Sadhak Anand Sagar) likewise as Laherubhai, bhai just meaning brother; used as a suffix, it is a sign of respect accorded elders. Laheru wrote in his unpublished memoir, "Ishwarbhai and I used to go to meet Osho two or three times every day and whatever work was given to us, we did it according to his instructions".

Laheru(bhai) was the one responsible for taping all of Osho's talks, keeping the expanding library of tapes in some kind of order and making copies available for those who wanted them. Neeten has his aka as Sw Chaitanya Sagar in his OSB References page (in connection with Laheru's then-unpublished memoir, now published as Blessed Moments with Osho). It is to be noted that in different places, credit is given to both Sadhu Anand Sagar and Swami Anand Sagar for the donation of land to the Anandshila project, though this appears to have been a different Anand Sagar, whose legal name was Praveen according to Gyan Bhed.

Laheru shows up again asking questions in Mumbai after Osho returns from his World Tour in 1986 but Ishwarbhai is not found in the CD-ROM except an early reference. The question-answer below, also from Mumbai, does not relate to either of them except tangentially, as members of the "-bhai community". It may be enjoyed on that level.

ALL THESE YEARS I HAVE NOTICED THAT YOU ADDRESS CERTAIN SANNYASINS, INCLUDING ME, BY OUR ORIGINAL NAME, NEVER USING OUR SANNYAS NAME. NOT ONLY THIS, BUT YOU AFFIX TO OUR NAME "JI," "BABU," "BHAI" -- A SIGN OF RESPECT SHOWN TO ELDERS. BELOVED OSHO, YOU BEING MY RESPECTED AND BELOVED MASTER, I FEEL PAINFULLY AWKWARD AND AS IF I MUST BE LACKING SOMETHING WHEN YOU ADDRESS ME THUS. WHY IS THIS SO? WILL YOU PLEASE KINDLY COMMENT?
Govind Siddharth, this is true. There are a few people who I have known long before the initiation into sannyas started. Even before sannyas they were sannyasins by their attitude, by their gratefulness. So when they took sannyas, as far as I was concerned, there was no change. They were already sannyasins to me. They were unaware of it, but to me there was no change. This was the reason that I continued their old names.
For example, I am addressing Govind Siddharth for the first time; otherwise I have always called him Lashkariji. Kakubhai... Falibhai... Jayantibhai... I have known them for so many years before sannyas, and there has been no drastic change. They smoothly moved into sannyas, so smoothly that I don't remember a few of their sannyas names. I don't know what is the name of Falibhai, and there is no need. Falibhai will become enlightened as Falibhai. He must know his sannyas name, but I have forgotten because I have never used it. And that was the case with Lashkariji. Today I have used Govind Siddharth before you all, but from tomorrow -- again Lashkariji!
Names don't matter.
I can understand your embarrassment that I am calling everybody else by the sannyas name and not calling you by the sannyas name -- "Is there something missing?" No, there is not anything missing. Even before you became a sannyasin there was nothing missing. Your sannyas has not been a revolution but an evolution. You have simply grown; you have not taken any jump, there has not been any need.
And you should understand my trouble also: when I see you, I don't remember Govind Siddharth, I remember Lashkariji. So you should be compassionate towards me too; I have my troubles. Now when Kakubhai comes to see me, I don't know his sannyas name. But the important thing is sannyas, not the name. And it is something inner, not something outer. So don't feel that way.
I can see the point, that you respect me. And this has been the human tradition all over the world: that if you respect me then I cannot respect you -- and that is absolutely wrong.
If you go to a Jaina monk and you put both your hands together with deep respect and bow down to him, he cannot do the same to you -- because you are respecting him, you are putting him on a higher pedestal; now from that pedestal he can only bless you. Jaina scriptures, Hindu scriptures, Buddhist scriptures all prohibit it: sannyasins should not be respectful towards non-sannyasins. They should be compassionate -- compassion keeps you above them.
But about everything, my approach is different. I respect all those who respect me. I love all those who love me.
The more you respect me, the more I respect you; it is a mutual phenomenon. There is no question of somebody being superior and somebody being inferior.
In Gautam Buddha's life, he liked to tell stories from his old lives. In one of his lives, when he was not enlightened, he heard about an enlightened man and went to see him. :He was a man of great charisma. Buddha had come with all kinds of questions and doubts and skepticism, but as he came close to him he forgot everything. He went down, touched his feet with tremendous respect. But as he stood up, he was surprised and shocked that the awakened man touched his feet. Buddha said to him, "What are you doing? You are awakened, you have arrived. Your journey is finished; I have not even taken the first step. It looks so embarrassing that before this whole crowd you touched my feet."
The man laughed and he said, "Don't be worried. I have not touched your feet, I have touched your future. Yesterday I was not awakened; tomorrow you will be awakened. So what is the difference? -- just a question of time. And it is absolutely necessary that I touch your feet, because I can see that you are going to become a great master. Millions of people will pay respect to you.
"Don't forget that one enlightened man has touched your feet while you were not enlightened -- remember it. Be respectful to those people -- because they may be asleep, but what is the difference between the asleep man and the awakened man? So little.... The asleep will become awakened, will have to become awakened -- how long can he sleep?"
So as far as I am concerned, I am not one of your so-called holier-than-thou saints.
I love you. I respect you. I am grateful, as you cannot conceive.
I am immensely thankful to every person who has come to me to share my joy, to share my being, to be part of my celebration.
~ from The Osho Upanishad, ch 14


see also
Sannyas: Orange and Mala