A Day in the Life
- This ashram is just a device, nothing else. I am not interested in creating a monastery or an ashram. This is just a device so that people can be here with me and learn how to love and surrender... how to transform small things into great... how to transform cleaning into prayer or cooking into worship, or typing or editing or guarding or gardening into holy experiences.
~from The Great Nothing, ch 12.
In the above, Osho is addressing someone in darshan. There follows a multi-page journey through a "typical" day in the ashram as of Sep 30 1977, put together by Maneesha, the editor of most of Osho's Darshan Diaries. There are many pictures, omitted here, and a lot of text.
A Day in the Life . . .
As the hands of the alarm clock meet with a shrilly insistent cry at five-thirty, in his room in the ashram, Chaitanya, editor of the foundation's "Rajneesh Newsletter" and conductor of the group meditations, arises from his bed and braves the chilly morning air of the still-dark night-day. Elsewhere, from various hotels and dormitories, bungalows and huts within a two mile radius of the ashram, other sannyasins sling protesting bodies over bicycles and drunkenly pedal the sleeping roads of Poona, precariously wending their way ashram-wards.
Two minutes to six, and several dozen dark shapes can be discerned in Radha meditation hall. The dark shapes are in a variety of postures -- some vainly trying to prolong the last sweet moments of oblivion, others stoically cajoling their bodies into various intricate asanas.
The deep, monk-like voice of the gong intones the commencement of the meditation, and soon the hall is athrob with the primitive drum-beats and the frenetic fire breathing of the first stage of the Dynamic meditation. Meanwhile Shiva, armed with a camera, is striding the road that follows the course of the river for some miles on one of his morning walks.
Cleaning ladies Sarita, Paras and Astha, sleepily greet each other over mops and buckets in Lao Tzu House -- Bhagwan's residence. A night guard gratefully downs the last of the tea from his faithful thermos, while on the roof of Krishna House someone is sitting Buddha-like to greet the sun, now blushingly peeping over the horizon.
An hour later and the ashram is sprinkled with the sounds of gods and goddesses arising from their nocturnal sleeping state -- fragile bodies baptised by the cruel splash of water, dazed consciousnesses jolted by the occasional snatch of a refrain from the bathroom of an aspiring soprano. A mug of tea later and the hundred or so resident sannyasins are compos mentis -- more or less.
It is half an hour before the daily discourse. Sannyasins and visitors purchase their tickets and sit, stand and meditate in the queue that sprawls its way almost the length of the ashram. While some sannyasins come careering in through the gates on bicycles, the strange beetle-like motorised rickshaws with their nasal-voiced horns, bump to a halt before the ashram gates, spilling out more sannyasins of all shapes and sizes in twos and threes.
By eight o'clock the Chuang Tzu auditorium is a pool of orange people. Bhagwan, clothed in a dazzling white that would gladden the heart of any surf promoter, smilingly greets the faces upturned before him, and commences an hour-and-a-half of cosmic gossip.
Emerging tear-stained, exuberant, stiff of leg and dry of throat, sannyasins make their way from the auditorium towards Vrindavan fruit juice bar, there to partake of the enticing menu which boasts among others, such exotic foods as "the sound of one hand clapping" (commonly known as cheesecake).
By ten o'clock, those who work in the ashram are fully immersed in their work -- no, play. Siddhesh, on the lathe in the mala workshop, coerces an uninspired-looking piece of rosewood into a row of plump and glowing mala beads. A group of women sit at a table in the sun nearby, filing lockets and exchanging esoteric and not-so-esoteric chit-chat.
Veetmoha skilfully engineers the ashram's landrover out through the gates of the ashram, driving town-wards on ashram business. While Amritam, M.D., tends ailing bodies, Haridas, "medico electrico", tends ailing fuses. The daily mail has arrived, and is eagerly sorted through by dozens of feverish fingers -- letters from Austria and Amsterdam, Chile and Greece, from Australia and Africa, Ireland and Edinburgh, from London and Luxembourg, Los Angeles and Leningrad. Gandha, receptionist at the desk, takes an imperceptible breath, counts slowly to three, then turns, beaming radiantly, to answer the clamourous voice of the telephone and the multitude of queries from a dozen visitors surrounding the desk.
Renuka, amidst the clatter of the typewriters and the squeals of children playing on the lawn near the fountain in front of the office, continues to compile and check subscriptions for the newsletter, while Siddharth balances books with the skill of a tightrope walker. Bharti in the bookstall is already inundated with customers purchasing magazines, books and photographs of Bhagwan. Two sannyasins with nature-bleached hair and bodies glistening from the heat of the now several-hours-old sun, tend the vegetable plot of Jesus House, while shrieks and laughter sporadically emerge from Chaitanya Therapy Chambers, where in the Encounter group, Merlin, masquerading as Teertha, waves his magic bataka, transforming blocked bodies and suffering psyches.
Sudha, the editor of "Sannyas" magazine is en route to a local press to hammer and to humour, while Pratima, another editor, leaves her room in Eckhart House and, manuscripts underarm, sets off to begin a day's proofreading with Vandana. Yatri, the book designer, assails her in the corridor, and after a hurried two-minute conference, disappears into the bowels of the darkroom. Parijat, the ashram seamstress, makes her way to the verandah of Lao Tzu House to play, while her husband, white-haired Paritosh, pad in lap, sits in the sun on his balcony and gazes at the sannyasins thronging the juice bar, then, inspired, begins to write his daily journal.
In the Meera dining hall, three or four sannyasins cut, peel and grate food, and the occasional finger, in preparation for the midday meal. Deeksha, italian and volatile, flings arms and instructions through the air, then bends to examine the huge cauldron of macaroni and cheese that is assailing the nostrils of a group of twenty sannyasins t'ai-chi-ing their way through an hour's practice in Radha hall.
Hurrah, it is twelve! Food is consumed and tummies placated with somewhat unmeditative haste in the communal dining hall. An hour later the silence of siesta time has fallen over the ashram. . . .
It is two in the afternoon as the pulse of the ashram quickens to the hammering of the construction workers on the site next door. Dark-skinned, sari-clad workers, great metal bowls of cement poised elegantly on their heads, file past Laxmi's office where a group of Westerners are exchanging news of their respective meditation centres for darshan appointments. Prateek, returning to the recording department to recommence the taping of the daily discourses, passes half a dozen mini-sannyasins as they jump, skip and tumble their way to "Ankur", their play centre.
Somewhere else in the ashram, books are being packed for shipping to a dozen different centres in Europe and the States, while if one could peep into the Vipassana meditation room, one could be witness to twelve to twenty gods-in-waiting, watching their thoughts on the way to nirvana.
Mukta greets a van of shrubs and potplants as they arrive from a nearby nursery, supervising with incredible acumen, their prospective homes in the already densely inhabited jungle-garden of Bhagwan's residence.
Three-thirty, and a sannyasin emerges from a Rolfing session, tentatively testing how far he can ask his therapised limbs to bear him. Three sannyasins take time off from their play to work on the perfecting of their other passion -- the "hurtling-of-the-hubcap", otherwise known as frisbee-playing, in the corner of the ashram, unofficially dubbed by adherents of the art as the Sigmund Freud Frisbee Field.
Radha Hall is now the setting for the African dance group who, led by black-skinned Neeraj and doubled up with laughter, are attempting a kind of rumba, arms on each other's waists, while the blues-rock music to which they are dancing lends a slightly bizarre and zany note to the atmosphere of the ashram. An hour later the dance group is replaced by meditators as they quake and shake their kundalini (snake).
Six-fifteen and prostrate figures spread-eagled or foetal-like cover the entire meditation area. A small group of sannyasins and visitors sit by the entrance of Lao Tzu House in various stages of excitement and anticipation, for their darshan with Bhagwan. Having been mustered and inspected for perfume-less hair and dust-free bodies, the group wend their way into the auditorium. Meanwhile another group has gathered for an informal evening of listening to classical music in the room of Chaitanya Hari, music composer.
The Nadam Music group has begun to collect: Bodhi with his tabla, Govinddas on guitar and mandolin, Premda dwarfed by a large tamboura, Kabir on flute, and an assortment of others on half a dozen or more instruments. Gradually as the notes begin to weave themselves into melodies, dancers, abandoning inhibitions and sandals, fling and whirl their way to nowhere.
As the last strains of music fade into the silence of the night, a group of blissed-out, Bhagwan-filled sannyasins, float from darshan through the gates of Lao Tzu to fall into the arms of waiting friends and lovers. The Encounter group has taken itself off to Vrindavan, the juice bar, which is now red-lit and pleasantly subdued.
A couple stroll hand in hand the length of the road by the ashram, exchanging bits of each other’s day, or wordlessly savouring the stillness of the night, silent save for the sound of their solitary footfall and the occasional rustle and flap of a passing bat.
An hour later they have returned, exchanged cheerful goodnights with neighbouring friends and made for their rooms. Another day lived, loved, suffered, celebrated, the ashram sighs, sleeps, snores and dreams in the velvety arms of the night.