When a participant of the Osho Meditation Resort passes away and an Osho Death Celebration is requested, everyone at the Ashram is invited and indeed encouraged to attend. All other meditations are cancelled with the life celebration taking precedence. According to Osho philosophy, both death and life are celebrations! A long time elderly devotee of Osho passed away a few days after I arrived in Pune. As is custom, the celebration and cremation take place the day after the passing!
The gentleman’s body was lying on a wood and bamboo type of platform, placed on a cart and wheeled into the Osho Pyramid Meditation Auditorium by family members. He was shrouded in a simple white cloth decorated with marigolds and various flowers. There is little mourning when a Hindu dies because they believe that once a person is born he or she never dies. The soul lives on. Often there is little crying. They believe the point of a ‘funeral‘ is to show respect not sadness. High energy music played on the sound system as we circled his body, singing, drumming, dancing with family members.
The body was then taken to the Burning Ghats on the merging Mula Murtha Rivers for the cremation where more drumming, singing and humming continued, followed by a reverent silence as the burning commenced. This portion of the celebration was somewhat more somber and I personally felt it should be reserved for family members although many from the Ashram stayed behind. A few of us opted to stand back out of respect for the family’s privacy.
“Fire is a great symbol of purification, of detachment, of rising vertically towards the ultimate space which is our home. We come from there and we go back there”…. Osho
Despite the celebratory aspect, it certainly was a sobering early intro to my life here in Pune! Over the last weeks, I have slowly been processing this unexpected participation in a life celebration. It is such a vast departure from our Western ways. It was hard not to draw a parallel to my sister Raija’s recent and vastly different memorial service and cremation. Yes, we do things differently in our Western world … not necessarily better, not worse but certainly with a different attitude towards death.
The Ashram continues to foster an unusual kind of quiet in me. A reflective, far less reactive me is re-emerging. Puzzling because a lot of the meditations or portions of them can be quite loud and somewhat annoying for someone like me who prefers a quiet style. Perhaps the science behind these meditations, much toted here and developed by Osho long ago, is relevant after all … although I was and still remain somewhat skeptical!! However millions of believers have experienced great results in peaceful personal growth … so who am I to dispute Osho’s methodology?? I remind myself that I did not come here as a tourist for a holiday but to learn something new that intrigues me … ie. remind myself to keep an open mind 😗 !
Early mornings usually find me in the outdoor breakfast area around the pool, sipping a ginger lemon tea, munching on the fruit of the day, and a chunk of cheese. As I sip and munch, I watch the birds flying from tree to tree, chirping away as the sun slowly rises over the tree line. I have rediscovered my love for the peaceful energy of early mornings! Teerth Park for a nature bathing walk remains part of my early morning ritual. I savour the peaceful unfolding of another day 🙏.