(19.03.1949 – 02.05.2021)
Ma Yoga Neelam met Osho for the first time in 1969 during one of his visits to Ludhiana, and was initiated into sannyas by Osho in 1972. She regularly visited the Pune Ashram until Osho left for the States. She then joined him and lived in Rajneeshpuram for four years.
In November 1985 she returned to India together with Osho and was then appointed by him as his personal secretary for India. When Osho came back to his commune in Pune, she continued to work as his secretary and taking care of his work in India. She was also appointed by Osho as a member of the Inner Circle.
When Osho left his body in 1990, she remained in the Pune commune doing the work given to her by Osho. From 1996 till 1999, she travelled each year to eight different countries in Europe leading meditation events. When she left the Pune commune in 1999 she kept touring across the length and breadth of India conducting meditation camps and lovingly sharing her insights gained from being with Osho.
As asked on many occasions by Osho, she became involved in creating an oasis in the Himalayas for fellow travelers to come together and meditate. Osho Nisarga in Dharamsala is the result of that effort.
Neelam first encountered cancer in 2016, and took it up as just another challenge, a hit of her Master’s Zen stick. After braving through countless chemos and several other procedures, all with her indomitable and cheerful spirit, she knew when the time came to leave the body.
Fighting all odds, she insisted returning to her home, Nisarga. She spent her last night watching her breath, sitting cross-legged as much as possible, often updating her daughter and primary caretaker of how her breath was leaving.
“Now it all has to happen through you. Just have the confidence,” she told her daughter, Priya, and soon breathed her last.
I was indeed saddened to know about Ma Neelam’s demise from my good friend, Swami Chaitanya Keerti. I was aware recently about her battle with cancer and how she had bravely fought it. It’s so unfortunate that it relapsed.
I knew Ma Neelam as a young journalist of The Indian Express since the early mid-1990s. She stood out gracefully amidst the Inner Circle group of Indians. Being the secretary of Osho, she held a pivotal position and so was always in the media limelight. Ma Neelam, tall and lanky, had a very pleasing and dignified disposition. Her politeness always made me feel that she was a reserved person and in that sense, really not a journalists’ delight (chuckle). If you asked her a question, you did not expect her to freely wax eloquent, but in her own demure style, she would give you the answers. The rest of it she left it to Swami Keerti, who was the friendly , ever-smiling and always-accessible media spokesperson. She had attained a glamorous status in the Pune community as she would always be in the forefront, as a hostess, during Osho Festivals when the who’s who of India’s music and performing arts maestros used to come to perform and they were open to the public. She was so simple and good natured that one could never find any grudge against her. She was the epitome of love. I felt really bad when SHE walked out of the Osho Commune thanks to its commercialisation and management which bulldozed through some shocking changes. But being an epitome of love and dedicated to her master, Osho, she created a beautiful paradise in Dharamshala. She is now in the comfort of her heavenly abode. My prayers to her daughter Priya and all her friends, particularly Swami Keerti to be strong to bear this loss. She is sure to inspire all of you.
Senior Journalist, RTI columnist & activist