MA DEVA GARIMO (Divine Glory)
Born in 1951 in Aachen, Germany. Garimo took sannyas in 1977 and presently lives in Perth, Western Australia.

38 Ma Deva Garimo

Putting my story into mere words seems so dry – just a list of “one thing after another,” when at the time it was all a warm orange blur. In the mid-1970s, I was a young and idealistic feminist lesbian, and I took it very seriously at the time.

I lived in North-West Germany, and it all began because I had decided to attend a women’s liberation congress in Munich, South Germany, and at the same time visit a girlfriend who lived there and had invited me to stay.

I took a train down to Munich, and my friend Pravesha met me at the station. She was wearing orange-coloured clothes, but at the time that meant nothing to me. She also had a picture of an older man hanging around her neck, which I thought was really strange. I had never heard of Rajneesh or sannyas and was interested in feminist politics, with no concern for ‘spirituality’ or male gurus.

She told me that before we would go home, she had to set out and ‘do the Dynamic,’ which she explained was a meditation. So, within minutes of arriving in Munich, I was sitting in a sannyas centre, sipping chai, and listening to the sounds of Dynamic coming through the walls. Let’s say I was stunned.

I certainly had lots of questions, and when the Dynamic was over, I was surrounded by sannyasins. I met the centre leader, Christ Krishna, who was very attentive to me. However, my girlfriend suddenly decided she needed to be alone, leaving me right there with my luggage to boot. I was stuck in Munich, not knowing anyone, and with nowhere to stay.

Christ Krishna offered to let me sleep on the floor in the meditation room of the center. The catch was that I had to get out when meditations were scheduled. I gratefully accepted; for a couple of days, I thought it would be OK.

And so I ended up staying at the Munich centre for a while – I don’t even remember for how long – but I felt comforted and happy and began joining in the meditations, as there was nowhere else for me to go. In between, tapes were played with the guru’s discourses, and although my English was not strong, I liked listening to his voice; it sometimes lulled me to sleep. He kept talking about something called “troot,” and I had no idea what it was, but it sounded good.

And so, by chance, it turned into an intensive introduction into sannyas life. I was surrounded by sannyasins and meditating intensively.

Christ Krishna was a wonderful host. He would talk to me for hours, telling me lovely stories about Bhagwan, the ashram in India, and what happened there. He talked to me. He talked some more – a lot more.

One day, after I’d been there for a couple of weeks, Christ Krishna and I packed a picnic and went high up into the snowy mountains outside Munich. We sat in the sunshine on the side of a mountain, and he talked more about Bhagwan. He turned around to me and said that I should follow my feelings. I said that if I followed my feelings, I would take sannyas. He told me that I could take sannyas right here in Munich, at the centre, right now. My head said no; my heart said yes. I listened to my heart, and we drove straight back to Munich, to the centre.

We found some orange-coloured clothes that sort of fit me (thin Indian cotton drawstring pants – in the middle of a German winter!) and Christ Krishna initiated me and gave me a mala. I was surprised by the little wooden box I was holding on top of my head during the initiation. I thought it was powered by batteries, because of the vibration. “No batteries,” Christ Krishna said, “but Bhagwan’s hair and nails.”

I extended my stay, of course. The next few days were busy with writing a letter to Bhagwan, asking for a name, dyeing my own clothes orange, and meditation. My name came later, by post. It ended in ‘o’, and I thought that it was a man’s name – I had a very short haircut in the picture I had sent to Poona with my letter, which might have misled Him. But as it said ‘Ma’, it wasn’t a mistake, and Christ Krishna explained that Bhagwan had said that He gave names ending in ‘o’ to people who were a bit crazy. This made perfect sense to me!

Eventually, of course, I had to return to my idealistic feminist lesbian commune, where I had been living previously, wearing orange clothes and with a picture of a man around my neck. I had to explain a lot! My friends were very surprised but understanding and loving, yet it was time to move on.

I was not so fixed on women any more (although I had a passionate affair with Ma Pashya while I was sleeping in a broom cupboard in Munich), but I was also having a passionate affair with Christ Krishna and a far deeper and more passionate affair of the heart with Bhagwan. Those days were so intense and so full of feelings and passion that I don’t remember too many facts about them.

It quickly became inevitable that I would go to Poona, which I managed just a few months later. Arriving at the ashram and sitting at His feet, I knew I had found my home; this was where I wanted to be forever. I never wanted to be anywhere else ever again.

Along the way, I found out what “troot” meant.

 “For example, you are listening to me: you can listen in a lukewarm way – half asleep, half awake, yawning, thinking a thousand and one things, planning, the last night still hanging around you, hangovers of a thousand and one types – and you are listening too. Then there is a question of whether I am telling the truth or not. If you are passionately listening, if you are utterly herenow, that very passion will decide. In that intensity you will know what truth is. If I say something which is true, it will immediately strike in your heart. Because you will be so intelligent, how can you miss it?

Your intelligence will be so alert, how can you miss it? And if there is something which is not true, you will see it immediately. The vision will come, immediate. There will be no decision on your part: ‘Should I follow this man or not?’ That is out of confusion. You have not listened, you have not seen me.

See the point of it! With truth you need not agree or disagree. The truth has to be heard totally, with sensitivity, that’s all. And that very sensitivity decides. You see, you immediately feel the truth of it. In that very feeling you have moved into truth – not that you agreed or disagreed; not that you were convinced by me, converted by me. I’m not converting anybody; truth converts. And truth is not a belief, and truth is not an argument; truth is a presence. If you are present you will feel it. If you are not present you will not feel it.”

Osho, The Heart Sutra, Ch 9

From the book, Past the Point of No Return by Ma Anand Bhagawati


Book Cover Past the Point