Ma Yoga Laxmi: River Merging in the Ocean Story – 4
Stories and role models impact our lives more deeply than we know. They have the power to elevate us to divinity. They can also be harmful if not chosen carefully. Remember how that celebrity, athlete or artist was the only one we wanted to emulate? A lot of our habits, ideas and dreams get influenced by role models. The great news is that just by changing the story in our head or changing the role model we look upto, life starts to change. Here is one story which has inspired many with love, gratitude and reverence for life.
The morning of 12th February was filled with music by her favourite flute player, Chaitanya Hari. Hundred plus disciples of Osho gathered to celebrate her birthday at Osho Dham. Ma Yoga Laxmi is fondly remembered for the love she shared generously with her fellow travellers. She was a devotee totally surrendered to Him and His work. That was her only life.
The day progressed and we heard the long-time disciples; Ma Dharam Jyoti, Swami Atul Anand, and Swami Ravindra Bharti sharing their personal memories of Laxmi. They narrated engrossing episodes from her early life and her life with Osho.
Laxmi had a frail body but she was strong, said Ma Jyoti. Available round-the-clock for His work, she was adept at handling multiple portfolios. She looked after His personal affairs, appointments, public meetings in Mumbai and more. She was His driver too when needed in the early days.
Ma Jyoti remembers Laxmi as a firm optimist; lack of funds did not deter her as she trusted projects would fructify. One of the 3 most powerful women in India as declared by the TOI was fervently running the Pune 1 ashram which was the world’s spirituals centre at the time. She was the fund raiser and negotiator with bankers and politicians. Every evening in darshan she sat beside Him. She consulted Him for all major decisions. She managed the ashram, welcomed hundreds of visitors who came from across the world. With these people, she set up all the systems that enabled smooth operations of the ashram, when technology, tourism and transportation were scarce. She fostered celebration in the ashram because it is the climate in which ego drops.
She was a bundle of energy according to Swami Ravindra. Her reverence for Him overflowed in every conversation and task. In early days in Mumbai, she lived with her family. Every morning she reached Woodland apartment on Peddar Road – where Osho lived – to attend to His work and returned home late at night.
Recalling her working style, Swami Atul said that she always referred to herself in third person. And never used the word ‘I. This was symbolic of non-identification with her physical body. For her everything was a ‘happening’ and she was not the doer. The ego or feeling that ‘I am doing it’ did not exist. Because Osho was her lifeforce. Immersed in His work and with utmost acceptance, she shared His love and vision with everyone. During business meetings, she never failed to share humour along with His guidelines.
Did she retire from work? Sw Atul responded that she worked throughout till she left her body. After Sheela took charge of His work in Rajneeshpuram, the USA, Laxmi too moved there and lived in a few cities. She underwent an operation for cancer. Osho then asked her to turn her attention inwards as her body was weak. Unshaken trust in the Master saw her through all twists in life. In tough situations, she said it was needed in the larger interest of His work. She would say, ‘He is faced with an awesome task. It is not to change human nature but to reunite humans with their true nature.’
Swami Ravindra remembered that while Laxmi was unwell, a few friends occasionally visited her home in Mumbai. She was weak, but cuddled the last lap of life with full gratitude for Him.
The morning session of the celebration concluded with dance and music at Osho Dham.
In the afternoon, everyone gathered to watch a documentary film – River Merging into the Ocean – a never before seen interview of Laxmi in America. In this film, she described her first meeting with Osho in a public forum that marked the beginning of her spiritual journey into the unknown with Him. She was spell bound when he walked in, she said. She described Him as ‘the Man on the Earth’ and said that her ‘real, juicy, groovy life’ began after meeting Osho.
In this interview, she describes the meeting in the office of the American Naturalisation services. The desperate officer arrested her without serving a warrant and denied legal aid for few hours. All this because she refused to ‘cooperate in exchange for information’ and to sign documents which would incriminate Osho. She even refused to speak against Sheela, His Secretary in Rajneeshpuram. Undaunted, she got the better of the situation. She felt sorry for the officers at having to deal with a person like Laxmi. She said, ‘Laxmi had a joyful experience’ resonating His message – Live dangerously and joyously.
The day at Osho Dham was well spent and fully enjoyed. It left most of us beaming with love and melted in Gratitude.
Rashid Maxwell, has written a book on Ma Laxmi, titled ‘The Only Life’ – Osho, Laxmi and a Journey of the Heart. In this book he recounts her life with Osho. Rashd has spent many years in Pune Ashram and in His commune at Rajneeshpuram. He now lives on his farm in UK.