Longing of the Heart – a Sannyas Journey

excerpts from an interview with Ma Deva Mati

hen I was seven years old I started saying to my family and friends: one day I’m going to go to India and it’s going to change my life. I was 28 when I finally got there.

I met Pujari treeplanting up north in Quebec. We came back to Montreal and stayed with his mother who was dying of cancer. We knew she wanted to last till Christmas so we took those last four months just to be with her. It was quite beautiful. It was very caring loving energy all the way.

We had Christmas the way she wanted it – small but nice. A week later she looked at me and said, “I’m ready. It’s time to go.” Before we left the house for the hospital she said that she wanted me to hold one of her hands and Pujari to hold the other for the last breath. She wanted that send-off.

Two nights later I was sitting with her and Pujari was in the next room sleeping. It was three in the morning and my body was tired but my eyes kept opening by themselves. I saw this bubbling kind of energy coming from her feet up her body –
it was like champagne bubbles. So immediately I went to get Pujari and said, “Something’s happening; come, wake up. Something’s happening right now.”

He came and I said just take her hand and I’ll take the other one and there was one last breath and off she went. It was just like that. It was very beautiful.

We went to Pune in March 1988. And as soon as I came into the ashram I just knew that this was it. The first time I saw Osho in discourse I just laughed and cried. Avirbhava was giving sannyas at that time and when I went to the office I was laughing and crying. She didn’t do the usual interview because there was nothing to say.

At the sannyas celebration she gave me the mala and the name and then she came and whispered in my ear that she had a message from Osho. And the message was: that you have something that everybody has, but for you, it’s stronger. And then she said, “You come and see me as much as you want.”

I was very young; I was pretty impressed by all this. I was 28 but I was very young in the process. So basically every day I’d go visit her in her room. She sat with me and sent me energy and I’d fall on the ground and she’d say, “OK, now you can go.” And I’d go in the garden and stay there for a few hours and the next day I’d go back to her again. We did that for three months.

For the next seven years I kept coming and going between Pune and Canada. After a while I started to work in the darkroom. At the time it was in a very small barn by the stream where the Pyramids are now. Osho would come out for discourse and then immediately after, the guys would come in the darkroom with the film and develop it and then I’d get to print all the pictures. And the magic was to see Osho come out of the darkness – there was this white light coming out on paper. I knew it was the photography process but for me it was magic.

The only problem I had there was that I used to print Osho very white because all I could see was white light. A few times people came up to me and said, you have to remember that he’s Indian – he needs to be darker than that.

Just before he left the body, Osho told us he was receiving a psychic attack. During discourse one night one of the photographers said he sensed a very negative presence in the darkroom. Everybody was trying to understand what this psychic attack was all about. We tried everything to find out who was doing it. I heard many stories. The thing that came to every one of us was that maybe we were doing it unconsciously. That was my big fear – maybe there is something beyond me who is doing that. A lot of us went through that. You think: maybe I don’t know who I am and someone is using me. That was the big fear in the ashram.

It was a mystery and it never really got cleared. We never knew.

The day before Osho left the body one of the photographers came back from Goa and I said, “It’s good you came back, because Osho’s about to leave.” I knew that because his wrist was very small and his body was like a thread. But when it happened I was in shock like everyone else. I knew it was coming, I couldn’t do anything about it, and when it came I was just in shock. People didn’t really know whether to laugh or cry or celebrate.

Amrito told us at 7 p.m. that Osho was gone. The energy was pretty frantic, it was crazy, we were happy and sad. I went with everyone to the Burning Ghats and stayed there for maybe three hours. Then I thought I was going to faint, it was just too much. I needed to go home. A whole bunch of us went back to someone’s room and stayed together because we couldn’t go home alone. There were people singing and drumming that night but I didn’t feel like singing really. I needed more time, it was a bit too fast.

The beautiful part began the next day. I’ve never seen the ashram like that. There was a breeze of softness that was never there before. For three days the ashram was just in a beautiful space.

At the time I was printing the last pictures of Osho. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and all I could see was this image of the body burning. I couldn’t avoid the fact that the body was gone. I had it in front of my face all day. I had to go through the process of letting go in a big way because of the pictures. It was obvious; I had proof. When they brought Osho’s ashes back to the ashram there was a true moment of celebration. It was really beautiful – a very high energy. At first I didn’t know what was going on because of the darkroom situation – we had so much work. One of the photographers said to me, “Mati, pick a camera and as much film as you can find and go take pictures.” So I went with my camera and I stood on a rock near the waterfall at the front of the ashram. It was like, Oh my God, there’s a lot of people here, what’s happening? I was very surprised when I heard that they were coming from the Burning Ghats and bringing Osho’s ashes.

I took some beautiful pictures. You could see that it was a very juicy time. We were dancing and singing and throwing rose petals.

The shock was over, we knew that we could keep the ashram going. The basic
stuff was taken care of; there was food for everyone and there were people cleaning – which was a total miracle. Because when the master leaves the body you don’t know what to expect, you don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s like: maybe this is it. Then you come back the next morning and there’s someone making breakfast. The beauty of the love was amazing at that time.

When the ashes came back people had had enough time to get over the first shock. They got the message at that point; I think this is where it really happened. For the first time we were able to feel the liberation of his not being in the body. Before that it was just shock and pain.

We went through shock phases. First we had the big shock – and now we came back a bit and were able to celebrate. Then the pain came back later – and then more celebration. But it went deeper than that. It’s a long process. It was just too much to take all at once. You need to take some time and see – it’s big.

My life was about being with Osho. There was nothing else and no other interest. So if he goes, how am I going to live? It was a big one for a lot of us.

Now I know that the connection never stops. It’s not that I meditate every day or that I’m a perfect sannyasin or anything like that. I get lazy and I forget and I get busy with my stories. But the connection is so deep that I can find it any time I need to. Whenever I go back inside myself it’s immediately there.

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