This Precious Moment

When an Enlightened One Dies

excerpts from an interview with Sw Satya Vedant

sho has often talked about Zen masters and how consciously they leave the body. And He Himself left His body that way. Osho’s leaving the body was the most blissful experience of my life.

I knew that He was not well and that He looked very fragile, but I had no clue that He was about to leave. I didn’t know that the night of January 17, 1990 would be His last appearance in Buddha Hall.

Now when I visualize that evening, it is very vivid and extremely remarkable. As you know He would come on the podium and namaste us all as we were sitting there in front of Him. He came in front of me and looked at me. And obviously when I had contact with His eyes I bowed down to Him. Normally it would happen that by the time I raised my head He would have moved away. But that evening He was still looking at me. I was delighted; I again bowed down to Him. And when I raised my head again, He was still looking at me. I was absolutely in ecstasy.

But now when I look back at those eyes with hindsight I can see that He was saying good-bye. He was giving His final blessing.

In the late afternoon of January 19, I was in my office when someone came running and called me to an urgent meeting of the Inner Circle. I had no clue what I was going to hear. When I heard the news I was so shocked I almost fell down.

From the morning He had been giving instructions: what to do, which of His things to give away. And you will not believe this, but He went into the bathroom, took a shower, came out and put on His robe by Himself. He said: you do only one thing, you just put my socks on and my cap; you take me to Buddha Hall for ten minutes and then take me to the Burning Ghat.

As Amrito His doctor took His pulse, which was fading, he said: Osho, I think this is it. And Osho nodded and closed His eyes and was gone. So until the last breath He was conscious. This is what the death of a master is: to die consciously, with full awareness, aware at the last moment that death is coming.

For us in the Inner Circle the challenge was to bring the news to sannyasins. It was about 6:15 pm and what to do? Definitely we had to tell them but instead of creating any panic we had to make sure they understood what had happened.

I went into Buddha Hall and stood there, watching the sannyasins coming in for evening darshan. Most of them had no idea. Then Amrito came and made the announcement. And it was very interesting that people of course felt a deep pain of loss but at the same time there wasn’t a show of undue sadness. The news was very beautifully taken.

We prepared His body in Indian style on a stretcher with flowers. Around 8:00 pm we brought him to Buddha Hall for 10 or 15 minutes, and then took Him to the cremation ghat. By this time the news had spread all over; it was on TV; people started coming in.

The police were very cooperative. The moment they were informed that we would need their support to bring the body to the cremation place without interruption, they started making arrangements to control the crowds. Even then it took us almost two hours to reach to the ghat. Usually it’s barely a ten-minute walk from the ashram, but that night there were so many people there.

I was blessed to be one of those who carried Him on my shoulders. As you know there were six of us. And slowly slowly we went. By 10:15 pm we reached there. Osho’s brother lit the fire and the cremation happened. We were there until the early hours of the morning.

Osho always said that it’s a tremendous experience to be present when a master leaves the body. I am a witness to that. It was as if we were automatically in a state of no-mind. There was no thought at all. Things were happening; we were taking care of the details; everything was happening as it should. But there was no thought of any kind. It was an incredible experience of thoughtlessness made possible by the energy that must have been generated as
He left.

I felt, and others have shared with me, that we were in a space that was very silent. There was no commotion; there was no scattering; there was a very silent pool of energy.

Something else happened that was also amazing, which I never anticipated. At 6:00 am in the commune next morning Dynamic Meditation started. I was flabbergasted. I would have imagined that anyone running the meditation could have said: I was still at the ghat and I couldn’t reach there and I was in my own space and how could you expect me to be there? Nothing doing. At 6:00 am Dynamic started and at 7:00 am breakfast was ready – as if nothing had happened. It was amazing. There were thousands of people there and thousands of things to take care of. People were crying and wanting to know this and do that and everyone was in a different state.

But the work did not change at all; it was not interfered with. That is how He had wanted it: that the work should go on no matter what. The man is not important, but the message is. That has been one of the most beautiful experiences of my life: to be able to continue with work even though such a big thing has happened in our lives. Because for sannyasins what can be bigger than the master’s leaving the body? Even though we knew that the body had to leave, still it was an existential fact that he was no longer there with us.

And then of course on the third day we brought back His ashes and the samadhi was created. So that whole period of His leaving the body was for me an enormously enriching growing experience.

His mother also left the body that way. I was in America when it happened in 1995 but I heard the story. She was always humble and unassuming. She always said: why do people think I am such a big thing? Yes, I am very blessed that Osho was born as my son but I am not such a big deal. She was always laughing and welcoming and feeding people.

She had not been well for a long time. So her sons wanted to put her into the hospital. And she said: why do you want to bother? This body is not going to stay long anyway. But they insisted so she said OK.

She was brought in and the doctor wanted to give her an injection. She said: why do you want to give an injection to this body now? What difference does it make if it lasts for one day or for ten days?

But her sons wanted her to. So she talked to her body. She said: OK, they want you to have an injection, why don’t you have? You have done so much for them before; you can do this much also. She talked to her body; that was the detachment she had already created. And she said: why have you people gathered here? Don’t speak; just sit down and meditate.

So everyone would sit in meditation in her hospital room. And she would say: I don’t need anything; I just watch my breath: breath coming in, breath going out. That’s all I do.

Doctors would come in and they would be amazed, because the whole atmosphere was nothing but completely meditation. Nothing was happening there.

She stayed in the hospital for three or four days. Then she said: are you happy now? Can I go back to my room? And they said OK. So she was brought to her room and she said: I will be leaving the body at four in the morning.

And so that night everybody was sitting there. Around midnight she asked the people to leave her alone, so everyone left the room. But then they were all worried about what might be happening to her, so one by one they started trickling back.

Around four she was sitting up in her bed in meditation posture and she asked for a drink of water. While she was drinking a few drops fell and somebody tried to wipe her face. She stopped that person; she picked up her napkin; she wiped her face; and while sitting she closed her eyes and was gone.

It was remarkable. This was a very simple woman, just an ordinary person. But through her meditative process she had developed that ability to remain awake and alert and conscious even until the last moment.

After Osho leaving the body, this is the second example that we have witnessed. These experiences and examples reinforce that it is not a fiction; it is really possible to leave the body consciously.

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