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> Death of Nani, Osho’s grandmother

October 7th 1970 Osho rushes to his Nani's deathbed. It is his last visit to Gadarwara*. Osho arranges to move his library from Jabalpur to Bombay.

*Note: Osho relates several stories about old village friends he met on this last visit to Gadarwara, some of which have been included elsewhere

My grandmother was right in saying I would not have friends…only to the point when I started initiating people into sannyas. She was alive for just a few days after I initiated the first group of sannyasins in the Himalayas. I had particularly chosen the most beautiful part of the Himalayas, Kulu Manali—"the valley of the gods" as it is called. And certainly it is a valley of gods. It is so beautiful that one cannot believe it, even when one is standing in the valley itself. It is unbelievably true. I had chosen Kulu Manali for the first initiation of twenty-one sannyasins.
That was just a few days before my mother…my grandmother died. Excuse me again, because I go on again and again calling her "mother" and then correcting it. What can I do? I had known her as my mother. My whole life I have tried to correct it and not been able to….
I would have liked to initiate my grandmother, but she was in the village of Gadarwara. I even tried to contact her, but Kulu Manali is nearly two thousand miles from Gadarwara. glimps23

My grandmother lived till eighty and she was fully healthy. Even then nobody thought she was going to die. I promised her one thing, that when she died I would come, and that would be my last visit to the family. She died in 1970. I had to fulfill my promise. glimps02

This is the first time I have told anybody. My Nani was my first disciple. I taught her the way. My way is simple: to be silent, to experience in one's self that which is always the observer, and never the observed; to know the knower, and forget the known.
My way is simple, as simple as Lao Tzu's, Chuang Tzu's, Krishna's, Christ's, Moses', Zarathustra's…because only the names differ, the way is the same. Only pilgrims are different; the pilgrimage is the same. And the truth, the process, is very simple.
I was fortunate to have had my own grandmother as my first disciple, because I have never found anybody else to be so simple. I have found many very simple people, very close to her simplicity, but the profoundness of her simplicity was such that nobody has ever been able to transcend it, not even my father. He was simple, utterly simple, and very profound, but not in comparison to her. I am sorry to say, he was far away, and my mother is very very far away; she is not even close to my father's simplicity.
You will be surprised to know—and I am declaring it for the first time—my Nani was not only my first disciple, she was my first enlightened disciple too, and she became enlightened long before I started initiating people into sannyas. She was never a sannyasin.
She died in 1970, the year when I started initiating people into sannyas. She was on her deathbed when she heard about my movement. Although I did not hear it myself, one of my brothers reported to me that these were her last words…. "It was as if she were talking to you," my brother told me. "She said, 'Raja, now you have started a movement of sannyas, but it is too late. I cannot be your sannyasin because by the time you reach here I will not be in this body, but let it be reported to you that I wanted to be your sannyasin.'"
She died before I reached her, exactly twelve hours before. It was a long journey from Bombay to that small village, but she had insisted that nobody should touch her body until I arrived; then whatever I decided should be done. If I wanted her body to be buried, then it would be okay. If I wanted her body to be burned, that too would be okay. If I wanted something else to happen, then that too would be okay.
When I reached home I could not believe my eyes: she was eighty years of age and yet looked so young. She had died twelve hours before, but still there was no sign of deterioration. I said to her, "Nani, I have come. I know you will not be able to answer me this time. I'm just telling you so that you can hear. There is no need to answer." Suddenly, almost a miracle! Not only I was present, but my father too, and the whole family, were there. In fact the whole neighborhood had gathered. They all saw one thing: a tear rolled down from her left eye—after twelve hours!
Doctors had declared her dead. Now, dead men don't weep; even real men rarely do, what to say about dead men! But there was a tear rolling from her eye. I took it as an answer, and what more could be expected? I gave fire to her funeral, as was her wish. I did not do that even to my father's body.
In India it is almost an absolute law that the eldest son should begin the fire for his father's funeral pyre. I did not do it. As far as my father's body was concerned, I did not even go to his funeral. The last funeral I attended was my Nani's.
That day I told my father, "Listen, Dada, I will not be able to come to your funeral."
He said, "What nonsense are you saying? I am still alive."
I said, "I know you are still alive, but for how long? Just the other day Nani was alive; tomorrow you may not be. I don't want to take any chances. I want to say right now that I have decided I will not attend any other funeral after my Nani's. So please forgive me, I will not be coming to your funeral. Of course you will not be there so I am asking your forgiveness today."
He understood and was a little shocked of course, but he said, "Okay, if this is your decision, but who then is going to give fire at my funeral?"
This is a very significant question in India. In that context it would normally be the eldest son. I said to him, "You already know I am a hobo, I don't possess anything."…
I could not go to my father's funeral, but I had asked his permission beforehand, a long time before, at my Nani's funeral. My Nani was not a sannyasin, but she was a sannyasin in other ways, in every other way except that I had not given her a name. She died in orange. Although I had not asked her to wear orange, but on the day she became enlightened she stopped wearing her white dress.
In India a widow has to wear white. And why only a widow? So that she does not look beautiful—a natural logic. And she has to shave her head! Look…what to call these bastards! Just to make a woman ugly they cut off her hair and don't allow her to use any other color than white. They take all the colorfulness from her life. She cannot attend any celebration, not even the marriage of her own son or daughter! Celebration as such is prohibited for her.
The day my Nani became enlightened, I remember—I have noted it down, it will be somewhere—it was the sixteenth of January, 1967. I say without hesitation that she was my first sannyasin; and not only that, she was my first enlightened sannyasin. glimps16

I never saw a more beautiful woman than my Nani. I myself was in love with her, and loved her throughout her whole life. When she died at the age of eighty, I rushed home and found her lying there, dead. They were all just waiting for me because she had told them that they should not put her body on the funeral pyre until I arrived. She had insisted that I set light to her funeral pyre, so they were waiting for me. I went in, uncovered her face…and she was still beautiful! In fact, more beautiful than ever, because all was quiet; even the turmoil of her breathing, the turmoil of living was not there. She was just a presence.
To put the fire to her body was the most difficult task I have ever done in my life. It was as if I was putting fire to one of the most beautiful paintings of Leonardo or Vincent van Gogh. Of course to me she was more valuable than the Mona Lisa, more beautiful to me than Cleopatra. It is not an exaggeration.
All that is beautiful in my vision somehow comes through her. She helped me in every way to be the way I am. glimps06

Even in her death she was beautiful. I could not believe that she was dead. And suddenly all the statues of Khajuraho became alive to me. In her dead body I saw the whole philosophy of Khajuraho. The first thing I did after seeing her was to again go to Khajuraho. It was the only way to pay homage to her. Now Khajuraho was even more beautiful than before because I could see her everywhere, in each statue….
Khajuraho—the very name rings bells of joy in me, as if it had descended from heaven to earth. On a full-moon night, to see Khajuraho is to have seen all that is worth seeing. My grandmother was born there; no wonder she was a beautiful woman, courageous and dangerous too. Beauty is always so, courageous and dangerous. She dared. My mother does not resemble her, and I am sorry about that. You cannot find any proof of my grandmother in my mother. Nani was such a courageous woman, and she helped me to dare everything—I mean everything. Glimps04

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