Punya’s wonderful book is going to become a classic in the genre of sannyas-lit. It’s high, wide, and handsome – a sweeping saga, as they say; a comprehensive personal and collective history of our dazzling decades. It’s readable, human, accessible, friendly, detailed. Her memory is amazing, her research as to dates and particular events is satisfyingly thorough.
Punya’s vantage-points are fascinatingly varied; she has done more jobs in one life than most people would manage in ten. From editing to advertising to kitchen work to construction, taxi-driving, music-making, art, meditation-centre-leading, PR and more, this quadra-lingual Swiss-Italian ‘oldie’ – she took sannyas in 1974 – has worked a great many jobs both in the various communes and ‘in the world.’ And so we leap with her from job to job like a stone skipping over the water, enjoying the scenery along the way.
One of the things that comes through most beautifully is her musicianship, and how this gift weaves in and out of the music-life of our communes. And, most of all, how this musical perspective frames Osho – it’s as if we are there with her in the musicians’ area, and Osho is not far away.
This is a generous book, full of sunsets and sunrises, glimpses of the master, factual histories, moments of tea and biscuits, health crises in the Indian mould, so to speak. We find ourselves happily going along with her, remembering, noticing those so-many places where our paths had crossed hers – and yet the slant of our experience was different; so it is so interesting to see how she viewed the same workplace, the same Hare Krishna hotel in Juhu Beach, the same therapy group we also participated in. Each of us, too, has our own family stories that touch into our sannyas lives – and here we read about Punya’s conservative father, wilder mother; her ‘good’ schooling and how she broke away and became an orange-wearing misfit who is yet such a pillar of community in her own sannyasin way.
I enjoyed this book from the first page to the last – her particular phrasing, her way of running past and present side-by-side, so that we are in Poona One, then Poona Two, then back to Poona One – a kind of right-brain, circular sort of reality that takes us away from the linear and delivers us all time together on one plate. Here it is a curiously workable device.
Her recounting of how it was to play music for Osho at drive-by on the Ranch sticks out as particularly clear and enthralling. And her description of what Osho went through at the end of the Ranch, and then again towards the end of his life in the body, are especially poignant and, to my mind, courageous. I would not have wanted to face and remember those days so objectively as well as subjectively. I only knew where I was at – whereas she recounts for herself, plus goes into graceful detail of the news we all shared.
So, this is one woman telling her story, and yet it is all our stories too. I loved looking inside this surprising human being, who now runs the classy and popular Osho News online magazine. I think you will too.
Review by Madhuri, Osho News, 31st March 2015