By Clifford Sawhney
Satish Nanda, Managing Director, Heritage
If there’s one human being who’s warmth personified in the very first meeting, it’s Satish Nanda from the famed Heritage Handloom Emporium in Delhi. But could one expect otherwise from a man who has been an Osho lover since 1977? Having exchanged a warm handshake, one settles down into a chair opposite him, quickly taking stock of the surroundings. He operates from a compact cabin that’s a cool retreat far removed from the hustle and bustle of Delhi’s rushed existence.
We begin by asking whether he always had a spiritual bent of mind. For the next couple of hours, time stands suspended as we listen spellbound to the Oshoite’s experiences and views. ‘No human is born without love. Even newborns have the seed of spirituality and exude love and radiance. But parents and society pollute and condition their minds through dogmas and religious rituals. By the age of three a child’s innocence is contaminated—he learns politics.’
God, Nanda says, has given us a certain role to make life sublime. But like the child at a fair who is overwhelmed by its sights and sounds, we forget the very purpose of existence. ‘It reminds me of the first time I visited the Gallery Lafayette in Paris,’ the man muses. ‘I’d never been to such a big and beautiful store before. I was so ecstatic and lost in the maze of floors that I completely forgot what I’d gone there to purchase! The same thing happens in real life.’
He pauses to let the words sink in. ‘Spirituality is not a process. Trying to be spiritual is unnatural. It is just being. People have layers of masks. Zen asks: ‘Have you seen your original face?’ Each one has to uncover his real face—find his own path.’
If so, do we really need a guru?
The hirsute face lights up instinctively. ‘Ah! Guru is the most beautiful word. It consists of two syllables: Gu is darkness, and Ru is a person who removes darkness.’ A child is born tabula rasa (with a blank mind). Gradually, external pollutants cloud the child’s mind. ‘It is like a clean mirror which gets so clouded that you are unable to see your real face. But a guru can perceive the seed within you and reactivate your potential.
‘A guru gives birth to your inner self. We rediscover our being. In the vicinity of a guru one feels unburdened. It’s an experience of orgasm. Of no-mind. The mind is a great tourist. It strays. Except for the five sensory experiences life, then, is nothing more.’
Nanda’s first meeting with Osho, then Bhagwan Rajneesh, came about in 1977. Nanda never practised any religious rituals. Swami Vivekananda’s ‘fire-raising’ talks were his primary inspiration.
Like the youth of his time, however, he had not recognized his true calling. Having just returned to India after completing his Master of Science in textile engineering from Manchester, England, he was enjoying life to the hilt. Gradually, a haunting thought crept into his mind: what was the big deal in simple achievements? In reaching certain targets? Progress was a never-ending process.
At this critical juncture, he heard a discourse of Rajneesh. Later, he read Rajneesh’s Satya Ki Khoj. ‘I felt that here was a man who had the guts to speak the way he did. At that time I was in Mumbai. I finished my work and rushed to the Rajneesh ashram in Pune, India, with a friend. By 6:00 the next morning we were in queue for the discourse!’ he chuckles.
‘The moment I saw him I felt that I’ve come home. What bliss! I now realized what can happen in the presence of a guru. If you stand near fire, you will feel the heat. The radiance. From that day onwards there was a change in life’s direction,’ he gushes.
Although Nanda wanted sanyas immediately, his friend dissuaded him. In Delhi, his connection with Rajneesh never broke off: ‘My body was here, but the soul was there.’ A couple of years passed. Though he yearned for initiation, something was holding him back—the orange robes, the mala (garland)…
On October 2, 1979 a business friend had come over from Mumbai and they went out for a picnic. Throughout the picnic, however, Nanda was overwhelmed by an inexplicable feeling and sat engrossed in his own thoughts. That night he felt restless and couldn’t sleep. Then he sensed Rajneesh’s subtle presence: ‘What are you waiting for? I’m the well that can quench your thirst. Come!’
In the next few days, the call grew so irresistible that Nanda felt he must leave for Pune. So he asked a tailor to stitch a robe. His brother inquired whether Satish was okay and knew what he was doing. Undeterred, he rushed to Pune and stood in the queue for an appointment.
On October 13, 1979 Satish Nanda received sanyas and was rechristened Swami Satish Satyarthi.
We take a break to wet parched throats and then resume. ‘Osho is unique in that he doesn’t give you a guilt complex. He has no dos and don’ts. He wants you to experience life in all its dimensions. You wish to wake up at 4:00 a.m. and meditate, fine; at 8:00, fine; at 2:00 p.m., fine. But do it in totality. Lovingly.
‘Koi zindagi bandagi ban jati hai aur wohi sharmindagi ban jati hai. (Some lives turn into bondage, which then turns into a matter of shame.) Which is not the case with Osho. To be near a satguru is itself a benediction. These are experiences that the mind cannot comprehend. There has to be no-mind. At the Pune ashram hall a sign reads: Keep your mind and your shoes here. Osho hasn’t spoken to impart knowledge but to silence our mind. Look into the eyes of a child and you will see the state of no-mind. Of merging.’
‘The experience of meditation (dhyan) is beyond all the senses—antardiya, the sixth sense. You need to specialize to know something. One definitely needs a guru. You need a torch to show you the path in the darkness. It takes discipline to become a disciple. Until you don’t accept responsibility for your life there will be no transformation. When passion becomes compassion, life is transformed.’
Where Satish Nanda is concerned, the transformation is total. His wife, and both his brothers, Satya Paul (into designing and exports) and Rajesh Nanda (who runs L’affaire at Greater Kailash in Delhi) are Oshoites.
Nanda’s personal and professional lives have also merged. ‘Life is whole, with no divisions. Once life is lived in totality, the quality of life changes. Meditation is an alchemy that transforms one’s life totally. One is then in a meditative mode all 24 hours of the day. Spirituality does not fall off when you are at work or business. Rather, it enhances your total outlook. One is positive, cheerful, absolutely spontaneous, flowing… like the stream of a river.’
Nanda’s spiritual connection has had a positive impact at Heritage. Regular meditation sessions and discourses have made the entire showroom’s atmosphere friendly, cheerful and loving. ‘It is our endeavor to share our love with all those who come in contact with us whether as customers, friends or the like,’ he smiles.
While Heritage is his bread and butter and the only ‘outside business’, he says his main business ‘…is to share my guru’s grace. I’m looking for souls who are seeking the truth. The name Heritage is meant to remind you of your own heritage. The purpose for which you’ve come to Earth.
‘However, there is a lot of hypocrisy around. Philosophies are preached, not practised. Today’s life of E-mail and E-commerce has taken the warmth out of living. On birthdays instead of lighting our diyas we blow out candles! We are blindly aping the West. In this runaround existence we have stopped loving life because we’ve become too materialistic. Spirituality must come first, then business. The Inner Light can make all the difference in our daily lives-then everything else falls in place. The true joy of living lies in accepting everything-positive or negative—that comes our way. Joyfully. Thankfully.’
How can this philosophy transform the world? ‘Mohabbat zindabad! Share your love. We are all one big family. Personally, my mother and father deserve thanks for giving us total freedom to be ourselves. But later, they realized we have to lead our own lives. Even a lover gives you total freedom if it is true love. Love is god. Live, love, laugh and celebrate every moment of your life. Celebrate even death . With love.’
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