By Suma Varughese January 1997 An Indian actor’s tryst with spirituality. Annual pilgrimages to Rishikesh and Hardwar were de rigueur. But I consciously turned to spirituality when I was quitting college to work on my first film. I’ve always been interested in spirituality, because my family was inclined that way. I was attracted to by a picture of Paramhansa Yogananda, and read his book Autobiography of a Yogi, in one sitting. I felt I knew this man and his thoughts instinctively. Later, in America, a psychic told me that I had been an American disciple of Yogananda in my previous birth and I had died in World War II. Yogananda’s book triggered off my interest in meditation. Within a year, I learnt transcendental meditation. I also attended J. Krishnamurthy’s discourses. Soon, I reached an impasse. Transcendental meditation relaxed me, yet Krishnamurthy was dead against it. The dilemma was resolved when I met Osho, whom I immediately recogised as my guru. He made it clear there was no path without a guru, and that one progressed to the state of no-meditation through meditation. Osho’s stress on witnessing the Self changed my life. To find the observer as my goal. I went through many therapies and practices. Walk and watch yourself walk, breathe and watch yourself breathe. At the end, you realize that the observer is the observed. When I took sanyas, monkhood, in 1974, my marriage to Gita broke up. On returning to Mumbai in 1986, I had to rebuild my life. Today, I’m married again and have two children from this marriage. I’m also back in films, but my priorities have changed. Acting is today a small part of who I am. I would rather spend time with my children or talk to friends. Fame and power no longer entice me. I’m launching my son Akshaye into a film career with Himalaya Putra, an Indian movie. But my real responsibility is to pass on my spiritual experiences to him and his siblings. My wife has also become a sanyasi (a nun, the Osho way). As for me, I suddenly realized that I was in a state of let go. Today my mind is silent. But awareness is total, all questions have dropped. I live life moment to moment. There is no anger, jealousy or desire. Instead, there is empathy, compassion, love. My self-acceptance is complete. I’m 200 per cent comfortable with myself. Smoking and drinking are habits of the body. If they stay, they stay, if they drop, they drop. I can also accept others easily. You become aware people are who they are because of conditioning. I believe there’s a great power holding us together. I trust that power. I surrender to it. By Vinod Khanna as told to Suma Varughese
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