The main founder of the Sannyasnews website, Swami Prem Paritosh (Chris Gray), usually known as Pari, and who for writing purposes used the pseudonym “Sam”, died in the London Hampstead Marie Curie Hospice (Eden Hall) on May 14th. He had put up a brave struggle with cancer for 12 months. He was 67..
Pari had been a leading English “Situationalist” in his early life, operating from and in a wild, sixties Notting Hill, of which he still spoke with affection. During that time he translated from the French a seminal work on that approach to life, called “Leaving the 20th Century”.(republished 1997). However at some point he found himself reading Ouspensky and it turned his life for ever. He found his way to Poona (now Pune) in the early days, after a long courtship of Buddhism and the vipassana technique. Osho invited him to lead (together with Pradeepa) the first (Sannyas) Vipassana groups in 1975, and there is an exchange between Pari and Osho recorded on page 375 to 377 of the darshan diary “Hammer on the Rock”, about the subject.
However after a short while he found the leadership role absurd, and left the mainstream ashram to live a street or so away, and, as he always seemed to do, in fastidiously clean and attractive apartments, even if sometimes they were squats! The typewriter was always at the ready, and books and paints to hand. When ‘Poona one’ ended in 1981, he felt at the time neo-sannyas had ended, and returned to London and withdrew into family life, holding that sannyas had been overtaken by dictatorship, and lost its way.
His reaction to the chaotic and charged end of Rajneeshpuram (the Oregon Ranch) in 1985 was almost the opposite of what many did, he felt that somehow Osho had reasserted himself, and a lot of hopeless sheep had rushed out of the fold, and he was going back in. For him optimism arose, and he began to move in sannyas circles once more, and returned to Poona and to Osho. He was in Poona when Osho died.
Much of the material that relates to Poona one and to Poona two is tellingly recorded with a fine sense of movement in his book “Life of Osho” (by Sam) published in 1997. Of course it is from the perspective of someone who projected that the whole sannyas movement reflected his own subgroup of interests, but of that particular sometimes manic, sometimes love crazy, and sometimes intellectually hip world, his writing is certainly the best.
Pari did many things with his life, he returned for example to leading Osho meditations in the nineties in Swiss Cottage, London, and also in some famous back garden meditation events in Eton Avenue, of which I myself still have fond memories. During the last six years of his life he explored in an intense way the role of hallucinogens in psychotherapy and mystical life (written up in his recently published book “The Acid”). He started in 1999, with Usha his then beloved, the first satsang circle in London (inspired by the London visit of Satyam Nadeen). And he was an excellent and studied carpenter and gardener.
It is difficult to say what any man’s life means. Pari lived his life passionately, took his own self examination to the limits, and loved and lived well. He could be difficult, and cussed. He could sometimes sweetly confess to loneliness. But somehow he “made” his life – sometimes against the odds – and it marked him out.
We add the links below to some of his articles on Sannyasnews.com that Prem Paritosh wrote from the earlier days of the site.