Pravasi, manufacturer of LSD dies

Nicholas Sand, (Swami Pravasi) Chemist,  Who Sought to Bring LSD to the World, Dies at 75

Pravasi in August 1970

One day in 1964, Pravasi, a Brooklyn-born son of a spy for the Soviet Union, took his first acid trip. He had been fascinated by psychedelic drugs since reading about them as a student at Brooklyn College and had experimented with mescaline and peyote. Now, at a retreat run by friends in Putnam County, N.Y., he took his first dose of LSD, still legal at the time.

Sitting naked in the lotus position, before a crackling fire, he surrendered to the experience. A sensation of peace and joy washed over him. Then he felt himself transported to the far reaches of the cosmos.

“I was floating in this immense black space,” he recalled in the documentary “The Sunshine Makers,” released in 2015. “I said, ‘What am I doing here?’ And suddenly a voice came through my body, and it said, ‘Your job on this planet is to make psychedelics and turn on the world.’ ”

Like Moses receiving the tablets, Mr. Sand took this commandment to heart. After being trained by the lab partner of Owsley Stanley, America’s premier LSD chemist, he set about producing vast quantities of the purest LSD on the market. His most celebrated product, known as Orange Sunshine for the color of the tablets it came in, became a signature drug of the late 1960s.

Touted by Timothy Leary as the finest acid available, “the tiny orange pills quickly acquired near-mythic status,” Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain wrote in “Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD” (1992). Distributed by the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a drug cult based in Laguna Beach, Calif., it showed up wherever hippies gathered: at Grateful Dead concerts, in California communes, in Indian ashrams, in the hashish havens of Afghanistan., Pravasi made sure that Orange Sunshine was available to American soldiers fighting in Vietnam, whose minds he hoped to bend in the direction of nonviolence and brotherly love.

Pravasi in 2009. He estimated that he had manufactured about 30 pounds of LSD over the course of his career, enough for nearly 140 million doses.

The goal was simple. “If we could turn on everyone in the world,” he said in the documentary, “then maybe we’d have a new world of peace and love.”

It did not work out that way. Orange Sunshine was Pravasi’s ticket to a life on the run. For years he raced to stay a step ahead of federal agents, and after being convicted on drug and tax-evasion charges, he hid in Canada for two decades under an assumed name. Eventually, after being arrested and unmasked, he was returned to the United States, where he served six years in prison.

He emerged an unchanged man, totally committed to the beatific vision granted to him that day in upstate New York.

Pravasi died on April 24 at his home in Lagunitas, Calif. He was 75. The cause was a heart attack, said Usha, his longtime sannays companion.


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40 Responses to Pravasi, manufacturer of LSD dies

  1. Parmartha says:

    What make ye of this naturally stoned man, in the middle of what was a pretty ‘straight’ community?
    I am momentarily at 8.00-8.03.

  2. Lokesh says:

    Watched the Sunshine Makers a couple of months back at the local underground cinema on Ibiza. The place was packed and everyone, including myself, enjoyed the movie. Really fun film. Those guys were heroes in their time, and speaking from experience, the sunshine was amazing stuff.

  3. sw. veet (francesco) says:

    Rip, Mr. Sand.

    I read on wikipedia that his clandestine activity for the “Brotherhood eternal love” did not stop after the meeting with the socalled evening activity “White Robe Brotherhood”, strange.

    “This is your last trip”, it’s what Osho said to my friend at her first satsang in the 70′s.
    She was coming from the underground London scene … and the old guy was right.

    Who knows if the “Sunshine makers” were enough adavaitists to see in themself the other polarity of their activity, as “Dark side of the moon makers”. Easily recognizable when “there’s a look in your eyes like black holes in the sky” … and other side effects …



    • Parmartha says:

      LSD, ecstasy, peyote, and many others, important bus-stops on the way for some, but not for all. Also, many got stuck on the bus-stop and even ended up living and dying there.

      On a tangenital matter a friend of mine once said that the only “stoned” person on the Ranch was Osho. Looking back I can see what he meant! The leaders of the Ranch used conventional medicines in biggish quantities on themselves, like uppers and downers and sleepers and wake me ups, but they were just a coterie of around twenty people.

      The rest of us lived incredibly ‘straight’ lives. One teenager I knew then was thrown out for smuggling a spliff onto the Ranch and having a smoke… Another wild but true sannyasin was arrested and thrown off the Ranch for “exploring its geography”, that is taking a walk off the usual trails, and doing so in an orange robe!

  4. shantam prem says:

    The most natural drug is called Pride. I am sure most of us have tasted it, if not before, then after Sannyas.

    • Parmartha says:

      There is no “after sannyas” for the true man.
      Are you “After Sannyas”, Mr Shantam.

      • shantam prem says:

        “After Sannyas” means collectively we became puffed under Osho´s shelter as if we are the New Man world is waiting for.

        It happens all the time. Charismatic leaders pumped the feel good chemicals in the brain and one feels like drunk elephant.

        Maybe in your sense, Parmartha, “After Sannyas” means there is no going back. With or without community, one has to go on marching on his own. Fall of community is a blessing in disguise for seekers to walk on their own in an uncharted sea.

        I have deep respect for the common seekers, specially the ones who have nothing to brag about their proximity with Osho as a person.

  5. sw. veet (francesco) says:

    Thanks, Parmartha, I like your gospel.

    No doubt that the driver of the orange bus was “stoned” (note your quote marks), no doubt that you, not only “momentarily at 8.00-8.03″, did not want to get out of the vehicle.

    I guess that in his long-term clandestine life Mr. Sand was never kicked out either by Pune or by the Ranch.

    If true what you say, my question is whether people naturally stoned or not could have drugged the masala chai of the bus driver or the water of the passengers.

    I would not rule out this hypothesis, it would not be so out of the frame, if (fact checking by Wiki) inside we already have:
    The son of a chemist who was playing a double or triple spy game (Clarence Hiskey).
    The experiment of young Mr. Sand (1959) to synthesise socialism and Zionism in a lab promised by God to his chosen people.

    A flat shared (1996) with “43 grams of crystalline LSD…approximately 430,000 doses of LSD…large quantities of DMT, 2C-B, MDMA, and $500,000 worth of cash and gold”.



    Like his father, who survived McCarthy’s investigation, no jail.

    You’re right, Osho was really stoned to go 10 days in jail in the country of freedom. In India it would be a matter of Karma. Above all when the people around was wondering if to be loved by him they had to suffer the bullying of an Indian waitress or the charm of cool guys who in one drop promised you “eternal love”…although “love” as an effect and not as a cause …and “eternal” as the effect of not having spatial limits, the time of a trip, of course.

  6. Parmartha says:

    I am not at sure I understand your post, but I see it has gone through the mediatories.
    But you need to be clear that Pravasi was a sannyasin, and felt his identity in it. He went to jail in the US for at least six years in the nineties as I recall, so you are wrong there, Mr Veet.
    You seem to miss the import of my ‘gospel”!
    No-one has really explored the paradox of Rajneeshpuram. basically a comformist society with a very stoned man at its head. The intermediaries between him and the conformists being a bunch of about 20 powermaniacs many (but not all) into uppers and downers in a big way. Bound to end in tragedy. Many sannyaisns outside of the commune structures lived very adventurously, and lives really on the edge, that seems to be lost on young sannyasins, etc. But they sure were “alive”.

  7. sw. veet (francesco) says:

    Dear Parmartha, were you a few months ago arguing about the leaders of the Path of Love because the way they used their sannyas name and bacause they did not mention Osho as the creator-inspirer of the group?

    By what I saw in the documentary “Sunshine Makers” (I did not finish it) the only name I heard and read is Mr. Sand.

    However, not knowing personally Pravasi between you and Wikipedia I choose you as source. In fact there is just wrote about an escape in California in 1976 and another one twenty years later after paying the bail.

    I may miss the import of your gospel (or “gospel”) but you wrote:

    “Naturally stoned man, in the middle of what was a pretty ‘straight’ community”


    “The only” stoned “person on the ranch was Osho” (quoting one of your friends vs one of mine)


    “The rest of us lived incredibly ‘straight’ lives”

    Concluding with:

    “No-one has really explored the paradox of Rajneeshpuram. Basically a comformist society with a very stoned man at its head.”

    For me, it is ok the parody about someone who has raised laughter as sacred but then the Sokal effect can happen, confusing gossip with gospel, medication with meditation (Kusum).



  8. sw. veet (francesco) says:

    Almost on the same topic (post on “how to give up coffee”) it was Kusum, not Swami Shanti, to speak about medication and meditation.

  9. Parmartha says:

    I was arguing about people who use both their sannyas and non-sannyas names simultaneously. Like Gopal-Smith, etc., and for commercial reasons as I see it.

    People knew Pravasi as Pravasi within his intimate circles. You get charged with criminal offences anywhere, not just the US, in your legal birth name, unless you change your name legally. Not many people did that, though there were a few.

    Pravasi went to jail for six years in the US after being deported from Canada in the nineties. If wikipedia are saying something else then it’s rubbish.

  10. Parmartha says:

    I know about the Sokal academic trick, Veet, but can’t see its relevance here.

    My point is that Rajneeshpuram is very rarely seen with the sociological insight that I have tried to bring attention to.

    A large conformist society, with a man who was extremely non-conformist and enjoyed nitrous oxide, at its head, and administratively run by a small number of power-interested people, many of whom were on vast amounts of uppers and downers.

  11. frank says:

    From ‘The Gospel of Parmartha’:

    “And seeing the multitudes, he went up unto Highgate Hill.
    And lo! Parmartha spake unto the disciples who had gathered at the Orange Sunshine retirement home, saying:

    “Verily I say unto you –

    Blessed are the trippers, for they shall see God and a lot of swirling paisley patterns, purple skies, breathing walls and stuff.

    Blessed are the Freaks for they shall get their shit together and attend the Fabulous Furry Freak Brotherhood meeting every night

    Blessed are those who are persecuted by the feds, for every prophet must be suffered to make a profit in his own land.

    Blessed are the straights for they shall receive a taste of fascism from a proper stoner.

    Blessed are the piss-takers: for they toil not, neither do they get out of bed before midday, but even Solomon in all his glory would probably had a quiet chuckle at some of their comments.

    Yeah! Blessed are the fringe-dwellers of the sannyas underclass for though they be reviled and hassled by straights, will have the last laugh

    Bogart thou not that joint my friend, for I say unto you, it`s seriously bad karma, man.
    And cursed be the Pharisees, out of their heads on bad gear like uppers, downers, brown acid, Bombay gin and Johnny Walkers, for they will be hurled headlong from nirvana on a massive bummer deep down into the fires of hell with only lawyers for company!”

    Sufficient unto the day is the blog thereof.”

  12. sw. veet (francesco) says:


    “I know about the Sokal academic trick, Veet, but can not see its relevance here.
    My point is that Rajneeshpuram is very rarely seen with the sociological insight that I have tried to bring attention to.
    A large conformist society, with a man who was extremely non-conformist and enjoyed nitrous oxide, at its head, and administratively run by a small number of power-interested people, many of whom were on vast amounts of uppers and downers” (Parmartha).

    To avoid any other misunderstanding or irrelevance, I summarise the stages of our conversation.

    We are commenting on the death of an Osho sannyasin who during all his life wanted to change the world by creating LSD, not only this, change it in that same way before and after meeting Osho.

    You, Parmartha, say that it did not work (but being Pravasi your friend you will not be accused by some conformist voice to be a piss-taker).

    I have added that LSD is no longer healthier than meditation, as some of my friends confirm (subscribing to Osho).

    You raise up saying that a friend tells you the opposite of what my friend says, enrolling Osho to the Stoners club, in its various declinations: naturally stoned man; The only “stoned” person on the Ranch; A very stoned man; Non-conformist (who) enjoyed the nitrous oxide; (a conformist voice of this parody adds “proper stoner” to the list).

    Then it happens that I try to deepen the topic of the failure of a life dedicated to a dream made during a trip (or, if YOU like, failure of Osho to awaken Pravasi from his dream).

    By not knowing Pravasi I can not speak about all the other loving aspects of his life but only of the public ones, starting with those of the post. And I’m sure I would love him, as I normally do with humans, like those here who know him do, by joining the gospel.

    But beyond the demonstrations of love and human solidarity (which will have private spaces to be better expressed) here we should-could abstract from them and comment on the public character of who is represented in the post.

    But if the point is to conform to the argument that the drug is good and that Osho was a drug addict you have to do a post with a thesis that does not have the tones of parody…and with strict terms (stoned?).

    What do you mean with a conformist or straight community? From what I remember in those years smoking or injecting drugs was the norm, am I wrong? With some differences…

    From what I remember there was a lot of paranoia for a joint, long hair freaks were the favourite target of the neighbourhood policeman, while in Italy from 1976 to 81 heroinos ranged from 10,000 to 270,000.

    On the topic of how heavy drugs are used to anaesthetise a rebellious generation there is a vast literature.

    What unites me to all of you sannyasins (straight and not) is the joy of having met a laughing buddha.

    If the thesis is that he was laughing out the chemical effect of a dentist gas then I feel to do some non-conformist consideration before accepting it.



    • madhu dagmar frantzen says:

      You say, Veet Francesco:
      “What do you mean with a conformist or straight community? From what I remember in those years smoking or injecting drugs was the norm, am I wrong?”

      Yes, you are wrong,

      You say: “But beyond the demonstrations of love and human solidarity (which will have private spaces to be better expressed) here we should-could abstract from them and comment on the public character of who is represented in the post.”

      So true, Veet Francesco, there are indeed private spaces of love or solidarity to be better expressed than it happened…

      You say : “If the thesis is that he was laughing out the chemical effect of a dentist gas then I feel to do some non-conformist consideration before accepting it.”

      Appreciate your taking the effort to ´sort out-sort-in´ some here, Veet Francesco, and as I am not able to relate to the mishmash of levels and topics, I am looking forward to some more of your ‘non-conformist consideration’.



      • sw. veet (francesco) says:

        Errata corrige:

        “drugs was the norm…for the young people”

        Just to come close to your point of view, Madhu.

        You’re welcome,


    • Parmartha says:

      Veet, you clearly never lived, as I did, within an Osho commune between 1981 and 1985. It was very strict, and if you were found indulging in any form of drugs, then it was the door for you.
      I dont know why you find it difficult to believe what I say in other directions.
      I do not subscirbe to LSD as some kind of superdrug and would not share Pravasi’s preocupation. But he was a good guy and worthy of remembrance. And had a lot of initiative, something which is foreign to conformists.
      Osho like many, but not all people who are considered enlightened, had an addiction, his was to nitrous oxide. I dont rate that either. I find it a subject of surreal comedy however that the power of conformity built the commune in a major way, whilst the inspiration for it felt the need to have nitrous oxide, on a daily basis, and for some time.

      • satchit says:

        Parmartha, how can you know to have nitrous oxide was a
        “need”? You are not enlightened. So you cannot know anything about his motivation. Already using the word “addiction” includes rating.

        • Parmartha says:

          Your argument depends on whether you feel there are actually people who are “enlightened”.

          I am familiar with the life of Gurdjieff, who I like, and who Osho himself rated very highly as enlightened, but he clearly liked a drink… on a daily basis – Addiction – an over-descriptive word perhaps – depending on your overall thinking. I don’t mind if you want to find another word.

          Thanks for your post.

        • Parmartha says:

          I am happy to withdraw the word ‘Need’, Sachit.

          But the plain fact is that Osho took a lot of the stuff (see Devageet’s book, ‘Osho, The First Buddha in the Dental Chair’. He may not have needed it, and I have seen an argument to say he wanted simply to “annoy” his household – push their buttons with it. So one could have an open mind, I guess.

          But the truth is that whether addicted or not, he took so much that it killed him in the end, and many devotees just won’t hear that.

          • satchit says:

            This is just a speculation, Parmartha.

            We don’t know what killed him. He was sick from the childhood with asthma. We don’t even know why he took that stuff?

            Can even be that he was in need of that stuff to ease some physical pain, experimenting with himself. All speculations.

            • Parmartha says:

              No-one can know what killed Osho, right. But there are many in India who say he was killed by some lead disciples, just nonsense in my view.

              I don’t give out the hypothesis about nitrous without research. His symptoms certainly match someone who has taken too much nitrous, for whatever reason.

              Try reading the three nitrous books, and Devageet’s book, and you might just ‘see’ that it is a possibility.

  13. sw. veet (francesco) says:

    It is true I was not there, and looking at the picture that you, Parmartha, show me of that community, there are a couple of things that create cognitive dissonance.

    For example, what you call the power of conformism to me would seem natural to put in dialectical opposition, as social dynamics, to the group of people in charge, those who clearly (already at that time) abused that power by transgressing rules which they instead applied severely to all of you.

    You oppose, on the contrary, the power of social conformism to the beloved and silent leader of the community, whom at that time no one imagined having cheerful dentistry sessions.

    I do not understand how the Master at some point became “the stoned” when switching happened, and after that, what power of conformism could have held you there, undergoing Sheela and her gang.

    Really, from the outside it seems that what inspired you all was everything except conformism.

    As in your smile, in the video you’ve linked above (at 8.00-8.03), I see joy, innocence and sweetness, so it should be before switching.

    Is the paradox of a community of conformists guided by a stoner or of having a hypocritical master more interesting to you?



    • Parmartha says:

      Not sure I get your drift at all, Veet, but thanks for the hug.

      Many, but not all who were full commune members realised that we were living alongside someone who was in ecstasy, and we knew that in Pune 1 also, and that ecstasy was not dependent on anything.

      The game with nitrous may have had all sorts of motives.

      THE MAIN THING FROM MY POINT OF VIEW IS THAT IT FURTHER DAMAGED HIS HEALTH, AND VERY BADLY. Those around him did sometimes try and stop the volume of his intake, but he just insisted by using the Master/disciple surrender paradigm. To me, it was a shame that his life was cut short in that way, but he made more of his time than almost anyone else….

      • satchit says:

        At the end it was his decision, was it not?
        He was intelligent enough to know where this leads.
        Talking always of being total and being the master of oneself.

      • sw. veet (francesco) says:

        Maybe the drifting is connected with your, Parmartha, constant change of topics, terms and arguments. But I’m not leaving you alone and I’m also answering this last one.

        How to solve the conundrum disciple/pusher that eventually (you say) other people around him, apart from Devageet, have lived?

        For me, ‘surrender’ does not mean ‘yes-man’, and especially when the Master is such because he has spent a lifetime to emancipate us from the slavery of priests and politicians.

        Be it clear, hindsight speaking: after 30-40 years from the facts and admitting that all this hi-story of his need for pain relievers is true, or so relevant to Osho’s health more than that other history of thallium, milk and other poisons.

        And I’m not saying that I would solve the conundrum at that time.

        But today, it is so hard to imagine that Osho was honest when he said that “love” is measured by the freedom we accord to our loved, even that one to say to us “no!!!!”?

        This my contribution to solving the conundrum, if it is existentially grounded in love and trust for Osho, has as a consequence that another misleading distinction, apart from a disciple/pusher, would be absorbed into it, that of devotee/disciple – but leave to you the choice to change the topic.



      • madhu dagmar frantzen says:

        You both, Parmartha and Satchit, are not including the INTER-DEPENDENCE Issue – an issue as long working as one is in the body, and being in the body has its limitations; and sharing and being understood also has its limitations – it ought to be that way.

        And a Master is not free of it, but deals with such in quite some very ´another´ way, a way we mostly can not comprehend and understand fully – as it depends on our maturity, getting glimpses here and there. Trying our best to ‘embody’ our glimpses of understanding.

        And too sad that some, especially here in this chat, may have been getting stuck in travelling the pilgrimage from here-to-here with drugs of any kind.

        Too bad and sorry for that (re from where I see).

        The Interdependence Issue serves as a bridge of understanding – and – if that plant is allowed to grow – may ease some pain, Parmartha, about the ´short-cut´ of Life (in the Body) of a Loved-One.

        Or – Satchit – more heart-understanding may dissolve the vanity of some of your posts, like that (at 2.04 pm), where in my eyesight you cover (?) up: maybe some self-pride, maybe some bitterness, maybe also some pain, with indifference of a short-cut three-liner?

        Seems daring for me, to remind the Inter-DE-Pendence-Issue here. In the Here-Now and Always, and for every sentient living Being in a body, such is working.

        With Love to ongoing Life in all its Imperfections,


        • satchit says:

          Inter-dependence can easily be used for saying one is not responsible, Madhu. It would mean he took the nitrous oxide because of the 20 powermaniacs and they became powermaniacs because of him taking the nitrous.

          • madhu dagmar frantzen says:

            Aahh, Satchit,

            Your take on ´interdependence´is not mine, I guess, reading your response of yesterday evening.

            I’ve given it a try, to speak of energetic fields in the realms of human conditioning and its natural limitations as a fact of life itself, a life where we all are inter-connected. Deeply.

            The apparent failure to respond into what is commonly seen today as a ´healthy way´ to respond to conditionings may be seen tomorrow as a necessary stepping stone on the way to grow – and vice versa.

            To say, I don´t really know, and to really mean it, needs courage but creates space, a space, NOT to know and to leave the matrix of ´yes-no´ or ´if-when-then´.

            So much so I love to sit in Silence with friends of Silence, getting a tongue tip of a Peace with ´what is´, that surpasses all understanding of the mind.

            A recreation-zone. (How to share that with and in an algorithm-play? I don´t know).


    • frank says:

      I notice that Subhuti has also written an enneagram reading for Prince Harry. I`m not going completely off topic here,so hang on.
      In the article Subhuti is repeating the thing about Prince Harry helping to promote mental health and getting away from the stiff upper lip by opening up about his mental health issues and hence encouraging others to do the same. Lady Gaga and other celebs are on the same number
      Sounds groovy.
      Actually, this so-called opening up is going to have one winner and it isn`t mental health. . Every one who `opens up` to their doctor about their issues won`t get therapy,won`t get orange sunshine , theywill get a prescription, SSRIs and their ilk- fact.

      Getting free publicity from a royal and Lady Gaga?
      - big pharma is wetting its pants with excitement.

      Too cynical?
      OK, Go to the doc and say you`re depressed, bad moods,stressed,had difficulties sleeping,substance abuse, premature ejaculation, premenstrual pain,anxiety, just had a baby, wife or husbands left you,dog`s died,can`t get a job etc and see how easy it is to get yourself a ticket for a lifetimes worth of drugs.

      And you`ve got the bonus of knowing that you`re on the same stuff as Prince Harry and Lady Gaga.
      How cool is that?
      Plus, you can now tell your friends about it on facebook!

      Psychedelic drugs labs are pisser dans in violin compared to all this stuff

    • Parmartha says:

      I notice that Subhuti affects a familiarity with Pravasi’s life, which is common in his writing generally, but gets the time Pravasi spent in jail wrong. It was virtually six years, not three years as he says.

      • frank says:

        Mind you, Subhuti`s enneagram readings of Lady Gaga, Prince Harry and Madonna are pretty groundbreaking…

        About Madonna, whom he assures his readers that “enneagram buffs” such as himself agree is an obvious `three`, he reveals:
        “Relationships have been important for this star, but always took second place to her career.”
        Wow! That is what I call insight. How does he do it?

        Book me in for a session next week, but I`ll have to do some serious psychic work on myself first…
        by having a lobotomy!

  14. Punam says:

    Very brilliant, Frank! You are a little ray of orange sunshine.

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