Parmartha… a man of many loves and hats

100_0019 (2)Around 150 people celebrated of the life of Sannyas News co-founder Parmartha, also known as Clive Critchley, at a lovely funeral ceremony conducted by Maneesha James on August 15. Among the many tributes was one from his old friend Kim Wells. This is a slightly extended version:

Parmartha  and I were friends for fifty years. A long time but it went so quickly. We were young once… ever so young. We had energy to waste – entrenched in youth –  and then suddenly, inexplicably, we were old. Dangerously old.And now, sadly, Parmartha, once so full of life, is alive no longer. He had a very full life, a generous, giving, creative life. In some ways he was larger than life. He ploughed his own furrow; solid, grounded; self-sufficient, self-possessed and self-assured.

Parmartha had many talents, wore many hats, mostly metaphorical.  He was an accomplished pianist and sportsman, lifeguard… winner of the Young Socialist debating contest in  SW England when he was complimented  by his local MP, Tony Benn…  a certified philosopher (student of Karl Popper), liberal studies lecturer, social worker, gardener… a cleaner for the cantankerous Spike Milligan, who was not impressed by his very basic domestic skills and sacked him in the first hour… a spiritual seeker, meditation leader, magazine and website editor, shop steward, horticultural therapist, house parent, theatre director, actor, disco manager and prodigious networker.

What didn’t he do?

But I shall remember him best for his capacity for fun,  adventure and theatricality, and his playful sense of mischief.

You wouldn’t think of Parmartha as a ballet dancer. As a gifted footballer yes, a fierce tackler, a good header, maybe a dainty dribbler, but not as a danseur …  a danseur of the pas de deux or even, in the chorus, of the pas de beaucoup.

But in 1970, he persuaded me to join an evening class in contemporary dance, a modern form of ballet.
In those less liberated days, we were the only members representing the male gender.

What I used to dread – and  what he didn’t seem to mind – was when the macho car-mechanics class came out early to leer at all the lithe, leotarded, young female dancers, and jeer, yes jeer, at Parmartha and myself, pirouetting precariously, flouncing, floundering and flailing about, falling over our  feet.

Of course, we weren’t there solely because of our artistic pretensions. There was an ulterior  motive. But unfortunately our romantic overtures towards our fellow dancers  were not so much rebuffed as ignored. We later found out, they thought we were gay…. and, not only that, romantically entwined.
Parmartha was a Queen… Scout. In case there is any misunderstanding here, I should point out that this is a prestigious scouting award, which Parmartha gained when he was 18.

As an extension of his bent in this direction, he introduced me and many others to the joys of exploring the countryside.

Barbed wire fences, bogs, brambles, “keep out, private” signs, were no barrier to this intrepid rambler.
We would punctuate our walks with stops in idyllic, country pubs, some of which wouldn’t serve us.
We often went off piste, sorry off pi…ste (pee..ste).

And if we got lost, it was the map….the map that was wrong.

Parmartha’s first law of hill walking: always keep your height. Not easy … especially on hills. I’m surprised we ever got home. No, to be fair, Parmartha was a good map reader.

As a Queen Scout, I don’t know what Baden Powell would have made of him in those days. He probably  wouldn’t have given him too many brownie points ….. or forgiven his trespasses, at least not those in the grounds of his friends’ stately homes.

Parmartha  did continue to embody one principle of the Scouts throughout his life: that a scout smiles and whistles under all difficulties.

Once in Ireland after walking for five hours in heavy rain trying to hitch a lift, he turned to me and said: ”This is the life!“. I raised my eyes to the heavens and despaired. But soon after, we shared a moment of bliss when, in the middle of nowhere, we came across a cosy pub and had a cup of “Irish tea”. An “Irish tea” is a cup of tea with a whisky in it, a drink that Parmartha often asked for in Ireland and which the Irish had never heard of. (This request was normally greeted with a quizzical, indulgent look, as if to make allowance for his being English and thus a bit mad or simple. Though one female publican treated it as an act of sacrilege, exclaiming: “ Look, I’ll give you a cup of tea and a glass of whisky – and I won’t look to see what you do with them!”)

Of course, Parmartha was right. This – all this – was the life, is the life!

Parmartha could take the rough with the smooth.

It was this boy scout stoicism that enabled him to bear his final suffering with such fortitude, dignity and grace. He said in his final days that he’d had a complete life, didn’t fear death and that meditation, his spiritual path, had helped tremendously.

Thank you Parmartha, for being so much part of my life, for all the fun, adventure and laughter you inspired in me and the friends we shared.

Thank you for all your patient understanding, particularly all that mental first aid you gave me when I was bogged down in a string of strung out, stricken, strangulated relationships… yes, thank you for all the vicarious suffering … that you experienced on my behalf!

And thank you for all the love, joy and support you gave me, my daughter, Jo, and so many others.

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14 Responses to Parmartha… a man of many loves and hats

  1. Lokesh says:

    I think the best way of paying our respects to Parmartha will be to keep Sannyasnews up and running. So far, there does not seem to be anyone willing to take on the job, editing etc., at least as far as I know.

    I wonder if it would be possible to post articles and just let people say whatever they want without their comments being edited. I for one am all in favour of that because everyone has a right to say whatever they want, no matter if others do not like what that person has to say, think it’s stupid etc. That would for me be a step in a more open and fun direction.

    Of course, if someone abuses their right to express themselves a certain amount of censorship will be needed, but only implemented in extreme cases. For instance, personal attacks, too much foul language etc. A really open forum to air our viewpoints is what I am suggesting.

    MOD:
    But that’s exactly what’s already the case at SN, Lokesh, plus making sure posts don’t stray too much off-topic and restricting using the site as a means to over-promote personal/’political’ agendas, both things Parmartha was adamant about.

    The problem lies in getting someone to organise the publishing of articles, making them fit for presentation, and overseeing general policy, including liaising with and advising sub-editors (the ‘mods’). Sounds simple but Parmartha often used to work many hours a week on SN, including regularly writing articles himself, a true labour of love, in addition to his paid job.

    • jitendra says:

      Thanks for that, Lokesh. The editorial side is not so much a problem. I was landed with the responsibility for the site by accident when Parmartha asked me to help revive it when it went offline during his illness. The only way I could do that was to become nominal owner, which was supposed to be a temporary arrangement. All the bills are in my name; they don’t amount to much but they are a hassle I could do without when I’m trying to get my own stuff together. The site is a mess and I am trying to tidy it up a little to make it easier for someone else to take forward. I have too much on.

      • Kavita says:

        Jitendra, about the bills: can you share with us the amount needed & an account can be made in the name of SN (unless there already exists one) so the ones like me who are interested to contribute can do the needful?

        Hope you manage to tidy up mess so the Sannyas community can again have a discussion board.

        Wish you all the luck & energy for this task.

        MOD:
        Thanks, Kavita, we will sort out the administration and finance in a couple of weeks when Jitendra is back in the UK from a holiday and (cross fingers) we’ve got the software updated.

      • Lokesh says:

        Hi Jitendra,
        I was also kind of asked if I would like to run the SN website, God forbid. It just seemed like another distraction among many and I said no can do. That said, I would like to see the site continue because it is the only one presenting alternative takes on the sannyas movement as a whole.

        Any other sites I know of appear to be run by Catholic sannyasins, meaning they maintain a non-questioning, toe-the-party-line stance that comes across as stagnant. I find them similar to Christian fundamentalists, they believe without questioning what it is they believe in. There are a few commenters on SN who are a bit like that also, which adds a little salt and pepper to the debates we hold here, which is perfectly all right. What would life be without contrasts?

        One night I will sit down and write an article that will probably succeed in stirring the pot a little.

        Parmartha will be missed, because he did a great job of moderating in a moderate way and was open to people expressing conflicting views. Now it’s up to us lot to keep the flag of freedom of speech flying.

        • satyadeva says:

          Lokesh, I agree that SN, if it’s to continue, has to remain true to its founders’ purposes.

          Parmartha, Pari and Dharmen were instinctively drawn to and valued the ‘grass roots’ experience and perspective, a ‘democratic’ spirit, and, a couple of months or so before he died, I recall Parmartha agreeing with my description of SN as “an alternative view of Sannyas.”

      • Lokesh says:

        Jitendra, if I write an article, where to send it? I used to email my articles to Parmartha.

        MOD:
        Not sure yet re where to send new articles – sorry, Lokesh.

        Jitendra’s away, supposedly on holiday – but he’s still working very hard indeed to restore the SN site to full working order. Frankly, he deserves huge appreciation for this, especially given he’s actually not that interested in SN or even in Sannyas. But we’ll have to wait a bit longer for normal service to resume.

  2. madhu dagmar frantzen says:

    You´re so right, Mister Scotsman aka Lokesh, or vice versa; I´ve been waiting for a response of yours, I confess.

    And right in time (for me) after enjoying one of these jokes in Osho News, the tale goes about Heaven (the one with the capital letter):

    There and then a bunch of mice and a cat attended the Pearly Gates simutaneously and were invited by Saint Petrus to enter the heavenly Paradise Resort.
    After a few weks or so, Saint Petrus asked the mice how it was going.
    “All nice and well,” responded the quite exhausted mice; just one request: they had to receive rollerblades to be able to move on in the area more quickly.

    Requested and fulfilled, that´s how it goes in heavenly surroundings.

    Then – a bit later – the cat came in for a request to be habtituated on a special, remote, little cloud – “for better relaxation,” the cat said.
    Requested and fulfilled; that´s how it goes in heavenly surroundings.

    Longtime Saint Petrus didn´t hear anything any further, so he took off one day to visit the cat on its cloud.
    “How is it going?” he asked.

    “All well and very fine” was the answer. “And the best of all are the fabuluous, delicious meals on wheels….”´

    With everlasting Love for birds and trees and roses – chatting…
    And especially for some Humans too…who – like Parmartha aka Clive – have vistited/are visiting the Planet.

    Madhu

  3. shantam prem says:

    Is it possible for the management of sannyasnews to upload video of Parmartha´s funeral ceremony?

    MOD:
    Unfortunately, Shantam, as far as we know, no video or audio was made of the funeral celebration.

  4. sw. veet (francesco) says:

    Thank you for your sharing, Jitendra, very touching.

  5. madhu dagmar frantzen says:

    This comes from a man who found shelter:

    “It is nonsense
    says reason
    It is what it is
    says love

    It is calamity
    says calculation
    It’s nothing but pain
    says fear
    It is hopeless
    says insight

    It is what it is
    says love

    It is ludicrous
    says pride
    It is foolish
    says caution
    It is impossible
    says experience

    It is what it is
    says love.”

    Erich Fried

    Love to share that poem with you all, and especially in gratefulness with Clive
    (aka Jitendra), Chris Esmond and all other Intimates and Unknowables with or without name.

    With Love,

    Madhu

    MOD:
    Yes, Madhu. It seems the SN site is fixed and for this we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jitendra (Clive) who took on the considerable task (the site was in a mess) and has gone out of his way to see the job through, even while on holiday in the US, losing sleep in the process due to liaising with the web host trouble shooters in the UK. He took responsibility for it all, despite minimal affiliation with SN or Sannyas, simply because it happened to arrive on his plate, as it were. There’s something great about such a choice, not to mention his determination to complete a complex, often frustrating repair job. So, a big thank you to Jitendra!

  6. madhu dagmar frantzen says:

    @ MODs:

    Thanks for showing your way of understanding re the poem I did send.

    Just few questions to you, please:
    Will you be totally unknown – identity-wise – and as sub-editors, as it has been before?
    And if – are you, MODs, ´more affiliated´ (as Jitendra ) with Sannyas and/or with Sannyasnews (like the late founders of Sannyasnews)?

    And – as Jitendra (from UK?) is in USA just now for holidays, as you said, what is the result of his deals with the investor who bought the website (and all our data too?). Is that a secret?

    Am I too curious in your eyes?

    I´m asking because what I felt was a mess in the running of Sannyas News for quite a while may not at all be what others – like you (?) – feel a ´mess´.
    And for me, the mess mainly was that less and less humans with Sannyasnames posting into the Chat on topics related to one another in a human way.

    What do you (sub-editors/MODs) feel and think about such an issue?

    Sincerely, and looking forward to your response.

    Madhu

    MOD:
    Madhu, we feel you’re imagining and creating problems that don’t exist.
    E.g. Jitendra has had nothing whatsoever to do with whoever purchased the sannyasnews.com and doesn’t even know who that was or might be (and neither does anyone else). And your data is safe, don’t worry about that.

    As for running the site and the Chat, Parmartha established clear guidelines for these which will continue to be followed.

    The main issue is who will be the new editor.

  7. sw. veet (francesco) says:

    If a community of individuals committed to be themselves, from crying to laughter (and vice versa), is possible;
    If the love that has been taught and shared to them, the one that holds them together, is based on the freedom and trust to express even some “no!”;
    If these two conditions “happened around a man”, in such a prodigious way that someone even thinks “thanks to Him”…

    Then it is possible that a taste of sannyas was present even when a friend of Parmartha said: “Osho? Fuck, no!”.

    • madhu dagmar frantzen says:

      Yes, Veet (Francesco),
      “Seconded” – as our beloved last Editor (rarely) used to say….

      Madhu