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Osho and the Mala

Arpana writes on wearing the Mala and red clothes – and Osho on the mysterious power of the Mala.

After we stopped wearing the Mala and red clothes in 1985 there was a rush of individuals to take sannyas; and certainly from my personal experience a number of them had been hanging around sannyasins for a long time, and quite plainly would never have jumped if they’d actually had to wear a Mala and red clothes.

Related to this, and other observations, I’ve developed the view that Sannyas since then has been divided into two camps, which is to say those who would take sannyas even if they had to wear a Mala and red clothes, and those who wouldn’t put themselves in the hot seat.

I have occasionally come across individuals, face-to-face and online, who I am convinced would wear a Mala and red clothes if they had to, and there are fellow-travellers posting at Sannyas News who strike me that way. So these articles are articulating what is to me an interesting development; and in fact not mentioned here is the fact that, as far as I know, individuals who go to Arun’s place wear a Mala and red clothes (is that correct?), so what do “Sannyas News punters”, to quote dear Parmartha, have to say?


“You ask me, “Why this mala? Why this picture?”
I will say, “Use it in this way, and this will happen,” and my answer is as scientific as possible. Religion never claims to be rational, the only claim is of being irrational.

Use the mala in this way: meditate on the picture, then the picture will not be there. It happens so. Then the absent picture becomes a door. Through that door communicate with me. It happens so. After doing meditation, take this mala off and feel, and then put this mala on and feel, and you will see the difference.

Without this mala you will feel totally unprotected, totally in the reins of a force which can be harmful. With this mala on you will feel protected, you will be more confident, settled. Nothing can disturb from the outside. It happens so; you will do the experiment and know. Why it happens cannot even be answered scientifically. And religiously there is no question to answer. Religion never claims, that is why so many rituals of religion become irrelevant.

As time passes by, a very meaningful ritual will become meaningless, because keys are lost and no one can say why this ritual exists. Then it becomes just a dead ritual. You cannot do anything with it. You can perform it, but the key is lost. For example, you can go on wearing the mala, and if you do not know that the picture in it is meant for some inner communication, then it will be just a dead weight. Then the key is lost. The mala may be with you, but the key is lost. Then one day or another you will have to throw away the mala because it is useless.

The mala is a device for meditation. It is a key. But this will come only through experience. I can only help you toward the experience. And unless it happens, you will not know. But it can happen, it is so easy, it is not difficult at all. When I am alive, it is so easy. When I am not there, it will be very difficult.

All these statues that have existed on this earth were used as such devices, but now they are meaningless. Buddha declared that his statue should not be made. But the work that was done by statues still will have to be done. Although the statue is meaningless, the real thing is the work that can be done through it.

Those who follow Mahavira can communicate with Mahavira through his statue even today. So what should Buddha’s disciples do? That is why the Bodhi tree became so important; it was used instead of Buddha’s statue. For five hundred years after Buddha there was no statue. In the Buddhist temples only a picture of the Bodhi tree and two symbolic footprints were kept, but this was sufficient. That still continues. The tree that exists in Bodhgaya is in continuity with the original tree. So still today those who know the key can communicate with Buddha through the Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya. It is not just meaningless that monks from all over the world come to Bodhgaya. But they must know the key, otherwise they will just go and the whole thing will be just a ritual.

So these are keys – particular mantras chanted in a particular way, pronounced in a particular way, emphasized in a particular way with such-and-such frequencies. A wavelength should be created, the waves should be created. Then the Bodhi tree is not just a Bodhi tree; it becomes a passage, it opens a door. Then twenty-five centuries are no more, the time gap is not there. You come face to face with Buddha. But keys are always lost. So this much can be said: use the locket, and you will know much. All that I have said will be known, and more that I have not said will be known also.”

Osho, ‘I Am The Gate’, Chapter 3, Q. 2 (excerpt)

Acknowledgements to:

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On reading Osho’s ‘Last Testament’

Press interviews show Osho was blind to what was going on at The Ranch. He was outrageous, contradictory, and sometimes factually wrong. But he was still a great teacher, writes Lokesh. For lack of something to read on a rainy … Continue reading

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Eight walk in silent tribute along the clifftops

Sudipa describes how eight friends of Sannyas News co-founder Parmartha, who died on July 20, went on one of his favourite walks in his memory. Parmartha used to organise and lead silent walks on the South Downs and in the … Continue reading

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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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Fond farewell to Parmartha – and an appeal for help

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Anand Parmartha, who has edited Sannyas News for the past 18 years, died peacefully on July 20 at the age of 73. He had been ill for some months with cancer, which he bore with a wonderful stoicism.

A celebration of Parmartha’s life, with a final farewell, will take place at the St Marylebone Crematorium, East End Road, Finchley, London, N2 0RZ, at 12 noon on Wednesday, August 15. It will be followed from 1.45 pm by a reception at the Five Bells public house, which is about half a mile to the east on the same road.

You are requested not to bring flowers. Instead there will be a collection at the ceremony for Freedom from Torture, the charity for which Parmartha worked.

Please email if you plan to attend so that numbers can be assessed for catering.

Parmartha, born Clive Critchley, was a much-loved stalwart of the community of sannyasins and their friends in London, and a prime mover of their regular Saturday-morning gathering and meditation at the Queen’s Wood cafe, Muswell Hill. Through Sannyas News, he was also in contact with sannyasins across the world.

A full obituary by Pankaja can be found here.

Parmartha’s death leaves a serious gap on Sannyas News. He was the last survivor of the three friends who founded the site in 2000. Paritosh (Chris Grey), who wrote the books The Life of Osho and The Acid under the pen name Sam, died in 2009. Dharmen (Brian Hemmings) died in May last year after a long illness, leaving Sannyas News without its technical expert.

Regular readers will have noticed that the site has been less active for some time as a result of Parmartha’s illness, and earlier this year it went offline completely for a few weeks for lack of maintenance. Sadly, the disruption meant that his own news site was the last to report his death. Apologies for that.

Sannyas News will remain online for the time being but if it is to continue more people will have to get involved on a voluntary basis. Someone familiar with WordPress, or wishing to learn, would be particularly welcome. But we’d love to hear from anyone willing to put energy into the magazine in the form of ideas, articles and subediting. If you are interested please email


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