Footloose Sanyasi #2: Three satsangs in three days

Madhukar Thompson has satsang with Ram, meets a Peaceful Presence, bumps into sundry seekers

Thiruvannamalai, Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I go to another session with Ram. We are 11 people. The topic: Enlightenment according to Advaita Vedanta (on the lines of Sri Adi Shankara and Vedas).

In the evening at 20:00 hrs was supposed to be satsang with Pratima, an ex-Osho disciple. She became enlightened (whatever that means) with Poonjaji. I know Pratima from the Poona and Papaji days. On her flyer it says: “In 1993 Papaji asked her to give satsangs which she did for seven years all over the world. In 1993, when Pratima actually asked Papaji In Lucknow if she could give satsang, he is said to have been reading the newspaper. Supposedly he was hardly looking up from the paper when he simply grunted some kind of a yes…” There is no website of Pratima’s anymore. The website that gives “guru ratings” for many gurus says “Pratima Sephton is now a deeksha giver in the Oneness movement.” Her email address is

The satsang was supposed to be on Bharat’s Pink House. But there is no light on – neither in the house nor on the roof. As I walk away someone comes down the steps (in the dark). It turns out to be a young (22 years old) Swiss lady student studying Indology at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. I had met her earlier in the day at the grocery shop where she gave me a piece of Swiss chocolate. Instead of satsang, this evening we have a chai together. She tells me that her mother taught her to listen to her inner voice and follow her heart. She says she doesn’t need a guru and is not looking for one. However, except in Ram’s satsang, I see her at every satsang I visit. Is she fooling someone or herself?

Thiruvannamalai, Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Last night I went to bed at 21:30 hrs. This morning I wake up at 11:20 hrs. Thirteen something hours sleep! Still jetlag. Missed Ram’s teachings.

In the afternoon, at around 16:45, I happen to pass a hall in Ramana Nagar. It is filled to capacity with about 100 foreigners. They are sitting in silence. Curious, I open the closed iron-gate and go into the yard where I take off my slippers. I take the rear entrance to the hall. Even though the hall is full, Chandi Devi shows me, in a very joyous and friendly fashion, to a seat. She has recognized me. We had last met in Lucknow some 15 years ago.

(Chandi Devi used to live in Papaji’s household which means she was “close to Papaji”. After Papaji’s death she became a kind of administrator of his legacy in Thiruvannamalai. Since 1997 she is permanently residing in Tiru. She organizes a Papaji video show every Wednesday evening at 19:00. The video evening draws 150 people!)

After taking my seat and making myself comfortable I look around. And there she is! A most beautiful elderly woman, perhaps 70 years old, is sitting in a chair. In silence. Radiating joy and bliss. She reminds me immediately of Ramana. Before closing my eyes, I drink in the beauty to the max. When I open my eyes again, the woman is standing some 5 feet (1.5 meters) away from me gazing into my eyes. No words. Simply radiating benevolence into my heart. Slowly, slowly she moves on and along the sitting rows of students. Sometimes she smiles shyly. All peace. I find out that she is Sri Siva Sakti Ammaiyar and gives silent satsang for 15 minutes every day at 10:00 and at 16:45. What a blessing.

Before attending the Papaji video satsang at 19:00, I go to Auro Usha Restaurant to have dinner. Usha is an Indian who is married to a German man (they both are about 50). They have two boys aged 10 and 11 who help in the restaurant. They offer German/Swiss/Continental/Indian food. It is one of the best and most frequented restaurants in Tiru. Ram sits by himself at a table. We talk, gossip, eat and joke together. I forget the video showing…

Thiruvannamalai, Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ram’s session is from 10:00 to 11:30. I just about make it there. “This is a non-dual reality,” says Ram. “Madhukar if you want to smoke a cigarette in satsang, it’s okay. The wind blows away from the satsang area which has a thatched roof top. Smoking is a vasana (ingrained habit). Although it’s a violation against the dharma, it is still (really) awareness/consciousness that is doing the smoking.” Madhukar smokes a Davidoff, a German cigarette. I am actually stopping smoking on or before January 28. Since a couple of days, I am actually taking Pfizer’s new anti-smoking tablets Champix.

After Ram’s I have a chai and two idlis with chutney and sambar at Satya’s Restaurant next to Ram’s satsang outfit. I am accompanied by a German Osho/Poonjaji Ma (I forget her name) who lives in Byron Bay, Australia. About 25 seekers/disciples are sitting together at a long table. It turns out that Mooji, their guru, sits amongst them with the back to us. He is a big guy, perhaps 1.80m tall, weighing a good 90 kg. He sports matted hair rolled up in a bundle on top of his head. At some point I observe that the seat next to him is unoccupied. I get up, walk to his table and sit down next to him. “Hi Mooji. Here you are! I saw you only on pictures on your flyers. I am very happy meeting you in person for the first time.” “Hi man, I am happy to meeting you!” he answers holding my hands, looking into my eyes and hugging me sweetly for quite a long time. We slap each other on the shoulders. “Come to Satsang!” he invites me. “Yes, I will be with you on Saturday.” As I get up to go he puts his right hand over his heart. I put mine right over my heart. This is how we part – both beaming and smiling from ear to ear.

At 15:00 is satsang with Premananda, a British Osho/Papaji-‘enlightened’ master (he calls himself that). Premananda is running a three-week spirituality course in Tiru attended by 30 participants – each paying USD 1000. Premananda has published three books. The latest one contains interviews of 16 Vedanta and other “masters” where he has posed the same 12 questions to all interviewees. He may publish my book The Odyssey of Enlightenment in German. Currently we are negotiating about it. Premananda runs an ashram in Germany with about 25 inmates in the village of Hitdorf, located between Cologne and Düsseldorf.

Premananda is 25 minutes late. He adds another 15 minutes’ silence to the waiting. He has installed a ‘hot seat’ opposite his own chair. The person who has a question takes the seat facing him. After the first four boring questions and answers about how to live one’s life and the meaning of spiritual experiences, I leave the satsang after about an hour. I get a ride back on an oxcart.

Today is my sister Ilse’s birthday. I am calling her up in Germany to wish her Happy Birthday and best wishes for the year and time ahead.

You may like to check out the websites of Osho and Papaji


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