I am both thrilled and nervous. The controversial teacher has been making headlines in the Indian newspapers and magazines of late, with his advocacy of sex as a means to spiritual enlightenment. There are reports about the hedonistic lifestyle adopted by his followers and unconfirmed rumours of wild orgies within the confines of the ashram. Bollywood has already made an eager beeline to the doors of the ashram, with celebrities like Vijay Anand and Vinod Khanna sporting the rudraksh and donning the saffron kurta, both considered to be trademarks of a true Rajneesh follower.
The letter is signed by a Ma Yoga P____. In my mind, I imagine an old lady with steel-grey hair tied into a severe bun at the back, peering at me through steel-rimmed spectacles and speaking sternly in a dry, gravelly voice.
Two days later I realise the ethereal creature languidly reclining in the sofa in front of me is far removed from the original mental picture I had of her. This tall, shapely, golden-haired, blue-eyed beauty is a Scandinavian goddess. She welcomes me in a voice of honey-dipped huskiness, offers me an orange drink and flashes a brilliant smile, encouraging me to start my presentation.
I have difficulty breathing.
Half way through the presentation, I am distracted by the thought perhaps she is not wearing any garment of a restraining nature underneath her ochre robe. When she leans forward to look at the samples or reaches out to pick up the brochure, I have glimpses of, what at least in my fevered imagination seems to be, an alluring and endless cleavage.
I continue with my presentation.
Ma Yoga P___ has a sort of guileless self-confidence that comes so naturally to most good-looking people, so when she crosses and uncrosses her long legs that makes her robe ride up her calf, it is with no deliberate intent to tease or to provoke. She is just being herself. She seems to be a genuinely nice person and I warm up to her.
To my surprise, after the official discussion, I find myself discussing Philosophy with her. We talk about J. Krishnamurthy and Acharya Rajneesh and the difference in their respective approaches to the same spiritual issues. She takes me to a huge, impressive library lined with books from wall to wall and asks me to choose a book. I pick up Rajneesh’s treatise on Tao.
On my way back, I dwell on the extreme dualities that can co-exist in the human mind. Sex and Spirituality, for instance.
I am smiling.