Pope Closes Down a Monastery of Dancing Nuns

Letter from Delhi

Nun of That!

By Kul Bhushan

Holy Jesus! Pope Benedict XVI has shut down a famous monastery in Rome that held dances by a former nightclub dancer nun. Never mind that her dance performance was more of a devotion to her Lord Jesus Christ in the same tradition as Meera in India, one of the famous devotees of Lord Krishna.The abrupt closure of the monastery of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome, which holds some of the church’s most prized relics, was reported by Italian dailies and picked up by global media. 

Why is the Pope, the leader of world’s 1.1 billion Catholics and the bishop of Rome, so afraid of this dancer that he closed down the monastery? Why is he insecure of her total love for Christ she expresses in dance? Does it conflict with the serious and solemn worship of the Catholics? Is there no room for song and dance to celebrate Christ?

Holy cow!

These very questions were asked over 400 years ago in Rajasthan state of India when a beautiful princess of one of the royal families devoted herself to her love for Lord Krishna, the only dancing god of the universe. She was so madly in love that she could not control herself and started to sing and dance in the streets. The royal establishment bore down on her, sent her poison in milk and a snake in a basket in futile attempts to kill her because she was an affront to their dignity and respect.

Osho disciples dance like mad for their master. Singing and dancing is the major part of their celebration topped with laughter. Osho described what happens during such a dance: “When the dance really possesses you, the dancer is no more, the dancer has disappeared, he or she doesn’t exist. The dance is so tremendously real that the unreal has to disappear before it. The unreal cannot face the real; the false cannot confront the real, the lie cannot face the truth, the darkness cannot encounter the light. When the real arises – and the real is when you are a part of the whole, whether in laughter, in dancing, in love – whenever you are part of the whole, the real IS. Separate, you are MAYA. One with the whole, you are God.”

Obviously, the Pope does not appreciate this flow of uncontrolled emotion for the sublime and feeling insecure, he came down heavily on one of Rome’s oldest and most prestigious churches in March. In fact, this matter started to simmer two years ago when the basilica’s abbot, Simone Fioraso, a flamboyant former Milan fashion designer, was moved out. Some unorthodox practices including dances in which nuns pranced around the altar were noticed; celebrities like the pop diva Madonna visited the church. No wonder eyebrows were raised in the Vatican. They had it coming and the last straw proved to be the dancing Sister Anna Nobili. Enough is enough!


Even in the Catholic churches in Africa, the beating of zebra skin covered drums and spirited dancing happens in churches. In Latin America, it is the same boisterous song and dance. The churches in south India have the traditional drums and sitar creating music that reaches a crescendo of celebration. And the African American worshippers who are Southern Baptists in the United States top all Christians as they go into hip shaking swing in elation during their church services.

Dance is an active form of devotion and meditation. Dance forms a major and integral part of most active meditations devised by Osho. One of them is named Natraj, the ultimate dance by the creator of the universe, Lord Shiva.

* Published in print edition on 10 June 2011

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