Historical books about the seventies by sannyasins
During the early to mid-seventies, not much written information about Osho reached to the West. Some sannyasins returning from Bombay and later, Poona, brought with them their treasured copies of some of the first Osho English books, such as ‘I am the Gate’, ‘And the Flowers Showered’, and then,’ My Way: The Way of the White Clouds’, as well as some of the older pamphlets such as ‘The Mysteries of Life and Death’ from the early Bombay years. However, in 1976 the first darshan diary was published, ‘Hammer on the Rock’, which immediately became a coveted pièce de résistance. From the mid-seventies onwards, many more books containing Osho’s discourses were published, as well as the great Rajneesh Newsletter, but to my knowledge very few sannyasins actually wrote about their experiences during that time.
However, in our library there’s a book Anatto came across when he was traveling in India during the late seventies, determined not to go to Poona in spite of many of his traveler friends doing just that. Once he had looked through that book however, the images stayed vividly with him and in a turn of events while in Bombay having some time on his hands before moving on to Sri Lanka, he remembered and decided to have a look at this ‘Poona’. He never made it to Sri Lanka.
This book is ‘Dying for Enlightenment’ and was compiled by Deva Amit Prem (aka Bernard Gunther Ph.D), with photos by Krishna Bharti (aka Cole), and published in 1979. It has remained youthful, showing to this day the radiance, intensity and spontaneity of sannyasins in various ashram situations and group experiences, interspersed with short quotes by Osho. It is a historical picture book that brings joy to every visitor who comes to us and usually people immediately want to know more about Osho if they haven’t heard about him before.
A second book, ‘Neo Tantra: Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh on Sex Love Prayer and Transcendence’, also compiled by Amit Prem, was published a year later. It has a collection of beautiful sensuous photos of Anubhava and Gayan, also taken by Krishna Bharti, interspersed with quotes by Osho, celebrating tantra and love.
An early member of the Esalen Institute, he took sannyas in 1976 and has since written numerous books, conducted hundreds of workshops and collaborated with Alan Watts, Joseph Campbell, Jack Kornfield and Ram Dass (Richard Alpert). He lives in San Diego offering trainings and counseling to individuals, couples and groups. Always innovative, his latest creation is called Aware/apy, helping along mind/body/spiritual integration. His latest book is ‘The Power of Meow’, containing awareness reminders that were inspired by his cat, Rumi. firstname.lastname@example.org, www.udabuddha.com
Update 8 December 2018: Satyananda’s book has been translated into English and is available. See Bhagawati’s review: ‘The Cosmic Madhouse’
Also in 1979, another book created a furor in the German-speaking parts of Europe, to the extent that thousands of people packed their suitcases and made their way to see Osho in Poona. This book, ‘Ganz Entspannt im Hier und Jetzt’ (Totally Relaxed in the Here and Now), was written by Swami Satyananda (aka Joerg Andrees Elten) and presents a riveting and revealing honest account of his life at the ashram.
Satyananda had arrived at the Shree Rajneesh Ashram in 1977 to write an article for German Stern magazine about Osho and the ‘orange people’. He had been their star reporter for many years and had covered most important incidents all over the world. Once Satyananda met Osho it was clear to him that he would become a sannyasin. His article, which was a very positive report of what he had seen and experienced, was heavily edited yet the gist of it was undeniable to many readers; something inexplicable was happening in Pune and the first wave of Germans knocked on the Gateless Gate.
Satyananda quit his job and moved to Poona. After the first book, he compiled ‘Im Grunde ist alles ganz einfach’ (Basically Everything is Easy), which was published in 1981 and later, after Rajneeshpuram, he wrote two more books, ‘Alles ganz easy in Santa Barbara’ (Everything is Totally Easy in Santa Barbara), and ‘Karma und Karriere’ (Karma and Career).
Nowadays he lives in Northeast Germany together with his beloved, Gitama. They run the ‘Institute for Creativity and Meditation’ giving seminars and leading workshops. He is often invited by the German media to appear in talk shows and holds public lectures. Satyananda writes articles about current news and spiritual themes for the German press and German Osho Times; his latest project is the preparation of an audio book of ‘Totally Relaxed in the Here and Now’. email@example.com, www.hierjetzt.de
Satya Bharti (aka Jill Franklin) was one of the editors of Osho’s discourses, and a prolific writer of several books about Osho and life at the ashram during the seventies. They were published between 1980 and 1981, entitled ‘The Ultimate Risk’, ‘Drunk on the Divine’, and ‘Death Comes Dancing’, describing her own experiences, life at the ashram, and the therapy groups. After her experiences in Rajneeshpuram, she wrote ‘The Promise of Paradise’, which resulted in an appearance on ’Larry King Live!’ and other radio and TV programs. The book has been optioned twice for a movie, but Satya ultimately turned down the scripts as being sensationalist, not realistic, nor sympathetic to Osho.
Satya Bharti lived with her beloved Kirti for many years in Vancouver, BC (Canada). Tragically, her 21-year-old son was murdered in San Francisco in 1987 and three years later, Satya was seriously injured as a pedestrian in a traffic accident. Her dramatic post-accident experiences motivated her to write a book to guide others through the jungle of medical, legal, and insurance issues that people face after motor vehicle accidents, entitled ‘Auto Accident Survivor’s Guide for British Columbia’, widely acclaimed by doctors, lawyers, disability groups, M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and others.
Satya and Kirti presently live in Providence, Rhode Island (USA) close to their children and grandchildren where Satya continues to write. firstname.lastname@example.org
Last but not least there’s Sally Belfrage’s book ‘Flowers of Emptiness’ which was published in 1981. After meeting sannyasins in London, she traveled to Poona for one month, gathering material for her “reflections on an ashram.” The book is written with wry humour, and at times very critical; a marvelous sensitive time piece. She does not become a sannyasin, nor does she necessarily agree with the actions of her sannyasin friends, but comes to the conclusion, “…when people react to Bhagwan as a threat to their rational existence, I would rather say that you get from him what you can take. You can ignore or discredit him, use what is illuminating in his words, have a good laugh, or give your life. Whatever the decision, it’s yours and yours alone.”
Her other writings covered the violence in Northern Ireland and the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi, while her earliest book, ‘A Room in Moscow’, told about a sojourn in the Soviet Union. Sally Belgrave died in 1994.
Bhagawati for Osho News