B as in Bhagwan

Media Watch

Bavarian Radio, BR, visited the Munich Osho Leela Meditation Center and published their report also on the internet.

Dynamic Meditation and Controversial Guru

Dressed in orange-colored long robes and meditating with abandon – this is how the followers of Bhagwan became world famous in the 70s and 80s. Bhagwan, who later called himself Osho, was the founder of the Neo-Sannyas movement. He was the best-known and most controversial guru in the world. His followers saw him as a charismatic leader. Especially young people from the western world made a pilgrimage to India – many were concerned that they would completely submit to him. Sannyasin centers exist to this day – also in Munich – publicly accessible and not particularly mysterious.

Osho Leela Munich

Through Ecstasy to Truth

Every morning sannyasins meet at the Osho Leela Center to celebrate the Dynamic Meditation. It is a fierce meditation which consists of five phases. From chaotic breathing to laughter, screaming, crying, dancing, jumping up and down, to standing motionless – it’s all there.

The sannyasins don’t consider themselves a religious community. But one cannot describe them as a youth sect either, as they were called during the seventies. Above all they want to live their own individuality and reckon they will reach to truth through spiritual experiences – often during an ecstatic meditation.

Patik from Osho Leela Centre in Munich explains: “When someone tells me I should be loving, for example love your neighbor, then that is something being demanded from me. It has more value to me when I have experienced what love is. How that feels.”

Osho Leela Munich

Done with old Dogmas and Traditions

The first rule for sannyasins is that there are no rules. Only experience counts, which they search for in meditation. According to Taru, sannyasins consciously attempt to move away from old dogmas and traditions – because this was taught by Bhagwan and they still practice it to this day in Bavaria.

Patik has been a sannyasin for more than 30 years, and is particularly fascinated by “finding out more about myself, my opportunities. And to share that with others who are similarly inclined – friends with whom I can do that together. I am a musician and play music with people in this context. That is very important to me. Besides, I also like to meditate and love Osho.”

Osho – as he called himself during the last year of his life – brought the tradition of the guru, the spiritual master, to the western world. In search of enlightenment thousands of young people followed him and many left their families. They were given a new name from him in order to become a new person. Bhagwan placed himself at the center. His students submitted to him unconditionally, did what he asked of them and donated their money to him. He preached free love. With his teaching he hit upon the spirit of the times: the era of the flower power movement. The deification of Bhagwan was also a shock to society, especially for the parents who lost their children to Osho – at least for some time. Bhagwan himself about his movement:

Sannyas means courage more than anything else, because it is a declaration of your individuality, a declaration of freedom, a declaration that you will not be any more part of the mob madness, the mob psychology. It is a declaration that you are becoming universal; you will not belong to any country, to any church, to any race, to any religion.”

Osho, Darshan Diary, Finger Pointing to the Moon (darshan diary), ch 7

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, aka Osho (1931-1990)

He founded an ashram, his first large meditation center in 1974 in India. Seven years later, in 1981, he built another community in the state of Oregon in the United States. For many the trip to self-discovery became a horror. More and more scandals became public. His students worked for him for free, he had them spied upon, accumulated a lot of money, there were even murder attempts on sect opponents. He was finally accused of tax evasion and was forced to leave the country in 1985. He returned to India. He died there in 1990 at age 59. His followers opened meditation centers around the world. Some exist until now. In the 70s and 80s the Bhagwan movement in Germany was still classified as a youth cult. Today, the sannyasins are seen as less dangerous, and without their guru the movement has lost its appeal.


Bhagwan was the best-known guru of the 70s and 80s. His followers, the sannyasins are looking for the truth through spiritual experiences. His movement has always been controversial; some see in him the prototype of a guru.

Facts and Figures

Most followers experienced the movement in the 70s and 80s. It is estimated that between 30,000 – 40,000 sannyasins live in Germany today. There are no figures available for Bavaria.

Faith and Goals

Sannyasins mainly want to have spiritual experiences in ecstatic meditation. They insist on finding their particular individual spiritual path.

Note: It is interesting yet not surprising to see that although the beginning of the article is fairly positive, the short paragraph on Osho has all the hallmarks of the usual negative German press coverage – we have seen similar descriptions of Osho since the so-called Eva Renzi scandal broke in the late seventies! One would wish the German press archives would be updated with some more accurate information about Osho and sannyasins.

Read original article in German: www.br.de

Translated by Bhagawati for Osho News

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