… 23 years after death; sparks controversy
Article by Abhay Vaidya published on Sep 19, 2013 in Firstpost India:
The dispute over trust properties between rival factions of Osho’s followers has taken an extraordinary turn with the faction controlling Osho’s properties producing a purportedly certified copy of Osho’s will, 23 years after his death.
The spiritual leader Osho also known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh died in Pune on January 19, 1990 and there was no mention of any will left behind by Osho in the press conferences held by the Osho trustees following his death.
Now, 23 years after his death, the document presented as Osho’s will has suddenly surfaced during a court proceedings in the European Union. Osho’s followers in India were alerted to this development in June, 2013. This will signed by Osho has now been challenged in a Pune court as a forged will and the case before Civil Judge (Junior Division) U.L. Pathak is slated to come up for hearing on September 24.
The will dated 16 June 1989 bearing Osho’s signature states that he is bequeathing all properties in his name, including ownership and publishing rights to the Neo Sannyas International Foundation, a Swiss charitable trust.
Signed on a stamp paper of Rs10, Michael O’Byrne (Swami Anand Jayesh), president of Osho Foundation International, Zurich, has been identified as the executor of the will and two other foreigners, who are members of this Foundation, as the witnesses, namely, witnesses John Andrews (Swami Amrito) and Philip Toelkes (Swami Prem Niren).
The petitioners Osho Friends Foundation & Others led by Yogesh Thakkar alias Swami Premgeet and Kishor Raval alias Swami Prem Anadi who have challenged the authenticity of the will have charged Michael O’Byrne, John Andrews and Philip Toelkes of forging the document and have urged the court to declare the will as null and void.
They have also urged the court to permanently restrain the trustees from implementing the will and have also appealed for appointment of an administrator for safe custody of Osho’s properties which includes real estate and intellectual properties running into crores of rupees.
Speaking to Firstpost.com, Thakkar said if the authenticity of this will is allowed to go unchallenged, it would mean that properties of Osho belonging to India would now go out of the country.
The others named as respondents in the petition are prominent Osho trustees and NRI, Mukesh Sarda (Swami Mukesh Bharti), Vidya Khubchandani (Ma Vidya Bharati) and the Neo Sannyas Foundation.
Thakkar and his co-petitioners already have two suits pending against in the Bombay High Court against the administrators of Neo Sanyas Foundation aka Rajneesh Foundation and Osho International Foundation and their trustees for alleged fraud of Rs300 crore, manipulation and embezzlement of Osho trust properties. The petitioners have alleged that the Foundation trustees “are transferring funds, assets, and benefits of the Osho charitable trusts in favour of private limited companies” controlled by them.
According to the petitioners, Osho has left behind a “colossal legacy” which includes archives of 9,000 hours of audio discourses in Hindi and English, 1,870 hours of video discourses, 650 titles of transcribed books in Hindi and English which are being translated in 65 languages around the world, about 850 paintings by Osho, 80,000 books in Osho’s personal library at his commune in Koregaon Park which contains his notations, Osho’s Samadhi at Koregaon Park, and prime real estate in Pune and elsewhere valued at more than Rs. 1,000 crore.
The petitioners have argued that “non-production of Osho’s will for 23 years, comprehensively proves that no such will or document ever existed.”
They have also pointed out that Rajneesh’s name in the will is stated as “Chandra Mohan Jain” when in fact his birth name was “Rajneesh Chandra Mohan”.
The text of the will dated 16 June, 1989, running into five paragraphs states as follows:
RECITAL: “In 1975, 1978 and 1981, I executed assignments concerning my work. Also, in 1981, I executed a broad power of attorney will the stated intention to divest myself of all worldly property, and also an amendment in 1982, with the result that all such property is now owned by Neo Sannyas International Foundation, a Swiss charitable entity. To be completely certain that all such property interests are so divested, I make this Last Will and Testament.
LAST WILL & TESTAMENT: Being of sound mind, and acting of my free will, I make this Last Will and Testament.
I, Osho, birth name Chandra Mohan Jain, formerly known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, hereby devise and bequest any and all right, title or interest of any nature in any and all property of any nature and in any form, owned by me, now or in the future, including but not limited to, all ownership, publishing or related rights, to all my work, published to date or in the future, in any form, to Neo Sannyas International Foundation. If for any reason that entity cannot or does not accept this bequest then the alternate beneficiary shall be a non-profit, charitable entity dedicated to the dissemination of my work, such entity to be designated by my executor.
EXECUTOR: I name as my executor Sw. Anand Jayesh, aka Michael O’Byrne.
Executed this 15th day of October, 1989, at Poona, India.