Featured Remembering Here&Now — 27 May 2014

Foreword by Kushwant Singh to this bestseller at Penguin that describes the life and legacy of Osho.

Life's Mysteries CoverI met Rajneesh only once – that was some time in the early 1970s when he was living in ‘Woodlands’ close to Kemp’s Corner in Bombay. I had read about him in the papers and met a couple of his disciples who draped themselves in saffron robes and wore a medallion bearing his picture round their necks. He was still known as Acharya (teacher); honorifics Bhagwan (God) and Osho were some years away. I had no great desire to meet Rajneesh but was persuaded by his admirers that he was different from other teachers of the spiritual and that I might get answers to questions which bothered me. In this quest I had visited many ashrams and heard discourses by gurus and godmen. They had nothing very new to say.


Rajneesh was perhaps the first
of the great teachers
who had carefully examined
tenets of other faiths;
he could rightly claim
to be the only teacher
who was a scholar
of comparative religions.

Most of their sermons were variations of the theme that God dwells within every human being and if people looked inwards they would find Illumination, Truth, and Reality. It was no more than pouring new wine in old bottles. What I found more interesting than the teachings of these godmen was to study their impact on their followers. Why did they flock in their hundreds and thousands from all parts of the world to listen to their discourses and live in austerity prescribed by ashram rules? What was it that they got and I did not? I had no particular problem and went to see Rajneesh more out of curiosity than to learn anything. An appointment was set up. I was told not to wear any perfume or cologne (I never do) and not use perfumed soap for my bath that morning.

I arrived at Woodlands at the appointed time and was shown into a large, airy room lined with books. I was told to wait a few minutes for the Acharya. I went round the bookshelves. Most of the collection was in English; a few in Sanskrit and Hindi. I was baffled by the range of subjects: religion, theology, philosophy, history, literature, biographies, autobiographies down to books on humour and crime. It occurred to me that I had not seen books in ashrams I had visited. Some had libraries meant for the use of disciples but most consisted of books on religious subjects or tracts summarizing sermons of their gurus. Other gurus read very little beyond Hindu scriptures, the Vedas, the Upanishads and the epics, and rarely bothered to read books on Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity or Islam. Rajneesh had.

Consequently while others had only their religions or what they vaguely learnt at second hand, Rajneesh had studied them from original sources and evolved an eclectic faith of his own. Jain Mahavira and the Buddha knew Hinduism but nothing else. I am not sure what Zarathustra knew when he elevated the flame into a symbol of purity. We are on better ground to dig into the material on which Jewish prophets built the edifice of the Hebrew faith. We know that Christianity, and following Christianity, Islam heavily borrowed from the teachings of the prophets of the Old Testament. Islam boasts that its founder Prophet Mohammed was totally unlettered. The theology of the latest of the great religions of India, Sikhism, is largely based on Vedanta. None of the early teachers laid claim to erudition. Rajneesh was perhaps the first of the great teachers who had carefully examined tenets of other faiths; he could rightly claim to be the only teacher who was a scholar of comparative religions. That fact in itself entitled him to be heard with respect.

Enter Rajneesh. An average-sized Indian–a frail, sallow complexioned man in his forties. A wispy, flowing beard greying on the sides. A woolen cap on his head; a light, saffron-coloured gown hanging down to his ankles. What struck me most were his eyes: large and mesmeric. A bright smile as he answered my greetings joining the palms of his hand: ‘Namaskar.’

Osho sitting Woodlands

We took our seats.

‘What can I do for you?’ he asked me. Voice–gentle. Accent–markedly Indian.
‘Nothing very much,’ I replied. ‘I do not have any problems.’
‘Then why have you come to see me? You are wasting your time. And mine.
It was not a very auspicious start for a dialogue. I blurted out, ‘I am curious. I want to know why so many people come to see you. What is it they get from you?’
‘They have problems,’ he replied. ‘I try to solve them as best I can. If you have no problems, there is nothing I can do for you.’

I quickly thought of a problem, ‘I am an agnostic, I do not believe in the existence of God. Nevertheless I am unable to come to terms with the phenomenon of death. I know it is inevitable but I cannot accept the notion of rebirth nor of the Day of Judgement. To me death is a final full stop. Yet I fear it and am afraid of dying. How can I overcome this fear which is present at the back of my mind all the time?’

He paused for a while before replying. ‘You are right there is no escape from death nor any warning when it will strike. Keep reminding yourself of these facts and expose yourself to the dead and the dying. Your terror of it will lessen. It is not such a frightful event. Beyond that there is little you can do about it.’

It made perfect sense to me because that was what I had been doing for some years: visit cremation grounds and cemeteries, sit by the bodies of friends and relatives who had died. For the time it did help me to overcome the horror of death. But it came back. At the time I met Rajneesh I did not know that he subscribed to the theory of birth, death and rebirth. If I had known I would have questioned him further. Though not much impressed by his answer to my question I came away with the impression that here was one man who did not bamboozle me with jargon gurus, swamis, acharyas and mullahs use. I could relate to him. We were on the same wave-length.

It would be as foolish
to try and summarize Osho’s teachings
in a short introduction
as to put the water of the oceans
into a teacup.

I tried to find out more about his background and his message. I was fortunate in befriending a young and attractive Italian girl, Gracia Marciano, an ardent disciple of Rajneesh. She was only in her twenties, grey-eyed with copper-coloured hair. She tied it in a saffron-coloured head-band and wore a loose saffron shirt and lungi. She also sported a Rajneesh medallion round her neck. Every time she came to see me in my office, she brought some literature on Rajneesh and his teachings.

She quickened my interest in Rajneesh. About Gracia I will have more to say later. First, something about Rajneesh’s life.

Rajneesh was the eldest of eleven children of a cloth merchant. He was born in a small town, Kuchwada in Hsohangabad district of Madhya Pradesh, on 11 December 1931. His childhood name was Chandra Mohan. The family were Jains and so his full name was Chandra Mohan Jain. He spent his childhood years away from his parents living with his Naana and Naani (mother’s parents). He was a precocious child, good at studies but ever up to mischief: his teachers, tired of his pranks, were constantly reporting him to the headmaster. He was also very argumentative and a stickler for the truth. A traumatic experience in his younger days was his grandfather’s sickness and death. There were no doctors around and they were taking him in a bullock-cart to the nearest town where there was a hospital when the old man died on the way. The incident left a deep impression on Rajneesh’s mind. He often spoke of the event.

In 1953 Rajneesh majored in philosophy from the D.N Jain collage in Jabalpur, getting a first class. Extensive reading of all religions and hours spent in contemplation convinced him that he had attained the ultimate in mystic experience; he had achieved enlightenment. He fixed a precise date for the event–21 March 1953. He was then only twenty-one years old.

In 1958 he was appointed professor of philosophy at the University of Jabalpur. He combined teaching with giving discourses in different towns of India. He began to draw huge audiences because what he said people had not heard before. He had a hypnotic voice. He laced his iconoclastic sermons with parables to illustrate his point and lots of humour, demolishing with irrefutable logic beliefs held sacred over the centuries. Thousands of men and women, mainly the educated, were converted to his way of thinking. In 1974, he set up his first commune in Pune. By then his fame as a teacher had spread all over. Foreigners flocked to Pune to hear him, try out the systems of meditation he had evolved, and became his disciples. They were given new names, wore saffron garments and a medallion with his picture round their necks. Orthodox Hindus became alarmed at his success. As pictures of his disciples dancing in the nude and in states of ecstasy were published in Indian and foreign journals weird stories of sex orgies in the Pune center began to circulate. He came to be described as the sex guru. The atmosphere in Pune became hostile. The then Prime Minister, Morarji Desai, a very strait-laced man without much learning or vision, had many uncharitable things to say about Rajneesh. Rajneesh treated them with the scorn they deserved. He had as low an opinion of politicians as he had of holy men who had large followings of gullible people all over the country. From an Acharya (teacher), he became Bhagwan (God) to his adherents. Ultimately, Rajneesh decided to quit India and try to spread his message in more hospitable climes.

In 1981, his American disciples acquired a 64,000-acre ranch in Oregon and set up a commune which was named Rajneeshpuram. While thousands of his admirers flew in from distant parts of the world for the annual festival, American churchmen rallied the orthodox to meet this challenge to their traditional beliefs from this messiah from the east. Canards were spread about drug abuse, promiscuous sex and crime perpetrated in the commune. None of this was authenticated or brought to court but provided salacious material to writers of fiction–among them John Updike who based his novel ‘S’ on the commune.

Discourse Rajneeshpuram

The U.S. Federal Government had always looked upon religious communes with suspicion. Rajneeshpuram had become the biggest and the most flourishing of them all, drawing followers from among the rich and the famous. They showered their Bhagwan with gifts: besides several custom-built Mercedes Benzes, there was a fleet of almost 100 Rolls-Royces. ‘Why not one for every day of the year?’ scoffed Rajneesh at those who criticized his lifestyle. His followers carried stickers on their cars with the legend: ‘Jesus Saves, Moses Invests, Bhagwan Spends’. Rajneeshpuram had its own theatres, restaurants, beauty parlours, schools and bathing pools: it was a model township in itself, watched closely by the church and the government.

Said Rajneesh,

‘A commune should live in a way that it becomes more and more rich, that it does not over-produce people… over-production is bound to create beggars, is bound to create orphans, and once there are orphans there are more Mother Teresas.’ He went on, ‘My ashram looks so utterly different [from Indian ashrams] because people are dancing, singing, holding hands, hugging, loving, joyous. This is not the Eastern concept of an ashram. An ashram has to be absolutely joyless, it has to be more like a cemetery than a garden.’

Osho World Tour

In 1985 the U.S. government decided to strike. Rajneesh was arraigned on thirty-five charges of fraudulent representation to evade immigration laws. He was arrested and detained in prison for seventeen days, then ordered to be deported.

Another enigma which
may be hard to comprehend
is Osho’s ambivalent attitude
towards his own motherland.
He chose to abandon it;
he chose (perhaps reluctantly)
to come back to it.

Rajneesh returned to India not sure where he could set up a new center. In February 1986 he embarked on a world tour hoping to find a new refuge. He was refused visas by twenty-one countries.

He returned to Bombay in July and in January 1987 restarted his ashram in Pune, now known as the Osho Commune International. I visited the Pune Osho Centre in Koregaon Park. Osho Rajneesh was in a poor state of health and advised not to receive visitors. I spent a couple of hours going round the commune. Its large meditation hall resounded with music. A band of four men struck up when they were moved to do so. Some sannyasins were dancing, others sitting quietly holding hands or in deep meditation. Everyone was doing his own thing. Along labyrinthine pathways running through thick foliage was a waterfall, a pond with swans, studios, a large library, classrooms, rooms for residence, a shopping center, bookstore and office. The entire commune had been built by disciples who included landscape architects, engineers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers–each had given the best he could. Nothing had been built by contractors or hired labour. The one thing that struck me most was that everyone along the way gave me a broad smile. A spirit of freedom and harmony pervaded the commune. It was unlike any of the dozens of ashrams I had visited in different parts of the country where on one ever smiled, everyone went about constipated with the world’s woes, where loud laughter was regarded as blasphemy. I wondered if this was due to their liberation from sex inhibitions about which so much had been said and written. Let me turn back a few years to my encounter with the Italian girl Gracia Marciano who first got me interested in Rajneesh’s teachings.

She had no hang-ups about sex.
It was I who had them
and my mind was clogged
by libidinous desires.
By confronting me head on
she cleared the barrier
that stood between us.
We became friends.

Gracia had been seeing me off and on invariably carrying some literature about Rajneesh. I read whatever she gave me largely to keep the conversation going for the next meeting. She had no other conversation except Rajneesh. She was obviously trying to bring me round to become a fellow disciple. One day quite flippantly I said to her, ‘Gracia, you want to convert me to becoming Bhagwan’s disciple? You don’t have to make me read all this stuff. My price is different.’ She did not ask me what my price was and kept an innocent look on her face. This happened two or three times. Gracia decided I was not taking her seriously and on a subsequent meeting confronted me squarely, ‘You like my body? You want to make love to me? My body is nothing, you can have it anytime you want. I will come to you.’ That knocked all the illicit amorousness I had built up inside me. She had no hang-ups about sex. It was I who had them and my mind was clogged by libidinous desires. By confronting me head on she cleared the barrier that stood between us. We became friends. Some months later when my wife and I were passing through Rome to go to the Italian lakes, she took us out to dinner. Later I ran into her at a conference in Los Angeles. She had married a TV film producer. She no longer wore saffron or carried a Rajneesh medallion round her neck.

When I visited the commune in Pune, Rajneesh had dropped the honorific Bhagwan and taken on the Japanese Osho as a title. It is not an easy word to translate: ‘O’ signifies love, respect and gratitude; ‘Sho’ means multidimensional expansion of consciousness and existence showering from all directions. Finally he dropped the name Rajneesh as well and was simply referred to as Osho.

By the middle of 1988 he felt he had said all he wanted to say. He began to gradually withdraw from public life and his discourses became rarer and rarer. He was never in robust health and suffered from diabetes and asthma. He had reason to believe that he had deliberately been ill-treated in jail: his disciples believe he was forcefully fed thallium in his food. It is a tasteless poison which takes a long time to destroy the body. Despite the best medical attention Rajneesh was never able to recover his health. He gave his last public discourse in April 1989.

Two close disciples, the Canadian Swami Jayesh and the English doctor Swami Amrito were in close attendance round the clock during the last few days of Osho’s life. Swami Amrito gives a vivid account of his dialogue with Osho shortly before he died. Amrito felt his pulse and told him his end was near. Osho simply nodded to indicate he knew. Amrito asked him if they should send for a cardiologist and attempt a resuscitation of the heart. Osho replied, ‘No, just let me go. Existence decides its timing.’

Osho gave instructions about what to do with his room and personal belongings. ‘Put wall-to-wall carpet here just like this bath mat.’ He pointed to his stereo. ‘Nirupa would like it!’ Nirupa had cleaned his room for many years. ‘Those you take out,’ he continued, pointing to the dehumidifiers (they were noisy) ‘but make sure one air-conditioner is on.’ He was asked about his samadhi. He asked that after his death his body should be taken to the meditation hall. ‘Then take me to the burning ghats – and put my hat and socks on me before you take my body.’

A few weeks before his death someone asked him what would happen to his work after he was gone. Osho replied,

‘My trust in existence is absolute. If there is any truth in what I am saying it will survive… the people who remain interested in my work will be simply carrying the torch, but not imposing anything on anyone.

‘I will remain a source of inspiration to my people. And that’s what most sannyasis will feel. I want them to grow on their own–qualities like love, around which no church can be created; like awareness, which is nobody’s monopoly, like celebration, rejoicing and maintaining fresh, childlike eyes…’

Apparently just before he died at 5 p.m. on 19 January 1990 Osho said, ‘I leave you my dream.’

He had forbidden mourning and lamentation. That evening his bier was carried out of the ashram with throngs of disciples singing and dancing all the way to Tulsi Ram Ghat. The funeral pyre was lit by his younger brother Swami Vijay Bharti and his ashes were brought back to the commune the following day.

Osho's ashes being brough

Nine months before he died, Osho himself dictated the words which should be written on the spot where his ashes would be kept.
A marble plaque records them.

Osho
Never Born–Never Died
Only visited this
Planet Earth between
December 11,1931–January 19,1991

Whatever be the future of the Pune commune and no matter who manages it, it will remain a place of pilgrimage for millions of Rajneesh’s admirers spread across the globe. His dream will sustain people for times to come.

It would be as foolish to try and summarize Osho’s teachings in a short introduction as to put the water of the oceans into a teacup. In thirty-five years of giving discourses every day and answering questions put to him by disciples and visitors he touched upon a vast and baffling range of subjects. These were faithfully recorded on tapes and then transcribed on paper and published. There are almost 600 volumes of Osho’s works in print and thousands of tapes available in Osho centers and bookstores. Many of his discourses were on ancient religious texts of different religions; others were answers he gave in reply to questions. I can personally vouch for their profundity. Several mornings in Kasauli I listened to tapes on Guru Nanak’s morning prayers, japj which I had translated into English verse. I thought I knew everything worth knowing about this morning prayer till I heard Rajneesh’s voice on tape propound esoteric meanings behind every line quoting the Upanishads and writings of Bhakta saints. I had not heard anything as profound from scholars of Sikhism.

It may sound strange that Osho preferred to answer mundane questions put to him by visitors and disciples to expounding his own views on other religions or their founders. Nothing was too trite for him; a young man ditched by his girl wanted to know what he could to about it; a man and woman, both married, wanted to know whether extra-marital affairs were sinful; someone else asked what is love; how is it different from infatuation and lust. And so on. This is what Osho in his compilation, The Golden Future, had to say about such trivia put to him.

‘As far as I am concerned, the question-answer sessions are more significant because they relate to you, they relate to your growth. Certainly you are groping in darkness, trying to find a way. You cannot ask questions of the heights of Zarathustra, of Khalil Gibran – and I have to answer your reality.

Listening to Zarathustra and Kahlil Gibran is a good and great entertainment; you may sob and you may have tears and you may feel great, but it is all hot air! You remain the same–nothing changes in you. I speak sometimes on Buddha, on Chuang Tzu, on Zarathustra, just to give you an insight into the height people have reached just to make you aware of those distant stars. They are not so distant as they look–people like us have reached there. It is within your grasp.

That is the reason why I have spoken on Zarathustra and Buddha and Bodhidharma and a thousand others: to create a longing in you. But just the longing is not enough. Then have to give you the path; then I have to sort out the mess that you are, and put your fragments, which are spread all over the space… and put them all together, and somehow push you on the path.

The question-answer sessions are concerned with you, with your growth, your progress. And the discourses on Zarathustra or Kahlil Gibran are concerned with the places where you should be–but are not yet there.’

The first thing to do is to get your priorities right, what is important and what of little consequence. He says:

‘Have you seen the touchstone on which gold is judged? Let this be a touchstone for what is important: Is death going to take it away from you? Then it is not important. Money then is not important–useful, but not important, has no import. Power, prestige, responsibility–death will come and efface them all, so why make so much fuss about them for the few days you are here? This is a caravanserai, an overnight stay, and by the morning we go.’

Osho’s disciples called themselves sannyasins. But unlike others who took sannyas they were not asked to renounce the world to live solitary lives in Himalayan caves or in jungles. When asked whether it was true that his sannyasins celebrated everything, Osho replied:

‘You have heard rightly! My sannyasins celebrate everything. Celebration is the foundation of my sannyas–not renunciation but rejoicing; rejoicing in all the beauties, all the joys, all that life offers, because this whole life is a gift of God.

The old religions have taught you to renounce life. They are all life-negative; their whole approach is pessimistic. They are all against life and its joys. To me, life and God are synonymous. In fact, life is a far better word than God itself, because God is only a philosophical term, while life is real, existential. The word ‘God’ exists only in scriptures, it is a word, a mere word. Life is within you and without you–in the trees, in the clouds, in the stars. This whole existence is a dance of life.
I teach love of life.’

Is there a God who controls our desires? Osho replies:

‘Life has no aim other than itself, because life is another name for God himself. Everything else in the world can have an aim. Can be a means to an end, but at least one thing you have to leave as the end of all but the means of none.

You can call it existence.
You can call it God.
You can call it life.
These are different names of a single reality.

God is the name given to life by the theologians and it has a danger in it because it can be refuted; it can be argued against. Almost half of the earth does not believe in any God. Not only the communists, but the Buddhists, the Jainas and there are thousands of free thinkers who are atheists. The name ‘God’ is not very defensible because it is given by man and there is no evidence, no proof, no argument for it. It remains more or less an empty word. It means whatever you want it to mean.

‘Existence’ is better. All the great thinkers of this century are existentialists. They have dropped the word ‘God’ completely. Existence in itself is enough for them.’

Osho had no patience with ascetics who deprived themselves of all luxuries and inflicted pain on their bodies as an integral part of religious discipline. ‘I call only that man religious who is life affirmative.’ He says:

‘A man of authentic religion will have a sense of humour. It is our universe, it is our home. We are not orphans. The earth is our mother. This sky is our father. This whole vast universe is for us and we are for it. In fact there is no division between us and the whole. We are organically joined with it, we are part of one orchestra. To feel this music of existence is the only religion that I can accept as authentic, as valid… There is no God as a person. God is spread all over; in the trees, in the birds, in the animals, in humanity, in the wise, in the otherwise.’

In answer to a question from a young man who feels his love for his girl-friend will end once they have had sex, Osho answers:

‘I am not against sex, but I am for making sex a prayer … sex is felt like a humiliation… But it brings a few moments of utter purity and joy and innocence too. It brings a few moments of timelessness, when suddenly there is no time left.

It brings a few moments of egolessness too, when in deep orgasmic spasm the ego is forgotten. It gives you a few glimpses of God, hence it cannot be renounced either.’

Osho is no doubtful ground when he condemns homosexuality as a by-product of religion because it was practiced in monasteries products of monasteries or nunneries: they happen to be born that way. Not all will be convinced by his assertion that ‘sex has to become a great meditative art. That is the contribution of Tantra to the world. Tantra’s contribution is the greatest because it gave you keys to transform the lowest to the highest. It gives you keys to transform mud into lotuses. It is one of the greatest sciences that have happened.’ And so on.

To another question, why it is so difficult to relate with other people, Osho spells out the reasons.

‘Just a little understanding is needed. A few basic truths have to be recognized. One is that nobody is born for another. The second is that nobody is here to fulfil your ideals of how he should be. The third is that you are master of your own love, and you can give as much as you want–but you cannot demand love from the other person, because nobody is a slave.

If these simple facts are understood, then it does not matter whether you are married or unmarried, you can be together–allowing space to each other, never interfering in each other’s individuality.

In fact, marriage is an out-of-date institution. In the first place, to live in any institution is not good. Any institution is destructive. Marriage has destroyed almost all possibilities of happiness for millions of people–and all for useless things. In the first place, marriage, the very ritual of marriage, is bogus.’

He goes on to be more specific:

‘If you take marriage more seriously, then you can be free. Why should you get married? If you love someone, live with someone–it is a part of your basic rights. You can live with someone, you can love someone.’

Pronouncing on love and friendship, Osho said,

‘Friendship is the highest from of love. In love, some lust is bound to be there, in friendship all lust disappears. In friendship nothing gross remains, it becomes absolutely subtle.’

‘Love is greed,’ he affirmed tracing its origins to the Sanskrit word lobha – greed. ‘Nobody rises in love, everybody falls in love. Why do you fall in love? Because it is falling from the conscious to the unconscious, from intelligence to instinct.’

He further extolled friendship;

‘Life is a mirror, it reflects your face. Be friendly, and all of life will reflect friendliness. People know perfectly well that if you are friendly to a dog even the dog becomes friendly to you, so friendly. And there are people who have known that if you are friendly to a tree, the tree become friendly to you.

‘Try great experiments in friendship. Try with a rosebush and see the miracle. Slowly slowly, it will happen, because man has not been behaving with trees in a friendly way; hence they have become very much afraid.’

Osho has his own therapy to overcome tension:

‘And you will be surprised that if you approach any part of your body, it listens, it follows you–it is your body! With closed eyes, go inside the body from the toe to the head searching for any place where there is a tension. And then talk to that part as you talk to a friend: let there be a dialogue between you and your body. Tell it to relax, and tell it, ‘There in nothing to fear. Don’t be afraid. I am here to take care–you can relax.’ Slowly slowly, you will learn the knack of it. Then the body becomes relaxed.

Then take another step, a little deeper; tell the mind to relax. And if the body listens, but you cannot start with the mind––you have to start from the beginning. You cannot start from the middle. Many people start with the mind and they fail; they fail because they start from a wrong place. Everything should be done in the right order.’

His opinion on how to overcome one’s ego:

‘It is a fiction, it disappears sometimes. The greatest time is dreamless sleep. So make it a point that sleep is very valuable, don’t miss it for any reason… The second greatest source of egoless experience is sex, love… If you can move into love-making totally, the ego disappears, because at the highest peak, at the highest climax of love-making, you are pure energy. The mind cannot fuction. With such joy, with such an outburst of energy, the mind simply stops. It is such an upsurge of energy that the mind is at a loss, it does not know what to do now. It is perfectly capable of remaining in function in normal situations, but when anything very new and very vital happens it stops. And sex is the most vital thing.

If you can go deeply into love-making, that the ego disappears. That is the beauty of love-making, that it is another source of a glimpse of God – just like deep sleep but far more valuable, because in deep sleep you will be unconscious. In love–making you will be conscious – conscious yet without the mind.’

Osho elevated love-making into a form of worship:

‘While making love, think of prayer meditation, God. While making love, burn incense, chant, sing, dance. Your bedroom should be a temple, a sacred place. And love-making should be a hurried thing. Go deeper into it; savour it as slowly and as gracefully as possible. And you will be surprised. You have the key.’

There is little doubt that Osho believed in re-birth after death. He does not spell out on what basis he arrived at that conclusion but while extolling the lotus pose (padma asan) as the best for meditation, he affirmed that Buddhist monks preferred to meet death sitting that way wide awake. He goes on:

‘And if you are awake while you are dying you will have a totally different king of birth: you will be born awake. One who dies awake is born awake . One who dies unconscious is born unconscious. One who dies with awareness can choose the right womb for himself; he has a choice, he has earned it. The man who dies unconsciously has no right to chose the womb; the womb happens unconsciously, accidentally.’

More difficult for the layman to comprehend is Osho’s concept of meditation. He says,

‘Running can be a meditation–jogging, dancing, swimming, anything can be a meditation. My definition of meditation is: whenever your body, mind, soul are functioning together in rhythm it is meditation, because it will bring the fourth in. And if you are alert that you are doing it as meditation–not to take part in the Olympics, but doing it as meditation–then it is tremendously beautiful.’

Osho enjoined his followers to decide the right course of action. He said:

‘Do what your nature wants to do, do what your intrinsic qualities hanker to do. Don’t listen to the scriptures, listen to your own heart; that is the only scripture I prescribe. Yes, listen very attentively, very consciously, and you will never be wrong. And listening to your own heart you will never be divided. Listening to your own heart you will start moving in the right direction, without ever thinking of what is right or what is wrong.’

Another enigma which may be hard to comprehend is Osho’s ambivalent attitude towards his own motherland. He chose to abandon it; he chose (perhaps reluctantly) to come back to it. In an answer to a question why there was so much violence in India, he said:

‘It is because of the teachings of non-violence. For five thousand years people have been taught to be non-violent; they have learnt the trick of pretending. And all that has happened is that they have repressed their violence. They are sitting on volcanoes–any excuse, any small excuse, and the violence is triggered. And then it goes on spreading like a wild fire.’

Later he goes on to explain what he thinks is unique about India:

‘India is not just geography or history. It is not only a nation, a country, a mere piece of land. It is something more: it is a metaphor, poetry, something invisible but very tangible. It is vibrating with certain energy fields which no other country can claim.

For almost ten thousand years, thousands of people have reached to the ultimate explosion of consciousness. Their vibration is still alive, their impact is in the very air; you just need a certain perceptivity, a certain capacity to receive the invisible that surrounds this strange land.’

‘The mystic is India’s monopoly,’ he affirms.

‘It is utterly poor and yet spiritually it has such a rich heritage.’

He is on somewhat dubious historical ground when he maintains that Jesus Christ spent the last seventeen years of his life in India. Whatever Christ is saying, he goes on, he has brought from India, chiefly teachings of Gautam Buddha. According to Osho, Christ returned to India, lived to 112 years and died in Kashmir where he is buried at Pahalgam. No serious scholar of Christianity or Indian history would accept this thesis.

Osho did not expect, nor even want, his disciples to take whatever he said as gospel truth. He wanted everyone to think for himself, liberate himself from the shackles of conventional religion and notions of morality. Thus freed, one could engage oneself in creative pursuits without concern for power, fame or money, living instead with joyous abandon and laughter.

New Delhi
June 1994
Khushwant Singh

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