Keerti explains Osho’s neo-sannyas in The Asian Age on October 11, 2015.
Life is a gift — an existential gift of God. But most people are unable to treat it as such, because priests, across religions, preach renunciation or rejection of life. Priests gave themselves the role of interpreting the teachings of avatars, messiahs and enlightened ones while forcing common people to follow them blindly or suffer the eternal hell-fire. They said God was compassionate, but they themselves did not show any compassion to common people. They did not preach reverence towards life.
Rather, they divided people in the name of religion and taught them to hate others who did not agree with their belief system or dogma. The priests have been promising paradise to those who would follow their interpretations. In this way, the people became idiotic and sheepish instead of being religious and intelligent. They became violent and estranged from life. This made life a living hell.
Given this situation, people were told to renounce life and become sannyasins. So, sannyas became synonymous with renunciation. But this was not how the sages conceived sannyas to be.
Osho Manali Camp 1970
In 1970, in Manali, Osho once again introduced this original idea of sannyas which has been lost to the people. That day, Osho introduced his vision of neo-sannyas and initiated his first group of disciples as his sannyasins in a meditation camp. During this camp, Osho talked about Krishna: The Man and his Philosophy, and gave birth to a new sannyas of life-affirmation, joy, freedom and celebration. He brought the spirit of Krishna, his dance and playfulness into the 21st century. He wanted to give sannyas a fresh lease of life infusing it with new vigour, vitality, colour and creativity. “Sannyas has to be invested with a new meaning, a new concept. Sannyas has to live; it is the most profound, the most precious treasure that mankind has. But how to save it, preserve it, is the question. I would like to share with you my vision on this score,” declared Osho in the foothills of the Himalayas. (1)
Previously, the flavour of sannyas had deteriorated into a denial of life. Osho rejected this misconception about sannyas and said that in order to survive, sannyas needed a new meaning and a new dimension of celebration and creativity. He said: “My sannyasins celebrate everything. Celebration is the foundation of my — 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 for life.” (2)
This neo-sannyas is not one of formal renunciation. In fact, it is to rejoice in life, in love, in meditation, in the beauties of the world, in the ecstasy of existence — rejoice in everything! Transform the mundane into the sacred. Transform this shore into the other. Transform the earth into paradise.
He did not give any code of conduct, he did not impose anything on sannyas. He conferred total freedom to sannyasins. He concluded: “By initiating you into sannyas I am not giving you an ideology — I am just giving you courage to get free of all ideologies… I am not giving you a certain religion… I am simply giving you courage to be an individual… a unique individual.”
Swami Chaitanya Keerti, editor of Osho World, is the author of Osho Fragrance
Quotes by Osho
(1) Krishna: The Man and his Philosophy, Ch 22
(2) Come, Come, Yet Again Come, Ch 2, Q 2
Illustration Osho News