A Letter to Christopher Hitchens

Letters / Opinions

In 2007, the late Krishna Prem sent this letter in response to the Osho chapter in ‘God is not Great’ to Hitchens, with copies to OIF and the book’s publisher. The letter was found ‘coincidentally’ by Sarlo on the web.

KP late seventiesKrishna PremChristopher Hitchen seventiesChristopher Hitchens 2010

Krishna Prem Seventies and 2007 – Christopher Hitchens Seventies and 2010

Jack Allanach
29 Blaxland Road
Wentworth Falls NSW 2782 Australia

May 31, 2007

Christopher Hitchens
Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10169

Christopher Hitchens:

I am writing in relation to a particular chapter in your book God is not Great, the chapter entitled There Is No ‘Eastern’ Solution. I wish to point out, more to your publisher than to you, who should be aware of the fabrications and fallacies it contains, of how dishonest this chapter truly is.

Let’s get right down to it.

You say you donned “orange garb” to attend the ashram of a “celebrated guru” Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh  “in order to help make a documentary film for the BBC“ which, you also say,  “did have a standard of fairness and my mandate was to absorb as much as I could.”

I remember your visit well. At that time I was ashram Press Officer. I am also blessed with near-photographic memory recall, and here is what I remember about your visit “to absorb as much as I could.”

I was in the press office with my colleague Vadan when one of the receptionists ushered you in. You informed us the BBC’s Tony Isaacs, whom I had met, had asked you to script a show on us for The World About Us. You certainly weren’t wearing orange.

For the next hour or so, Vadan and I filled you in on ashram activities. By morning tea time, I noticed one of your hands was shaking. I asked if there was something I could get for you.

“I have a little confession to make,” you said. “This is the first time in ten years I haven‘t downed a fifth of scotch by this time. What I really need is a drink.”

“Apart from the bar at the Blue Diamond Hotel,” I said, “I doubt if you’ll find a bottle of scotch for miles.”

“Some in my room,” you muttered. “So if you chaps don’t mind, I‘ll toddle off now and come back tomorrow.” You held up the literature we’d given you. “Enough homework to keep me busy until then.”

The next day we waited for you, but you didn’t show. The following day either. By the third afternoon it was apparent you weren’t coming back at all. So much for absorbing as much as you could.

Secondly, you say we were urged “to part with all material possessions,” and that this money went to purchasing a “fleet of Rolls-Royce motorcars.” Absolute fabrication. How deeply you delved into the Pune commune is clear from this single statement. Where was the fleet housed on that overcrowded six acres? The only time there was a Rolls-Royce on that property was at the very end of our first stay in Pune when, following an assassination attempt by a Hindu fundamentalist, we imported a metal detector and an ancient bullet-proof Rolls. The fleet came a lot later, in America.

Next, you talk about the film by Wolfgang Dobrowolny – or Veet Artho as we knew him – that was shot in “secret.“ More invention on your part. Laxmi, Osho’s secretary and the Foundation’s managing trustee, fell for Veet Artho’s sweet talk and, despite repeated and vociferous warnings from me and others that it would come back to haunt us, gave him permission to shoot footage of an encounter group in which physical expression was allowed – an initiative of encounter group leader Teertha which Osho immediately instructed be dropped as soon as someone got hurt.

Laxmi’s mandate was, as she put it, that “word (of Osho’s availability in Pune) must reach all the corners of the world,“ and in her naivety (she’d never been outside India) she thought people would see how liberating it was to free themselves from repressed emotions and traumas and flock to Pune. It came as a shock to her to learn that the majority of people back in the 1970s, when faced with a reflux of suppressed emotion or childhood pain chose, rather than dealing with it, to have another fag and pour another couple of stiff drinks.

By the way, Dobrowolny never owned the rights to the film. They were retained by the Foundation, and the BBC’s use of the footage was illegal.

I also found your insinuation extremely offensive that a “German princeling of the House of Windsor” met a shady end as a result of participating in a therapy group. Vimalkirti – as we knew him – collapsed suddenly one morning, doing his daily martial arts exercise routine on his own, from an aneurysm in the brain – hereditary I gather. He was taken immediately to an intensive care facility at Jehangir Nursing Home in Pune where he died, without recovering consciousness, a few days later. There was nothing suspicious, as you imply. Imagine how his wife, who is still involved with our worldwide community, and his daughter will feel when/if they read what you’ve written. Shame on you.

Finally, I find it odd that of all the supporters of organized religions on the vast Indian spiritual scene, you pick the one man who consistently criticized the religions for the damage they have done – through promoting blind belief, blind faith and generating blind fear – down the ages. Osho’s attacks on Mother Teresa of Calcutta (is that where you got the idea for your book?) and her boss, whom he called “The Polack Pope” are well documented. His series of talks in America so often focused on the dangers of Christian fundamentalism that today they seem prophetic. Among the last series of talks he gave in public, two titles come to mind – Christianity, the Greatest Poison and Zen, the Antidote to All Poisons – as well as a series illustrating where Nietzsche and other atheists missed the boat, God is Dead: Now Zen is the Only Living Truth.

To illustrate your premise that  “there is no Eastern solution,” why pick a mystic who, his entire life, through discourses and books, tried to alert mankind to the fact, as you say, that “religion poisons everything.” And why pick one who left his body in 1990? Did he have that big an impact on you, or was it because you couldn’t be bothered updating the “research” – and I use the term facetiously – you pretend to have conducted 30 years ago?

In closing, permit me a footnote. After your completely unprofessional behaviour and lack of integrity in Pune all those years ago I often wondered whether I would have a chance one day to tell the truth about your visit and to expose the shallowness of the effort you put into the documentary for the BBC.

Whether anyone else but you and your publisher read this letter, I am pleased that, at long last, I’ve had an opportunity to say what really happened. It’s comforting to know that even after 30 years, chickens still come home to roost.

Jack Allanach/Krishna Prem

cc: Jonathan Karp, Publisher and Editor-in Chief, TWELVE
cc: Osho International Foundation, Bahnhofstr. 52, 8001 Zurich, Switzerland
cc: Osho International, 80 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011

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