Kaiyum reviews Subhuti’s latest book.
What? A review of a book by a sannyasin who himself is a successful, creative and original writer and long-time contributor to Osho News? Especially as versions of the stories in the book have already appeared in earlier editions of this colourful e-news magazine…
Still, why not? For those readers who are less familiar with Subhuti and his books and far more numerous articles, this eclectic collection of 50 ‘diary entries’ (with two additional, delightful excerpts from another of his books, My Dance with a Madman) is a highly attractive introduction to both the world of Osho and to India, seen through the eyes of this seasoned journalist.
The many topics covered include many useful ins-and-outs for visiting Pune and what is now known as the Osho Meditation Resort; travel in India; visiting Goa; dealing with rickshaw wallahs; sannayasin concerts; death celebrations; renting rooms; health matters; food and restaurants; beggars; dogs; chai; markets; visa issues; and of course love, women, sex and above all… Osho.
Subhuti is a master in his own right: the words have a flow that is magnetic, interesting and above all perhaps, highly readable. He strings his sentences together like a mala, each sentence a bead to pause on, the whole resulting in a cameo that, just like a mantra, is complete in itself and intensely satisfying. He excels in off-hand, casual, almost tongue-in-cheek statements. A friend, for example, has cut her foot while bathing:
Now an unexpected collision with a broken bottle, part of Goa’s insoluble garbage problem, has forced her to lie on her bed and do nothing.
Meditation comes in strange ways.
This is also an example of the compactness with which Subhuti is able to express his perceptions, somewhat reminiscent of the curious (and often challenging) way in which a painter like Hieronymus (Jeroen) Bosch fills his canvas with myriad smaller pictures within a picture.
Layers upon layers
Even as the short quotation above indicates several layers of perception (‘collision’ instead of ‘accident’, the garbage problem in Goa, the vagaries of meditation), so are the journal entries equally full of Subhuti’s keen observations. The book’s subtitle – a love affair with India – is precisely what these short anecdotes represent; each story is a flower in the grand bouquet that is summed up on the back cover: INDIA: Up Close and Personal.
The photo (‘Subhuti not coughing’), also reproduced in an amusing story about how he deals with his cough (which also alludes to the all-pervading air pollution in Pune), is typical of Subhuti’s humour.
The ‘blurb’ tells us that Anand Subhuti is a former UK political reporter who worked in the British Houses of Parliament. After taking sannyas in the 1970s, he insisted on using his sannyas name and appearing for work in his orange suit.
Beginning in 1976, he lived with Osho at the ashram in Pune, working mainly in the press office. During this time, he met Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and also toured the country with the Rajneesh Shakespeare Company.
In the early eighties when Osho had moved to Oregon, he joined the commune there and helped create Rajneeshpuram. He built houses, drove trucks and founded The Rajneesh Times. Among the many highlights of this period, he broke the news story about Osho’s ever-growing collection of Rolls-Royces and met President Ronald Reagan in the White House.
Subhuti returned to India in 1987 and lived at the Pune ashram until Osho left his body in 1990.
He now lives mainly in Europe, but visits India every year to pay homage to the country he loves… and continues to pay tribute to in The Pune Diaries.
The book is just less than 200 pages of light cream-coloured paper. It is thoughtfully designed with a serif typeface, numerous illustrations and an attractive background, a printed ‘watermark’ that frames the text. The paragraphs are short, indented and with adequate white space to support easy reading. The two dozen or so minor typos are in no way obtrusive and would probably be noticed only by the more perfectionist readers.
All in all, this book is a joy to read and, because of the easy English, highly accessible to those many sannyasins and others curious about the world of Osho for whom English is not their native language.
Subhuti provides lively, personal and intimate insight into both ‘the world of Osho’ and life in India (even if only a select view). Sannyasins old and new, those curious about India and/or sannyas and Osho – there are many who can welcome the publication of this playful addition to sannyas literature.
Kaiyum is a regular contributor
All articles by this author published on Osho News
My Dance with a Madman