On Osho’s birthday today, we bring you an excerpt from a new book by Rashid Maxwell that portrays the life and times of his once-favoured disciple. Published in Speaking Tree, December 11, 2017.

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People have commentated on Laxmi’s bird-like appetite and her given reason of being too busy and dedicated to the work of Osho to have time for either food or relationship. Perhaps the picture is more subtle than that. For food, she seems to have subsisted on a breakfast of hot milk, and a banana, then, throughout the day, only a few cups of tea and biscuits and a plate of rice and dal. In relationships, too, she seems to have subsisted on nothing but the emptiness of the master. She had clearly understood from her very first meetings with Osho, that enforced celibacy is not celibacy – it is perversion.

Laxmi in front office

In deep meditation, Laxmi examined her primal drives. The low sexual drive that she had could easily be transformed to higher levels of love, clarity and meditation. What for Laxmi had started as both a natural inclination and a Jain-Gandhian abstention from sex and food, gradually became a selfless and flowing energy of devotion towards the master. His work was her work. And work she did.

In the early era of Poona One, Laxmi was not only president of the Rajneesh Foundation, but also responsible for the day-to-day running of the Ashram and its intricate linkages. She was the chief fundraiser and negotiator with banks and politicians, she was in overall charge of the publication and dissemination of Osho’s words; she oversaw the network of Osho centres throughout India as well as worldwide; she drove Osho daily to the Buddha Hall for the morning discourse; she sat beside him in darshan every night, consulted him afterwards for major decisions; and she welcomed every new arrival to the commune.

A master attracts all manner of people, not just seekers after truth. And Laxmi had to meet them, engage with them and screen them. Her devotion and her genetic endowment enabled her to lovingly address misfits, nomads, the naturally rebellious, the round pegs in square holes, the lost souls, aspiring saints, the ones who question rules, the martyrs, the religious maniacs, the lunatic fringe and those who wear a different kind of spectacles.

Laxmi had to fit them in or screen them out, encourage or discourage them. This she did with visible skill, acuity and compassion. Osho lived spontaneously, an already dangerous behaviour in the calculating world we live in. He spoke daily from eternity on the sacred texts of the past. He spoke from the heart of here and now with humour and compassion. The global community of seekers gathered and began their transformation into a commune.

Osho spoke of the end of social hierarchy. “Remember here in the commune there is no leader and no led, no ruler and no ruled. Even the people who are Presidents of the Foundation or the Commune or the Investment Corporation are not different from you. They are not rulers; they are servants of the commune.” — Osho, From Bondage to Freedom, Ch 5, Q 10. Laxmi took these words to her heart. She was there to serve her master and there to serve the spiritual intentions of the people that surrounded him; the burgeoning commune.

There were old and young here now and Laxmi had to see that they were taken care of. She told a couple who had just arrived with their two children, “Each child in this commune has a mother and a father and scores of aunts and uncles. The world ‘family’ is included in the larger word, ‘commune’. If that suits you – good. If not, that is also good.”

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