Introducing the new book, The Only Life: Osho, Laxmi and a Journey of the Heart by Rashid Maxwell, Urmi Bhattacheryya also includes a few excerpts. Published in ‘The Quint’, India, on December 11, 2017.

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A new book published by Simon & Schuster India, entitled The Only Life: Osho, Laxmi and a Journey of the Heart by Rashid Maxwell attempts to encapsulate the journey of a woman whose importance in the ‘Osho universe’ was arguably second only to the ‘godman’ himself.

Laxmi, who grew up a rebellious child in a wealthy family in British India, eventually charted a path for herself in Osho-dom and was at the helm of the massive international movement that grew around Osho in the 1970s and 80s. Not stopping there, the book also casts a sharp glance at her subsequent fall from grace thereafter, when she was ostracised and forced to wander the wastelands of America in isolation.

Osho in darshan with disciple
A photo of Osho with his disciples in darshan at Poona in 1977. (Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

Here are a few select excerpts from The Only Life (which also has a foreword by filmmaker Subhash Ghai) released today:

On Equal Rights for Students and Teachers

Each morning in the large hall, mats were laid out on the floor and the children sat in lines for assembly. One day Laxmi heard a prefect’s voice call out, ‘Laxmi please remove your shoes before you tread all over the mats.’ People everywhere turned to stare at her. ‘Now go and clean them please.’

Laxmi bowed her head. She was blushing. It was with shame and sorrow that she cleaned the mat. Cleaning was her exculpation.

The following term, Laxmi was sitting silently before assembly. She had done her share of the daily laying out of the straw mats. She sat alone on one of them, hearing but not listening to the high-pitched chatter of the children’s voices. She noticed how their babel filled the air. It seemed to bounce back off the rusty red, triangulated iron struts and concrete slabs that cluttered up the ceiling. She wondered if the gods, in particular Lord Krishna, listen in to every conversation. Or have they better things to do like advising kings and politicians how to win their battles?

A footfall on her mat brought her back to earth. The headmaster had just stepped on it on his way up to the podium. With his shoes on!

Laxmi school quote
An excerpt from Rashid Maxwell’s book. (Photo Courtesy: Oshonews.com/Card created by The Quint)

For a moment Laxmi sat in frozen disbelief. Then she jumped up to pursue him.

‘Sir, Sir…’

‘Yes Laxmi?’

‘Sir, good morning. You walked on a mat.’

‘I did?’

‘Yes Sir. You have shoes on and you walked on the one I was sitting on. Now you have to clean it.’

‘But my shoes are clean Laxmi. Perfectly clean.’

‘But Sir, if we aren’t allowed to walk on the mats, why should you be allowed to? It’s not fair Sir.’

‘That’s true Laxmi.’

‘So you have to clean it Sir.’

‘Please go to the cupboard and get me a cloth.’

‘Yes Sir. And Sir, does god come to Assembly every morning?’

‘Errr…Laxmi…’

‘Or is he busy doing wars and things?’

‘The cloth, Laxmi. Fetch me a cloth.’

It is surprising to consider that the people who invented Tantra and who built the erotically abundant temples of Khajuraho were later to create one of the most sexually repressed cultures of all time. This repression evolved, of course, with the help of both their Mogul occupiers and their British colonisers. However, whilst the Western world was opening up its sexual floodgates in the twentieth century, India was making ever-harsher judgements; ‘body bad, spirit good’.

Laxmi and Osho
An excerpt from Rashid Maxwell’s book. (Photo Courtesy: Oshonews.com/Card created by The Quint)

Both Laxmi and Osho were products of that society and responded in their own distinctive ways. Osho became the herald of a new man and a new humanity that honoured both meditation and human love; the inner world of spirit and the outer physical world that included and celebrated sex. Laxmi, who did not meet Osho until she was in her mid-thirties, was reared in a culture where sex was rarely referred to and never described. Growing up she was influenced by her Jain-Gandhian background that demanded sexual energy be sublimated into religious and socially responsible pursuits. She never explored her own sexuality.

www.thequint.com

‘The Only Life: Osho, Laxmi and a Journey of the Heart’ has been published by Simon & Schuster India. It is priced at Rs 350.

Review by Osho News staff with links to where you can buy it from
The Only Life: Osho, Laxmi and a Journey of the Heart – A most significant and comprehensive book about Laxmi’s life written by Rashid Maxwell has been published on December 11, 2017; reviewed by Bhagawati

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