Ageh Bharti remembers Osho giving several public talks and private interviews, among them a meeting with acclaimed poet Bachchan who also made a prophecy about Osho’s destiny.
Leaving Jabalpur – August 1, 1969
Osho and I left Jabalpur by the ‘Bombay-Howrah’ mail train in the afternoon and were to switch trains at Allahabad. The first leg of the journey should have only been six hours but our train ran behind schedule. Hence, we reached Allahabad in the night and missed the connecting train, the ‘Upper India’. Osho had reserved a berth in the AC first coach of that train but now we had to wait for another train, the ‘Toofan Express’, which meant another five hours delay.
We proceeded to the upper-class waiting room of the station on the first floor of the building. Osho sat down on a chair and stretched out his legs on another one, closed his eyes to relax and I thought, “When an ordinary third-rate parliamentarian passes via any station, every care will be taken for his comfort and convenience. But Osho, a lover of the whole mankind, a great man of the calibre of Krishna, Buddha, and Jesus, will spend five hours here in such uncomfortable conditions!”
These thoughts made it impossible for me to remain seated. Quietly I slipped away, down to the platform, and spent the night just walking and sometimes weeping helplessly. At times, I went upstairs to look after Osho and found him resting – then I went down again and kept on strolling. The thought of Osho relaxing on a very ordinary chair made me feel uneasy, because it must have been inconvenient for him.
When I went again upstairs, at about 4.30am, the attendant told me that Osho had called for a coolie and left for the platform only a few minutes ago. I was stunned. “My god, Osho has to take care not only of his own luggage but also of mine!”
I quickly ran down the steps towards the platform, feeling shocked and also guilty. I saw Osho sitting on a bench talking to a few young men and women standing in front of him. I came to a halt behind Osho for a moment as it felt awkward to move to the front.
Just then, Osho raised his right hand over his right shoulder with fingers pointing back at me and asked, “Shiv (as Osho called me affectionately), find out if the train will be coming even later?” As he addressed me so lovingly, all feelings of guilt disappeared in an instant and I went to inquire about the train schedule.
When I returned, I told him about the train’s status and then listened on as he continued to speak to the young people. After a while, the ‘Toofan Express’ arrived and we boarded – those young people were still there, fascinated. They said goodbye as if anticipating to see Osho again.
The ‘Toofan Express’ chugged out. Osho was seated in a first-class coach because no AC coach was available on that train, while I occupied a two-tier compartment which had a berth to lie down on. However, I was unable to sleep. The thought constantly haunted me that Osho hadn’t been able to have a proper rest for most of the night in the waiting room and that now he would have to stay awake sitting the whole day. [In India, in the first-class compartments, between 6am and 9pm, berths are meant to be used for sitting only.]
Around noon I finally slept for an hour. When I woke up I went to see Osho. I found him sitting on his berth. He asked me if I had eaten something. When I saw him again at one of the stations where the train had stopped, he stood at the door of the coach. He went inside and came back with some money which he gave to me and asked me to bring two pastries from the coffee and snack kiosk opposite. He then asked me to come to his cabin; he offered me one of the pastries and ate the other. A pastry from Osho’s hands; it indeed tasted delicious!
Osho asked me, “Are you comfortable where you are?”
I replied, “Yes, quite.”
“What kind of coach are you travelling in?”
“It is a two-tier coach.”
“How far away from here is it?”
“It might be seven or eight coaches away.”
“Why didn’t you purchase a first-class ticket?”
“Actually, this time I am travelling at the expense of Prof. Arvind Kumar while I work for the Yukrand magazine, such as getting advertisements and yearly subscriptions, so I want to spend as little as possible.”
As a response, Osho practically ordered me to buy a first-class ticket for the return journey so that I would be more comfortable.
Delhi – August 2, 1969
We arrived in Delhi in the evening. Lala Sunderlal and other devotees were at the station to receive Osho. It was a matter of great joy to see how people became euphoric, and feel light and elated near Osho. When we reached Lalaji’s residence, many lovers were eagerly waiting for Osho and he spent some time with them.
But our stay in Delhi was short-lived, only two-and-a half hours during which we also had a shower and a meal, and then left for Ludhiana. I felt relieved to find out that our next train, the ‘Frontier Mail’, had an AC first-class coach, meaning Osho would be able to rest during this part of the journey. The train was to reach Ludhiana by 5am on August 3, and Osho was to speak at 7.30am on that morning.
Ludhiana – August 3, 1969
We arrived in Ludhiana at 4.45am and Osho received a grand welcome on the platform by a large number of friends. Some paid their obeisance at his feet; some gave a casual hug and others presented garlands and bouquets. Meanwhile, a tall handsome man came to me after meeting Osho, took my hand and kissed it. I found out later that he was Mr Kapil who, on Osho’s successive visits to Ludhiana, became his host.
Mr Gill, the senior superintendent of the police, who was Osho’s host, was so overwhelmed that he lay down flat with his forehead on the ground in front of Osho to express his respects – this was Osho’s maiden visit to Ludhiana.
It was precisely 7.30am when Osho, known for his punctuality at all congregations, began his first address in a very large hall. However, the hall was overcrowded and fell short to accommodate all the people who had come. After the lecture Osho suggested that the evening meeting should be held on open ground, just opposite the hall, known as ‘Daresi Ground’. At 8.30pm, around 40,000 people had gathered to listen to his radical words. People appeared spell-bound and deeply fascinated.
Ludhiana – August 4, 1969
In the morning, Osho addressed the public on the same ground for an hour – it was another huge gathering. People were euphoric and their eyes expressed joy and love for him. Later, at 10am, he addressed the students of Arya College. The entire area around the college turned into a big parking lot of cars, motorbikes and scooters. The huge college auditorium was packed to capacity. Hundreds of students stood outside to listen. The massive gathering appeared to have been transported to a different world.
The evening meeting took place on the same ground. After Osho had arrived and taken his seat, I addressed the public and talked about the Yukrand magazine and about raising funds through advertisements and annual subscriptions. Osho’s discourse touched the hearts of the audience so deeply that many people became profoundly moved with tears of love and joy. Despite the fact that it was a huge gathering there was absolute silence. It was moving to witness this and it felt as if existence had come to a standstill.
Ludhiana – August 5, 1969
During the morning hours Osho appeared at yet another gathering on the Daresi Ground and afterwards delivered a talk with punch and fun at the Agricultural University campus. Here too, the auditorium was packed with hundreds of students and visitors, all listening with rapt attention. After the talk, the vice-chancellor of the university took the podium to thank Osho. He was so deeply moved by the lecture that his voice was trembling.
At 3pm there was another event where the intelligentsia of the city, about a hundred professors, judges, doctors and advocates were invited to pose questions to Osho.
The evening talk on that day was the last in Ludhiana. Wherever I looked I saw expectant faces and hundreds were even standing outside the boundary that enveloped the large grounds. Many also listened while sitting in their cars outside on the road. At the end of the lecture people thronged to touch Osho’s feet to express their love and respect; many became very emotional. It took considerable time for Osho to reach his car, which then for quite a while could barely move due to the crowd of admirers who didn’t want to leave.
By 10.30pm we were at the railway station. Hundreds of lovers and admirers bade goodbye to Osho, presenting him with garlands. Many friends from neighbouring cities such as Jalandhar, Amritsar and Chandigarh, who had been staying in hotels and guesthouses for those three days, had also come to the station.
Finally, the train chugged out slowly. Osho was in an AC first-class coach and my first-class compartment was juxtaposed to his. I could see people waving their hands, many shed tears of love. I myself shed tears, realizing the extent of his empathy.
Delhi – August 6, 1969 – a prophecy by the poet Bachchan
We reached Delhi in the morning; Lala Sunderlal and Shantilal were at the railway station to receive Osho. When we arrived at Lalaji’s residence, several friends had already gathered to see Osho.
Dr Harivansh Rai Bachchan [a poet of international repute, very popular in India and father of present-day movie star Amitabh Bachchan] came to see Osho at 2.30pm, greeted him with folded hands and said, “My name is Bachchan.”
Osho smiled at him.
Bachchanji took a seat and offered a copy of his most popular collection of poems, Madhushala¹, and explained, “Although there may be 50 books in my name, this one has been the most popular. I have been doing this ‘play’ my entire life.”
Osho kept smiling and before he could say something, Shantilal beseeched Bachchanji to recite some of the poems. And he recited two or three rubaiyats (verses) from Madhushala.
Osho appreciated them and emphasized, “It is good. One should take everything as a play. Nothing should be taken seriously. But as long as ‘I’ am playing, the ‘play’ does not happen. The play also, ‘I’ am not playing. The ‘play’ goes on happening, that’s all.”
Bachchanji seemed to be looking inside, realizing something, and repeated slowly to himself, “The play also, I am not playing. The play goes on happening, that’s all.”
Osho spoke for a few more minutes, while Dr Tripathi arrived with about 20-25 female students. It was the 6th of August. Hiroshima had been bombed on that day in 1945 and was celebrated as the World Peace Day. Dr Tripathi posed some questions relating to peace and Mahatma Gandhi.
Osho asserted, “Peace is not going to take place by shouting ‘peace, peace’, or by repeating Gandhi’s name. This ought to be understood first. If we can understand the cause of our restlessness then, of course, we can manage peace to reign.
“Then, there are different kinds of violence. I do not consider Mahatma Gandhi to be a non-violent man. It is violence if I order you to accept what I say, otherwise I will stab you. It is violence too if I ask you to accept what I say, otherwise I will stab myself. In fact, the latter is more dangerous because when I am going to stab you, perhaps you can fight back or at least you can run away, but when I am ready to stab my own body, then there is no way for you to escape.”
One of the several traditional sannyasins present (Osho had not yet started his Neo-Sannyas movement) was volatile and argued with Osho. He went on voicing accusations at Osho, but Osho kept smiling. When Osho wanted to say something, the sannyasin became enraged and wouldn’t allow Osho to speak. He yelled, “Mahatma Gandhi is such a great man that the whole world respects him as a great soul and you criticize him?”
Osho replied, “I can say only that what I feel is right. It is not necessary that you accept it. My request is only to kindly listen and think over it; if it does not seem to be right to you, throw it away.”
The sannyasin challenged angrily, “Buddha, Mahavira, and so many other great beings have been here. Do you want to say that they were all wrong?”
Osho replied, “It is now time for me to leave to catch my train, there is no time left. Some other time we will discuss the issue in detail but this much I would like to say before I leave – that they were all wrong!”
We paid our obeisance to Osho and started escorting him to the railway station. The sannyasin now apologized to Osho for hurting him. Osho said smilingly, “No, no, you haven’t hurt me,” and the man left the scene.
At this point, Dr Tripathi, while taking leave with his students, regretted the episode and said, “We liked your thoughts. We wanted to hear more but due to those sannyasins our talks got interrupted.” Osho acknowledged him with a wry smile.
While Shantilalji and I packed the luggage, a crucial, and the most touching and euphoric moment of our journey happened. When we stood ready to leave, Bachchani interrupted with, “I want to make a prophecy.” Osho welcomed it with a smile.
Bachchanji said, “You are a tragic person and you shall be crucified.” His eyes welled up with tears and I also wept at the same time. Osho put one hand on my shoulder to console me and told Bachchanji after a pause, “You are right.” A deep silence enveloped us for a moment.
We left for the railway station in two cars. In one car, Osho sat in the middle of the backseat with Bachchanji on his right side and Lalaji on his left. I sat next to the driver while Shantilal and other friends were in the second car. Osho continued to talk with Bachchan all the way, but I couldn’t hear what was said.
I left Osho at the railway station as I had plans to stay for two more days in Delhi, which Osho had endorsed, and went with Bachchanji to his residence. On the way he suggested, “There should be an organization near Osho to spread his thoughts. He has put his hand on the right pulse of India. When he speaks, there are ripples of energy coming out from him. I am very much impressed by him. You are close to such a great man; you should make the best use of it. Why not write an introductory book on him, such as an introduction to his thoughts?
“Osho should initiate people; I am engaged until October, but later, whenever he is at Jabalpur for a week or so, please inform me, I want to come. I would like to be with him as long as he may allow.”
I asked Bachchanji, “Whatever you have told me, you can write that directly to him.”
He replied, “I have presented my book to him. If he writes after seeing it, then I will certainly write.”
Back in Jabalpur – Osho’s letter to Bachchan
Upon return to Jabalpur, I told Osho about the conversation and Osho wrote a beautiful letter to Bachchanji. I also wrote, informing Bachchanji that Osho would be in Jabalpur between October 7-12 and 19-26, where he could join. Before those dates, Bachchanji slipped in his bathroom and sustained an injury and could not come.
This is the letter Osho wrote to Bachchanji in Hindi on September 8, 1969 from his residence at Kamla Nehru Nagar, Jabalpur:
My beloved one,
Where does it happen that two persons meet?
At least on this earth, it does not happen, isn’t it?
Dialogue seems to be impossible here.
But sometimes the impossible also happens.
That day, this is what happened.
Having met you,
I felt that meeting could also happen,
And dialogue too,
And even without words.
And your tears gave the answers.
I am very grateful for those tears.
Such resonance happens only once in a while.
I have gone through ‘Madhushala’.
Again and again I have gone through it.
If I could sing,
Then what I would have sung is what is sung in it.
Only such a sannyas
that can accept the world also happily,
I call sannyas.
Aren’t really the world and ‘moksha’ one and the same?
In ignorance, there is duality.
In knowing, there is but only one!
Ah! Is that worth calling a religion
That cannot sing the song of love
And cannot dance in joy?
– Rajneesh Ke Pranam
Shiv says that you are to come over here.
Do come soon.
Time has no certainty.
See, the morning has happened,
The sun has arisen,
And now it is not very long that it will set!
¹ Footnote: Madhushala (Hindi: मधुशाला) (The Tavern/The House of Wine) is a book of 135 ‘quatrains’ – verses of four lines (Ruba’i) by Hindi poet and writer Harivansh Rai Bachchan (1907–2003). The highly metaphorical work is still celebrated for its deeply Sufi incantations and philosophical undertones and is an important work in the Chhayavaad (Neo-romanticism) literary movement of early 20th century Hindi literature.
Osho’s last public talk (on his third visit to Ludhiana)
Note by the photo editor: The images might not correspond to the exact events and times described in the article
Ageh Bharti is a regular contributor
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