Azima writes about how Osho has been perceived in his country over the years, and specifies recent developments.
Thirty years ago Osho decided to leave his body, too weak from the poisoning he had suffered under the sophisticated modern crucifixion methods that the USA have developed for the last fifty years. We were living in a dream, a paradise, the greatest love affair possible in this earthly dimension: the love between the Master and his disciples. And it was precisely his disciples’ love that kept him anchored to his body during the last years of his life. We would never have let him go…
Since then, many things he said are taking on a clearer physiognomy; many of his predictions are now concrete facts, visible to all – and many others will soon be.
In Italy, which notoriously is a particularly confused, corrupt nation – with a Vatican State standing above everything like ‘big brother’ controlling every movement – Osho’s message has always been well received. (There have never been overt persecutions of his sannyasins like it happened in Germany, for instance.)
It could well be that the average Italian, because of his ancient Dionysian soul, can very easily relate and accept Osho’s message of Zorba and celebrating life. And perhaps, because of the individualistic and non-respecting spirit towards rules, the average Italian can easily embrace the rebellious, revolutionary and disruptive message of our Master. Or perhaps, because Italians, after all, still have an alive, beating heart; already in the 70s and 80s Italians, together with Germans and Americans, were the most numerous representatives of Osho’s disciples in his ashram in Pune.
After the commune experience in the USA the community of his disciples came to be more multi-ethnic and people from other nations became attracted to the Master’s message. From 1987 until his death on 19th January 1990, there was no longer a commune as such in India; he had declared several times that after the American experiment the commune was over. Koregaon Park 17 became a sanctuary where people would come and pay their respects, and after a while return to their lives. It is still so after thirty years; people who come to experience his energy and meditation techniques are arriving from all over the world, from the most disparate nations on the planet.
After having spent 14 years in our Master’s communes, I returned to Italy in 1993, resumed my profession as a doctor and introduced myself as Dr Azima, the character Osho had created for his jokes. I never used my official surname. Everybody thought I was Indian because of the name and they started rushing to my surgeries in Milan and Siena with the idea that I was some kind of oriental magician. In my treatment rooms there was always a large picture of Osho on one of the walls, and those who had the courage, asked me if he was my grandfather, or maybe Khomeini or a Bollywood actor, but nobody recognized Osho then.
During the nineties Osho’s name and revolutionary message was still unknown to the majority of Italians. But from 2000 onwards, a change started happening; the media began to talk about yoga, wellness and diets, which until then were – for an Italian – mere masochistic rituals created for women who were fanatical about their looks.
In 1988 I had suggested the first dairy-free menus at the Pune Resort and set up a dairy-free serving line in the canteen. A long queue of sannyasins wanted to get rid of this Dr Azima, but the message was understood and was successful in many of our communes, in Germany, UK, Holland and the USA.
In the mid-nineties, after checking out patients with a Bioresonance test at my clinic, I started prescribing gluten-free or dairy-free diets. My patients were upset and everyone – literally everyone – said, “What am I going to eat now, Doctor?” (Today food allergy tests are carried out in all pharmacies, laboratories and hospitals in Italy; and there are now more people who are on a specific diet, who are vegan or vegetarian, than there are those who are omnivorous.)
As diets became fashionable, also oriental practices became trendy; yoga is being practised in many gyms; there are more wellness centres than supermarkets; many people have signed up for a course of Reiki, or transcendental meditation, or mindfulness. Even directors of large companies undergo weekends of Neurolinguistic training, yoga or Family Constellation, to be more productive and able to cope better with work-related stress.
In this so-called spirituality that opened up, Osho has slowly, but inexorably, come on everyone’s lips – initially through two unusual misinterpretations: The first was on national TV in a programme called ‘Avanti un altro‘ (Next!): Paolo Bonolis and Luca Laurenti, two comedian TV presenters, wearing long fake beards and Osho hats, conducted a quiz invoking Osho. (The programme is still running, but the sketch with Osho has finished its cycle.)
Soon after that, a certain Federico Palmaroli from Rome started posting memes on Facebook, ‘Le più belle frasi di Osho‘ showing a photo of Osho and as text, not quotes by Osho, but expressions in Roman dialect that were often dark and vulgar… yet very successful with a million followers. His account on Twitter “Le frasi di Osho” has 285,000 followers. There are now also photos of various politicians and celebrities with similar jokes in Roman dialect, but the page still bears Osho’s name and continues to be very popular. Here too, Osho has nothing to do with it, because it is a political satire more than anything else, but Osho’s name is shown prominently.
By creating these memes, Palmaroli has unconsciously been doing a great job for the Master as since then the sales of Osho’s books have increased. Thanks to him most Italians now know Osho’s name and those who want to know more just have to visit any bookstore or check online, and see who Osho really is.
We know that Osho has always used various tactics, such as the Rolls Royce’s in America or his watches, to make people talk about him, and as per today in Italy, three and a half million of his books have been sold and about 200 titles have already been marketed by mainstream publishers. Almost everyone knows Osho by now. Even if they don’t know his message, they have heard his name.
In another thought-provoking national introduction of Osho, every Saturday, for 20 weeks (from January 18 until May 30, 2020), the leading Italian daily, Il Corriere della Sera, will sell an Osho book compilation as a supplement with their weekend paper for 7.90 Euros. This thanks to an initiative by Videha, the man who has been behind all the efforts of publishing Osho’s words in Italy, since I can remember.
Since I returned to Italy I have been giving meditation retreats, recently twice a year at Hotel La Selva in Tuscany, and at the end of this year also at Miasto. I have published ten books, three of them are dedicated to our Master: La Mia Vita con Osho, translation published by Diamond Books in Delhi under the title My Life with Osho, then Il Sesso di Devi, in English, Devi’s Tantra, also published by Diamond Books, and thirdly, Osho – la sua vita, il suo insegnamento (Osho – his life, his teachings), the first essay on Osho in Italian.
If in the past only a few people knew about Osho, today, whenever I present one of my books in a bookshop, or talk about Osho in a public lecture, 90% of the audience has read one of his books or at least read authentic quotes on the web that have impressed them so much that they intend to buy one of his books.
It is not surprising that already in 1986, Osho’s ambassador for Italy, Majid, the intelligentsia and the Italian left had managed to pressure Minister Panella to issue a visa for Osho, while the rest of the world would not let him enter their countries.
The same opening can be seen today, but on a much wider scale.
Translated by Osho News
Related articles on Osho News
Wild Wild Italy – Nirbija examines the Italian response to Netflix’s documentary Wild Wild Country as reported in Re Nudo magazine no 41, 2018
My India – Majid reflects on his life as a sannyasin and former head of the Osho Miasto commune in Tuscany, as well as on his role as Osho’s Ambassador for Italy and as editor in chief of the left-wing magazine Re Nudo
Oshoba & The Italian Osho Times – The tight-rope dance to bring Osho into the Italian consciousness… Article by Punya
Books by Italian sannyasins
Azima’s books, in English and Italian, can be found in bookstores or online through a search on your Amazon for Azima Rosciano.
More memoirs written by other Italian sannyasins: The first that comes to mind is Radha’s, Tantra: A Way of Living and Loving. Although it is about Tantra, she mentions Osho throughout the book. Then, not necessarily in chronological order, Upadhi’s, La magia della vita (Life’s magic); Avikal’s, When the ocean dissolves in the drop; Sarjano’s, When A Real Lion Meets A Real Master. And a few years ago, Majid, who had been in charge of the very successful commune and workshop venue, Miasto in Tuscany, came out with his story: Il D/io perduto: Il viaggio in India, l’incontro con Osho (The lost God: The journey to India, meeting Osho). More books can be found on our Book Lists.
Links for Italy
Books by Osho and sannyasins, music CDs, DVDs, book publications and info centre: oshoba.it
Osho Times International, printed monthly in Italian language: oshotimes.it
Meditation retreats and festivals: oshoexperience.it
Commune and venue in Tuscany: oshomiasto.com