Niren’s response to USA v. Osho book review

Letters / Opinions

A letter from Osho’s chief attorney, Niren (Philip Toelkes).

Niren's response

Reference is made to: New book, USA v. Osho, brings up many more questionsA view on Niren’s recently released book (June 9, 2021)

Download signed PDF file of this letter complete with yellow highlights.

June 27, 2021

Response to USA v. Osho book Review
By email:

  1. You got the key point right: the US government decided to get rid of Osho and his community and they did. Clear bias and illegality.
  2. As to your comment about the density of the book: The book is not intended for the general public as clearly stated in the book and on the website where it is sold. Osho asked me to write a book to “clear his name in America.” This book, with the archive containing 1700 documents and “key documents”, does that conclusively from a legal perspective. For the long view, history. I did provide summaries of all the legal discussions so the interested general public could grasp the legal complexities.
  3. As to challenging the entire case before seeking bail, Osho would’ve had to stay in jail pending the outcome of such a challenge. In the existing atmosphere, a motion to dismiss would have almost certainly been denied. Much easier for the court to say it needs to see the evidence and that attitude is supported by the law. So our first priority was to get Osho out on bail and then to fight the case.
  4. We were able to get bail and Osho was released. As stated in the book, the lawyers involved in the case met with Osho the next day. All the lawyers told him that case was amazingly weak as to him, that we would win the case. I told him that the US government wouldn’t stop and would continue to harass him and his community. I told him that, given what the government had already done, we couldn’t guarantee his safety. I advised that he should allow us to make a deal for him to leave the country. He responded that if the government would fight fairly, he would take it all the way to the Supreme Court, but his body would not tolerate the conditions of imprisonment. He authorized us to make a deal and he would leave. We did that.
  5. It turned out my advice was right. A RICO case, based on Sheela’s criminal acts, was filed after Osho left the US. It is also discussed in the book. That case would have resulted in the loss of all the Ranch property and assets. Given Sheela’s crimes, there was no way we could win.
  6. As to my role, Osho referred to me as his “chief attorney.” I used the term “personal attorney” in the book to distinguish myself from the very able outside counsel who represented Osho and the community. I used 1981 as the start date because that is when I arrived at the Ranch and immediately became responsible for major litigation, working with the other sannyasin lawyers and outside counsel. For example, the Pat Lear case was a copyright infringement case against a former disciple was filed in 1982. I was lead counsel in that case which we won on summary judgment which is only granted where there is no reliable evidence from the other side. The Court held that Rajneesh Foundation International “owns valid copyrights on all published or works of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.” RFI later assigned all such copyrights to Osho International Foundation which owns them today. We also prosecuted several cases against the INS.
Some quotes from Osho

I was just talking to Niren – that’s why I was late coming to you. He was my attorney, fighting for me in America; and he had tears in his eyes as he said, “Osho, I could not do more to save the commune.”
[The Razor’s Edge, #29, March 1987, ed.]

My attorneys who used to come there – Niren was my chief attorney; he is here – could not believe it: Why was I was looking so happy and so at ease and at home?
Hidden Splendor, #21

Just sitting here is one of my attorneys from America, Swami Prem Niren. He came into deeper and deeper contact with me when I was in American jails for those twelve days. He followed me from jail to jail and he was the only person who was seeing me during all those days, almost every day.
Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram, #2

Niren himself was one of my attorneys. In fact, he was my chief attorney because he was my sannyasin. All the other attorneys were chosen by him. He was the coordinator. The others were paid, only he was working for love…. Except for Niren, I could not feel any of the attorneys – and they were the best attorneys in America.
Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram, #14

And my chief attorney Niren is here – he is my sannyasin. He has been going through all the jails where they mistreated me in every possible way. And they are lying – I have to speak with Niren about the points where they are absolutely lying.
Om Mani Padme Hum, #12

My attorney, Swami Prem Niren, is sitting here. He is now doing deep research into what was going on behind the screen when I was arrested in America.
Om Mani Padme Hum, #23

With love,

Philip Toelkes

Book Cover USA v. OshoUSA v. Osho: A Legal History of the US Government Persecution of a Minority Religious Community, Oregon 1981-1986
by Philip Toelkes (Swami Prem Niren)
Available as downloadable e-book and paperback via domestic and international shipping
The Archive and Key Documents are available on the website without any purchase.
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