Osho: A total recall

Media Watch

“Ma Yoga Neelam’s book `Being At Home’ sheds light on how police and PMC tried their best to keep the spiritual guru out of the city after he was deported from USA in 1987,” writes Vinita Deshmukh in PuneMirror on Janurary 21, 2023.

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Osho and Neelam
Osho’s personal secretary Ma Neelam said the spiritual master told the police that being an Indian he could live anywhere in the country

A bit-by-bit detail of a story that promises to arouse curiosity in readers and take them through an interesting journey of sorts, Ma Yoga Neelam, Osho’s personal secretary, besides other things, neatly depicts in her book, ‘Being At Home’, the hectic events that took place before her master came to settle in the city. What makes the narration more interesting is that our own Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pune Police were actively involved in the scheme of things.

So, it is about how the PMC and the police left no stone unturned to block the entry of the godman into Pune in 1987 stating that his presence would create unrest in the city. However, all attempts to confine him to Mumbai, where he was staying in a sprawling bungalow of one of his disciples, Suraj Prakash, failed as Rajneesh (later Osho) by instinct or otherwise, had started to move a night earlier with his flock of sannyasins, that is January 3, 1987.

Police torment

Ma Neelam writes that the animosity of the Pune Police began in Mumbai itself where cops surrounded Suraj Prakash’s home but were left aghast when they were told that Rajneesh had already left for Pune.

Disbelieving, they barged into the house, searched it, and “created a ruckus for one hour”.

In fact, the Pune Police were stationed at the city’s border and were all set to prohibit Osho’s entry serving him Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code, but his last-minute change of plan foiled their strategy.

However, the next day, on January 4, “an armed police party arrived at the Ashram with a court order. Tathagat, Swabhav and Laxmi are speaking to the two Assistant Police Commissioners and we realise that we cannot stop them from speaking personally with Bhagwan,” writes Ma Neelam.

They order Osho to leave Pune immediately, alleging that being a controversial person, his presence may provoke violence in the city. Osho, the book says, still sitting in his bed, tears up the papers they handed to him and thunders, “I am an Indian citizen and can live anywhere I want. Nobody can ask me to leave. No riot has ever happened in Pune because of me. Now you leave!”

Finally, the ashram got a stay order from the Bombay high court. Despite this, writes Ma Neelam: “Yet the police commissioner continues to stand against us, bestowing sleepless nights upon us thanks to frequent visits by policemen at odd hours, supposedly to check on our activities!”

The police commissioner also imposed unnecessary regulations, as Osho can only give discourses for two hours per day; he should not talk against any religion; prohibition on any Ashram member from indulging in any obscene behaviour, Ma Neelam adds.

Being at Home
Being at Home

PMC not far behind

Ma Neelam writes that the assistant municipal commissioner arrives at the Rajneesh Ashram, all set to carry out a demolition drive on the illegal constructions. He blurts out: “There is so much illegal construction here. Open the gate! Let my men enter! You are creating an obstacle to my work. I am on duty!”

After a contemplative pause, he orders his men to retreat to the trucks pulled up on one side of the road. After 15 days, the assistant municipal commissioner comes back again. He is surprised to see most of the illegal entities demolished and turns a Nelson’s Eye to one of them.

Local leaders by the side

Ma Neelam fondly writes: “Balasahib R Borade from Pune’s Youth Congress confirms in a letter to us – “we will fight for you”. MPSS Kakde has written letters to the chief minister and the police commissioner.

Ulhas Dhole Patil, the mayor of Pune, comes to show support, calling the incident “so ugly” that he had come in person to apologise. He writes a letter to {Bhgawan}, asking him to stay forever in Pune, and labels Bhagwan’s teachings conducive to creating a tranquil atmosphere.

“I continue to get heaps of letters from local bodies like Akhil Mandal, Pune and Bombay Taxi Service Centre, Autorickshaw Association, Hotel Manager Association, Pune Cantonment, Student Association, and so on.”

The mayor said he would pass a resolution in the PMC that the corporation should apologise and ask Bhagwan not to leave Pune.

Finally, the issue settled down, Puneites who carried a bad impression of the liberal behaviour of Rajneesh’s sannyasins on streets of Koregaon Park and MG Road and were aghast at his ahead-of-the-times philosophy of sex to superconsciousness, accepted the Osho Commune without much opposition.

The book was released in Pune, posthumously, on Thursday.

For the uninitiated

Rajneesh, the lord and master of a 64,000-acre commune in Oregon, USA, between 1981 and 1985, was deported from the country after he pleaded guilty to violating federal immigration laws. He was shunted out of 21 countries before he decided to get back to his original pavilion in Koregaon Park, Pune.

However, his journey to Destination Pune too was fraught with high drama, considering that he had by then carried the reputation of the most controversial internationally-acclaimed spiritual guru of the 21st century.

punemirror.comcredit for alert goes to Chaitanya Keerti

The book is available via antarrahi.com and oshoviha.org

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