29 Years


Monday, September 30, 2013

Rajneesh Chandra Mohan Jain was born on December 11, 1931, in a small village near Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh. Starting off as a professor of philosophy, he graduated into a guru, a mystic of sorts, and an international spiritual teacher, changing appellations from Acharya Rajneesh to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh before his transformation into a Zen master called Osho, until his death on January 19, 1990. The Diamond Sword contains his thoughts on a variety of subjects, from meditation to caustic reactions to problems he had to face in life – but his love for India and its incomparable philosophic treasures remained foremost on his mind. Prophet of Love by Farrukh Dhondy is a book about ‘an ashram in Pune, its controversial godman and his foreign devotees.’ The inferences are rather clear.

A bugged bhagwan
The Diamond Sword (Rediscovering Meditation – The Forgotten Treasure of India) by Osho was written sometime in 1985, on his return to India after his infamous run-in with the US authorities and citizens over allegations of poisoning the food or drinking water of the white residents who lived in the city named The Dalles, quite near his Rajneeshpuram ashram in Oregon. Whatever the real facts, it is known that the locals were unable to stomach Rajneesh’s extremely visible opulence and the presence of the many Rolls Royce cars gifted to him by his devotees. The mutual hostility led to Rajneesh being arrested and charged with immigration violations, even as he tried to shift the blame and accuse some of his own followers of bioterrorism against the residents of The Dalles. After being deported, he suffered the ignominy of being denied entry into 21 countries, before coming to India and finally settling down in Pune.
When he compiled this book in response to questions from individuals and media persons, he was generally miffed with the world, and particularly so with the Indian diplomats in the US. He also harboured a deep and abiding resentment against the government of India for not standing up for him against the US authorities.  

Soon after his return, in an interview with India Today, he castigated the then prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, for not coming to his rescue. His opinions on government and political parties can hardly be refuted cogently:

The parliament of India is retarded. Any one of these guys can be tested for their IQ and it will be very difficult for a single one of them to cross the mental age of fourteen...I was in American jails for twelve days, Rajiv did not do a single thing through the Indian ambassador, he did not even ask what my crime was, and why I had been arrested without reason and without an arrest warrant, and why I was being dragged from jail to jail without being taken to court…I am compelled to call this government a childish, unadult, immature government. Such a vast country, where the population is around one billion, is not free enough to be left in the hands of these children…I want this country to be put in the hands of intelligent people. I want there to be no political parties in this country…Political parties only exploit. For five years one party exploits, and by that time people have forgotten about the exploitations of the other party. Then, that party comes to power and for five years that party exploits – by which time people have forgotten about the exploitations of the first party. This is a very interesting game. The boys are playing and there is no referee.

However, he did not lose his love or his admiration for India and her spiritual treasures. After all, he was able to wield consider power among his followers mainly because he expounded Indian philosophy, explained and disseminated it in its most liberal form, where he questioned the prude notions regarding sex, in current Indian society and also in the world at large. Though he dwelt on many other subjects, the discourses on sex and sexuality got him attention and notoriety, and people began to identify him as a love guru, a classification he did nothing to dispel.

Osho explains India beautifully: The dream is one. It is not mine, it is centuries old. Let us call it eternal. This part of the earth began dreaming this dream from the very dawn of human consciousness…This dream belongs to man himself, this dream belongs to man’s inner dream. We have given this dream a name: we call this dream ‘India.’ India is not a piece of land, it is not a political entity, not a chapter of historical facts…India is a longing, a thirst for the attainment of truth – the truth that resides in our very heartbeat, the truth that is sleeping in the very layers of our consciousness. It is that which although ours has been forgotten. That remembrance, that reaffirmation is India…For me, India and spirituality are synonymous…India is an eternal pilgrimage, a timeless path that is stretched from eternity to eternity.

He has not lost hope, and exhorts: If we again give India its wings, if we again give India its sky, if we can again fill India’s vision with the longing to fly toward the stars, then we will have saved not only those who already have a thirst for the eternal, but also those who are sleeping today but will wake up tomorrow…The fate of India is the destiny of mankind.

Diamond Sword
by Osho Jaico Publishing House

The dark side of enlightenment
Prophet of Love by Farrukh Dhondy is a ringside view of the Rajneesh ashram, any way you look at it and however the author may explain it away. Nestled in a quiet suburb of Poona (now Pune), it is the story of the intrigues and the machinations that go on behind the guarded and restricted environs of a certain Bhagwan Saket’s ashram, chock-a-block full with foreigners (sanyasis) in their crimson robes.

The story commences with a little abandoned boy, Rahul, being left in the mountains by the inmates of a monastery, to meet his date with fate (read death), as soothsayers have divined that he will die on his seventh birthday. A monk, Chandrika, who plays a significant part in the story as Rahul’s mentor, is assigned to lead him to the place of his samadhi. Later, when arrangements are made to get his body down for disposal, Chandrika discovers that the boy is miraculously alive and well, something that the monastery may try to rectify by enforcing a termination. So the monk and his disciple hotfoot it and get away as far away as possible, coming to, where else, Mumbai. There they have to, perforce, eke out a living, with Chandrika becoming a footpath letter-writer and printing assistant, while Rahul studies and then teaches as a lecturer of philosophy. Some real life coincidences here to a certain Bhagwan Rajneesh? Trust Rahul to screw things up and lose his job with the ‘f’ word addressed to girls in class!  

Life turns after Rahul listens to a swami’s discourse on a beach. Later, he is sighted by two of the godman’s ‘event managers’ and groomed for a life of spewing philosophy at an ashram in Pune. He thrives on the gift of gab and rich devotees flock to the place. Dhondy is the real life reporter who is assigned to do a piece on the bhagwan for his London journal and lands up at his ancestral home in Pune, which is occupied by his two unmarried aunts.

He networks with a pamphlet protester, Diamond, who has shacked up with an old friend of his, and from her, gets to know of the seamier side of the ashram. There is talk of exploitation, sex sessions to which he tries to gain access, and of her child being held back in the ashram. He finally gets past the protective coterie of followers and interacts with Saket! There is the Ma Agnivarsha from the press area of the ashram, mistakenly referred in this book by the author as ‘the year of fire’ when agnivarsha is actually a ‘rain of fire.’  There is scattered sex:

There should be no asceticism, no renunciation, no celibacy, no denial, no forbearance, no taint of sin, no fall from grace, no expulsion, as I now know the Bible says, from the garden, because this is the garden, love is the garden and making love is the sap and the juice and the fruit of life... 

Read on for the rest of the plot to unfold.

Prophet of Love
by Farrukh Dhondy
HarperCollins Publishers

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