The enigma called Osho

It was during my B.Tech final year (2001) that I participated in a debate that discussed Osho. The topic was - "Who is the most influential personality of India?". One guy spoke of Mother Theresa, I spoke of Vivekananda and another guy chose Osho. He obviously read many Osho's works. There was a lot of sincerity and reverence in his voice when he was explaining the greatness of Osho. I had very little knowledge of Osho. From all the information I gathered, he looked like a "fake Guru". Earlier I read one article on the web which was very detailed and well-written. It kind of concluded that "although Osho is enlightened, he is corrupt  and misused his role as a Spiritual Guru". So I argued that Osho can never be a great man with all his lapses. Most of the participants in the debate agreed. I felt glad. When I think of it now, I realize my ignorance.

I always had an interest in spiritual personalities. During my school days, I read a lot of works of Vivekananda and was very inspired. In my B.Tech, I was introduced to Jiddu Krishnamurti by chance and read him in some detail. I briefly read the works of many other spiritual Gurus - Sai Baba, Meher Baba, Swami Rama, Swami Chinmayananda, Swami Yogananda to name a few. But I never read Osho. It was during my M.Tech that I first read his article on the "significance of meditation". I was not very impressed. It was at this time I learnt that he is called a "sex-guru" (apparently some Hollywood movies were created with his inspiration!). This further confirmed by bias against Osho and so I did not bother to study him again.

Osho came into my life again rather unexpectedly. Around an year back, I was searching the web for some commentaries on "Patanjali Yoga Sutras" and chanced upon Osho's series of lectures on Patanjali Yoga Sutras titled "Yoga - The Alpha and the Omega". I was spellbound by the immensity of his introductory words:
We live in a deep illusion – the illusion of hope, of future, of tomorrow. As man is, man cannot exist without self-deceptions. Nietzsche says somewhere that man cannot live with the true: he needs dreams, he needs illusions, he needs lies to exist. And Nietzsche is true.

Intrigued, I looked at other Osho's works and found that Osho gave commentaries on many other significant spiritual works - Ashtavakra Gita, Upanishads, Zen stories, Diamond Sutra, Khalil Gibran's Prophet etc. And in his commentaries, you discover the real Osho, the shining spiritual genius. It is rare to find a spiritual Guru having knowledge that spans across a wide range of spiritual traditions (Osho claimed that in his past lives he worked with many spiritual traditions).  He could clearly see the threads that unite the apparently distinct spiritual traditions. He realized that most of the classical techniques need to be modified to fit the "modern man" (His "dynamic meditation" evolved from this need). Thus he is classic and modern at the same time. His work is a tribute to the Indian tradition of "fitting the method to the man and not otherwise".

Yet, Osho was crazy in some of his statements and deeds. For example, he once said that "Mother Theresa is a criminal and should be put in jail!". Of course, he had his argument but the statement is still rather careless and dramatic. It seems to me that he was deliberately pompous and misleading while talking to the media. He once even remarked that "he is the biggest conman in the world". His failed experiment in the US, where he attempted to create a new-age spiritual town called Rajneeshpuram, seriously damaged his credentials. He remained controversial in India and around the world till his death.

Some of the criticism on Osho is unfair and incorrect. His book "From Sex to Super Consciousness" is criticized as a book that encourages bad behavior and destroys marital life. That book earned him the title "Sex-Guru", while in fact, the book (which is a compilation of his lectures) encourages people to go beyond sex. His unapologetic display of wealth and luxury was used to prove that he is yet another fraudulent Guru minting money from people. This, in my humble view, is not necessarily true. We have an image of what a spiritual person should be and we find it difficult to accept someone who does not fit in our expectations.

One thing is certain, Osho eludes the definition of a typical Guru. He can be called a "bad man" by some standards. But to discard him completely (like I did all these years) is to lose the insights he offers in his splendid lectures. I sometimes feel that he purposefully confused people so that only serious seekers stay with him. But, of course, I realize that I cannot justify everything he said and did with this explanation. In the end, who are we to judge? Just drink the nectar of his offerings, ignoring the sour aspects.

In conclusion, I am reminded of this very wonderful message of Osho, when he was making the closing remarks of his "Neo-Yoga Sutras" lectures. This serves as a great inspiration to me:

I said these sutras to you, not to increase your knowledge, but to take away your knowledge from you. I have not said these sutras so that you may get some doctrines and become dependent on them. You will not be saved by being dependent on these few words of mine. All the doctrines, all the scriptures, all the words become a burden on your head and drown you. 
I have not said these things so that you become dependent on them. I said these things to you so that you become aware of your helplessness. I have not said these things to you because I think that you may understand them by my telling them to you, I do not think that at all. I do not do such foolish things. If you had been able to understand just by my saying it then it would have been very easy, one man would have made you understand. And till now the whole world would have become wise. But Buddha became tired and died, Krishna became tired and died, Jesus became tired and died, Mahavir became tired and died, but the world’s ignorance did not improve an inch. That is why I do not think that anything will happen now by understanding.


Wonderfully written anna!!
Anonymous said…
Dude, the Rajneeshpuram is not a failed experiment.
From the perspective of those who are waiting for saviors, for messiahs, for oshos to come and save their asses, it looks like Rajneeshpuram failed. In fact, it is each individual who is responsible. It is not osho who should make some perfect rajneeshpuram city where people live a good life, but PEOPLE THEMSELVES. Osho opened the way, proved that what he says is practical, now it is people who have to make the change. each individual is responsible, so please don't say that Osho failed in anything, because he did not. it is people who failed to understand him - it is the whole bunch of idiots who failed.

Mother theresa is a criminal, you can now search on google and youtube and you will find that Osho was not wrong at all when he said mother theresa should be in prison. She is a psycho.

'One day I met a lady who was dying of cancer in a most terrible condition. And I told her, I say, "You know, this terrible pain is only the kiss of Jesus — a sign that you have come so close to Jesus on the cross that he can kiss you." And she joined her hands together and said, "Mother Teresa, please tell Jesus to stop kissing me"'

Osho was not wrong at all when he said the pope is the antichrist:
Phanindra Ksm said…

Thanks for the comment! I agree with your view on Rajneeshpuram experiment. Regarding Theresa and Pope, I don't have much to comment as I don't know the full facts. The video does provide some interesting views/facts.
raghavan said…
Dear..It's a good post. Osho is hundreds of years of ahead of us. He was strange master in the history of masters. Infact if you look into details every master is really really strange for example Sri Ramakrishna used normal abusive words when he was talking in Bengali. But translations came they cleansed it up all. So was Shirdi Baba. Baba use to run with sticks to beat the worthier one's shouting.We do not know all those things. Disciples and later stages politicans covered all that up.

Every time when people asked Osho about India. Osho use to thrash India and all of us. But when an Italian teacher asked him about India - she left everything for meditation in life and he responded to her about India in a very different way -

Osho was fraud of incomparable proportions to frauds who met him.He was a great honest man to them who were honest in their being. He used people who wanted to use him and he lifted people who were real seekers.

Regarding Mother Thersa. Osho was against the model she was pursuing. Osho was all for the flowering of intelligence and once man flowers to his absoluteness he will naturally take care of beings around him - whether man or flora or fauna rooted in real compassion. A clarity on this point is what swami Rama answers to 1st question raised to him -

Rajneeshpuram was a great experiment. It used money to brush aside money. It is because of money billions of people on earth do not have food or shelter.It is because of money things like charity exist. He did that in the heart of a capitalist country that's the reason why Somalia, Ghana exist.
He was building inroads to a way of life where human beings co exist with each other as human's not a failure, it's a begining and a clue for better humanity. Yes there were short comings. The first version of any software has bugs...
Tejas Natu said…
Well said Raghavan ... He used money to brush aside money ... Very well said .. It seems you are an Osho lover like me and millions of us ...
Osho cannot be judged in terms of our social standards. Indeed he was beyond all these standards and our definition of good and bad. He was an infinite ocean of compassion who worked for the ultimate liberation of human kinds.
Anonymous said…
Osho cannot be judged by any social standard and he cannot be understood without MEDITATION. For readers who may be unfamiliar with His Work, Meditation is Not concentration, Not a technique which can be practiced....
Shanmugam said…
" I sometimes feel that he purposefully confused people so that only serious seekers stay with him"... That is what I think..

I really like the comment from Raghavan. It is an excellent reply and he said it all.

I have written a post here to show my love towards Osho: Will be writing more, he is one of the greatest enlightened mystic of this century.
Phanindra KSM said…
Hi Shanmugam,

Thanks for sharing your blog post! It is honest and quite well written! I agree that both Sadhguru and Osho have some similarities. They are both modern day Gurus and they both never tried to please people. They both said what they felt is right. Both have the power of oratory and the charisma.

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