India travels – early talks
Soon after his appointment as Professor, Osho begins to travel around India, being invited to address religious conferences, speak on the radio, and address gatherings which eventually drew up to 50,000 people.
He was ‘seized with a mission of awakening sensitive people from what he believed to be a sleep-walking intellectual materialism’, wrote Ronald Conway (The Weekend Australian, February 14-15, 1981). The New Delhi Patriot, in a review of Osho’s life published in 1981, preferred to say simply, ‘He traveled widely and racked up controversies wherever he went.’
An exciting and entertaining speaker, he was initially invited to address many prestigious conferences. However, his delight in controversy, and his endless and uncompromising attacks on any and every deeply-rooted belief that he felt was not based on truth or logic, soon made him an enemy of the establishment. He tore into organised religion, delivering a scathing indictment of the Shankaracharya of Puri, the high priest of Hinduism, at the Second World Hindu Religion Conference at Patna. He vehemently attacked India’s long-standing macabre love affair with poverty, condemning the revered Gandhi for crippling India with his anti-modern, anti-technology thinking. Gandhi’s preoccupation with the poor, he said, had hindered their liberation from poverty.
In the same vein he lashed out at another national hero, Mother Teresa, for manipulating the orphan problem in order to create more converts to Catholicism. Her stance against birth control, he said, shows that she is not trying to fight poverty, merely trying to create more Hindu babies which she can ‘save’ for Catholicism, winning a Nobel Prize in the bargain. Poverty could only be eradicated, he maintained, through ‘absolute’ birth control and education. He insisted that wealth was a necessary precursor to spiritual seeking, the poor man being too preoccupied with food and other survival basics to think about his spiritual needs. In a country where poverty and renunciation were blindly associated with sainthood, these views were not surprisingly considered shocking.
A few years later he outraged religious leaders further when he began to lecture that sex was a path to enlightenment.