Osho, an extraordinary mystic
Extraordinary not just because of his enlightenment, his intelligence and his ability to describe the depths of spirituality and esotericism, but because he is a master.
It is one thing to be enlightened. It is quite something else to be able to help others en masse to experience the same state. That requires the kind of rare Buddha who appears only once in centuries – a Master.
And that is how Osho has been portrayed – not just by his ‘followers’, but by religious professionals and hard-bitten journalists from all over the world who experienced him at first hand.
Osho is described by the Sunday Times in London as one of the ‘1000 Makers of the 20th Century‘.
‘[Osho] is one of the ten people; along with Gandhi, Nehru and Buddha; who have changed the destination of India.’ Sunday Mid-Day India.
Bernard Levin, the famously acerbic doyen of The Times of London writes that Osho ‘speaks in a language of great power and fluency – he is one of the most remarkable orators I have ever heard… And apart from the effect and persuasiveness of his words, and – an even greater force – the torrent of love-imbued energy that is released into the surrounding atmosphere as he speaks, there is, and remains with me, the profound meaning of what he was saying.’ Read more of Levin’s article on Osho here.
Tom Robbins, award winning US author, writes: ‘I am not, nor have I ever been, a disciple of Osho, but I’ve read enough of his brilliant books to be convinced that he was the greatest spiritual teacher of the 20th century – and I’ve read enough vicious propaganda and slanted reports to suspect he was one of the most maligned figures in history.’ Read Tom’s brilliantly witty essay about Osho here. Or see his video interview where he talks about Osho here.
Osho earned a controversial reputation from the Indian press back in the sixties when, as a university professor of philosophy who was a popular speaker throughout the country, he angered and shocked a deeply conservative Hindu media with his revolutionary outspoken views on sex, religion and politics.
However Western journalists, whose attention he caught in the late seventies, and who actually went and listened to him, describe him as ‘extraordinary’, ‘remarkable’, ‘deeply impressive’, ‘inspired’, ‘highly disturbing,’ and ‘utterly fascinating’. See contemporary accounts here.
At the time he was known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. And well before the advent of social media he was already attracting hundreds of thousands of disciples from all over the world. News of him spread only through print media and word of mouth. Yet people flocked to him. They were mostly young, highly educated, and financially independent. They were described in the press as ‘some of the most brilliant people from all over the world’. They were people who had achieved what society expected, yet were disillusioned by it all and looking for something more.
Now known as Osho, his teachings and energy touch millions who find him even more relevant today.
When he left the body in 1990, Osho left a legacy of over 600 books encapsulating all the mystical teachings of all traditions down the ages, as well as his own vision of a ‘new man’ and a new way of living.
Three huge communes were created around him, two in India and one in America, where he put into practice his unique, and revolutionary, vision for a new society.
Along the way there were controversies and scandal.
First, because Osho has no fear of authority or of others’ opinions. So he states the truth of the rottenness he sees in society. In particular he shows how the priests and politicians manipulate people to live in fear, and thus in psychological slavery.
Second, because he encourages people to question all their beliefs and ideas, including those that form the very basis of society and religion. He encourages people to question everything and think for themselves, and to be authentic rather than trying to win the approval of others. Free from the strictures of religion, politics and society’s expectations, this ‘new man’ is no longer able to be manipulated by others.
This of course did not please those in power, at least those whose hold on power depended on the status quo. They hounded and persecuted Osho in every way – manipulating the media to paint him a sex guru and a charlatan, and looking for every conceivable means to restrain him legally.
Contrary to rumours circulated by the yellow press, Osho has never been charged with any offences in India. In America, after a four-year investigation by at least four different government agencies, the only charges made against him were the minor ones of conspiring to induce people to apply for residence on the basis of false marriages (this at a time when he was in a well-documented period of silence, and despite his views against marriage).
The third reason for the controversies actually has nothing to do with Osho himself – it arises from the actions of a handful of people who were running the communes which arose around him. These people were not enlightened – they had egos like everyone else – and the power they acquired invited corruption. No need to list here the scandals and divisions caused by those people – it is well documented, for example in the Netflix series, Wild Wild Country. (See a review of that series from one of the men behind the camera.)
However, it is also well documented that Osho himself never instructed people what to do or what not to do, and thus he played no part in the management of the entities that used his name, and the scandals provoked. In fact, both US Attorney Turner and Attorney General Frohnmeyer publicly acknowledge that ‘they had little evidence of [Osho] being involved in any of the criminal activities that unfolded at the ranch’.
What is obvious is that the events that provoked the negative publicity have come and gone, but Osho and his vision remain.
The purpose of this website is to simply to tell his story, particularly in the words of the people who reported on him contemporaneously– the media and the influential people who actually spent time with him.