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Osho Commune: Is this the first step towards winding it up?
Posted by Osho Team Poona     Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 06:33
October 18, 2011 11:34 AM
Vinita Deshmukh

Pune's Osho Commune is embroiled in controversy since the past few days regarding its petition in the ity Commissioner's office in Mumbai to ''gift'' a part of its property to an obscure trust. Is it just a property deal or an attempt to shut shop?

When the Osho International Foundation, which runs the internationally-acclaimed Osho Commune in Pune applied last week to the ity Commissioner's office in Mumbai, for permission to ''gift'' its 6,600 sq ft prime property in Lane No 1 of Koregaon Park, Pune, it was more than just a magnanimous property deal. At stake is the Osho legacy and the spiritual heritage belonging to the nation, as it represents the life & times and the colossal philosophical work of one of the greatest—though controversial— spiritual mystiques of the 20th century, Osho, earlier known as Aya Rajneesh.

What's scandalous is that, while prominent Osho Management team member Ma Sadhana admitted that another part of the property has been recently mortgaged to facilitate running the commune (is it broke?), suddenly you have the management wanting to ''gift” another part of its property and that too to an obscure ‘Darshan Trust' which does not seem to have official credibility. The natural question is: Why such magnanimity?

While the suspicion that the Osho Commune, run by three foreigners, steered by Swami Jayesh alias Michael O Byrne, erstwhile real-estate agent of Edmonton, US—(the other two being Swami Amrito alias George Meredith, Osho's personal physician and Swami Yogendra alias Darcy O' Byrne)—who has re-christened the commune as the ‘Osho International Meditation Resort' with a stark commercial flavour a few years after Osho died in 1990, might be ultimately sold off and the commune shifted somewhere outside the country, has some bearing, though very speculative at this stage.

The Osho Commune management has deliberately undertaken various measures since the past few years to convert this Ashram meant for spiritual seekers who flocked here from around the world, into a luxurious resort by eliminating the Master's presence in the form of photographs, which otherwise studded the Commune. What was shocking was that Osho's ‘Samadhi' was replaced by what is now called as ‘Osho Chuang Tzu'. At that time, former Osho spokesperson Swami Chaitanya Keerti who walked out of the Commune in early 2000, had stated that, ''many of us are suspicious of the resort's motives in discarding the term ‘Samadhi'. I think this is a long-term strategy to break the emotional link we sanyasins have with Osho's Samadhi and sell or lease Pune property in the future. The prime properties of this Commune do not belong to the handful of inner-circle members, but to all the Osho followers from all over India and the world, who have made contributions when Osho was alive.” Is Keerti's prophecy coming true now?

The Commune management also audaciously demolished the legendary ‘Buddha Hall' where Osho gave most of his world-famous spiritual discourses, bedecked in royal robes and seated on an equally royal & luxuriant chair. During the days when he was ailing, he arrived from his room just 500 meters away in a Rolls-Royce. The huge mosquito net that covered the Buddha Hall was said to be the largest, fit enough to enter the Guinness Book of World Records. When that was dismantled a few years back, Keerti had stated it was an ''outrage to Osho's memory and the death of a spiritual heritage place of the country”. That was another act of reducing Osho's legacy into nothingness. Was that also a part of a strategy to facilitate future sale of property?

The Commune—particularly after the construction of the one lakh square foot Osho Meditation Resort built opposite the main gate, represents what you can call the ‘five-star' culture. It has transformed into a five-star resort by jacking up entry fees and food prices, and discouraging Indian sanyasins from patronising it by way of humiliation, banning ‘seva' (voluntary work to run various departments of the Commune and instead appointing an international professional housekeeping company by paying several lakhs per month) and banning those who speak against the highhandedness of the Commune administration.

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