<-Brijinder 'Sagar'




One repays a teacher badly, if one always remains a pupil only. Why do you not pluck at my wreath?



For me, Rajneesh I know as a master, died in early seventies during his early Poona days, though I came across him, around 1977, through his books. Due to my limited exposure then, I had a fleeting knowledge of a mystic called Acharya Rajneesh operating from Poona. I accidentally came across one of his books and I was jolted out of a deep psychological slumber. I, for the first time in life, could clearly see myself with all my acquired crutched. It was the beginning of an active doubt – quest towards self-discovery. My priorities were changed overnight. I was started on a wonderful exploration Nietzsche, Krishnamurti, Bubber, Tao, Zen, Hassids, Gibran, Fritz Perls, Alan Watts, Gibran, Encounter groups, and Upanishads etc. were the strange keys he was dropping for my inner locks. It is only through him that I am able, today, to stand up against him. Thank you, Rajneesh! This attack is, as Nietzsche said, ’an act of gratitude’ on my part.

            I can never, even now, utter “Bhagwan Shree” or “Osho” without feeling embarrassed, for these were alien to my whole understanding of Acharya Rajneesh.

Acharya Rajneesh, I knew, was a supreme iconoclast with a sharp, shrewd and analytical mind who used logic to give a glimpse of transcendental wisdom. I was enthralled by his erudite exposition and unconventional approach to anything he touched upon in his discourses. He presented hitherto unexplored perspective of various thoughts. Rajneesh spoke in sheer poetry and pregnant silences. His method was allegorical and retained a wonderful cathartic humour. He was brilliantly using intellect to de-intellectualize the people and to let them see things beyond their intellectual conceptualization of them. His language was contemporary and devoid of verbosity, which like me, emboldened many to seek the thinkers whom he was continuously and lovingly expounding and who had earlier seemed forbidding.

            It was Rajneesh, who sowed the seeds of honest enquiry in me. I came to question my long acquired prejudices and my conditioned aspiration of life and its fixed goals. He instilled in me the difference between ‘open and responsive’ and being ‘obedient and slavish’. His habit of name dropping, of brilliant men and women he had come to admire through his extensive readings, was the gateway for me, to explore and experience myself the various thinkings of modern and ancient times. And this wonderland was an enchanting and fulfilling tapestry of modern and ancient philosophies, psychologies, nearly mystical experiments of modern sciences and what not.

            Each of these experiences changed my world–view in a profound way – subtly preparing me through intellectual stimulation for deep psychological journey. While exposure to Nietzsche completely changed my philosophical outlook; Alan Watts gave me a perspective on spirituality. While Fritz Perls, Sheldon Kopp prepared the psychological ground and Zen, Tao, Krishnamurti; Gurdjieff etc. put me on never ending process of integration. My own poetry took a totally different direction; I was, at last, trying to stand on my own. My total lack of professional aspirations was making my nears and dears miserable but I was, for the first time in my life, experiencing strange dimension where quest is a reward. All of this was happening because of Rajneesh’s first spark, which he put in me through his discourses. Ah! I must tell the readers that all this is not to daunt you with my intellectual (which is so little!) snobbery but simply to share the mile – stones of my inner journey.

            Rajneesh started as a social philosopher who was trying to awaken the youth into action based on the psychological understanding of the issues. Born a Jain, he soon attracted rich Jain young people who perhaps saw in him a possible “Tirthankar” or were simply fired by his powerful and revelatory oration. At that time Rajneesh was simply concerned with the awakening of the healthy doubt among people about the various institutions, which had degenerated into vices. The people around him formed ‘Jan Jagriti Kendra’, an organization of progressive people aimed at the transformation of the society. Slowly Rajneesh ventured into religion when he started giving discourses on man’s inner potentials and later his simple yet powerful dynamic meditation. The ideas, if not original, were told in a fresh way, peppered with metaphorical tales to hammer the point. The lectures were short and unrepetitive. He used his great argumentative method to demolish the myths of institutions like marriage, religion, state etc. these discourses were authoritative, scholarly, stimulating and carried an inherent sound wisdom. He was growing into a modern seer who, with his sensitive and restrained manner and inspired conviction, was breaking people’s somnabulance and their conformity.


            His ideas on sexuality were far ahead of the Indian morality of his times, though those were quite near the latest scientific findings. He forced the people to see sexuality in healthier and normal manner. He was perhaps the only contemporary spiritual leader to speak on sex so forthrightly. He returned the dignity to sex, exploding the myth of Christian–guilt, reinterpreting the ancient Indian seers‘ vision of sex in a contemporary vocabulary.

            The Acharya who had said that imposing a code of dress or rituals is a spiritual crime; was undergoing a change himself. Unlike Nietzsche, his favourite philosopher, he discarded the role of spiritual “buffoon” and became a Guru. The skeptic deserted himself in order to ‘enlighten’ many. It was all against which Rajneesh had previously stood for. He was compromising his spiritual as well as philosophical stand for man’s freedom, even from God. This Rajneesh who had now claimed himself “Bhagwan Shree”, had catapulted himself to a long and endless ego trip. In a prophetic moment, Rajneesh had observed that the price of peaks is sometimes paid by being plunged into deep valleys. He was no longer a man who talked of never ending inner journeys, who was eloquently opposed to the spiritual slavery and mocked Gurudoms. When I came across his first book, where prefix of his name was changed to “Bhagwan Shree” I was aghast but my gratitude over-whelmed me and I convinced myself with his clever explanations.

            He was still charming with his words, had rather bloomed and honed his style. His discourses were now well-orchestrated events. The entry, the pauses, the unblinking hypnotic stare, the raunchy joked in the climax were stage-managed to the perfection but now lacked the gentle but sure prodding of the mind, the sincerity of a skeptic and restrain of the seer.     

            I was in turmoil, for I was seeing what I was not ready to acknowledge. He was like an intoxicated scholar, who even while losing his grip on himself still retained cultured and sophisticated flow of words through slurs and hiccups.     

            His discourses were still evocative and alluring. Of late he started a new line of his spiritual merchandise having a high emotive quality, with the discourses on Sufis and bhaktas. This was the merciless manipulation of the simple people, having already won the intellectuals and aesthetes. He was to later speak disparagingly, viciously attacking the same mystics he had earlier elevated by his illumination words. This intellectual giant was bale to make the logic stand on it’s head any mesmerize the people by his verbal-jugglery. Now too sure of his position and his disciple’s blind adulation, he did not care much to hide his motives. He claimed that the mystics and thinkers were mere pegs on which he was hanging his thoughts. A great psychological tool to be handled with utmost dexterity and love was being abused with impunity! 

            I was alone in my disagreement among the people around me. The conformists, after shunning him for his iconoclastic stand, were now flocking to him to hear him speak soothingly and assuring that all was well with them indeed. The old disciples were by then too programmed to know the difference. 

            People who came in contact with him started performing at their optimum level, but then it is an established psychological observation that the results of imagined or induced euphoria, like threat, are the same as those of real euphoria or threat. These people were, like in a Pavlovian experiment, provided with exceptional motivation and thus were giving their best. The industrial progress of Hitler’s Germany is another sad and not so distant example. The spiritual and psychological bankruptcy was the cost of having those optimum creative levels.

            The disciples were not longer encouraged to seek their own answers. If one showed the signs of resolving his or her confusion, he or she was snubbed and then very subtly maneuvered to revert to his confusions and to have faith, for psychological salvation, not in himself but in all – knowing master. This was a criminal manipulation of fine and sensitive minds. Rajneesh who used to provoke the people into finding the answers for themselves, by posing stimulating and provoking questions, was issuing irons – clad statements and edicts.

            In the whole commune of thousands of people only two people were bestowed the privileged of being called ‘enlightened’ and that too posthumously!  Only because these were also socially two most privileged people. One was his father and other was Vimal Kirti, the prince of a western country – the most visible disciple. Rajneesh could not bear to declare any body his equal during his life. They were ‘enlightened’, according to Rajneesh, at the time of their death. One was the personal vanity and the other a market strategy. So much for their ‘enlightenment!’

            The Oregon days, his subsequent globe trotting for a place to restart his commune and final coming to Poona were at once sad and self-revelatory for the discernible. The enthusiastic and creative people around him, who were infused by his visionary dreams, transformed Rajneesh Puram, once a barren and arid land of 64 thousand acres, into an agricultural and aesthetic marvel. These very sincere people were exposed to the subtle programming of mind. There was arrogance towards local population and there never was felt and earnest need to win their trust. Bodyguards; wire-tapping and psychologically subversive methods were being adopted to coerce the disciples into submission. An assured professional briskness was apparent in all such deeds in a commune of supposedly spiritual people. Rajneesh was an abettor of all these by his now not so eloquent silences. He even gave the stamp of his approval to all this when somebody showed some misgivings. All this garish display of wealth, power and unquestioned authority were not the signs of a spiritually arrived man, though these were surely the symptoms of a highly motivated, manipulative and extraordinarily clever ego.

                        The unruly impulses in Rajneesh were claiming him more rapidly and visibly. Post–Oregon era saw Rajneesh with the wild sense of grandeur and paranoia, sense of persecution. The previous wit and humour was replaced with vindictive and insulting jibes at personalities. The discourses were becoming long, torturous and repetitive monologues. The jokes, increasingly stale and offensive, were merely titillating instead of having the previous cathartic and many times, illumination quality. The catholicity of the visionary became the grotesque ranting of a man obsessed with having an unrivalled place in the history of human kind. Every thinker, mystic and philosopher was imperiously denounced and their visions deride at. They were all, now, the contemptuous minor figures of history whose little, if any, insights even owed their debts to the new interpretation by this modern master. The skeptic had returned in Rajneesh but it was not the old skeptic whose penetrating insights were infused with the mystical vision and loving empathy. This skeptic was derisive, dismissive, offensively contemptuous, intolerant and not patient, analytical, loving and compassionate.


            The mala (necklace) with “Bhagwan Shree” in the locket and orange dress-code were certainly not the signs of a previous great skeptic. These were the signs of a sick man, who after coming in position of authority and by the virtue of his charisma, was fulfilling his narcissistic and juvenile wishes. This extremely photogenic man was, like Narcissus, becoming a victim of himself. The ever-growing crowds around him were like psychological assurances to his crumbling, once robust, self.        

            During his late pre-Oregon days, he actively created a myth around him. The precise date was arrived at to give credence and ritualisticity to his alleged enlightenment. The story of his ‘previous births’ was fed to the credulous pupils.

            On my side, my disillusionment was now not merely sentimental but strong intellectual as well as spiritual disenchantment. There was also a profound grief on seeing the precursor of my quest falling down and being way laid by himself.

            Once again Nietzsche’s advice echoed in my mind ‘Where one can no longer love, there should one_ _pass by!’ and I took his counsel.

            What happened later was rather predictable. It was a progressive degeneration of a man whom I once so loved and admired. He was thoroughly enjoying the status of being “one man industry” and a showman par excellence. But this was not the joy of a man who had found his center. Crowds around him, like any charismatic leader, were perpetrating his sickness by transforming themselves to it and by feeling gratitude in fulfilling his every infantile tantrum. Diamond studded watched and head gears, ninety two Rolls-Royces, exclusively for himself and expensive clothes were the toys which were still proving insufficient o fill his inner vacuum.

            Like his life, his death is also tinged with controversy. His body was laid for public view only for ten minutes and hastily consigned to the fires.

            Rajneesh of a wholesome, healthy, transcendental, liberating and integrating vision had died for me long ago while “Bhagwan Shree”, ”Zorba the Buddha” or now “Osho” left his body on 19th January 1990. The sudden interest and slow deification after his death by the populace is the predictable phenomenon of human kind. Like my Rajneesh, I too stand against this psychological status –quo. I, like my first master, Rajneesh, intend to create controversy through this writing but which should not culminate in the total negation of Rajneesh, rather it should help, by dispassionate enquiry, to rediscover his holistic and psychologically liberating vision through the process of elimination of the unessential.

            Thank you, Rajneesh, for kindling in me the sense of independence of soul. I abide by the sage advice of Nietzsche, whom you introduced to me: “Independence of soul–that is at stake here ! No sacrifice can be great! Even one’s dearest friend one must be willing to sacrifice for it, though he be the most glorious human being.”     

Brijinder ‘Sagar’