Mantle of God is not easy! Even Buddha or Jesus knew the burden of such mantle and tried their best to keep away from it. But in India- the land of spiritual awakening there are few who are too eager to don these cloaks to claim the crown of God. Many of these enlightened souls often fail so miserably exposing the myth of ' god ' and raising the question , is there a God? or is GOD just a fiction created by men of religion for their convenience to control communities, races, creeds and nations through imagination ?
Story of Bhagwan Rajneesh is one such story of a man who tried to become God and failed. In her memoir Don't Kill Him! ; Ma Anand Sheela once secretary (1981-85) to Bhagwan Rajneesh aka Osho gives her side of story explaining how Rajneesh born as an ordinary man - Chandra Mohan Jain rose to capture the imagination of the world through his words convincing his followers that he is a God , manipulated his followers, fell from the grace of spiritual height, and died probably of drug abuse. Yet , this book is Book of love for her master and her lover. Book is divided into two parts. First section narrates Sheela's resignation from Osho's commune as a secretary and subsequent arrest by US authorities and her time in prison on charges of fraud and treason. And the second section tells how she came to know , fell in love with Bhagwan, became his disciple, rose to the ranks of secretary, and a close confidant. Later resigned from the post, as she felt man whom she called her God let her down and disgraced her.
Genre of memoir, is susceptible to authors perceptions of the events that are being described . In the sense it can contain personal opinions, jealousy, unwarranted remarks, gossips and even allegation as part of the narrative. Ma Sheela does provide lot of insider gossip of the cult of Rajneesh. And yet her narrative has remained a calm and dispassionate witness to her acts. Written in short and candid manner, punctuated with short anecdotes, quoted from Osho's discourses, book has gripping quality; a style of narrative Osho himself was adept at.
Acharya Rajneesh, a professor of philosophy at a collage in Madhya Pradesh came into public limelight through his controversial lectures on sex and human consciousness. Well versed with eastern and western philosophical schools Acharya was against the established religions and thus set out to establish a new order, a society based on freedom of choice and liberty to achieve a spiritually enlightened souls - Homo Novus - where every man is a potential Buddha. Based on this vision Archaya set his first commune in Pune in 1974, and called his followers sanyasins i.e. one who has renounced the world. Sanyasins wore long flowing red gowns and malas ( bead necklace) that contained Rajneesh's face in the pendant was the distinct sign of the Rajneesh cult. Popularity of the Rajneesh's cult grew very quickly even among intellectual groups and it soon became an international spiritual cult to reckon with. With growing popularity, Rajneesh/Osho flaunted his arrogance and wealth ( he had 96 Roll Roys and many diamond crusted watches in his collection) aspired to build a self governed city of Rajneeshpuram in Oregaon USA. But his organization soon came into trouble with US authorities in 1985, who accused the Guru for committing crimes against US citizens. Osho was deported out of US in 1986 , who then tried taking refuge in various foreign countries, but denied entry. He returned to India and died in 1990 of heart failure. That is the official story of Rajneesh /Osho. But every one knew there were far more layers to this tale then what it seemed.
Who really was Man behind Bhagwan? What were his weaknesses and his strength ? How did he acquire the title of sex guru? How did Bhagwan manipulate media and publicity? Why did he like expensive and luxury items like diamonds, Rolls Roys , watches and Pens? What was the business model of the commune and who was brain behind behind flourishing commune? Whys? Hows? Sheela tries to attempt to explain the Man and the God she understood.
Looking back, Rajneesh pioneered a new era of god men in India. He was first to recognize that spirituality can be sold for a profit. He was the first successful spiritual entrepreneur who realized the potential of making wealth through ancient wisdom. Words were his capital. And capitalism was his mantra. In chapter 13 The Exploitation of Sanyasins, Sheela writes ,” Bhagwan was a good businessman. He knew his products, their value and their market. He wanted to work the ashram work that all costs were covered.. hence an entrance fee was asked for his discourse.... In the ashram therapies began to be offered... so visitors could pick and choose and pay for their choice...” Today all so called 'Gurus' of India follow his model of business in spirituality.
The hurt of being disowned by the master whom she gave her love and life is also palpable in the last chapters. Some where she longs for the regret Bhagwan might have had for loosing a confidant in her. She writes ” It was very easy to misunderstand Bhagwan . It is always really difficult to understand a man like Him... world does not understand Him. His own people understand him even less.. That was and is his main misfortune”.. by these words somewhere she poses a doubt for herself did she ever understand Bhagawan/ Rajneesh /Osho the man and the God she THOUGHT she knew?.
Unable to resolve the dilemma she faces, Ma Sheela resigns to her lover's position to make a final appeal to her readers, whoever he might be a fake god? A man who betrayed the trust of his followers; heartless lover? perpetual lier ? whatever..
He still deserves to Live!
If you have read Osho. Then you may also like to read her story.
Don't Kill Him!
A Memoir by Ma Anand Sheela
Fingerprint Publication , New Delhi, 2012