So I now have read one complete Osho book. This one is take from lectures given in Pune around 1985 or so, I would guess. While the Pune experience was in full swing and Rajneeshpuram had not yet come into existence. One theme that comes up is the enmity of the different sampradayas, especially it would seem, the Jains, who were loath to see such heresy from one of their own. So obviously this book is not totally representative of Osho's doctrine, but nevertheless, it is partially representative.
The book's name is Raso vai sah, which is the subject discussed in two of the talks. The title was an important factor in picking up the book, as the theme of rasa is a major aspect of Vaishnavism and I was curious to see what points of similarity and difference there were.
Actually, each lecture is a response to two questions from the audience, which it seems were given in writing and chosen beforehand. Osho speaks directly to the questioner, sometimes taking them to task personally, which is rather interesting in itself.
My first comment is that Osho is a great entertainer. He is the stand-up comic of the prophets. He would have made a great Jew, combining those two great traits of Judaism, and perhaps it is a characteristic of the Jains, whose other famous trait is business. Being a minority religion, perhaps even persecuted from time to time, there may be other interesting similarities to be drawn.
But I digress. Osho is a great story-teller, no doubt about it. He has memorized the Mullah Nasruddin canon from Idries Shah, and Chandulal Morwari stories without end, some of them a little off-color, some of them well-known international jokes that have been adapted. It is not always easy to see the spiritual point as he piles them on. We Vaishnavas, I realized, don't do this so much. We talk about rasa, but we are not such rasikas ("jokers").
That is not intended as a put-down, because I was entertained. And I think that the second characteristic, that of prophet, is more interesting and made me think. Because I am also nodding my head and agreeing with a lot of what he said. Disagreeing with a lot, too. Weber talks about four kinds of religious figures: prophet, priest, reformer and mystic. These categories are rough, but the prophet is defined by Weber as "a purely individual bearer of charisma, who by virtue of his mission proclaims a religious doctrine or a divine commandment."
The prophet basically comes to tear down the old. A lot has been said about charisma in relation to Iskcon and the succession problems it faced after Bhaktivedanta Swami's death. This was couched in Weber's terminology of "routinization of charisma." But again I digress. Osho is prophetic in the sense that he is "purely individual": he belongs to no tradition except inasmuch as he can draw on the teachings of Mahavir, Buddha, Lao-tse, Krishna and others, where their message is within the scope of his vision.
One of the talks is a powerful discussion of the Manu-samhita verse:
dharma eva na hantavyo mA no dharmo hato'vadhIt
Dharma kills those who kill it, protects those who protect it. Dharma should not be killed. May dharma not be killed so that it not kill us. (Manu 8.15)Osho seizes the opportunity to condemn Manu-samhita for deforming Hindu society, for all the ills of Hinduism--casteism and sexism especially--can be traced to it. But, he says, this verse is a jewel.
Then he asks, "So who is killing dharma?" And it is the priests and the ascetics. For Osho, dharma is, as he will explain elsewhere in the book, rasa.
Anyway, I will have to come back to this later. This post is going on-line after sitting in the bin for ages.