Musings on Osho readings

So, after promising to do so to our several Osho disciple visitors, I finally picked up a couple of books by Osho in Rishikesh. I decided to read him in Hindi first, before getting into the English material that was recommended to me. I am rather glad I did. I should say that my gut reaction, which I expressed in an earlier post on the subject of Osho, has been confirmed, though I feel enriched by the experience and may well read other things by him.

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 hato hanti, dharmo rakshati rakshitah
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.


Dhyan Moksha said…
I never expected you to read a book by the Red Devil of Puna, but am glad you did. Osho never set himself up as an infallible so no problem disagreeing with him on certain points, I myself disagree with him on many points but see him as a valuable finger pointing towards the moon.

Jagadananda Das said…
Indeed, I have already gone through a couple of books. Trouble is I often get tired of something before I really finish dealing with it. I wanted to comment more extensively, but it appears that the special combination of time and will are not there.

Osho himself says that he is not consistent, so even after reading more than two books by him (Raso vai sah, Karma-yoga, and Krishna (part IV?)), I am a bit confused about where he stands on some things.

But what seems to be consistent is the idea that purely by eliminating ego you can reach God. I have a small problem with this. Did I already say this in the post? I wrote it a while back.

Anyway, I am of the opinion that bhakti is something that has to come from the hladini shakti, that it is not inherent. Just by getting rid of ahankara, you come to a state of pure consciousness, but that is still limited by one's environment--either material nature or Brahman. If we want bhakti-prema, we have to not only be pure, but we must surround ourselves by Radha.

Small point, but rather essential for us folks on this side of madness.
Dhyan Moksha said…
But what seems to be consistent is the idea that purely by eliminating ego you can reach God.

Osho is referring to a state of no-mind or dissolution of the ego from identification with Brahman, both being the same really from different vantage points.
Jagadananda Das said…
Yes I understand that. It is the idea that the Buddhists have that shunya = totality.
Anonymous said…
I went to the Osho Headquarters/Ashram in Pune some years ago because one cold winter morning in Vrindavan I was looking through a magazine and saw an ad for a resort/ashram/community that looked too clean and pristine to exist in the India that I knew and thought to myself; "if this does exist in this country, I gotta see it to believe it".

Later that month I was getting sick as a dog and needed to head south to get some warmth. As I have a few guru-bheins in Maharastra I made a trip to visit them, along with one of my european guru-bheins.

Well, once we arrived in Pune the family asked us if there was anything we wanted to do or see while there. I said I wanted to check out the Osho center. They looked "surprised" but the only "bachelor" (funny how Indians use that word) of the family was happy to take us out and show us around. He was also our guru-bhai.

We went first to the big tropical gardens park in the middle of the city which was incredibly beautiful and I asked my guru-bhai, "did the Maharastrian government create this park, I wish the UP government would do something like this in Vrindavan", to which he replied, "No way, the disciples of Osho created this out of a garbage dump, our government wouldn't know how to do this".

Then we went to the center which was very tastefully done. All the buildings were made of black wood, or wood painted black, a very wise choise for it's location - the center of a polluted Indian metropolis. The buildings were done in what I would described as "minimilistic oriental zen style", and were surrounded by lush green tropical trees which provided a beautiful contrast against the black.

Everything was so clean and pristine (even the bathroom) I could hardly believe I was in India.

They had a restaurant which they claimed to be "the cleanest" in India, with very high standards but I didn't go to it or it was closed at the time or something.

For 15 rupees you got to take a tour which started with a 15 minute intro film about Osho.

Then the tour guide took you around the grounds then you said if you would like more info then you can go to the front office area and meet with a member of the commune and s/he will answer any questions you had, so I did.

The member who met with us was a young Indian woman and I asked her about staying there for a night or two in the guest house and she said that only if you take an AIDS test on the grounds and test negative can you stay. I asked what if you have already tested negative on an AIDS test elsewhere? She said no, you have to pay rs.250 and take the test there on the grounds.

Then I said that I heard that the commune hosts orgies and what-not and that is why AIDS test is required. She laughed and said that no, Osho's desire was that there be one completely AIDS free center in India, to set an example and spread awareness about AIDS to the locals and other Indian nationals and that is why the policy was enacted.

She said the "orgy rumors" were started by local conservative Indians who had come to the center earlier and were shocked to see something as simple as couples walking and holding hands in public, so they assumed that the place was a no-holds-barred-international-sex-fest because the otherwise normal behaviour found within it's walls was "appalling" by their myopic, old-world, Indian sensibilities, and that is why they forbid local Pune basis from joining this particular center, but they can join other centers in India.

That makes sense. It doesn't take much to shock Indians.

Anyway, we chatted for a bit more and then went out to the lobby which also functioned as book shop. My guru-bhein got into a tit-for-tat-shit-for-shat with the older Indian man behind the counter over the fact that there are two price ranges in the compound; one for Indians and one for non-Indians. She asked why and he said that non-Indians have more money and can afford to pay more. She said she is from a war-torn country who's economy has been rendered even worse than India's and she doesn't see why she would have to pay as much as an American. He kicked us out!!!!

I haven't read much of Osho, just a few articles and a few chapters here and there, and saw a video and listened to a cassette. My take is that this guy is all fluff and the reason why he got to be so popular is because he would say things in India that were shocking to the Indians but just normal to us (westerners), and he would say things that were normal in India but "like WOW" to westerners at the time.

Indians are still shocked by straight talk on sex, even if it is completely from a scientific or psychological point of view, and that is what Osho did, said simple, everyday things about sex that is common knowledge to us but "like WOW" to Indians.

And of course at the time westerners were all ga-ga-goo-goo over terms like "muni", "chakra", "kundalini", "yoga", "vivek", "whatever".

But basically he was just talking basic stuff from both sides of the globe but taking one to one side of the globe where it wasn't basic/common knowledge, and then doing the same thing in reverse.

Dayum! I can do the same thing. Where is all of my millions of $$$$$$$$$?????
Jagadananda Das said…
It is not really correct to dismiss Osho as fluff. If you could do the same thing, you would. The ability to synthesize modern Western ideas of psychology, etc., and the insights of the ancient religious traditions, albeit in his own individual fashion, is on the whole very well done.

I would like to discuss more, and I shall.
Dhyan Moksha said…
The ashram in Pune has become nothing less than a cult and a money making resort...

Pune resort has banned more beautiful Sannyasins than they allow in these days, because they are free thinkers and refuse to be controlled by mind police.

Osho never wanted it to become what it has, Osho was about freedom and against organized religion and cults and fought all his life against that.

The AIDS test is stupid and Osho himself would have dropped that a long time ago IMHO, as he was a progressive person.

Dhyan Moksha
Anonymous said…
Well Jagat, in my opinion, whatever I had read of Osho was fluff. I was not impressed or "like Wow" at all.

It was all very elementary to me, even less than that - it was corny.

So no, if I could, I wouldn't do the same thing, I would actually try to say something of substance, something different, something actually new and cutting edge.

I'm willing to concede that in the literature you're reading there might be some substance there that was not in the literature I read.

So be it.

But everything of his I've read or heard, I was like, "yeah, and.....?"
Svacchandanath said…
Namaste, Jagadananda Dasaji,

It has been a long time since I have been dropping by, but I see that you are keeping up your speed. I am looking forward to read through the newly published material.

I am delighted to read that you have actually read some of Oshos books. I am specially happy that you have read one of the Krishna books. This is the Krishna I love - The Man of the Rainbow.

Just for the fun of it I have pasted in this post Osho's "Ten Commandments." Even if they are ment as a joke from his side, they give a pointer to his work:

Osho's "Ten Commandments"


"You have asked for my Ten Commandments.

"It is very difficult because I am against any sort of commandment.

"Yet, just for the fun of it, I write as follows:

"1. Obey no command unless it is a command from within.

"2. There is no God other than life itself.

"3. Truth is within. Seek not elsewhere.

"4. Love is prayer.

"5. Emptiness is the doorway to Truth. Emptiness is the means, the

destination, the attainment.

"6. Life is----here and now.

"7. Live----fully awake.

"8. Do not swim----float.

"9. Die each moment so that you grow anew each moment.

"10. Search not: that which is, is. Stop----and see."


April 8, 1970"

Love from Prem Ananda
sungazer said…
Pamho JagatJi. One has to be very vigilant and cautious when dealing with the talks of osho. In 1997,I had 2 choices. I was 17, and I had to choose between osho and Gaudiya Vaishnavism via Iskcon. And unfortunately, I hsd read osho's very disparaging and malicious comments on Iskcon, and thus I, being a 17 year old kid, choose osho. For the next 6 years, I almost only read his books, and only his take on buddhism, the bauls, the sufis, the zoroastrian's, the tantriks, and yes, even Sri Krsna. Its by the grace of Surya Narayana Bhagavan, and in fact Kripaluji Maharaj's lectures thst I saw on t.v., that I realized, oh how exquisitely-sublime is our Gaudiya Vaishnav philosophy of Achintya bheda abheda. And how Iincredibly awesome is the tattva gyan of bramha, jiva and maya and so on Iin the 6 sandarbhas. Then I realized, osho didnt know what he what he was talking about. He had absolutely no clue about Sri VrajendraNandana. I was cheated by him and his b.s. talks on Sri Krsna. I mean, just read the english book Krishna the man and his philosophy attributed to him, translated from hindi. Osho should have stuck to what he knew. He pretended to be a master, but turns out he was just a jack of all trades and a master of none. I wish I had never read those incorrect concepts regarding Sri Krsna. My 10 years could have been saved. Osho had no business spewing his garbage-interpretations on Sri Krsna. But of course, I voluntarily and naively trusted him, and thats my fault. I mean, sure I learned a lot, but a osho as a spiritual master? God, stay away!!!! remember, osho was of the opinion that if you chant ' coca cola, coca cola' its the same as chanting ' hare Krsna'. Obviously, he never had a guru and never surrendered to any Vaishnava. So how could he possibly know about transcendental sound? About how coca cola doesnt reside in its nam, but Sri Krsna DOES! I have given away, donated over 200 books of osho that I had. If I was to erite about all the nonsense and apa-siddhanta osho has spewed and as a result corrupted sincere truth seekers, it would fill a whole book. Its our Gaudiya Vaishnav Acharya's causeless mercy, that they revealed to me, just who Sri VrindavanaVihari Lal is! And made me crazy after Him! Thank you, oh Mahaprabhu and Nitai, for rescuing me from the polluted and hopeless mayavaad of this self-proclaimed 'Bhagavan' later known as osho.

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