Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Don't Kill Him - A Memoir By Ma Anand Sheela

"Everyone was so crazy for enlightenment and so zealously anxious to be without ego and to be meditative that they could do anything for it. The sanyasins took part in sexual encounters, emptied their pockets and proved their devotion (through) expensive gifts. This exploitation was dirty, ugly and repulsive, especially coming from Bhagwan."
I have devotedly steered clear of foraying anywhere near the influence of any self-styled spiritual Guru, or any self-proclaimed God. As a matter of fact, the Baba culture in India (and perhaps elsewhere) has been seen by me as a charismatic con profession, thriving on the innocence and helplessness of an easily believing public. However, perhaps my blog is the place to admit, that the only figure from this exclusive club that I have felt like exploring is Osho Rajneesh. In the last book I read, I was given precisely the chance to do that, albeit from a very different angle.

"From Sex To Superconsciousness" - this book was my only marker of identification for Osho Rajneesh; but, an autobiographical account written by Ma Anand Sheela, once Osho's secretary, has revealed to me much more about his life. These revelations have been fantastic, fascinating, disgusting, eye-opening and confusing, all at the same time. Written in two parts, this book conveys the various highs and lows of the journey which Ma Anand Sheela undertook along with Osho - her Bhagwan, who mesmerized her, then exploited her, accused her, but who, till the very end, remained her Bhagwan.

In the first part of her memoir, Sheela recounts the details of her voluntary separation from both, Osho and his commune in Oregon. This separation was precipitated by Osho Rajneesh's erratic, exploitative, whimsical and harsh behaviour, which, despite extreme devotion, became difficult for Sheela and her other colleagues to tolerate. Their leaving did not spare them the ire of their Bhagwan, because they were then accused of having eloped from the commune with stolen cash. A round of harassment at the hands of law followed, because of which Sheela had to also spend time behind bars. She was let out for good behaviour later. In the second part of her book, Sheela revisits her first rendezvous with Osho, how she was intoxicated by him, how she and her husband joined his commune in Pune and how she ascended up to the position of Osho's secretary, virtually responsible for running the whole commune. She also describes in great depth the shifting of Osho's commune from Pune to Oregon and the craziness which went into establishing Osho at the position of power he was.

Among the many things this book does, it reveals the most scandalous aspects of Osho's life. It depicts him as a shrewd, exploitative and manipulative Guru who had fetishes which made my eye balls pop out. How can I forget the legendary statistic - with 96 Rolls Royces in his backyard, one fine day, Osho wanted 30 more! His indulgences do not stop there. It has also been alleged in this book that Osho also had amorous relationships with sanyasins in his commune. Osho's apathetic attitude towards his Indian followers has also been elaborated upon. A deep contradiction lies in the narrator's own voice when she elucidates in with painful detailing the way she faced harassment at the hands of Osho, yet, he remains her object of devotion, love and divinity.

My favorite parts of the book were the italicized tales of sufi and zen adventures. I loved this book from the first page, when it introduced me to the concept of 'khidr' - a kind of inner voice. It is a tale told with sheer honesty - at least that is what comes across - because the author has not shied away from sharing the most personal details from her own life. This book claims to be the telling of the story of the relationship which existed between Sheela and Osho, but it goes way beyond being just that. It is an investigation of the psychology which runs and sustains such spiritual congregations. It dwells from a fresh dimension on the most curious of Indian mystic Gurus, if one may call Osho that. Entertaining and, as I said, eye opening - this book is a 3.5 star book for me.
(Reviewed on request from the Fingerprint)

8 comments:

  1. wonderful review.. I've had my eye on this book from the time I heard of it.
    Still looking forward too reading it. As a person who has seen up, close and personal the inner workings of the top Indian Godmen, let me just say that you are absolutely right in your beliefs - it is a con job. There is so much more I could say on the subject here but its a discussion for another day.
    Osho's charisma and magnetism would charm not just his devotees into submission but in many ways pave the way for other 'Gods' to arrive and become institutions in India, inspired by his success.

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    1. There is much to discuss with you Roshan! I am looking forward to the day I can meet you, and talk about those many things under the sun which you and I hold similar thoughts about.

      But yes, do read this book. Its amusing, and entertaining - and revealing.

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  2. Osho was a man of many layers just like everyone else, and he preached greatly about the contradictions in nature and in man.. which is one of the reasons for his many infamous acts...which i am pretty sure he did simply so that they would create enough curiosity for the ones who were not interested in his words but still would like to know about him...almost like the way Jesus was known to manipulate his own death so that there could be a religion like Christianity to be formed..imagine if he died a simple death there just wudn't be 1.2 billion Christians all over the world..its like they say..Great minds are also great manipulators...:)

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    1. In one aspect, you are absolutely right. Osho knew how to market himself, how to create enough curiosity around him, even if that curiosity was borne out of scandals. And yes, great minds are great manipulators. I wish it was not innocence they preyed upon.

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  3. although i am very young and i might not be able to understand all his works properly, but still, i have read a lot of his teachings and also read about his criticisms and i dont know if he was a con artist, ostentatious rolls royce guru or a genius thug, i just know that he was a man of unlimited knowledge and wisdom, plus he was a great orator. he might be a thug or a devilish spiritual guide, but still his interpretations of various religious texts do have some presence as well as charm of their own. now it is up to the reader to just look at the criticisms and waste his time on those things or at least learn and try to absorb the good things out of his texts!

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    1. Yes Rahul. This world is run on perspectives, and I quite like yours.

      Do take the best out of his teachings, but I hope you do not allow any undue influence to cloud your judgements.

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  4. A simple and high truth.... all these things come out of high obsession on facts....a very basic fact...if you follow your mind--soul--body...you too a guru... Vivekananda too was born in this,, nobody dint hyped him as such... for me a drunkard and osho's follower / reader are the same, both of these men's word, when they come in real will flee out.... Fellow humans are more smarter than these kind... No guru can take / show What are God's ways..... niether where God is... If man attains realization why does he needs Money. ( dont tell for survival, if so then its commercialization...).. why does he needs 30 Rolls Royce..why does he need luxurious life... why he needs Ma around... Just know for what purpose we are on Earth... World followers talk and do worldly.... which is highly contradiction....

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