Monday, March 19, 2018

On being asked about Osho Rajneesh, Sathya Sai told a devotee, Rajneesh's path is dangerous, Sathya Sai path is safe - A related conversation

Last updated on 31st March 2018

[This post touches upon some sensitive matters related to sex. So those readers who prefer to not read such posts may please skip reading this post.]

As a preface to this post, I have given immediately below a comment I made towards the bottom of this post:

My apologies for any hurt caused by my comments on this post to Osho admirers and followers. I felt an inner urge to be critical of some of Osho's teachings with respect to encouraging sexual promiscuity as well as encouraging great accumulation of wealth (e.g. having around 90 Rolls Royces and being OK with devotees aiming for 365 Rolls Royces for Rajneesh) without having concern for the poor (some of whom, in my considered view, have contributed to that great accumulation of wealth). These views of Rajneesh have been captured as being spoken by Rajneesh himself in the youtube video whose link was put up by Himy Misra. My urge to put out my critical comments was born out of concern for the damage such teachings, as per my considered view, could cause to social well being, when followed by significant number of people.

I also felt obliged to point out the serious criminal offences Osho's Oregon, USA ashram were involved in, which were aimed at the larger community of Oregon, USA. That is bad and evil stuff and I felt that that must be called out as such, loudly and clearly.

Now there may be other aspects to Osho Rajneesh's teachings and life which have been of great benefit to some admirers and followers of his. Further there may be many followers of Osho Rajneesh who steer clear of promotion of extramarital sexual promiscuity in society and steer clear of accumulation of great wealth without any concern for the poor and less fortunate sections of society. They also may be law-abiding citizens of the countries they reside in, without any connection whatsoever to criminal actions and criminal intents of any people. I wish such admirers and followers of Osho Rajneesh well. I pray to Almighty God who I strongly believe, based on my Hindu Vedanta faith, is ever-present as a divine formless power in the very essence (consciousness/awareness) of each of our very beings, to shower His Grace on them and guide them or continue to guide them, on the path of Sathya (truth) but which Sathya does not harm the larger community they live in and are part of.

Thanks. Jai Sai Ram!


Given below is part of a recent exchange (slightly edited) on Facebook:

Himy Misra wrote in a post (Himy was ok with sharing his post and comment contents):
at the time i was getting
pulled into the sai orbit,
i was very attracted to osho too.
but eventually i got attached
to baba. perhaps this vid
explains why. though am wondering
what would it have been like. mmm..

so wish you a nice saturday :)

OSHO: I Am the Rich Man's Guru,, 4 min. 33 secs.

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Thanks for sharing Himy. That was an elitist approach. Hassle is that such approaches fail to win support from the society around the elitist community. I think that was the case with him, in both Oregon, USA and in Pune.

Sathya Sai teachings are such that if a group of devotees follow them at least to some extent sincerely, over time it gets the approval of society around them and their support.

And the Sathya Sai teaching vision was from individual to society to creation! A very inclusive approach which wins the hearts of the community, typically.

Himy Misra wrote: a friend shared this vid on his page and it brought me memories of the time when i hadnt yet seen Baba and was unsure who would be my Guru for i was yearning for one i dont know why. i would check into a hotel and see a Baba photo behind the counter, and then i would go for a meal in the hotel restaurant and the manager would put on an Osho talk for the diners to hear. so i was getting pretty confused till i finally reached Baba in Brindavan, Whitefield in 1994. Baba was all inclusive. He loved everyone the same. i am grateful Baba had mercy on me.

Himy Misra wrote: Osho is very interesting. very stimulating. i would have loved to have met him. but they say the student cannot choose the Guru. it seems in the spiritual field its the Guru who picks up the chela. as the Guru knows whats best for the chela but the chela is not in a position to understand the Guru. maybe it seems like we choose but actually the Guru does the choosing. i think you follow Osho ? you are right about food, drink and shelter :)

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Interesting view, "maybe it seems like we choose but actually the Guru does the choosing"!

In response to a comment about Osho making critical comments about Sathya Sai, Ravi S. Iyer wrote: I too have read somewhere, critical comments about Sathya Sai attributed to Osho.

Himy Misra wrote: an american lady who was his devotee told me he did try to sleep with her but she said she didnt mind it as Osho loved women. He was just being himself she said. He seemed to have a good effect on his devotees and thats ok.

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Interesting!

Himy Misra wrote: yes i asked her if she thought of complaining about it but she said she didnt really feel intimidated and she adored Osho though she didnt actually sleep with him.

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Firstly, I seek the kind of indulgence of any Osho followers and devotees who may read this comment of mine. My apologies for any hurt the words may cause them.

I was told by somebody - don't know how accurate the info. is - that Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba was asked about Osho (privately, I guess). Sathya Sai said that Osho's path is a dangerous path (for spiritual progress) and that Swami's (Sathya Sai's) path is a safe path (for spiritual progress). This would have the context of applicability to general devotees (NOT an elitist group of people).

If true (and it sounds true to me) then Sathya Sai has captured the matter very, very well.

Osho was brutally frank but some of his teachings and practices especially as related to sexual relations between people was such that it could not be acceptable to any established and big community of people - society!

Control of sexual impulse by married persons to keep sexual relations within acceptable social norms has been and continues to be, IMHO, the absolutely key factor of stable, prosperous and largely happy family lives and so stable, prosperous and largely happy society.

Osho's teachings, including some books of his that I have read, did not respect these social norms about sexuality that have been the foundational base of civilizations across millenniums!

So his teachings and communities centred around his teachings started facing stiff resistance from the larger society in which they were based, and whose support they needed for survival! Eventually he was forced out of Oregon, USA and I am sure that activist sections of largely conservative Pune society would have pushed back hard at Osho's community in Pune and their teachings and lifestyle as a corrupting influence on Pune!

And so Osho and his followers did not receive the support of the wider community in the countries where Osho was mainly based (USA and India).

In great contrast, Sathya Sai and his followers have received, and continue to receive great support from wider community of people, including top political leaders, in the country that he was mainly based in - India. And today in 2018, as I have been following international Sathya Sai events to some extent, I can say that his followers are receiving support, though of not such strong level as in India, from communities and some political leaders of other countries too.

So I think the words that were conveyed to me as Sathya Sai words, about Osho path being dangerous and Sathya Sai path being safe, are very appropriate from the general devotee context (in contrast to an elitist group of people).

Himy Misra wrote: Sathya Sai was a fully realized being from birth, or what is known as Poorna Avataar like Krishna. while Osho was a Professor of Philosophy though very charismatic and he spoke and wrote things that appealed to people of a certain temperament and they donated a lot of money to him and made him rich. i appreciate his oratory and his writings without the necessity of having to follow them while stimulating the intellect. but i am very obedient to Baba coz He says things for our good alone. i know many people who are otherwise highly intelligent who criticized Baba but unless Baba wills it, there is a veil over His divinity that no one can penetrate. thats why i dont get perturbed if people criticize Baba. i know my own family (except for my mother) and friends think i've lost it coz i follow Baba. actually Ravi and Bodhisatwa what is really interesting is to know what Baba said about Osho which Ravi mentioned above o.O

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: During my Bombay (and surrounding areas) years, particularly in my young adult days prior to me coming to Sathya Sai fold, I did read some books of Osho, which were easily available in the footpath 'bookshops' between Churchgate and V.T. (now CST) railway stations. I was curious to know what he was saying. One message of his that was challengingly different from traditional Hindu spiritual paths was his (in Hindi) 'Sambhog se samadhi tak' message which I would translate to 'From sex to enlightenment/merger' but which I think is translated by Osho book people as 'From sex to superconsciousness'. That completely challenged the traditional Hindu Vedic paths that I was exposed to, as in those paths sexual desire (Kaama) was something that had to be transcended if one wanted to get enlightened/achieve merger with Absolute (formless) Brahman/Absolute (formless) God. However, Hindu Vedic path does not view Kaama as a sinful or bad thing. It has its place in life but if you wanted to achieve high spiritual wisdom and experience, you had to go beyond sex. That is the established view of Vedic Hinduism, including the interpretation and teachings of Adi Shankara who is the main scriptural interpretation boss figure for most of my Kerala Iyer brahmin community or at least my extended Iyer family part of it.

[BTW my parents' generation male members' names would start with Vadakke Madam (or Vadakke Madham) which I think signified the school of philosophy that their family was associated with. So my father's name was Vadakke Madam Suryanarayanan. Note that most of my father's generation of my family seem to have been raised in Irinjalakuda, Thrissur district, Kerala with the Koodal Manikyam temple there,, being the main base for the family then. Today, as I was trying to see whether there is some Internet info. which connects my family to Adi Shankara, I came across this info. From, "Vadakke Madhom popularly known as Brahmaswam Madham, is one of the four ancient South Indian madhoms that propagate Adwaita or nondualism. Spiritual leader Adi Shankara's disciple Hasthamalakacharya started the Madhom. It is located at Thrissur city in Kerala, India. Totakacharya was the first President of Vadakke Madhom." I think that explains why, even though I never went through any formal education about Adwaita, the general impression I had as I was growing up was that our extended family background is tied up to Adi Shankara Adwaita school of teaching.]

Coming back to the Osho topic, I was curious to read about this rather seductive teaching of Osho where it seemed he was saying you can have sexual fun and get spiritually enlightened too! Sounded like some really interesting stuff! :-)

That led me to one of Osho's books on his interpretation of Tantra. Note that I am not saying that what Osho was teaching was Tantra - Osho was teaching his interpretation, which could very well have been a wrong one, of Tantra. Note that Kerala itself is said to have some Tantric schools which are respected in Kerala society and so may be contributing to a healthy society rather than be viewed as a corrupting influence on society. There is also talk about Left Side Tantra and Right Side Tantra schools/traditions, but I am not so knowledgeable about Tantra.

I think this book of Osho that I was led to, was his book on Tantra and the royal song of Saraha. I had a quick look at this pdf on the net: I think this is the book I read or something similar to it.

It made its impact on my mind. It interfered with my prior Vedic philosophy based understanding of life, and how one should live life. Sex was never a central part of Vedic philosophy and approach to life. Sex was part of family life but ***not a central part***. This book projected a different view which was not for everybody but for elite renunciant type people who had the liberty to indulge in practices that would be unacceptable in regular society!

It was after I got serious exposure first to ISKCON traditions (I became a regular visitor to Juhu ISKCON temple and read a lot of their literature) and then Sathya Sai teachings and Sathya Sai community traditions that I was able to get a clear understanding that not only do traditional Vedic Hindu paths firmly reject teachings like that mentioned above, spread by Osho, that one can get enlightened through sex, but that they view it as a corrupting influence on (Hindu) society! Sathya Sai was very direct in his rejection of such teachings. Perhaps Sathya Sai saw its corrupting influence and so ***condemned*** it very strongly.

From, Sathya Sai says, "It is in this context that we say that when there is kama or desire, there cannot be Rama. Where there is Rama, there cannot be kama or desire. Light and darkness cannot coexist in the same place."


"The quality of Rajas has a son who has demoniac features in him. His name is Kama or lust. This son, who goes by the name of Kama or lust, enters the minds and hearts of several people and makes them do all kinds of bad things. He has a quality by which he can destroy many people by going near them. If this quality of Kama comes close to a person, even his good qualities will be removed and subdued. Ravana was a great sage. He was a devoted person. Towards the end, because of the bad quality of Kama or lust, he had done things which destroyed his entire dynasty and all his friends."

Sathya Sai made it abundantly clear in his teachings that sex is ****NOT**** the way to enlightenment! And I have the impression that Sathya Sai teaching is that people who indulge too much in sex (including, I guess, fancy meditative sex which is what I understood Osho to be teaching) will land into serious trouble like Ravana did by getting overpowered with sexual desire for another man's wife, which led him to destruction despite being a Chaturvedi (somebody who knows the four Vedas).

But Sathya Sai was also not against sex and marriage! He has even asked some people to marry and have a family even though they did not have intentions to do so!

Today my considered view is that Osho's teachings about sex (fancy meditative sex) being a way to spiritual enlightenment is a seductive and ***wrong*** teaching which can misguide most people into becoming sex addicts who think that they are spiritually enlightened when the reality is that they are just sex addicts. There may be a very small minority who are in a position to lead secluded lives away from society like recluses, who may be able to achieve some spiritual progress through some fancy meditative sex or fancy meditative stuff on attraction to the opposite sex. But even if there are some such spiritually evolved through Tantric sex people, such persons should not be considered as role models by people in general society.

From a general society point of view, these particular teachings of Osho on sex being a way to spiritual enlightenment, must be firmly rejected. That is my considered view.

Now I should also clarify that I am not an anti-sex guy. I am only anti or against sex-to-enlightenment teaching of Osho or others like him.

I should also mention that in 2010 or so, in my regular Sai Kulwant hall seating place then (Old students block) I saw a regular Sai Ram wishing elderly acquaintance who was non-teaching staff in Swami's Higher Secondary School in Parthi (and I then was teaching staff in Sai university), reading a book on Osho! I don't recall what the book was about. But perhaps just seeing that he was reading an Osho book while waiting for Darshan of Swami in Sai Kulwant Hall, created some discomfort in me. I thought that he may not have known about what I have written above and gently conveyed to him some of what I have mentioned above about some of Osho's teachings being corruptive of society and totally against our Swami's teachings. He got the message and shut the book rather decisively in front of me itself. I did not see such Osho books with him in Sai Kulwant Hall later on!

Perhaps I am coming across as being too rigid in my views. But I felt it appropriate to convey my views truthfully here. I should also say that I have more than my fair share of human flaws. So I do not claim to be a perfect follower of Swami's teachings at all. I try to follow them but I slip up here and there. But I think I know what Swami's teachings are and what teachings he opposed strongly and I feel it is my duty to share that part here. Jai Sai Ram!

Himy Misra wrote: Tantra i dont know much about Ravi. i mean i know some guys use Tantra to seduce women. but you have explained very nicely what Osho's main teaching was. i didnt read any Osho books but people kept giving me his cassettes (i am talking about early 90s when cassettes were all there was) and i would listen and like what i heard, which was mainly his Mulla Nasruddin stories, and at that time like i said i was puzzling over whether i should be with Baba or with Osho. and eventually Baba was merciful to me. i met a Greek follower of Osho recently on facebook and he told me that sai devotees are very low consciousness devotees while Osho devotees are highly evolved. i didnt really know what to tell him. He said he had been to Puttaparthy and wasnt happy with what he saw. so Baba does put a veil over those He hasnt picked up and thats whats difficult to explain about Baba to people. even if a sai devotee is not highly evolved what does it have anything to do with the authenticity of Sai ? and of course baba teaches that all are equally important and we have to respect everyone. oh i didnt know there were Iyers in Kerala too ? i thought Iyers were only in Tamil Nadu o.O btw Ravi me too was fond of frequenting the footh path between Fountain and Churchgate station for books and later i started frequenting a place called Smoker's Corner in Fort for cheap edition of books.

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: There are Kerala (Tamil) Iyers who migrated to Kerala from Tamil Nadu. From, "Kerala Iyers or Bhattars, are Tamil Brahmins of the Indian state of Kerala — people who were residents in the Kerala region, and also people who migrated from present day Tamil Nadu in different waves from the time of the Chera dynasty.. They are Hindus. The community consists of two groups - the Palakkad Iyers and Iyers of the Cochin and Travancore regions." My family on both mother's side and father's side were Travancore and Cochin region Kerala Iyers. The Tamil we speak is mixed with Malayalam.

And then there are the (regular) Iyers. From, "Iyer (also spelt as Ayyar, Aiyar, Ayer or Aiyer) is a caste of Hindu Brahmin communities of Tamil origin. Most Iyers are followers of the Advaita philosophy propounded by Adi Shankara. The majority reside in Tamil Nadu, India."

Tantra is a very big thing in some communities, including some Buddhist communities and there are different kinds of it - safe kinds and unsafe kinds.

Himy Misra wrote: btw sex wasnt on my mind at all when i wrote about Osho. the talks i heard were more about developing a questioning attitude which appealed to me at that time coz i have always been a very passive kind of dude accepting life as it came.

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Noted. But Osho did publicly and freely ***teach*** his views about sex. So these aspects of his spiritual teachings are important and cannot be ignored.

In response to a comment that was critical of comparisons being made between spiritual teachers, Ravi S. Iyer wrote: I typically avoid being strongly critical of Gurus and religious teachers/preachers. As I am a writer on spirituality and religion I do write about spiritual groups and religions and in the course of such writings, I try to be respectful of the preachers and their theologies. At times, I respectfully record my disagreement with some parts of their theology while appreciating other parts of it. For example, in a recent post I put up about the Late Rev. Billy Graham,, I was very appreciative of his achievements as a world famous preacher over a career spanning six to seven decades. But I also recorded my disagreement with one part of his beliefs. The relevant extract is given below:

*) What We Believe from Billy Graham's main web site:

[Ravi: I need to say here that my religious and spiritual beliefs do not match with that of Rev. Billy Graham as expressed in the above webpage. In particular, while I view Lord Jesus Christ as a divine figure, I do NOT view Jesus Christ as the ONLY way to achieve merger in God ('merger in God' in Hinduism is roughly equivalent to salvation in Christianity). I am a multi-faith person believing in the divinity of Jesus Christ as well as the divinity of Hindu Avatars like Rama, Krishna, Shirdi Sai Baba and Sathya Sai Baba (who is my beloved and revered Gurudev). Readers wanting to know more about my multi-faith beliefs expressed in short statements may want to view this post of mine: Crisp Statements of Belief in God that is Compatible with Science,]
--- end extract from my Billy Graham post ---

I think the above disagreement is polite and further is appropriate for me to mention in my post. Not mentioning it would have been inappropriate and may have contributed to misguiding some of my readers, in my considered view.

But I have not been strongly critical at all of Rev. Billy Graham. Neither have I been strongly critical of various contemporary or near-contemporary popular Hindu Gurus like Mata Amritanandamayi, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev or leaders from other faiths like His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Usually when I write about them I am appreciative of them.

However, Osho Rajneesh falls in a different class. And so does the contemporary spiritual leader (yes, he has to be viewed as a spiritual leader), Madhusudan Rao Naidu of Muddenahalli, Karnataka, India. I am strongly critical of Madhusudan Naidu as he is misguiding thousands of Sathya Sai devotees around the world with his FALSE CLAIM of being a so called communicator of a so called subtle body. While I have been the target of vicious social media attacks from his followers and supporters, I have also received the ***gratitude*** of some devotees including foreign devotees who were helped by my ***truthful*** critical posts about Madhusudan Naidu, and escaped from getting trapped by his FALSE CLAIM.

In the case of Osho Rajneesh, he spread teachings through his books that ***viciously attacked*** Vedic Hindu lifestyle, mocked it and instead promoted anti-social tantric practices related to sex. In the video put up in this post, Osho had the audacity to mock faiths like the Christian faith that, at least in theory and surely to some extent in practice, promotes charity towards the poor and the unfortunate, and claimed that he is a Guru for the rich!!! He called religious traditions where religious leaders live a life of austerity, as rubbish (religious traditions). He says he is simply against them (such austerity traditions)! "My conception of a beautiful flowering being is not that of austerity. It is (of) luxury. He will enjoy all that is beautiful in the world. Great paintings, great music, poetry." .. "To me all religions of the world upto now have been sado-masochistic. My religion is for the first time, life-affirming."

On being questioned about the number of Rolls Royces he had, Osho first questions the interviewer about how many he has. Later Osho says he has 90 Rolls Royces. And his devotees cackle with laughter at his answer. He goes on to say, "And they are not so many. For me there is nothing."

The interviewer asks, "Why do you need 90?"

Osho says, "I don't need even a single one. And they don't belong to me either. But my people want. They want three hundred sixty five - one for every day. And I go for a drive, only for 1 hour. But if my people want it, if they are happy and rejoice doing it, I don't want to destroy their joy. It is perfectly OK."

Interviewer: "Couldn't you tell them to give their money for something else other than for a Rolls Royce?".

Osho: "All other religions are doing that. Let them do that - their work. Let me do my work. All other religions are looking after the poor. At least leave me alone to look after the rich."

Osho devotees cackle with laughter.
--- end transcript snippet ---

Ravi: How can a writer on spirituality and religion like me stay silent about such matters when it is being put up by a friend, and that too in the context of my beloved Guru Sathya Sai Baba! I see it as my bounden duty towards my Guru as well as towards my readers and my friend and brother Himy Misra, to unequivocally criticize these dangerous views of Osho. He comes across to me as a ***false prophet***.

Worship of wealth and luxury without any concern for the poor is not true religion and is ***bad*** for society. As it is, the big problem of the world in this early 21st century period is the great levels of income and wealth inequality in so many parts of the world ***very much including*** the USA and India, two countries where Osho had his base.

Whose toil has created the wealth and luxury of Osho's followers who gave him 90 Rolls Royces! Is it not the toil of the poor? Is it not horrifyingly bad misuse of wealth for a religious leader to have 90 Rolls Royces? Of course it is. Is such behaviour horrible and ***evil exploitation*** of the poor? Of course, it is. He could have three or four such Rolls Royce cars - that would have been enough for his needs. I am not saying that Osho should not have had a few luxury cars. He could even have owned a few private jets (like some heads of USA Megachurches) if that helped him to move around and meet his community people quickly and effectively. To not only defend 90 Rolls Royces, but also talk of 365 Rolls Royces (one per day of the year) as his devotees want it, is utterly exploitative behaviour from Osho Rajneesh. It is in such environments that violent and murderous revolts from the poor take place, where the exploited poor gang up and kill top people involved in such exploitation. Both the October 1917 Russian communist revolution and later Chinese communist revolution (1930s and 40s) saw horrific brutality towards the super-rich in their countries with some of these super-rich claiming protection from religion! So both communist Soviet Union and communist China viewed religion and religious leaders as enemies and promoted atheism!!!

I view it as my moral duty as a public writer on spirituality and religion to ***take a stand*** on such dangerous and bad religious leaders like Osho Rajneesh. I am sorry if my words hurt some readers who may be devotees of Osho. But there is a larger thing here of preventing big damage to society by not tolerating such bad behaviour and bad teachings of Osho, and calling it out clearly and loudly as bad for society.

False and dangerous prophets like Jim Jones and David Koresh led many people to their deaths. So, in my considered opinion, false and dangerous prophets including Osho Rajneesh ***must*** be criticized by conscientious writers on spirituality and religion, as their small contribution to help protect society from these false and dangerous prophets.

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Just read the Rajneesh wiki to get an idea of how dangerous he was. I am shocked to know the following:

a) From,
The 1984 Rajneeshee bioterror attack was the food poisoning of 751 individuals in The Dalles, Oregon, through the deliberate contamination of salad bars at ten local restaurants with Salmonella. A leading group of followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (later known as Osho) had hoped to incapacitate the voting population of the city so that their own candidates would win the 1984 Wasco County elections. The incident was the first and single largest bioterrorist attack in United States history. The attack is one of only two confirmed terrorist uses of biological weapons to harm humans since 1945, the other being the 2001 anthrax attacks across the USA.

Having previously gained political control of Antelope, Oregon, Rajneesh's followers, who were based in nearby Rajneeshpuram, sought election to two of the three seats on the Wasco County Circuit Court that were up for election in November 1984. Fearing they would not gain enough votes, some Rajneeshpuram officials decided to incapacitate voters in The Dalles, the largest population center in Wasco County. The chosen biological agent was Salmonella enterica Typhimurium, which was first delivered through glasses of water to two County Commissioners and then, on a larger scale, at salad bars and in salad dressing.

As a result of the attack, 751 people contracted salmonellosis, 45 of whom were hospitalized. There were no fatalities. Although an initial investigation by the Oregon Public Health Division and the Centers for Disease Control did not rule out deliberate contamination, the agents and fact of contamination were only discovered a year later. On February 28, 1985, Congressman James H. Weaver gave a speech in the United States House of Representatives in which he "accused the Rajneeshees of sprinkling Salmonella culture on salad bar ingredients in eight restaurants".

At a press conference in September 1985, Rajneesh accused several of his followers of participation in this and other crimes, including an aborted plan in 1985 to assassinate a United States Attorney, and he asked State and Federal authorities to investigate. Oregon Attorney General David B. Frohnmayer set up an Interagency Task Force, composed of Oregon State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and executed search warrants in Rajneeshpuram. A sample of bacteria matching the contaminant that had sickened the town residents was found in a Rajneeshpuram medical laboratory. Two leading Rajneeshpuram officials were convicted on charges of attempted murder and served 29 months of 20-year sentences in a minimum-security federal prison.
---- end extract1 ---

b) From

The 1985 Rajneeshee assassination plot was a conspiracy by a group of high-ranking followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (later known as Osho) to assassinate Charles Turner, the then-United States Attorney for the District of Oregon. Rajneesh's personal secretary and second-in-command, Ma Anand Sheela (Sheela Silverman), assembled the group after Turner was appointed to investigate illegal activity at Rajneeshpuram. Turner investigated charges of immigration fraud and sham marriages, and later headed the federal prosecution of the 1984 Rajneeshee bioterror attack in The Dalles, Oregon.

The conspirators included: Ma Anand Sheela, Sally-Anne Croft, Chief Financial Officer of Rajneeshpuram; Susan Hagan, head of security at Rajneeshpuram, Catherine Jane Stork, who bought weapons and silencers and volunteered to be the actual murderer; Ann Phyllis McCarthy, fourth-in-command of Rajneeshpuram; and co-conspirators Alma Potter, Carol Matthews, Phyllis Caldwell and Richard Kevin Langford. Two of the conspirators obtained false identification to purchase handguns out-of-state, stalked Turner, and planned to murder him near his workplace in Portland, Oregon. The assassination plot was never carried out and was only discovered later, as a result of the investigation by federal law enforcement into the bioterror attack in The Dalles and other illegal acts by the Rajneeshpuram leadership.

Prosecution of the conspirators began in 1990, when a federal grand jury brought indictments against several of the key players. Some had fled the country, and extradition proceedings against the perpetrators and subsequent prosecution and conviction was not completed for sixteen years. The final conspirator was convicted in 2006, when Catherine Jane Stork agreed to return to the United States from Germany in order to be allowed to visit her ill son in Australia. Eight perpetrators received sentences ranging from five years probation to five years in federal prison and an additional member of the Rajneesh commune pleaded guilty to murder conspiracy. Rajneesh was never prosecuted in relation to the conspiracy, and left the United States after pleading guilty to immigration fraud and agreeing not to reenter the country without permission from the U.S. Attorney General.
--- end extract2 ----

This man's movement landed into serious trouble! Murder conspiracy convictions and that too of a USA official investigating them (Attorney General for the district)!

Even if Rajneesh himself did not get convicted of murder or bioterror, his following was so messed up that they wanted to murder a USA govt. official investigating them!

This nearly gets into David Koresh and Jim Jones killing level madness territory!

How can Rajneesh be viewed as a good spiritual and religious Guru!!!

People may say that Sathya Sai movement too has/had its issues. I think all big spiritual movements have some issues or the other. They are typically not perfect. But the crux is the teachings as that is what is attempted to be followed by the following. Do these teachings promote unethical and bad for society behaviour? Sathya Sai teachings never ever promote any mad things which are bad for society, like what Rajneesh teachings do.

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: BTW I hope I did not over-react. It's just that I got very upset on knowing the serious level of criminal charges against Rajneesh followers in Oregon. I knew that there were some problems but did not know that the matter was so serious and resulted in criminal convictions of a very serious nature.

Himy Misra wrote: i was vaguely aware of how Rajneesh / Osho was sent back to India but now i got the full picture thanks to you Ravi. much appreciation for your meticulous research and analysis. you know i think the Osho followers seem to have hijacked his movement for their own agenda. in India Osho was thought of as a brilliant mind and one who questioned old attitudes towards life. and i had heard only his Mulla Nasruddin stories and some talks on the Buddha and how to think for oneself and not get affected by opinions that have no basis in facts. maybe he got into bad company. i think the westerners took his teaching to levels he didnt intend. no you did not over react and as for me, i was merely thinking aloud about the road not taken. to be with Baba is a great blessing for me.
Ravi S. Iyer wrote: I think criticism of bad and evil teachings and practices of spiritual masters is ***essential*** to prevent innocent people from getting trapped into them. After what I read of Rajneesh's ashram in Oregon, USA, I have to view their actions as evil. Now Rajneesh himself may not have been found guilty of any serious crime (the immigration related stuff for which he was forced to leave the USA is NOT bad/evil stuff). But let us see what the wiki reports and what I think are the facts.

From In 1985, following the investigation of serious crimes including the 1984 Rajneeshee bioterror attack, and an assassination plot to murder US Attorney Charles H. Turner, Rajneesh alleged that his personal secretary Ma Anand Sheela and her close supporters had been responsible. He was later deported from the United States in accordance with an Alford plea bargain.

After his deportation 21 countries denied him entry, and he ultimately returned to India, and a revived Pune ashram, where he died in 1990. His ashram is today known as the Osho International Meditation Resort.
---- end extract ---

BTW Rajneesh himself alleged that these crimes were committed!!! Another extract from the same wiki page:

On 16 September 1985, a few days after Sheela and her entire management team had suddenly left the commune for Europe, Rajneesh held a press conference in which he labelled Sheela and her associates a "gang of fascists". He accused them of having committed a number of serious crimes, most of these dating back to 1984, and invited the authorities to investigate.

The alleged crimes, which he stated had been committed without his knowledge or consent, included the attempted murder of his personal physician, poisonings of public officials, wiretapping and bugging within the commune and within his own home, and a bioterror attack on the citizens of The Dalles, Oregon, using salmonella to impact the county elections. While his allegations were initially greeted with scepticism by outside observers, the subsequent investigation by the US authorities confirmed these accusations and resulted in the conviction of Sheela and several of her lieutenants. On 30 September 1985, Rajneesh denied that he was a religious teacher. His disciples burned 5,000 copies of Book of Rajneeshism, a 78-page compilation of his teachings that defined "Rajneeshism" as "a religionless religion". He said he ordered the book-burning to rid the sect of the last traces of the influence of Sheela, whose robes were also "added to the bonfire".
--- end extract ---

Ravi: So Rajneesh put the entire blame on his close follower and personal secretary, Ma Sheela (Sheela Silverman)! Rajneesh was the cult-leader of the group! This monstrous thing grew under his own leadership and was led by his own Personal Secretary (who would have been number two in power in the cult group after Rajneesh)!

Yes, standards of proof for criminal charges in USA courts of law are high. Rajneesh could not be proven guilty of aiding and abetting in the crimes for which Ma Sheela, his dedicated follower, and others got criminally convicted for.

But can we say that Rajneesh is innocent of all this? Bio-terror and murder conspiracy!!! These are not convictions on charges of financial misappropriation and/or sexual seduction of inmates and immoral sex, which many ashram systems come under, and which are viewed with an indulgent eye by some followers. I mean, the view is that so long as the sex was consensual and between people above age of consent in the country concerned, that's not too big a deal.

And that in countries where there is great level of corruption in govt. institutions itself, ashram systems that need money to run the ashram, may trip up here and there in following govt. rules about financial management. And sometimes the ashram head and close associates may get a little money crazy and amass some wealth. I mean, the view is that so long as the money was not extorted from devotees, and the money was gladly and willingly given by devotees, that's not too big a deal.

Murder conspiracy by top ashram official (Personal secy. to Rajneesh) and others against a USA govt. official and bio-terror are far, far more serious things. No wonder Rajneesh was thrown out of the USA (I fully support that move of the USA) and was denied entry in 21 other countries (I fully support their moves too). He could not be denied entry to India as he was an Indian national. So it was India's misfortune that after the monstrous intent for murder including using bio-terror that his top ashram leaders in Oregon, USA had planned/done against the very community that had permitted them to setup their ashram in Oregan USA, for which Rajneesh surely had some level of moral responsibility, Rajneesh was allowed to live and preach in India.

This monstrous so-called spiritual leader - Rajneesh - should have atoned and done penance for the grave sins committed by his own top ashram leaders. A spiritual leader is known by the kind of people he produces through his teachings and through his/her ashram community. What Rajneesh produced in Oregon, USA, was some dark, monstrous and evil people intent on committing murder in the larger community where they were living.

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Another extract from Rajneesh wiki page:

According to court testimony by Ma Ava (Ava Avalos), a prominent disciple, Sheela played associates a tape recording of a meeting she had had with Rajneesh about the "need to kill people" in order to strengthen wavering sannyasins resolve in participating in her murderous plots: "She came back to the meeting and […] began to play the tape. It was a little hard to hear what he was saying. […] And the gist of Bhagwan's response, yes, it was going to be necessary to kill people to stay in Oregon. And that actually killing people wasn't such a bad thing. And actually Hitler was a great man, although he could not say that publicly because nobody would understand that. Hitler had great vision."

--- end extract ---

Ravi: I hope Hitler is somebody we all agree was an evil man. I hope the view is ***not*** that as spiritual aspirants we should not be critical of Hitler and the Nazis who murdered six million Jews in an astonishingly murderous, monstrous and maniacal way on an industrial scale, never seen before in human history.

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: I commend the USA authorities for their work in investigating these crimes that Rajneesh's Oregon ashram people did, reporting it to the wider community, convicting some of the criminals, and throwing Rajneesh out of the USA, thereby preventing further damage to the USA. Given what I have read now, I think Rajneesh and his top team may have created a Jim Jones scale of tragedy, had they not been stopped in time.

For those who don't know about the horror that Jim Jones was responsible for, here is an extract from :

James Warren Jones (May 13, 1931 – November 18, 1978) was an American religious cult leader who initiated and was responsible for a mass suicide and mass murder in Jonestown, Guyana. He believed Socialism was the correct social order in compliance with God's will. Jones was ordained as a Disciples of Christ pastor, and he achieved notoriety as the founder and leader of the Peoples Temple cult.

Jones started the Peoples Temple in Indiana during the 1950s. He moved the Temple to California in the mid-1960s and gained notoriety with its activities in San Francisco in the early 1970s. He then relocated to Guyana.

In 1978, media reports surfaced that human rights abuses were taking place in the Peoples Temple in Jonestown. United States Congressman Leo Ryan led a delegation into the commune to investigate what was going on; Ryan and others were murdered by gunfire while boarding a return flight with defectors. Jones subsequently committed a mass murder-suicide of 918 of his followers. 304 of them were children who were murdered, almost all of them by cyanide poisoning via a Flavor Aid and Kool-Aid mix. This historical episode gave rise to the American-English expression "drinking the Kool-Aid".
--- end extract ---

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Interesting info. from Mr. --Name-snipped--. Looked up the Internet to see whether Ma Sheela had a wiki page. She sure does. Here it is:

The introductory part states:
Ma Anand Sheela (Gujarati: માં આનંદ શિલા; born 28 December 1949 as Sheela Ambalal Patel in India) is an Indian–American–Swiss ex-criminal who in 1985 pleaded guilty to attempted murder and assault for her role in the 1984 Rajneeshee bioterror attack. She was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison and paroled after 29 months.

From 1981 through 1985, she managed the Rajneeshpuram ashram in Wasco County, Oregon, United States. She was the former chief assistant for the Indian mystic Rajneesh. Sheela moved to Switzerland, where she married, purchased two nursing homes, and was subsequently convicted of "criminal acts preparatory to the commission of murder".
---- end extract ---

She and her family moved to New Jersey when she was 18. She married an American named Silverman later on - so that's how her name became Sheela Silverman, which name I had earlier thought was indicative of regular American person without any Indian origin background. Later her husband and she came to India and become devotees of Rajneesh.

Himy Misra wrote: yes well everyone is speaking their truth and i cant help but agree with everyone. westerners are usually doing good work --name-snipped--. but maybe rajneesh towards the end was trying to please his western followers. if he had continued to be himself things may have been different. i dont know. i wasnt there you see ;)

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: I am not saying that everything Rajneesh taught and did was bad. He had scholarship of philosophy and perhaps of some scripture as well. He had the courage to question hypocrisy. He challenged society to be truthful about the vitality and power of sex. The wiki says that he  challenged Gandhian socialism in the 1960s. "He said that socialism would socialise only poverty, and he described Gandhi as a masochist reactionary who worshipped poverty. What India needed to escape its backwardness was capitalism, science, modern technology and birth control."

While I am, in general, an admirer of Gandhi for his great role in Indian independence, I do think some, not all (not masochist for sure :-) ) of Rajneesh's criticisms of Gandhi were right. Ultimately India landed in deep financial problems in 1991 which led to liberalization and embrace of capitalism. India distanced itself from failed socialism type economic policies of the past. And it is this liberalization that has led to great economic success in India.

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: But Rajneesh being accepted as a divine master, a prophet, is something different. You see, followers of such persons view the teachings of their master/prophet as divine revelations/divine instructions. And when the followers are in significant numbers then there is an impact on society.

Due to Rajneesh being given this stature of a divine master, I think it is fair to study his teachings and be critical of those teachings of his which are a threat to well being of society. It is one thing to teach about being more open about the power and vitality of sex. But it is quite another to preach and practice sexual promiscuity, and be critical of vital institutions of society like marriage.

It similarly is very dangerous to well being of society for a preacher to preach accumulation of great wealth without any concern for the poor whose toil has contributed to that wealth.

And then the serious crimes! Rajneesh puts the blame on Ma Anand Sheela. But Ma Sheela's wiki page,, states, "According to Sheela, Rajneesh was complicit in and directed her involvement in criminal acts she later committed."

Note that Sheela seems to now live in Switzerland. "In December 1988, she was released on good behavior after serving twenty-nine months of her 20-year sentence and moved to Switzerland."

Given all the above, I think it is ***dangerous*** to view Rajneesh as a divine master/divine prophet. I am convinced that he got some vital things about religion and life, very wrong. I am further convinced that people who follow teachings of his with respect to accumulating and enjoying wealth without concern for the poor (whose labour produced that wealth) and with respect to extramarital promiscuous sexual behaviour being acceptable, will, in the long run, harm social well being rather than help social well being.

So while I respect the views of those who support Osho Rajneesh, I have to say that I am critical of Osho Rajneesh being accepted as a divine master/prophet. Of course, it is a freedom of speech and freedom of religion right of Osho followers to ignore/reject my views. I am fine with such rejection of my views by them :-).

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Youtube is an extraordinary resource nowadays. Here is a video about the difficult period for Rajneesh's Oregon ashram, American News Channels on OSHO Arresting | Rare Video,, around 22 mins.

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: An interview Ma Sheela gave then to an aggressive Australian interviewer,, around 3 mins. [Warning: Strong language used by both sides]

Himy Misra wrote: interesting Ravi. will check it out. appreciate it.

Himy Misra wrote: wow. Ma Sheela is explosive stuff. i thought the aussie was a pretty nasty man calling Osho a pimp. that was uncalled for. i would have said sai ram to him and gone my way but Ma Sheela was patient in my humble opinion. at some point my Indian ness is kicking in Ravi and i am a fan of the american people but not of the --snip-- and by the --snip-- i mean those dudes in black suits with black briefcases who seem to think they know it all and whom no one really knows. i think the --snip-- over reacted to Osho. and i think they arrested him over some technicality regarding overstaying his visa ? but you did some amazing research and it feels almost like we are there watching how things unfolded.

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: In this video,, 10 min. 12 secs, (after she spent 39 months in prison according to her) Ma Sheela says, around 3 min 25 secs, "You can ask the Attorney General of Oregon. One of the first conditions of the plea agreement when we sat down to negotiate, though attorney general would not put it on paper in the agreement, (was) that they leave Bhagavan alone. World doesn't know this. But my attorneys know it."

Essentially Ma Sheela gives the impression that she protected Osho from USA federal and Oregon state authorities, by herself pleading guilty to the charges brought against the Oregon ashram, and going to jail herself.

Now we don't know what the truth is. But that's her side of the story in her own words on youtube video!

She also says that she did not commit any crime even though Bhagavan (Osho) accused her of it.

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: In this video,, 10 min. 17 secs, Ma Sheela says frankly about priorities - that Osho gave top priority for Rolls Royce, watches, funds donated and gave lower priority to enlightenment of sannyasins. She also says that if somebody donates a Rolls Royce to Osho, Osho would (tend to) declare him as enlightened!

And that Osho did not want to spend time reading letters of sannyasins and gave very short responses. When Ma Sheela would convey those short responses to sannyasins, the sannyasins felt that Ma Sheela had not done the job properly, blaming her for the short answer!

Now we don't know whether Ma Sheela is lying here. But that's her view recorded on youtube video for anybody who is interested to see. I felt it worth my time to transcribe part of her statements below.

Sheela says Osho would say (around 3:35), "I don't have time for this bullshit" or "Why do you waste my time" when Sheela would try to read long letters of sannyasins to him. Osho would tell Sheela, "Just tell them to follow their feeling". .. More on these lines including about Osho getting disgusted with letters where sannyasins claimed to have kundalini experiences, chakra opening experiences, seeing blue light, yellow light etc. as Osho felt that they were not able to lead proper lives in the ashram and claimed to have enlightenment experiences! Sheela says (around 5:30) "Then we come out. We give the answers to the people. We get fury of the sannyasins. But you did not take my letter in to Bhagavan. That's why you gave it (the) answer yourself. Well, the truth of the matter is Bhagavan had very straight (strict?) guidelines. What letters we were to bring (it) in. What letters we were not to bring (it) in. What we were to discuss. What we were not to discuss. Which letters have priority. Which letters have no priority.

I am going to again tell sannyasins (a/of) rude reality which I lived everyday. Bhagavan's Rolls Royce(s) had first priority than their meditation. Bhagavan's watches had more time than their letters about their relationship. Who is going to donate what had more priority. Because that money was needed to create the vision he needed - to create the vision he had - what he wanted to leave behind before his days were over. And it needed to be created and created with Godspeed.

For that, money was required. So naturally, money had more priority. Good workers had more priority. Meditators had very last priority or no priority. Only time the enlightenment, and enlightened circle had priority when Bhagavan wasn't getting his Rolls Royce that he wanted Or when some donator changed his mind to donate. Then immediately Bhagavan declared that person enlightened.

This is the rude reality. But it was fun for me (Ma Sheela smiles). I was laughing all the way. And saying, thank God, I don't have to meditate. Thank God I am not interested in being enlightened. Thank God I only love this man.

It is important that people understand Bhagavan. It is important that people look at him in a right way. When you create fantasies of enlightenment, fantasies of chakra opening and blue lights coming out from your ears, nose and eyes, its all wonderful. You create a nice picture for yourself. You can hang that picture in your beautiful living room. And forget the life. And just live for that picture.

But then you are forgetting yourself. Then you are forgetting Bhagavan. And you are forgetting his teachings. Bhagavan says, get in touch with yourself. How are you going to get in touch with yourself when you are preoccupied in this imaginary picture of you and Bhagavan. How are you going to experience the (brutal?) reality. You won't. You won't have time for it and if you have time for it, because you are too afraid to destroy that picture, you won't see the reality. You will refuse the reality. You will say I don't want it. Because this picture is more comfortable and reality is uncomfortable.

Reality is like sitting on a needle. It pricks. It pinches. It hurts. But unless and until you see that reality, you are not going to know yourself."
--- end transcript snippet ---

Ravi: My view is that Ma Sheela seems to be saying mostly the truth. Perhaps there is some embellishment and some hiding of things that put herself in a negative light. But overall it seems to me to be truthful. So this gives us an inside view of how Osho took top-level decisions in running the ashram.

About the key teaching of getting in touch with oneself - that's a common one for most Advaita type Hindu gurus as well as many New Age gurus, I think.

But the effectiveness of the master/Guru and his legacy lies in how he helped his disciples and followers to achieve progress towards that goal. For a guy like me who reveres Advaita gurus like Ramana Maharishi, I think Osho's behaviour as described above by Ma Sheela, to be freaky. Not my cup of tea, for sure (even if one leaves the sexual promiscuity part out of it). But then perhaps some other people seem to have liked his style with Ma Sheela saying that she loves Osho (and went to jail as an offering of love to Osho to protect Osho from trouble).

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: She [Ma Sheela] is older in this 2012 video. It is a brutally frank video where she still says she loves him and would not trade her experience with him despite having had to go to prison! She talks about Osho's last period - I don't want to write text about it. I think you, bro. Himy Misra, must see this video, to get a more complete understanding of the life of Osho Rajneesh,, little less than 16 mins.

In response to a comment, "You can see how bigoted people are...what they don’t understand, they must destroy [angry-icon]", Ravi S. Iyer wrote: My apologies for any hurt caused by my comments on this post to Osho admirers and followers. I felt an inner urge to be critical of some of Osho's teachings with respect to encouraging sexual promiscuity as well as encouraging great accumulation of wealth (e.g. having around 90 Rolls Royces and being OK with devotees aiming for 365 Rolls Royces for Rajneesh) without having concern for the poor (some of whom, in my considered view, have contributed to that great accumulation of wealth). These views of Rajneesh have been captured as being spoken by Rajneesh himself in the youtube video whose link was put up by Himy Misra. My urge to put out my critical comments was born out of concern for the damage such teachings, as per my considered view, could cause to social well being, when followed by significant number of people.

I also felt obliged to point out the serious criminal offences Osho's Oregon, USA ashram were involved in, which were aimed at the larger community of Oregon, USA. That is bad and evil stuff and I felt that that must be called out as such, loudly and clearly.

Now there may be other aspects to Osho Rajneesh's teachings and life which have been of great benefit to some admirers and followers of his. Further there may be many followers of Osho Rajneesh who steer clear of promotion of extramarital sexual promiscuity in society and steer clear of accumulation of great wealth without any concern for the poor and less fortunate sections of society. They also may be law-abiding citizens of the countries they reside in, without any connection whatsoever to criminal actions and criminal intents of any people. I wish such admirers and followers of Osho Rajneesh well. I pray to Almighty God who I strongly believe, based on my Hindu Vedanta faith, is ever-present as a divine formless power in the very essence (consciousness/awareness) of each of our very beings, to shower His Grace on them and guide them or continue to guide them, on the path of Sathya (truth) but which Sathya does not harm the larger community they live in and are part of.

Thanks. Jai Sai Ram!

In response to a comment that I need not apologize for saying the truth, I (Ravi) wrote: Well, my apology was NOT for my statements but for any hurt caused by them. Here's my apology related sentence: "My apologies for any hurt caused by my comments on this post to Osho admirers and followers."

I go to great extents to try to avoid causing hurt to people who have not hurt me in any way. But that does not mean compromising on the truth as I perceive it. Now I concede that the truth as I perceive it, may have its flaws, and which I am willing to accept and change my view related to that, if I am provided convincing (to me) evidence and arguments about the flaws.

I genuinely would like to reduce some hurt that may have been caused by my comments to some readers of the comments exchange here, who may be Osho Rajneesh followers. So I made a conditional apology to them, if they are hurt by my critical statements about Osho Rajneesh, for that hurt. I genuinely am sorry for any such hurt caused. It is not a false conditional apology. And I hope that this conditional apology for hurt caused, eases any hurt that I may have caused them.

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: One of the vital things about spiritual ***practice*** I learned from being in the ***physical presence*** of my beloved and revered Gurudev, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, was that the belief in the Vedantic truth that all of us are ONE and that all of us are divine sparks of the same ONE divine essence/energy, should be translated into practice to the extent we can.

Sathya Sai also said that we are all forms (embodimnents) of Divine Love and that Love should be towards all, and that we should translate that Love into practice of helping others and not hurting them. These teachings of Sathya Sai are a very big ask. I am nowhere close to strictly following those teachings. But I try to do whatever is feasible for me, given my many human flaws, in practicing Sathya Sai's well known teaching of "Love All, Serve All; Help Ever, Hurt Never".

So even when we are sharing what we perceive as the truth, but which is hurtful to some people, that hurt caused to some people, I truly believe, is hurt caused to us, at a wider spiritual-level truth. So while the truth in some matters must be spoken to prevent damage to social well being, like I believe is the case in this matter related to Osho Rajneesh, my view is that I (we) should be sensitive to the hurt I (we) cause some Osho Rajneesh devotees, who too, I strongly believe, are part of me (us), at a higher spiritual-level truth of existence.

Himy Misra wrote: yes thats true Ravi. we have the same light in all of us. me too apologize for sharing casually a memory. i had no idea it would evoke such strong emotions. but overall i think it was a good discussion. hope there is some takeaway for everyone as there was for me.

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Actually Himy, I thank you for sharing your memory. Yes, the discussion seems to have got raw at times and caused some hurt. But I am glad to have had the discussion, and glad that you were OK with me sharing your part of the discussion, on my public blog and FB post.

That gives a recorded discussion on this important matter not only for those who are interested in such matters now, but perhaps also in future.

I wonder whether you have heard and/or read about Charvakas in Indian history related to such philosophy, and the debates associated with them and theologies then of religions like Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

Himy Misra wrote: nope sorry Ravi i have no idea of Charvakas. but you know i am appreciative of your principled stand and i am also impressed with the restrained reaction of --names-snipped--. i have to learn from them. i tend to get triggered if someone says something remotely anti Baba and get into eff word and worse stuff and then its all mayhem.

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Yes, they have been very restrained in their comments. I too appreciate their restraint. Perhaps that's why I got the urge to apologize for any hurt caused to them. They come across as decent and nice people.

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Rajneesh, who seems to have been very well read about all Indian philosophy (he was a philosophy Prof., I believe), knew about Charvakas and I read somewhere that he said he was NOT a Charvaka and NOT a religious man either.

But I do feel that in our - (yours and mine; I am presuming that good part of your youth was spent in Mumbai and in India based on our Facebook interactions; do correct me if I am wrong) - our youth times, the big philosophy debate in Indian Hindu environments at least in cities like Mumbai, was between Rajneesh's teachings and philosophy versus traditional Hindu religious philosophy. [And that's why I feel our discussion and my capture of our discussion in public blog posts is a good contribution to social media writings (which are Google indexed) on these topics.]

But in earlier times, it seems to have been Charvaka vs. traditional religious philosophy of India then which were Hindu (various sects of it, to be more precise), Buddhist and Jain (various sects there too but I don't know much about them).

From :

Charvaka, also called Lokayata (Sanskrit: “Worldly Ones”), a quasi-philosophical Indian school of materialists who rejected the notion of an afterworld, karma, liberation (moksha), the authority of the sacred scriptures, the Vedas, and the immortality of the self. Of the recognized means of knowledge (pramana), the Charvaka recognized only direct perception (anubhava). Sources critical of the school depict its followers as hedonists advocating a policy of total opportunism; they are often described as addressing princes, whom they urged to act exclusively in their own self-interest, thus providing the intellectual climate in which a text such as Kautilya’s Arthashastra (“The Science of Material Gain”) could be written.

Although Charvaka doctrine had disappeared by the end of the medieval period, its onetime importance is confirmed by the lengthy attempts to refute it found in both Buddhist and orthodox Hindu philosophical texts, which also constitute the main sources for knowledge of the doctrine.

--- end short extract from ---


Charvaka (IAST: Cārvāka, in Hindi- चार्वाक), originally known as Lokāyata and Bṛhaspatya, is the ancient school of Indian materialism. Charvaka holds direct perception, empiricism, and conditional inference as proper sources of knowledge, embraces philosophical skepticism and rejects Vedas, Vedic ritualism, and supernaturalism.

Ajita Kesakambali is credited as the forerunner of the Charvakas, while Brihaspati is usually referred to as the founder of Charvaka or Lokāyata philosophy. Much of the primary literature of Charvaka, the Barhaspatya sutras (ca. 600 BCE), are missing or lost. Its teachings have been compiled from historic secondary literature such as those found in the shastras, sutras, and the Indian epic poetry as well as in the dialogues of Gautama Buddha and from Jain literature.

One of the widely studied principles of Charvaka philosophy was its rejection of inference as a means to establish valid, universal knowledge, and metaphysical truths. In other words, the Charvaka epistemology states that whenever one infers a truth from a set of observations or truths, one must acknowledge doubt; inferred knowledge is conditional.

Charvaka is categorized as a heterodox school of Indian philosophy. It is considered an example of atheistic schools in the Hindu tradition.

--- end wiki extracts ---

Himy Misra wrote: you are right Ravi about me being from Bombay / Mumbai. in fact i am born and brought up in Mumbai. and living in Mumbai. the Charvakas i will have to study. i never really followed Rajneesh when he was a rage in Mumbai coz. however my Uncle's friend, who is an architect, told me he used to attend Rajneesh lectures and he was tremendously well regarded as a brilliant intellectual with great oratorial skills. some of my IIT friends followed him i remember. they had books on him but i didnt get around to reading them. i will read up on Charvakas. much apppreciation for the info.

A young adult correspondent wrote over email in response to above post contents (and was OK with public sharing; slightly edited):
Firstly, I am not well read in spiritual literature. If your stature is that of a Phd in this endeavour, I am still in the kindergarten. So, if my comments are childish I request you to forgive my ignorance/innocence.

Your mail on Osho got me surprised. I haven't studied much of Osho but I liked his basic preaching of seeking materialism. Your specific extracts on Osho w.r.t miracles got me pleasantly surprised. Infact, now I have to add him in to the wish list of the authors I need to read. Also, I love the Charvaka philosophy. I am of the conclusion that human birth is an accident of evolution. Life itself, however beautiful it may be, is an accident. I see no super natural force. Even if it existed before the big bang and if all of Science is insufficient to understand what caused the big bang and hence is ignorant about it, there is no reason to believe that spirituality will be able to answer it.

As I said earlier, Life is inherently meaningless and absurd. Hence, religion and spirituality emanate as a consequence of Man's urge to create a meaning for his life when there is none. I love the Buddha when he says Desire is the root cause of all suffering. I also love Krishna when he says, "Yogaha Karmasu Kousalam". [Ravi: For last quote explanation readers may visit end-Ravi.]

In total, I feel that humans must lead an eco-friendly life and invest in Loving each other and invest in reducing each other's suffering. As Mohan K. Gandhi said, "There is enough in the world for everyone's need. But there is not enough for one person's greed." So, materialism as long as it isn't greedy is good, in my considered view. But, we must make it eco-friendly and more equitable. I also, have deep respect for people like Warren Buffet. He has so much wealth, yet leads a frugal life and has pledged most of his wealth for Philanthropy and inspired others to do the same.

Once again apologies if I ranted all across the topics instead of focusing on the topic. As said, earlier treat the comments as you would treat from a kid brother of yours.

Deep Regards and Love,

I (Ravi) responded (slightly edited):

Dear --Name-snipped--,

No problems at all with your frank expression of your views. Once upon a time, I too doubted whether miracles (paranormal/supernatural acts/events) are real or not.

My spiritual journey with physical form Sathya Sai cleared those doubts of mine. Now I have no doubts whatsoever about the power of divine beings including very powerful Avatars like Krishna, Jesus Christ, Shirdi Sai Baba and Sathya Sai Baba, to have performed miracles and for other divine beings now and in the future, in all probability, to continue to perform miracles.

In your journey you don't seem to have had any such encounter with divine power. Note that divine figures seem to not exhibit their divine power to everybody who comes to them. It is only some who get that exhibition of miraculous power from the divine, which then transforms at least some of them into staunch devotees of that divine figure.

I wish you well with your approach to life.

Update on Ma Anand Sheela book and 2011 report on Rajneesh Oregon commune 25 years after it closed down

Ravi S. Iyer wrote (on 28th March 2018): Himy Misra, I felt it appropriate to share an update comment here (which I will add to my public FB and blog posts on the matter too).

After going through some video interviews of Ma Anand Sheela, I was intrigued. On coming to know about her book, "Don't Kill Him! The story of my life with Bhagawan Rajneesh", I ordered a copy of it from Amazon India,, which I received a couple of days back.

I have so far read the first four chapters of the book. In the second chapter titled, "The Odyssey begins", she flatly denies the accusations against her made by Rajneesh and some of which were what she seems to have been prosecuted under Oregon and/or USA law! In these first four chapters of her book, Ma Anand Sheela has not explained in detail, the legal process in the USA which resulted in her incarceration. Hopefully she will cover it in later chapters.

For ease of reference, here's the wiki extract from Rajneesh's wiki page,, which I had shared in an earlier comment on this Facebook post:

On 16 September 1985, a few days after Sheela and her entire management team had suddenly left the commune for Europe, Rajneesh held a press conference in which he labelled Sheela and her associates a "gang of fascists". He accused them of having committed a number of serious crimes, most of these dating back to 1984, and invited the authorities to investigate.

The alleged crimes, which he stated had been committed without his knowledge or consent, included the attempted murder of his personal physician, poisonings of public officials, wiretapping and bugging within the commune and within his own home, and a bioterror attack on the citizens of The Dalles, Oregon, using salmonella to impact the county elections. While his allegations were initially greeted with scepticism by outside observers, the subsequent investigation by the US authorities confirmed these accusations and resulted in the conviction of Sheela and several of her lieutenants. On 30 September 1985, Rajneesh denied that he was a religious teacher. His disciples burned 5,000 copies of Book of Rajneeshism, a 78-page compilation of his teachings that defined "Rajneeshism" as "a religionless religion". He said he ordered the book-burning to rid the sect of the last traces of the influence of Sheela, whose robes were also "added to the bonfire".
--- end extract ---

For me, the key part above is "the subsequent investigation by the US authorities confirmed these accusations and resulted in the conviction of Sheela and several of her lieutenants". USA court of law had found Ma Sheela and/or her associates guilty of some of the accusations (salmonella bio-terror case and one attempted murder case, if I recall correctly)! That was very serious stuff for me! I also got the impression that Ma Sheela and/or her associates had acknowledged their guilt which made it seem like established facts to me.

But now in the book, Ma Sheela presents a different picture! She first talks about the accusation that she stole $55 million from the ashram. I was not aware of that accusation. I don't think the Rajneesh wiki page talks about it. Perhaps that charge was not taken seriously by USA law enforcement.

Then Ma Sheela writes (Page 53 of paperback book):

Another accusation [Ravi: by Osho/Bhagwan Rajneesh] was the attempted murder of Bhagwan's personal physician, Swami Devaraj. This was completely ludicrous, unimaginable and preposterous. He based this allegation on a dispute I once had with Devaraj regarding Bhagwan's medical treatment. It is true that I had found it difficult to trust Devaraj's medical ethics, but I couldn't kill or even attempt to kill him for this. I mean one often has disagreements in life , but one doesn't go around killing people for that!

Then there was another ridiculous accusation of poisoning 750 people in The Dalles, Oregon with salmonella bacteria. Such a pointless and heartless action would not have served any purpose. The whole Rajneesh community was accused by the residents of The Dalles for causing this epidemic in Oregon. In those days, it had become almost customary to blame Rajneeshees for all disasters in Oregon as well as in other parts of the world where we were concentrated. I learned that the health authorities, initially, had written a report that the outbreak of the salmonella poisoning was caused by a lack of hygiene in local restaurants. However, after the charges were levelled against us, the report was illegally modified. I must warn all my readers about the judicial authorities of the United States and their practices. Their accusations and allegations must be treated with great suspicion and apprehension. My experience has been that they are more interested in personal and political objectives than in delivering justice to the people they serve. To this day I hear about this false accusation being used as a fact in many government reports.
--- end extracts from Ma Sheela's book - Don't Kill Him! ---

The immediate next paragraph deals with the charge of attempted murder (nobody was killed) of public official. But I think that may be too sensitive to put up on Facebook.

Hmm. So Ma Sheela says all the accusations are false. Rajneesh ashramites in Oregon had nothing to do with bio-terror against other residents of Oregon and nothing to do with any attempt to hurt or murder public official(s)!

So was there a miscarriage of justice? Did Ma Anand Sheela and/or her accused associates panic and break down under Oregon and USA federal law enforcement pressure, and plead guilty to charges against them that were false?

I don't know as of now. But this book certainly raises this possibility.

Himy Misra wrote: you are doing thorough research Ravi. i read recently that Osho used to say 'dont kill the question'. He meant dont kill it by trying to answer it. so our Amma Sheela seems to have picked up the title of her book from that quote maybe. and she would certainly try to present herself as innocent as she is the one writing the book. btw me too did some research on the Oregon fiasco and it seems to me the Oregon law enforcers were kind of harsh on those spiritual seekers. it was a nightmarish misunderstanding if you ask me and mostly Ma Sheela seems to have not been very tactful.check out this link in case you havent seen it. its in 5 parts. you know i am not saying Osho was perfect. but he had good intentions and he may have had his flaws. and he has benefitted a lot of people.

[25 years after Rajneeshee commune collapsed, truth spills out -- Part 1 of 5,], [posted 14th April 2011, last updated on 12th July 2017].

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Himy Misra, Thanks for your comment. Will go through the link provided.

I think there is a larger issue here than any errors of Ma Sheela and/or Bhagwan/Osho Rajneesh. The larger issue is that of the fair name and reputation of the followers of Rajneesh, the Rajneeshees.

Now behaviour issues, temper tantrums, lapse of judgement in sexual matters and financial matters etc. do happen among some people and some leaders of ashram/spiritual communities. I mean, they/we are also human. I don't think such things seriously impact the name and reputation of spiritual communities so long as these things are kept within some small limit.

But being convicted of heinous crimes like bio-terror and, perhaps also attempt to murder, puts a big stain on the name and reputation. That's how I read the wiki page of Rajneesh and freaked out when I saw such statements. I don't blame wikipedia as they have to go by sources of authority like Oregon courts of law!

Now it seems to me that the convictions may be based on wrong confessions! If that's the case then if I were a Rajneesh follower I would want to explore setting the record straight on the bio-terror and attempt to murder 'convictions', not for the sake of Ma Anand Sheela, but for the sake of the name and reputation of the Rajneeshees!

History of Rajneesh and Rajneeshees should not have a false accusation against them of these serious crimes, reported as truth! That distorts the history and legacy of Rajneesh and Rajneeshees community. But then one does not know whther Ma Sheela is saying the truth in her book!

In any case, it is becoming clear to me that the so-called 'fact' of some followers (including Ma Sheela) in the Rajneesh ashram in Oregon being involved in bio-terror and attempt to murder, may not be 'fact' but a miscarriage of justice! As a writer on spirituality and religion I view it as my duty to the fields of spirituality and religion as well as my duty to my readers, to update them on this matter, and clearly mention that the involvement of Oregon Rajneesh ashram in bio-terror and attempt to murder crimes does NOT seem to be an established fact even though wikipedia says so, and that there are seemingly credible disputes about it.

Himy Misra wrote: i think if you read the article there was immense stress between the Oregon administration and the spiritual seekers. and somethings probably did happen. and at the root of it seems to be a misunderstanding by Ma Sheela of the Oregon laws. it takes two hands to clap. so prob there are lapses on both sides. the present campus in Pune looks something like this. will have to check it out sometime:

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Just read Part 1 of Oregon live report you had provided earlier. Hmm. This report supports the Oregon government view. It reiterates the heinous crimes part - bio terror and attempted murder as true!!! This report seems to have a ring of truth too with the main report being compiled in 2011, with the 25 year distance and access to some (previously perhaps) secret govt. files providing the journalist(s) with a better view of the matter.

Part 1 itself paints a negative picture of Ma Sheela. It is very good for me to balance my reading of Ma Sheela's book with this report. Thanks again Himy.

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: From part 2, :

"Ma Anand Sheela, the guru's top aide, held a courthouse door open for the state's deputy attorney general, his arms full of legal books. As he passed, she stuck out her foot, sending him sprawling to the ground to laughter from the Rajneeshees."

Ravi: My God! I tend to believe the journalist's account as I have seen how aggressive Ma Sheela was in the Australian TV channel interview I had shared earlier in this thread. Hmm. They were trying to intimidate the town folk, especially those in authority deciding about how county laws would be applied to the Rajneesh Oregon commune.

If the above report is true, then Ma Anand Sheela as well as those Rajneeshes that laughed when the Oregon public official sprawled to the ground, must be condemned unequivocally for their thuggish behaviour.

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: I should add the following paragraph too:

"Such tactics, of course, didn't slow the growing government reaction to what was happening at Rancho Rajneesh. Durow and others held up, or denied, permission for some buildings, including a hospital. Then-Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer pressed his case to have the sect's city declared illegal."

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: From part 3, :

"Carlton tried going to work despite not feeling well, but soon clocked out for home, nauseated and weak. At home, he found his wife and son as sick as him. His mother-in-law drove up the Columbia River Gorge from Portland to tend the sick family.

Such scenes played out up and down the gorge. Soon, it was evident hundreds were sick. Hospital emergency rooms and medical clinics overflowed with people suffering nausea, diarrhea and enduring weakness.

"Rajneeshees," some whispered, but there was no proof.

A state health official famously concluded that restaurant workers in different restaurants had all ignored proper hygiene at the same time. Evidence of the Rajneeshees' true role wouldn't come out until the commune collapsed."

Ravi: What a different view Ma Sheela's book attempts to give! That this was the real report which was illegally modified to frame those Rajneesh Oregon ashramites who were involved in this effort of poisoning people.

Himy Misra wrote: yes. it seems to me she was trying to steamroll the opposition to her plans as in India she might have been able to do with bribes and threats. but the Americans turned out to be different from Indians. it just makes me sad that she could have admitted she made a mistake in understanding the Oregon law for constructiion of buildings and tried to relocate to India in Goa, Pondicherry or any suitable place. what a lost opportunity. shaking my head in dismay.

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Well, Himy Misra, having lived in rural India for over 15 years now, I can assure you that if Sheela had tried even 10 percent of the stunts she is reported to have tried in Oregon, the top political people of the area would have her either thrown in jail or forced out of their town/area.

Any ashram in rural India that intimidates top political leaders (who are the guys who really wield power) in the area that it is situated in, cannot survive. Nowadays one can even get videos of how top political leaders in rural India push around staff like airline staff who upset them! That gives you an idea of how much power they wield.

Take it from me boss, Ma Sheela's antics would have been nipped in the bud in rural India as she intimidated the political leaders! In the USA, they went by the book and so while they were unhappy with Ma Sheela and her leadership group behaviour with the town authorities, they did not use strongarm tactics which are very, very common in rural India, even in this early 21st century.

Yes, money can smoothen things out in rural India winning the support of top local leaders. But that is also only to a point. What these people were doing was just too freaky! Poisoning locals! That I think cannot be smoothened out so easily by bribes in rural India today (or even in past few decades). That's attempted murder of, or at least attempt to sicken, a lot of local people at the same time!

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: From

They knew Sheela and her executive staff quickly punished doubters and challengers. Rank and file could be moved without notice to a new home or job. One of the commune's top lawyers crossed Sheela and soon found himself driving a bulldozer.

Complaining sannyasins were told they could -- or must -- leave the commune. To get there in the first place, however, worshippers typically sold all their possessions, donated most of their money to the commune and severed ties with outside families and friends.

Most truly believed Rancho Rajneesh was their home for life. Where would they go if that was taken away?
--- end extract ---

Ravi: Hmm. This is pretty scary and very disturbing stuff, indeed.

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Hmm. I am going to take a break now. Thanks a ton again Himy Misra for the link. You know what it provides as reference material (at least one such reference that I looked up): The FBI statement of ashram residents who co-operated with the govt/FBI! This is of a lady who seems to have been raised in California:

This article series seems to not only have the ring of truth but seems to be backed with USA govt. investigative agencies statements and reports!

Himy Misra wrote: you are welcome Ravi and appreciate the fine discussion and there is a lot of takeaway for me from this and hope it was useful for all who contributed to it.

In response to comment by somebody else, "Trying to do PhD on Osho ? [4 smiley icons]", Ravi S. Iyer wrote: I think it is important to learn from bad mistakes made by spiritual organizations in our own lifetimes, and help to prevent recurrence of it. Knowing the truth of what happened is crucial to learning from the bad mistakes. If one instead tries to ignore the bad mistakes or cover it up, it may provide for some peace for now, but do nothing for preventing future such tragedies which may hurt the peace of so many!

I think it is tragic that what seemed to be an enchanting dream commune in Oregon, landed into such negativity and trouble and had to be closed down. I think it is the ***right thing*** to do to share the truth of it to allow future such enchanting dream communes succeed by knowing about and then avoiding the mistakes that Rajneesh's Oregon commune made.

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: From

Sheela summoned Shanti Bhadra from an adjoining room, asking her to calm Vidya. Shanti Bhadra was the one who had tried to kill Devaraj, and she was assigned to shoot Turner. She snapped when she encountered Vidya.

"I will not be killing anybody," Shanti Bhadra said. "No one will be killing anybody."

The turning point had come, for the commune and for Oregon.

The murder plots ended, as did other dirty tricks. Soon after Labor Day 1985, Sheela quit her posts at the ranch. She fled to Europe with selected taped conversations involving the guru, sect promissory notes and miniature hypodermic needles such as the one used to attack Devaraj. A dozen of her allies also quit the commune, joining her in Germany or fleeing elsewhere.

The ranch quickly fell apart.

At a news conference, the guru described a litany of crimes he attributed to Sheela and her "gang." Both Oregonians and Rajneeshees were stunned.

New commune leaders hired outside lawyers, who questioned sannyasins about what had gone on. The guru told his followers to be truthful. They were unsparing in their recollections.

At the same time, state and federal investigators rushed in, gathering evidence and interviewing Rajneeshees. Soon, two of Sheela's most trusted insiders struck deals. That included Krishna Deva, the Rajneeshpuram mayor, and Ava, one of the key members of the commune's dirty tricks squad.

Both gave lengthy statements that astonished investigators. The summary of Krishna Deva's statement, given over eight days, ran 96 pages.

In the coming months, one sannyasin after another trooped into court, admitting criminal conduct on behalf of the sect. The charges included attempted murder, assault, arson, immigration fraud, wiretapping and conspiracy.

Sheela, nurse Ma Anand Puja and Shanti Bhadra struck deals that included federal prison time.

The guru made a cross-country dash on a chartered jet to escape, but was caught in North Carolina as he was about to leave the country. He was hauled back to Portland in handcuffs, booked into jail like a common criminal. He ordered his lawyers to cut him a quick deal, and he was soon deported as a convicted felon, guilty of immigration crimes.

Courthouses were busy with civil matters as well. Rajneeshee corporations went bankrupt, poisoning victims sued and the state pressed the case against the city of Rajneeshpuram.

The insurance company holding the ranch's mortgage foreclosed, selling the ranch to a wealthy Montana rancher. He later turned it into a camp for Young Life, a Christian youth organization that now brings in busloads of youngsters from throughout the West.

Rajneeshees scattered about the planet, the guru ending up back in India. Renamed Osho, he died in 1990, but the faithful keep alive his spirit, running meditation centers across the world. Elsewhere, some of those most deeply involved faded back into civilian life, giving no clue to their former allegiance to the sect.

Now in Switzerland, Sheela blames Oregonians for much of what happened at Rancho Rajneesh. She'll talk about her days in Oregon, but not her crimes. She doesn't budge when pushed to do so.

"Leave me alone."
--- end extract ---

Ravi: Hmm. Fascinating article. I have yet to read the FBI statements of two important ashramites who co-operated with USA/Oregon govt - Swami Krishna Deva and Ma Ava Avalos. Hope to do that later.

I find this very educative. It is a big challenge to set up and successfully run an ashram/commune over many years and decades. Initial enthusiasm from many dries up as they realize the hard work involved on a regular basis to keep the ashram functioning.

Perhaps if the Oregon ashram/commune had grown organically, starting from a small unit and growing slowly over time, it may not have faced the huge challenges it did, which eventually consumed the ashram/commune.

---- end conversation ----

[I thank wikipedia,,, publisher and author of above mentioned book, 'Don't Kill Him!' and and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from their website/book (small extract from on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever. I also thank the youtube video posters above whose transcript snippets (of Osho Rajneesh and Ma Sheela) I have put up on this post. Please note that the objective of this post is to help society learn from mistakes made in Rajneesh's Oregon commune and help prevent such mistakes from happening in the future.]

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