Riddle no more – Commune controls exist in New York

Indian Express, June 29, 2000


PUNE, JUNE 28: Here is an answer at last to the nagging question, who ‘operates’ the Osho commune in Pune. The ‘operator’ does not appear to be any India-based trust, but is in fact – as the commune rebels had been claiming in recent days – New York-based Osho International Foundation (OIF).

The claim on ‘operating’ the commune has been made by the OIF-New York itself in an official complaint filed with the National Arbitration Forum in the United States on June 7 against Osho Dhyan Mandir, C-5/44, S D Area, New Delhi, for registering ‘oshoworld.com’ as the name for its new site, which the OIF claims infringes the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution policy.

The complainant D’Arcy O’Byrne, representing Osho International Foundation, 570, Lexinton Avenue, New York 100 022, has stated that the respondent Osho Dhyan Mandir’s domain name ‘oshoworld.com’ is ”confusingly similar to complainant’s registered trademarks and servicemark for ‘Osho’; complainant’s pending service mark application for Osho Active Meditations; and complainant’s three registered domain names – osho.com; osho.org and osho.net.”

”Complainant also operates the Osho Commune International located in Poona, India. Founded in 1974, the Osho Commune is the world’s largest meditation and growth centre. According to Asia Magazine, ‘ it attracts more than three percent of all foreign tourists to India – more than the Taj Mahal and is the most widely visited destination in the country.”

O’Byrne states,”Complainant’s famous Osho mark originates with its well known founder and internationally known figure Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, also known as Osho. Complainant also operates a vast publishing enterprise in the areas of meditation, body-mind-spirit, philosophy and spirituality with respect to the teachings of the mystic Osho. Osho International collaborates with publishers in more than 80 countries and its books are available in more than 50 languages. Thorough its web sites at osho.com, osho.org and osho.net, the complainant sells books, audio books, music compact discs and videos, all related to the Osho form of meditation and spiritual teachings.”

He further claims: ”Complainant’s trademark rights for ‘Osho’ and Osho Active Meditations collectively cover the following goods and services: educational books and printed materials in the field of religion and philosophy; pre-recorded audio and video tapes in the field of education, religion, philosophy and science; providing religion, philosophy and science information via a global computer network; education books and printed teaching materials in the field of religion and philosophy; educational services, namely conducting individual sessions, workshops, retreats, seminars, groups, courses and training n the field of the teachings of the mystic Osho; and spiritual and meditations.”

”By using the domain name ‘oshoworld.com’, respondent has intentionally attempted to attract for commercial gain, internet users to its web site or other on-line locations, by creating a likelihood of confusion with complainant’s trademarks and service marks as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of respondent’s web site or location of a product or service,” adds complainant O’Byrne, incidentally brother of Michael, chairman of the inner circle and the one who is supposed to be calling all the shots in all Osho matters.

”We will contest this complainant at the appropriate legal forum,” asserted Swami Chaitanya Keerti, formerly the spokesperson for the Osho commune in Pune and now associated with Osho Dhyan Mandir of New Delhi while speaking to The Indian Express during his visit to Pune today. ”It will establish once for all what right the complainant D’Arcy O’Byrne, who became inner circle member one year after Osho left his body, and his New York based organisation to patent Osho’s name and hold copyright for his books and recorded discourses. D’Arcy, we accept your challenge.”

”Let him explain how Osho Dhyan Mandir that has been spreading Osho’s message ever since the days when he had not even heard of the mystic will have ‘commercial gain’ by having a web site to spread the message further. Let him also explain how does he sickeningly describe Osho’s vision as ‘goods and services’ owned by his overseas outfit”.

”They have created a rigid ‘organisation’ – ‘the Church’ – that Osho speaks against, Keerti argues. ”These people have destroyed the true spirit of the commune and have created a heartless commercially-oriented corporation and yet they have the audacity to call as ‘Vatican mentality’ a sincere desire of a disciple that all Osho work should radiate from Pune.”

Referring to a full page advertisement released by the ‘management team’ of the Osho commune in The Indian Express today, Keerti said it only confirmed that the commune management is devoid of any moral strength; that they had to indulge in personal vilification through a paid advertisement as they are aware an overwhelming majority of Osho sannyasins ”no longer take them seriously.”

Many of them have not come out in open, questioning the dictatorship of a few, for they fear that this would only destroy the commune. But they will rally round the honest dissent very soon, once they realise that this would never destroy but only cleanse the commune, he remarked.

That that their so-called ‘facts’ contained mostly false personal charges against Ma Yoga Neelam, Osho’s secretary in India, than substantiated replies to the issues raised by her shows how ‘unmeditative’ and paranoid they are and how they have no proof to offer for what they claim.

”I have interacted with the press for several years,” he adds. ”The press in India is fairly objective and is eager to listen to both the sides. But you don’t blame the press if you throw out cameramen from the commune gate and shun reporters, asking them to send written questions through e-mail.” The management team had the full opportunity, Keerti pointed out, to be heard adequately by mediapersons. The opportunity was consciously lost and then came the awkward need to release an advertisement.

As for the claim by Ma Anando, secretary of the inner circle and ‘declared by Osho on his deathbed as his medium’, in the advertisement that Neelam ”was not privy to Osho at all” during the nine months before he ‘left his body’, Keerti advises her to read the candid autobiographical account by Ma Shunyo, also featured by the management team in the advertisement, in her book ‘Diamond days with Osho’ in which she has quoted Osho’s affectionate words for Neelam, as against Anando.

”But these are personal matters. What needs to be sorted out are core issues like a handful of persons having total control over Osho’s work. Let them discuss this across the table. We are ready, but I am sure they will not. They do not have the moral courage to face the ‘facts’,” says Keerti.

Copyright © 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.

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