Now, row at commune over celebrations

Times News Network
(Thursday, January 17, 2002)

Abhay Vaidya

PUNE: Should birthdays be celebrated? Should death anniversaries be observed? While the answer may seem obvious to most people, the “management team” at the Osho Commune International has begged to differ: It has decided against celebrating anniversaries associated with their master’s life.

This decision has roused the suspicion of a large number of Osho followers within and outside the country who have charged that commercial interests rather than Osho’s spiritual message have become paramount at the commune.

Over the past decades, three specific dates were marked for mega celebrations by Oshoites. These were Osho’s birthday on December 11, his “day of enlightenment” on March 21 and the day to honour the Guru (Gurupurnima during the full moon in July).

After Osho died on January 19, 1990, that day, too, was marked for bigger celebrations, because “Osho taught us to celebrate everything, inclusive of birthday and deathday and that there should be a bigger celebration on the day the master leaves the body,” says a follower.

While Osho’s followers across the world are continuing with this tradition, the powerful “management team” which controls Osho Com-mune Interna-tional in Pune has decided to take a significant break from the past.

“We have undergone a maturing process and have decided that we want to celebrate every day of our lives and not be confined to specific dates. People tend to get stuck with dates…celebrating specific dates also gives us a sectarian touch,” Satya Vedanta, a management team member said while speaking to The Times of India.

According to Vedanta, celebrations have not stopped at the commune – only, they will no longer be confined to specific dates. Vedanta offered yet another explanation to justify the Commune’s decision to do away with the special celebrations associated with Osho’s life: According to him, since Osho described himself as “a consciousness who was never born, never died” his followers at the Commune feel that there is no need to celebrate his birthdays or his death anniversaries.

“This is a very penetrating and mature insight that we are essentially a consciousness. In terms of an enlightened person like Osho, who has gone beyond time and space, it doesn’t make sense to mark specific anniversaries,” says Vedanta.

However, not all of Osho’s followers are buying this argument. “Sanyasins around the country are becoming more and more suspicious about the motives behind all this,” says Chaitanya Keerti, former spokesperson of the Osho Commune and a vocal critic of the Commune management. He pointed out that celebrations on Osho’s birth and death anniversaries “have always been the crescendo of our celebrative life, not any hindrance.”

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