rediff.com US Edition, June 22, 2000
Michael Gonsalves in Pune.
With members of the Inner Circle taking over the thriving Pune-based Osho Commune International, big trouble is brewing after Osho’s trusted personal secretary Ma Yoga Neelam was denied entry.
“I was shocked… This is running the commune like a dictatorship,” says Ma Neelam, a wealthy woman from Ludhiana, Punjab who made the commune her home in 1969.
When Ma Neelam, on her routine morning meditation schedule, reached the gates of the Commune at for the 7.30 am meditation session, she was curtly told by the sanyasin manning the entrance to contact the management team.
“Swami Satya Vedant, one of the members of the inner circle which manage Osho Commune told me that I needed a break and I need not enter the Commune,” the distraught sanyasin said.
“When I asked if I was banned from the Commune, he said that I was not, and that the Commune had not withdrawn my identity card, but still told me that I needed a break.”
Neelam alleged that the “spiritual legacy” of Osho was being hijacked by three powerful dictators who call the shots – Michael O’Bryne, a Canadian, John Andrews, an Englishman, and Sue Appleton, an Australian – for purely monetary reasons.
“The crass commercialisation of Osho legacy and the running the affairs of the Osho commune in a dictatorial manner was absolutely against the teaching of my master and guru Osho, who was close to me,” said Ma Neelam, who was herself one of the 21-member Inner Circle managing the commune before and after Osho’s death 10 years ago.
“Neelam is not banned from the commune; I only told her to take a break. A year ago she herself had resigned from the Inner Circle as she claimed she needed to take care of her health,” Swami Satya Vedant told rediff.com.
“Neelam also told us that she wanted more time for mediation and we hugged each other and parted in a cordial atmosphere. But we were shocked to read her interview in a local daily making all kinds of allegation against the commune,” Vedant said.
Demanding transparency in the administration of the Osho Commune, Neelam, breaking her silence of one year, said in an interview with a daily that the commune was becoming commercial in it’s outlook.
Neelam had specifically questioned on Osho’s copyrights that had landed with the Osho Foundation in Zurich. She also threatened to spill the beans and said she would move the Charity Commissioner’s office for details. She had demanded that issue of copyrights of Osho’s works, art and meditation should remain with the Pune-based Osho Commune international headquarters as per Osho’s specific instructions.
She said the members of the Inner Circle were trustees of the Commune and any major decision on matters like copyright ought to be taken only after taking the sanyasins into confidence. Instead, the autocratic decisions of the Inner Circle were being dished out as Osho’s decisions, Neelam said.
Swami Vedant defended the commune decision on copyrights, claiming that Osho had made it clear that members of the commune should use his name and together. Osho had asked his work to be protected by copyright and trademark law to ensure the purity of his vision, Vedant said.
“What Osho International, New York, has done is to continue a process that began in the early 80s of registering these copyrights in the US, where the law provides the greatest protection.”
Swami Vedanta also said that the Osho International Foundation, Zurich, a non-profit Swiss-based foundation, holds the copyrights to Osho’s works and makes the works of Osho available around the world.
He said neither Zurich nor Pune were the best places to make publishing content available since the world’s media content capital was New York.