by VINITA DESHMUKH
The Indian Express, September 6, 2000
PUNE, SEPTEMBER 5: Donning a T-shirt that proclaims, ”Osho – Everybody’s birthright, nobody’s copyright,” acclaimed film star, sannyasin and parliamentarian, Vinod Khanna, looks every bit an angry man. And this seething rage is set to translate into an action packed performance what with the screen idol having picked up the gauntlet on behalf of Osho sannyasins worldwide, ”to bring back to India the copyrights of Osho’s books and meditations.”
Presently enjoyed by a New York based company that operates as the copyright affairs manager for a Zurich based foundation, this monopoly has been vehemently opposed by old time followers of the great mystic, Osho, who has left behind a legacy of wisdom worth millions of dollars.
Khanna alias Swami Vinod Bharati, in the city for inauguration of the Pune Festival, was at peace with himself in the tastefully done Koregaon Park residence of Ma Yoga Neelam, Osho’s secretary in India whose recent rebellion against the commune management has kicked up a major controversy that has hogged international headlines.
Khanna ernestly told The Indian Express: ”This question has already been raised in the Rajya Sabha recently and I will be pursuing it further with the Indian Government as well as the Prime Minister. And I am confident this issue will win the support of several MPs who are ardent admirers of Osho. Besides, we, sannyasins are individually as well as collectively opposing it worldwide and are now endeavouring to build a strong support system.”
Livid at the ”three members of the Inner Circle who are commercialising the great works of our satguru,” Khanna states: ”We will be challenging the copyright and the trademark issues by legal intervention. A legal process for similar reasons is already underway in the USA and it will not be long before it spreads throughout the world.”
He further states: ”The issue of copyrights and trademark in Osho’s case is ridiculous because he has delved deep into every religion like Jainism, Buddism, Jainism, Christianity and so on and then given us a unique philosophy. So, how can you have copyrights for something which was already existing. This means we need to have copyrights for the Bible. These people have gone crazy.”
Osho’s Canadian disciple, Swami Jayesh alias Michael O’ Bryne, the keyperson of the 21-member Inner Circle that controls the administrative affairs of the Osho Commune International, earned Khanna’s ire. States he, ”I had warned Ma Neelam about 10 years ago, when I saw the way Swami Jayesh was handling the commune affairs. He had a plush room booked for himself at the Oberoi Towers in Mumbai and visited the ashram only on Sundays. What good can such a person, who was not in touch with the pulse of the sannyasins, do for the commune, which Osho created with so much love and warmth? He used to tell me that he was busy keeping the powers that be in the Mantralaya, happy.”
Rues Khanna, ”It was very clear that the ‘celebration’ which could be seen on all the sannyasins faces as they used to laugh, meditate and share together when Osho was in his body, was conspicuous by its absence under Swami Jayesh’s regimentation.”
Just to recall, the fissures in the running of the Osho Commune surfaced when Ma Yoga Neelam, Osho’s secretary for India and the key person of the commune, at least for the outsiders, walked out of the commune, last year. Swami Tathagat, former administration-in-charge also took the same step, followed by Swami Chaitanya Keerti, former high profile spokesperson of the Osho Commune. Early this year, all three of them came out openly against the ”dictatorial” functioning of the commune affairs and what they term as the ”surreptitious” taking away of Osho’s copyrights and trademarks of his books as well as meditation techniques. However, the movement has still not gathered momentum or power.
Will Khanna be able to spearhead a movement which will reach a logical end? States Khanna, ”Nothing can happen overnight, but the process is very much on. We do not want to make a noise by staging dharnas but are slowly forming universal support and soon this issue is bound to come to a head-on clash.”
Khanna’s petite wife, Kavita alias Ma Veet Kavita, who took sannyas about eight years back and is an ardent follower of Osho, states confidently: ”There are worldwide protests against the commercialisation of Osho’s works, only it is not happening in a normal way and therefore it does not catch the public eye. It is happening in a very loving, quiet way without any noise.”
Kavita also derided the easy way taken out by the three key Inner Circle members to keep the sannyasins mouth shut. ”For any rule they want to clamp, they just utter..”Osho said this…” Initially when I used to visit the ashram, I would get confused. After all, Osho’s philosophy taught us that, every path is the right path and you have the freedom to choose, so it was strange to hear these people using Osho’s name for routine things in the ashram. The commune has indeed turned into a German concentration Camp.” Will Khanna become the saviour of thousands of Osho sannyasins who feel like they have been left in the lurch?
Copyright © 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.