June 22, 2000, The Indian Express
by Vinita Deshmukh
PUNE, JUNE 21: Ma Yoga Neelam, the high profile Osho disciple who stepped down from her position in the Osho Commune in Pune last year has indeed opened a Pandora’s Box by breaking her silence and speaking out against three key members of the ‘Inner Circle’ that runs the worldwide Osho affairs. Close on her heels, a Western sannyasin of long standing, Italian journalist Swami Sarjano alias Carlo Silvestro, today dropped his own one year odd silence, after creating a sensation last year by lambasting the Inner Circle in front of the ‘White Robe Brotherhood’ congregation at the Gautama the Buddha Hall in the commune. Sarjano, who was subsequently banned from the commune for his unprecedented rebellion, had gone into a shell later.
He, however, decided to speak to The Indian Express today and held the three ‘dictators’ Canadian Swami Jayesh (Michael O’Brayan), UK national Swami Amrito (now John Andrews) and Canadian Ma Ananda (Sue Appleton) responsible for ”sitting in ivory tower and destroying the commune.”
Pouring out his pent up feelings today, which manifested in the form of his open rebellion in the Gautama the Buddha Hall last year, when Sarjano, told this correspondent that Ma Neelam’s walk-out from the commune was the proverbial last straw on the camel’s back.
States he, ”Ma Neelam was the only hope and the last piece of heart left in the commune, to whom sannyasins could address their grievances against the mean and dictatorial manner in which the commune bosses functioned.”
So, when she staged a walk-out, two Western sannyasin Ma Sarita and Swami Gheo approached him, requesting him to pick up the gauntlet at the White Robe Brotherhood, on behalf of hundreds of Western and Indian sannyasins. ”They wanted me to read out a statement demanding ouster of Jayesh, as chairman of the Inner Circle and his replacement by Ma Neelam as the chairperson.”
The resentment and anger at Ma Neelam’s leaving the commune was such that ”everybody gathered in support of this rebellion,” says Sarjano. ”The band of musicians in the Buddha Hall, who trigger off the evening’s congregation, also offered to co-operate. I was thus not alone, as the commune dictators would like to have the world believe.”
It was the evening of February 8, 1999, when Sarjano took his seat at the appointed evening hour and had himself strategically seated next to the musicians. States this journalist candidly, ”My objective was not personal vendetta but giving vent to barrelfuls of turmoil experienced by the near entire sannyasin community who were being cheated by Swami Jayesh.”
A one minute silence precedes Osho’s videotaped discourse at the White Robe Brotherhood, every evening. ”Taking advantage of that one minute, I read out this statement in a very calm and composed manner which lasted exactly for 45 seconds and it is only when I had just finished reading the entire statement that two Inner Circle members present there realised what happened. Otherwise, everyone was listening, as if it was a statement by the commune authorities.”
The statement read: ”Beloved Friends, Ma Yoga Neelam, Osho’s secretary for India has resigned due to political pressure from Jayesh, chairman of the Inner Circle. Neelam has always been Osho’s ambassador of the heart. As Jayesh is disregarding Osho’s guidelines for the Inner Circle, we, the people who support Osho’s visions, ask him to resign his position.”
”We ask that Neelam becomes the chairwoman of the Inner Circle. We are not here for power politics. We are here for meditation, love and celebration. The announcement is in support of the new man who rejects politics and embraces life, love, meditation and laughter. Let us now celebrate the new man and the new woman.”
Sarjano was physically lifted by the two Inner Circle members who were attending the White Robe Brotherhood and thrown out of the gate. Subsequently, he was banned from entering the commune. Since then his fingers were on his lips.
Coming out quite harshly on the Inner Circle member trio who indulged in ”politics” and ran the commune according to their own whims and fancies, he said that commercial enterprise was the undercurrent in running the commune, something which Osho stoutly opposed. Sarjono says that ”While I apologise to the entire sannyasin community and to India for not having spoken out earlier, Ma Yoga Neelam too owes a similar apology, for the sake of credibility and clearing off her conscience.” Rueing that ”I caused a rebellion in the commune only because of the sadness we felt at Ma Neelam’s departure, but she suddenly withdrew. Now, at last she is on the other side of the fence – she, as Inner Circle member earlier has banned several sannyasins – she needs to apologise also to those sannyasins who were banned by her.”
Sarjano laments, ”While I was being physically lifted and thrown out of the commune that day, hundreds of sannyasins in the Buddha Hall were screaming and shouting to bring me back. Thereafter, for several days, sannyasins visited my home to thank me profusely for the courage. Some of them touched my feet while I was walking through Koregaon Park. I clearly told them, ‘where is the question of thanking me? Why don’t you as individuals raise your voices in the open so that there will automatically be a cry in unison.’ But I realised, that most of the sannyasins had vested interests – some were worried that their food passes would be cancelled or they would not be allowed to do meditations or may be banished from the commune. Thus, everyone kept mum. They are cowards.”
He questions, ”Why didn’t Ma Neelam speak out after she left the commune? Why did she keep quiet for such a long time? After all the safekeep of Osho’s work is more important that security of oneself.”
Sarjano now says that it is still not too late and ”if we all start speaking up, the dictators of the inner circle will have no choice but to run away one fine day.”
Copyright 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.