Citadel, The Pune City Magazine (July 2000 Issue)
When Ma Neelam, Osho’s Secretary for India, decided to blow the lid off the conspiracy, it set the commune ablaze, with volcanic erruptions threatening to rock the very foundation that the ashram was built on. There is serious trouble in Osho’s paradise. ‘Citadel’ speaks to Osho’s blue-eyed lady, to find out what triggered her to fire the first salvo after keeping her peace for so long. “For four years I was trying to raise my voice and object to what was happening in the Osho Commune. But when nothing worked, I finally threatened to walk out hoping that things would eventually work out. But now after a year, I find that things are much worse,” begins Ma Neelam who has decided to publicly give vent to her feelings and expose the dangerous power politics that is threatening to destroy the peace and serenity of the Osho Commune.
As the media blitzkrieg went crazy trying to get the sensational headlines of the lady who gave up her home and heart to be with her master in the early seventies, Osho’s secretary for India decided to go hammer and tongs after she was banned from entering the spiritual oasis she had grown up in. “Initally, I tried to reach out and make them see where they were going wrong. I used to argue and question their motives. But then a lot of times one doesn’t really make a big issue out of things. After all, we have come to the Commune for our own spiritual growth so you tend to focus on that,” she says about her decision to rip open the seal of silence.
What rocked the spiritual boat that was lately sailing through the stormy seas was an e-mail from the Commune’s (ex)-PRO Swami Keerti condemning the underhand dealings of the power brokers in the Inner Circle. The personal letter addressed to another sanyasin was accidentally leaked out in the press.
And for once it was a free-for-all, as the newshounds caught the whiff of the building tension that was threatening to explode, both Swami Keerti and Ma Neelam decided to stop playing the perfect diplomats. “Left upto us, we would rather use our energies more creatively. All this is not for us but now that it is out in the open, we decided to be honest about it. We want to create an awareness in the media about what is happening in the Commune. How, out of twenty-one members of the Inner Circle that Osho had appointed, fifteen of them have been replaced by yes-men,” she divulges holding a mirror to how the kingpins are manipulating other puppets on a string, all in the name of the Father of the Commune. “Basically, it is only Jayesh, Amrito and Anando (who does the dirty work for them) who are ruling the Commune.
Frankly, it is the two of them, Jayesh and Amrito, who took advantage of the fact that Osho spent the last few months of his life when he was not keeping well, with them. That’s why they keep imposing their decisions under the garb of ‘It being Osho’s wish’. But all of us who knew Osho for so many years and have spent so much time with him, knew exactly how Osho would have reacted. We knew his vision, his lifestyle. So, earlier we even used to joke with Jayesh saying, ‘Come on, take responsibility for what you have said. You don’t have to involve Osho saying it was His dream.’”
Lambasting the triumvirate who have master-minded the transfer of Osho’s copyrights, publishing works and signatures to New York. The lady known for her quiet dignity gets vocal, “Right now it is not Osho’s Inner Circle, but it is Jayesh’s Inner Circle that is functioning. Of course, I am not denying that Jayesh has his good points. Like, he is very good in aesthetics. He is undoubtedly responsible for the Commune having a beautiful body which he has expanded. But then what about the heart and the soul of the ashram? What about the transparency? The accountability? However, when you question them, they don’t like it.
They say you are interfering, it’s not your department. But then again that doesn’t stop them from interferring in every other department that is not their business. Instead of supporting us, for the good work we were doing they would constantly put us in a corner. It’s a pity that they never appreciated the fact that it was because of the wonderful PR work that Swami Keerti and I were doing that the whole image of the Commune had changed drastically. I still remember that when we came back to India after staying at the ranch at Oregon and twenty-one countries had refused us permission, the Police Commissioner of Pune had given Osho twenty-four hours notice to leave the city. We had such negative publicity then.
But today, it’s beause of the excellent P.R. that we have won everyone over. All the high profile and eminent people of this country have visited the ashram. All doors automatically open whenever it has anything to do with the Commune. Even Jayesh who was supposed to do the legal work, found it so much more easier to function, because everyone was more receptive, when the Commune’s name was mentioned. But unfortunately they didn’t realise or value it,” she says lifting the veil on the dark secrets of the mystic world.
Getting the load off her chest, Ma Neelam in whom Osho had implicit faith in, declares, “What I do feel strongly about is that they don’t pay any respect to the people that Osho chose into the Inner Circle. That’s why so many of them have left. They have been humiliated in some way or the other. Like for instance, we had some of the world’s most brilliant people managing the multiversity which used to earn the Commune a lot of money because the courses were highly priced. But gradually everyone left because they refused to be dictated or spoken rudely to. After all, so many of them were internationally renowned and had given up a lot to be with the Master. Osho had intentionally chosen such diverse people in different fields for the Inner Circle so that when any decision had to be reached it would be a multi-dimensional one. The whole idea was to have a larger perspective and not a tunneled vision of two people, like it is happening now.”
Well aware of the fact that now that she has opened a can of worms, she should be ready to face the backlash as well, she admits bravely, “I know they are hitting out at me and want to create doubts about my credibility. But then those who know me for years, are aware of the truth. They know that I have always been very open and ready to listen. Whenever any sanyasin came with a complaint, I would always give them a patient hearing and if I could help them, I would definitely do something about it. If I couldn’t, I would tell them likewise. I have always tried to be fair. But whenever I put across some of the complaints to the Inner Circle, they would shoot back saying, ‘Why are you wasting your time listening to them. It’s not your job’.”
Talking about the exodus of the Indian sanyasins, who walked out of the ashram without making an issue out of it, she reveals, “After I left, many Indians left because I was not there to support them. I feel so sad to see the commune take a turn in this direction. Earlier, it was such a joy to see it flourish. To me, it has always meant that the Commune was a gift of Osho that we could share with the future generation, who hadn’t met him when he was in his body.”
Refusing to take things lying down when she first heard that the directive would come from the office in New York, there were strong undercurrents when Ma Neelam started defying the newly imposed rules and the people who made them. “It’s absolutely fine to have an office in New York,” she concedes. “All big publishing houses over the world have an office in the Big Apple. But to have the main head quarters of Osho Commune. That is not done! Not when Osho was born here, lived here and died here. Pune has to be the nerve centre for the Osho Commune and the decisions have to be made from here! Osho himself had made this place a world headquarter of his work and his copyrights. Also it’s important that the decisions should be made by a large group of people who have the credibility and have a vision of making Osho available in every nook and corner of the country.
I am sure that Osho wouldn’t have wanted his signature paintings to be moved to a warehouse in London or his meditations to be trademarked. Which even we weren’t aware of, till a sanyasin abroad accidentally chanced upon it and asked us to check it out for ourselves on the net. I would like the most modern technology to be brought to this headquarter to preserve his signature instead. Also if anyone wants to lead his meditation camps, centres, seminars, or therapy groups during trainings they don’t need to ask for permission from the New York office.
To have a trademark for Osho’s meditations is the most stupid idea. It’s a pity that Osho who himself made a mockery of Mahesh Yogi for getting a trademark for Transidential meditation, now his own sanyasins are doing the same after nine years of his death! Of course, these two or three people justify it with very flowery language saying they are doing it for protecting the purity or some such ridiculous thing. But the fact is that the more one tries to make something scarce, the more chances there are of piracy and people trying to misuse it. It’s so sad that for thirty years Osho never objected to people using his meditations and now on the 15th April 1999 they applied for trademark on the Dynamic Kundalini, Nadabrahma, Natraj and the Gaurishankar meditations in New York,” she says exposing just the tip of the iceberg.
Ask her what she is going to do about it now and lady who has single-handedly challenged the spiritual resort dares, “I am going to fight it and take objection in New York. I will stand with the truth and die with the truth!” A prophecy? Words that would unquestionably open the Pandora’s Box further more and give vent to a fresh wave of sizzling headliners, no doubt!