Whose Commune is it anyway?

October 12, 2000
Citadel, The Pune City Magazine

With the commune being a beehive of controversy since the last six months, Swami Keerti makes up for his earlier silence by telling it all! The way it  is. Presenting the (ex) P.R.O. of the Commune – unleashes his pent-up feelings.

Controversies, they are delicious to Osho. Our master relished them. And he cooked them as regularly as one has breakfast. Osho left behind himself not only a colossal treasure of spiritual wealth, but a very huge amount of controversies also. Such is the colourfulness of our Master.
Ever since I was given a new birth by my master in Neo Sannyas, it has been my passion to get Osho’s revolutionary thoughts published in newspapers and magazines. I was initiated into sannyas on Sep 4, 1971 and the very next day assigned to a kirtan group led by Sw. Chaitanya Bharti to sing and dance on the streets of Indian cities and sell Osho books. This was the beginning of worldwide  revolution. In 1973, Osho blessed me to start his magazine from Punjab and he provided the title: Anand. This was mainly a one-man show, I played the roles from a peon to a publisher to bring out this magazine and distribute it nationwide.
In October 1974 Osho invited me to Pune to start his Rajneesh Foundation.  Newsletter and the first issue of this fortnightly appeared on his birthday, 11 Dec 1974. Since then, my task was to edit his newsletter and his Hindi books. He was very appreciative of my work and often autographed the books that I edited. His blessings kept inspiring me to keep doing this work with more and more passion. He often told me to send the excerpts and one-liners to various newspapers regularly on different occasions like the birthdays of Buddha, Kabir, Meera, Nanak and many other mystics, because he had delivered awesome talks on all the great spiritual masters and their teachings. Ever since, I have been doing this job delightfully.
In 1987, when he returned to Pune after his world tour and deportation from 22 countries, he again asked me to continue with editing his publications and also look after mediapersons. His specific instructions were: ‘Never freak out when you see anything negative about me in the media. They do not know the full picture. You know the full picture because you are with me. So you answer them point by point in a loving manner.’
Another guiding principle was to always appreciate the media when accurate and positive news is published. Always be welcoming, open and loving to the media. On his arrival in India, Osho declared to mediapersons, “You are my people, you are doing my job of reaching the people. In USA only the media saved my life with its coverage. “
All these guidelines have stood me good stead in all my dealings with the press to this day. Unfortunately, these very principles have been discarded today by the management team in their interaction with the media. Osho never placed paid advertisements for explaining what is going on in the commune. When media relations hit the rock bottom, this is the only desperate solution which -unfortunately –  never works.

Ten years after he left his body, once again we are in the middle of an enormous controversy which refuses to die. It is acquiring historical dimensions. And people who are arguing their case are not in a mood to relent or reconcile so easily, because it is going to affect all Osho lovers around the world and his message.
Osho left Pune for USA in 1981. It was not clear to anybody if he was leaving India forever. Osho always lived in the moment and with totality. These are two key phrases in Osho’s teaching, besides meditation -(a) Living in the moment (b) Totality. Nothing can be said about the future plans of such a person who lives in the moment and with totality. So nobody could have answered this question if Osho was leaving India forever.
In this respect, Osho’s departure from India was total for the moment. Everything that was meant for Osho, his personal belongings and his huge library, all shifted to USA. Most of his disciples followed him to USA. Moving to Oregon was an enormous operation, it was just like some aliens descending on the earth. But it happened.  And we just started living in Oregon as if we had lived  there forever. It did not matter whether we were there legally or illegally – what mattered was being with the master: in totality, in the moment.
Then one day we all had to pack up and come back.  Arrangements were made to find some other ideal country for our master to settle, but somehow it was not to happen. After being deported from 21 countries, Osho came back to Pune and settled down there. Totally! Until he breathed his last.
When he shifted his headquarters to Oregon, Ma Anand Sheela, his secretary, made all arrangements – legal or illegal, we don’t know- to get copyrights of his works registered in USA. When he came back to India and settled again in Pune in 1987, Ma Neelam, Osho’s secretary for India, informed me that he wanted everything back in India- not just his personal library. EVERYTHING! Copyrights also.  But Ma Neelam was not the person to pursue such matters.  It was Swami Jayesh’s job.
In 1990, 3 years later Osho left his body. Instead of bringing the copyrights back to India, Osho’s last headquarters, 18 months later, in July 1991 the process of registering all copyrights in Zurich was set in motion, by Jayesh. It was all done successfully by the end of 1997 and I saw this announcement on our website www.osho.org in 1999. During this time, an office, a galleria, or whatever you want to call it, was opened in London. We were made to feel proud that it was in the Economist Building, St. James Street.  Then after sometime it was disposed off, to start a publishing headquarters in New York in 1996.  Again in 1999 we were made to feel proud that our office won the best architecture award of the Business Week for its Zen ambience.

The trouble started when our so-called new headquarters started becoming dictatorial. Everything had to be routed through one or two people in New York. Not just our publications in English, French, Japanese and other world languages. I was told time and again to send even my press releases to New York before sending to the media. There should be nothing in the press releases which our publishers in New York (with whom we were entering into publishing contracts) might not like.  Like I should drop the prefix ‘Swami’ from my name because it looks cultish. Press releases were good and very welcome in New York, only if they were without ‘Swami’ in my name. And there were so many other things which were not being tolerated by our New York office people.  And it was never clear whom we had to please in New York and why we couldn’t be just ourselves in Pune?  The only answer that I received was: “We would decide and you would do it.” Meaning if you don’t toe the line, we are going to step on your toes. This was not the spirit of a commune created by our master. Certainly not! And there were some Indian friends always around very eager to toe the line, because it meant power and position to them and a close proximity to the people based in New York. Since then this new management team has been advising me, Neelam and Tathagat and others who have left the commune or have been banned, about Osho’s guidance. Suddenly they seem to know everything how Osho wanted everything to change after ten years later. This management team talks in such a way as if Osho chose them and whatever Neelam was doing for ten years after Osho left the body was not according to Osho. The close proximity to New York based people has brought to them the original message and wisdom of the Master, never heard of before.
Several sannyasins such as Swami Suraj Prakash and Dr. Rajan Bhonsale who became concerned and worried that it was not right to fight and wash our dirty linen in public, approached them to bring all of us across the table and sort out all the issues, but the management did not respond to their suggestions. Management team is not free to respond. The authorities behind this team don’t allow this to happen.
Our presence in Pune for the Guru Purnima festival created such a paranoia in the minds of management team that they projected us as some kind of terrible monsters to the innocent participants. A large scale police bandobast! Members of the Inner Circle keeping day and night vigil near the front and back gates. And the participants were informing us regularly every hour about the strange scene in the commune. Some of them even said to us: “You come with us. We will also return our entry passes if they don’t allow you in.” But we did not want to create any scene. Commune is our spiritual home, so what if we are not allowed today? We can wait for the day we can sing and dance together. Nothing in life is permanent. Even the management team is not permanent. The Inner Circle is not permanent. The ban cannot be permanent. Life is so hilarious and full of surprises. I used to welcome thousands of people into the commune, day in and day out-and now I see there’s nobody there to welcome me in! But again, this too shall pass

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