Friday, October 21, 2011

Osho Rajneesh

One of the most controversial spiritual leaders and public speakers
Born on          11 December 1931
Born in            Kuchwada, Madhya Pradesh
Died on          19 January 1990
Osho was one of the most famed as well as the most controversial spiritual leaders of his time. He came to be known as 'Acharya Rajneesh' in 1960s, assumed the name 'Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh' during the 1970s and 1980s and called himself 'Osho' in 1989. He was a professor of Philosophy and traveled extensively to various parts of India, giving lectures on Secularism and Gandhi. He institutionalized religion and advocated an open attitude towards sexuality, which landed him in a number of controversies. Founder of Osho International Meditation Center, he devised a number of meditation techniques and came to be known as a spiritual therapist.

Osho was born on December 11, 1931, in Kuchwada, a small village in Madhya Pradesh, India. He was born into the Taranpanthi Jain community. Originally named Rajneesh Chandra Mohan, he was the eldest of eleven children in a family of Jain cloth merchants. At the age of seven, he was sent to live with his maternal grandparents. At his grandmother’s home, Rajneesh was nurtured with full independence, without the hassle of imposed education or other restrictions.

Rajneesh grew up as a very rebellious child. After the death of his grandmother, he returned to stay with his parents. By the time he reached adolescence, Rajneesh had inculcated interest in hypnosis and become an atheist. For a short period, he was associated with Socialism as well as two Indian independence movements - the Indian National Army and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Education, Enlightenment And Public Speaking
After completing his studies at a high school in Gadarwara, Rajneesh went to Jabalpur. In 1951, at the age of nineteen, he joined Hitkarini College in Jabalpur. There, he had a conflict with a lecturer, as a result of which, he was transferred to D.N. Jain College. Rajneesh was spiritually enlightened on March 21, 1953. Following the enlightenment, he went on to finish his studies. He earned his Bachelor’s of Arts Degree from Jabalpur University, in 1955, and received Master’s Degree in Philosophy from Sagar University, in 1957. Meanwhile, he took part in the annual Sarva Dharma Sammelan held at Jabalpur, organized by the Taranpanthi Jain community, where he initiated his first public speaking. He continued to participate in public speaking from 1951 to 1968.

A Lecturer
In 1957, Rajneesh became a lecturer at Sanskrit College in Raipur. His unconventional ideas about life soon fetched him a transfer, as the Vice Chancellor considered him a serious danger to the morality and character of the students. The following year, he acquired the position of a professor at Jabalpur University, where he taught Philosophy. In the meantime, he traveled extensively across India, giving lectures on Socialism and Gandhi, under the name of ‘Acharya Rajneesh’.

A Spiritual Therapist
Acharya Rajneesh criticized orthodox Indian religions. His bold statements made him a controversial personality. Some people were in his favor, while others went against him. A number of wealthy merchants and businessmen, who were in favor of his ideology, consulted him frequently to seek guidance about their spiritual development and daily life. It was clearly visible from the rapid growth of this practice that he possessed an unusual talent as a spiritual therapist. 

Life In Mumbai
Acharya Rajneesh moved from Jabalpur to Mumbai in 1970. The same year, he introduced his ‘Dynamic Meditation’ method for the first time, in Mumbai, at a public meditation event. On September 26, 1970, he organized an outdoor meditation camp, which comprises of a large gathering of his followers. After a couple of months, he shifted to Woodlands Apartments in Mumbai, where he received visitors and gave lectures. By this time, he had started traveling less frequently and discontinued speaking at open public meetings. He adopted the title ‘Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’ in 1971.

Life In Pune
The climatic conditions in Mumbai proved to be unfavorable for Osho, as a result of which, he developed several health problems. Consequently, he left Mumbai for Pune in 1974. His disciples set up an ashram in Pune, where he taught from 1974 to 1981. Initially, the audio recordings of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh's discourses were regularly played in the ashram, followed by video recording and printing of the material for worldwide distribution. Over a period of time, the number of Western visitors increased drastically, leading to constant expansion of the ashram. It soon featured an arts-and-crafts centre and included music and theatrical performances. The ashram in Pune is known as 'Osho International Meditation Center' in the present times. 

Public Silence
After giving discourses on a daily basis for almost 15 years, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh underwent a three-and-a-half years of self-imposed public silence in 1981. His discourses were then substituted by satsangs and readings from spiritual works. This phase continued until 1984. Thereafter, he resumed his presentations, but in a limited way.

Life In The United States
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh traveled to the United States on June 1 1981, to get treatment for prolapsed disc. His disciples purchased a large plot in Wasco County, Oregon and named it ‘Rajneeshpuram’. He settled down in the place for several years. The construction of Rajneeshpuram proved to be a controversial issue. It resulted in arguments over zoning rules and building codes between his followers and the residents of Wasco County and eventually, with the rest of the State. There was a clash of cultures and the inhabitants felt threatened by the influx of his devotees. As a result, building permits were denied. His disciples then decided to be elected straightaway to the town council. Meanwhile, there were allegations that the followers of Osho were involved in illegal activities, like spreading salmonella at a local restaurant. Allegations of murder were also made on them.

Osho’s Arrest
In November 1985, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and his several disciples were charged with the invasion of immigration laws. On 28 October 1985, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, his personal physician and a small number of disciples were arrested in North Carolina. He then entered an "Alford plea”, known as ‘no-contest plea’, and was given a suspended sentence, on a stipulation that he should leave the United States.   

Return To Pune
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh reluctantly decided to leave for India, after the episode in the United States. It was at this time that he decided to change his name from to Osho. After staying in Himachal Pradesh for six weeks, he traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal and then moved to Crete in Greece. After being refused by a number of countries, Osho returned to India in 1986. In January 1987, Osho moved back to his old ashram in Pune, where he resumed his discoursing. This was followed by the continuation of therapy courses. Osho formulated several meditation techniques during this time. The ashram was renewed and expanded, this time in a less controversial style.

Osho breathed his last in the year 1990. It was stated that heart failure was the cause of his death. His physicians hypothesized that he had been poisoned by radiation and thallium in the United States and that he must have slept on his right side on a deliberately irradiated mattress, as his symptoms were concentrated on the right side of his body. However, his followers had no evidence to support the hypothesis. 

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