Here is an interesting take on the day that Osho died from someone living in Pune at the time, but not a sannyasin
I vividly remember springing to my feet and quietly exiting from a Marathi literary meet when a fellow journalist whispered in my ear that there was talk of Osho having died.
It was late in the afternoon/evening, and this was much before breaking news, pagers or cellphones had come to the fore.
There was no point in rushing blindly to the Osho Commune International at Koregaon Park; some phone calls had to be made from my Pune bureau office first.
I dialled the commune’s press in-charge, Swami Chaitanya Keerti, who confirmed the news. The priority, now, was to be at the commune, about 7-10kms away.
It had been three years since Osho and his band of followers returned from their misadventure in Oregon. The press office, which was in the habit of issuing frequent statements from Osho, curiously, on the day of his death, issued a routine statement (that was hastily withdrawn within hours).
In that statement, Osho had warned against Shirley Maclaine’s Inner Workout exercises, which were “doing tremendous damage to spiritual seekers wishing to go into meditation”.
A small crowd, largely maroon-robed, had gathered at the
commune. They were standing alone or in small groups with anxious expressions. In contrast, some were dancing to loud music — a characteristic feature of the commune in those days.
The dancing did not appear a natural expression of joy, but
deliberate. It was in keeping with the philosophy of not mourning death.
The dancing soon turned to frenzy, and there was also some sobbing. I recall the sight of four men carrying Osho’s body in a bier held low so people could have one last glimpse of the mystic in his flowing white beard and cap. I don’t remember the colour of his clothes; but his senior disciple Swami Satya Vedanta (Vasant Joshi) informs me that he was “draped in black velvet and flowers”.
The commune’s managers decided against keeping Osho’s body in that state for too long; the cremation was to happen the same night within a matter of hours after his death at around 5pm. The cause of death was stated as heart attack.
The body was carried in a procession to the nearby ghat at Koregaon Park and the cremation happened at around 10pm without any religious rites being performed. The pyre was lit by his younger brother Vijay Bharati, Joshi records in his latest book, The Luminous Rebel.
Many remained at the ghat till early morning.The unusual aura of music and dancing at Osho’s cremation is still etched in my memory. I also recall wondering about the haste with which his body was cremated and not kept in the state for at least a day to allow darshan (last glimpse) to his followers. I was told that this was against his philosophy.