The author of this piece Deva Peter (American)’s, job, was to be the follow up (chase) driver to Osho when he went on his daily drives around Rajneeshpuram, and also for a while when he took his Rolls on to the public highway. He quits his job finally because of what he sees as risks to Osho’s safety, which is salutary, because it must have made him very unpopular with the ruling elite there!
He writes in a book called 93 Rolls Royces:
Being with Osho on the ride is an example of my total trust in him. Much of the ride takes place on narrow, two-lane, low-speed-limit mountain roads. Osho loves to go fast and often crosses into the opposite lane, passing the driver in front of him, going around blind curves.
I make the conscious choice to follow him no matter what; to trust his knowing whether or not it is safe to pass. To trust whether he can sense whether another vehicle is coming the other way on the two-lane road. Often he is not able to physically see what is around the bend.
Approaching many of the blind curves, he does not pass – and there would often be a car coming the other way.
For me, being with Osho is always about the teaching, rather than the event itself. I am aware that it doesn’t really have to do with us being out there driving like crazies. It’s a teaching in trusting my inner knowing, regardless of the circumstances. The Master Sosan says, “Stop talking and thinking and there is nothing you will not be able to know.”
After leaving the Ranch, Osho takes the two-lane highway to the nearby town of Madras. On that road, he can really push the Rolls to the max. At one point we had a communication code between his car and the chase car using CB radios. I once got into trouble because I couldn’t use the existing code we had developed for telling him how fast he was going. Why? Because he was going faster than the code allowed – it was over 85, for sure.
I think the speedometer on the GMC only went to 85 in those days. He was burying the speedometer on the Rolls and I couldn’t say how fast he was going. So I said that over the air and got into hot water.
On another ride, I’ve got Harry (a cop with “real world” experience) in the car with me. He has a speed gun aimed on the Rolls to measure Osho’s speed, but throws it in the back seat, saying, “It’s the wrong instrument” for this job. I love Harry – a very cool guy.
One time the trunk opens on the ride. Osho stops at a stop sign and the trunk lid is bobbing up and down. I am in the chase car, so I radio ahead and say, “Wait there for a minute. I’m going to have to come up and close the trunk.”
The reason the trunk is open is because the battery is in the trunk. With so many Rollses, each car sits for quite a while before it comes up in the rotation. So, Avesh and Anandadas need to recharge the battery before a car is used. When they serviced the battery that day, they forgot to close the trunk lid securely. That’s why it’s bobbing up and down.
Only after the Ranch do I learn that the battery put in the cars at the factory is a “slave battery.” It’s the dealer’s responsibility to put a larger amperage battery in before delivery to the customer. For some reason – maybe because the Ranch wants the cars so quickly – that upgrade never happens.
Not only does the battery need to be charged from sitting, but it’s so small it requires constant recharging by the alternator. The alternator does not operate when the car is idling at low rpm, like when Osho drives slowly, greeting his disciples along the road. Occasionally, especially during the summer when Osho uses the air conditioning, the car stalls.
That happens during one summer festival, when there are thousands of visitors greeting Osho along the side of the road during his drive-by. I am up at the garages when the call comes in asking me to bring Osho another car. The car’s battery has died!
When I arrive on the scene, Osho emerges from his car and stands among a throng of his disciples, grinning, his arms raised, encouraging his people to continue singing and dancing. Talk about a security nightmare! Finally he makes his way to the replacement car and continues along his way.
Avesh deals with the problem by setting the idle higher. However, that means Osho has to ride his brakes, causing them to squeak. The easy solution would be to requisition larger batteries for the cars. It doesn’t happen. Why? I dunno. It’s not my business.
An even more frightening incident happens one day when Osho is in Madras. This time, Anandadas is in the chase car when Osho pulls away from the curb after stopping to have a snack in his car. He darts from his parking space across two lanes into traffic.
Because Anandadas can’t get behind him fast enough, a pickup truck pulls in behind Osho and has to slam on his brakes to avoid ass-ending the Rolls. Can you imagine if Osho had gotten ass-ended?
Osho realizes how scary that incident has been for Anandadas. Back at the Ranch, Osho asks Avesh and me to meet with him in his room. He gives us a bottle of wine to give to Anandadas along with a message for him “not to worry” about Osho getting hurt on the ride.
Then Osho relates a story about a time when he was in India and his driver went off the road and the car rolled onto its side. Osho was in the back seat and could smell gasoline. He nudged the driver and told him to get out of the car, saying, “The car’s going to explode.” The driver said, “I can’t. I’m dead!” Osho said, “You’re not dead. If you were dead, you wouldn’t be able to hear me!”
Finally, the driver got out and was able to help Osho out. Osho tells Avesh and me to “tell Anandadas, ‘If I was going to die in a car accident, I would have died then.’ So, not to worry about me on the ride.” To me, it’s another example of Osho’s profound compassion for a disciple.
On another occasion, on one of the back roads, I am the driver for the chase car and Bob, one of the original Ranch property managers, is riding with me. He is not armed. We are stopped by two carloads of goofy teenage kids, one in front of us, one behind us, and they slow down to the point Osho has to stop.
We are pinned in. They jeer and give him the finger. Just being goofs, but to me it is very disturbing, to say the least, that helpless kind of feeling. Osho doesn’t seem disturbed, but Vivek looks quite upset. We are helpless to do anything about it.
After about ten minutes or so, after blowing off steam, the teenagers pull away and let us move on. To me it is totally unacceptable to be in a situation like that. So I go to Vidya, complaining that the ride is unsafe and not properly equipped to deal with such an episode, or worse.
I go with a list of complaints and an ultimatum that I would quit unless they follow my recommendations, such as having an armed person on the ride, a camera with telephoto lens, binoculars. They don’t adopt my recommendations fast enough, plus nobody is taking my advice on things, so I quit the ride.
Later they do implement my recommendations, but they go totally overboard: to having three chase cars, to Osho being wired to a machine reading out his vital signs, to having a car with not only a doctor but also a lawyer. Three cars on the ride, one for security, one for medical, one for legal.
By that time I am long finished with the ride and just focused on my painting work. At first going on the ride was fun – like an escape from the Ranch. But eventually it got so intense that it wasn’t fun anymore. As time went on, and Osho’s safety was more threatened, I was glad to be done with it. I wasn’t on the ride more than ten times.
Anyway, by the end it is decided Osho won’t go outside the Ranch on his rides. Sannyasin crews develop the pine forest road for him, so our Master can speed around the Ranch without getting hassled!
After all is said and done, I like to think I have a positive impact on Osho’s safety on the ride, through my bitching and moaning. To say the least, I am really a pain in the ass to all the powers that be on the Ranch. This I know. The real issue is the safety of our Master. It is something of a miracle that he emerges from his driving adventures unscathed!
Born in 1945, Deva Peter was raised in Chicago, Illinois, USA. He trained and worked as a professional auto mechanic, welder, boat builder and custom car painter. He took sannyas in Poona, in February 1981 and was invited to the Ranch that year. Osho’s Rolls-Royces were the most extraordinary custom paint jobs Peter completed. He currently enjoys retired life with Avalon (Ma Devagarbha) in Colorado, living close to their daughter, her husband, and two granddaughters, who are the light of his life. phaykus (at) outlook.com