A Short Comment from someone who was there the whole time

Ma Ananda Sarita

Now a tantra teacher in the U.K., lived on Rajneeshpuram the whole time.

I was there with the first 20 people before Osho came to the ranch and then I was there until there were only six people left. We took a desert and we completely transformed it in only five years and turned it into an oasis. People were working 16-hour days but always singing, dancing, hugging, laughing, and having love affairs. It was a very vibrant and alive place and very joyful. Most of the people who were there had no idea about the crimes that were being committed by Sheela and her close entourage.

The documentary was very touching and fascinating to watch. They tried to be very balanced. However I did find what was missing was more about Osho and the meditative aspect. There were personal development groups happening, people were coming from all over the world to work on themselves. For the outsiders looking in, they would think “oh, that’s a cult,” but you know, the fact of guru and disciple has been a thousands-of-years-old approach to life in India and I think it should have been at least given some kind of attention or spoken about in some way.

In the very early days, I was working in Sheela’s house as a cleaner and later on I was shifted to work in the press office. I saw that things were going in a not very pleasant direction with her and the people around her. I saw that she was under a lot of stress. Osho had invited her to live in his compound, and he advised her to work during the day but in the evening to come back to a meditative space in his compound, to leave the work behind — she chose not to do that. When people are under stress, they do strange things.

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41 Responses to A Short Comment from someone who was there the whole time

  1. Parmartha says:

    I trust what Surita says, and also even more so her dedication in having served Osho’s work from beginning to end.

    People sometimes forget that the Sheela cabal actually announced that
    they were “leaving the commune” and then left. I sometimes think that showed an amazing insight of Osho not to ask her to leave and see what she did with that.

    I myself never knew before this post that Osho had invited Sheela to live within his compound. He was clearly wanting her to ‘catch’ the vibe of relaxation, of meditation. He did make a mistake in appointing her, and not taking her lack of familiarity with meditation and personal growth into account in appointing her – assuming there was a formal appointment, which I sometimes doubt.

  2. frank says:

    In ‘WWC’, there was an interesting incident that Sheela described in passing that probably slipped under the radar for most viewers.

    She describes that after the death of her husband, she was utterly devastated. Bhagwan told a doctor to “put her to sleep for 3 days” and then, on waking, she should forget about what had happened and “throw herself into the work.” This she did, and her meteoric rise followed from this moment.

    (We don`t know if this the exact truth, but it`s hard to see what the propaganda effect of Sheela inventing such a story would be, she seemed comfortable with the idea).

    Now, anyone with any psychological insight and experience would do well to be aware that trying to deal with their bereavement, especially a close one, in this way, is in serious danger of setting themselves up for 2 things: A breakdown or flip-out in the future and/or further harmful drug use. Especially when facing difficult obstacles.

    It seems that, by her own account, part of her own craziness stemmed from very poor medical advice/procedure.

    (This knock-out “treatment” was a procedure or “cure” commonly used by psychiatry back in the day for depression. But so were straight-jackets, electric shock treatment, heroin use for cocaine addiction, mercury, bloodletting, trepanning, lobotomies, chemical castration and a whole host of other insanities).

    Bhagwan himself describes in `Autobiography of a Spiritually Incorrect Mystic’ how he cured his chronic migraine with sleeping pills.

    Vivek also reportedly died of an overdose of sleeping pills.

    One might ask, why, in a movement set up for the awakening of humanity would there be so many key people necking sleepers?

    Another Zen koan, no doubt.

    • Tan says:

      Frank boy, something to add to your Zen koan:
      It is said that Sheela was a bad, bad girl. She used to sleep with lovers beside the bed of her dying husband. I couldn’t catch if he was aware of that, but, does it matter?


    • Parmartha says:

      Sad to say, Frank, Osho himself ‘believed’ in western medicine and often recommended it and used it himself. I have found this common amongst the Indian elites.

      I myself have major doubts, as you seem to have, and I also have doubts about all the alternative medicines.

      I don’t see it as either/or.
      I see ‘medicine’ as very poorly advanced, and unlikely to make further advances unless the commercial arm with the drug companies is crushed, and the money they make given to eccentric researchers who see something beyond all the conventions.

      Thanks for the post.

  3. madhu dagmar frantzen says:

    Osho Cable-tv Netherlands edited, January 6th, 2017 (youtube available) a longer interview of Ma Ananda Sarita about her meeting Osho, her work (now) and her ´dream(s)´ all about it. (More authentic in my eyes and for my ears).

    Maybe punters of the caravanserai here are interested to listen and see themselves?


  4. Lokesh says:

    Another week, another thread based around Sheela on SN. How remote from what Osho taught, how utterly dead and uninspiring.

    Osho’s whole approach to life was rooted in the present. The mind, of course, hates this because there is no room for it to exist in the present. Enter the past…

    The mind loves the past, the place where it can live on forever. Let’s jump on the bandwagon and revisit the graveyard of the past again and again. Lots of rotting corpses to pick over and discuss. Never mind the stench of human decomposition, the mind has what it wants…an endless playground of past memories,yet another maggot-riddled tidbit. Was it like this? Was it like that? I have my doubts…Yum yum! The mind lives on these doubts.

    Meanwhile, life passes while you are thinking about it. You look back over the years. What do you have looking back in time? A bunch of haphazard memories. In the case of this thread, not even your own.

    How utterly unsannyasinlike. How against the grain of what Osho actually taught. In my opinion, SN is at an all time low in terms of content. Yes, there are newcomers, but their presence is mainly due to the success of ‘WWC’, an entertaining documentary series created for a commercial TV network. ‘WWC’ was not created to promote Osho’s ideas. Anyone who thinks it was created for anything other than commercial reasons is dreaming.

    So on you go, boys and girls. Dig into the graveyard of the past as much as you wish. See what new tasty bits of recent history you can unearth and examine. Oh, look at this! Sheela did this, Sheela did that. Wow! I did not know that! Hey! Haven’t heard much from Lokesh lately. Hardly surprising. He can’t stand this shit! He’s too busy living today and thinks the past is a graveyard. Bit of a weirdo if you ask me.

    • Arpana says:

      Osho talked about the past at great length, Lokesh.

      • satyadeva says:

        Of course, Arps, but surely this was to occupy the mind while carrying out his primary purpose of ‘transmitting his energy’. As he used to say, he was waiting for the day when he could simply sit in silence, with no need of words as ‘intermediaries’. Ie, another dimension altogether to that which our words occupy.

        That said, I think there’s value in these ‘historical’ discussions and debates about Rajneeshpuram (depending on the quality of the contributions), not only to rehash ‘the good old days’, escapist self-entertainment like stereotypical older people are prone to do, but particularly to help discern and clarify ‘what went wrong’ both externally ‘out there’ and internally, within the self, at such a major period of many sannyasins’ lives.

        The ultimate point being to understand individual and collective delusion, aka ‘suffering’, to hopefully reduce the chances of it happening again.

        • frank says:

          “…to hopefully reduce the chances of it happening again.”

          I think that`s a done deal.
          If any dude tries to tell me, “Here, take these downers, bomb out on the sofa for a few days and then things`ll be fine”, he`s probably going to end up chewing on the wrong end of a knuckle sandwich!

        • Arpana says:

          I don’t see the discussions as ‘like old people going on about the past’.

          Far too much insight, alongside the moments of self-serving drivel.

          • satyadeva says:

            I agree, Arps, and I should have also mentioned the value of highlighting the intrinsic worth of individuals’ Ranch experiences, in case one loses sight of the immense positives of those years, amidst all the concern with the, shall we say, ‘far than perfect’ aspects.

            Sure, the value will always be there inside anyway, but it’s good that ‘the world’s idea of it all, heavily skewed, of course, by the media, including by ‘WWC’, is challenged.

    • frank says:

      I don`t really agree with the strong distinction between past and present in this way.

      To take the example I was bringing up:
      Sheela, and maybe Osho, thought she could just knock out on sleepers, forget the past and then blast straight off into living and building the dream in the moment.

      Humans don’t work like that. If your loved one dies, your presence is infused with that happening and you have to let it run its course, see where it takes you. To just say “That is the past, I`m in the present, unaffected by the past” is, paradoxically, a denial of the reality of the present!

      The idea “Live in the present” has its pitfalls too.
      Like Ouspensky said:
      “The wonder and terror of infinity is that every idea will eventually become its opposite.”

      Having said that, the Rajneeshpuram post-mortem is probably well past its sell-by date.

      But there is always a faint glimmer of hope that Parmartha Conan Doyle will eventually uncover that vital piece of evidence that will send Sheela Moriarty down for ever!!

      • Arpana says:

        Spot on, Frank.

        “If your loved one dies, your presence is infused with that happening,and you have to let it run its course, see where it takes you.”

        And the Ranch for many was a cataclysmic ending, a painful death, an agonising ending to a situation that was of enormous import to them, and they are still trying to resolve the impact on their lives.

      • Lokesh says:

        Yeah, like, man…but, Ouspensky was an alkie who never dropped acid, man.

        Yeah, and like that chick Sarita’s article is short, man, but like she says, “We took a desert and we completely transformed it in only five years and turned it into an oasis.”…TWICE!. Like man is that dementia or what?

        And like she isn’t telling the real story, man. The Ranch was a huge waste of money, man. A friend of mine gave a million bucks, when a million bucks was a million bucks, and like, man you know what she got in return, man? Zippy. Nada. Nothing. Like, was she supposed to take that as a symbol of enlightenment man?

        Wow, I’m tripping, man. Everything is like one, man. I feel love. What were we talking about? Oh yeah, Ouspensky. Like yeah, he never tripped, man. I hate it when people repeat themselves, man. You know what I mean?

        And like, Arpana is right, man. Osho talked about the past at great length. I didn’t know that. Wow! Be here THEN. That’s really zen, man. Far out!

        • Arpana says:

          I know that I’m not always right, Lokesh.

          I also know that you’re not always right.

          You know that I’m not always right, Lokesh.

          All you need to do now is face up to the fact you’re not always right either.

        • Kavita says:

          Lokie, what you say makes sense now!

          But you were the one who broke the news of the movie in the first place!

          Now & every moment, methinks, it’s best to think “this too shall pass”!

          • madhu dagmar frantzen says:

            Thanks for your good and correct memory at this point here, Kavita.
            And as far as your last sentance is going ( Now & every moment, methinks, it’s best to think “this too shall pass”!) – that´s right – up to this present moment.

            My own impression is, though, that Frank´s and Arpana´s reminders re the essence and roundabout of this very topic are worth to take in!
            As some wise people say: “What isn´t dissolved is bound to repeat the one way or other.”


            • Kavita says:

              “What isn´t dissolved is bound to repeat the one way or other” is correct for you.

              Madhu, for me now, the unwise, sometimes what isn’t dissolved for some, is bound to repeat one way or other.

              • madhu dagmar frantzen says:

                For me, we are inter-dependent folks; have ever been, as soon as embodied.

                Whatever isn´t dissolved in the energetic field I happen to be in, will affect my being and touch my soul. That´s the reason, I guess, I sense ‘wisdom’ or its opposite(s) not as a field of black-and-white, but very multi-coloured and an ever-changing happening.

                And I don´t see what I call ´me´ as the ruler of this very multi-coloured, ever-changing ´universe´, inside as outside.

                And wisdom, as we call it, also is an energy ever changing and at its best field conditions, adapting – manifesting.
                Or waiting for a moment to meet better human capacities, being listened to.

                A Mystery. Ever present.


                • Kavita says:

                  Yes, dear, since all of us can’t be present in any given happening/ situation, so what may be one’s perception of it may differ/not mean the same as the ones not present, that is why I said/wrote “sometimes” & “some”.

                  Just needed to clarify this.

    • Levina says:

      Yes, right, Lokesh, but maybe the regurgitating of the past over and over again is gonna make us so sick of it that we never want to hear another word about it again, not even glean in, in order to make a comment about it….

      And anyway, I don’t think it’s about all the stories, but about stored individual emotions about that period that now hopefully can be set free! It’s a sign of the times that all the dark human secrets starts surfacing now, and brought into the open, from individuals to all the institutions worldwide you can think of, so the Osho institution couldn’t stay behind thanks to those 2 filmmakers! As I see it, it’s an opportunity for healing, as long as we don’t stick to the stories!

      Levina, WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY glean in (FIRST PARAG.)?

      To find an opening, opportunity to tell a story about being fed up with a story.

  5. Parmartha says:

    I think I have an understanding of the whole Ranch episode, and how it developed from the beginning. If the Existence gives me time enough I will write it down before decease.

    Why I return to it is that I see so much rubbish put out by those who have their own story lines, often to some agenda they attach to the present. In particular the Sheela cabal having found a way to ‘defend’ themselves through these movies. That is a present event.

    I have never blamed any faction particularly for what happened; as I have said before, we were all responsible, including Osho and his household, the 3,000 sannyasins who built the place, and the Sheela cabal.

    • Arpana says:

      Big P,
      Worth bearing in mind the power-tripping and heavy-handedness
      had begun to manifest in Poona 1. What developed in Oregon was a progression, initially maybe less obvious because there was so much more physical space.

      We didn’t actually go from glorious paradise of Poona 1 to the hell of the Ranch, and I reckon that erroneous comparison
      does get made.

      Further to that, I reckon the introduction of the perspex malas brought the worst out in a lot of people.

      A friend of mine lost his airmail mala, which was replaced with a perspex mala and he felt he was treated as an inferior at Medina by so many individuals, not all, but too many, and he really wasn’t the paranoid type.

      • satyadeva says:

        “A friend of mine lost his airmail mala, which was replaced with a perspex mala and he felt he was treated as an inferior at Medina by so many individuals, not all, but too many, and he really wasn’t the paranoid type.”

        I really don’t see the problem here, Arpana. It’s perfectly natural, wholly acceptable and desirable, essential even, for such indications of rank and status to elicit this sort of response in any collective human situation worthy of the term ‘community’.

        I myself, for instance, lost my mala no less than 10 times in 9 and 1/2 months at the Pune ashram, and in the interim periods before receiving a new one I was subject to an enormous degree of harassment, including not only the most vicious personal invective but also physical attacks, the worst being pelted with rotten apples while being jeered at by a mob of fellow-seekers as I made my way from the entrance to the discourse area in the morning.

        Yet, thanks to Bhagwan’s grace, I learned to accept what my mind thought was ‘persecution’ and realised the heavy price one has to pay for being ‘different’, especially in ‘mala matters’. Because malas do matter, don’t they – they matter so very, very much!

      • Parmartha says:

        I agree, Arps.

        Much totalitarianism was in place in Poona One, but less evident, and it was very easy for people to simply leave if they felt something untoward was going down.

        I personally knew people who lived in Poona One, and actually lived in the hut villages, and only went to the ashram to listen to Osho occasionally. But they still maintained they were in a Buddhafield.

        They wanted nothing to do with the organisation, and as it turned out may well have been right!

    • dean carter says:

      Great post, I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve said similar things just after the Ranch collapsed, sannaysins were in a state of denial. “How could this have happened?” was the mantra. Look in the mirror, I would say,

      We took our freedom of choice, and responsibility for our actions, for our intelligence, and threw them out the window, giving them instead to a few “Chosen” people, and our deep desire to stay at the Ranch (we would do almost anything asked of us in order to be allowed to stay there and hopefully become a “permanent resident”- the brass bead was the greatest prize to have).

      Remember that one, the “Chosen People” so-called controversy? Sannasyins getting upset that they weren’t on the list.

  6. satchit says:

    “Osho had invited her to live in his compound, and he advised her to work during the day but in the evening to come back to a meditative space in his compound, to leave the work behind — she chose not to do that.”

    Who told her this? A friend of a friend of hers?

    There’s so much rumours and hearsay, especially in the sannyas scene.
    At the end you know nothing.

    • Parmartha says:

      Not sure you ever went to the Ranch, but if you did you can speak from your own experience. That is not hearsay, and there are a number of us who were there writing at this blog.

      For example, a close friend of mine was actually ‘removed’ from the Ranch because of disobedience, and just dumped in Antelope. Many, many people know this guy, and there is actually no reason to disbelieve him one iota. We are not tenderfoots at this site. .

      • dean carter says:

        You might want to talk to Hendrikus Schraven, he used to be on the Ranch (he drove concrete trucks and did concrete pouring for foundations etc.) a long time sannaysin from Bombay days; now he owns an Issaquah Wa.-based landscaping outfit and is into Biodynamics (I worked for him for a short time when I lived in Seattle back in 1989-1990.

        He has some interesting stories to tell of his Ranch days, one in particular when he was ‘asked’ to leave. He stood his ground, told off the big shots, and that he was there for Bhagwan, not them. They didn’t fuck with him after that.

      • satchit says:

        I am also not a tenderfoot, Parmartha.

        I ask you one thing:
        Why did you not leave the Ranch when this close friend of yours was ‘removed’ for the wrong reason? Why did you not follow your intuition maybe already earlier when you saw that things had gone wrong?

        Nobody did force you to stay there.
        I know guys who left after a week when they saw what was going on.

        I can imagine what the reason was that you did not leave. Still the dream of an alternative society?

        • Parmartha says:

          My friend was so ashamed of what happened to him he did not “come out” with the full story until the Ranch collapsed.

          I had no dreams of an alternative society, but felt at some level that to actually ‘be’ around Osho in his Buddhafield, wherever he was on the planet, was important, whatever the faults of the organisation.

  7. Arpana says:

    From ‘Osho News’:

    “I am responsible for whatever happened – because you are fast asleep

    Osho takes the responsibility for what happened in Rajneeshpuram and says, “…this is my deepest longing: that Sheela and her group should be forgiven.”

    Beloved Master,
    Yesterday I was sad when you said, “I take the blame for everything that has happened.”

    Why should you be blamed? Every moment you are trying to make us loving, meditative and celebrative. If there is any blame, we are all responsible. We are not loving, meditative and alert, and that is why Sheela and her gang could dare to do such evil actions.
    Please tell us how to become more meditative, loving and responsible.”

    “That’s why I have said that I am responsible for whatever happened – because you are fast asleep. You are not alert, aware; you live like a somnambulist, walking in your sleep. How can you say that you are responsible for it all?

    Neither can I say Sheela and her group are responsible. They belong to the same category as you. They just had power and, in their sleep, they did whatever sleep allows you to do. You had no power, you followed them, because what can a sleeper do?

    So the whole responsibility is basically mine. I should not have gone into silence and isolation.

    But it has been a great experiment, and a great experience that a man like me should not leave you alone in the hands of people who are just like you.

    The law, perhaps, may not allow it, but this is my deepest longing: that Sheela and her group should be forgiven, and if any punishment is needed they should give it to me.

    Only I am responsible, because I went into silence. I had never thought that silence can lead to such calamity.”

    Osho, ‘From Bondage to Freedom’, Ch.6, Q.2


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