Pune and the Ashram

will it still be here in 2000 + ?

by Sw Anand Darpano

or all of us who've been through the Pune ashram’s gateless gate (now called the Welcome Centre) there’s an expression and feeling of “Welcome Home.” No matter how many times I go (most recently in Sept. 1998) it does have a beautiful flavour of just that: welcome to my inner home! I guess it would be similar to Mecca, Jerusalem, Lourdes for all those other pilgrims. Of course I am always hopeful that it will be more than just a “religious pilgrimage” to “pay my respects” – and it always is. Being there is rarely what I think or hope it’s going to be; it’s usually a lot more of pain and bliss, with a dash of magic.

As many of us have heard, there are some significant changes in how people are going to Pune. Until recently many people wanted to stay in and around the ashram as long as possible. Their focus was often about saving to go to Pune and preparing to go back to “the West” to save and return again. In the early ’90’s, when Indian visas were only offered for six months, many people paid to travel outside India and back on a regular basis, just for new visas. In the nine years since Osho left his body, the dynamics have changed.

According to Sw Yogendra, the coordinator of the Multiversity programs in the ashram, there’s a new profile or type of person coming. Most people who come now hold down a regular job in Europe, Israel or Asia. They come for their holidays (or “holy days”) for as little as two weeks. The average stay for most people is one or two months. There are more people coming to the ashram for the first time, even now, than people returning. In the last two years a puzzle seems to have developed between how to meet the needs of newcomers and how to keep it juicy for the “old-timers,” making it increasingly difficult for the ashram to welcome them both in the same way.

It seems there could be some big changes with the “top guns” of the ashram. Let me try to summarize the rumours: several Inner Circle members are rarely in Pune these days. Sw Jayesh, one of our boys from Canada and the financial leader of the commune, is said to be spending most of his time living in Delhi. Sw Amrito, who was Osho’s physician, lives and spends most of his time in New York. Ma Anando, who was the last of Osho’s personal secretaries, has been spending the last several months in Italy looking for a new centre to extend Pune and the Multiversity programs. While I was in Pune, my friend Sw Devageet, Osho’s dentist, resigned from the Inner Circle, and with a few other sannyasins bought and moved to a new “Buddhafield” mansion in south England, near the Ko Hsuan school for sannyasin children. Another friend and former Inner Circle member, Ma Karuna, has also resigned and is trying to set up a commune in the eastern US.

Furthermore, many of the big-name Multiversity people are no longer involved much with Pune. Kaveesha’s Mystery School in Arizona should live on without her physical presence, and Dheeraj’s Pulsing School could do the same now that he has also physically gone. There are also group leaders who seem to have latched onto other spiritual leaders and paths.

With all this, I’m not in any panic. As Yogendra said to me one afternoon at the new coffee bar in the ashram plaza, it’s all change and expansion: the way Osho wanted it.

So we may have some well-known sannyasin “leaders” splintering off to other paths and we may now be moving to more satellite Osho buddhafields. However in my own experience, Osho’s presence, silence and magic are still in Pune, along with the beautiful growing experiences. If the ashram in Pune is breaking into smaller satellites, of course I’ll go visit them when I can. As I recall, Osho says something like: whenever we are rejoicing and meditating together, he’ll be there. I’d like to be there too.

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