Pune as World HQ
page is part
of the historical background relating to "What Is an
Osho?", a slick, sannyas-paradigm-shifting policy paper written by
and circulated in 1998. A deconstruction of Amrito's paper is presented
on this site, introduced here. A large subset of the
background addresses various aspects of OIF's claimed right
to control Osho's legacy, particularly regarding the legal muscle of
copyright and trademark. This page looks at
OIF's claims regarding controlling Osho's legacy via controlling Pune. It
is sourced from Osho
Friends International. For more legal pages, see OFI or Legal
Osho sometimes spoke about His world headquarters, and made it clear
that headquarters was His secretariat:
world headquarters will simply function so that you can have a
connection with me. Otherwise you don’t have any place to whom to ask
where I am, what is happening to me. The world headquarters is not in
any way a power over any sannyasin, over any other sannyas centers,
ashramas, communes. It has nothing to do with that. It is my
~ from The Last Testament, Vol. 5, ch 12
The world headquarters for Osho’s work operated wherever Osho and His
secretaries were. At one point it was in Bombay (now Mumbai), then in
Pune, then in Oregon, then in various places on the World Tour, then in
Mumbai again, and then back to Pune, where Osho left His body.
Osho had several secretaries through the years including Laxmi, Sheela,
Hasya, Neelam, and Anando. Osho had several secretaries at one time to
avoid abuse of power. The offices of these women were called
secretariats in the British style, and the secretaries had staffs that
helped them with the work of communicating with thousands of people
around the world. The secretaries and their staffs were volunteers who
donated their work out of their love for Osho.
At the time of the name change Osho had three secretaries:
Hasya: His international secretary who communicated
on Osho’s behalf with centers and individuals around the world outside
Neelam: His secretary for India, who communicated on
Osho’s behalf with centers and individuals in India.
Anando: His legal secretary, who dealt with legal
and business matters.
When Osho was in different places, Osho centers, trusts, and
foundations provided living space for Him and some of the people around
Him and office space and support for the activities of the
secretariats. Osho had no direct legal connection with any of these
entities except one, which we’ll discuss in a moment. Osho never set up
any hierarchy or transferred any legal rights over His work to any of
Osho did have a connection with the first trust that was set up in
India to spread His teachings. It was called Jivan Jagruti Kendra
(later Rajneesh Foundation [RF]) and Osho was named an advisor for life
at the time the trust was created in 1969. Osho may have given RF a
conditional publishing license for a few of His books in 1978, but no
original document has been produced to authenticate this.
Osho connected with His people in two major ways. He gave names to
centers, ashrams, institutes, therapies, and so on, and He answered
questions sent to Him and gave suggestions to people. In the early days
in Mumbai (Bombay) and Pune Osho made this contact partly through his
then secretary, Ma Yoga Laxmi, and her assistants, and partly in
personal meetings with His sannyasins. At those meetings He sometimes
gave out name certificates to people He had asked to open centers
around the world. When He became ill late in Pune I, He stopped meeting
regularly with people and carried on contact with sannyasins almost
entirely through His secretaries. His secretaries prepared and gave out
name certificates to centers on Osho’s behalf. During the World Tour
from 1985 to 1987 Osho’s secretaries kept people informed where Osho
was and how He was doing.
At the time Osho left the body any intellectual property rights He
might have owned had never been transferred to anyone else. When
someone leaves the body they no longer have the legal power to own
anything. Osho’s secretaries had acted as His agents during His life,
and when He left the body any authority His secretaries might have had
through Him ended. His last secretaries continued to work as volunteers
for several years explaining Osho’s wishes to people, but they had no
special authority any longer. Osho had dissolved into His people,
dissolved into His varied and far-flung successors. After a few years
Osho’s secretaries all left Pune to move on with their lives and there
was no longer any headquarters in the sense that Osho spoke of it,
though the Osho center in Pune continued to function.
The role of Pune
Some people have tried to lead others to believe that the
ashram/commune/resort in Pune is some kind of headquarters or a "mother
church," but there is no legal basis for this idea. There never was a
legal headquarters of Osho’s work at any time. Osho Himself was the
spiritual center of the movement. When He left His body He, in His own
words, dissolved into His people. In other words, there was no longer
any spiritual center, but a group of individuals spread around the
globe who were all equal successors to Osho.
Pune is a place where many different legal entities (at least 10)
operate. These legal entities are independent and are not legally
connected with foreign corporations like OIF, Zürich. (India has strict
laws about charitable trusts and foreign corporations.)
Around 1988 Osho asked that an office of volunteers be set up in Pune
that would be called Global Connections (GC). In those pre-Internet
days these volunteers were to gather and provide information about
people involved in Osho’s work anywhere in the world. If someone was
getting transferred to Singapore for a job, for example, and wanted to
know if there was an Osho center there, he or she could ask GC. GC
would tell the person what centers were in Singapore, where they were,
and what activities they had.
GC was provided an office and office equipment by the group of legal
entities that worked together at that time to support the programs in
Pune. Several different legal entities were involved, but GC was never
legally associated with any one of them. GC was always just a group of
volunteers. It has never been a legal entity.
GC compiled a list of centers, and over the years, particularly after
Vatayana got involved, GC started to set conditions for centers being
included in its list. For example, if the center didn’t offer a regular
meditation schedule it had to list itself as an information center or
GC wouldn’t put it on GC’s list. As the Internet grew the GC list
became meaningless, since many centers put up websites and several
websites listed various meditation centers around the world. GC was no
longer needed as a list keeper.
After Osho’s secretaries left Pune GC also took over the job of sending
out gifts of name certificates for new centers. Before He left the body
Osho asked that all new Osho centers simply be called Osho Meditation
Centers, without any other name, like Viha, Miasto, or Rabia. Osho knew
He would no longer be there to give centers names and He never assigned
or gave that job to anyone to do on their own, though His secretaries
had sometimes done it on His behalf during His life. Before He left the
body He ended the tradition of giving special names to centers. After
He left the body people in Pune continued the tradition—which was
nothing more than a tradition—of giving out name papers to people who
opened new centers. Those name papers were for Osho Meditation Center
or the newer designation, Osho Information Center.
In the US trademark trial GC claimed, for the first time, that what it
was really doing by sending out name certificates and compiling
information about centers was legally controlling the centers on behalf
of OIF, Zürich. This was news to everyone in the sannyas community.
If you look closely at the evidence in the US trademark case you will
see that the entities in Pune don’t claim to have authority over anyone
outside of India. Vatayana from GC claims that she is an agent of OIF
in Switzerland and that she controls centers outside of India under the
authority of OIF, Zürich, not through any authority in Pune.
On the other hand, OIF in Zürich admits that it does not claim to own
the trademark for Osho in India. OIF in India, a completely separate
Indian trust, has applied to register trademarks for Osho in India. In
order to legitimately register trademarks for Osho in India, OIF, India
would have to own the trademarks in India by completely controlling all
the uses of Osho in India since Osho changed His name in 1989. This
would be a bit challenging, since OIF, India wasn’t created until 1991
and centers in India began using Osho independently when Osho changed
His name in 1989.
It’s important that OIF, Zürich doesn’t claim to control the centers in
India and doesn’t claim that any entity located in Pune has authority
to control Osho centers outside of India. This can be confusing,
because OIF, Zürich’s agent, Vatayana, operates out of Pune, so some
people have gotten the mistaken idea that she is claiming to exercise
some authority of "Pune," or some legal entity located in Pune.
So what is the role of Pune in OIF, Zürich’s claim to own trademarks
for Osho in the US, Canada, Australia, and the EU?
We are the world (of Osho)
OIF, Zürich basically tries to make itself out to be the controller of
all things related to Osho, including all the activities that are
carried out by various legal entities based in Pune. OIF has claimed
that it now controls all the activities in Pune and around the world.
Originally OIF, Zürich admitted that Osho worked directly with the
centers, made decisions about His publishing, changed His name to Osho,
and asked centers and individuals connected to His work to use Osho
too. Then it became apparent that if this was true (as it certainly
was), OIF, Zürich didn’t own any trademarks. So OIF changed its story
midstream in the US trademark case and began to argue instead that OIF,
not Osho, was controlling everything and that OIF directed centers to
"rebrand" to Osho in 1989. OIF then denied that it had ever claimed
Osho directed His own work and the use of His name.
Pramod (Klaus Steeg) testified under penalty of perjury that Hasya,
Osho’s International Secretary, was not representing Osho, but was an
agent of OIF, Zürich (or sometimes of RF), so that when Osho gave names
to centers through Hasya, it was actually OIF, Zürich /RF licensing and
taking control of the centers. Pramod also claimed that people around
Osho were told that Osho was directing things, but this was a lie, and
OIF/RF was really in charge.
Pramod claims all of this, though he admits that OIF, Zürich has never
operated in India and that no legal entity in India (such as RF) has
ever transferred any trademark interest to OIF. Hasya always presented
herself as a volunteer who was acting as a personal secretary to Osho,
and there is no competent testimony or documentation to disprove that.
Pramod [Steeg], OIF’s only witness on this, was not even in Pune at the
time of the name change and has no personal knowledge about Hasya’s
relationship with Osho.
If Hasya was not an agent of OIF, Zürich and neither Osho nor any legal
entity in India ever assigned trademark rights to OIF, Zürich (and OIF
admits they didn’t), then Hasya’s activities have nothing to do with
Even if, for the sake of argument, we accept the hypothesis that Hasya
was the agent of OIF, Zürich, instead of Osho, in 1989 and earlier,
there’s no evidence that OIF owned any legal rights that gave it the
power to license the centers through Hasya. OIF keeps trying to do
things in a backward way, to bootstrap itself into a position to claim
what it doesn’t actually own. OIF claims to have taken control of the
centers secretly, by telling the centers that they were getting name
papers from Osho himself. OIF claims that this underhanded trick would
give it the legal right to control the centers, but, fortunately,
that’s not how it works.
OIF would have to acquire ownership of the legal right to control the
names of centers before it could issue any licenses. Once OIF had that
legal right, it might be able to license names to the centers. But OIF
had no basis for owning center names in the time period of Pune II
(1987–1990). Osho never transferred any legal rights to OIF and no
other legal entity ever transferred any rights in center names to OIF.
OIF never ran a center itself. Therefore, OIF had no conceivable claim
to legal ownership of centers’ names and no legal rights to license
centers during Pune II.
I can lease you my neighbor’s car, but since I don’t own the car, the
lease means nothing at all. There’s no evidence of any licenses to
centers in Pune II, but even if there had been, OIF would have to have
owned the car before it could have leased it. Osho never claimed to be
using His name as a trademark or transferred any rights in His name to
anyone else. He gave names to centers that included His own personal
name through His secretaries, without any legal restrictions. Given
that situation, no one else could have had the right to license those
centers to use His name. OIF had nothing to license to centers in Pune
II or at any time since.
But wasn’t Pune an organization?
In the US trademark case OIF, Zürich argued that it wasn’t true that
Osho was against organization, because there was an organization in
Pune. Osho did point out that centers need some kind of organization
and rules to run from day to day. The bigger the center the more rules
needed, so He favored small centers:
don’t want very organized communes, for the simple reason that
whenever you become very organized you start losing something for which
you had started to organize in the first place. Other things become
more important. For
example, in Poona there was a totally different quality. People were
coming from all over the world. They had small centers. There was no
centralized domination over the centers; all the centers were free to
do whatsoever they wanted to do. To me it was far more beautiful.
~ from Light on the Path, Ch 3
Osho was talking directly about His own activities in Pune where He was
located at the time. His point was that He had the right to direct the
center where He was working in the way He saw fit, just as people
around the world were entitled to direct the centers where they lived
and worked as they saw fit. Osho completely honored the independence of
the other centers and never tried to control them. He, quite
reasonably, wanted sannyasins to give Him equal respect and not try to
tell Him how to run the center were He was working.
The key point is that though Osho recognized the legal necessity of
having charitable trusts and nonprofit foundations with tax-free
status, He never authorized any legal control of one entity over
another. In fact, He strongly opposed the idea.
Osho left the basic legal structure and day-to-day organization of
various centers to the people involved. He never asked to see their
by-laws or other organizational documents or told them how to operate.
Some centers were small gatherings in people’s houses and some were
legal entities with their own organizations, residences, and
businesses. Osho was clear there should never be any entity or
organization that had legal control over those running other centers.
would like all the communes that want to continue to be autonomous:
not dependent on any central world headquarters; related, but not
dependent; related just because they are sannyasins. The world
headquarters is their headquarters. It is not somebody else dominating
them and making them do things whether they like it or not.
~ from Light on the Path, ch 28
Throughout its claim to own all trademarks related to Osho’s teachings
OIF, Zürich has tried to confuse itself with other entities in order to
appear to be the all-controlling trademark holder for Osho. The
following articles show these claims are not based on either law or