I have recently read the
Pune Management Team’s letter to the Indian centers, the full-page ad
placed in the Indian press, Vatayana’s cover letter sending that ad out
to all the centers, and some of the details about the domain name
complaint filed against an Osho center in Delhi. I am accepting
Vatayana’s invitation to respond.
I want to start by saying
that I was deeply concerned by the attack on Neelam, which I can only
describe as vicious. I was particularly concerned about the use of an
alleged quote from Osho to try and prove that Neelam is in some way
wrong and at fault in the current situation. The attack on Neelam
appeared to argue that Osho had rejected Neelam, so all "good"
sannyasins should reject her too.
The participation of Anando
and Shunyo in this reminded me of the time that Osho told both of them
to move out of Lao Tzu, because of their bad attitudes. He only
relented at the last minute, after they had packed all their things,
because Amrito intervened for them. Does this mean that we should all
reject Anando and Shunyo? Of course not. It means that they, like the
rest of us, have plenty of issues and that Osho has worked with them
with tremendous love and compassion, as a Master of much-loved
Whatever Osho may have said
about Neelam, He also said as a Master working with a much-loved
disciple. I have heard Osho say that after He has left the body, we
should always say, "I heard Him say," before repeating something we
believe Osho said. That’s because we hear everything through our
minds/egos/personalities. The preface, "I heard Him say," acknowledges
that we did not and cannot actually hear what He says. Whoever "heard"
Osho say something about Neelam needs to acknowledge this limitation.
The rejection, anger, judgment, and resentment that came across in the
Management Team message, did not come from Osho. It came from the minds
of those who claim to have "heard" Him speak about Neelam.
I suggest that we should
immediately distrust any statement about what "Osho said," that is not
prefaced by the statement, "I heard Him say." Anyone who refuses to use
this phrase is demonstrating her or his own lack of understanding of
the limitations of the mind and ego.
Osho loves all His
disciples, and He loves them equally. Why? Because, whatever absurd
ideas we may have about separateness, I have heard Him say that there
is ultimately no such thing as separate egos and personalities. There
is only Being, and Being is one. I once heard Him say that, "You have
no idea who is close to me." And that is true. Squabbling about who
Osho liked best is sheer stupidity and a waste of time. If we want to
"do" Osho’s work, we have to live it, and this is not the way.
When Osho left His body,
Neelam was His secretary for India and a member of the Inner Circle.
She was not an "ex-secretary." Osho’s actions in leaving Neelam in her
positions speak for themselves. I am not interested in Anando, Shunyo,
Amrito or anyone else’s interpretation of what Osho "really meant."
There is no way they would know. We all need to show respect for our
Master in this.
Putting mudslinging aside,
let’s move on to the real issues. One of the reasons I am writing this
letter is to emphasize that recent events are not an Indian v.
non-Indian conflict or a case of troublesome Indian sannyasins. The
issues being raised are about Osho’s work and are relevant to all
sannyasins and lovers of Osho around the world.
I felt that the discussions
of issues in the Management Teams’ recent letter and ad were a
combination of "divide and conquer" and misdirection, so I want to
clarify some points. I’ll address several issues, one by one.
Issue 1: Trademarks of Osho’s
Name, Meditations, Artwork, etc.
The Management Team
documents seem to argue two things about trademarks: a) they are being
filed for the purpose of protecting Osho’s work, and b) trademarks have
been filed before, so Osho must have wanted them.
Protecting Osho’s Work
To begin with, it is
important to understand that trademarks do not protect content.
Trademarks will not prevent someone from changing a meditation.
Trademarks are just what they sound like: marks used in trade. A mark
is something that identifies goods and services in the marketplace.
Trademarks are used to get a monopoly on a marketing symbol. One
business entity claims that it has the exclusive right to use a mark to
sell goods. There is no other reason for filing a trademark.
So, let’s be frank. The only
reason for OIF to file for trademarks is to claim a monopoly on Osho,
certain logos, His signature, and His meditations as marketing symbols.
This action does not protect Osho’s work from changes.
The conclusion that the
trademarks are about creating a monopoly is borne out by the recent
domain name complaint filed against an Osho center in Delhi. In that
complaint, OIF claimed that the center could not use the domain name
OSHOWORLD.COM because "Osho" belongs to OIF. The complaint said that
the Delhi center had no legitimate interest in using the name "Osho,"
and that it was acting in bad faith to file for the domain name
OSHOWORLD, even though the center has had a galleria called Osho World
since 1996. OIF knew about the center and what its galleria is called,
because the opening, which was attended by Anando, was featured in the
Asian edition of the Osho Times.
The domain name complaint
was filed by OIF only after Keerti, who has been spending some time at
that center, spoke out in the Indian press. What does this kind of
behavior by OIF mean? Who will be next? Will OIF attempt to shut down
every Osho center or business that disagrees with OIF in any way or
refused to allow OIF to control it?
As for the argument that
Osho approved trademarks that were filed in the past, we have no way of
knowing that. We know that some trademarks were filed. We don’t know if
He approved them or what He thought trademarks were. One thing we DO
know is that trademarks were never used to prevent Osho centers from
doing His work while Osho was in the body.
The first trademark for
"Rajneesh" was filed with the U.S. trademark office in 1979, for
printed material, artwork, and photos only. The next trademark was for
the design of the two flying birds, filed in 1982 for marketing films
and audio and video cassettes. In 1984, a trademark for "Bhagwan" was
filed, but only for the purposes of marketing a magazine by that name
that had been started on the Ranch. Then, a trademark was filed for the
bird design again—this time with one black bird—to be used for
marketing therapy courses. Next, the Meditation University filed for
"Rajneesh," but only for a certain style of print that was to be used
to market university courses and programs. Nowhere was there an attempt
to trademark Osho himself or all His work.
The Management Team’s ad
says, "Osho’s meditations, photos, signatures and various logos were
copyright and trademark protected as early as the 1970s and 1980s in
India, Germany, USA, and other countries." However, I have carefully
searched the U.S. Trademark database, and there were no filings for
trademarks on Osho’s meditations (or signatures) in the 1970s or 1980s.
Why is the Management Team giving out this inaccurate information?
Furthermore, there were no
filings for trademarks during the Pune II period, before or after He
started using the name Osho. The first trademark filed by OIF was in
1991. I am certainly not convinced that this was done at Osho’s
Current Trademark Status
In fact, Osho’s meditations
are not actually trademarked now. OIF has only applied for trademarks,
they have not been approved. The application for a trademark on "Osho
Active Meditations" is about to be published for opposition, which
means that the public can submit objections. The applications for
Nataraj, Nadabrahma, Dynamic, and Gourishankar meditations have not
even reached that stage yet. The application for a trademark on
Kundalini meditation has been abandoned by OIF. (Anyone interested can
check this information at: http://uspto.gov/web/menu/tm.html.)
The trademark for "Osho" for
the purposes of marketing educational services, conducting session,
etc., has also not yet been published for opposition. The trademarks
for "Osho" to market books and printed material, audio and video tapes,
and a computer network have been registered, but can still be
Issue 2: Copyright for
Osho’s Books, Tapes, Videos, and Photographs
OIF Switzerland also claims
ownership of all the copyrights in Osho’s work. The Management Team
material said in its letter to Indian centers:
"As the owner of copyrights
to his own work, Osho assigned them to a foundation in the US while
resident there, and later transferred them to a Swiss-based trust and
directed that they remain there."
This was amended in the
Management Team ad to read:
"As the owner of the
copyrights to his own work, Osho assigned them to a foundation in the
USA, and later asked that they be transferred to a Swiss-based
foundation. He directed that they remain there."
Neither version is accurate.
In actuality, Osho assigned His copyrights to Rajneesh Foundation in
India, not to an American foundation, and the assignment was filed in
India and the US. The details of that assignment have not yet been
revealed. The foundation in America, Rajneesh Foundation International,
only claimed copyright on the basis of a very questionable alleged
assignment of rights from Rajneesh Foundation to Rajneesh Foundation
International that was arranged by Ma Anand Sheela, who controlled both
foundations. The rights of RFI were allegedly transferred to a European
foundation in the late 1980s, but it is unclear whether RFI had any
rights to transfer. There are many questions still to be answered with
regard to the copyright issue.
Why is the Management Team
putting out inaccurate information? Why hasn’t the documentation the
Management Team refers to been produced?
Who Is Controlling the
OIF Switzerland is claiming
full legal control of Osho’s copyrights, as well as everything else
related to Osho, including His name. OIF does not have a staffed office
anywhere, but operates through its affiliates or subsidiaries,
Masterzone, Ltd. and Osho International in London, and Osho
International and Osho Foundation America in New York.
On the boards of OIF and the
other corporations, five names occur again and again. They are: Jayesh
(Michael O’Byrne aka Michael Byrne), Amrito (John Andrews fka George
Meredith), Pramod (Klause Steeg), Yogendra (D’Arcy O’Byrne), and
Sahajanand (Peter Kreutzfeld). A few others, like Ramarshi (Bill
Aaronson) and Mukesh (Mukesh Sarda) also occur. These are the
people—all men—who claim to have taken sole, exclusive, and complete
control of all of Osho’s work, of His name, and of His vision.
This is a group that is
effectively controlled by and, to some extent, financially supported by
Jayesh. There are no checks and no balances in place to guarantee a
fair and balanced point of view or an appropriate handling of Osho’s
work. Anyone of this group who disagrees with Jayesh can simply be
fired. Yogendra is Jayesh’s brother, Amrito is one of his closest
associates, and Pramod and Sahajanand are two of Jayesh’s long-time
personal assistants, who owe their positions entirely to Jayesh.
Protecting Osho’s Work
The claim made by OIF and by
the Management Team is, again, that the purpose of copyrights is to
protect Osho’s work. However, the greatest threat to the integrity of
Osho’s work is not from some amorphous "them" outside. The greatest
threat comes from, perhaps well-meaning, sannyasins who believe they
know what Osho’s teaching is and will edit and interpret it for others.
This can be done by limiting access to some of the work, changing
Osho’s words, and creating an official "Vision." It is because of this
threat that a broad-based control of Osho’s copyright is so important.
One of people who has
demonstrated a willingness to change Osho’s words is Amrito. Shortly
after Osho left His body, and after He had said that Anando would be
His medium, Amrito suggested to Anando (in front of me) that she give
some messages that Amrito had prepared and say they were channeled from
Osho. Anando refused to do it, but Amrito remained insistent that it
was a good thing to do.
Since then, others have
reported to me instances where Amrito has changed Osho’s words. I have
one example of a "Zen Stick" which appeared on Osho.org that takes
several paragraphs of From Death to Deathlessness, Chapter 26,
completely out of context and does not indicate deletions. This pseudo
quote was used to criticize the press for attacking Bill Clinton’s
sexual activity in the Oval office.
One example may not be too
important, but the willingness to change and use Osho for one’s own
purposes and to support one’s own views is important. I suggest that we
review videos, audios, recently published books, and past issues of
magazines to look for further deletions, additions, and changes in
Osho’s work. Several people have reported various deletions from The
Book of Wisdom recently published by Element, but I have not yet seen
We need to protect Osho’s
work by providing a broad-based group to caretake, not control, it.
Osho created a model group process for taking care of His work in which
every participant would be respected and decisions would be made by
consensus. He placed a wide variety of people in the original group;
people with various points of view and perspectives. In contrast, the
current Inner Circle seems to have been selected on the basis of
loyalty to a small faction of the original group, and the Inner Circle
has allowed a small group of men to claim full control of all aspect of
Osho’s work. This, I believe, constitutes the greatest danger to Osho’s
Issue 3: "The Work," "The People"
In discussions about
trademarks, copyrights, transparency, and accountability, the
representatives of OIF, the Inner Circle, and the Management Team have
argued that sannyasins must respect "the people" Osho left to do "the
work." This raises some interesting questions: What is the work and who
are the people who were left to do it?
There are many aspects of
Osho’s work. One important aspect is the Commune, the actual people
Osho worked with throughout His life. To paraphrase the song "We Are
the World," for Osho, we ARE the work. Responsibility for this aspect
of Osho’s work has clearly been left to each individual member of the
Commune, just as the work of a wide variety of centers and other
sannyas entities has been left to many people around the world. Osho
did not cancel all centers or take back authority He had given during
His time in the body when He set up the Inner Circle to deal with
certain administrative issues.
Anando in her statement in
the Management Team ad says, " There is nothing special about the Inner
Circle; it is simply a practical body, designed to overview practical
aspects of Osho’s work. It is not ‘religious’ in any sense, nor are its
members special in any way." In spite of this, the Management Team, and
those who control OIF seem to be assuming that ALL of Osho’s work has
been left to them. They demand that they be "respected" for the work
they’re doing, but are unwilling to respect others in doing their share
of Osho’s work.
As a matter of fact, OIF has
asserted an exclusive right to Osho, and has made it clear that it will
take legal action against sannyasins who disagree with OIF’s
management. OIF has also claimed control of all centers. In an
affidavit in the domain name case, Yogendra (D’Arcy O’Bryne) said:
"[M]editation centers are subject to the control of OIF." It has been
reported that OIF has recently sent agreements to some centers asking
them to agree to OIF’s control. In doing this, OIF is knowingly
confusing Osho the Master with OSHO the mark. The Osho centers are
named after a Master, a spiritual teacher, they are not named after a
marketing tool. (I believe that centers are under no legal obligation
to sign such an agreement and suggest that they get legal advice before
Of the seven men mentioned
above who have positions on OIF and related boards, only two of them
were assigned a position by Osho. These are not "the people" that Osho
left to deal with the administrative aspects of His work. The vast
majority of those assigned positions are no longer involved, for one
reason or another. Further, the people managing OIF and its affiliates
have overstepped the bounds of their assignment and have attempted to
seize control of all aspects of Osho’s work.
I feel that what we must
respect is not a particular group of people, but Osho’s intentions as
He expressed them to us. That means that we must not allow any one
person to take control of Osho’s work by controlling the boards
claiming legal control of the work. We must not allow anyone to make
himself into a de facto successor.
In the Management Team ad it
says, "Osho made it clear he has no successor, and on the contrary
proposed that all his people be ordinary, without any spiritual
hierarchy." Exactly! That is the wish we need to respect.
Issue 4: The Use of Fear
The recent Management Team
material and the domain name complaint against the Delhi center
illustrate a disturbing use of fear to achieve "control" in this
situation. The fear being created is twofold. People are afraid that
someone is harming Osho and attacking His people or the commune in
Pune. They are also afraid that if they speak out they will be
personally attacked, demonized, banned, or sued.
Osho spoke about the use of
this kind of control after Sheela’s abuse of power on the Ranch:
"People have been asking me
how it happened that five thousand people, almost all university
graduates, having the best qualifications from the best universities of
the world, could not see for four years.
"The reason is, Sheela was
not only doing something ugly and fascist, she was also creating the
commune. She was also making the desert into an oasis. She was making
the commune comfortable in every way. Every coin has two sides.
"So you looked at the light
side. And you were surrounded—which Sheela and her group created—with
hostility in Oregon. That is a simple political strategy.
"Adolph Hitler, in his
autobiography, My Struggle [Mein Kampf], says that if you want a nation
to be strong, create enemies all around it; otherwise, people relax.
Keep them continuously in paranoia, fearing that there is danger all
"And Sheela created that.
She created the hostility of the Oregon government. She created the
hostility of Americans in general. That made you come close to each
other, become strong: ‘Be ready so that nobody can harm you.’
"So, if you don’t take the
responsibility, something like that is bound to happen again. History
certainly repeats, because man does not learn."
~ From Bondage to Freedom #4
Beautiful things have been
done in the pursuit of Osho’s work since Osho left the body. The Pune
commune has been expanded and beautiful facilities provided. Publishing
contracts have placed some of Osho’s words in new parts of the market.
There is no reason why this work should not continue and expand.
However, as Osho has said, there are two sides to every coin.
The beautiful aspects do not
change other aspects. Trademarks and the control of Osho’s copyrights
are legitimate issues of concern to all sannyasins and lovers of Osho,
and the use of fear to attempt to control people who raise those issues
is also a legitimate issue of concern. Osho has left us the choice of
taking responsibility or allowing the pattern of fear to repeat itself
again and again.
I have decided for myself
that it is time to take action. I have joined with many other
sannyasins and lovers of Osho around the world (not all of whom wish to
be public at this time) to gather information about OIF and its
affiliates and subsidiaries, and to gather information about the legal
issues involved in the control of Osho’s work. This information will be
provided to the Commune—sannyasins and lovers of Osho around the world.
It will be posted on web sites, released on the sannyas-list, and
circulated as email. Even more detailed evidence and legal information
will be provided to anyone who is threatened with legal action for
doing Osho’s work. The information will be gathered and maintained in
several locations around the world, so that it will be safe and
available to anyone who needs it.
Members of OIF management,
most particularly Jayesh, Yogendra, and Amrito, have told sannyasins
that OIF will win legal challenges because they have very expensive
lawyers. I am convinced that a network of sannyasins working together
and pooling their resources can hire necessary attorneys and gather the
evidence needed to defeat any faulty legal claims. I would emphasize
that all the legal claims of OIF are plagued with legal problems.
I know that I would not have
chosen this forum to resolve these issues, but the management of OIF
has chosen to file a legal claim, putting the issue into the legal
arena. So be it.
(This is also not what I
would like to be doing with my summer. I keep trying to get away from
law, and it sneaks up on me just when I think I’m finished with it
forever. I know, though, that I owe Osho a debt of gratitude I can
never repay. This is just one small way that I can begin to say thank
Many people within the
sannyas community have tried to talk about the problems with control of
Osho’s work for the past several years. We have talked, and talked, and
talked, and talked. And while we were talking, the iron fist of legal
control has been closing around the heart of sannyas. Now, I believe,
is the time to act.
I am open to resolving the
issue of broad-based control for Osho’s work through a loving solution.
If that isn’t possible, I am also open to standing up to oppose
attempts of a small group of people to monopolize Osho and His work. If
that needs to be done in the courts, again, so be it.
I want to emphasize that I
am speaking for myself in this letter. I don’t represent any entity or
named group. The opinions expressed here are my own and I take full
responsibility for them. If people want to attack me or "remember" how
Osho criticized me, they are welcome to go ahead. (They might keep in
mind, though, that I’m not nearly as nice as Neelam.) I don’t think
that Neelam, Keerti, Tathagat, and Vinod should have to take all the
abuse for raising these issues. Quite frankly, I don’t think anyone
should have to take abuse for raising these issues.
And lest anyone accuse me of
being "against" the commune or "against" Osho, let me make something
very clear. I have no loyalty to any particular person or any
particular group. I have no loyalty to Jayesh, Amrito, the other board
members of OIF, the Management Team, or the Inner Circle. My loyalty is
to Osho and Osho alone. That means that I support Him, His work, and
His people around the world. I will act in the most sincere, and
hopefully not too serious, way to support Osho and His work.
For the many sannyasins I
have talked to who hesitate to come forward, I am reminded of the story
Osho often told about the lion who was raised by a flock of sheep and
thought he was a sheep too. Then, one day he looked at his reflection
in the pond where he was drinking, saw who he really was, and he felt a
great roar burst forth from him.
For any sannyasins who have
something to say but are feeling sheepish, I respectfully suggest that
this is a wonderful opportunity to take a look at that reflection and
see who we really are.
Love and His Blessings
Ma Prem Sangeet