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Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh(1931-1990) was born Rajneesh Chandra Mohan in Kuchwara, a town in central India. Various sources state that “Bhagwan” means either “The Blessed One” or “God” and that “Shree” means “Master“. At the end of his life, he changed his name to Osho.
His parents’ religion was Jainism. However, Osho never subscribed to any religious faith during his lifetime. He received “samadhi” (enlightenment in which his soul became one with the universe) on 1953-MAR-21 at the age of 21. Rajneesh obtained a masters degree in philosophy from the University of Saugar. He taught philosophy at the University of Jabalpur for nine years and concurrently worked as a religious leader. In 1966, he left his teaching post and gave his full attention to teaching his sannyasins (disciples) while pursuing a speaking career. He had an apartment in Bombay where he often met individuals and small groups, where acting as spiritual teacher, guide and friend. Most of his Sannyasins came from Europe and India in the early years.
Osho developed new forms of active meditation. The best known is Dynamic Meditation which often starts with strenuous physical activity followed by silence and celebration. These were expected to lead the individual to overcome repression, lower their personal inhibitions, develop a “state of emptiness”, and attain enlightenment. The person then would have “no past, no future, no attachment, no mind, no ego, no self.” Prior to 1985, the disciples wore red robes, and a necklace of 108 beads which had an attached picture of Rajneesh. Osho assigned a new name to each of the disciples.
Men were given the title “Swami”; women were called “Ma”. Although most members lived a frugal, simple lifestyle, Rajneesh himself lived in luxury. His collection 27 Rolls Royces, given to him by his followers, was well known. (Some sources say he had as many as 100 cars). Anti-cult groups claimed that he urged his disciples to sever their connection to their families of origin. It is true that he felt that the institution of the family was out of date and that it should be replaced with alternative forms of community and ways of caring for children. However, he actually encouraged individual disciples to make peace with their families. Many of the latter became disciples themselves, including Osho’s own parents.
He taught a form of Monism, that God was in everything and everyone. There is no division between “God” and “not-God”. People, even at their worst, are divine. He recognized Jesus Christ as having attained enlightenment, and believed that he survived his crucifixion and moved to India where he died at the age of 112. Osho was noted for reading very offensive jokes; some were anti-Semitic; others were anti-Roman Catholicism; others insulted just about every ethnic and religious group in the world. He explained that the purpose of these jokes was to shock people and to encourage them to examine their identification with and attachment to their ethnic or religious beliefs. His contention was that national, religious, gender and racial divisions are destructive
Osho does not teach any religion and does not belong to any particular religion. What he really teaches is religiousness – the real fragrance of all the flowers of existence, the Buddhas, the mystics and sages that this world has known. Osho has given thousands of discourses on all the well-known and not so known mystics of the world—from Ashtavakra to Zarathusthra .
Osho is a modern day mystic whose wisdom, clarity and humor have touched the lives of millions of people around the world. His insights are creating the conducive atmosphere or ‘ Atma-Sphere ” for the emergence of what he calls the ‘New Man’ or Zorba , the Buddha – the combination of celebration, dance and song of Zorba and the silence, stillness and meditation of the Buddha, the meditation of the East and the materialism of the West. Zorba the Buddha is a totally new human being who is an awakened one, and he is life-affirmative and free. When someone asked Osho the definition of religion, Osho replied: To be in romance with life is religion.
Amongst all the Enlightened Ones, Gautama the Buddha is very special to Osho. He says: “I love Gautama the Buddha because he represents to me the essential core of religion. He is the beginner of a totally different kind of religion in the world. He has propounded not religion but religiousness. And this is a great radical change in the history of human consciousness.”
“When a Buddha moves the wheel of dharma , it takes two thousand five hundred years for it to stop completely….” says Osho. “The wheel that Buddha moved has stopped. The wheel has to be moved again. And that is going to be my and your life’s work – that wheel has to be moved again. Once it starts revolving it will again have twenty-five centuries’ life.”
Osho teaches meditation for our inner transformation. Love and compassion are the natural expression of this transformation. We can meditate with Buddha, dance with Krishna and celebrate our love with Sufis .”
– Swami Chaitanya Keerti , Osho World Foundation, New Delhi