“The wise man shares his wisdom
and you immediately jump upon it
and reduce it into knowledge”. (1)
Scope and Limitations
By no means can we claim a shortage of biographies and classic narratives covering the Indian mystic Osho. They have appeared steadily since the late 1960s, written by devoted followers as well as ardent antagonists. Some of the books are adulatory biographies or retrospective hagiographies, others may rather be read as self‑therapeutic showdowns from former followers, and yet other titles are ardent accounts from various religio‑politico segments, who obviously have felt themselves threatened on their innermost values and interests.
Our aim is quite different. We are presenting Osho as the greatest Indian bookman of the twentieth century. He will be recognized as a voracious reader and one of the most widely‑read figures on a global level, as the owner of the world’s largest private library ‑ now Osho Library in Poona, India ‑ and the author of titles and translations on a scale and in numbers hard for anyone to grasp. So what we are focusing on in this lengthy essay are mostly his bookish merits, and not necessarily his achievements as an enlightened mystic. For that, since his passing away in January 1990, his books and other media are all we have to get a hint of what was really going on in the days when he was giving discourses and synchronizing all the major religious paths into a holistic approach to the inner riches of man. His earlier phases in Jabalpur and Bombay will be dealt with at some length, as these years are those least covered in Western literature, and because they are the cornerstones and basis for much of his later work. Or, as he has put it himself:
“My old books are immensely important. Unless you understand them, you will not be able to understand me. But remember, it is a constant flow and change, so don’t be bothered with inconsistencies, contradictions.
If you go on, soon you will be able to find the truth. And once the truth is revealed, all contradictions and inconsistencies dissolve. Then you can see, crystal‑clear, that it is a single message from the roots to the flower. It is a single organism.” From the False to the Truth #11
Following Osho’s passing away, his publications have become widely distributed on a global level, and it seems that now, when he himself is no longer around, the time is ripe to focus more on the content of his message, as we are not likely to be distracted by the rebellious behavior for which he was notoriously infamous. His doctor Amrito has quoted Osho as saying that the vital part of his work cannot happen while he is still present, because that very presence is a distraction to many. And yes, there has certainly been a definite jump from his presence to his absence, where also the significance of his books and other media is increasing as they are now the only way for us to get in touch with his message. (2)
When presenting Osho as a bookman, some biographical context will be needed as everything is a bit interwoven, as we soon will see, and also a few caveats will have to be considered. No biography can penetrate to the psychological layers of a man who has reached an enlightened state of being. For an outside biographer, the challenge of describing not an actual person, but rather a phenomenon in human consciousness is quite obvious. Rather than someone writing about him, this implies the value of constructing an autobiography from Osho’s own words, an editorial task which has produced various compilations from his published works, where he elaborates on events in his life. Each of these edited compilations is well‑defined according to its chosen focus and understanding. We may also bear in mind that the writing of an autobiography is a practice peculiar to the West and not easily found in the East, with some exceptions amongst those Easterners who have come under Western influence.
“If I write a biography, it will not be mine. It cannot be an autobiography because the “I” is no more there. It can be a biography of a person whom I once knew, but who is no more. It can be about a person whom I once used to be, but who has now ceased to be. Also it would be like writing about someone whom I have known or heard about, whom I used to see, but who is now dead.” Dimensions Beyond the Known #5
On the future work of logicians, researchers and pundits (3) that did not have the opportunity or the courage to be in his presence while he was still available, and so have not experienced him face to face, Osho has commented:
“You are fortunate. Whatsoever I am saying to you is just at the source. That’s why I say you are fortunate. It happens only once in thousands and thousands of years that you are near the source. It will not be so again. Even with my ideas it will not be so again. Sooner or later, the logicians will enter. They are bound to come. They are already on the way. They will systematize everything, they will destroy everything, and the opportunity will be missed. Then it will be dead. Right now, it is alive and you are near the source. That’s why I say you are fortunate.” My Way. The Way of the White Clouds, p. xiv
We will have to understand a few things which might upset our habitual knowledge structure, in particular the difference between facts and truth. Where history and historians take care of the facts – the incidents that actually happen in the world of matter – they do not take care of the purana, the mythology and truth – that which happens in human consciousness – and thus cannot be understood in a Western concept of time and space. These inner expansions of consciousness are not at all concerned whether the body is present or not, so accordingly for Osho, truth is equivalent to the understanding of man’s inner developments. And we’ll have to bear in mind also that the non-linear Hindu concept of history has a metaphysical significance as profane time must be abolished and replaced by the realm of the timeless. In this way Indian thought also differs from our conventional segmented linear thought as it proceeds in a spiral form with return and repetition.
“I don’t see anything behind me, no past. If I say something about my past, it is simply factual memory, it has no psychological involvement. I am telling you as if I am telling you about somebody else. It is just factual; it has nothing to do with my personal involvement. It might have occurred to somebody else, it might have happened to somebody else.” (Urmila 2007, p. 18)
So obviously Osho had an irreverent attitude to the factual, and he did make a clear‑cut distinction between what was just factual, and what was the truth in terms of consciousness. This distinction between facts and truth is the same as the one between knowledge ‑ facts to be found in books and libraries ‑ and knowing ‑ truth experienced when exploring the inner dimensions of your consciousness. Further discussion on these dimensions can be found in the introductions to the photo‑biography The Sound of Running Water (Asha 1980) and the compilation Autobiography of a Spiritually Incorrect Mystic (Sarito 2000). But we might end this discussion – for now at least – by quoting Osho’s personal dentist Devageet when he received a letter from Osho telling him that different versions of the Indian mystic Magga Baba’s death were all true:
“Stunned, I surveyed the difference between the vastness of truth and the narrowness of factuality. Truth was a whole world unto itself, and facts were small railway tracks that attempted to cross it. Osho is a man of truth, as was Magga Baba, and mere words could never contain the truth of what happened between them. Maybe all factuality, when scrutinized, dissolves into versions, tracks, of varying validity depending on the context at the time, and the needs of the questioner to arrive at a conclusion. Truth remains beyond. The lesson for me was to open my capacity to listen in order to hear the silent centre of truth within the cyclone of facts.” (Devageet 2013, p. 142)
It has been argued that when exploring the work of Osho, any sense of historical sequence and linear form is only partly possible. Partly we say, because his enlightenment in 1953 heralds a break in consciousness, from where a new beginning defies the chronological narrating of events which had been possible before that moment. So those familiar with Osho’s methods and techniques will know by heart the limitations of hard factual evidence, and also they will know the dimensions he was continuously adding to his message by opening up for another world of mythology beyond our habitual concept of time and space. Many events are indeed of an esoteric nature and this author will by no means pretend he understands all the happenings he has witnessed. You cannot put the life of a master into the framework of time, as pointed out in The Sound of Running Water:
“It is evident that as this book progresses, any sense of historical sequence drops away. It is less and less possible to arrange these multidimensional happenings page by page in linear form. The place where master and disciple now meet is one in which time and sequence, cause and effect, is no longer meaningful.” (Asha 1980, p. 460)
Another issue for consideration is that in some phases we may find Osho’s representatives and administration acting in a way that could be labeled as historical revisionism. This is manifesting itself as a tendency towards denying and disputing factual events and interpretations (cf. the discussion above), and even when the evidence is overwhelming, describing them as ‘misunderstandings’. This includes the knack of occasionally turning what might be seen as failure and disgrace into some sort of triumph. The tendency to historical revisionism may in no way be diminished by the actual schisms, breeding outcasts in the movement who are being accused of opposing ‘shared understandings’ and having an inappropriate stand, e.g. about the issues of trademark and copyright. My understanding is that the present management of Osho’s legacy is focused on the ‘cap‑time’ ‑ the phase where Osho was wearing a cap, which was from 1981 (the days of Rajneeshpuram in Oregon) onwards. It means they have a somewhat more disinterested attitude to Osho’s early Indian period, which they seem to consider as his secular and academic years only (4). To what extent the historical revisionism includes the destruction of magazines, photos and other materials from Osho’s early phases in Jabalpur and Bombay, that is a topic to be dealt with in due time.
The case of widespread myths will not be bypassed here as they are next of kin to the historical revisionism mentioned. By way of example, we have all heard that Osho never wrote a line, and that all his discourses were spontaneous and without any manuscript. This is indeed true for his most well‑known phases in Bombay and onwards, but not true for his early years in Jabalpur in the 1960s, where he regularly wrote drafts in his own handwriting for nationwide lectures and for articles to be printed. All those manuscripts were later typed on his Olympia typewriter by his secretary. Also, when considering the growing number of volumes in his private library, the magic figure of 100.000 volumes has repeatedly been mentioned, even in situations and locations where it is evident that we are dealing with an obvious exaggeration.
All this said, it cannot be a surprise to anyone that some biographical elements are bound to be in a state of flux when trying to narrate the inexplicable path Osho has moved as a mystic for more than thirty years. Our objective is to provide a valid context for the understanding of Osho as India’s greatest bookman, and it might be of some help in this respect to recall a phenomenon like the ‘Rashomon effect’ from the Kurosawa movie Rashomon (1950). The term is used in situations where ethnographers disagree in their opinions of a specific situation. Where there is a shared reality as a central focus, but differing truths may be put forward about it ‑ each true from its particular angle and point of view. Jürgen Habermas’ discussion of what we should know and keep in mind about a writer’s social context and motivation, including bias and prejudices, before we can start interpreting any communication from him or her, is also of highest relevance when trying to assess the various interests behind the large quantity of published materials on Osho.
So the intention here is not to write one more laudatory account of the significance the meeting with Osho has had on the author and his spiritual path. These personal accounts have been published in abundance over the past thirty years with vivid insights of the profound effect Osho has had on the writers’ growth in meditative living. That personal story is quite another issue and an emotional one too, which may be written some day. But it is my understanding that to the ordinary reader these matters may be of secondary importance compared to the up-to-now uncharted field of Osho’s early merits as a book-man and publisher, which we are pursuing in this book.
Likewise, any reader’s expectation of finding a full presentation of Osho’s ideology and message, or the entire spiritual firmament behind his mystery school will have to be let down. This is not what we are cooking here, although some clues and mentions of spiritual influence may have sneaked into the text at some points. For those who are seeking a more comprehensive understanding of his essential spiritual contribution we can do no better than refer to The Ultimate Iconoclast (Dhiman 2012) by an Indian scholar familiar with the rich Indian tradition or the presentation by an insightful Canadian therapist and teacher (Mistelberger 2010).
As for the title, the OSHO Source BOOK, we indicate both a bio‑bibliography presenting Osho’s life and publications and also a mystic who is himself regarded a major transmitter and source of universal spiritual truth. We include a bibliography listing his numerous publications right from the source as well as a section with references to the vast amount of secondary accounts and other sources of his life and work. Thereby, we are laying out stepping stones for researchers and readers to follow according to the ability, inclination and openness of each and every one.
In the attempt to present Osho as a book-man, it would be presumptuous if this author refrained from quoting directly from the very source he is presenting. But it might be of some importance to emphasize that when using Osho’s words and quoting sometimes extensively from his discourses, I use his words in my context and as I understand them, as my own understanding is all I have to offer.
Canonical texts and their status is a multidimensional phenomenon in New Religious Movements as in established religions. Osho held his own books in high esteem and it will be evident during this book how much he himself enjoyed assisting in the creation of his publications. He also urged his followers to imbibe his earlier works from before their time. He suggested that therapists should use recordings from his discourses during sessions with people to share his insights. But he never wanted his works to be labeled sacred books or canonical texts for his followers to revere in ritual ways. Quite unlike an intellectually based movement like Scientology, where the study of texts is a focal point and a considerable amount of time is spend reading and checking the sacred texts. For them, management of access to the information is highly ritualized and based on control and power, quite contrary to Osho where everything is available to anyone, be it in print, audio, video or digital format. But the point is that the reading of his discourses is only the starting point from where to involve yourself in meditation and to experiment with your human and spiritual potentials. Or as Chinmaya, Osho’s secretary in Bombay, wrote in the introduction to one of Osho’s early books, “If you have any idea of what this book is all about, you’ll drop the book. You won’t bother reading it. You’ll come here instead. The book has served its purpose only if you don’t read it, if you say, “The hell with words, the hell with reading “about”,” and come here to experience for yourself what it is that’s here.” (Bharti 1981, p. 105)
That’s what may be called see the face, to witness for yourself the energy field around an enlightened being before the message is routinized in the chosen concept for transformation and literature only. And this is what may happen when the charismatic leader’s authority after his demise is transferred into a new order and the preserved media such as sacred texts are bound to gain in importance once the source is gone. Access to the divine is now granted, not by being in his or her presence and receiving guidelines for your personal growth directly, but only through the reading of preserved authoritative texts and other media. In the same vein as Chinmaya’s remark quoted above, not unexpectedly also Osho – a bibliophile par excellence, we’ll have to keep in mind – has commented on the jungle of sacred texts with their borrowed knowledge and how they hypnotize people searching for an answer to their quest:
“The first thing to remember is: Your question must be yours. Then the second thing to remember is: The answer must be yours. Books supply both. That’s why I said: Burn the books and be authentic. Come out of the jungle of words and feel what you want, what your desire is, and follow it wheresoever it leads. Sooner or later you will come to the divine. It may take a little longer, but the search will be real. If all books were burnt, the world would be more religious. There are so many books and readymade answers that everybody knows the question, the answer. It has become a game; it is not your life. The world should be freed of books, should be freed of all ideals, should be freed of all borrowed inquiries.” Roots and Wings (1975) #8
The reverence bestowed on sacred books is of fairly diversified nature in various religious contexts as we can imagine. Claiming that the message and sacredness of the Koran is unsurpassed by any other book, Muslims go to extremes in honoring and protecting the sacredness of their exact reproduction of the words of Allah, as I remember from journeys in the Middle East in the 1970s. Also in the Middle East we can observe the respect shown to the Jewish Tanakh and the Torah scrolls kept in their silvery caskets and honored by being kissed and touched with great admiration. The culture of bowing down and passing under the racks storing the Buddhist codices in temples on the Tibetan plateau to absorb the energy contained in their sacred canonical texts is another way of showing respect to scriptures passing on the holy message to future generations. And in the mountains of Southern China and Laos we can still witness Taoist culture unchanged among the Yao minority for 600 years, where the scrolls containing their migration history and codices with Taoist rituals and commentaries are preserved, reproduced and honored in the mountains’ most distant villages. Everywhere the issue of safeguarding the canonical texts is of high importance as seen also in New Religious Movements like Scientology, where Ron Hubbard’s texts have been transferred to platinum plates stored in titanium boxes in a high security underground facility in New Mexico. And we do not have to worry about the safekeeping of Osho’s publications either, as they are kept in high quality digital format with text, audio and video recordings well hidden in more than one facility on this earth.
To a great extent Osho’s books are to be read and understood in an inter-textual universe, where he is presenting primary canonical texts from all major religions outside the movement itself and embedding these texts in a new context, thereby superseding the tradition upon which they are built. Making these sacred texts accessible to his listeners by commenting on them, Osho is opening up and adding new dimensions to the sutras. (5)
Scholars of sacred texts have been asking some fundamental questions related to the interaction between the followers of a religious path and their authoritative texts: How did the texts emerge? How are they perceived? What roles do they play in ritual ways and how are they interpreted by the members? These questions we try to answer by presenting the settings from where Osho’s texts originated and the processes involved in making his words accessible to the public: editing, production, distribution and use of his texts. How his followers experienced reading and listening to Osho and the impact on their way of living are illustrated by quoting extensively from the narratives of early seekers from the 1960s and onwards.
Repeatedly Osho has claimed that anyone trying to make the attempt of writing his biography is bound to become insane. Still, let us give it a decent try in this lengthy bibliographic essay and see what happens during the experiment.
The author and compiler of this presentation of Osho as a major Indian bookman and man of letters, is a researcher in Library and Information Science and living in Denmark. For evaluation of validity and reliability, it has to be mentioned that he has been a committed devotee of Osho since 1981. Without this connection to the movement, the insights and observations presented in these writings would not have been possible. The potential disadvantages associated with this perspective naturally have to be kept in mind, as the identity of the participant‑observer influences what is available to be seen, as well as how that may be interpreted. So no wonder also in this case the research experience reinforces cautions to be considered about the researcher’s social relationship to the group and the topics being studied. (6)
To be a participant‑observer implies some considerations as to how to play the role as an investigator: how to be at the same time an integral part of the social group studied, and simultaneously keep a distance to make room for some non‑biased and objective observations of events and activities in the field. Visits to Poona and other ashrams in India have been an opportunity for this sannyasin‑cum‑observer to get involved in daily discourses, meditations, therapies, work and celebrations of all kinds. These experiences from the energy field of Osho are beyond any doubt among the most precious events in my life, recalling golden moments of bliss, shaktipat and experiences of satori all mixed up with an everyday relaxed emotional fulfillment hard to imagine for outsiders. So when the participant repeatedly got lost in time and space during all this, it is no wonder that the observer was long gone and even more lost. (7)
Still, the observer happened to be present now and then. In his first years with Osho as some wandering and amazed questioner to everything he witnessed, then slowly maturing into wonder and acceptance of it all, and from 1989 onwards with a more specific focus on the activities of Osho as a bookman. The process of mapping Osho’s bookish merits has been a most fulfilling experience ‑ to put it mildly ‑ as it has given me a rare opportunity to draw on my competences in library science and sociology, while at the same time dwelling in and imbibing from a beneficial and supportive spiritual environment and its master. We may here remember that the distinguished Indian library scientist, Dr. S.R. Ranganathan, who conceptualized the modern system of classification, reveals that he arrived at his system ‘in a flash of revelation’, as an ‘instantaneous pattern’ which only afterwards had to be broken down into the linear abstraction of segmented thought. So mysticism and library science may not be that far apart from each other after all! (8)
The printed sources referred to in the following text have been supplemented by extensive field surveys in India. These journeys cover most of the subcontinent and have been going on with Osho as the pivotal centre since 1981. The surveys include documentation and bibliographic research at the university libraries of Bombay and the library of the Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha) in New Delhi. Several days were spent in July 2006 at The National Library in Calcutta, retrieving bibliographic data on Osho’s publications in the library’s Hindi and English card catalogues, the printed Indian National Bibliography (INB) and in the database registration covering publications from 1950 onwards.
The writings are to a wide extent based on tape recorded semi‑structured qualitative interviews carried out during these field surveys in India. Some interviews were for matters of confidentiality not to be taped, but had to be noted down afterwards. Others were more like sessions where the roles were in a constant flux and the laughing sometimes predominant. But in all cases focus has been on recalling and sharing the insights within the field we are exploring.
Interviewees have been Osho’s librarians at his private libraries in Poona, Bombay and Jabalpur, and his personal Hindi and English secretaries in the various phases of his work. Also included are a considerable number of editors and publishers who all had the ongoing challenge of bringing this rolling snowball of words to the public, be it in printed form or in audio‑ and videotapes.
These interviews with Indian and Western key‑persons in India have been supplemented with information collected from other resource persons in Europe, Japan and the United States, also by means of interviews, but more often by letters and e‑mails. All sources for the information presented are mentioned in the section with Notes.
A most fruitful field survey took place in Poona during the rainy season in the autumn of 1989 when the author was volunteering in Osho Research Library and had the opportunity to draw on its rich holdings. This was during the latter part of Osho’s work, where quite a few organizational changes were carried out to facilitate the transition period and his passing away a few months later in January 1990. Amazing to witness first-hand, I might say.
Journeys to be with Osho and to see the master’s face have throughout the years had to be combined with the researcher’s position also as a lecturer in Denmark, and the limitations this has imposed on the time available to be with Osho. The main stays were in Poona in January 1981, in Rajneshpuram July 1983 and July 1985, in Bombay December 1986 with the move to Poona in January 1987, and again in Poona June‑November 1989. Following January 1990 more than ten journeys have been made to Poona combined with all-India field surveys during three longer six‑months periods of sabbatical leave.
As for the Hindi parts of Osho’s production, interviews were conducted in Poona, Bombay, Delhi, Jabalpur and Bageshwar. These places have all been visited several times to connect with Indians who have been publishing and/or with care collecting Osho’s books since the 1950’s. Among other places visited in this line are Calcutta, Kanpur, Gadarwara, Khajuraho, Sanchi, Ahmedabad, Mt. Abu, Dehra Dun and Dharamsala.
Many interviews have been carried out with elderly Indian sannyasins who could still recall the early phases of his work, and it has been a priority, apart from their insights, to document with photos their collections of photos and early editions of Osho’s booklets. The holdings of Osho’s private libraries in Jabalpur, Bombay and Poona together with his manuscripts and virgin prints from Jabalpur have accordingly to a great extent been documented in interviews and in digital photos.
What we have to keep in mind when reading these testimonials is that more than forty years separates the events recorded from the present. Accordingly we are confronted with a variety of conflicting and confusing memories and interpretations. It is to a great extend a matter of ‘Osho as I remember him…’, told by devotees each with their individual experiences and strong self conceptions, occasionally making an effort to position themselves as a close and most trusted follower. This editing and enhancing process has been going on for decades, leaving us with a pandemonium of individual tales to be read with a cautious mind. Hence the question of reliability among the sources quoted will have to be with us constantly when reading these subjective preferences from a time of immense importance to those seekers stepping on the path of a mystic.
Some of the main sources for this study are the voluminous printed material from Osho’s live lectures and discourse series. These discourses have been transcribed from audiotapes and prepared for publishing on an ongoing basis since Osho’s days as an academic in Jabalpur in the 1960s. Those discourses given in Hindi have been translated into English and vice versa, a comprehensive undertaking which is still carried out in Media House in Poona and elsewhere.
In paper format, Osho’s discourses first appeared in simple and cheap booklets out of Jabalpur and Bombay, with hardbound editions also popping up from Bombay in the early seventies. The publishing of Osho’s discourses flourished in exquisite hardbound editions from Rajneesh Foundation in Poona One (1974-81), and the paperback format was dominant during the time in Rajneeshpuram, Oregon (1981-1984). From Poona Two (1987-1990) onwards, we see a steady flow of old and new Hindi discourses translated into English and published in carefully prepared and well designed hardbound editions.
As well as the printed books, Osho’s discourses are also to be found in digital format on the internet. His discourses are to be found in full text with a search facility in Osho Online Library which contains over 225 books in the English language >www. osho.com<. Osho World in Delhi offers 400 e‑books and a total of 5.500 discourses in English and Hindi with also audio‑ and video files available for download >www.oshoworld.com<. Osho Books on cd‑rom was released 1999 in London, but the cd‑rom was made available only to those directly involved with Osho publications due to copyright concerns and a somewhat low standard of editing and facilities for text retrieval. Still, here everything is stored on a single shining disc.
Osho has talked about sweet memories from his childhood in Kuchwada and Gadarwara in Glimpses of a Golden Childhood (1985 & 1990), which is supplemented by the biographical material on his extensive reading found in Books I Have loved (1985 & 1998), and also in Notes of a Madman (1985) some of his recollections are presented. These intimate series were all recorded from the dental chair in Oregon in early 1982, at a time when Osho was not giving discourses. (Devageet 2013)
Several ‘autobiographies’ in book format have been compiled, with excerpts from Osho’s discourses, in various editions each with its chosen criteria for selection of quotes. The more official life story compiled from his lectures is Autobiography of a Spiritually Incorrect Mystic (Sarito 2000), supplemented by its equivalent Indian compilation Osho Call of the Ocean. Pictorial Glimpses of Osho’s Life 1931 to 1990 (Urmila et al. 2006), illustrated with b/w and color photos. A comprehensive digital compilation from Osho World in Delhi is Osho’s Life. An Anthology of Osho’s Life From His Own Books on >www.oshoworld.com<.
Bibliographic control is an issue to be considered with some caution when retrieving and handling the books of Osho. Rarely have we seen so many title changes and new compilations of earlier publications now abridged and edited, plus at least four changes of the author’s name and publications launched without year of publication or dates of discourses included. Many of these challenges have been requested by Osho ‑ some with a mischievous look in his eyes I guess ‑ like his wish that the dates of his discourses should not be put in his books as his words are timeless.
Upheaval is by no means anything new in the story of other religious written traditions. The control and ownership of Osho’s work and interpretation of his intentions ‑ also regarding the future use of his library in Poona ‑ are fairly charged issues these days. Osho has long ago made it clear that his teachings speak for themselves and that whenever interpretation is required; they are to be made by the individual reader and not by any intermediating editor or priest. This includes respecting the change of meaning in the words he is using when speaking, which may result in differing concepts during the various stages of his life.
At the core of this debate is the importance of keeping Osho’s words inviolate of intentional editing to ensure a reliable record in the future. Some may argue that Osho’s message has recently been diluted to serve a Western audience and those deletions and alternations are made to whitewash over the parts that may be considered provocative, thus removing the whole cutting edge from his work. For the time being the present management tends to place a somewhat low priority on the early phases of Osho’s work, the years where Hindi was the language and Indians the devotees, long before the influx of Westerners and well before ‘cap‑time’.
Printed secondary sources are biographies and documentaries written by sannyasins, researchers and critics. They too are quite numerous and we will present some core publications and also a model to understand their respective interests and focus areas. Not unexpectedly each of these written accounts has their limitations and advantages, to a vast extent depending on the internal versus the external position of the writer.
Scientific journals, magazines and newspapers in the West have been retrieved for articles from 1970 onwards, and information in the Hindi press, in early Osho magazines and chapters in books published in Hindi has to some extent been translated into English. We can only hope that the comprehensive text material included in early magazines from Jabalpur and Bombay will be made available to readers from the West in the future: The quarterly Jyoutishikha (Lamplight) in Bombay (June 1966‑June 1974) and Yukrant (Youth Revolution), a monthly published in Jabalpur (June 1969‑May 1975).
So the secondary literature on Osho and his movement is of gargantuan proportions. We find books and documents published by Rajneesh Foundation (later Osho International Foundation), as well as in‑depth sociological surveys in books and academic journals all mixed with eye‑catching articles in glossy magazines and a variety of books prepared by historians, observers, ex‑sannyasins and not the least by enthusiastic disciples.
Documentaries describing the events in Poona One during the 1970s were soon in the press: Lord of the Full Moon (Divya 1980) offers an early intimate insight in the life around a spiritual master and in The Sound of Running Water (Asha 1980 & 2009) we have the authoritative lavishly illustrated photo-biography of the first Poona phase. If a biography can be made of Osho, The Awakened One. The Life and Work of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Joshi 1982 & 2010 alt.t.) is definitely the most reliable source. The first biographical print from early Bombay is Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh ‑ a Glimpse, a four‑page introduction by Yoga Chinmaya included in the early booklets published by Jeevan Jagruti Kendra in Bombay. The first more comprehensive study is The Mystic of Feeling (Prasad 1969, 1970 & 1978) supplemented by Rajneesh. A Glimpse (Vora 1970). These authors all know the story of Osho like the back of their hand, and as it would have been impertinent of me to improve on their rich descriptions I have quoted extensively from them and other biographers.
In recent years some of the many books on Osho published in Hindi are beginning to be made available in their English translations to readers in the West. Early days with Osho during his academic years in Jabalpur are presented in Ageh Bharti’s Blessed Days with Osho (Bharti 2007) and in Urmila’s The Inward Journey (Urmila 2005). Nine volumes in Hindi Ek Phakkar Messiah: Osho (Phakkar: hermit) have been translated and published in an abridged edition titled The Rebellious Enlightened Master Osho (Bhed 2006). The writings are by Swami Gyan Bhed (Sri Surendra Srivastava) and he has added some rather fictional elements to the biographical material collected from Osho’s discourses and his own interviews with key people. Among the translations of his earliest texts we find the beautifully designed The Goose is Out: Osho Letters, with letters written to Kranti while Osho resided in Woodland, Bombay. The letters are in English, Hindi and Gujarati, compiled by Yoga Kranti and edited by Krishna Kabeer (Kabeer 2001). Osho’s secretary in Jabalpur, Arvind Kumar Jain, has written his memoirs on his maternal uncle Osho, also together with Kranti, in Ankahe Pal (Jain 2007).
Quotations and excerpts from secondary sources have generally respected the spelling and punctuation in the original text, even when this occasionally may cause some inconsistency or difficulty for the reader. Own editorial remarks are all in square brackets.
In the scheme below we will follow Wallis (1984) who categorizes the orientations of cult studies into either internalist or externalist writers, with an either friendly or hostile perspective. No need to stress the fact that this structure is an attempt to frame the inframable, and that others may have understandings differing from those presented here. Also it should be mentioned, that some books by former disciples to a varying extent may be read as exercises in redefining the self after the withdrawal from Osho and his movement. The reality, also in this case, is far less clear cut, and we have to remember whenever reading biographies of Osho that we are dealing with various streams of historiography and a critical evaluation of the source in question may turn out to be a rather rewarding exercise.
In the sections for References all secondary titles on Osho are labeled according to this scheme:
Further documentation in OSHO Source BOOK are a number of additional sources including contemporary news reports, public records, diaries and other documents supplementing the already mentioned sources of information. Where evidence is inconclusive or the interpretations are irreconcilable, ‘variations’ provided by some of the observers who disagree from the prevailing understanding has sometimes been included. Not unexpectedly the author has found that the facts ‑ not to mention the truth ‑ are not always an easy commodity to get hold of in these writings, where the biased view is more often the case rather than a more balanced and non‑biased approach. It has happened several times that an interviewee responded with rejection when confronted with factual material threatening their long time preserved myths and integrated understandings.
The following account of Osho’s reading, his libraries and media publishing, is at its core a bibliographic descriptive essay, and hopefully it may point out quite a few areas for future analysis and research. Focus is on Osho as a book-man, although in the early phases of his life we will present his bookish interests in a somewhat broader context. His childhood socializing and the religious‑cum‑political beliefs and ideologies he was confronted with, all played their role in his spiritual development, whether he integrated ‑ like Tantra and Jainism ‑ or rejected what he met. Or he may change his understanding, as was the case with Gandhism, communism and socialism.
As a mystic Osho was still a figure in a landscape named India, and the context of that landscape and his local environment is integrated in the narrative to get the full picture. His phase in Jabalpur 1951‑1970 will be presented rather extensively, as quite a lot of relevant and hitherto unpublished material has been collected covering this early and fruitful period of his work. It may be added that in his later phases in Rajneeshpuram and during the World Tour, he definitely once again had to recognize himself as a player in a religio-political arena where multiple interests were at stake, and these events are covered in a number of biographies appearing in the late 1980s.
The total presentation will be in seven sections, of which the first three are included in this electronic version:
1. Kuchwada and Gadarwara 1931‑1951
2. Jabalpur 1951‑1970
3. Bombay 1970‑1974
4. Poona One 1974‑1981
5. Rajneeshpuram 1981‑1985
6. World Tour and Bombay 1985‑1986
7. Poona Two 1987 ff.
From the text itself, numbers and authors will guide the reader to the section with Notes and to References, with the bibliographic sources verifying quotations and other sources of information included in the text. In the text, quotations from Osho’s works are mentioned with their title and chapter/page. In the Bibliography we present available data for Osho’s early publications 1945 – 1974 including compilations. Also Compilations published after 1974 with discourses, talks or letters from Jabalpur and Bombay are to be found in a subsequent section. All entries indicate the physical bindings of the titles published: Hardback (HB), Unbound (UB) and Paperback (PB).
In the section for References, the entries for secondary literature will be according to author and publishing year. Secondary literature on Osho will be classified in the categories A, B, C, or D (e.g. Cat. A) according to the Wallis classification scheme already mentioned. Finally the titles will have an indicator in brackets for the period of Osho’s work they are covering: Gadarwara (G), Jabalpur (J), Bombay (B), Poona One (P1), World Tour and Bombay (WT) and Poona Two (P2). A comprehensive chronological timeline for his publishing like the one made by Yatri in The Sound of Running Water (1980) is being considered and may in due time serve as a clue to the entire bulk of his publishing. A preliminary timeline covering Osho’s life and work in an Indian context is included in Appendix.
I only use quotation marks when I am quoting word for word. Their absence means that I am summarizing. Future editions will be corrected if any copyright for text or photos have been inadvertently unacknowledged and any legal requirements will be satisfied accordingly.
Osho was formerly known as Acharya Rajneesh (1960s‑1971) and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (1971‑1988). In 1988 he played with a number of name changes until he finally settled with Osho. The change was notified and explained on labels placed on the inner binding of his books, which said the name has been used historically in the Far East, and meant The Blessed One on Whom the Sky Showers Flowers. Osho also acknowledged another connotation derived from William James’s word oceanic, dissolving into the ocean. The name Osho is used throughout this paper but inter‑changeably with the actual name he was using in the period in question, e.g. Rajneesh Chandra Mohan or his pet name Raja for his childhood years in Kuchwada and Gadarwara. In all this inconsistency please acknowledge the author’s intention to satisfy the reader for the sake of variation and a smoother reading. (9)
Contrary to names though, throughout the text we will refer to the cities of India as Bombay, Poona, Calcutta, Madras and Benares instead of their modern appellations, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Chennai and Varanasi. This is because due to consistency and clarity we have decided for the ease of reading to adopt a single standardized English usage for all places and phases regardless of the actual time period. To refer to Osho’s earlier Bombay of the 1970s in the same sentence as modern‑day Mumbai would be nothing but cumbersome and confusing for the reading of the text.
To the reader it has been evident from the very start of this Introduction that English is not the author’s mother tongue. His native tongue is indeed Danish, and it may throughout the paper be distressing for English readers with tender feelings for the beauty and style of their mother tongue to be confronted with this attempt of communication. Still it is as good as it gets until some qualified rewriting and linguistic enhancement may happen in the future.
But what is even more alarming is the fact that the writer is not in command of Hindi, the language Osho in his speeches and lectures mastered in a way second to none. This means that Hindi sources have been out of reach for the author, unless some Indian friends have shown some mercy for this project and supported with their translations of selected parts. They are all to be thanked for their time and energy ‑ once again ‑ and like interviewees, collectors and other informers no one will ever be forgotten. Their names will properly appear in the Notes. And still purists may be able to amuse themselves by finding probably numerous inconsistencies in the spelling of Hindi words depending on various transliterations.
Considerations have been piling up not to embark on a project like this. Some have already been mentioned in this Introduction, others may be evident when reading the text. I will happily express my thankfulness for the tolerance and energy shown by the many key persons when during interviews they were confronted with the obvious gaps in this writer’s insight in Indian cultural history and spiritual traditions. It may occasionally have been rather embarrassing, and I cannot thank them enough for their patience and support. We may also now and then read some passages in the text which may later prove to be of a more fictitious or legendary character than this author had anticipated. As well as any mistakes in bibliography and chronology all this is due to nothing but ignorance on my part. Any comments and corrections ‑ hopefully with some decent source mentioned ‑ and all suggestions are highly appreciated. The text you are reading is a dynamic one and it may hopefully be further edited and improved in due time.
I would like to encourage each and every one to consider expressing what they have experienced during their time with Osho, and the implications on their way of living. Or, if the energy is not there or moving more into meditation or love, then not to express. As you like. These writings of mine have been prepared to the best of my ability and out of a professional interest in the cross-field of library science and mysticism. And hopefully what is presented may turn out to be useful for future research and writings on Osho.
Stepping stones for further personal and/or scholarly discovery are laid out in the text to follow, and these stepping stones may end up taking us deep and high into India’s spiritual heritage.
– Prelude in Vol. II
– Supplement 2023: Considerations and Perspectives on Osho Source Book.