Home | Articles | Features | Modern Teachers

Listings | Community Noticeboard | Chat Board



According to Devageet, Osho’s personal dentist (in a 1998 preface to ‘Books I Have Loved’), Osho dictated three books under the influence of nitrous oxide from the dental chair. They were “Glimpses of a Golden Childhood”, Notes of a Madman” and “Books I have Loved”. There seems to be some confusion when they were dictated, even in Devageet’s mind. In the 1985 edition of these books he says they were dictated in the last year or so of Poona One (1979-81), in the 1998 edition he says they were dictated on the Ranch. I imagine the former is actually true as Osho refers to being in India , particularly in “Glimpses of a Golden Childhood”. I have met few, if any, people who do not feel that both ‘Glimpses’ and ‘Notes’ add to the Osho canon. I also feel in instructing these books to be published in 1985 Osho himself wanted to blow a few people’s minds!! I try and convey a flavour of these below.
I also argue that all those who wish to really inform themselves on all aspects of current controversies re Osho and Nitrous Oxide should read these three books, and also ask where a fourth and fifth are! A fourth book that was never written or never published was one that Osho requested Devageet to write and with the title authorised by Osho himself, ‘Bhagwan: the first Buddha in the Dental Chair’. (as mentioned in Viha Connection, July, 1998). As far as I know this book, if written, has never seen the light of day, though in recent times Devageet (after he left the 21, the group left by Osho to run the temporal affairs of his organisation) has been more forthcoming about the dental sessions. Finally a fifth book that certainly has never seen the light of day is ‘The Philosia of Existence’ Osho's so-called last book, which Osho dictated to Anando his Secretary in the last year of his life during meals. On this book, disciples do have a right I think to ask why they have not seen it, and have answer. One suspects that it too, may throw light on Osho's relationship to Priestley's gas.

Lately there has been growing controversy about Osho's regular use of laughing gas from 1978, whenever (which was not by any means always) he had a private dental facility. This controversy is several-fold. Firstly, if this was a feature of Osho's private life, what business is it of anyone.? Second the tabloid interest in Osho merely distracts people from the meaning of his public work, and in particular those who might be drawn to him today. Third, even if accepted as a feature of Osho’s post-public life, those physically close to him, in particular his Doctor and Dentist showed a lack of professional advice or practice in going along with the health danger of multiple exposure to nitrous oxide. Fourth, if it is claimed that Osho died from thallium poisoning by the US Government, then as nitrous oxide is also toxic to a degree, could this also not have been a major contributory cause of Osho's death? Fifthly, Osho's interest, and even addiction, to nitrous oxide somehow undermines any claim to his enlightenment. I try and address all five points below but not with any sense of closure, but with the intention of openness to further input and discussion.


Devageet and others do often use the words ‘Osho's private life’ about his dental sessions. (See Devageet's replies to emailers in 'Osho-beyond-bondage’). I don't doubt Devageet's sincerity, but really, when was Osho himself ever really interested in private life? First Osho himself told Devageet (Viha Connection, just before he died to write a book with the title 'Bhagwan: the first Buddha in the Dental Chair' - a pretty public business I would say. Even more telling perhaps is that the three books, 'Glimpses of a Golden Childhood, 'Books I have Loved' and 'Notes of a Madman' all came into the public domain, seemingly at Osho's specific request in 1985, and were dictated under the influence of Nitrous Oxide. (It may be interesting for in-depth biographers to note the publication date of all of them, September, 1985 the month that Sheela left the Ranch.) By page 15 of 'Notes of a Madman' it is clear that Osho is talking about nitrous oxide, and certainly any discerning reader of all three books would realise that they almost certainly have been noted down under that influence.

“Actually oxygen and nitrogen are basic elements of existence. They can be of much use, but for reasons the politicians have been against chemicals of all kinds, all drugs. The very word drug had become dangerous. They are so against drugs because people come to know themselves, politicians lose their power over them, and they love their power. In the Vedas they call it soma, the essence, and since those days until today, all those who have known have recognised, either directly or indirectly, that chemicals
can be of immense service to man. Man is chemistry, so is existence. All is chemistry....”
Osho p15, Notes of a Madman.

Unfortunately the 21 have always wanted some sort of secrecy on Osho's use of nitrous oxide, on the grounds really of 'public relations'. Osho himself despised public relations. I remember his reaction in the early days to some look alike posing in Bombay newspapers draped with women in deshabile, he laughed and said it was good. 'All publicity was good'. His view was that any bait to get people to actually visit him was good. Once there, if the alchemy was right, then he could touch them subliminally and move their growth despite what had brought them in the first place. Osho, (also something not always appreciated by devotees), like Gurdjieff before him, was always trying to get rid of people. Gurdjieff was keen to get rid of even high calibre 'candidates' such as Orage and De Hartmann, once he had seen they could not take the final leap. Osho was no different. Weeding people out was as important as attracting people. Some pupils of Gurdjieff were put off by his apparent daily addiction to alcohol, food and inattention to personal hygiene. Gurdjieff himself was pleased to get rid of them. If the picture of Osho in his space age type dental chair surrounded by pipes, even if it was furthering the work he could no longer do from a public platform, weeded out those who somehow missed him because of it, maybe he felt it was all to the good.

The question of the responsibility of Osho’s Dentist and Doctor is also a matter of more ambivalence than some commentators have allowed. Osho was himself, almost in spite of his sannyasin’s interest, even aggressively, disinterested in his body. For example he says again in Notes of a Madman, p20

What does it matter that I am not in the body? One man is not important.… but what I am saying matters. What I am saying will remain, it will stay, it is of the essence. I don't matter.

Maybe not such an easy thing for Devageet and Amrito (Osho’s private Doctor) to argue with even if they put the full force of the argument for nitrous oxide side effects, when in daily use. Otherwise why is Osho found saying this type of thing in the middle of one of the dental sessions? Isn’t this almost an answer to someone protesting a need to safeguard his physical health?

Secondly the evidence on Nitrous Oxide’s side effects may not have been so well researched or so readily available in those pre-internet days as now. (If one now looks at the universally respected website http://www.erowid.org/experiences/, in the section on Nitrous Oxide it is as clear as day that some of the symptoms of which Osho complained could be a result of prolonged exposure to nitrous oxide, but would this have been so straight forward a piece of research twenty three years ago?

Thirdly, Amrito and Devageet knew Doctors and Dentists were lining up to replace them... The pressure of what they saw as discipleship may have been great. Devageet, when he finally ‘talked’, in more, but not full detail of these things, in 2001 (Viha Connection, March, 2001), after he had left the ruling ‘21’ group, does write of his final resistance to pulling out most of Osho’s teeth at Osho’s request in 1989, a few months
before Osho died. He quarrels with his Master, perhaps for the first time. All Osho seems to do is agree, but get lined up another dentist!! (It was actually this other dentist who pulled the teeth, though Devageet assisted).
Amrito and Devageet have their own power problems (as most people born into the human condition). Even on the Ranch Osho’s immediate household entourage were more powerful than Sheela. Otherwise Sheela would not have wanted to get rid of them. It does not excuse them in terms of their responsibility towards themselves, as well as Osho, but at least it may explain the double bind situation they experienced themselves being in, when dealing directly with Osho. What disciple really is to judge how they themselves would have reacted in the same elevated position? They had, after all, a Master who was saying ignore the body, it is almost already gone, and they would have had the extreme ego fulfilment of seeing themselves as being worked on directly by the Master, and within the context of the dental sessions. Hard to give up? Perhaps it is wise to be non-judgemental in things like this?

Several commentators seem to feel that Osho's death could be as easily explained by nitrous oxide poisoning, as thallium poisoning. I agree with neither party. I do not think the evidence that Osho received thallium is very convincing, the symptoms do not really match those Osho was experiencing. The “official” line is, and he himself seemed to believe, that he had been poisoned by thallium. However Osho seemed really quite well between late 1985 and 1987, in Greece, and was in fairly good shape in the Himalayas, the world tour, and in Bombay two for almost two years. Any in-depth biographer has surely to note that Osho began complaining again of his symptoms in 1987, just when he would have been reunited with his dental chair. Osho's 'symptoms' however during late 1980 and 1981 long before any claim that the US government had poisoned him, are also consistent with a degree of nitrous oxide poisoning. In addition, nitrous oxide, unless inhaled on it own, without oxygen, does not kill. Osho did suffer from diabetes and asthma from the age of twenty one. Diabetes and asthma are serious illnesses especially over such a long-time. If also, in some way, plagued by intermittent but devastating pain from 1979, Osho simply gave up and died naturally in 1990, who could blame him. As he said, he sometimes experienced himself in so much pain, that he would be of more help to his disciples out of the body. However clearly the accumulated effects of nitrous oxide would not have helped.

There are certainly those who use the revelation that Osho was a user of nitrous oxide to batter any notion of his enlightenment. Any reader of “Notes of a Madman’ can see that not only was Osho using the gas for pain relief, he was also flying with it, that is “enjoying’ the drug. For some this seems to quarrel with the notion of enlightenment. personally I feel this is because the notion of enlightenment has been “corrupted” by a subtle form of puritanism that confuses sainthood with enlightenment. Gurdjieff, it can be argued was more fortunate. Though in his life endlessly surrounded by scandal of one sort of another, just like Osho, he never trapped himself in the Enlightenment tradition and never talked about it. Osho however talked about it at great length, and to some he has totally reinvigorated the Buddhist tradition by his talks on it. Gurdjieff liked drinking, overeating, had many ‘natural’ children and all were part and parcel of the tantric form of sufism he self-started. Osho explained why he talked from the Buddhist scriptures, as he did from the Christian and Sufi texts – to make sure he would attract people from those traditions. Once attracted, he would disrobe those ready, of all their conditionings , including the mindset of enlightenment. In Notes of a Madman, p 8, Osho tries to destroy the myth of enlightenment. He says

The world has to see the ordinary, the small things, in order to see the extraordinary. That's why I say I am not enlightened. Enlightenment and non-enlightenment are two aspects of the whole. But the whole is known only by the one who can say I am not enlightened.... wipe the tears from my eye. I have to pretend I am not enlightened, and enlightened people are supposed not to cry.

There has been a great deal of hot air touching on all these topics, especially in the past two years. Maybe people resent the secrecy of the 21 on all this, which I have tried to show here was not Osho's public intent himself, but that of those around him. Maybe many are disappointed or even disillusioned that Osho used nitrous oxide regularly, and thereby probably foreshortened his life. People also seem angry in some wise that Osho in sometimes embracing the enlightenment tradition, and claiming this state as his own, betrays such a state by such activity – or it shows simply that he was not enlightened. I argue that this reflects the way that a sort of puritanism entered Buddhism along with enlightenment. It may be a controversial view but I do feel that just because Gurdjieff loved a couple of bottles of armagnac a day, or John De Ruiter smokes cigarettes and eats big macs, or Osho used laughing gas, – or that Jesus liked more than a glass of wine, is nothing to do with the sheer naked power of the spiritual adventures on which all were engaged, and which has no truck with puritanism in any form. Personally I have no problem with it, the sheer achievements of such figures is beyond belief. They demonstrate that, in some wise, they had ‘become’ simply vehicles, however different, for the enormous and infinitely light energy of the beyond, in its endless dialogue with those humans who also reach for it.


Sannyasnews welcome emails, letters, or postings on the community/chat board on these issues.