Home | Articles | Features | Modern Teachers

Listings | Community Noticeboard | Chat Board

My life in a Rage by Deva Rashid

What did our sannyasin kids experience in the communes?
A book by one of them, now a journalist, has recently been published in a blaze of hype with excerpts broadcast daily on the BBC.

Tim Guest was the only child of a single mother who had moved through the radical/leftist/feminist movement of the seventies. Mother and son took sannyas in 1979 when Tim was four years old. In 1980 they spent some weeks in Poona before returning to the Kalptaru ( Rajneesh) centre in London where the mother, Ma Vismaya, was to be groomed as Poonam’s assistant. (Poonam was the UK sannyas leader at the time).

From the start we are told that the young Tim is unable to obtain from his mum the love and attention that he seeks. (Even now he suffers from a cramping in his legs owing to a childhood standing on tiptoe looking for her in a crowd of orange people.) His loneliness was intensified when the Indian Ashram moved to America (with Osho), and Vismaya became a main player in setting up the Medina Rajneesh commune in England.

Tim describes with self-deprecating honesty his isolation and resentment in a community of loving and imperfect sannyasins; how he acted out his grievances beheading daffodils, stealing from the commune boutique, hiding out behind a sofa, refusing commune food.

To situate his memories in the bigger picture, Tim has dug into the books, newspapers and videos of the time, few of which were positive or even factually correct. This following example I pull out in order to exorcise a calumny that is both painful to those who knew the boy in question and unworthy of a journalist.

At Ko Hsuan School, which Tim Guest did not attend, Adi was an adventurous, gregarious, and popular kid who was found hanged by the rope of a swing. The coroner recorded a verdict of death by misadventure. Tim quotes an insinuating report in The Times newspaper and then goes on to say, “I also knew the loneliness of that boy whose sorrow did not quite fit into the commune’s decade long dream of laughter and celebration . . . When I read the clipping I remembered there was a reason why I was this way: isolated, strange, shabby and alone. . . the boy hanging from the swing could have been me.”
No Tim. Never.

The three books Tim Guest mentions in his bibliography are, of all the books about Osho, especially flawed and charged with negativity.

So here’s the problem. A true story in a false setting.

What’s my interest in looking at this? My wife, Rashida, and our two kids and I came to live in the Indian Ashram in 1977. In 1982 Rashida left the Oregon Ranch in the US, (where we had moved with Osho) with both the boys because, among other things, she felt unable to be the mother she wanted to be to them.

Many parents were in a similar conflict. On the one hand we were letting go of family and parental dependencies; on the other hand we wanted to give our kids the best we knew. ‘Where were you when I was growing up and needed you?’ has been a frequent question in my life. (My father was away in World War Two for six years of my earliest life.) In the end I chose to stay with Osho. He was the quickest, most aesthetic route to clear and loving person-parenthood.

Osho’s love of children sparkled in the darshans when they sat before him. His guidance for their upbringing is uniquely radical, respectful and nourishing. He also advises against parenthood in favour of a fuller, more intense life of self-enquiry. That proviso was picked up in the commune to make parenting extremely difficult at times. (“Don’t worry - the kids have 200 mothers and fathers,” or, as Tim asserts woefully, “None”.) But then again; hands up everyone who’s had a perfect upbringing. Aren’t we all the walking wounded of a prior generation’s conflicts?

When Tim Guest talks about the commune, about sannyasins, Osho, the way people dance, his voice is mocking, hardening into cynicism; a voice much used by journalists today. (Swish! Swish! there goes another row of daffodils.) Where does mockery originate? Is it not from fear and woundedness? Is it not a strategy we use for passing on our pain?

It seems, in spite of a teenage reconciliation, that young Tim is still looking for his mother. And that is OK. That is the hand that life has dealt him. I hope he plays it out. I hope too, more importantly, that one day he has a glimpse behind the veil of appearance at the profound and exquisite gifts that Osho gave to thousands of his lovers.

Truth needs no defence. I think of all those sannyasin kids, now adults, who I saw passing through the communes and Ko Hsuan school. Free spirits, intelligent beyond their years, honest with themselves and others, loving, courageous. If the New Man is anything like them – the world will be alright.