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Jayesh, Amrito and Anando Deposed?

This is an account of the recent events in India – events which could be heading towards the biggest breakthrough in sannyas for years.

In an exhilarating and one suspects generally unexpected – decision a New York court has ruled that Jayesh, Amrito and Anando cannot trademark Osho's name. The implications of this – and they are major – may not be clear if you haven't been following what's been going on in Poona over the past few months.

I was there early in the year and there was a general sense of a huge impending change. Some of the long-term Indian devotees, amongst them Osho's oldest sannyasins, said the ashram was going to be sold; at any rate it was the Indian sannyasins whose feelings were running highest – and rightly so, as it turned out.

A couple of months later the situation exploded with an open e-mail from Narendra. In it he revealed that the Commune headquarters had secretly been shifted to Switzerland – to Bahnhofstrasse 52, 8001 Zurich. Osho's name had been trademarked, all his lectures and meditations copyrighted, and enforcement of this was to be handled by a US registered company, Osho International of 570 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY10022. This meant, at least in principle, that the Poona ashram has to have written permission to do Dynamic or Kundalini. And these corporations were run exclusively by Amrito, Jayesh and Anando.

This e-mail went everywhere, and in the furore which followed two prominent sannyasins joined Narendra in opposing the Commune leadership. The first was Neelam, Osho's erstwhile Indian secretary, gracious and well-liked; secondly Keerti, the long-time editor of Osho Times.

Keerti attacked the trademarking and copyright issues. As a deliberate provocation he set up an alternative sannyas centre using the name 'Osho' in its title – Osho World in Delhi. And promptly received notice of legal action to be taken for unauthorised use of Osho's name in the website address, oshoworld dot com.

Simultaneously Neelam denounced the Inner Circle. It was a travesty, she said, of what Osho intended. Out of the original 21 chosen by Osho, who were meant to be members for life, 15 had left for one reason or another and been replaced by Jayesh/Amrito yes-people. As a former member of the Inner Circle Neelam's remarks were particularly well-informed, and she was banned from the ashram. Suddenly the air was thick with accusations of dictatorship and fascism.

Narendra, Neelam and Keerti not only rallied Indian sannyasins. They also alerted the national press, and the story was splashed throughout the Indian dailies, getting uglier and uglier in the retelling… If you haven't been in India for a while there's some things you should understand. Firstly that Osho is becoming very popular in his own country. Osho is being promoted by famous musicians and artists, by writers, by students; and increasingly, insane though it may be, by conservative politicians as a nationalistic icon.

Khushwant Singh, India's most prestigious journalist, weighed in, siding with Neelam and Keerti against the Koregaon Park regime… Yet Jayesh, Amrito and Anando appeared blind to all of this – they seem at this point to be a textbook case of hubris – and refused to do the obvious thing and back off. The complaint to the National Arbitration Forum in New York against Keerti's oshoworld dot com domain name which they had submitted in June was heard at the very end of July – and the judgement was emphatically against them. Not only was their case thrown out but in his summing up the arbitrator clearly disliked and mistrusted them (v. Indian Express , Wed. August 2)

So what's going to happen?

Are Jayesh, Amrito and Anando going to back down? Or, on the contrary, are they going to rally their forces and strike back? Do they have sufficient credibility left to be able to do so? Is sannyas going to be split down the middle? With the Gang of Three doing what? Trying to run some tyrannical copyright empire from New York, backed up by a moneyed centre or two, an elitist Path of Love in the Caribbean?

And India? Hearing of the judgement in New York Keerti said: "All Osho centres around the world should now demand full accountability and transparency in managing the affairs of the Pune Commune instead of a few running it like a personal fiefdom and taking arbitrary decisions." Sounds great – but what does it really mean? It's easy enough to blame Jayesh, Amrito and Anando, but is the situation really just their fault? Is fascism the fault of one unbalanced individual who wants power – or is it the fault of a great many people who don't want to take any responsibility for anything? Mmm?

So what's going to happen in Poona? An end put to the grotesque secrecy of the Inner Circle? The formation of an aboveboard 'management committee' with duly elected members? Something genuinely democratic? Something, while we're on the subject, which publishes its accounts? How is this to be done? Who's to do it? And who's to stop those who do it becoming a second Inner Circle in their turn?

Immediately after the Buddha's death a great number of different sects sprang into being, all claiming to be the sole repositories of the true teaching. All eventually came together for the famous conference at Vulture's Peak in Bihar, where the basics of the religion-to-be were hammered out. Has sannyas reached a similar point? Should the first act of a liberated Poona be to host an ongoing international sannyas congress? Perhaps over the coming winter? Keerti could use his new website to broadcast its ecstatic debate. Why don't we all meet, and listen to what everybody has to say… no matter how long it takes?

Well, as of early August, that's it… This site will stay posted with all future developments – but things have been happening so quickly that if you really want to stay in touch you'll have to go either to The Frienhds of Osho website from Byron Bay, where there's a virtual press office which is putting all the relevant documents on-line as soon as they appear. Or alternatively to Keerti's website at which is doing the same thing from Delhi. Keerti's Osho World Foundation is at Ansal Plaza, New Delhi 110049. Tel: +91-11-6261616