During his lifetime, Acharya Rajneesh alias Osho, was a man of many parts: a philosopher who touched the lives of millions around the globe, the god of free sex who advocated an open, licentious attitude towards sexuality saying its suppression lay at the root of most emotional problems. His famed Ashram at Pune attracted the rich and famous who could wear their hearts on their sleeves without a care in the world. Back in the 1970s and 80s, his army of followers was legion.
Acharya Rajneesh was controversial not for that alone. He minced no words in criticizing the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi, socialism and institutionalized religion; in the process he made headlines as long as he lived.
Now 23 years after his death, the management trustees of Osho Ashram Trusts, to be rechristened Osho International Foundation is making news, again for the wrong reasons. Its honourable trustees have been accused of siphoning off funds and properties of the trusts valued at over Rs. 303.39 crores ($55 milllion) and diverting it to their private companies.
Two long standing devotees of Osho, Yogesh Thakkar alias Swami Premgeet and Kishor Raval alias Swami Prem Anadi, have filed a petition in the Mumbai High Court asking for dismissal of the present board of trustees and the appointment of a court commissioner to protect Osho’s Samadhi and Ashram saying that they were in great danger of being obliterated.
In the petition - Civil WP-53002013, 10.6.2013 – they have alleged that the present trustees have transferred funds and assets of the Trust for more than Rs 303.39 crores through a company known as 'Osho Multimedia and Resorts Pvt. Ltd’ which is a special vehicle designed to transfer all privileges and benefits of the trusts into their private kitties.
The ongoing cases against Osho Ashram Trusts (Osho International Foundation – OIF & Neo Sannyas Foundation – NSF) have taken an awkward turn, as the present trustees are siphoning funds and properties of the trusts valued over Rs. 303.39 Crores ($ 55 million) into their private companies. This company is known as ‘Osho Multimedia and Resorts Pvt. Ltd, ’ a special vehicle designed to transfer all the privileges and benefits of the trusts in their private kitty, the petition filed before the Bombay High Court in January this year said.
According to the petitioners, the scam is not just limited to misappropriation of funds within India but acts of wrong doing reach as far as US, UK, Switzerland and Hong Kong.
In their plea, the petitioners have said that the trust is losing revenues while private companies owned by the trustees are flourishing. They have claimed that trust properties are mortgaged and gifted freely because of non-availability of funds for maintenance, as has been claimed by trustees. They also say that the trustees are introducing rules which restrict Osho disciples and visitors from meditating at the acharya’s Samadhi and Ashram.
This is the first time that cases of defalcation and fraud have come out into the open in the Osho commune, which was the cynosure of the media back in the 1970s and 1980s but since the death of their supreme guru, has receded into the background.
Despite the controversy and seriousness of the charges, there is deafening silence from the Osho Trust itself. Amrit Sadhana, spokesperson of the trust when contacted declined to offer her version except to say “We have no comments to offer as the matter is sub-judice”.