Osho’s Pune commune now riven by property dispute
Shiv Kumar: Osho Rajneesh’s 35-acre commune in Pune’s upmarket Koregaon Park area is once again in the eye of the storm. This time, a section of the spiritual mystic’s followers have accused the trustees running the organisation, mainly foreigners, of attempting to sell the Rs 1,000-crore property to a Pune-based developer linked to a top Maharashtra-based politician.
Popular among foreigners and the rich set still enamored with the mystique of Rajneesh, the sprawling commune — now renamed as the Osho International Meditation Resort — attracts hundreds of people every day. Entrance fees cost as much as Rs 1,000 with other facilities like food and beverages charged extra.
Trustees who run the ashram have also filed an application before the Charity Commissioner seeking the incorporation of a private limited company to manage the affairs of the organisation. This has rankled a section of Osho’s followers, who have filed a petition challenging the plan.
In their petition, Yogesh Thakkar, alias Swami Prem Geet, and Kishore Raval, alias Swami Prem Anandi sought a stay on any attempt to sell the property. “The Pune properties of the commune were established by Osho’s followers, who spent their hard labour, time, money and dedication in order to teach Osho’s philosophy,” the petition stated.
The petitioners went on to say that the Osho Foundation was controlled by three individuals — Michael O’Byrne alias Swami Jayesh, George Meredith alias Swami Amrito, and Darcy O’Byrne alias Swami Yogendra, who took over the organisation after the death of Rajneesh on January 19, 1990.
“We would like the Osho Foundation to function in a more democratic manner. There should be more of Osho’s followers in the body and they should have a say in the Foundation’s decisions,” Thakkar said.
However, the Osho International Foundation has denied that attempts are afoot to sell off the property to any builder. “There is no move to sell the property to any builder. We run meditation centres and spread the philosophy of Osho,” said Amrit Sadhana, a spokeswoman of the body.
Meanwhile, a section of Osho’s followers have begun an online campaign to protect the Pune ashram.