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Open Features: A Treasure Chest With Trivia

"Leave alone an autobiography, even Osho's biography presents immense challenges - for how can you fill or even distill an ocean into a tank? If you want to drink Osho, savour him in pegs and sip him neat,'' advises Kul Bhushan, a follower of Osho.

"One day we will have to write the whole of history with a totally different orientation, because the facts are trivia - although they are material, they don't matter. And the truths are immaterial but they matter," says the preface by the compiler of 'The Autobiography of a Spiritually Incorrect Mystic'.

A pity that this very idea is ignored repeatedly in what follows. First, it is NOT an autobiography. Although the book contains Osho's own words but their selection transforms the compiler into a biographer. Osho - whose name is derived from 'oceanic' - offers an unlimited choice from his spoken words; thus the inclusion of incidents or insights by some one else means a selection and a different emphasis, so it cannot be an autobiography. Despite this, Osho's words are real treasure especially in the section - The Legacy.

Second, a great deal of trivia is included. Many chapters start with extracts from press interviews showing the transient which is elaborated upon in the ensuing extracts from Osho's works. Is this an effort to whitewash the sensational headlines he created with his interviews? Osho's showmanship is over, his substance endures from now until eternity; and one cannot have enough of it - in this book or any of his 650-odd titles which are increasingly appreciated.

Thirdly, an entire section of this book - Reflections of an Empty Mirror: The Many Faces of a Man who Never Was - is a mitigating appeal to correct the mass media image Osho. These momentary perceptions are out of focus a decade after he left his body. What remains and indeed gathering greater momentum by the day are his insights which are now more relevant now than ever before.

Then there are a couple of bloomers - transcribing Ravana as Ramana which ruins the hilarious incident of Ram Leela and transcribing Dacca instead of Dakar as the capital of Senegal.

Having said that, the book offers vintage Osho. Right from his first seven formative years to his departure, his unique perspective enthralls, stimulates and jolts traditional thinking. His years as a village enfant terrible, a rebellious student and a revolutionary professor make the most stimulating reading.

The pivotal moment of enlightenment comes alive in his words as an experience beyond words. What he imbibed in his first seven years endured as a constant rebellion for the rest of his time on this planet. It laid the foundation of an iconoclast colliding with the traditional mind to make a turnaround.

How he infuriated the former Prime Minister of India Moraraji Desai over a decade is not found in these pages; neither are Osho's pithy barbs at the American, Jewish and Vatican establishments which were the real reasons for his expulsion from United States. Perhaps the biographer found them 'incorrect' for inclusion!

The chronology section bears out the point about facts made in the preface. This chronicle has major gaps and overemphasis, for example the date of the announcement of his final name Osho, the undue stress on 'harassment' of his personal entourage, the excessive coverage of his stay in USA and the days just before he left his body. Selection of what will endure should be the criteria and not what agenda or readership it serves. Despite reading the words of Osho, one who has experienced Osho is left with the feeling that the book does not do justice to him. The trivia ruins the treasure.

A similar attempt to present Osho in one volume was made over 20 years ago resulting in 'The Sound of Running Water'. Obviously, it did not cover his entire life but what it presented in terms of words, graphics, photographs, layout, design and print production has never been equalled so far. Today, this priceless volume is cherished and preserved as an heirloom by those who had the courage to invest in its high price at that time.

"A good book," wrote the poet John Milton, "is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life." More than anyone else, this spiritual master deserves but still awaits such a book.

Leave alone an autobiography, even Osho's biography presents immense challenges - for how can you fill or even distill an ocean into a tank? If you want to drink Osho, savour him in pegs and sip him neat.

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