Sw Vinod Bharti
Vinod was born in a Punjabi Hindu family on 6 October 1946, in Peshawar, British India (now in Pakistan). He had three sisters and one brother. Shortly after his birth, India was partitioned and the family left Peshawar and moved to Bombay, now Mumbai. He was an actor, sannyasin, film producer and politician.
As an actor, he got his start in 1968, first acting in supporting and what are thought of as negative roles: angry young men, villains, a rogue military officer ... many lead roles followed. He is best remembered for his performances in Kuchhe Dhaage, Gaddaar, Imtihaan, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Inkaar, Amar Akbar Anthony, Rajput, The Burning Train, Qurbani, Kudrat, Parvarish, Khoon Pasina, Dayavan, Chandni and Jurm. A complete filmography can be found here (wikipedia).
At the peak of his career, Vinod came to understand that this life was not fulfilling and he came to see Osho, taking sannyas in 1975. His spiritual journey is outlined in his own words below in an interview with Hindi Osho Times in 1994. He worked in Osho's garden starting in 1977 and continued in his garden in Rajneeshpuram.
- A good actor comes to know, that all are acts. "Then who am I?" In ordinary life you are identified with one thing: you are a doctor, so you are a doctor -- morning, evening, night, you are a doctor; for thirty, forty years, you are a doctor -- you become fixed with the identity, with the role. It is a role too -- but you never change, so you become fixed. You forget; the role becomes your being. When a person has to change many roles, he becomes loose. by and by the question arises: Who am I? All these are roles -- then who am I? who is this man who some day becomes a sinner and some day becomes a saint? And some day plays the role of a murderer, and some day becomes a great lover? Who is this man? Who is this being behind all these actings?
- To me, acting is one of the most spiritual professions. And if you take life as an acting, you will start moving towards spirituality. Take life as an acting, you will start moving towards spirituality. Take life as acting, a great drama. The world is a vast stage. You are a mother -- that is only one role. You are a father -- that is only one role. You are a businessman -- another role. You are a brother to somebody -- another role. You are a son, husband -- another role... a thousand and one roles if you watch. And you go on changing your faces. When your servant comes to see you, you have a different face. When your boss comes to see you, you have a different face. Watch it, become a little more alert, and you will see you have a thousand and one faces, continuously changing. It is automatic. You need not do anything -- they change automatically. You have become very skillful. Once you understand this, you start moving inwards where there is no face at all.
After the Ranch, he resumed his film career, scoring big hits with Insaaf and Satyamev Jayate, which led to many more film deals. Then in 1998, he was courted by the Bharatiya Janata Party to run for their party in Gurdaspur constituency in Punjab. He won that seat, and again in general elections in 1999, 2004 and 2014, losing narrowly in 2009. He eventually served in the Cabinets of various BJP governments as Union minister of state for tourism and culture, and later for external affairs. He was still in that position when he left his body, on 27 April 2017.
Hindi Osho Times interview
- "My spiritual life started when I reached the point when no material thing was important to me. I had it all: good money, family, fame, respect… all desires had been fulfilled.
- "At the age of eight, I went to sadhus to sit with them with eyes closed, meditating. This spiritual dimension took a backseat in school and college. I wanted to be an actor. When I was successful as an actor, my childhood desire awakened again; I started to think: what is that consciousness which all gurus talk about? So, I went to a bookshop and bought Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda and read it.
- "In 1974, four deaths in my family within six months shook me. I thought, 'I will also die and don’t know anything about myself.' I started to meditate but hit a wall. There was some peace but nothing much. Vijay Anand and Mahesh Bhatt took me to Osho. His discourses answered all my questions. Surprise!
- "I wanted to know more about my peace so, in 1975, I decided to go see Osho, who said, 'Are you ready for sannyas? You are…' I took sannyas on 31st December**. I felt I knew him from many previous births. Osho said, 'Do the Nadabrahma (Humming) meditation.' I was very active at that time; I had too much physical power but my mind was not so active, I needed to experience no-mind, silence.
- "I knew the proverb: 'An empty mind is the devil's workshop.' Too much stuff was in my head; I was so afraid of a no-mind experience. The body started to experience chemical changes, yet I carried on meditating. From 6 am to midnight, meditating. Meditating at work, in-between shootings in the makeup room, listening to Osho's discourses, and meditating after work at home. My wearing orange and mala shocked everyone – family, friends – some called me mad; but the film industry never disowned me. They sympathised with me, just wondered why I had taken sannyas. Gradually, I got fed up with films and wanted to live with the master in Pune. Osho said NO, I was not ready – and to work totally.
- "I was not total – I resisted useless song and dance sequences, disliked my roles, direction, screenplay… everything. At some point I realised that I should respect all of them. When I became total in my work, I started to enjoy what I was doing and my enjoyment affected others around me. When I told Osho about this, he said, 'Do groups.' These helped me very much: they released my repressions and blocks as positive energy flowed. I was fully in the world and yet not in it. And I wanted to stay in the ashram.
- [ ... ]
- "One day in 1977, Osho suddenly said, 'You can come to the ashram.' I went to Bombay and held a press conference announcing my leaving films at the peak of my career and that I would be staying with Osho. This was a shocker! It created a storm. Many film producers were angry as they had lots of money invested in films that were in production with me. I promised to complete all these films and fulfill all my commitments. Osho got a lot of criticism for my action. I tried to bring my family to Osho but they were not interested in him. My inner explosion could not be expressed or reported by the media.
- "My ashram life in Pune was meditating and working in Osho's garden, where no trees or plants could be cut; I bruised my body and got thorns when working in the underbrush, and was full of mud. I slept in a very small room in which I could hardly stretch my six-foot frame and was just about cramped. Facing my fear of death because I had been told two people had died in that room. But I was at peace because I was given the chance of living with Osho. From time to time I went to Bombay for shoots.
- "When I had completed all my films I went to the USA in 1981 to be with Osho. At Rajneeshpuram in Oregon, I worked as a gardener in Osho's garden and looked after the peacocks, looked after the plants and trees, cleaned the place. I enjoyed the hard work. Sometimes Osho called me to his room. As I was mostly meditating, going deep into my inner space, all masks dropped; I didn’t know what else was going on in the world. Osho remained silent for three years but was communicating with all of us. Then he started to speak in 1984 and created a storm."