Difference between revisions of "Twinkies"

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The Twinkies could be called an all-female team, though they did include one "honorary female", [[Sw Anand Anshumali]]. They were co-ordinated by [[Ma Prem Isabel]] and "anchored" by [[Ma Deva Jayamala]], who maintained [[Mirdad (Reception and Press Office, Rajneeshpuram)|Mirdad Welcome Center]], at first in a modest trailer next to the barn in downtown Rajneeshpuram, before it was moved to more expansive quarters. Jayamala entertained visitors until one of the mobile crew came to show them around. They included [[Ma Prema Veena]], [[Ma Prem Sunshine]], [[Ma Yoga Punya]], [[Ma Ananda Sarita]], [[Ma Dhyan Rosalie]], [[Ma Anand Bhagawati]], [[Ma Anand Sophia]], [[Ma Anand Margaret]] and Anshumali among others.
 
The Twinkies could be called an all-female team, though they did include one "honorary female", [[Sw Anand Anshumali]]. They were co-ordinated by [[Ma Prem Isabel]] and "anchored" by [[Ma Deva Jayamala]], who maintained [[Mirdad (Reception and Press Office, Rajneeshpuram)|Mirdad Welcome Center]], at first in a modest trailer next to the barn in downtown Rajneeshpuram, before it was moved to more expansive quarters. Jayamala entertained visitors until one of the mobile crew came to show them around. They included [[Ma Prema Veena]], [[Ma Prem Sunshine]], [[Ma Yoga Punya]], [[Ma Ananda Sarita]], [[Ma Dhyan Rosalie]], [[Ma Anand Bhagawati]], [[Ma Anand Sophia]], [[Ma Anand Margaret]] and Anshumali among others.
  
Veena has generously shared some memories of her time with the Twinkies, running from late 1981 to 1983. Her article also appears in [https://www.oshonews.com/2020/08/08/twinkies-on-the-front-line/ Osho News], with lots more Ranch pics.  
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Veena and [[#Bhagawati|Bhagawati]] have generously shared some memories of their time with the Twinkies, below.
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==Veena==
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Veena's time in the group ran from late 1981 to 1983. Her article also appears in [https://www.oshonews.com/2020/08/08/twinkies-on-the-front-line/ Osho News], with lots more Ranch pics.  
  
 
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:Each day on the Ranch as a Twinkie, I was supposed to be conveying my enthusiasm and approval about our construction feats but I wasn’t being truthful. I could not rid myself of the feeling that creating this place was not what was supposed to be happening. Yes, Osho made the best of a bad situation – he always did – but still I felt something was deeply wrong. And remember, in the end, Osho and Nirvano died directly because of events related to Rajneeshpuram; some idiots in our Pune commune appointed themselves THE guardians of Osho's work – or tried to – and heavy-handedly diluted much of its depth and substance; our commune disintegrated, and we found ourselves scattered around the planet. The result is that the intensity of deep, collective devotional and meditative energy, necessary for the ultimate transformation – enlightenment -- has been mostly, although hopefully not entirely, lost.
 
:Each day on the Ranch as a Twinkie, I was supposed to be conveying my enthusiasm and approval about our construction feats but I wasn’t being truthful. I could not rid myself of the feeling that creating this place was not what was supposed to be happening. Yes, Osho made the best of a bad situation – he always did – but still I felt something was deeply wrong. And remember, in the end, Osho and Nirvano died directly because of events related to Rajneeshpuram; some idiots in our Pune commune appointed themselves THE guardians of Osho's work – or tried to – and heavy-handedly diluted much of its depth and substance; our commune disintegrated, and we found ourselves scattered around the planet. The result is that the intensity of deep, collective devotional and meditative energy, necessary for the ultimate transformation – enlightenment -- has been mostly, although hopefully not entirely, lost.
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==Bhagawati==
  
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Bhagawati's time in the group ran from mid-1983 through the end of the ranch. Her sharing below also appears in two articles in Osho News: [https://www.oshonews.com/2020/08/15/the-road-to-twinkiehood/ Part One] and [https://www.oshonews.com/2020/08/22/return-to-the-ranch/ Part Two], with more Ranch pics and some additional material. 
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[[image:Bhagawati-polyester-2.jpg|200px|right|thumb|Bhagawati on the job]]
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:Sometime in early autumn 1983 I was enlisted as a Twinkie and I joined the girls at Mirdad – Isabel, Sunshine, Sarita, Rosalie; Sophia joined us later.
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:I was told to test drive on a large school bus which freaked me out. The pick-ups that we used on the taxi runs had automatic gears, which I thought was one of the better inventions mankind had come up with. The buses didn’t and it took a lot of strength for me to hit the clutch or the brakes. I really didn’t want to drive one of those with a load of visitors inside while explaining to them what we were all about.
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:I can no longer remember how it happened but the bus idea was soon dropped and I learned how to drive one of the vans that held about eight people or so. I was trained by Sunshine how to conduct a tour – I accompanied her on two tours carrying visitors around. She told me to make sure I remembered everything she said precisely, because it was important I didn’t say anything that could create a problem for Osho or the community.
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:I was then let loose on my own with a group of American visitors. I was petrified to say something wrong. I couldn’t remember everything Sunshine had said and HOW she had said it, so I felt rather constrained the first time round. The second tour was easier, as I decided to talk in the way I always communicate and was pretty sure I wouldn't say something 'wrong'. It worked well and I enjoyed the daily tours, sometimes twice a day.
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:Also joining us from time to time was Margaret, who together with [[Sw Krishna Prem (Canadian journalist)|Krishna Prem]] worked as a researcher into all the media reports about Osho and the commune. Their findings were given to [[RLS]], the legal department.
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:Most of the visitors I connected with were very nice, they were so impressed with our progress, they wanted to know a lot about us – I don’t think they had met a lot of non-native people living in America before. One middle-aged woman once asked, "So where are you from?" Eager not to mention my nationality I smiled and said, "I was born in Vienna." She looked astonished at me and asked incredulously, "You are from Vietnam?"
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:All of us tour guides were very strict when it came to not disclosing Osho’s residence. Of course, most visitors asked where he lived. I’d casually wave my hand about dismissively and say we built his own private quarters and changed the subject. However, in order to get to the truck farm, we passed B-site on the road opposite. On that stretch there wasn’t anything interesting to see so many visitors would zoom into the long fence that surrounded Lao Tzu House and ask, "So what is that fence for?"
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:"Oh, we created a rather large deer park to protect them," I would explain and carry on, "strange, can’t see any around today though…"
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:When I wasn’t giving tours, there was a lot of paper work to be done at the office or we would get assigned to visiting journalists. More and more kept coming and they needed to be shepherded at all times. Of course, whenever some German-speaking journalists came I went around with them but depending on the influx, I also dealt with other nationalities. Most were usually fun to be with.
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:Isabel was a great coordinator and organizer, charming and diplomatic; I think we all liked her lots. I remember a phrase she once used when some journalist challenged her about Osho's way of speaking English. She smiled and said, "Ah yes, his delightful mispronunciations!"
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[[image:Bhagawati-Mirdad.jpg|200px|right|thumb|in Mirdad, check out those boots!]]
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:All of us were outfitted with rather boring uniforms in polyester. The set consisted of a flared purple skirt and a pink blouse. We also had a pair of long polyester pants with a kind of light purplish mushroom colour. We did what we could to shape up our outfits by adding a belt or scarf or some brooch. For winter I had a long down jacket, a down vest and a maroon-coloured thick coat with wool lining. I remember one day how lucky I felt when I checked out Vimalkirti (our communal outfitter) for some shoes and found a pair of beautiful dark-brown Italian-made knee-high leather boots with perfect fit! I hung on to those for many years to come.
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:The winter of 1983/84 was harsh, not only weather-wise. Building the Lao Tzu Town houses near Kabir creek and B-site in autumn, we also built the Mall and Hotel Rajneesh; we had to get many buildings up before a deadline, when new Oregon land-use laws could stop construction. That time was popularly called 'the crunch' and involved 16-hour shifts.
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:Night work was called for. I was allotted a pick-up truck and went from Socrates, where I loaded the air ducts that were being built there to the hotel to be installed and then back to Socrates. Often, I had to wait in the car for the load to be ready and it was very cold. Yet it was also so stunning to look through the windscreen at the clear cold night sky with millions of stars to get lost in. We usually stopped work by midnight.
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:Of course, the next day we would be up early to morph into Twinkie mode. At times we were so tired, that instead of having lunch some of us would sleep underneath the desks in a small office room where we could close the door and hide.
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:Every Saturday, Sheela conducted a coordinator’s meeting where every coordinator (mom) had to show up and reports were given about the past week or pending issues; generally, Sheela talked about some new plan or change of a department head maybe, sometimes related a titbit of what Osho had said, but usually set upon chewing up everybody who had in some way failed her or her instructions, in particular her husband, [[Sw Prem Jayananda|Jayananda]]. Sometimes Isabel was unable to attend those meetings and I went instead to several of them. It was not desirable to be sitting there… and, heaven forbid, contribute anything.
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:In Spring, after a prediction by Osho that AIDS would kill two-thirds of the world’s population, protective measures were introduced to our community which the media widely ridiculed and we Twinkies often had to deal with it.
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:<big><big>The Third Annual World Celebration and Share-A-Home</big></big>
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:During the festival I was standing with a journalist and his cameraman at the roadside waiting for Osho to drive by. We had to have some control about their movements and were encouraged to hang on to the journalist’s belts or, in absence of a belt, fingers into their pants; I dare say they kind of enjoyed that. So I hung on so he wouldn’t move too close to Osho’s rolled-down car window.
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:Osho approached and stopped the car and looked at the journalist. I was startled when he spoke! It was thrilling to hear him after such a long time! To me, his voice seemed to come from a far-away place when I heard him say, "Rajneeshism is the first and maybe last religion…"
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:I spent much time with a lovely TV crew from VPRO in The Netherlands. The reporter, Frank Wiering, was a charming, intelligent and unbiased man; I drove around with him and the crew and went to some places for the first time – such as on top of a hill, overlooking the kilometres-long row of sannyasins waiting for Osho’s drive-by. It was spectacular!
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:VPRO produced a beautiful documentary, entitled 'De Nieuwe Mens' (The New Man).
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:It was in late summer of that year that I had an unsettling dream. In that dream, I was standing near Lao Tzu House and I knew Osho was not there anymore. There were people in suits going in and out with papers in hand and I sensed they were from the FBI or the CIA.
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:In those days word had been going out encouraging us to share any unusual dreams because it seemed the land we were on was very spirited and lots of residents had vivid dreams. I remember Sarita in particular would tell us many amazing dreams she had. As the dream was so strange, I decided to mention it to (I think) [[Ma Yoga Pratima|Pratima]]. She listened yet barely commented and I forgot all about it until more than a year later…
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:September brought the Share-A-Home program. Initially peddled as an altruistic idea, it became soon clear to us that it had to do with the upcoming Wasco County elections. To ensure the expansion of Rajneeshpuram, we needed a friendly commissioner in power.
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:Residents were sent out with school buses to recruit hundreds of homeless people in major American cities and bring them to Rajneeshpuram.
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:Twinkies were told to meet every arriving bus with the street people. Upon climbing into the first bus I was welcoming, I stood next to the driver and had 40 pair of eyes glued on me. The men looked tired and dishevelled and I felt they had no clue why they were here…
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:On October 31, Osho began speaking again to a small group in Lao Tzu and we Twinkies got lucky because we were frequently invited to attend the discourses. The first time I sat through a discourse, I couldn't remember a word Osho said because the room was freezing cold and I was preoccupied breathing deep inside and keeping myself a bit warm. The next time I came equipped with layers upon layers of clothing and was alright from then on.
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:The majority of residents got to see the video of Osho’s talk the next evening in Rajneesh Mandir, also not very warm but we had heaters installed under the roof. As the videos were only shown after dinner, around 9 pm, most of us were already so tired and often fell asleep on the floor. Those videos were also sent to the communes in Europe.
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:In December I had another unusual dream: I am standing in a group with about 20 sannyasins along the road when Osho drives by. He stops the car, looks at me, points at me and says something like "It won’t be easy but it will be OK." I woke up feeling quite confused about what that meant.
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:Later that day I was called into the office and Vidya asked me if my passport was in order which I confirmed. She said that I would be travelling to Europe together with Isabel to establish press offices in the large communes because of the increasing interest in Osho and Sannyas.
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::[In the extended article in Osho News, Bhagawati describes her six months of PR work in Europe, during which she met her eventual life-partner, [[Sw Gyan Anatto|Anatto]]. When she returned, she found things quite different.]
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:<big><big>Return from Europe</big></big>
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:It started when I saw that around Jesus Grove a barbed wire fence had gone up, which was bewildering. I noticed several other curious changes and sensed the energy of our community had changed. I asked myself, “What am I doing here? Is this the place where I want to live?” I wanted to leave! And quickly.
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:The next morning it was announced that starting on the first day of the festival, Osho would be speaking publicly again. This was wonderful news and I consciously put all my doubts in some inner corner and jumped straight back into commune life. I absolutely wanted to be here for this. And at Mirdad we had a new Twinkie, for the first time a man, Anshumali who managed very gracefully to be surrounded by solely female co-workers.
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[[image:Mirdad-interior.jpg|200px|right|thumb|Mirdad interior, Bhagawati and Sarita (L-R)]]
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:We also had a small snack bar for visitors which was run by Neelam. On the menu were coffee and croissants, pastries and hot dogs with make-believe sausage which were extremely popular. Neelam was charming and caring – she spoiled us, bending management rules by heating up left-over food for those of us who were working late.
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:Thousands of friends arrived and with them Anatto who I had been waiting for. My friend Sneha was at the way station in Antelope and phoned me in the middle of the night when she found out on which bus he was going to arrive at the Welcome Centre!
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:The energy was running high once more and the festival took off; Osho was there in the body, so tangible, so strong. He had not been speaking during evenings in Lao Tzu since April 2, and drive-by again had been the only possibility to get a glimpse of him.
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:What with visitors and tours and journalists around, Anatto and I made the most of it to see each other every free minute.
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:Although I did remember the layout of our commune, there obviously had been changes along the roads that I was unaware of.  On a tour with a journalist to [[Surdas Truck Farm]], I pointed out that on the left was the chicken coop and talked all about chickens and their unfertilized eggs. I suddenly realized there weren’t any chickens and the journalist pointed that out too. Nonplussed I went on and said something like, "Ah, they all must be resting inside, it’s a hot day." I found out later that we had gotten rid of the chickens because they had become neurotic and plucked out each other’s tail feathers; it had been a proper mess to take care of them!
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:I barely got any sleep for about two weeks yet was flying on love, joy and adrenaline. This time Anatto was the one who went back home yet he would be coming again rather soon, for the three months exchange program. Or so we thought.
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:Twinkie life continued with the excitement of Osho giving interviews at Jesus Grove to journalists from all over the world in addition to daily discourses in Rajneesh Mandir. We were busy putting word out to the media, inviting them to come; the first interview was given on July 17.
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:Towards the end of August, an unsettling experience happened while I was accompanying a reporter from Newsday, a daily for New York City and Long Island. He got everything he had wanted to see and hear about, had interviewed Osho, and the last item on his list was an interview with Sheela.
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:I brought him to Jesus Grove in the early evening and as Sheela wasn’t yet available, we were asked to wait. Fred asked if he could have a coffee and when I went to pick up a cup at the hatch to the kitchen, I asked for a cup for myself too. I was given a cup for him and when I waited for mine I was told they were going to make fresh coffee and I would get it as soon as it was ready.
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:It took a while as we waited but I got the coffee in time before we met with Sheela.
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:After the interview I drove Fred to Hotel Rajneesh and continued towards home. I felt tired and not very alert and looked forward to lying down. When I approached the small bridge over the creek I felt uncertain if I could drive straight over it, my balance was off. But I did make it over, drove up to the house and parked. I reeled walking into the mudroom and started having heart palpitations. Even when I was lying down, they continued. I felt apprehensive and dizzy and not sure what was going on. I thought of calling Pythagoras for a doctor to come. Still lying there undecided, I held the locket of my mala in the hand and closed my eyes. And I clearly heard a voice saying, "Don't call a doctor."
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:I trusted this voice and didn't call, just stayed with the sensation of the heart beating so fast. I fell asleep at some point and woke up in the morning in exactly the same position. At Mirdad I didn't want to spread the word as to what had happened. I only told Isabel in confidence and she just looked very surprised and nothing more was said.
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:It was again only later that I found out about what had happened to Vivek after she had a talk with Sheela over a cup of coffee. She was feeling suddenly very unwell and developed strong heart palpitations. I realized that had I contacted Pythagoras, I would have been hospitalised and might have been 'treated' by Puja. I just wondered why I was targeted.
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:In the following few weeks we found out that a few long-time residents had left the commune but at the time didn't really know why. I remember [[Sw Prem Siddha|Siddha]] spending time at Mirdad for whatever reason and one day he whispered to me something about "there is much danger" and I should take good care of myself. We were interrupted and never spoke again; he and his partner [[Ma Sat Prabodhi|Prabodhi]] left the commune shortly after, in the middle of the night.
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:Early afternoon on September 14, we were alerted that Sheela and several other people were leaving. It barely caused a reaction in me, I thought, "Fine." A few people of her entourage, including Savita and Anugiten came into Mirdad before leaving but I can't remember why. I only know that after they left my gold-bound address book with a large B on it had disappeared. And with it all my contacts of the media and my friends and family. I also remembered Anugiten had been hanging around my desk trying to make some conversation which was strange because I barely knew him. We searched later everywhere for the address book but it was gone.
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:I drove over to the airport to see the action; a small group of residents had gathered and two sannyasins were singing a song accompanied by a guitar for Sheela and her entourage, which I thought was rather bizarre. People were saying goodbye and waving and at last the plane took off.
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:That very evening, unperturbed, Osho gave an interview to John Dettinger, of California Magazine, who didn't ask anything about Sheela. But the news spread quickly and from the next evening on there were lots of questions to Osho about Sheela’s departure and many other journalists followed suit, several from California, three journalists and one TV team from Germany, a Seattle TV crew and one from Australia.
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:And Jesus Grove was renamed to Sanai Grove.
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:<big><big>The Heat Is On</big></big>
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:The Twinkies experienced intense times while Osho was speaking about all the wrongdoings that were discovered and new revelations about Sheela's crimes came out of the woodwork almost daily. Dozens of law enforcement officers (FBI, INS) were searching for evidence of crime. Files were rifled, departments were searched, people were interviewed, US Navy divers searched one of the lakes for guns having been dumped – it was mayhem.
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:Journalists from all over were crowding Hotel Rajneesh and after we had heard rumours that the National Guard (about 4,000 of them) had been placed on alert and were ready to march into Rajneeshpuram, we asked the journalists, many of whom we knew well, to stay around – to help protect us. The word Jonestown came up more often than felt comfortable.
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:Osho continued to speak mornings and evenings. Sitting in Rajneesh Mandir, he was flanked by two guards holding machine guns; they looked expressionless at the sannyasins sitting in the audience.
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:By end of September rumours were going around that Osho might be arrested. It sounded ludicrous and when a sannyasin asked a question in discourse about this rumour and for a comment by Osho, he answered,
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::"Aha! That's really groovy. That’s the only experience I have missed in my life. And knowing that this is my last life, I would certainly want to be arrested. Make sure that I am handcuffed, because whenever I do anything, I do it totally."
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:Little did we anticipate this could ever happen as our lives and work now evolved with new management, and Hasya as Osho's secretary at the helm.
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:On October 27, Osho ended the morning discourse by answering the following question:
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::Beloved Master, Would you talk about Sheela and her gang?
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::My God! Such an old story. And you must be real lazy and late to ask such a question. I can talk about Adam and Eve – that is far more fresh. But I do not want to waste my time and your time about Sheela and her gang. It is finished.
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::Okay?
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:In the late afternoon on that day I was at the office when suddenly a journalist from the Chicago Tribune came running in, shouting he needed a phone line. I pointed him in the right direction and listened incredulously to what he was yelling into the phone, "The Bhagwan is leaving!"
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:He told me that two Lear jets were standing at the airport and soon after I heard one of them take off and then shortly after the second with Osho inside.
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:I heard late in the night that Osho had landed in Charlotte and been arrested; I was shocked yet I had a job to do. I went down to our communal living room with lists of journalists' names and phone numbers and began making phone calls, starting with "Bhagwan has been arrested in Charlotte, North Carolina." We hoped that a huge media presence in Charlotte would make a difference and protect him. I think some other Twinkies must have been doing the same in their houses but cannot remember.
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:The next day, at Mirdad, we saw the footage on what had gone down in Charlotte on TV. It seemed too absurd, just like a movie, yet inexplicably real. It was so very painful to see Osho in this situation and us not being able to do anything about it. For the next 12 days I was deeply concerned he could be killed by the authorities, in particular when we lost track of him and not even his lawyers could find out where he was being held.
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:The media went wild again. We had so many press clippings coming in! Every day was so intense and I cannot remember many details.
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:When Osho finally was brought to Portland, he was released on bail and returned to Rajneeshpuram on November 8. It was dark, when he was driven home and, at the roadside, I saw him smiling, looking incredibly frail and almost transparent. It hurt to see how his body must have suffered.
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:Five days later D-day arrived. Osho left Rajneeshpuram for the last time and was flown to Portland where he was sentenced while maintaining his innocence. The next day we huddled in front of the TV and saw Osho walk up the steps to the plane that would take him to India. As a background theme the station had chosen the music from 'I'm leaving on a jet plane', which made us smile and cry at the same time. At the entrance he turned – a strong breeze stirred his long beard, he smiled, lifted his right hand in a last greeting and then stepped inside.
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:It was stunning. For a long time, nobody talked.
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:And then it was all about winding down the Ranch. Visitors were still coming, we did tours, answered their questions while nobody could answer ours. We heard Osho was in Kulu Manali and I was glad he was back in India. While an exodus began of so many friends leaving I was still undecided.
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:One morning though I woke up and said to myself, you are going to Zurich to be with Anatto – in spite of not being eager to live in Europe, in spite of not knowing how it would be to live with him and where, because he was a member of the Zurich commune; but my heart knew.
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:I left beginning of December, immensely grateful to Osho, for the incredible time I had spent in Rajneeshpuram, for all the learning and experiences, for all the joy, for all the friends I knew.
  
 
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More memories coming soon . . .
 
More memories coming soon . . .

Revision as of 00:02, 31 August 2020

L-R: Jayamala, Veena, Sunshine, Punya, unknown, Rosalie, unknown

The Twinkies were the "hostesses" who greeted and oriented visitors and journalists to Rajneeshpuram, showing them around, answering their questions and explaining what Osho and the ranch were all about, to the best of their well-trained ability. The name "Twinkies" was tongue-in-cheek and derives from an iconic American junk food product, Twinkies, made by "Hostess Brands", and described as "golden sponge cake with a creamy filling".

The Twinkies could be called an all-female team, though they did include one "honorary female", Sw Anand Anshumali. They were co-ordinated by Ma Prem Isabel and "anchored" by Ma Deva Jayamala, who maintained Mirdad Welcome Center, at first in a modest trailer next to the barn in downtown Rajneeshpuram, before it was moved to more expansive quarters. Jayamala entertained visitors until one of the mobile crew came to show them around. They included Ma Prema Veena, Ma Prem Sunshine, Ma Yoga Punya, Ma Ananda Sarita, Ma Dhyan Rosalie, Ma Anand Bhagawati, Ma Anand Sophia, Ma Anand Margaret and Anshumali among others.

Veena and Bhagawati have generously shared some memories of their time with the Twinkies, below.

Veena

Veena's time in the group ran from late 1981 to 1983. Her article also appears in Osho News, with lots more Ranch pics.

First winter, Mirdad trailers right of barn
Veena in polyester
The group of sannyasins manning the front line Reception Department in Rajneeshpuram were known as ‘Twinkies’ and were quite famous!
The Reception and Information Department was set up very soon after we went to the Muddy Ranch, because wide-spread interest was immediate. The ‘Big Muddy’ was a huge property with a county road running right through the middle of it. This presented many problems for us because we could not stop people using that road. If the public stepped off the road, they were immediately trespassing, but if they parked on the road and walked up and down it, there was nothing we could do.
The Reception trailer was set up to welcome these people, show them a place to park, answer their questions and eventually take them on guided tours. In this way, it was hoped to make friends of the visitors and also protect our privacy.
We did not want these kinds of people wandering around our property so we ‘kindly’ arranged to escort them and show them what they wanted to see. In reality we were protecting ourselves and showing these visitors what WE wanted them to see!
The main purpose of Reception however, was firstly to deal with the increasing media interest – in the beginning local, then, as interest grew, from all over the USA and then the world. And secondly, to deal with all the County officials, eventually Federal officials, coming to check us out.
‘Hostess Twinkies’
Ma Prem Isabel initially started the Reception centre, some time after Osho came to the Ranch in around September 1981. I had trouble getting a visa for the US and only arrived in about November 1981. Having brought a huge suitcase of fabric, wool and sewing things for Osho’s sewing room, I was, on my arrival, taken directly to LaoTzu House. After I had spent a few minutes greeting my friends, Nirvano came in and said Osho wanted to see me. I was astonished but went with her. He told me he wanted me to join Isabel and do the necessary PR. I was quite devastated because I don’t deny I expected to have my old sewing job back and live back in LaoTzu House with Osho and my close friends.
So the start of this very difficult, often very unpleasant job, was not auspicious!
For me the big problem was Sheela. I couldn’t stand the woman – I thought she was the personification of evil – and I had had many confrontations with her back in India. Now she was my boss and I was supposed to support her in the chaos she was creating and the disgusting and insulting way she dealt with ‘outsiders’. Needless to say, more confrontations happened but, as Osho had sent me to do this job, she initially couldn’t get rid of me.
After only another month it was obvious that just two people doing this job was not enough and Ma Prem Sunshine joined us. She was great, and being American, understood Americans in a way that Isabel and I sometimes didn’t. She spoke their language! Reception was moved to a much bigger site just off the county road with a huge parking area and a much bigger trailer. Jayamala joined us as it was obvious that someone needed to be in the trailer while the rest of us Twinkies were out dealing with the huge variety of visitors.
To give tours, we had two kind of vans which took seven people each and later a small yellow school bus which took about twenty people and was very difficult to drive as we held a microphone in one hand, had to change gears with the other (double-declutching each time) and steer with… ? Not exactly safe! For important people we also had the use of two luxury 4×4’s which I loved driving!
We were now officially known as ‘Twinkies’. An American sannyasin gave us the name because we were supposed to smile and smile come what may. The name was derived from ads for American junk food cupcakes called ‘Hostess Twinkies’! The ad showed a woman with a gleaming smile offering guests the cupcakes. And of course we were ‘hostesses’.
The next sannyasins to join us were Punya, Sarita and Rosalie. (Bhagawati arrived after I had left.) I confess I head-hunted Punya!! She wasn’t too happy with that, she later told me, because she wanted to work on the land, not in an office again. So sorry, dear Punya! We had just been through the First World Annual Celebration when we welcomed thousands of sannyasins from all over the world. We had decided to give them all a tour on arrival which was a major feat of organisation. By now we had a fleet of old yellow school buses so we arranged bus tours. But first we had to train other people and give them a basic knowledge of our Ranch activities (most people worked in one department and had little idea of what else was happening. Remember, the Ranch was huge). We also faced an enormous language problem with people coming from all over the world!
Hence Punya!! Not only was she massively intelligent and quickly picked up everything that was happening, but she spoke FIVE languages fluently. So, when we arranged a French tour or a German one or an Italian one, Punya could do them all!! And she did an excellent job. It seemed that the only tour she couldn't lead was a Japanese one. We trained Japanese Geeta for that.
A big part of our ‘Twinkie’ job was learning what was going on so that we could give an accurate picture to the visitors when needed – so we were constantly updating our knowledge about land use laws, planning issues, construction, road building, water and sewage management, farming techniques, vehicle maintenance, airport and airplane management etc., etc. Sometimes my brains were so scrambled I felt I was collapsing. And we were bending the laws to a huge extent so we had to be super careful not to reveal what we were actually doing, rather than what we were legally supposed to be doing. For example, before we incorporated as a city, we were not supposed to have a medical centre, nor a school, nor a sewage treatment plant…
Dealing with County officials was, in the beginning anyway, fairly nice because they were quite intelligent people and rather intrigued by what we were doing, so fast, and with so much intelligence. Remember, official statistics showed more than fifty percent of us had university degrees, a much higher proportion than a normal population would have. I remember one official being so impressed he said that our land planning department was full of geniuses – he mentioned Videh and Devaprem, in particular. Dealing with local people was generally OK too as they were usually massively impressed with what we were doing. Like the officials, they too saw us as fulfilling a kind of ‘American dream’ so were usually very supportive.
But the media people – my god, what an eye-opener they were. They were not interested in any kind of truthful commentaries on what they saw; rather, they came with pre-arranged titles and sought only material to back up those headlines which were sensational, untrue and mostly featured sex. I remember one journalist from a Californian TV station whom it was my misfortune to take around. He came with the headline ‘Free Sex Guru’ and was only digging for dirt. I did lose my temper with him… slimy bastard!!!!
There were a few exceptions. I remember one glorious day with a journalist and a photographer from the German National Geographic. They wanted vast scenic shots so I took them up to the top of the Ranch in a 4X4 and drove off road to give them some amazing shots. I took a picnic lunch which we all enjoyed surrounded by such stunning views.
Then there was Frances Fitzgerald, Pulitzer Prize winner, who stayed with us for a week. She was really nice and super-intelligent and kind of 'got' what we were about although in my opinion, she never 'got' what Osho was about. She included our commune in a book she wrote about four 'experimental communities': FitzGerald’s third book, Cities on a Hill: A Journey Through Contemporary Cultures (1986) looks at four modern Utopian experiments: the gay community in San Francisco’s Castro district; the fundamentalist community of Jerry Falwell, the pastor who founded the Moral Majority; the Sun City retirement community near Tampa, Florida; and the free love commune of the Indian guru, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, in Oregon. All were published in The New Yorker, and the book won the award for literature from The English-Speaking Union.
A special visitor for me was Roshani Shay. Roshani was a Professor of Political Science at the University of Oregon, Eugene, when she visited us. In her academic position, she became a forceful advocate of Osho and Rajneeshpuram, speaking up in the face of the unrelenting criticism and hatred being fostered by the media. She was wonderful and remains one of my dearest friends to this day.
As all the headlines came out, we got busier and busier – often starting at 6 am in the morning and finishing at 10 or 11 pm at night. Having to spend so much time with unpleasant people was not exactly a pleasure. Also, we became ‘pariahs’ because friends avoided us in case they said something wrong when questioned by a journalist. We were all very suspicious of them by this time! As soon as sannyasins saw me with a journalist in tow, they did a quick disappearing act, so I would go for days or weeks with hardly any communication with sannyasin friends.
We had daily meetings with Sheela who was now going crazy and was obviously on some kind of drugs, which made her irrational and hopelessly unable to deal with all the pressures we were facing – situations very often caused by her ugly insults to all outsiders. Because of her we were existing in an increasingly hostile environment.
The Big Muddy
There is one story I would like to relate because it gives a bit of a taste of the wild conditions we were working in and how life on the Ranch could be unexpected, exciting, challenging and sometimes downright dangerous.
A documentary film crew (not a TV crew) had contacted us to ask if they could travel around our Ranch because they heard there were some old ruined homesteads on the property that they would like to use in their period documentary. Permission was granted and I got Australian Riten, who was a geologist, to come as a guide because it was his job to travel all over our property seeing that everything was OK. He thus had a huge knowledge of what was available. One of the perks of doing this kind of job was that we Twinkies got to drive some of the best cars on the Ranch and this time I got the best luxury 4×4 which performed well in rough, off-road or muddy conditions. This soon proved to be fortunate because I credit that car with saving the lives of five people!
Riten and I shared the driving as we escorted the documentary producer and his two crew members over areas of the Ranch I had never seen. We were driving on tracks, not on roads. After about an hour, Riten said there was just one more place that he wanted to show us before driving home via single car track, cut out of the hillside, with, he said to the crew, some great scenic shots. Up until this point they were quite enthusiastic with what they had seen.
They were even more excited when they saw the last derelict homestead and I could see its possibilities for their film. But the outcome was doomed because, as we got back into the car, it started to rain. We all know why the Ranch was called the Big Muddy! The soil had a consistency of clay and once wet, it became a treacherous ice rink and walking and driving became a massive feat of trying not to end up on your butt or put any vehicle you were driving into a ditch.
Unsuspectingly I followed Riten’s instructions to find this back road with the great view and then return to the Ranch. At first the rain wasn’t too bad, but suddenly the heavens opened up and we were deluged. I could barely see out of the windscreen, even with the wipers set to fast. And with a sinking heart I knew it was too late to stop, because the car was already sliding almost out of control in the thickening mud… and there was a drop of about one to two hundred feet to plunge over if even one wheel went off the narrow track. I was able to put the car into its lowest gear without stopping, but from now onwards I didn’t dare to touch the brakes because we would have skidded and gone over. I was petrified as was everybody else. I remember saying: “Riten, I can’t do this. You have to take over.” He replied: “I can’t do it either and anyway we dare not stop for us to change. You HAVE to do it!”
Well, we know that extreme fear puts one totally in the moment and at that point everything disappeared except my hands on the steering wheel and the sound of the car sliding in the mud. I didn’t even think of Osho! It possibly only took about fifteen minutes to get to the bottom of the track, but I don’t really know because time absolutely stood still. When we got to the valley and were in no danger of going over the edge, I finally stopped and told Riten to take over. I could barely walk round the car because my legs were shaking so much and I could hardly breathe. Our drive back to the Ranch was in silence and, needless to say, the film crew never returned.
"Talk more and more…"
Veena and Sunshine giving a talk to a high school class (article is legible!)
And, as if we weren’t busy enough, one of the other very strenuous tasks some of us Twinkies were required to do, was go out around Oregon and give talks to all kinds of groups who invited us. Sometimes we would leave the Ranch two or three times a week. The groups could be school kids, university students, women’s institutes, or groups just seeking to learn more about current events and life itself.
It was giving a talk to one of the latter kind of groups that proved my undoing. I was scheduled to give a talk in Portland to a group of professional people – lawyers, doctors and teachers among them. Somebody was driving me there that evening but when I got in the car, I found that Arup was there too. Thinking she had business in Portland I asked her where she was going and she told me that Sheela had sent her to watch me – literally to police me – because Sheela considered that I was too ‘nice’ to people and needed to be more confrontational and rude to people like she was. I was naturally very annoyed, as I considered Sheela’s disgusting approach to be counterproductive and I felt she was actively endangering Osho and sannyasins.
When we arrived at the very nice hall that had been arranged, I spoke to a few people and found them to be intelligent and genuinely interested in learning about what we were doing and our outlook on life. Not prejudiced at all. I first showed them a very good documentary our video department had made and then invited questions. The questions were intelligent and insightful and I actually enjoyed the discussions that ensued. Then, after one slightly aggressive question, which I calmly answered and saw people nodding in support, Arup got up onto the platform and started to blast everybody with an insulting rant, calling them all kinds of offensive names. I was totally stunned, as were the audience. We had built up such a friendly and insightful rapport and I saw Arup destroy all the goodwill I had created over the previous hour. She finally said she was now leaving and grabbed my arm and marched me off without even giving me a chance to talk to the people. Anyway, what could I have said or done after that tirade?
Once in the car I furiously confronted her. She said that she could see now that it was true that I was too ‘nice’ and she would report this back to Sheela. I replied these were intelligent people genuinely interested in hearing our side of things and there was absolutely zero need to insult them. Arup told me she would tell Sheela that evening.
The next day I told Isabel what had happened and warned her she would probably soon be losing a Twinkie! Later that day I was sent a message to go to Jesus Grove – where Sheela and her cronies, including Arup, lived – to talk to Sheela after she had discussed me with Osho during her evening business meeting with him up at his house. I asked Isabel to come with me to give me some support. Actually, it was Arup who went to the meeting with Osho that evening because Sheela said she had a cold (I think she was too drugged to be coherent). To give her her due, Arup was very nice. When she returned to Jesus Grove, she came over and sat with me and sincerely apologised. She said she had told Osho everything and Osho told her that I was right and she was very wrong to interfere in the way she did. He sent the message that I was to talk ‘more and more’.
Of course, the opposite happened. Within a few days Sheela came round to our Reception trailer and told everybody that from now on I could only take tourists on tour, and was not to give any talks, nor deal with officials or the media. Then, surprisingly, Osho heard about this and called Sheela, Isabel and myself up to see him. He questioned us all and gave us each the chance to say what we wanted to say. He asked Isabel how she thought I was doing and she gave me a positive report. Osho then gave me a beautiful strand of pearls and Isabel a diamond bracelet, after which he turned to Sheela and said (the exact words as far as I can remember): “Sheela, let Veena talk more and more. Do you hear me? Allow her to talk more.”
When I heard him say that I thought: “OK, that is the last nail in the coffin for me!” Sure enough, within a week, Dolma, one of Sheela’s band of bosses (or ‘moms’ as they were stupidly called) came to the Reception trailer, took me back to my room, made me change and give back my ghastly polyester Twinkie uniform and then drove me down to the tiny sprout-making building on the big truck farm near the John Day River. I was told that this would be my job from now on.
Dolma left before seeing the huge smile on my face and my shoulders straightening up, no longer burdened by a difficult job overseen by an evil and disgusting person. It seemed I could relax and start to ‘sort of’ enjoy the time on the Ranch despite my private concerns.
So ended my two-year-long Twinkie career.
Something deeply wrong…
For me it had been a difficult experience. From the day I arrived at the Ranch I felt that it was all wrong, very wrong. So unbefitting and inappropriate to place an enlightened spiritual master on a derelict ranch in the USA! But the Indian sannyasins had not found him a place in India so, if he was to continue his work with us, he had to be somewhere. As far as I was concerned, he was just marking time until Laxmi or someone else found him a place in India, preferably in the Himalayas, to continue his work of taking us deeper and deeper into meditation.
I cite one incident, which happened in the first year I was there, to back up this feeling. At 9 pm one evening I received a call to get a car, pick Laxmi up and take her to LaoTzu House to see Osho. I waited an hour for her and when she came out she was very shaken, she was actually trembling. I helped her into the car and after a while asked her what the matter was. She told me that Osho said very emphatically that she was to return to India immediately and find him a place there because he did not want to be here in the USA. She didn’t do what he asked – with dire consequences.
As a Twinkie I felt like I was living a lie. In my humble opinion Osho’s idea was never to create a utopia. That was our interpretation. He even said once, I don’t recall exactly where, “I don’t want my sannyasins to be building roads and houses and cities. Other people can do that. I want my sannyasins to go deeper into meditation.” He reiterated this opinion when he later arrived in Manali, back in India. Asheesh, who was there by his side, told me that he asked Laxmi where all the buildings were for sannyasins to live in and she replied that we could build them. Asheesh said Osho got angry and again said that he didn’t want his sannyasins making roads and buildings, he wanted them to meditate.
Each day on the Ranch as a Twinkie, I was supposed to be conveying my enthusiasm and approval about our construction feats but I wasn’t being truthful. I could not rid myself of the feeling that creating this place was not what was supposed to be happening. Yes, Osho made the best of a bad situation – he always did – but still I felt something was deeply wrong. And remember, in the end, Osho and Nirvano died directly because of events related to Rajneeshpuram; some idiots in our Pune commune appointed themselves THE guardians of Osho's work – or tried to – and heavy-handedly diluted much of its depth and substance; our commune disintegrated, and we found ourselves scattered around the planet. The result is that the intensity of deep, collective devotional and meditative energy, necessary for the ultimate transformation – enlightenment -- has been mostly, although hopefully not entirely, lost.

Bhagawati

Bhagawati's time in the group ran from mid-1983 through the end of the ranch. Her sharing below also appears in two articles in Osho News: Part One and Part Two, with more Ranch pics and some additional material.

Bhagawati on the job
Sometime in early autumn 1983 I was enlisted as a Twinkie and I joined the girls at Mirdad – Isabel, Sunshine, Sarita, Rosalie; Sophia joined us later.
I was told to test drive on a large school bus which freaked me out. The pick-ups that we used on the taxi runs had automatic gears, which I thought was one of the better inventions mankind had come up with. The buses didn’t and it took a lot of strength for me to hit the clutch or the brakes. I really didn’t want to drive one of those with a load of visitors inside while explaining to them what we were all about.
I can no longer remember how it happened but the bus idea was soon dropped and I learned how to drive one of the vans that held about eight people or so. I was trained by Sunshine how to conduct a tour – I accompanied her on two tours carrying visitors around. She told me to make sure I remembered everything she said precisely, because it was important I didn’t say anything that could create a problem for Osho or the community.
I was then let loose on my own with a group of American visitors. I was petrified to say something wrong. I couldn’t remember everything Sunshine had said and HOW she had said it, so I felt rather constrained the first time round. The second tour was easier, as I decided to talk in the way I always communicate and was pretty sure I wouldn't say something 'wrong'. It worked well and I enjoyed the daily tours, sometimes twice a day.
Also joining us from time to time was Margaret, who together with Krishna Prem worked as a researcher into all the media reports about Osho and the commune. Their findings were given to RLS, the legal department.
Most of the visitors I connected with were very nice, they were so impressed with our progress, they wanted to know a lot about us – I don’t think they had met a lot of non-native people living in America before. One middle-aged woman once asked, "So where are you from?" Eager not to mention my nationality I smiled and said, "I was born in Vienna." She looked astonished at me and asked incredulously, "You are from Vietnam?"
All of us tour guides were very strict when it came to not disclosing Osho’s residence. Of course, most visitors asked where he lived. I’d casually wave my hand about dismissively and say we built his own private quarters and changed the subject. However, in order to get to the truck farm, we passed B-site on the road opposite. On that stretch there wasn’t anything interesting to see so many visitors would zoom into the long fence that surrounded Lao Tzu House and ask, "So what is that fence for?"
"Oh, we created a rather large deer park to protect them," I would explain and carry on, "strange, can’t see any around today though…"
When I wasn’t giving tours, there was a lot of paper work to be done at the office or we would get assigned to visiting journalists. More and more kept coming and they needed to be shepherded at all times. Of course, whenever some German-speaking journalists came I went around with them but depending on the influx, I also dealt with other nationalities. Most were usually fun to be with.
Isabel was a great coordinator and organizer, charming and diplomatic; I think we all liked her lots. I remember a phrase she once used when some journalist challenged her about Osho's way of speaking English. She smiled and said, "Ah yes, his delightful mispronunciations!"
in Mirdad, check out those boots!
All of us were outfitted with rather boring uniforms in polyester. The set consisted of a flared purple skirt and a pink blouse. We also had a pair of long polyester pants with a kind of light purplish mushroom colour. We did what we could to shape up our outfits by adding a belt or scarf or some brooch. For winter I had a long down jacket, a down vest and a maroon-coloured thick coat with wool lining. I remember one day how lucky I felt when I checked out Vimalkirti (our communal outfitter) for some shoes and found a pair of beautiful dark-brown Italian-made knee-high leather boots with perfect fit! I hung on to those for many years to come.
The winter of 1983/84 was harsh, not only weather-wise. Building the Lao Tzu Town houses near Kabir creek and B-site in autumn, we also built the Mall and Hotel Rajneesh; we had to get many buildings up before a deadline, when new Oregon land-use laws could stop construction. That time was popularly called 'the crunch' and involved 16-hour shifts.
Night work was called for. I was allotted a pick-up truck and went from Socrates, where I loaded the air ducts that were being built there to the hotel to be installed and then back to Socrates. Often, I had to wait in the car for the load to be ready and it was very cold. Yet it was also so stunning to look through the windscreen at the clear cold night sky with millions of stars to get lost in. We usually stopped work by midnight.
Of course, the next day we would be up early to morph into Twinkie mode. At times we were so tired, that instead of having lunch some of us would sleep underneath the desks in a small office room where we could close the door and hide.
Every Saturday, Sheela conducted a coordinator’s meeting where every coordinator (mom) had to show up and reports were given about the past week or pending issues; generally, Sheela talked about some new plan or change of a department head maybe, sometimes related a titbit of what Osho had said, but usually set upon chewing up everybody who had in some way failed her or her instructions, in particular her husband, Jayananda. Sometimes Isabel was unable to attend those meetings and I went instead to several of them. It was not desirable to be sitting there… and, heaven forbid, contribute anything.
In Spring, after a prediction by Osho that AIDS would kill two-thirds of the world’s population, protective measures were introduced to our community which the media widely ridiculed and we Twinkies often had to deal with it.
The Third Annual World Celebration and Share-A-Home
During the festival I was standing with a journalist and his cameraman at the roadside waiting for Osho to drive by. We had to have some control about their movements and were encouraged to hang on to the journalist’s belts or, in absence of a belt, fingers into their pants; I dare say they kind of enjoyed that. So I hung on so he wouldn’t move too close to Osho’s rolled-down car window.
Osho approached and stopped the car and looked at the journalist. I was startled when he spoke! It was thrilling to hear him after such a long time! To me, his voice seemed to come from a far-away place when I heard him say, "Rajneeshism is the first and maybe last religion…"
I spent much time with a lovely TV crew from VPRO in The Netherlands. The reporter, Frank Wiering, was a charming, intelligent and unbiased man; I drove around with him and the crew and went to some places for the first time – such as on top of a hill, overlooking the kilometres-long row of sannyasins waiting for Osho’s drive-by. It was spectacular!
VPRO produced a beautiful documentary, entitled 'De Nieuwe Mens' (The New Man).
It was in late summer of that year that I had an unsettling dream. In that dream, I was standing near Lao Tzu House and I knew Osho was not there anymore. There were people in suits going in and out with papers in hand and I sensed they were from the FBI or the CIA.
In those days word had been going out encouraging us to share any unusual dreams because it seemed the land we were on was very spirited and lots of residents had vivid dreams. I remember Sarita in particular would tell us many amazing dreams she had. As the dream was so strange, I decided to mention it to (I think) Pratima. She listened yet barely commented and I forgot all about it until more than a year later…
September brought the Share-A-Home program. Initially peddled as an altruistic idea, it became soon clear to us that it had to do with the upcoming Wasco County elections. To ensure the expansion of Rajneeshpuram, we needed a friendly commissioner in power.
Residents were sent out with school buses to recruit hundreds of homeless people in major American cities and bring them to Rajneeshpuram.
Twinkies were told to meet every arriving bus with the street people. Upon climbing into the first bus I was welcoming, I stood next to the driver and had 40 pair of eyes glued on me. The men looked tired and dishevelled and I felt they had no clue why they were here…
On October 31, Osho began speaking again to a small group in Lao Tzu and we Twinkies got lucky because we were frequently invited to attend the discourses. The first time I sat through a discourse, I couldn't remember a word Osho said because the room was freezing cold and I was preoccupied breathing deep inside and keeping myself a bit warm. The next time I came equipped with layers upon layers of clothing and was alright from then on.
The majority of residents got to see the video of Osho’s talk the next evening in Rajneesh Mandir, also not very warm but we had heaters installed under the roof. As the videos were only shown after dinner, around 9 pm, most of us were already so tired and often fell asleep on the floor. Those videos were also sent to the communes in Europe.
In December I had another unusual dream: I am standing in a group with about 20 sannyasins along the road when Osho drives by. He stops the car, looks at me, points at me and says something like "It won’t be easy but it will be OK." I woke up feeling quite confused about what that meant.
Later that day I was called into the office and Vidya asked me if my passport was in order which I confirmed. She said that I would be travelling to Europe together with Isabel to establish press offices in the large communes because of the increasing interest in Osho and Sannyas.
[In the extended article in Osho News, Bhagawati describes her six months of PR work in Europe, during which she met her eventual life-partner, Anatto. When she returned, she found things quite different.]
Return from Europe
It started when I saw that around Jesus Grove a barbed wire fence had gone up, which was bewildering. I noticed several other curious changes and sensed the energy of our community had changed. I asked myself, “What am I doing here? Is this the place where I want to live?” I wanted to leave! And quickly.
The next morning it was announced that starting on the first day of the festival, Osho would be speaking publicly again. This was wonderful news and I consciously put all my doubts in some inner corner and jumped straight back into commune life. I absolutely wanted to be here for this. And at Mirdad we had a new Twinkie, for the first time a man, Anshumali who managed very gracefully to be surrounded by solely female co-workers.
Mirdad interior, Bhagawati and Sarita (L-R)
We also had a small snack bar for visitors which was run by Neelam. On the menu were coffee and croissants, pastries and hot dogs with make-believe sausage which were extremely popular. Neelam was charming and caring – she spoiled us, bending management rules by heating up left-over food for those of us who were working late.
Thousands of friends arrived and with them Anatto who I had been waiting for. My friend Sneha was at the way station in Antelope and phoned me in the middle of the night when she found out on which bus he was going to arrive at the Welcome Centre!
The energy was running high once more and the festival took off; Osho was there in the body, so tangible, so strong. He had not been speaking during evenings in Lao Tzu since April 2, and drive-by again had been the only possibility to get a glimpse of him.
What with visitors and tours and journalists around, Anatto and I made the most of it to see each other every free minute.
Although I did remember the layout of our commune, there obviously had been changes along the roads that I was unaware of. On a tour with a journalist to Surdas Truck Farm, I pointed out that on the left was the chicken coop and talked all about chickens and their unfertilized eggs. I suddenly realized there weren’t any chickens and the journalist pointed that out too. Nonplussed I went on and said something like, "Ah, they all must be resting inside, it’s a hot day." I found out later that we had gotten rid of the chickens because they had become neurotic and plucked out each other’s tail feathers; it had been a proper mess to take care of them!
I barely got any sleep for about two weeks yet was flying on love, joy and adrenaline. This time Anatto was the one who went back home yet he would be coming again rather soon, for the three months exchange program. Or so we thought.
Twinkie life continued with the excitement of Osho giving interviews at Jesus Grove to journalists from all over the world in addition to daily discourses in Rajneesh Mandir. We were busy putting word out to the media, inviting them to come; the first interview was given on July 17.
Towards the end of August, an unsettling experience happened while I was accompanying a reporter from Newsday, a daily for New York City and Long Island. He got everything he had wanted to see and hear about, had interviewed Osho, and the last item on his list was an interview with Sheela.
I brought him to Jesus Grove in the early evening and as Sheela wasn’t yet available, we were asked to wait. Fred asked if he could have a coffee and when I went to pick up a cup at the hatch to the kitchen, I asked for a cup for myself too. I was given a cup for him and when I waited for mine I was told they were going to make fresh coffee and I would get it as soon as it was ready.
It took a while as we waited but I got the coffee in time before we met with Sheela.
After the interview I drove Fred to Hotel Rajneesh and continued towards home. I felt tired and not very alert and looked forward to lying down. When I approached the small bridge over the creek I felt uncertain if I could drive straight over it, my balance was off. But I did make it over, drove up to the house and parked. I reeled walking into the mudroom and started having heart palpitations. Even when I was lying down, they continued. I felt apprehensive and dizzy and not sure what was going on. I thought of calling Pythagoras for a doctor to come. Still lying there undecided, I held the locket of my mala in the hand and closed my eyes. And I clearly heard a voice saying, "Don't call a doctor."
I trusted this voice and didn't call, just stayed with the sensation of the heart beating so fast. I fell asleep at some point and woke up in the morning in exactly the same position. At Mirdad I didn't want to spread the word as to what had happened. I only told Isabel in confidence and she just looked very surprised and nothing more was said.
It was again only later that I found out about what had happened to Vivek after she had a talk with Sheela over a cup of coffee. She was feeling suddenly very unwell and developed strong heart palpitations. I realized that had I contacted Pythagoras, I would have been hospitalised and might have been 'treated' by Puja. I just wondered why I was targeted.
In the following few weeks we found out that a few long-time residents had left the commune but at the time didn't really know why. I remember Siddha spending time at Mirdad for whatever reason and one day he whispered to me something about "there is much danger" and I should take good care of myself. We were interrupted and never spoke again; he and his partner Prabodhi left the commune shortly after, in the middle of the night.
Early afternoon on September 14, we were alerted that Sheela and several other people were leaving. It barely caused a reaction in me, I thought, "Fine." A few people of her entourage, including Savita and Anugiten came into Mirdad before leaving but I can't remember why. I only know that after they left my gold-bound address book with a large B on it had disappeared. And with it all my contacts of the media and my friends and family. I also remembered Anugiten had been hanging around my desk trying to make some conversation which was strange because I barely knew him. We searched later everywhere for the address book but it was gone.
I drove over to the airport to see the action; a small group of residents had gathered and two sannyasins were singing a song accompanied by a guitar for Sheela and her entourage, which I thought was rather bizarre. People were saying goodbye and waving and at last the plane took off.
That very evening, unperturbed, Osho gave an interview to John Dettinger, of California Magazine, who didn't ask anything about Sheela. But the news spread quickly and from the next evening on there were lots of questions to Osho about Sheela’s departure and many other journalists followed suit, several from California, three journalists and one TV team from Germany, a Seattle TV crew and one from Australia.
And Jesus Grove was renamed to Sanai Grove.
The Heat Is On
The Twinkies experienced intense times while Osho was speaking about all the wrongdoings that were discovered and new revelations about Sheela's crimes came out of the woodwork almost daily. Dozens of law enforcement officers (FBI, INS) were searching for evidence of crime. Files were rifled, departments were searched, people were interviewed, US Navy divers searched one of the lakes for guns having been dumped – it was mayhem.
Journalists from all over were crowding Hotel Rajneesh and after we had heard rumours that the National Guard (about 4,000 of them) had been placed on alert and were ready to march into Rajneeshpuram, we asked the journalists, many of whom we knew well, to stay around – to help protect us. The word Jonestown came up more often than felt comfortable.
Osho continued to speak mornings and evenings. Sitting in Rajneesh Mandir, he was flanked by two guards holding machine guns; they looked expressionless at the sannyasins sitting in the audience.
By end of September rumours were going around that Osho might be arrested. It sounded ludicrous and when a sannyasin asked a question in discourse about this rumour and for a comment by Osho, he answered,
"Aha! That's really groovy. That’s the only experience I have missed in my life. And knowing that this is my last life, I would certainly want to be arrested. Make sure that I am handcuffed, because whenever I do anything, I do it totally."
Little did we anticipate this could ever happen as our lives and work now evolved with new management, and Hasya as Osho's secretary at the helm.
On October 27, Osho ended the morning discourse by answering the following question:
Beloved Master, Would you talk about Sheela and her gang?
My God! Such an old story. And you must be real lazy and late to ask such a question. I can talk about Adam and Eve – that is far more fresh. But I do not want to waste my time and your time about Sheela and her gang. It is finished.
Okay?
In the late afternoon on that day I was at the office when suddenly a journalist from the Chicago Tribune came running in, shouting he needed a phone line. I pointed him in the right direction and listened incredulously to what he was yelling into the phone, "The Bhagwan is leaving!"
He told me that two Lear jets were standing at the airport and soon after I heard one of them take off and then shortly after the second with Osho inside.
I heard late in the night that Osho had landed in Charlotte and been arrested; I was shocked yet I had a job to do. I went down to our communal living room with lists of journalists' names and phone numbers and began making phone calls, starting with "Bhagwan has been arrested in Charlotte, North Carolina." We hoped that a huge media presence in Charlotte would make a difference and protect him. I think some other Twinkies must have been doing the same in their houses but cannot remember.
The next day, at Mirdad, we saw the footage on what had gone down in Charlotte on TV. It seemed too absurd, just like a movie, yet inexplicably real. It was so very painful to see Osho in this situation and us not being able to do anything about it. For the next 12 days I was deeply concerned he could be killed by the authorities, in particular when we lost track of him and not even his lawyers could find out where he was being held.
The media went wild again. We had so many press clippings coming in! Every day was so intense and I cannot remember many details.
When Osho finally was brought to Portland, he was released on bail and returned to Rajneeshpuram on November 8. It was dark, when he was driven home and, at the roadside, I saw him smiling, looking incredibly frail and almost transparent. It hurt to see how his body must have suffered.
Five days later D-day arrived. Osho left Rajneeshpuram for the last time and was flown to Portland where he was sentenced while maintaining his innocence. The next day we huddled in front of the TV and saw Osho walk up the steps to the plane that would take him to India. As a background theme the station had chosen the music from 'I'm leaving on a jet plane', which made us smile and cry at the same time. At the entrance he turned – a strong breeze stirred his long beard, he smiled, lifted his right hand in a last greeting and then stepped inside.
It was stunning. For a long time, nobody talked.
And then it was all about winding down the Ranch. Visitors were still coming, we did tours, answered their questions while nobody could answer ours. We heard Osho was in Kulu Manali and I was glad he was back in India. While an exodus began of so many friends leaving I was still undecided.
One morning though I woke up and said to myself, you are going to Zurich to be with Anatto – in spite of not being eager to live in Europe, in spite of not knowing how it would be to live with him and where, because he was a member of the Zurich commune; but my heart knew.
I left beginning of December, immensely grateful to Osho, for the incredible time I had spent in Rajneeshpuram, for all the learning and experiences, for all the joy, for all the friends I knew.

More memories coming soon . . .