File photo of Bhaiyyuji Maharaj
File photo of Bhaiyyuji Maharaj | Facebook
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Despite their yoga and Ayurveda, most of the top-tier holy men lead an incredibly frenetic life in India.

In Netflix’s Wild Wild Country, a documentary on Osho, the Indian guru doesn’t do much work. His ashram and life are run by his secretary Ma Anand Sheela, while the ‘godman’ glides around peacefully, often in a drug-induced bliss.

But the suicide of Bhaiyyuji Maharaj shows that lives of ‘godmen’ can be anything but blissful. The Indore-based guru killed himself Tuesday and, according to media reports, left a short suicide note. “Somebody should be there to handle duties of family. I am leaving to(o) much stressed out, fed up,” he is said to have written in his note.

Despite their yoga and Ayurveda, most of the top-tier holy men lead an incredibly frenetic life in India. Far from floating stress-free through life, they need to have superhuman levels of creativity and tactical skills to successfully juggle their multi-million dollar empires, social activities and spiritual needs of millions of followers. And, they have to do all this without ever letting a crease appear on their saintly foreheads.

It is particularly hard being a baba in 2018 as many of them are accused and convicted of all sorts of nefarious activities, ranging from corruption to rape. With intense media and legal scrutiny, it is becoming harder for them to maintain a squeaky clean, ethereal image.

A guru, a father

The low-profile, 50-year-old Bhaiyyuji was a powerful spiritual leader, particularly in western and central India. He had a large following among movie stars and politicians across party lines, and was even invited to Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony in 2014.

Given his influence, he was often asked to act as a peacemaker in disputes among top politicians, including the one between social activist Anna Hazare and the UPA government in 2011 during the former’s anti-corruption fast. After his death, the Congress has alleged that the ‘godman’ was under “a lot of mental pressure” to work for the Madhya Pradesh government.

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Bhaiyyuji, who was a model before he became a holy man, also worked on several social issues, ranging from farmers’ suicide to afforestation. Apart from being a holy man and political mediator, he was also a husband and a father.

In her book ‘Gurus: Stories of India’s leading Babas’, journalist Bhavdeep Kang says that the guru believed he could run his hectic life on two hours of sleep a day. “He begins the day at 4 am with prayer, meditation and a workout, which includes sword play and wrestling. At 7:30 am, he holds a yagya. Then, he is in meetings for the whole day,” she wrote.

Crushing expectations

This crushing weight of expectations on gurus is captured beautifully in the 1965 Bollywood classic Guide. Dev Anand’s character, who goes from being a tour guide to a spiritual guru in the film, is asked by his followers to fast to end the drought in their village. Unable to dispel their superstitious beliefs, he fasts and dies. Just before his death, there is a battle between his body and soul. While his worldly self desires to return to his ex-lover and mother, the soul is concerned about hurting the villagers and killing their faith.

“What will they think I am? A charlatan, a fraud,” the soul says. The body replies: “Do you believe it will rain? Are you also superstitious like these illiterates. Does an educated man like you think that there can be a connection between your hunger and the clouds?” The soul then drops the philosophical bomb: “The question isn’t if it will rain or not; or if I die or live. The real question is if there is a creator of this universe. If there isn’t anyone, then I don’t care if I live or die. There is no fun in living like a blind person in a blind world. And if there is indeed someone, then we need to see if he answers his helpless people or not.

Indians, both holy and regular, are among the most-stressed people on the planet, with absolutely no work-life balance. If unchecked, even God might not be able to help our nation.

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11 Comments Share Your Views







    While makers of the Netflix show Wild Wild Country focus on the controversies around Osho, ardent follower Sangita Kathiwada speaks about what they missed

    Imagine making a six-hour documentary on an experiment based on Einstein’s approach to the outer cosmology with barely a mention of the context: his theory of relativity. That is what the Netflix docuseries Wild Wild Country did: it made a six-hour program about an experiment based on Osho’s approach to the inner and outer cosmology with barely a mention of the context: Osho’s vision of a new world populated by the new man.
    There’s a lot that Osho did for the larger good of humanity that the series seems to have completely ignored. His philosophy extended to the betterment of mankind both in terms of the outer environment and the inner being. The biggest benefit of the Osho communes, which spread to all walks of life, is meditation. His followers in Pune and Oregon begin and end their day with meditation, and spend many a quiet hour in between connecting with a higher plane of consciousness. However, it is not all quiet contemplation. Dynamic meditation, as preached by Osho, can find you screaming, shouting, jumping, etc., to release pent up emotion, thereby acting as a tool for anger management. The devotees express themselves in a safe, soundproof auditorium first thing in the morning to begin the day by releasing troubling emotions, creating a more positive outlook for the rest of their day.

    It’s not just emotional betterment that one looks at but also cerebral improvement. Himself an artist whose abstract paintings and sketches have found their way to galleries, Osho ensured that his disciples too learned a creative art. A wide range of workshops take place on a daily basis at the ashram even now – from art and pottery classes to tai chi and dance. Among those who benefited from this philosophy are the likes of Vishal Bharadwaj and AR Rahman.

    Osho believed in improving the aesthetic of one’s environment. It was following this principle that a dirty, fetid nala (gutter) and its surroundings in Pune were transformed into an Osho garden. In Oregon too, acres of barren land were converted into the ashram.

    Decades before sustainable living became a trend, members of the Osho ashram were living an organic lifestyle within the commune. Osho did not go around doing charity, but his teachings aimed at responsible citizens, who would respect their fellow human beings and environment.

    Wild Wild Country focuses on the controversial free love aspect of Osho’s teachings and the people of the nearby town of Antelope, and the scandal surrounding his right-hand woman Ma Anand Sheela. It was a series of five talks (out of a total of more than 5,000) in Mumbai almost 50 years ago for which Osho was rewarded with the demeaning epithet ‘sex-guru’. Perhaps, one should look at the other side of the story.

  2. The Indian guru system since 100 years is more sinful and worst . They compelled and wash brains of innocent to follow their illicit and immoral life.
    Alike Ram Rahim Asharam , One Abhoycharan of Iskcon who established one manupulate religion infront of the deity.
    They are mastermind of illegel activities and R quashed ules of Govt and our moral wisdom which Raja Ram mohan Roy , Rabindranath tagore , Iswarchandra vidyasagar tirelessly established.

  3. If any person or so called Guru commits suicide that means he is not even can be considered as a teacher. A real Guru is a self realized person who can change any no of persons wants to do suicide to solve their temporary life problems.

  4. The writer has done some good research. You should also look at companies like Pure Cure Ayurveda @purecureandco who are taking an interesting approach to Ayurveda.

  5. Bhayyuji Maharaj was not a Spiritual Guru or Sanyasi. He called himself as a Grahasthi.
    Phony people make phony gurus. Such gurus are not followed by disciples, they (gurus) truly follow their disciples.
    How can you judge the status of the guru by his followers?
    He remarried after the death of his first wife for his own pleasures and just to protect his phony image he declared that he was doing so just for serving his ailing mother and helping his young daughter and that too at the behest of his elder sister who treated him like a mother. Did he ask for the permission of his mother and sister before leaving his body forcibly?
    He who had gone to Marthwada to prevent the suicides of poor farmers, how come he himself committed suicide despite being so rich?
    A guru of politicians is bound to die a politician’s death.
    People should think thrice before they follow and spoil somebody.

  6. What a juvenile article. Ouch. Rehashed from other news stories with a smidgen of analysis. Understand and research what the problem is before bashing out an article like this. Utterly superficial

  7. If a Guru cannot handle its own stress ow a common man can think of leaning something from such Guru, and why trying finding a point of Guru’s stress. Was he really a “real Guru”?

  8. Couldn’t agree more. I’ve often wondered about how little focus is on the care-giver in stressful situations. They are relegated and ignored, not consciously, but just given the situation, in spite of being equally vulnerable.


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