An ashram started by a self-proclaimed follower of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, more popularly known as Osho, in Goa’s Barcem village has triggered opposition from the villagers.
The ashram, started by Swami Rajneesh, is still in its nascent stage and is modelled as an Osho co-owned commune.
At a recent gram sabha — general body meeting of the village council — at Barcem, about 40 km from here, villagers expressed reservations about the ashram and demanded that the no objection certificate (NOC) required for the project should not be issued, until more details were made available.
‘We will not give any permissions or NOC to the project until they tell us exactly what it is about. Whether it is an ashram or a hotel is not clear,’ said Dattaram Gaonkar, sarpanch of the Barcem village panchayat.
According to Swami Rajneesh’s website, the 45-acre project envisages 40 resident cottages, a 40-room guest house, kitchens, bakery, massages/wellness spas, a swimming pool, mystery schools, martial art schools, medical and banking centres and even a silence zone, among other amenities.
Talking to GoaChronicle.com, Soiru Velip, a resident of Barcem, said: ‘This is exactly what we are worried about. We need to know what kind of a project this is. Why does an ashram need a swimming pool and a massage centre? What kind of an ashram is this?’
When contacted, Swami Rajneesh said that he was bringing to Goa, the fruits of knowledge and wisdom gleaned from the great master Osho himself, of whom he had been a discipline for over 30 years.
‘This ashram is a free place. I am going to impart the teaching and wisdom of my guru here. But, it is all going to be free. I am not going to charge a rupee from anybody, unlike the Koregaon Park ashram,’ he said, referring to the Pune-based ashram started by Osho himself.
‘Although I am Bhagwaan Rajneesh’s disciple, my way of life is different from his. I don’t believe in the material aspects which my guru was fond of,’ Swami Rajneesh said.
He said the Barcem project was an ashram and not a boutique hotel.
‘I am a responsible person. My ashram will teach classical arts, including dancing and music, for free. I am going to incorporate the local community in my project,’ said Swami Rajnessh, who is currently residing in the coastal resort village of Colva, 40 km from here.