29 Years On, Osho’s Death Remains a Mystery

Was Osho murdered for money? Is his will fake? Are foreigners looting India’s treasures? 

6 min read
29 Years On, Osho’s Death Remains a Mystery
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(This article has been republished from The Quint’s archives to mark Osho’s death anniversary.)

Death is to be celebrated, not feared, said Osho, who died mysteriously on 19 January 1990. Some of his followers suspect that the guru, also known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, was poisoned by confidantes who had an eye on his riches.

Immediately after his death, his confidantes took up the reins of his vast global empire, which runs into the thousands of crores of rupees. This was possible because of a will, which has now been legally challenged by Yogesh Thakkar, a Pune-based disciple of Osho.


Thakkar claims the will is fake and that the foreigner confidantes are “smuggling and siphoning off Indian spiritual treasure”. He also claims that over Rs 100 crore has been illegally transferred from Osho International Foundation – which is a public charitable trust – to Osho Multimedia & Resorts Pvt Ltd, which is a private company.

His petition in Bombay High Court also attaches an affidavit by Dr Gokul Gokani, who was present inside the Pune ashram when Osho breathed his last. Dr Gokani, who wrote Osho’s death certificate, suspects foul play in the last 4 hours before his death.

So, after 29 years, seven haunting questions about Osho’s death and succession have resurfaced.

1. What Went Wrong At 1pm?

On the afternoon of 19 January 1990, Dr Gokul Gokani was resting at his home in Pune. He writes in his affidavit that he was asked to immediately reach the Osho ashram with his emergency kit and letterhead. When he asked if someone was seriously ill or dead, he didn’t get an answer.

I rushed to the ashram. After 5 minutes, Amrito (John Andrew) came, hugged me and said, “Osho is leaving the body”. I had tears in my eyes. He said, “This is not the way to give him a send off”. He asked me to gather my courage and continue with my duties in the ashram, which I did. 
Dr Gokul Gokani in an earlier interview 

If Osho was “dying”, why didn’t Amrito ask Dr Gokani to try and save him? There were several doctors in the ashram, why weren’t they consulted? Why wasn’t Osho taken to a hospital? Why didn’t Dr Gokani raise an alarm? These questions have not received satisfactory answers.


2. Did Osho Die at 5pm?

Osho’s body was kept for darshan at his Pune ashram for only 10 minutes. (Photo Courtesy:

Dr Gokani writes in his affidavit that he was asked to visit Osho’s room at 5pm. Amrito and Jayesh (Michael O’Bryne) were in the room near Osho’s body.

Amrito said “He’s just left his body and you have to write his death certificate.” I asked for his passport to check his exact name and birth marks on his body. His body was still warm and soft. So, he must have left the body not earlier than one hour. 
Dr Gokul Gokani 

Dr Gokani wonders why Amrito and Jayesh were waiting for Osho to die? With so many doctors already in the ashram, why was Dr Gokani called in to write the death certificate?


3. What Was the Real Cause of Death?

(Photo Courtesy:
A little food or vomit had come out of his mouth and it was there on one of his sleeves. It was not very natural for Osho to drop food or vomit. So, I was little bit surprised.
Dr Gokul Gokani 

Dr Gokani says he hadn’t seen Osho breathing his last, so he asked Amrito and Jayesh what the cause of death was. They asked him to write a heart-related reason to avoid a post-mortem. If Dr Gokani is to be believed, the real reason of Osho’s death is still unknown. If Osho vomited before dying, what was the reason? Why didn’t Dr Gokani ask about it?


4. Why the Hurry For Cremation?

Amrito and Jayesh told the ‘Inner Circle’ of 21 members that Osho wanted his body to be cremated immediately. The duo asked everyone to take darshan from a distance. Members of the Inner Circle were asked to strictly avoid talking about Osho’s death.

After making a short public announcement, Osho was cremated within the hour. Questions were and are still being raised about the incomprehensible hurry to cremate his body.

The splendid Osho ashram in Pune is located at the upmarket Koregaon Park area. (Photo Courtesy:

5. Why Was Osho’s Mother Kept In the Dark?

Osho with his mother Saraswati Jain. (Photo Courtesy:

Osho’s secretary Neelam was asked to inform his mother. Osho’s mother was is the ashram.

When I told her Osho had left the body, she said, “Neelam, they have killed him.” I told her it was not the appropriate time to accuse anyone.  
Neelam in an interview to ABP News

Why was Osho’s mother not informed when he was “dying” at 1pm? Why did she directly accuse “them” of murder?


6. Why Was the Will Kept Secret?

Yogesh Thakkar claims in his affidavit that the 1989 will was not known to anyone in the ashram. It wasn’t produced in a 2013 court case in the US. He claims it suddenly appeared in a European Court case after 2013.

Thakkar alleges that the will was prepared after Osho’s death and only when questions were raised about intellectual property rights. The will leaves everything that belonged to Osho to Osho International Foundation’s trustee, Jayesh.

The property in Pune alone is over Rs 1,000 crore. I’m not aware of property details outside India. Intellectual property rights give them over Rs 100 crore every year. When I asked them about the will, they banned me from entering the Pune ashram. They have set up 20 companies in Europe and siphoned off Rs 800 crore so far.
Yogesh Thakkar, Petitioner, Osho Friends Foundation

7. Were Osho’s Signatures Photocopied?

Thakkar sent the “fake” will to documentation experts in New Delhi, Germany and Italy, who concluded that Osho’s signature on the will is photocopied. Thakkar showed them the book the signature is allegedly copied from. Experts say that two signatures of the same person never match exactly, yet the one on the will matched the book perfectly.

Osho’s former confidant and controversial disciple, Anand Sheela (Sheela Patel) has raised many more questions about Osho’s suspicious death in her book Don’t Kill Him!. (She had pleaded guilty in the 1984 Rajneeshpuram bio-terror attack and was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison in the US.)

Anand Sheela (Sheela Patel) has raised many more questions about Osho’s suspicious death in her book Don’t Kill Him!. (Photo Courtesy:

Court Wants the Original Will

The Bombay High Court has now asked Pune police to trace and bring back to India Osho’s original will. The bench also allowed Yogesh Thakkar to join the RBI and ED as party respondents to the petition, to investigate the money laundering angle.

A 1983 picture taken at the controversial Rajneeshpuram commune in Oregon, USA. (Photo Courtesy:

We tried to get the other side of the story. We asked Maa Sadhana, an office bearer in the main Pune ashram, about the will:

It’s completely wrong. I cannot comment on it as the matter is in court.
Amrit Sadhana, Editor of Osho Times International 

When asked about Osho’s suspicious death, she said:

Anyone can say anything. What’s the proof? 
Amrit Sadhana, Editor of Osho Times International

The Quint also tried to contact Mukesh Sarda, who is one of the administrators of Osho International Foundation and is close to Amrito and Jayesh. He refused to talk.

The death of this flamboyant mystic guru is as mysterious as his life. Deaths and funerals are celebrated in Osho’s community, but some of his disciples are still mourning his sudden, suspicious exit.

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