Is he considered a great leader? an unusual leader? Does he represents Buddhism? Are his books largely accepted as Buddhist books?

The reason I asked is that Osho is (whether you like it or not) very popular in the west, and many people associate him with Buddhism. Once my grandpa came to me saying, "I finally read a book on Buddhism!", showing a book by Osho. So, before giving my personal view I would like to understand the point better. (some of his books are sold in Buddhist libraries!)

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    I lived in Pune (Poona) for three years (IT,) in front of Rajneesh's ashram (expat area of Poona,) and although I never set foot in his ashram, I have never seen a yellow robe around it - not one in three years. However, when I went to the Karla Caves in Karli, near Lonavala, I did see yellow robes.
    – user635
    Aug 15, 2014 at 16:56
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    The title question is a survey question and it is surveying the people reading this question. The "great leader" is pure opinion. Ditto for "unusual leader". "accepted"-- by who? "representative of Buddhism"--- this has the seed of a better question-- "Which beliefs of Osho are the same as Buddhism, which are different?"-- which does have an objective answer. Aug 16, 2014 at 13:33
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    Friends, the point with Osho is that he is (like it or not) very popular in the west and many people associate him with Buddhism, once my grandpa came to me saying: "I finally read a book on buddhism!" showing a book by Osho. So, before giving my personal view I would like to understand the point better. (some of his books are sold in Buddhist libraries!)
    – konrad01
    Aug 16, 2014 at 14:35
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    Why not just read the Pali Canon. It would prevent anyone to misinterpret the Teaching, if ever. Buddha had warned about misconceptions, misrepresentations and dilution of the Teaching. bit.ly/1mUPXVN --- Read Buddha to know about Bhudda and Osho to know about Osho. The rest is a matter of taste; pick the one you like. Its your choice! ---- OR would you consider Wikipedia to be "Bhuddist," because it speaks (well or not) about Buddhism among other things? - That would be a bit strange.
    – user635
    Aug 16, 2014 at 18:25
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    For me he was a "door-opener"; I first loved his hints that it might be meaningful to look at ones own life (and: do that "without judging" - which was new to me as an explicite concept) and to get aware for the individual responsibility for a good path - the existential aspect of this was that what attracted me much. Then I read his books about the zen-patriarchs; very lively, very understandable, mentally reachable for me. When I later met true Buddhists/buddhism it was easy for me to understand much and quickly - and could easily let go "him" and his syncretism and un-buddhistic behave. Jan 21, 2015 at 9:12

6 Answers 6


Is he considered a great leader?

He isn't.

Does he represents Buddhism?

He doesn't.

Are his books largely accepted as Buddhist books?

They aren't.

There's really not much more to say. Why would you even think Osho was considered a great leader by the Buddhist community? He wasn't even a Buddhist. He lived a luxurious lifestyle and wrote in an eclectic, typically New Age-y way, mixing all kinds of influences and traditions that shouldn't be mixed.

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    Thanks for the answer, but he is associated with Buddhism in the west (this can be wrong, but it is what it is), his books are sold in Buddhists Centres, so there is a strange connection for some reason between him and Buddhism (he talked a lot about Buddhahood, meditation and enlightment), I agree he does not represent it, but I think the question is valid, to elucidade it
    – konrad01
    Aug 16, 2014 at 14:40
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    I wonder if those "Buddhist Centres" that propagate Osho are aware that he was responsible for a terrorist attack ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1984_Rajneeshee_bioterror_attack )
    – Methexis
    Aug 16, 2014 at 21:28

At least in the Theravada community in Sri Lanka many do not even know who he is. Anyway, he does not have any direct relevance to Buddhism.

Also if you take his teaching, there is some element of "love" and material aspects like his use of Rolls Royces, Expensive Watches and Private Jets which is tied to Raga. This is one of the 5 Hindrances that prevent you from liberation. Also if you go through some of his talks like Osho on Fuck, this does not adhere to the spiritual norms of the Buddhist tradition.

  • heheheeh I couldn't help but laugh with the title of the last link in your answer
    – konrad01
    Aug 15, 2014 at 19:38

I am uncomfortable with the question because any possible answer is going to be opinion based, and StackExchange in general frowns up on such questions. But then in any philosophy/religion forum several things are obviously going to be opinion based, so if anything the choice of StackExchange as a medium is probably more at fault.

Osho calls himself a Zen master, in fact the word Osho means teacher in Japanese Zen, but he also doesn't fit into any of the usual pigeon holes of Buddhism or even the ones of Zen.

Osho Rajneesh often has some great ideas, but he also draws fantastic conclusions now and then that aren't backed by any logic, data or reason and appear to be self serving. One could make the case that this was an intentional trap for his unwary students, but then everything can be turned upside down in dharma if you try hard enough.

I can't recall specific examples of such missteps since I stopped turning to his ideas a while back, but he's like the Tibetan saying, honey on a razor blade, if you are careful there's honey to be tasted, but if you are careless there's the razor blade.

The sex and money itself isn't a turnoff for me - religion works in many ways, and crazy wisdom has a long tradition of such persons.

Drukpa Kunley the 15th century Mahamudra master wasn't called the "The Saint of 5,000 Women" for nothing, his principal method to enlighten women by having sex with them. So too to a lesser extent with Chogyam Trungpa.

Ultimately it comes down to the student more than the teacher - there are students of the Buddha, like the King Ajatasatru who starved his father to death despite having listened to the Buddha several times, and there are those who get enlightened despite following a fake teacher.

I am sure Osho has helped a few people out of their problems and addictions in his life, in the end we cannot judge others or guess their karma, we can only safeguard our virtues and wisdom.

  • "Ultimately it comes down to the patient more than the doctor" doesn't help me if I haven't learn medicine and am trying to choose a doctor. :-) The OP might be looking for information to inform is relationship with his grandfather (or his grandfather's relationship with Buddhism). Would you, for example, recommend one of Osho's books in its own right; and/or is it Buddhist, does it represent Buddhism?
    – ChrisW
    Aug 18, 2015 at 10:10
  • As I said it's a mixed bag, he's often very good at explaining things, and equally often very bad or wrong. He'd probably counter that the idea of wrong and right is itself unhelpful. I can't think of a book of his to recommend, but he's not the worst teacher out there either. At least he's intelligent and insightful on occasion.
    – Buddho
    Aug 18, 2015 at 10:29
  • I didn't see the comment about his grandfather when I wrote the answer, perhaps it was added later. Of course it depends on his grandpa, but I'd probably let grandpas alone to believe what they want to, after a certain age needless confusion isn't healthy. It doesn't matter, no one can prove he's a good or bad teacher. It's like asking is the winter bad because it destroys everything, or is it good because it forces everyone to not be lazy during the summer. Teachers are what we make of them. :)
    – Buddho
    Aug 18, 2015 at 10:36
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    "Ultimately it comes down to the patient more than the doctor" Meta comment: There's a problem with this analogy - in Western medicine the doctor gives a pill and cures the patient, the patient has to do almost nothing at all. That's not how enlightenment works, though many believe it is exactly like that and spend their lives looking for the perfect guru. A better analogy might be "Ultimately it comes down to the body builder more than the exercise equipment" or "it comes down to the painter than the paint brush"
    – Buddho
    Aug 18, 2015 at 10:48
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    a voice from someone who actually had read him. I glad this answer exists
    – Ooker
    Aug 22, 2018 at 9:14

he is considered a great leader. an unusual leader. he represents Buddha not buddhism-which he was always against of. his books are largely accepted as Buddhist books because his style is very poetic and explains the raw ancient hard text in simple languages with jokes...he just want u to be buddha...

  • Hello and welcome to Buddhism SE. If you would like to improve your answer you might back it up with some references. On Buddhism SE we also have a Guide and a Resource section for new users that you might like.
    – user2424
    Aug 17, 2015 at 9:01

I am glad that people here were considerate while stating their opinions about Osho.

My Story:

I will answer with my little story, the first time I came across the words of Buddha was in school when I learned the four noble truths and the eightfold path in history texts. At that time it seemed so trivial to me as compared to my own religion (Hinduism) that I really never bothered to read it further. Even after I studied a great deal of Physics and Astronomy and Sciences and Engineering and went through terrible life experiences, I didn't really come to understand the importance of Dhamma. I was pondering upon the second law of thermodynamics and by some chance, during that time I listened to Osho's commentary on the Heart Sutra where He mentioned that the reality is never a noun it is always a verb, there is never a River it is always Rivering, that one statement connected so many dots for me and so much of my questions were answered in that single instant. That was the moment that really got me hooked to Buddhism.

From that point onwards I got tremendous insights into Buddhist path and philosophy from Osho.

The next thing was, I had a Hindu upbringing and the idea that the Hindu gods like Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna etc are looking after me and that if I'll worship them they will basically help me provide for all the basic desires that I have. Hindus ordinary practice to please these deities, which are expected to give them the boon. So, anyway, this idea was so deep in the psyche that it was almost impossible to accept Buddha's words on suffering and making enlightenment as a human endeavor and not some heavenly boon. it was again through reading Osho's life and His words, was it possible to sink in my mind, the practicality and existential reality of Buddha's words. I owe my Dhamma journey to Osho in that regards. And this must be true for so many Indians out there, Osho really will be instrumental to bring back Buddhism to India.

Osho's work:

  • He stressed on becoming a Buddha yourself rather than following any established religions. Which the Buddha would have also stressed that get Enlightened, strive diligently.

  • Osho stressed highly on meditation, which is really the Buddhist way to become arahant along with other things.

  • Osho's commentary on Heart Sutra, Diamond Sutra, Dhammapada is unparalleled. He is the only contemporary Mystic who has spoken on Theravada, Mahayana, Zen, Vajrayana, Buddhist Tantra.

  • He made his Sannyasins wear maroon robes like the Tibetan Buddhists.

  • He talked of three marks of existence; impermanence, no self, and dukkha and also attested rebirth.

Is he considered a great leader? an unusual leader? Does he represent Buddhism? Are his books largely accepted as Buddhist books?

I have been to a Zen monastery and in the library, there was a section full of His books translated and English.

He is not considered a great leader, but AFAIK He does represent Buddhism for many people I know. His books are not accepted as Buddhist books but His books on Buddhism are used by many to understand some concepts of Buddhism or at least to get acquainted with the idea of Nibbana as a possible human endeavor.


May be after reading The Diamond Sutra: The Buddha Also Said many of the Buddhist's idea about Osho might change.

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    I don't know what this means. I just googled for some books of Osho and found this introduction for his book on the "diamond sutra": "Written more than 25 centuries ago, the Diamond Sutra is the first text to record the Buddha’s own teachings, and it remains one of the most popular. (...)" Being able to put this into the introduction of the book (what about Palicanon?) I don't think the author (or the merchants) do much care about the historical matters... And carelessness is not something the Buddha favors, especially not if it relates to his words/teachings... Jan 21, 2015 at 11:41
  • You have judged the book without ever reading it. Or just by reading the description. Whoever has read Osho on Budha would probably have less pre judgemental attitude than the others. And I feel the question "Does Osho represents or relates buddhism" should be more of a subjective question than an objective one. Jan 22, 2015 at 3:55

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