Saturday, July 22, 2017

A kumbha mela in Oregon

You recall Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh?  Yes, that fraudster who reinvented himself as Osho.

Back in the early 1980s, he and his fellow criminals bought up a ranch in Oregon and called that Rajneeshpuram.  As if people were hell-bent on confirming PT Barnum's "there's a sucker born every minute," devotees descended on the ashram.  With a matter of months, the place had the largest collection of Rolls Royce cars.

But then the Bhagwan and his minions could not fool everybody.  They then engaged in bioterrorism, were prosecuted, and Rajneesh, who was kicked out of America, went back to India where he lived the rest of his life as Osho.

The police mugshot of Rajneesh.
What has all that got to do with the kumbh mela?

That ranch area is prime viewing spot for the solar eclipse on August 21st!

You see the town of Madras (yes, named after the city in India--long story!)?  The ranch was close by.

Motels and campsites at those Central Oregon locations sold out months in advance.  People are renting out rooms in their homes for quite some rates.  Because, in those dog days of summer, that is a place in the mountain where the probability is very high that no clouds or weather events will spoil one's experience.

Hundreds of thousands of tourists will be flooding Oregon close to that date.  The transportation department has issued an advisory that traffic will be chaotic.  Small towns are worried that they won't have enough toilet facilities--even the portable ones.  Madness!

This is a secular kumbha mela.  People want to be awed by a celestial event over which we humans have no control.  Not even the tiniest of impacts.

When we cannot make sense of events around us, and when we have angst about our own existence, then we turn to the cosmos for answers and comfort.  Or, we turn to religions.  Or, we fall at the feet of fraudsters.  It is all the same to me.  Religions have better, and time-tested, institutional mechanisms to defraud people, unlike Rajneesh whose schemes were blown away.

We can submit to the likes of Rajneesh.  We can be devout our religions.  We can smoke weed.  We can go to religious and secular gatherings.  But, the angst about the meaning of life can be resolved only from within.

As for my own solar eclipse plans?  I live outside the belt of totality.  I don't care.  A colleague, whose home is smack in the zone of totality strongly advised me to get up to one of those places.  "It is a once in a life time event," he said.

I merely smiled.  Because I could not tell him that every breath that we take is a once in a life time event.  Every second that we are alive is a once in a life time event.  If only we cherished every second of our lives as we value the kumbha melas of many types!

I suppose it is because we refuse to understand and appreciate such a life that we seek the fraudsters of the world, who come in many shapes.  Beware!


Ramesh said...

Rajneesh is a nut case. The less said about him the better.

Go man, go. Its OK to, once in a while do things that may not be intellectually the perfect thing to do. The only problem seems to be the lack of toilet facilities :):) But then, you can emulate the kid, who sometime ago di this - pee in the lake that supplies Portland's drinking water, so that they can drain it again :):)

Sriram Khé said...

He was a nutcase, yes. But, he was not an exception. Even now there are plenty of nutcases who continue to mess with people. The fraudsters are everywhere, and they are far, far, far more influential than we professors can ever dream of ;)

Hey, at least that guy's was nothing like trump's "golden showers" ... muahahahahaha ;)

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