Travel to the Bhagwan (Osho) commune in Pune
- Sights in Pune (Puna)
: there is totally nothing to see or do in Puna, it is simply a dusty provincial town. The only reason to go here is for visiting the "Osho Meditation Centre", the centre of the activities of the Bhagwan sect.
- Traveling by public transport : bus Hospet - Pune
, Ganesh travels : bus ticket cost 400 rupees, the bus trip lasts from 17.30 - 7:00am and the comfort on the bus was ok. Take warm clothes along if you are visiting Pune in January, during the night the temperature falls to 5°C.
- Arrival in Pune
: if you arrive in the morning at the bus station you can catch a rickshaw for 30 rupees to the popular German Bakery next to the Osho community to get some breakfast. The German bakery is always open in the mornings for hungry new arrivals by night bus to sit and eat and wait for the people in the "rooms for rent" to wake up (around 9:00).
- budget hotels and cheap accommodation in Pune
: in the side streets of the northern road you find lots of flats, rooms and apartments for rent, just look out for the "room for rent" boards. A room costs about 150 rupees.
- internet cafes
: the Buddha hotel has a good connection where you can surf for 20 rupees per hour.
- getting cash in Puna
: there is a cash point in the train station where you can use VISA and Cirrus cards.
- Osho Meditation Centre
) : to be honest, this is no meditation centre, but simply the community of the spiritual leader Bhagwan who after his death changed his name to Osho. I was a bit disappointed by the spiritual character of the community. The maroon robes is the only spiritual element around, the rest is commercialism. The meditation centre has nothing of Indian culture, it is simply a well kept western park where you can follow all sorts of very expensive therapeutic courses. Of the reputed free sex I didn't notice anything, perhaps since most of the visitors seemed too filled with problems to engage in such activities.
* Visiting the Osho community
: there are two guided tours per day (10.30 and 14.30, 10 rupees). The tours are often full from a day in advance and actually not really worth it since you are there and can go and see for your self. The biggest part of the tour is a 45 minute video where Osho's voice tells about the orgasm while you watch mountain rivers slowly streaming through the nature. The tour finishes with a slow 10 minute walk in the park.
* Inscribing in to the community
: this is one of the positive points of the Osho meditation centre. The Osho community is very easy for anyone to join and leave whenever they like. This is therefore a good chance to have a look at a world sect from close by without having to take part. In half an hour you have the result of the AIDS test (220 rupees) and the inscribing (500 rupees) done. After that you buy a day pass (175 rupees) and dressed in your maroon robe (150 rupees on the street, can be sold second hand to one of the shops for half price) you can enter! The "start up day" information is totally uninteresting and a waste of time, unless you want to stay for more than one day since then you have to follow it. The only thing that happens during the day from 9.45 until 16:00 is explanation where to eat, where the travel agency is, the cash point, the different buildings and explanation of the basic meditation techniques. Perhaps an interesting chance to get to know some of the other 25 newcomers which is the approximate number of people that daily come to the community. The starting up girls are friendly but don't know much about the background of Osho (Bhaghwan) or the meditations - just follow. The meditations you are best off seeing and trying out in the Boeddha hall where they are continuously ongoing and the entrance is free.
* The meditations in the Boeddha Hall are for free. There are about 5 meditations per day all based on the principle that through singing, dancing and screaming you can heal yourself from traumas and depression. Once you have seen a couple of meditations it get's quickly boring, but if you take part, and especially in the morning "energetic meditation" (6:00) where a couple of hundred devoted first scream out their traumas for 15 minutes, there next 15 minutes of incomprehensible babbling and movements of the arms to finish of with 15 minutes of running around saying "hoo" and then finally come to rest as new persons.
* The courses in the Osho Meditation Centre may at the first look seem quite interesting and resembles the "personal development" and "creative expression" courses that are available in so many places nowadays. The number of courses is also really impressive, with about 150 courses per month and seem very professionally organized and presented. The problem that I had with the whole thing was that it's all very focused on healing rather than on inspiring to creativity. This might have something to do with who chooses to go there. On the entrance form that every one has to fill in when arriving to the Osho centre they ask questions like have you had a history of heavy depression, spending time in psychiatric clinics, drug addiction, prostitution or suicide attempts etc. If you come here for following courses to develop our artistic expression or creativity you might get disappointed. Sure, as a place to come to to try to heal from traumatic experiences in the past I believe the Osho centre is probably a very good alternative to many of the conventional methods. The courses are quite expensive : 100 - 700$ for 1 to 21 days, but if you help the centre by working in the kitchen or guarding the gate all courses are for free.
* The ideal visit to the Osho meditation centre : if you want to spend one whole day visiting the Osho centre a good day schedule is as follows :
arrive the day before at the latest 14:30 to sort out your inscription and AIDS test. Buy one maroon and one white robe. The most spectacular events are the 6:00 morning energy meditation and the 18:30 White Brotherhood meditation, both for free. The next morning you arrive at 5:30 outside the gate dressed in your maroon robe, buy your ticket and get ready for a hell of a waking up! After the energy meditation you can take a stroll in the park and later join in to some more meditations in the Boeddha hall. At 18:00 you have to be back at the Buddha hall but now dressed in your white robe to take part in the very weird and sect like white brotherhood meditation. After that you can slip into your normal clothes and listen to live music or join into a wild party from 21:00 to 23:00.
- Traveling from Pune (Puna) to Bombay by public transport : a train ticket from Puna to Bombay costs 70 rupees, but it's very difficult to get a hold of at least during high season. There are ASIAD government busses departing every 15 minutes from 5:30 in the morning until midnight. The bus tickets cost 110 rupees and the trip takes 4 hours. The bus arrives in Bombay Dadar, far outside the centre. During peak hours in Bombay it's not recommendable to take the freight train (4 rupees) to the centre of Bombay, the train is absolutely packed with people and leaves the station while people are still trying to get on or off. If you don't trust the taxis you can buy a taximeter card in any bookshop with which you can easily translate their meters into rupees; sometimes they will show you a false price or an old taximeter card.