Following is a report Osho Robbins sent to me of what happened after he used his phone to record five minutes of audio at a meeting of Radha Soami Satsang Beas in RSSB's Haynes Park center in England.
It's long, so you'll need to click on the continuation link to read the full tale. Here's some definitions of a few words Robbins uses in his report. "Satsang" is a spiritual talk. "Baba Ji" refers to the RSSB guru, Gurinder Singh Dhillon. "Sevadar" is a volunteer. "Seva" means volunteer service.
What I find most interesting about this saga is how it illustrates the dangers of religious rigidity and dogmatism. The problem with Robbins using his phone to record part of a talk could have been handled smoothly in a few minutes if the Radha Soami Satsang Beas volunteers had acted like normal human beings rather than religious robots.
Instead, their fanaticism led them to believe that a rule against audio recordings was an edict from God, since the RSSB guru is believed by devotees to be God in Human Form. So RSSB volunteers (sevadars) often become irrationally fanatic about carrying out their assigned tasks.
As weird as this may sound to non-religious people, it's much as if Jesus returned to Earth and asked some devout Christians to serve him in certain ways. Is there any doubt that they'd obey with gusto, viewing this as service to God?
The downside, of course, is that since it's virtually certain God doesn't exist, bad things are done in the name of religion for purely human reasons. As you will read below, the RSSB volunteers Robbins encountered were willing to lie, cheat, and steal in the name of service to their guru.
This makes it wholly believable that other volunteer sevadars were willing to do even nastier stuff, as has been alleged by two people who claim that associates of the RSSB guru made death threats against them (see here and here). Thus I find what happened to Osho Robbins consistent with the attitude of a disturbingly large number of RSSB devotees.
Whatever I'm asked to do, if the order comes from the guru, or flows from the guru's directives, I'll do it, whether or not I have to act unethically or wrongly.
"Crime of the Century"
Osho Robbins caught red handed recording 5 minutes of satsang of the English speaker before the Q&A session. Charged with two offences: bringing phone into the tent and recording 5 minutes of audio. Case heard informally and further evidence fabricated to add another offence: threatening to kick a sevadar in the “nuts”.
Result: made to wait 3+ hours for his phone to be returned
Sentence: Unlimited Ban from ALL satsangs worldwide until further notice.
It’s an ordinary Friday morning at Haynes Park. It's the start of the National satsang programme. Osho Robbins is about to discover what happens when you “break the rules” at RSSB.
It started with a crime - that Osho Robbins committed. Let's call it "The Crime of the Century".
He recorded the english speaker before Baba Ji's satsang for 5 minutes.
Well technically it was two crimes:
1. Taking the phone in to the satsang hall (many do it - but it's against the rules)
2. Recording the English speaker for 5 minutes. Not sure why this was an issue as it was not even Baba Ji’s voice that was recorded
A quick perusal of You Tube will show that Baba Ji’s satsangs have not only been previously recorded by others but also been uploaded onto You Tube. So this was really a “non-offence” compared to the actions of those who uploaded all those audios of the satsangs.
Let's start at the beginning.
Osho Robbins arrived for the Friday satsang. He went to the back of the tent. Mobile phones are not allowed, but no big deal is made of the matter and there are no sevadars searching or even caring if anyone takes their phone in.
There must literally be hundreds of them in the tent. Not a single person asked Osho Robbins if he had a phone on his person.
Osho Robbins had his mobile phone with him, turned into airplane mode. The purpose was to be able to stay in contact with various people at the end of the satsang.
As it happens, the English speaker was saying some interesting things, so Osho Robbins decided to press the “record” button, not knowing that all hell was about to break loose.
So pause for a moment and use a little logic.
What is so horrendous about that? He decided to record it so he could listen back to it later. How exactly is that going to be a problem for anyone else on the planet?
Seriously, why would it be anyone’s concern? Did anyone get hurt? Is it a security risk? It's not even the voice of Baba Ji, but the speaker before the satsang, and it's for his own private listening after the satsang. By no stretch of the imagination can this be considered a major issue.
Yes, technically “the rules” were broken – but no harm was done to anyone. As you will see later, the sevadars will commit much bigger crimes as the events unfold. To name a few:
Lying, deceit, forcing another sevadar to lie, stealing the phone and illegally keeping hold of it for approximately 5 hours.
As Osho Robbins was recording, the phone fell on the floor and a sevadar pounced on him, "Ah - you have a mobile phone”. He asked Osho Robbins to step outside the tent while he went to get “backup".
So Osho Robbins stepped outside. What happened next was more like what you might see in a movie, than in a spiritual satsang. The sevadars seem to think it was a major crime to break the rules. Osho Robbins said "I will delete the files in front of you".
"No - give us the phone and WE will delete them, we have to make sure we delete them all."
Saying that, they snatched the phone from Osho Robbins and deleted the files. Not satisfied, they wanted to know if the files had been uploaded to the cloud.
"What cloud?" Osho Robbins asked, wondering why they are taking things so far over 5 minutes of audio recording that was not even of Baba Ji. They checked and decided it had not been uploaded, but kept hold of the phone, despite Osho Robbins asking for his phone back.
By then a more senior sevadar turned up and asked the classic question: "Do you know who I am?" Osho Robbins replied quite honestly, "I have no idea."
Obviously the "sevadar" had delusions of grandeur, the exact opposite of what seva should be about. And he obviously had a short-term memory problem, and kept forgetting his own name, hence the question, "Do YOU perhaps know who I am?"
Osho Robbins resisted the temptation to tell him "You are the ONE" or "Best to ask Baba Ji”.
The sevadar handed the phone to the senior sevadar. For clarity, we will call this senior sevadar, sevadar #2. Remember this is the one with delusions of grandeur who keeps forgetting “Who he is”.
Osho Robbins calmly asked for his phone back.
The ego-filled sevadar #2 refused to return the phone, saying it would go to the "IT Dept" to get checked. and be returned at the end of the satsang. This was ridiculous behaviour and also illegal. There was no audio of Baba Ji so why the big drama?
Osho Robbins explained that he was there with his cousin who also had a child with him as well as his wife. And since he did not want to waste their time, he (Osho Robbins) would leave Haynes Park immediately if that is what it would take to get his phone back.
For some reason the sevadar #2 would not agree to this reasonable request. That would have been the most reasonable way to resolve the matter.
"It's my personal property. I would like it back now please and if you want me to leave, I will leave Haynes Park immediately." said Osho Robbins, clarifying his position.
"You will get it back after the satsang." insisted the sevadar with delusions of grandeur.
"No - I want my phone back now, please" insisted Osho Robbins "and I will leave Haynes Park. It's my property and you have no legal basis to keep it or tamper with it”.
There was no raising of voices, no threats by anyone. However, Osho Robbins was simply firm in his request to be given his phone back, which was a very reasonable request, especially as he was offering to leave the site and wait outside Haynes Park.
"I do have the right to retain your phone" replied the sevadar, "You broke the rules and recorded the satsang and now your phone will be examined”.
It is indeed unfortunate that Osho Robbins had to resort to the legal position to ask for his legal rights to be upheld, but it seemed there was no other alternative. The sevadar #2 clearly had no respect for his legal rights.
The sevadar #2 put the phone in his pocket and now the lies began.