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.
The senior sevadar now stated that he no longer had the phone on his person. "It's in your pocket" said Osho Robbins. The sevadar showed him his pocket and there were two phones there, neither of which were his.
"Well where's my phone?" asked Osho Robbins, now getting a little concerned, because the sevadar #2 now had his iPhone X worth over £1000 and it seemed to have disappeared, and he was sure he had come to satsang, not a magic show.
"It's been checked in and you can retrieve it at the end of the satsang" said the sevadar #2.
"But I just explained to you that I wish to leave Haynes Park right now"
"Well you can leave anytime you choose, but we will retain your phone and you can collect it another time" replied sevadar #2.
"I am not leaving without my phone, so show me exactly where it is so I don’t get delayed at the end of the satsang" suggested Osho Robbins.
Osho Robbins also insisted on a receipt for the phone, and the sevadar wrote his own name and the name of another senior sevadar on the hand made paper receipt. Osho Robbins asked him to sign it and took the receipt with him.
A different sevadar accompanied Osho Robbins to the "information and lost property point" where the phone had allegedly been checked in. However, once they arrived there, they said they did not have the phone.
"Well where is my phone then?" asked Osho Robbins, now getting even more concerned by this new turn of events.
"Well it could be checked into either of two places,” replied the helpful English lady at the information point. One of those places was right across from the information point.
"Please tell me where my phone is, or return it to me, as I wish to leave,” said Osho Robbins, as the situation was now getting out of hand.
"Maybe the senior sevadar has it in his pocket,” suggested another lady in the office.
This was no longer a joke and completely unacceptable. The sevadars were now acting illegally and could well steal his phone. There was now no other alternative than to involve the police if Osho Robbins wanted a safe recovery of his phone.
"Unless you can give me my phone back, I am going to call the police" said Osho Robbins.
Obviously, they could not return what they didn't have and they could not even tell Osho Robbins for sure exactly where his phone was. Osho Robbins asked to use a phone to call the police, but they refused to help.
"There is a public phone across the road,” said the English lady, pointing to a sign that said "Public Phone”.
"Can I have some change as I don't have any money with me?" asked Osho Robbins.
To her credit, the English lady gave him some loose change for the phone. Then someone pointed to a police vehicle already on site.
Osho Robbins returned the money and went over to the police van. The sevadar who had accompanied him suggested that he not involve the police.
"But my phone is missing and nobody is telling me where it is,” said Osho Robbins. "If you can retrieve my phone so I can leave Haynes Park in peace, please do so and I will not involve the police as I have no desire to escalate this matter. I simply want my phone back”.
The sevadar could not comply because it was in the hands of the sevadars higher up and the lower sevadars have no power. All they do is obey the orders of their superiors.
The sevadar left and Osho Robbins approached the police vehicle, still unable to believe that things had deteriorated this far in RSSB that he had to resort to police assistance in order to retrieve his own property. This was a far cry from the RSSB organisation he knew as a child.
Osho Robbins then explained the situation to the police.
The police said that it was illegal for them to hold onto his phone or tamper with it. They said that even they themselves had no powers to examine anyone's phone unless they could link it to an actual crime. Even then they may need a court order.
They explained to Osho Robbins that his phone had been technically "stolen" if they were keeping hold of it without his consent. Three officers accompanied Osho Robbins to the lost property and information point and took charge of the situation.
They insisted that the phone be returned immediately. The lady in the office said "He knows the rules and he broke them. There are notices everywhere stating that phones are not allowed”.
"That may be the case, but what you are doing is a crime. You are not allowed to hold his phone without his permission. It is theft to do so. If he has broken your rules, he is happy to leave the site, but he is entitled to have his phone returned before he leaves."
Another sevadar then said that the senior sevadar had it in his pocket and said he would go get him and be back in 10 minutes. The police said they would wait for 10 minutes. Twenty minutes later and he still had not come back.
Instead an older mature gentleman who seemed to be in charge explained to the police that the man (sevadar #2) had the phone in his pocket and the meeting was already in session and could not be disrupted.
He offered to take them there to show that it is "pindrop silence" and impractical to disturb the religious meeting. He said that he would personally assure the phone is returned at the end of the meeting (satsang).
I said, "I can guarantee that if there was an incident now, all of those people would get called on the two way radio devices and be out here within minutes." All these were simply excuses but the police didn't want to cause any conflict, especially as the sevadars were taking responsbility for the safe return of the phone immediately after the satsang.
Just then the sevadar who had originally taken the phone from Osho Robbins turned up. He insisted that his name be written on the receipt as the person responsible instead of the other two names.
"Since I first took the phone, I am the responsible person in case anything happens to the phone."
"What might happen to the phone?" asked Osho Robbins, surprised by this new turn of events.
"I don't know. I have just been sent to put my name down as the responsible person."
“Who sent you?” asked Osho Robbins. He referred to sevadar #2.
Osho Robbins explained to the police that he suspected his phone will likely go missing because that is the only reason to get this other sevadar to become the responsible person.
"The sevadars higher up are trying to get their name removed now because it has now become a police matter and they don't want their names involved." explained Osho Robbins to the police.
The police, however, had no idea how devious the sevadars were, as clearly there was no reason to change any names on the receipt if the phone was simply going to be handed back. In fact there was no reason the phone could not be returned immediately, if there was no plan to cause Osho Robbins further aggravation.
The sevadar who was now wanting to put his name on the receipt was desperate not to lose his seva and he kept saying "I don't want to lose my seva over this”.
Also he did not raise any other matter with the police, despite later making allegations of threats by Osho Robbins later on.
At that moment, the cousin's wife just happened to turn up with her son and witness the whole incident. The original sevadar told her also that "he doesn't want to lose his seva", and was almost in tears.
Osho Robbins explained to her exactly what had happened and that if he was not back at the car, he will be waiting there at the lost property and information point for his phone.
The police said that the phone should be returned immediately after the satsang and told Osho Robbins that if it is not returned, he should phone 101 and explain that his phone had been stolen and that they were witnesses to the whole incident.
At that point they had to leave as they were on traffic duty and the satsang was now over so vehicles would start to leave Haynes Park soon.
Osho Robbins told the police that he would be very surprised if they simply returned the phone after the satsang. They said, "If they don’t, then report it as theft, because they have promised to return it immediately after the meeting (satsang) and we have no reason to doubt them."
Well, Osho Robbins stood and waited for someone to come.
And waited and waited and waited. Finally at 12.50 the original sevadar who had taken the phone turned up and said that he would have his phone within 20 - 30 minutes.
Osho Robbins cousin had also arrived by this time and heard the sevadar say it would be no more than 30 minutes. But nobody came. Osho Robbins simply waited and waited.
Finally at around 2.30 a senior sevadar (I will call him sevadar #1) arrived in his car and called the original sevadar over. They chatted for about five minutes, then sevadar #1 drove off.
The sevadar walked towards Osho Robbins but still did not have the phone.
"We need to go to the office and the phone will be given to you there,” he informed Osho Robbins.
So Osho Robbins followed him to the office where sevadar #1 was waiting, together with sevadar #2 who was sitting on his left but further back.
Osho Robbins was going to ask sevadar #2 if he had figured out who he was yet, or if he still needed some more assistance on the matter, but common sense and caution prevailed instead.
Sevadar #1 was sitting in a chair and had just finished making a phone call. He called Osho Robbins over. Osho Robbins shook hands and sat down.
Just then Osho Robbin's cousin turned up and told sevadar #1 that he needs to speak to Osho Robbins briefly. Sevadar #1 graciously gave him permission.
After a brief discussion with his cousin regarding how much longer this is going to take, Osho Robbins returned.
"Why did you call the police?" asked sevadar #1 after asking a few preliminary questions.
Osho Robbins explained that he wanted his phone back and this was precisely why he called the police. He also explained that he had made it clear he would call the police if the phone was not returned immediately.
Sevadar #1 produced the phone and asked Osho Robbins to sign a statement to the effect that the phone had been returned in good order and undamaged, and also wanted the signed receipt back.
Osho Robbins complied with these formalities and was given the phone back.
Sevadar #1 then called the original sevadar over and asked him to check once again that the files have definitely been deleted. The sevadar started playing a different audio file on the phone.
“Why are you playing other files?“ asked Osho Robbins. “Because it says New Recording”as the name of the file” explained the sevadar.
Osho Robbins asked him to check the date as the recording was from a different date. Once satisfied that the files had been deleted, Sevadar #1 asked the sevadar who had originally taken the phone to explain exactly what had happened.
The sevadar explained briefly then he hesitated and said "I don't want to repeat the words he used”. Osho Robbins said "Go ahead and tell them what I said, as I said nothing to be ashamed of."
"He said he would kick me in the nuts”.
Osho Robbins was shocked that the sevadar would say that - as it was a complete lie and he had also spoken to him earlier and he was a pretty nice guy, but just afraid of losing his seva.
Osho Robbins denied saying those words and told sevadar #1 that it was totally out of character for him to say that.
Osho Robbins then realised exactly what had happened. Sevadar #1 had clearly ordered the original sevadar to make up that story, in order to give him ammunition for his next move. That was the purpose of the five minute meeting with the sevadar prior to this meeting. It all made perfect sense.
That also explained the sevadar’s hesitation, as he was deciding whether it's "right" to tell a lie in order to keep his seva.
So sevadar #1 said "Who do I believe? You, or the sevadar? I would rather believe the sevadar than you." "That's your call," said Osho Robbins, "but I am telling the truth." Of course sevadar #1 knew the truth anyway because he had told the other sevadar to lie.
“The thing is, this is not the first incident with you. There was an incident two or three years ago, so clearly, we are not going to get along”.
“So you can take your phone but I am banning you from satsang – all satsangs – local and national."
Osho Robbins really didn’t care at that point and took his phone and left Haynes Park.