A short distance from Balaju Bypass in Kathmandu is Nagarjun Forest, where there’s an international commune and forest retreat center called Osho Tapoban. It is run under the saintly auspices of Acharya Bodhisatva Swami Anand Arun, a leading disciple of the late Osho Rajneesh, spiritual leader of millions around the world. Acharya Arun is only one of twenty-one Acharyas appointed by Osho himself. A dedicated disciple who is determined to carry on the legacy of the ‘Bhagwan’, whose discourses and books never fail to inspire and awe due to the vast depth of wisdom and insight contained therein.
‘Swami’ implies that one has mastery over the self, ‘Bodhistava’ means that one is now free from the rigors of rebirth, and an ‘Acharya’ is one who is authorized to initiate new disciples, besides being able to give discourses and conduct meditation camps. In addition to other retreats, Acharya Bodhisatva Swami Anand Arun has initiated thousands of neo-sanyasins at Osho Tapoban, where he gives regular discourses and periodic meditation sessions. Osho Tapoban, spread on about one hundred ropanies of forest land, is a fitting place to seek spirituality and wisdom, replete as it is with dense foliage, age-old trees, and a waterfall and a spring. Spartan but comfortable accommodations for one hundred guests at a time, clean and hygienic vegetarian food, et al. ensure comfort and convenience for guests and visitors. The Acharya himself lives in a cottage named ‘Siddhartha’ on the premises, one of many similar cottages.
A variety of meditations, samadhi darshan, Osho audio/visual discourses, and evening satsangs are regular activities in the retreat. Saturdays are when hundreds of sanyasins gather to conduct what the Acharya calls ‘Celebrations’. On an average, one will find about 500 to 700 sanyasins on this day at Tapoban, among whom will probably be many accomplished individuals from different professions. Other special celebrations are held on some auspicious days of the year, such as December 11 (Osho’s birthday), January 19 (Mahaparinirvan Diwas), March 21 (Enlightenment and Tapoban Foundation Day), and full moon of July (Guru Purnima).
Tapoban is a non-alcoholic, smoke-free, vegetarian zone, and actually there’s no need for artificial stimulants in this place, where more than enough of a high is possible through meditation. Osho Tapoban is but one of quite a few such centers where spiritual pursuit is the norm. The numerous monasteries in Kathmandu Valley, and around the country, are without doubt, centers where a spiritual awakening is very much possible. Then, there are the many centers that provide knowledge and practice of different types of yoga, where the effort is to unite the body, mind, and spirit into one pulsating entity.
Indeed, Nepal can rightfully claim to be an excellent destination for seekers of spirituality and wisdom. And, seeing as to how a significant percentage of tourists can be considered to be ‘spiritual tourists’, and how the promise of spiritual awakening can make them stay for a longer period than the usual tourist’s itinerary, it’s just as rewarding for the country’s struggling tourism sector.