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From Washing Dishes To Cleaning Toilets, When Vinod Khanna Quit Showbiz And Became A Follower Of Osho Rajneesh

Today, on Vinod Khanna's 5th death anniversary, we revisit his engagement with Osho's world.

70’s Bollywood megastar Vinod Khanna had girls swooning over his charming looks. The actor started in 1968 with Sunil Dutt’s Man Ka Meet, he did quite a few villainous and supporting roles in films like Purab Aur Paschim, Sachaa Jhutha, Aan Milo Sajna, Memsaab, Rakhwala, and more. After starring in major hits like Mere Apne, and Mera Gaon Mera Desh, the actor married his long-time girlfriend Geetanjali. After his marriage, the actor gave major blockbuster hits like Amar Akbar Anthony, Inkaar, Parvarish, and more.

Late after having his sons Akshaye and Rahul Khanna, the Bollywood megastar gave a shock to his fans and well-wishers as he decided to quit the film industry in search of spiritual satisfaction which took him to Osho. He stayed with Osho at Rajneeshpuram, the city he built in America. The news went throughout as the directors confided the news that Vinod Khanna had stalled all his new projects and producers confirmed that Vinod Khanna was returning signing amounts.

The actor decided to give up his family life and everything else in between to join the controversial Osho cult. After communing to the United States the actor spent five years washing dishes, cleaning toilets and working as Osho’s gardener. The sudden decision was not well received by his immediate family. His absence took a toll on his relationship with Gitanjali, who soon walked out of the marriage. Akshaye was only a toddler then and stayed back with his mother in Mumbai, while Vinod moved to Oregon.

Actor Akshaye opened up after the death of the late actor Vinod Khanna, Talking about Osho’s influence over his father’s life, Akshaye told a leading daily, “To not only leave his family but to take ‘sanyas’ (renunciation) is a big deal. Sanyas means giving up your life in totality — family is only a part of it. It’s a life-changing decision, which he felt that he needed to take at the time. As a five-year-old, it was impossible for me to understand it. One doesn’t look at it like that at five. Osho had nothing to do with my thoughts about why my dad wasn’t there. That came much later.”

He added, “I understand now. In the sense that something must have moved him so deep inside, he felt that that kind of decision was worth it for him. Especially, when you have everything in life. And when life doesn’t look as though there’s much more that you can have. A very basic fault-line/earthquake has to occur within oneself to make that decision and stick by it. One can make the decision and say this doesn’t suit me — let’s go back. But that didn’t happen.”

Talking about his father’s return the actor said, “It was just the fact that the commune was disbanded, destroyed, and everybody had to find their own way. That’s when he came back. Otherwise, I don’t think he would’ve ever come back”.

Vinod Khan passed away on April 27, 2017, after battling bladder cancer for years. In his long Bollywood career, he worked in more than 100 films and was an active politician, and Member of Parliament from Gurdaspur, Punjab.

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