The Rajneesh Cult – Christian Research Institute

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This article first appeared in Forward volume 5, number 1 (1982). The full text of the article can be obtained by clicking here. For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org/christian-research-journal/

In terms of media attention and exposure, we could fairly state that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (of Transcendental Meditation) was the guru of the 70s. However, over the past few years another Indian guru, Bhagwan Shree (Sir God) Rajneesh, has gradually achieved greater notoriety, which qualifies him, at least at this point, to be considered the guru of the 80s.

Rajneesh, bald, bearded and photogenic, first attained major media exposure in the U.S. in early 1978 when Time magazine featured an article on the guru entitled God Sir at Esalen East. Time reported that the charismatic guru had come into vogue among certain celebrities and prominent apostles of the human potential movement, who were joining thousands of other spiritual seekers in making the pilgrimage to Rajneeshs ashram (religious community/monastery) in Poona, India. Rajneeshs appeal stemmed partly from his use of tantric yoga (involving nudity and free sex) in his ashram, and partly from his incorporation of a wide variety of popular psychospiritual therapies and techniques.

In the late 70s and early 80s Rajneeshs acclaim continued to spread within the new age movement in America, Great Britain, Germany, and virtually every free-world, industrialized nation. With as many as 6,000 westerners flooding Poona at a time, the ashram population rose to 10,000 while 500 Rajneesh centers were established in 32 nations by orange garbed sannyasins* returning from Poona to their homelands. Rajneesh now has 250,000 followers, whose average age has been estimated to be as high as 35. Among those who have made the trek to Poona include the Prince and Princess of Hanover, the Marquis of Bath, actor Terence Stamp, singer Diana Ross, and Ruth Carter Stapleton.

Rajneeshs discourses, which were delivered daily in Poona, have been transcribed into 300 books and diaries which average between $15 and $20 in cost. Video cassettes of each discourse range in price between $50 and $170. Ashram income during the last year in Poona is believed to have been between $5 and $7 million. As a follower stated in the film Ashram, a documentary on the Rajneesh cult, The organization understood long ago what powerful energy money is. Rajneesh, who owns two Rolls Royces and two airplanes, believes that spirituality is the luxury and privilege of the rich.1

Rajneesh is a self-proclaimed spiritual rebel who thrives in the controversy that he has created, particularly in India, by his trainings (such as the tantra group, and the often violent encounter group) and his denunciations of respected religious and political leaders. Tal Brooke, a former devotee of the popular Indian guru Sai Baba, after visiting Poona effectively summed up the scene there:

An object of media fascination and horror, Rajneesh is known for his bizarre revelations on sex. He has constructed a vision of the New Man that repudiates all prior norms and traditions. Man, by Rajneeshs thinking, is the hedonist-god, fully autonomous (barring the inner voice of Rajneesh), and free to carve out the cosmos in his own image. He is the sovereign pleasure seeker, self-transcender, who owes nobody anything. The family is anathema, children extra trash. And so long as the Neo-sannyasin has the money the fun ride continues. Afterward, however, he or she is usually a non-functional casualty. Homicides, rapes, mysterious disappearances, threats, fires, explosions, abandoned ashram children now begging in Poonas streets, drug busts all done by those amazing hybrids in red who believe they are pioneering new and daring redefinitions of the word love.

Christians working in a Poona asylum confirm such accounts, adding the breakdown rate is so high the ashram has wielded political power to suppress reports.2

Bhagwans practice of readily initiating every westerner who came to him into the order of Sannyas infuriated many Hindu traditionalists, who uphold the ancient belief that the title of swami can only be conferred upon one who has spent years in preparative study and meditation. Rajneeshs reply was that Westerners want things quickly, so we give it to them right away.3 Rajneesh further offended the more ascetic Hindus by his advocacy of self-indulgence and sensuality. He urges his disciples not to deny their thoughts, feelings, and urges, but instead to experience them fully, as stepping stones on the spiritual path.4

Bhagwan has often been open concerning his hostility toward established religions. This is a revolution.I am burning scriptures here, uprooting traditions.unless I am shot Ill not be proved right.5

By early 1981 threats on Bhagwans life were indeed being made. The ashram was now heavily guarded, and no one was allowed to enter without first being searched for weapons. Then an ashram warehouse was set on fire, and an explosion was set off near the cults health center. When an actual attempt on Rajneeshs life was made in February, ashram officials hastened a process (which had already been initiated) of looking for a new headquarters.

Concurrent with these events, on May 1 of last year Rajneesh entered into what was termed a new and ultimate stage of his work silence. Since 1977 Rajneesh had been announcing that he would one day stop talking, on the grounds that only through silence could his real message be communicated.

Then during the same month the U.S. Consulate in Bombay issued Bhagwan a tourist visa, which opened the door for him to stay in America for at least a year. On June 1 he secretly flew to New York with 17 of his closest disciples. His followers in Poona were cast into a state of great disorientation upon hearing the news of their masters departure, and many suicide reports were made. The Poona ashram was closed down, and a small meditation center was left in its place to accommodate Indian disciples.

Since Rajneesh left Poona his followers have spread throughout the west. In Europe the present strategy is to establish Sacred Cities. The European Newsletter, issue 8, 1981 says: A Sannyasin city is to be set up in each major European country.. Bhagwan has suggested that the cities should be self-supporting, alternative societies, which will be models of sannyas. So far four cities have been planned: in England, Holland, Germany, and Italy.6

In America, plans were undertaken to create the ultimate sacred city, one fit for the master himself. On July 10 the Chidvilas Rajneesh Meditation Center of Montclair, New Jersey purchased the Big Muddy Ranch (where the John Wayne movie Big Muddy was filmed) for $6 million ($1.5 million of it in cash) from an investment company in Amarillo, Texas. The land, near Antelope, Oregon, covers more than 100 square miles. The Center also managed to lease 14,889 acres in the same area from the Bureau of Land Management.

Three hundred sannyasins from western countries soon flocked to the Big Muddy, and in September they jubilantly welcomed their master to his new home. There is no doubt it is already the worlds largest ashram, geographically speaking, the Los Angeles Times said. Expenses are reportedly running at $1 million a month.

Not long after the Big Muddy Ranch was purchased, plans were announced to build Americas first enlightened city, to be called Rajneeshpuram (expression or city of Rajneesh). The Rajneesh Foundation International (headed by Ma Sheela Silverman, a 32-year-old Indian disciple) projected that the city would encompass roughly three square miles, support a population of 1,500 to 2,000, and be self-sufficient within three years.

On November 4 the Wasco County Commission voted two-to-one to allow an election to be held May 18 to determine if the Big Muddy property should be incorporated as a city. Since the only ones allowed to vote in such an election are those who live on the site (in this case the Rajneesh cult), the outcome was certain to be in favor of incorporation. The One Thousand Friends of Oregon, an environmentalist group, sought to have the County Commissions approval overruled by Oregons Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA), but LUBA decided it lacked jurisdiction to take such an action. Then on May 18 no one was surprised when the disputed election resulted in 154 votes in favor of the incorporation of Rajneeshpuram, and none opposed. The One Thousand Friends are now petitioning the state Board of Appeals to reverse Wasco Countys action and thus block the actual development of the city.

In the meantime, under the leadership of the pugnacious Sheela Silverman, the sannyasins have responded to this opposition to their plans with a bold attempt to take over the city of Antelope and turn its municipal powers to their use (such as providing authorization to operate a printing plant and other services needed by the growing population of sannyasins). The Orange People (as Rajneeshs disciples are sometimes called) now own and operate the towns only gas station, and the Antelope Store and Cafe, whose name theyve changed to Zorba the Buddha (the stores menu is now strictly vegetarian).

Fearing that once the sannyasins gained control of the city council they would raise taxes to facilitate the cults operations, longtime Antelope residents called or a spec al election April 15 to decide whether to disincorporate the town. However, Oregon law allows anyone who has resided in the state or 20 days or more to vote in a citys election the same day he or she takes up residence in the town. On April 15 the established citizenry managed to muster 42 votes for disincorporation (Antelopes official population is listed as 40), but the votes of 55 very new residents thwarted their efforts. A court challenge of the outcome is likely.

Ashram life in Oregon is different than it was in Poona. Now that Rajneesh has gone into silence, he no longer conducts the twice-daily meetings with his disciples that were the focal point of life in Poona. Rajneesh does speak to Sheela Silverman and his personal nurse, however, and in this manner a chain of command has been constructed which affords the sannyasins little or no direct contact with their master. He may be seen, however, taking joyrides around the property with his nurse. Life reports that he has already crashed into a cement truck,7 and New Age magazine informs us that at an Antelope City Council meeting Francis Dixon, a city counselor, chimed in that Bhagwan himself is a menace, driving around on their roads in his Rolls Royce at over 70 miles per hour; already, noted Dixon, he has ended up in a ditch three times.8

In northeastern Oregon, as it was in Poona, the Rajneesh cult has provoked a crescendo of responses ranging from curiosity, to concern, to alarm. The unusual orange clothing worn by the sannyasins, their advocacy of a radically unrestrained (im)morality, and the numerous unconventional (and, to many people, repulsing) facets of their beliefs and lifestyle will hardly allow them to meld unobtrusively into the cultural milieu of their rural, provincial surroundings. It seems likely that the tension and hostility between those inside and those outside the ashram will continue to grow in the Antelope area, just as it did in Poona. Accompanying this may be a radical internalization in which the cult severs itself from almost all contact with the outside world, and focuses intently upon realizing its own spiritual and community aspirations.

What are these aspirations? Even the briefest exposure to Rajneeshs teachings makes it explicitly clear that the spirituality he advocates is in every respect hostile to the Christian faith. Consider the following samplings from his discourses.

You can be a Christ: Why be a Christian?9

Let me be your death and resurrection.10

Nobody is a sinner. Even while you are in the darkest hole of your life, you are still divine: you cannot lose your divinity. I tell you, there is no need for salvation, it is within you.11

.disobedience is not a sin, but a part of growth.12

God is neither a he nor a she.if you say he is a she, I will say he is a he and if you say he is a he, I will say he is a she.whatever your belief is, Im going to destroy it.13 (emphasis ours)

The spirituality into which Rajneesh is leading his disciples is the self-deification of eastern mysticism, and at the same time it is a spirituality that cannot be defined, experienced, or maintained apart from the guru. As an unidentified former sannyasin describes the Poona experience: The ashram is a convent, a temple, a therapy the whole ashram-life is a therapy, not only the groups: every moment you are pulled and pushed, towards something you dont know, towards the unknown, the divine and towards Bhagwan. Each day you come nearer and nearer to him and each day you become more and more dependent on him.14

Because his many therapies have been highly acclaimed by some in the human potential movement, the majority of those who come to Rajneesh have many personal problems they hope he can resolve. Rajneesh tells them that the cause of all of their problems is their egos, and the solution to these conflicts is to surrender their egos to him. On a sign at the entrance to the meditation center in Poona read the words: Shoes and minds are to be left here at the gate. Rajneesh maintains that Only those are accepted who surrender, only those are accepted who are utterly committed, who have fallen in love with me, who can trust and whose trust is unconditional, and absolute they are accepted.15 (emphasis ours)

The entire ashram program is designed to progressively weaken the participants egos until they surrender to Rajneesh. For example, one of the therapies, called centering, requires one to speak of himself in the third person for seven days, with the result that one begins to feel distant and separate from himself. Another training, intensive enlightenment, forces participants to do nothing for three days and nights but answer the question Who am I? The process leads one to see himself as miserable and unimportant. Soon his ego or sense of who he is begins to crumble and is replaced by a feeling of oneness with everything, and dependence upon Bhagwan.

Life reports that Iha Vander Schulenberg, a young German who had been initiated by Rajneesh in Poona, took part in .a 10-day ordeal during which participants were hypnotized and led back to childish, even infantile states of consciousness. In this condition of extreme vulnerability, potential disciples were urged to consider devoting their lives to the Bhagwan.16

As each ashram session further breaks down the independent ego of the sannyasin, he finally becomes the mental slave of Rajneesh. When a follower reaches this point, he views any difficult thing Rajneesh asks him to do as a test of his commitment and fidelity to the guru. An Indian movie star who is a sannyasin said: Its a test or surrender, and surrendering yourself to the guru means doing anything and everything he asks you to. You understand that? You stop thinking for yourself. The guru does the thinking for you.17

Through such absolute dependence on a human being, and surrender of the right to evaluate him critically, Rajneeshs devotees forfeit qualities that are vital to personal growth and healthy adulthood. When two young English women were caught smuggling drugs in order to afford rooms in the ashram (this means of producing income, along with prostitution, was not uncommon among sannyasins in Poona), a psychologist called into the case told the court that .those who left the sect were found to have regressed to the mental age of l2.18

The atmosphere of brotherhood and playfulness that prevails at the ashram, when combined with the blissful states of consciousness often achieved through the meditations and therapies, can lead the sannyasins to believe that their problems have been transcended, and that they have attained the psychological and spiritual wholeness Rajneesh promises. However, Tal Brooke speaks for many who have visited Poona and other Rajneesh centers when he says: I strongly sense a terrible obscene gaping wound underneath this facade a collective lacerated psyche.19

When a group of peoples psyches remain fragmented and wounded, but they believe theyve been healed; when they are still very much sinners and yet they are convinced theyve become pure, some disturbing, frightening possibilities emerge. This is especially the case if the people involved disavow use of their rational minds as unspiritual and collectively connect themselves to one supermind, who is inevitably no more healthy nor perfected than they. Speaking of the Rajneesh cult and cult patterns in general, Joshua Baran, a former Zen Buddhist monk, observes:

In this process devotees lose their natural alarm systems which tell them when things arent right. This is usually a gradual process. This is how it is possible for Jonestown or the many other examples weve seen how people end up doing blind, insensitive things to one another.20

With such references to Jonestown already being made, an eerie sense of irony was added to the unfolding Rajneesh story when it became known last year that Shannon Jo Ryan, daughter of the late congressman Leo Ryan, had become an active disciple of Rajneesh. In November, 1978, Leo Ryan was murdered in Jonestown, Guyana by followers of Jim Jones as he was completing an investigation of the Peoples Temple there. Life reports that Shannon traveled to India to offer Rajneesh money collected from her fathers life insurance policy.21 She is now living in Oregon at Rajneeshpuram, a fact which some of the neighbors in the Antelope area find foreboding. When the subject of parallels between Rajneesh and Jim Jones was brought up, Shannon candidly acknowledged: Ive heard other people say if Bhagwan asked them to kill themselves, they would do it. If Bhagwan asked them to kill someone else, they would do it. I dont know if my trust in him is that total. I would like it to be and I dont believe he would ever do that.22 (emphasis ours)

Miss Ryans words are frequently echoed by other sannyasins. They acknowledge that the psychological structure of the cult is such that if Rajneesh were to order them to kill themselves or others they would be obligated to do so. However, they are fully assured that Rajneesh is essentially different than Jim Jones, and would never ask them to kill. Unfortunately, one cannot find a basis for this assurance in the ethical system that Rajneesh prescribes. In The Book of the Secrets, Volume One, Rajneesh tells his followers:

So remember this: whatsoever you are doing consciously, with alertness, fully aware, becomes meditation. Even if you kill someone consciously, while fully conscious, it is meditative. This is what Krishna was saying to Arjuna: Do not be afraid. Do NOT be afraid! Kill, murder, fully conscious, knowing fully that no one is murdered and no one is killed.you are only destroying forms, not that which is behind the forms. So destroy the forms. If Arjuna can be so meditatively aware, then there is no violence, No one is killed, no sin is committee.23 (emphasis ours)

Rajneesh is clearly teaching here that since God is everything, and human beings are merely illusory forms of God, then if one, through meditation, can maintain awareness of this truth he may do what he wills to the forms. To a person in that state of mind no one is really being killed, and thus no sin is committed.

In the final analysis, the only reason the sannyasins are so confident that Rajneesh will not lead them into disaster is that they have a subjective conviction that he is pure love and therefore incapable of doing so. No doubt most of them have had little prior exposure to wiles of the many big-time and small-time cult leaders who can project an aura of love and spirituality while they mercilessly exploit their followers. Jim Jones was perceived by his followers as a loving father figure. Certainly Bhagwan is different from Jones, but it could be a fatal error to conclude that he therefore presents no danger. There is more than one way to be deceived; evil comes in many forms.

By the anti-christ, anti-human, anti-social message Rajneesh promotes, it is ominously evident that the spirit that so visibly drives him is capable of any evil thing. Needless to say, the discerning Christian fails to see the inherent goodness in Bhagwan to which his followers naively entrust their souls. And, if we consider such firsthand observations of Rajneeshs mental instability as those offered by Eckart Flother (see Inside the Ashram, this issue), the outlook for Rajneeshpuram becomes still more precarious.

If in Rajneeshpuram we do not have another major cult-related tragedy in the making, it will not be because it was prevented by anything in the groups theological, ethical, or psychological structure (not to mention their physical situation located 20 winding miles from the nearest public road in the middle of the sparsely-populated Oregon desert). It might, however, be because Christians were praying, and alerting as many sannyasins and potential sannyasins as they could to the critical differences between the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the gospel of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

Elliot Miller

1. Guru Brings His Ashram to Oregon, Russell Chandler and Tyler Marshall, Los Angeles Times, August 13, 1981, part 1, p. 14.

2. Pied Piper of Poona, Eternity, September, 1981, p. 14.

3. God Sir at Esalen East, Time, January 16, 1978, p. 59.

4. Om, Om on the Range: Rajneesh in America, Mark Roseland, New Age, January, 1982, p. 35.

5. This is a Revolution, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Videocassette, 18C236, December 28, 1980.

6. The Master Will Not Speak Again, Jens Johansen, New Religious Movements Up-date, Vol. 5, Issue 3/4, December, 1981, p. 81.

7. Shortcut to Nirvana, Life, October, 1981, p. 78.

8. op. cit., p. 37.

9. The quote cited is the title of Videotape 18C144, September 2, 1980.

10. Discourses on the Sufi Way, quoted in the Victor Valley Daily Press, September 18, 1981, p. B3.

11. Sannyas, April, 1978, p. 18.

12. Jesus, Buddha: Their Days are Finished, Videocassette 18C321 and 18C322, March 7, 1981.

13. He or She? On Beliefs The Book of the Books VI, Videocassette 18S133, April 22, 1980.

14. No Ego, No I, New Religious Movements Up-date, Vol. IV, Issue 1/2, May, 1980, p. 15.

15. Rajneesh Foundation Newsletter, April, 1979, quoted in No Ego. No I, ibid.

16. Shortcut to Nirvana, op. cit., p. 80.

17. Shoes and Minds Are to be Left at the Gate, New Religious Movements Up-date, Vol. III, Issue 1/2, July, 1979, p. 60.

18. News Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh Sannyasins. New Religious Movements Up-date, Vol. IV, Issue 1/2, May, i980, p. 20.

19. Pied Piper of Poona, op. cit., p. 14.

20. Guru Brings His Ashram to Oregon, op. cit., p. 3.

21. op. cit., p. 76.

22. Daughter of Rep. Ryan Is Follower of Indian Guru, William Endicott, Los Angeles Times, January 10, 1981, part 1, p. 1.

23. p. 399.

In San Diego last November most of our Research staff participated in the 1981 Cult Summit Conference, which was a predominantly Christian gathering of cult watchers to share information and get to know one another. There we met Eckart Flother, a former follower of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, who gave an interesting presentation on the Indian guru. Eckart, a German citizen, is currently a student at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. In the following discussion with Forward Editor Elliot Miller, Eckart shares some valuable Insight into the Rajneesh cult that he has gained through personal involvement and subsequent research.

FORWARD: Eckart, when did you join the Rajneesh community in Poona, and how long were you involved?

FLOTHER: I joined the ashram in Poona in March 1979, and was there during that month, and then from June to October of the same year.

What was it that drew you to Rajneesh?

Well, there are various reasons. First of all, after having been a very successful journalist in Germany, I felt that something was missing in my life. So I took kind of a sabbatical in order to search for some other meaning in life than just making money, or writing stories about success and failure.

I traveled to India and was referred to Rajneesh by various people who I knew from Europe, whose opinions I respected. I went to the ashram in Poona in order to find out what was going on there.

I found the master a very fascinating, charismatic man who gave answers to all of the questions of our lives. This was the first thing that attracted me.

Second, I found it interesting to meet spiritually-minded people who, on the average, were not dropouts, but were well-educated. These were people between the ages of 25 and 45, who created an environment of understanding, love, and charity on a pretty high level. It was a community which lived and worked together without competition. This, for me, was something totally new, an environment created by people who were trying to express a new kind of life.

Were you initiated?

Yes, I was.

What led you away from Rajneesh and to Jesus?

In July, right as I was getting more deeply involved with the ashram, I had a very extraordinary experience. On one of those hot, humid Indian nights filled with mosquitos, I was sitting in my hotel room and reading Rabi Maharajs book, Death of a Guru. Suddenly I saw a brilliantly shining being standing in the hotel room, and He said to me with a mighty voice, I want you to become my disciple. I immediately understood that Jesus had called me, yet I really didnt know what to do with it.

I went to Rajneesh and told him what had happened to me. As I was talking to him about this experience, I could feel a kind of very warm energy or light radiating from me and I saw that Rajneesh was very irritated, and even startled as he looked at me. He was unable to speak. At that moment I could see that he was not a master like Jesus Christ, as he claims. It was at this time that I decided to become a disciple of Jesus.

How is it that you came across Rabi Maharajs book?

My brother-in-law in Germany is a pastor, and he knows Rabi Maharaj. He said, Since you are going to India you should know something about this man. Read this book when you have the time. So I took the book with me in my bag and eventually read it in India.

I recall you mentioning in San Diego that there were 30 followers of Rajneesh who left the ashram with you. Could you describe what happened there?

First of all, I did not immediately stop wearing the special clothing worn by the sannyasins. After I realized that Rajneesh was deceiving people by claiming to be the Jesus of our day, or God incarnate, I decided that I had to find out what he is really doing and do a lot of research before I would leave. This would enable me to write a book about my experience. So I talked to the people from a new perspective.

About six weeks later, after Id completed my research, I came in jeans and t-shirt again. Because by this time Id become pretty well-known in the ashram, a lot of people began to talk to me on a very personal, intimate level. Suddenly I was drawn into the role of a counselor as they asked what happened to me. So I told them of my encounter with Jesus and explained to them what I had learned in the four or five weeks that followed the encounter. This caused them to start thinking and realizing what they were into. Christians in Poona provided them with places to stay, away from the ashram, and provided some with money and help so that they could go home. So, altogether there were around 30 people that left the ashram.

Could you give us a feeling for what your experience in Poona as a sannyasin was like?

I was very amazed at the time to find that being a disciple and belonging to an alternative community felt very good. It seemed as though life in the ashram had no tension. There was no competition. We were all surrounded by fellow believers and our philosophy was that life should be playful. So the whole ashram was more or less a playful environment for people who voluntarily abandoned the world.

And from my point of view today, I realize that the reality that was created in the ashram was a false reality, because it did not cope with the reality outside. It did not question why things in the world are going as they are, and it did not want to accept the fact that to live in reality means to struggle with the issue of being human which means, I think, to deal with joy and despair. What we did was, in a way, to live a blissed-out life in a non-reality. I would now say that this was a deception.

Such systems are fabricated, synthetic realities which do not address the real causes of our problems in the first place and therefore, in the long run, cant succeed in drawing a solution.

Yes, I would call it a mind-created reality which is similar to a reality experienced by people who are on drugs.

What areas of ministry does the Lord seem to be leading you into, and to what extent will this involve outreach to the followers of Rajneesh?

My experience has taught me that it is very difficult for an outsider to discern between what it means to follow the Lord in a Christian lifestyle, and to follow someone like Rajneesh, who claims to be the representative of God today. So my ministry, which I am preparing for right now, will certainly lead me to help people to understand the distinction between these new age religions and Christianity; to discern what it means to develop a relationship with God; and how this is different from a relationship with a master, who is only human himself.

Could you give us a brief synopsis of Rajneeshs personal history?

Rajneesh Chandra Mohan was born on the 11th of December, 1931, in a village in central India, the eldest in a family of five sisters and seven brothers. His childhood was overshadowed by the fact that his father, an unsuccessful businessman, was often on the road. The father figure in Rajneeshs life was instead occupied by his grandfather, to whom he became very attached. His grandfather died when he was seven years old. This was a very traumatic experience for young Rajneesh. From then on he felt strangely attracted to the subject of death. In his 1979 diary (which is made public), it is reported that he followed after funerals as other children would follow circuses.

Rajneesh pursued his education and in 1957 obtained a Master of Arts in Philosophy. He proceeded to teach philosophy in two universities between 1957 and 1966.

In 1966, Rajneesh resigned from his service as a teacher in order to, as he puts it, concentrate on the wish of God. He felt called to work for the spiritual regeneration of humanity, which he feels is necessary in order to survive the holocaust which he is predicting and fearing.

Rajneesh then became a master and called himself Acharya* Rajneesh, and he walked and rode a donkey around India in various states in order to teach people that they have to change their lives and turn around in order to survive.

His mission wasnt very successful, and in 1970 he was a tired and poor man who nevertheless recognized that he possessed charisma and power. In Bombay he decided to gather people around him to whom he could teach his message. As more and more disciples flocked around him, the apartment where he lived was unable to accommodate them. Thus, in 1974 he moved to Poona, 120 miles south of Bombay, rented several houses, and founded his ashram. There he changed his name from Acharya to Bhagwan (which means God), designed orange robes and a wooden bead necklace for his disciples, and started the movement we are dealing with today.

About when did European and American seekers begin coming to Rajneesh?

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