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The free-love cult that terrorised America and became …

Posted: March 19, 2019 at 2:42 am

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Anyone who has ever dipped a toe in the pool of new-age mysticism is likely to have come across Osho. The bearded Indian mystic has had his books translated into more than 60 languages, published by more than 200 publishing houses youre likely to find his works next to the crystals and yoga mats in your local hippy shop.

Yet if you go on the Osho website, or are one of the 200,000 people that visit the Osho International Centre in Pune, India each year youll hear nothing about the most eventful section of his life, before he was rebranded as Osho, and known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

Rajneesh, who died in 1990, was a popular spiritual leader in India, attracting thousands of followers called sannyasins or orange people to practise free love and take part in his unusual style of meditation: lots of primal screaming followed by dancing as if Fatboy Slim had just come on to Glastonburys Pyramid stage.

By the 1980s he was at odds with the government in India and so decided to buy a ranch in Oregon. The land was largely uninhabitable but he sent his followers ahead to create a utopia. They built a giant dam, an airport, an electricity station and a meditation centre that could hold 10,000 people. They called it Rajneeshpuram, and when it was ready, Rajneesh and his followers relocated to the US.

The cult that formed was as paranoid as scientology, as bizarre as Jonestown, and as controlled as the Manson family. Yet until the release of Wild Wild Country, Netflixs latest hit documentary series directed by brothers Mclain and Chapman Way, it had not entered the cultural conversation in the same way as those movements. Now it seems people can talk about little else. The six-part documentary, available to view now, scored 100% on the review site Rotten Tomatoes, and received even more glowing endorsements from other filmmakers, including Barry Jenkins, the Oscar-winning director of Moonlight, who tweeted: Im on my second watch of Wild Wild Country. Ill probably make it through a third. The film has spurred hundreds of articles revisiting the events as other journalists attempt to get in touch with former members or relive their sannyasins experiences.

The tenor of the excitement around the show isnt just about the intimate footage the directors have unearthed, or the fact they secured in-depth interviews with nearly all the cults living leaders. Viewers also seem to be shocked that they didnt already know this story. Jenn McAllister, a YouTuber with more than three million subscribers, had a typical reaction of those not yet born during the period: I cant believe that happened in the US and I never knew until now.

Perhaps this is because pop culture has been keen to retread the same couple of cult stories. In the past few years Emma Clines novel The Girls, a fictional reimagining of life in the Manson family, became a bestseller. Quentin Tarantinos next film Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, starring Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, is also based on Manson. The most recent series of the Emmy-winning American Horror Story takes influences from both the Jim Jones and Manson movements, and Louis Therouxs My Scientology Movie was the latest major documentary on that movement. The hunger for these stories shows no sign of abating.

Like most of the cults, the sannyasin movement began with members dreaming of a better future. Whats exceptional about Wild Wild Country is its episodic treatment manages to make the cult attractive: a sense of purpose, self-realisation, free love. The show sucks you in to Rajneeshs teachings and the charisma of his personal secretary, Ma Anand Sheela. Yet by episode four the commune has engaged in the sedation of thousands of homeless people, immigration fraud, failed assassination plots, and the largest bio-terrorist attack in UShistory. The cult infected 751 people with salmonella by contaminating restaurant salad bars. The 1984 attack, planned to incapacitate voters and allow it to win seats in a local election, led to a 20-year jail sentence for Sheela.

I remember all of this quite vividly, says Rick Ross, from the Cult Education Institute, when I ask why commune members werent more suspicious of the leaders. I was contacted by family members of people living in Oregon. They contacted me because they were concerned for their loved ones safety, the potential for the group to become violent or criminal, and the fact that they were giving very large amounts of money to Rajneesh.

The documentary leaves lots of unanswered questions about whether the sannyasins were a genuine spiritual movement or a scam, not least because most of the former members still speak about Rajneesh with affection. But Ross believes there is no question that the intent was malicious. They were very methodical, deliberate. Rajneesh was intelligent he was educated, he had a PhD. He was a master at manipulation and influence techniques. Its common with these kinds of groups. They dont play fair or transparently with the people they target. People are tricked and then they are trapped.

Ross reels off cults that have emerged since Rajneesh: the Aum Shinrikyo movement that in 1995 let off sarin nerve gas on the Tokyo underground, killing 12 people; the American white-supremacist FLDS Church which, like Rajneesh, has political control of two cities, its own police forces and a leader who is in prison for child abuse and rape; the Order of the Solar Temple which is associated with the mass suicides of dozens of members in France and Switzerland. His very long list highlights that awareness of previous cults does nothing to stop the next.

The problem is that no one signs up to be in a cult, no one is a self-confessed cult member. Often these groups have a lot of legitimate criticism about society there is a lot of inequality, a rat race which stifles individuality, says Suzanne Newcome a research fellow at Inform, the new religious movements network at LSE.

The problem, she says, is it has always been to difficult to work out whether a group offering things like therapy, meditation, life advice, yoga and retreats is a going to have a positive or negative impact. Once people might become aware theyve joined a cult theyre often too invested and its hard to get out.

The Osho movement today, 28 years after its founders death, is a more tempered version than in Oregon, and focuses on selling books and meditation retreats. Yet it is still unwilling to accept the findings of the documentary. The Osho Times, its official organ, says the documentary fails to show this was a US government conspiracy, from the White House on down, aimed at thwarting Oshos vision of a community based on conscious living. Even in death, Rajneesh continues to manipulate his followers.

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March 19th, 2019 at 2:42 am

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh – Death, Movement & Oregon – Biography

Posted: March 7, 2019 at 2:43 am

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Indian cult leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh created the spiritual practice of dynamic meditation. He started the Rancho Rajneesh commune in Oregon in the 1980s.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, later known as "Osho," was born December 11, 1931, in Kuchwada, India. After graduating from college and claiming to have found enlightenment, in 1970, he introduced the practice of "dynamic meditation," became a spiritual teacher and began to attract a significant following. When his controversial teachings put him repeatedly in conflict with Indian authorities, Rajneesh and his followers fled to a ranch in Oregon, where they attempted to establish a commune. Conflicts with the local community there resulted in Rajneesh and members of his group turning to crime to achieve their ends, however, and in 1985 Rajneesh was arrested for immigration fraud. After pleading guilty, he was deported to India. He died on January 19, 1990, in Pune, India.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (n Chandra Mohan Jain)was born on December 11, 1931, in Kuchwada, India. He lived with his grandparents during his early youth and then with his parents and was an intelligent but rebellious child. In 1951, Rajneesh graduated from high school and started attending Hitkarini College in Jabalpur but was forced to transfer to D.N. Jain College after his disruptive behavior put him at odds with one of his professors. In 1953, after taking a year off from his studies to soul search and meditate, Rajneesh claimed that he had achieved enlightenment. He returned to school, however, and after graduating with a bachelor's degree in philosophy, he went on to pursue a master's in philosophy at Sagar University. Following his graduation in 1957, Rajneesh accepted a position as an assistant professor of philosophy at Raipur Sanskrit College, but his radical ideas soon put him at odds with the institution's administration and he was forced to find work elsewhere, eventually becoming a professor at the University of Jabalpur.

Concurrent with his teaching at the University of Jabalpur, Rajneesh traveled throughout India, spreading his unconventional and controversial ideas about spirituality. Among his teachings was the notion that sex was the first step toward achieving "superconsciousness." By 1964, he started conducting meditation camps and recruiting followers, and two years later he resigned from his professorship to focus more fully on spreading his spiritual teachings. In the process he became something of a pariah and earned himself the nickname "the sex guru."

In 1970, Rajneesh introduced the practice of "dynamic meditation," which, he asserted, enables people to experience divinity. The prospect enticed young Westerners to come reside at his ashram in Pune, India, and become Rajneesh's devout disciples, called sannyasins. In their quest for spiritual enlightenment, Rajneesh's followers took new Indian names, dressed in orange and red clothes, and participated in group sessions that sometimes involved both violence and sexual promiscuity. By the late 1970s, the six-acre ashram was so overcrowded that Rajneesh sought a new site to relocate to. However, hismovement had become so controversial that the local government threw up various roadblocks to make things difficult for him. Tensions came to a head in 1980, when a Hindu fundamentalist attempted to assassinate Rajneesh.

Facing ongoing pressure from government authorities and traditional religious groups, in 1981 Rajneesh fled to the United States with 2,000 of his disciples, settling on a 100-square-mile ranch in central Oregon, which he named Rancho Rajneesh. There, Rajneesh and the sannyasins started building their own city, called Rajneeshpuram. Disapproving neighbors contacted local officials in an attempt to close down Rajneeshpuram, asserting that it violated Oregon's land-use laws, but Rajneesh was victorious in court and continued to expand the commune.

As tensions between the commune and the local government community increased, Rajneesh and his followers soon turned to more drastic measures to achieve their ends. including murder, wiretapping, voter fraud, arson and a mass salmonella poisoning in 1984 that affected more than 700 people. After several of his commune leaders fled to avoid prosecution for their crimes, in 1985, police arrested Rajneesh, who was himself attempting to flee the United States to escape charges of immigration fraud. During his subsequent trial, Rajneesh pleaded guilty of immigration charges, realizing that a plea bargain was the only way he'd be allowed to return to India.

After pleading guilty, Rajneesh returned to India, where he found the number of his followers had significantly decreased. In the coming months, he searched unsuccessfully for a place to reestablish his ashram. He was denied entry into numerous countries before returning again to India in 1986.

During the next few years he continued to teach and renamed himself Osho, but his health began to decline. On January 19, 1990, he died of heart failure at one of his few remaining communes in Pune, India. Following his death, the commune was renamed the Osho Institute, and then later the Osho International Meditation Resort, which is currently estimated to attract as many as 200,000 visitors a year. Osho's followers also continue to spread his beliefs from one of the hundreds of Osho Mediation Centers that they have opened in major cities across the globe.

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Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh - Death, Movement & Oregon - Biography

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March 7th, 2019 at 2:43 am

Growing up in the Wild Wild Country cult: You heard people …

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When Noa Maxwell was four, his bohemian upper-middle-class parents, disillusioned with London, bought a farm in Herefordshire, where they began to live self-sufficiently harvesting by horse, slaughtering pigs, curing bacon, making butter while trying to find time to paint.

One day in 1976 they received a letter from a friend who was in India where he had found the meaning of everything. So Noas family parents plus three children went out to visit the ashram in Poona where the controversial guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, also known as Osho, was preaching his mix of eastern mysticism, western philosophy and free love, raising the consciousness and promising utopia to his orange-clad international followers.

Rajneesh, who died in 1990, and his sannyasin movement, have found themselves in the public eye again in recent weeks thanks to the Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country. The much talked-about series focuses on the community they established in Oregon after they were forced out of India in 1981, and how they got on with the locals. (Short answer: not well.)

My meeting with Noa, now 46, at a cafe in Notting Hill, west London, has come about because of the show. I wrote a positive review of it. Its an extraordinary story of mistrust and misunderstanding, power and politics, fear and loathing that escalated to attempted murder, terrorism and chemical warfare exhaustively and objectively told. But I wanted to know more, about life in the cult, particularly for the children who can be seen running around in the background of shots. Noa tweeted me. He was one of them first in Poona, then Oregon.

In Poona, Noas family soon agreed that this was their new life. After returning to the UK to sell the farm, they came back to India, Noas parents, Noa and his younger brother. His older one has a different dad and didnt come, which would cause a lot of pain to his mum.

Noa remembers visiting Rajneesh to be given new sannyasin names and other kids running up and asking: Whats your new name? He couldnt remember and had to ask his mum. Noa Maxwells new name was Swami Deva Rupam.

Soon Noas mum was living in one place in the ashram, his dad somewhere else, and Noa was in the kids hut. We had been a tight, 70s middle-class family, and within a very short period that family unit was ripped up, he says.

The childrens hut was an octagonal bamboo structure with bunks. Noa and the other kids from Australia, Germany, America were pretty much left to their own devices. There was a school, run by this crazy English hippie called Sharma with long blond hair and a guitar and we would sing We all live in the orange submarine. I dont know how much it mattered if we were in school or not. When I eventually did get back to this country when I was 10 I couldnt read anything or write anything, or do two plus two.

He did learn how to smoke. And at the age of six he got accidentally stoned by eating hash cake.

The most shocking bit of the Netflix documentary is a clip of a film taken by a German inside the Poona ashram of what seems to be a violent orgy inside a padded room. Noa never saw this type of thing but he did witness some freaky behaviour and emotion. Laughter was a way of saying Im OK with my feelings, and one night thousands of people suddenly started laughing hysterically, crying with laughter. Noa was certainly aware of the sex. You could hear people having orgasmic sex all the time. All night, like mating baboons, gibbons.

And he knew his parents had different partners. Was that upsetting? I never showed upset. The narrative particularly from my dad was: this is fantastic, youre fantastic. So I showed fantastic. I know my mum was struggling. She has said since she was already massively questioning what wed done. They were notionally still together but we werent living as a family unit.

In some ways the independence Noa had has stood him in good stead, he says. But if you have no boundaries in your life the world is quite scary. Boundaries or lack of them is something that comes up again and again.

He says he can understand the appeal of Rajneesh, the aura of the man, the extraordinary voice, his charisma. But I think without doubt he was deeply culpable, guilty of neglect of his people and did massive damage to many of them.

He doesnt like seeing pictures of him. And he has fundamental problems with the message. For me, the meaning of my life is about family, family relationships, and that was blatantly disregarded in the idea that these kids are just going to be happy growing up in this wild place.

In some ways its hard to connect this engaging, articulate man sipping a macchiato in Le Pain Quotidien with the tearaway hippy child running wild, free of shoes and boundaries, in India. But there is something in his eyes, a look that says: yeah, weve seen a bit, in our time.

After Noa and his family had spent about four years in Poona, and amid increasing tension between the ashram and the Indian authorities, Rajneesh and his followers moved to the US and set up a commune on a ranch in Wasco County, Oregon. This is where Wild Wild Country picks up the story. The star/villain of the Netflix show is Rajneeshs personal assistant/lieutenant, Ma Anand Sheela, who was instrumental in the rapid creation of Rajneeshpuram, a new city in the middle of nowhere and an extraordinary human feat.

Noas memory of Sheela is that she was confident, funny, cool. But I also knew, because I would hear from my parents, that she was ruthless, and I think it was clear the power she had.

His dad had a run-in with Sheela over chickens, after which he was immediately taken off farming duties (which he knew a lot about), and put on fire-tower watch. Noas mum looked after cows. Neither of them were part of Sheelas inner circle.

Noa remembers the crazy, fevered work that was being done. And the elements, being colder in winter than he had ever experienced, and brutally hot in summer. Again, he lived with the other kids, running wild, trying to jump on to ice blocks floating on the river, killing snakes, putting spiders and wasps into cassette boxes to see which would kill which. In many ways it was brilliant.

He has one sad memory. There was one night when we got hold of a barrel of beer and we were just necking the beer on and on, and suddenly for the first time I got really drunk. If you think about it, aged 10, its a bit early. Then I just started wailing for my mum and dad, I just wanted them.

He says they the kids were probably a little bit more advanced with sex, too. Not madly, well it depends who, but I think we probably were a bit further ahead. We were further ahead with everything.

Much of the documentary centres on the antagonism between the sannyasins and the Wasco County locals. They were the enemy, Noa says. Stupid, conventional, conservative people.

The sannyasins thought they were better than everyone else, and that comes over in the documentary. Noa was amazed, when he did get out, meeting a friend of his mums for example, that she could be articulate and emotionally intelligent. I thought unless you were a sannyasin, that was impossible, you would just be a kind of drone.

He thinks the series focuses too much on the conflict between sannyasins and rednecks. That is interesting, but the inside story is more interesting of how you end up with lots of intelligent middle-class people like my family going into where they got to, the heart of darkness. How does that happen? Its like an ideal is bigger than reality and can make you lose your sense of justice and whats right in the world.

Noa wasnt aware at the time of the scandals that feature in the series an immigration fraud that involved sannyasins going off to get married in various parts of the country so that they could stay in the US, the poisoning of 751 people in the town of The Dalles, through contamination of salad bars at local restaurants, and another shocking episode where they bussed in a load of homeless people in order to win a county election. In fact, Noa had left by the time these events had taken place, although he did remember seeing the homeless people at the ashram, on the other side of a chainlink fence, on a visit back to see his father.

Why would he know what was going on? He was a kid, and this was his life. But he noticed the increased tensions and power struggles and that there were more and more guns about the place. By that time, you kind of knew it was cranky; everything was cranky, there was massive paranoia about Aids and about the world coming to an end.

My parents said: 'What do you want to do?' And I said: 'I want to go to school and learn things'

In 1986, Sheela pleaded guilty to attempted murder and electronic eavesdropping within the commune, as well as her part in the immigration fraud and poisoning incidents, and was given a prison term along with two other leaders.

When, in 1993, Waco happened, and the compound of cult leader David Koresh was stormed by the FBI, leading to 76 fatalities, it affected Noa profoundly. He suddenly realised that something like that could have happened to them.

Noas mother ended up wanting out she had been uncomfortable even in Poona. They had come back to Britain, the marriage was over; she was going to stay in Norfolk, his dad was returning to Oregon and Noa and his brother were given a choice. I remember sitting in the back of the car and they said: What do you want to do? I said: I want to stay and go to school and learn things. Noas brother made the same decision.

That has been Noas response to his weirdo childhood, to go diametrically opposite to everything he experienced. I wanted to as be normal as possible, I made a lot of choices that would give me something solid.

He says it was a good thing he got out when he did. If Id stayed longer I think the disengagement with the real world would have become more accentuated. Thats the sense I get from kids who stayed longer. I imagine it was hard to assimilate back and a lot of them ended up deeper in that kind of fringe world.

It wasnt easy, going to the local comprehensive. He still went by the name of Rupam, which he didnt change for a long time, out of loyalty to his dad. But he was good at fitting in, adapting. He said his Indian name was because his dad had farmed in India. No mention of ashrams.

There had been press reports about the sex cult, the guru with all the Rolls Royces. Noa began to realise how weird it was, and he didnt want to be associated with that. But he was way behind, and he was getting into trouble, not because he was rebellious but because he was finding it hard to exist in the real world.

His grandmother then paid for him to go to a hippy vegetarian private school, which encouraged Noas desire to become an actor. One day, the headmaster called a special assembly because there were some very dangerous people coming to town, a sex cult called the sannyasins. A warning video was shown, and guess what the opening shot was? A closeup of Noas face. Thankfully, because of his wild hair and the fact that it was taken a few years before, no one recognised him.

The sannyasins carried on, in various locations, in various factions, after the end of Rajneeshpuram and after the end of Rajneesh. His father is still very much involved with them. Noas mothers feelings about it are dominated by pain and guilt.

And Noa? Its a strange mix of both resentment and gratitude. Hes done his fair share a massive share he says of different sorts of therapy to deal with a childhood with no boundaries, how scary that is, how power can be abused and how emotions can get out of control. And hes very wary of gurus.

Yet he says he acquired a good deal of understanding about people from his time in the cult, which has been invaluable. He did become an actor, using the name Rupam Maxwell his last role was in Emmerdale, where he played racy young aristocrat Lord Alex Oakwell from 1997-98.

Then he went into coaching. He now advises clients on personal impact, teaching them to harness their natural strengths for pitches, presentations and media appearances. Again, he says he likes the linear structure of working with law and accounting firms, with their boundaries and rules. He says the basis of what he does is about authenticity, and however misguided it was, thats what the people in Poona and Oregon were after, too. After our coffee, hes going to Geneva for a meeting.

He is married. His wife is from a really good Irish Catholic background, and I love that. They have three children, aged 17, 16 and nine.

What kind of father is he? Not as good as I think I am. My older kids now tell me about times I was too angry with them when they were young and all that kind of stuff. But that, for me, is first and foremost in my life: family, being supported by your mother and father in a way that says Im there to help you grow into this world.

He has talked about the ashram with them. He feels relaxed and able to now, and says they are understanding, insightful, balanced. Now theyll probably go and join a cult, he adds.

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March 7th, 2019 at 2:43 am

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (1931 – 1990) – Cult Leader …

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Rajneesh cult: Arson, attempted murder, drug smuggling, vote fraud, et cetera

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh born in Poona, India, as Rajneesh Chandra Mohan founded the Rajneesh Foundation International in 1974. He was one of the most controversial of modern gurus, in large part due to his take the freedom to do whatever you want view of life.

Bhagwan (The blessed one) earned a degree in philosophy, a subject he then taught for ten years before setting up his commune.

The commune, later at times referred to as the ultimate cult based on sex, attracted many educated Westerners who donated large sums of money.

Bhagwan was a skilled orator and a prolific author. He left behind hundreds of books and taped lectures which have allowed his followers (fractured though they are) to continue to market his teachings.

His own sexual preferences, a liking for pretty young women, were central to the cults lifestyle, which promoted a total lack of inhibitions. Like most cults with links to Eastern traditions, the Rajneesh utilized the emphasis on self to encourage his followers to reject the constraints of their past and adopt a free-love philosophy.

In reality the Rajneesh was brainwashing his followers by forcing them to work long hours and then take part in disorientating meditation sessions which would often result in a free-for-all orgy. Source: Sarah Moran, The Secret World of Cults. p.38

In 1981 he was deported from Oregon under a bevy of serious criminal charges associated with his ashram, or spiritual community.

Many people were unfamiliar with the story of this cult which committed the first act of bioterrorism on U.S. soil until the recent Netflix hit documentary, Wild, Wild Country.

[A]lso called OSHO and ACHARYA RAJNEESH, original name CHANDRA MOHAN JAIN, Indian spiritual leader who preached an eclectic doctrine of Eastern mysticism, individual devotion, and sexual freedom while amassing vast personal wealth. []

In 1981 Rajneeshs cult purchased a dilapidated ranch in Oregon, U.S., which became the site of Rajneeshpuram, a community of several thousand orange-robed disciples. Rajneesh was widely criticized by outsiders for his private security force and his ostentatious display of wealth. By 1985 many of his most trusted aides had abandoned the movement, which was under investigation for multiple felonies including arson, attempted murder, drug smuggling, and vote fraud in the nearby town of Antelope. In 1985 Rajneesh pleaded guilty to immigration fraud and was deported from the United States. He was refused entry by 21 countries before returning to Pune, where his ashram soon grew to 15,000 members. In later years he took the Buddhist title Osho and altered his teaching on unrestricted sexual activity because of his growing concern over AIDS. Source: Rajneesh, Bhagwan Shree, quoted from an earlier edition of this Encyclopedia Britannica entry

[] the only known successful use of biological weapons in the United States was by the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh cult in 1984. The group contaminated salad bars in 10 restaurants in The Dalles, Ore., with Salmonella Typhimurium, causing several hundred people to become ill. Source: Biological and Chemical Warfare Q and A, ABC News, Sep. 24, 2001

Hinduism is not> by nature a proselytizing religion, however, in part because of its inextricable roots in the social system and the land of India. In recent years, many new gurus, such as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and Satya Sai Baba, have been successful in making converts in Europe and the United States. The very success of these gurus, however, has produced material profits that many people regard as incompatible with the ascetic attitude appropriate to a Hindu spiritual leader; in some cases, the profits have led to notoriety and even legal prosecution. Source: Hinduism Outside India, From an earlier edition of this Encyclopedia Britannica entry

In 1988 thirty years after taking the title, Bhagwan, (which means the embodiment of God) Rajneesh admitted the title and his claim to be God were a joke. I hate the word I dont want to be called Bhagwan (God) again. Enough is enough. The joke is over, stated Rajneesh saying he was really the reincarnation of Buddha and claiming for himself the new title of Rajneesh Gautaman the Buddha, (Star Telegram, Dec. 29, 1988; Sec.1, p. 3). Later he took the title, Osho Rajneesh, a Buddhist term meaning on whom the heavens shower flowers. (Ibid, 1/20/90). Source: Guru Rajneesh Dead at 58, Watchman Expositor, Vol. 7, No. 2, 1990

Followers of Rajneesh were known as Sannyasins.

Sannyasin is a Sanskrit word that describes someone who has reached the life stage of sannyasa, or renouncement of material possession.

A sannyasin has turned away from all material possessions and emotional ties. They now live only to perfect their understanding of the spiritual world. This is seen as a state of sacrifice that leads to final liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth, or moksha.

For many advanced yogis, becoming a sannyasin is the final stage of yoga practice. They can devote themselves wholly to the pursuit of the spiritual understanding that comes from yoga. Source: Definition at Yogapedia

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Ever wonder what ever happened to the guy whose religious followers were linked to the only episode of domestic mass bioterrorism in America? Well, in the case of the late, notorious Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, old renegade sex gurus never die. He just left his body somewhere in India in 1990 and later emerged as a thriving, modern-day publishing machine known as Osho.

Rajneeshs flock caught much of his meditative bon mots on tape, and now incessantly recycle these ponderings as spiritual wisdom under the author name of Osho.

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

The only proven incident of bioterrorism the United States has ever experienced, we learned, was a bizarre plot by the Rajneeshees, a religious cult, to steal a county election in Oregon in 1984. The Rajneeshees, followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a self-proclaimed guru exiled from India, had moved into a ranch in rural Wasco County, taken political control of the small nearby town of Antelope, and changed its name to Rajneesh. Next, the cult sought to run the whole county by winning the local election in 1984.

The amazing story of the Wasco County election scandal was revealed to the conferences riveted participants by Leslie L. Zaitz, an investigative reporter for The Oregonian, and Dr. John Livengood, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control. To win the county election, the Rajneeshees planned to sicken a good portion of the population in the town of The Dalles, where most Wasco County voters live. Their weapon of choice to keep local residents from voting was salmonella bacteria. Cult members decided to test the use of salmonella and, if successful, to contaminate the entire water system of The Dalles on Election Day. First, the Rajneeshees poisoned two visiting Wasco County commissioners on a hot day by plying them with refreshing drinks of cold water laced with salmonella. Then, on a shopping trip to The Dalles, cult members sprinkled salmonella on produce in grocery stores just for fun. According to reporter Zaitz, that experiment didnt get the results they wanted so the Rajneeshees proceeded to clandestinely sprinkle salmonella at the towns restaurant salad bars. Ten restaurants were hit and more than 700 people got sick.

In 1981, Wasco County school children learned a new word: Rajneeshees. Even before the start of the school year, a few lessons on this strange East Indian word and what it meant. Followers of the nomadic Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh purchased the rambling, 64,229 acre Big Muddy Ranch in Wasco and Jefferson counties in July of 1981 as the central commune for the Bhagwan and his devoted followers.

At first, the residents of nearby Antelope viewed the sudden appearance of the red-clad Rajneesh disciples, known as Sannyasins but more commonly referred to as Rashneeshees, as nothing more than a curiosity. It wasnt long, however, before they realized the seriousness and full intentions of the Rajneesh movement, or invasion, as some locals preferred to call it.

While the Bhagwans chief aide Ma Anand Sheela was declaring the movements plan to operate a simple farming commune in the desert, his other disciples were busy in the background developing grand plans for a huge resort city for up to 100,000 Rajneeshees.

Within a matter of weeks, construction began on a number of buildings within the newly-christened Rancho Rajneesh, including a shoppng mall, restaurant, a resort-like motel and commune service offices. In many cases, Bhagwan followers moved ahead without securing proper county building permits.

In the meantime, new recruits continued pouring into the desert commune -many of them wealthy European and American followers who were more than willing and able to finance the Bhagwans movement.

But the Rajneesh movement began to falter in October 1981 when two months after arriving at Rancho Rajneesh, the Bhagwan applied to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service for an extension of his visa. Immigration officials began a full-scale investigation into the activities of the religious sect, focusing on the gurus intent in coming to the United States and a pattern of suspect marriages between the U.S. citizen and foreign followers.

The investigation turned up information that the Bhagwan and his followers left India in the spring of 1981 owing the Indian government more than $6 million in unpaid taxes. An Indian tax court voided the Rajneesh organizations tax-exempt status and assessed millions of rupees (Indian currency) in back taxes.

But the movement forged ahead in the Oregon desert. In April 1982, Rajneeshees, voting as a bloc, managed to secure enough votes to take over the town of Antelope, which was renamed Rajneesh. They also voted to incorporate Rancho Rajneesh the former Big Muddy Ranch as the town of Rajneeshpuram.

Though the six-hour series may seem like a lot, in reality, much was left on the cutting room floor in favor of focusing on some of the more sensationalized aspects of the group. Footage of what appears to be an orgy in the first episode is part of a 1981 documentary called Ashram in Poona, allegedly filmed in secret in India. Much of the media coverage of sannyasins from the early 1980s and today honed in on these segments of the documentary, referring to the group as a sex cult. But according to several former residents of Rajneeshpuram, this is a misrepresentation and argue that Wild Wild Country leaves out or breezes past many more important aspects of life as a sannyasin.

When you watch the hundreds of lectures that Osho gave, sex plays a very small part, Massad explains. His main message about that was that repressing sex does not make you a more spiritual person, as is so often depicted in traditional religions.

For Jane, what started out as a journey seeking spiritual enlightenment began to descend into darkness as she sacrificed her marriage and children, and eventually through a monstrous act of attempted murder her freedom. After serving time in the US, Jane started a new life in Germany, but soon realized she could never truly be free until she had faced up to the past. With an international arrest warrant hanging over her head, and a son who is gravely ill, Jane finally does so with devastating clarity. Source: From the book description

The cult that formed was as paranoid as scientology, as bizarre as Jonestown, and as controlled as the Manson family. Yet until the release of Wild Wild Country, Netflixs latest hit documentary series directed by brothers Mclain and Chapman Way, it had not entered the cultural conversation in the same way as those movements. Now it seems people can talk about little else. The six-part documentary, available to view now, scored 100% on the review site Rotten Tomatoes, and received even more glowing endorsements from other filmmakers, including Barry Jenkins, the Oscar-winning director of Moonlight, who tweeted: Im on my second watch of Wild Wild Country. Ill probably make it through a third. The film has spurred hundreds of articles revisiting the events as other journalists attempt to get in touch with former members or relive their sannyasins experiences.

The tenor of the excitement around the show isnt just about the intimate footage the directors have unearthed, or the fact they secured in-depth interviews with nearly all the cults living leaders. Viewers also seem to be shocked that they didnt already know this story. Jenn McAllister, a YouTuber with more than three million subscribers, had a typical reaction of those not yet born during the period: I cant believe that happened in the US and I never knew until now. Source: Sam Wolfson, The Guardian

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Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (1931 - 1990) - Cult Leader ...

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9 Rajneesh Followers on What Wild Wild Country Got Wrong

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Wild Wild Country, Chapman and Maclain Ways new Netflix docuseries, tells the story of Rajneeshpuram a utopian commune established in rural Oregon in the early 1980s, by the the followers of Indian mystic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (later called Osho). The riveting series charts the escalating criminal activity that took place on the ranch, led by Bhagwans ruthless personal secretary Ma Anand Sheela, who adopts ever more extreme methods (poison, arson, and more) to oppose the forces like the U.S. government that she sees threatening their group.

But what was day-to-day life like in Rajneeshpuram? Wild Wild Country focuses on Sheelas criminal activities and behind-the-scenes machinations which, to be fair, included the largest bioterror attack in U.S. history. But in doing so, the documentary leaves open the question of why so many thousands of people were drawn to uproot their lives and follow Bhagwan. These followers called themselves Sanyassins, though others might call them cult members.

We talked to nine current and former Sanyassins, many of whom continue to use the names their leader gave them, about life on the Rajneesh ranch and what Sheela was like in person.

The following interviews have been edited and condensed.

Rashid Maxwell

Artist/painter and farmer living in England. Lived at Rajneeshpuram for four years.

Because of my agricultural experience, I was one of the first people to go to Rajneeshpuram. My job then was taking the land, which had been totally neglected and overgrazed, and getting the basics of agriculture started. Very soon after that I had many disagreements with Sheela, I never got on with her. It didnt feel to me like she was intelligent, even. She was cunning, clever, but not intelligent.

The arguments were about policy. She said we should have chickens because wed need lots of eggs, and I said, Yeah, we should have them all scattered around, and she said, No, put them all together. And I said then you have the likelihood of disease and you need to give them antibiotics. And she said, so give them antibiotics. And that was really not my way, I was an organic farmer. And there were more profound disagreements. Like, I did have contact with the Nike shoes guy in the documentary [rancher Bill Bowerman]. I had very nice contact with him: I went over to his ranch, we talked about growing grapes and having a vineyard, and he taught me how to roll cigarettes one-handed on a horse. But somehow I couldnt and wouldnt go along with Sheelas aggression towards the neighbors, so within another three months, I was out of farming and gardening and in the pot room washing pots. I was very unhappy in the pot room because I felt like my dream of an environmental paradise was just lost, and she handed it over to someone who would be more obedient to her wishes.

I didnt like or trust Sheela but none of us had any clue what was going on the poisonings, the fire-bombing. It was inconceivable to me. After it all came out, we were all sort of wandering in shock for days. I just remember walking down one of the roads not knowing what I was doing, what, what, where am I?

The documentary I felt quite queasy watching it. Actually like a feeling of nausea.Im not very supportive of the film, people talk about it as being balanced, but it was balanced between villains and rednecks. It felt to me like a male, puritan, American movie, lavished with the usual ingredients of sex, guns, and money.

I went to Osho to have the rug pulled out from under my feet the sort of comfortable rug that I was given in my education and my upbringing. I could go on forever about how important that experience was for me. Im 80 and I just feel so happy, so rich, so free, so my life is so joyous. And I blame him for all that! He did the work on me. I also read a few days ago that 42 percent of millennials say they are engaged in meditation of one sort or another. So I think thats amazing that that message, that understanding that we have struggled and fought and battled with that they got it just like that. Meditation was the tool Osho gave us stepping out of ego, and stepping out of the busy traffic of the mind.

Hira Bluestone

Physicians assistant living in Seattle, Washington. Was brought to Rajneeshpuram by her parents when she was 7 and lived there until she was 11.

For my whole life, people have been asking me what it was like. And just like if you ask anybody what their childhoods were like, it had pluses and minuses. I had a tremendous amount of freedom and responsibility and opportunity to learn things like, I was a mechanic on airplanes when I was 9 years old. At the same time, it was an oppressive culture, there was not a lot of school or formal education, there were times when we had school but the school moved around and had sort of a rotating cast of characters and was sort of optional, and that was something I really wanted.

I would say there was neglect of the kids there, only by virtue of the fact that the children lived separately in a group kids house and there were weeks when some kids wouldnt see their parents. I didnt see any physical abuse, though there was some verbal or mental abuse.

It was a powerful experience that people were willing to give up their lives and create this oasis in the desert, and it created this energy that really was a force. Were all still really connected; my closest friend is a Sanyassin from the ranch. But also we were this tiny microcosm of society where shit rises to the top and corruption corrupts. I think it was ultimately doomed to fail, because it was a concentrated intensity of a city we grew up and then we exploded. I think the documentary felt really shallow. It didnt really represent the day to day lives and it didnt really show us as people, it was just kind of the politics.

Ma Anand Bhagawati

Writer, currently living in Indonesia. Lived in Rajneeshpuram for about four years.

The directors did a pretty good job, but what they could not show is why were we there. We were all there for an inner journey. We have been misunderstood in the press so many times and only the most spectacular things are ever being showed, like the Rolls-Royces. We had nothing to do with the Rolls-Royces! It was a joke, and America didnt get it. Still, its amazing and its wonderful that people are laughing with us. People love the clothes we had. We had a lot of fun with it. We stuck out and we wore it and didnt mind the ridicule. Life is about joy and fun and doing what you really want to do.

I lived there for four years, and I lived in India both in the 70s and 80s, and also in a European community. Oregon was definitely different because we were on raw land, on barren land, and we created a oasis. It was everyday living a very intense, awake life, enjoying this amazing scenery, being with my friends, and seeing Osho everyday. You had to have been there to feel it. I had several jobs: one I liked very much was being a pickup taxi driver, and then I was in press relations and we related with the journalists and the visitors. People were very curious; they came from far and wide.

The energy on the whole property was never dark, but something started to become strange in 85 to me. I had no clue what was going on until the whole bubble burst. To me, Sheela in the documentary just had the same soundbites since shes had since the 70s. She loves Osho, I think, I can see that that she is still connected in some ways to the master but she went down a very dark alley. My impression of her always was that she was hard to take, because she was so caught up in her ego. On the other hand, without her and her energy and her dedication we couldnt have had that whole thing.


Director of the Osho Institute for Meditative Therapies, currently living in Australia. Lived in Rajneeshpuram for two years.

When I first arrived in America and we were in Antelope and I sat there on the bus looking around I thought to myself, What the hell are we doing here? It was immediately obvious that we are in a very strange place to be bringing ourselves, because these are country people, very settled in their ways and strong in their beliefs, and they aint gonna move an inch. Weve come there to dance around and be jolly and build a whole city, and I could sense that it was not going to be easy.

The first year in America was okay, though context was strange, because we were out of India, and we werent as close as we had been in Pune. And then the energy began to change. For the first year I was there, I was the coordinator of the welding shop, and then they moved me to working in legal services. I knew nothing about law and didnt like being in the law department, because I felt it was like a war game of the mind. The longer we went into this year, the final year, I kept feeling uneasy about a lot of things. There was a lot of secrecy, there was a lot of people feeling afraid to say anything. For me personally it became quite stressful. Can you imagine you start in a community in India where youre all growing and thriving and sharing about yourselves and growing beautifully and spiritually, and here we are, we have a police force guarding us when were in the meditation hall? It was just too weird.

How did I feel about the movie? I only watched two episodes. It wasnt about Osho; it was about how a group of people kind of termed a cult came into a very foreign and threatened environment and then what happened, and everyone giving their point of view. For me it was just like, Enough already. Been there, done it, I dont want to watch the whole thing, I was there. After a certain point it wasnt happy days. It isnt important in the gestalt of what Osho was about and the millions of people that came and did the groups and meditations and are still doing this. Ive been doing this for 30 years with thousands of people all over the world. Thats the work.

Ma Ananda Sarita

Now atantra teacher in the U.K., lived on Rajneeshpuram the whole time.

I was there with the first 20 people before Osho came to the ranch and then I was there until there were only six people left. It was a super positive time of my life. We took a desert and we completely transformed it in only five years and turned it into an oasis. People were working 16-hour days but always singing, dancing, hugging, laughing, and having love affairs. It was a very vibrant and alive place and very joyful. Most of the people who were there had no idea about the crimes that were being committed by Sheela and her close entourage.

The documentary was very touching and fascinating to watch. They tried to be very balanced. I did find what was missing was more about Osho and the meditative aspect. There were personal development groups happening, people were coming from all over the world to work on themselves. For the outsiders looking in, they would think oh, thats a cult, but you know, the fact of guru and disciple has been a thousands-of-years-old approach to life in India and I think it should have been at least given some kind of attention or spoken about in some way.

In the very early days, I was working in Sheelas house as a cleaner and later on I was shifted to work in the press office. I saw that things were going in a not very pleasant direction with her and the people around her. I saw that she was under a lot of stress. Osho had invited her to live in his compound, and he advised her to work during the day but in the evening to come back to a meditative space in his compound, to leave the work behind she chose not to do that. When people are under stress, they do strange things. Still, it was a dangerous situation for the people living there actually, and I think Sheela was responding to that. It was like she was just saying Okay, this is how you want to play the game. We are going to play the same game.

John Jameson

Handwriting analyst in the U.K., visited the ranch for three weeks.

Seeing this documentary excited me so much that I got my mala [a traditional necklace worn by Sannyasins] out and I wore it for a couple of days and gosh, it didnt half take me back to the wonderful heady days of being a Sannyasin. They really were some of the happiest years of my life. Overall, I just thought this was the best coverage weve ever had, though I found it very shocking in places.

The only thing I didnt like was that Sheela was given so much air time which is, of course, what she absolutely adores, given the egotist she is.She got far more attention than she deserved, in my opinion. In my book, she was the big bad wolf. It all went wrong because of her. I only went there for three weeks for the summer celebration of 1988. I didnt like it. I didnt like all the guns. And I could see by then it had turned rotten. We didnt feel safe. It felt like an artificial society by then. The fact that shes running an old peoples home and looking after elderly people frightens me to death. Shes not fit to be looking after vulnerable people. And of course thats whats she was doing when she was head of the ranch. She was overseeing a lot of vulnerable people.

Prem Goodnight

Retired and lives in Atlanta with his wife Amido, lived on the ranch for three years.

I had two jobs that I did there. I did the books sales and distribution and I was also in the Peace Force, which was different than the Security Force the Peace Force was a sanctioned body by the state of Oregon. Whats missing from Wild Wild Country is you have no feeling at all of the center core [of Rajneeshpuram] the people working, and playing, and meditating, and loving and being in this eco-friendly conscious community in the middle of the Oregon desert. None of that, or very little of that, is there in Wild Wild Country. For a lot of us, we feel thats too bad.

I often was involved with what we called the share-a-home program [where homeless people were invited to live on the ranch]. I went to a park in Miami, and this fellow came up to me and he had a tracheostomy, so he had to speak through a device in his throat. He came up to me and he handed me this newspaper article about us getting people and taking them to the ranch, and he wanted to come. He was an older fellow. He went to the ranch and I saw him many, many times. In fact, this fellow left long after many of us were gone. He stayed until the very end. He wouldve been there for the rest of his life if he could have.

I was not frightened of Sheela. I respected her, and in fact, I loved Sheela. I would go and say hello and give her big hugs. But some people were frightened of Sheela. Things very much changed from the security standpoint after the hotel was bombed. We actually then could just really feel the danger that was there.

For the outsider, a really important thing to understand is Sheela and her group were charged with creating this community. The people inside [the commune] had no idea of what forces there were that were trying to stop the community from existing at all. Sheela and her people, their work was to protect the ranch, and of course she had her own desire for power and wanting to keep power. I dont think that this was an act of an evil person. It was simply problem-solving that got crazier and crazier. Many of us will look back and say we lived ten lives at the ranch because it was so intense and so packed with so many opportunities to see your own ego at play.

Amido Goodnight

Retired nurse, lives in Atlanta with her husband Prem. Lived on the ranch for three years.

My time at the ranch was completely not involved with any of the overall administration, it was just working and being with friends. I really was not very aware of the darkness until after it was very, very close to the end. But, there was one thing I had to do which that I had difficulty doing. I was one of the people who went out to invite homeless people to come back to the ranch. I was asked by somebody in an office in Oregon to ask two people to leave the bus when we were partway on our journey back to Oregon. They were two people that I felt were very, very vulnerable and I felt very uncomfortable dropping them off away from home. I called several times to see if I could get a different answer, but they were very insistent I do it, so eventually I did.

I think that from the film I got a better understanding of what she was facing. Im originally from England, so I had absolutely no appreciation of, say, the history of what had happened to cults in this country, so I had absolutely no appreciation of the danger that we were ever in. So, you can see all these forces amassed against Sheela, and even though obviously she made some very, very strange choices, you could see that she was trying to do what she thought would work.

My favorite memory from Rajneeshpuram was [Oshos] daily drive-by. Everybody would stop work and youd all line up and youd chat with each other. It was like a sacred moment, as hed pass by in the car.


Retired social worker and photographer living in Japan, lived in Rajneeshpuram for nine months.

I grew up in the East End of London, a very congested area with no greenery around, and now suddenly I was in the cowboy set this was Oregon, this was John Wayne country. It was so wonderful for me to be out in the wide open spaces. I was working the 12-hour days and I used to run to work.

Watching the documentary was shocking there was sort of doubt whether anything was really as bad, and gruesome, or heinous [as it turned out to be], like the salmonella poisoning and the extent of the wiretapping and the attempt to murder Oshos doctor. I had no idea just how far Sheela and the group around her were prepared to go to. The other big thing that shocked me is, it sounded like the FBI and other big law enforcement organizations were getting ready to actually attack the ranch with machine guns and helicopters.I had no idea how it might be coming close to sort of bloodbath, that was even more shocking than anything else.

Having said that, I wouldnt point the finger at Sheela, in a way because I think she was under tremendous pressure from outside and wanted to protect what she believed in. Sheela was an unusual Sanyassin. She was a politician with a politicians ability, and in a way she was the only person who could have done that. Most of the Sanyassins didnt have the tough titties bit to go out there and challenge and really sort of heckle with other people or be very provocative. I was there during the share-a-home program when all of these so-called street people were bused in, and Sheela was becoming quite active politically around the commune. For the first time I was in meetings, which, instead of just being sort of a silent bunch of meditators, were becoming like political rallies with Sheela trying to enthuse the people on the share-a-home program. She was very much doing things which Ive never seen Sanyassins do before we were mostly a sort of more inward-looking lot. I thought, Well, shes got a lot of energy thats for sure.

The share-a-home thing was quite something. I was building fences at the time and then I suddenly got given the few people who were on the share-a-home program and I was really frustrated, because they were unfocused; they werent working. And I complained to one of the bosses we always had female bosses, Osho put women in charge of everything and she said, Look, its not about production, this is about connecting and sharing our commune and sharing what we feel. I ended up with two guys and we really created a friendship between us. I can still see their faces and their gradual sort of relaxation: they were in a safe place, there was no crime, no one was going to beat them up, they had a place to sleep, good food, and work to do. We were all a bunch of kids in a way, wanting to get hold of our tools and go out and dig holes and put out fences. Like young children have that energy, we had that energy. But I think there was sort of a blinkered attitude: We were a a bit too much like playful kids and not aware of what was going in the commune as a whole.

Much later, a few years ago here in Japan, I heard from someone I knew who said she stopped being a Sanyassin because she was being asked to take the clothes off the backs of people and it was cold weather by then and people were just being sent back on buses and that just grated with her. Most of us just saw the positive side of things.

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9 Rajneesh Followers on What Wild Wild Country Got Wrong

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Rajneeshpuram – 99% Invisible

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Indian philosopher and mystic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh had a vision: he would builda Utopian city from the ground up, starting with 64,000 acres of muddy ranchland in rural Oregon.

Purchased in 1981, this expanse was to become both a fully-functional urban center and a spiritual mecca for his followers from around the world.

For this plan to work Rajneesh and his red-clad devotees (known as sannyasins) needed autonomous authority with which to construct their paradise.

Circumventinglocal land use restrictions was not a problem so long as their city ofRajneeshpuram was incorporated, which would allow them to issue their own building permits.Fortunately for them, the main requirement for incorporation at the time was a population of 150 people, which they met easily by importing more followers.

Funding flowed in to support construction from a global network of lucrative communes, as well assannyasins who sold their earthly possessions and donatedthe proceeds toward the effort. These devotees were also taught that labor was a form of meditation, and willingly worked long hours to makeRajneeshpuram a reality.

With devoted laborers workingto dam water, build power infrastructure, and construct buildings,a city quickly began to sproutfrom the soil.

They built a strip mall, a hotel, a discotheque, meditation center, post office, air strip, power station, recreation structures, and more.

Carefully cultivated farmland provided organic foodsufficient to support the local population.

Within a few years, the population jumped from hundreds to thousands and the city expanded to absorb newcomers.A mass transit system comprised of 85 school buses crisscrossed their modest new metropolis.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh himself, however, preferred to get around by car. He cruised the streets every day in one of his ninety-three Rolls Royces.

Having taking a vow of silence, he delegated the everyday operations of the city to a matriarchal council. His primary spokesperson was Ma Anand Sheela, a woman who took on increasing amounts of authority.

While nearby communities and environmentalists had concerns aboutRajneeshpuram throughout its evolution, those worries grew as the Rajneeshee began to harass the neighboring town of Antelope. Various intimidation tactics were employed in an attempt totake over the Antelope city council. The Rajneeshee were ultimately successful, and the town of Antelope was renamed Rajneesh.

Responding to threats real or perceived,Rajneeshpuram authorities formed a police forcecalled the Peace Forceand began stockpiling weapons. The city even had two helicopter reconnaissance teams.

This escalation caused further concern and led state and county officials to stall construction inRajneeshpuram and call the legality of its existence into question.

Rajneeshpuram responded with more growth. Through a program they called Share-A-Home, Rajneeshpuram began to bus in thousands of homeless people from around the country, offering them places to live. They also encouraged them to vote in local elections. It would later come out that these new residents were drugged with a powerful antipsychotic called Haldol. Many such recruits left soon after they arrived.

In an even more desperate bid to block locals from votinga group of sannyasins poisoned a local salad bar withsalmonella. No one died but 750 people became sick. To this day the attack remains the largest act of bioterrorism on US soil. To this day the attack remains one of the largest act of bioterrorism on U.S. soil (see addendum).

Investigations began to unravel the city, one allegation at a time. Multiple attempted murders, forced sterilizations and the firebombing of the Wasco County Planning Department were tied to Rajneeshpuram.As new facts and accusations came to light,Sheela vanished andRajneesh came forward in an attempt to deescalate tensions.

These efforts cametoo late.Rajneeshpuram was in a downward spiral, its disillusioned devotees leaving in droves.

Sheela fled and was tracked to West Germany then extradited to the United Statesand pled guilty to aseries of serious charges. Today she lives in Switzerland and runs a series of nursing homes for the elderly and disabled.

Rajneesh was convicted of more minor offenses, was fined, put on probation and deported.

Hereturned to India and continued as a spiritual leader under the name Osho, dying less than a decade later of natural causes.

Rajneeshpuram was dissolved and its valuables auctioned off, including its founders collection of luxury cars. Its land and buildings now fall under county jurisdiction.

The meditation hall is now a sports complex and the old hotel a dormitory, all serving Young Life, a Christian teen camp. It remains a place for religious seekers, just not the kind who want to build a Utopia on Earth.

Correction: The radio story says that the Rajneeshee poisoning of a nearby salad bar was the largest act of bioterrorism committed on U.S. soil; the largest acts of bioterrorism were the intentional transmissions of infectious disease by early American colonists to Native Americans, as with William Trents gifting of smallpox-laced blankets to two Native American chiefs visiting Fort Pitt in 1763. We regret the error.

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Rajneeshpuram - 99% Invisible

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13 Unknown Interesting Facts About Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh …

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13 Unknown Interesting Facts About Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh(OSHO)

Osho Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was an Indian mystic, guru and spiritual teacher who created the spiritual practice of dynamic meditation. Hes much controversial in India & many other country. He wont believe god.

These are some of the controversial Secrets regarding Indian guru with an enormous following in the West. His followers are largely rich peoples. Archarya Rajneesh is one among those personalities, who gave the world the reason to change and amazingly the world changed only after his death. Although, originally hailing from India, Osho faced numerous troubles and criticism by his own country. However on the other way he was highly respected and earned a reputation as spiritual leader in western countries. He, the man who had an open attitude towards sexuality, wanted to preach something more than this and here we discuss the same.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Osho was born into a Jain family. He though never believed in any one religion however combined elements of the many religions like Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity. However he additionally added new types of meditation practice. His philosophy was a sort of monism that God was in everything.

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13 Unknown Interesting Facts About Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh ...

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Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Author of The Book of Secrets)

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The Book of Secrets 4.37 avg rating 2,186 ratings published 1974 24 editions

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4.18 avg rating 17 ratings published 1978

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Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Author of The Book of Secrets)

Written by admin

November 19th, 2018 at 8:41 pm

Rajneeshees – The Oregon Encyclopedia

Posted: October 11, 2018 at 12:43 am

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Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a spiritual teacher who developed a substantial international following in Pune, India, decided in 1981 to relocate to the United States. While investigating possible sites, he and his chief lieutenant, Ma Anand Sheela, visited the 64,000-acre Muddy Ranch in southern Wasco County, decided that it was the perfect place for their planned community, and purchased it at top dollar.

The new settlement attracted hundreds of followers, and then thousandslargely North Americans but also many Europeans. Transfers of capital from adherents financed the expansion. Within two years, the community had roughly 7,000 residents (not all were full time) and the appurtenances of a regular town, including a water system and a police force. Rajneesheesa popular term that adherents dislikedalso bought a former women's residence hotel in downtown Portland.

Oregonians greeted the development with much bemusement, some support, and rapidly growing distaste. The last sentiment was exacerbated by the in-your-face attitude of many adherents, their largely successful efforts to close the community to the press, their increasingly prominent displays of weaponry, and the Bhagwan's apparent self-indulgence in the form of dozens of Rolls Royce automobiles. The settlement appeared to outsiders to be an uncomfortable mixture of serious religious community, manipulative cult, and a big summer camp for adults (to borrow Frances Fitzgerald's metaphor).

Residents of the tiny town of Antelope, eighteen miles from the ranch, were in most frequent contact with the Rajneeshees. The Bhagwan's followers began to move to Antelope in large numbers to establish a satellite community, and in April 1982, old-timers tried to disincorporate the town. The effort failed due to the new Rajneeshee voters, and the new majority renamed the town Rajneesh.

Because the ranch was agricultural land in a rural part of Wasco County, creation of what was effectively a new city violated state land-use laws. Rajneesh leaders used physical intimidation to exclude Wasco County officials from the ranch and tried to incorporate it as the City of Rajneeshpuram, a status that would subject them to fewer restrictions. Oregon Attorney General David Frohnmayer argued vigorously that the incorporation was illegal because the community was closed to nonadherents, a position with which court decisions agreed. (In a moot decision laid down in 1987, after the community had imploded, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that the incorporation was legal.)

Rajneeshees also tried to expand their political control by busing homeless people from outside the area to register as Jefferson and Wasco county voters. This effort aroused the attention of Oregon Secretary of State Norma Paulus, who monitored residency requirements, and fell far short of influencing county elections.

On September 14, 1985, Ma Anand Sheela and several other leaders abruptly left Rajneeshpuram in the wake of mounting evidence that the community's top leaders had conspired in a series of crimes. They were accused of arson, wiretapping, attempted murder, and the planting of salmonella bacteria in the salad bars of several restaurants in The Dalles, sickening 750 people.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh denounced Sheela, then left the community by chartered plane in October, perhaps in an attempt to flee from prosecution. He eventually made a plea bargain on immigration fraud charges and agreed to leave the country. Ma Anand Sheela and several other leaders were convicted of an assortment of crimes.

By 1986, Rajneeshpuram had become another of many western ghost towns, and since 1999 a Christian youth camp now makes use of the many buildings and facilities.

Rajneeshees - The Oregon Encyclopedia

Written by admin

October 11th, 2018 at 12:43 am

The Cult Of Rajneesh And The Largest Act Of Bioterrorism In U …

Posted: July 28, 2018 at 5:45 pm

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Rainer Binder/ullstein bild via Getty ImagesA Rajneeshee meditation service.

If you build it, they will come. And come they did.

In 1981, a hoard of outsiders descended upon a sleepy Oregon town, all dressed in red and preaching free love. From nothing, they built everything, creating their own sustainable town in a desert plain. A town that would find itself at the center of mayhem, when the devoted followers of Indian mystic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh would carry out the largest bioterror attack that the United States had ever seen.

Several years before the mass influx of cult members, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was the target of an assassination attempt. After a knife was thrown at him, as he was preaching to his followers, he realized it was time to leave India. The ashram at which he had cultivated his spiritual movement, run with his particular brand of capitalism, meditation, ethnic and dirty jokes, and open sexuality, was no longer safe for the over 30,000 Rajneeshees who visited it every year.

So, he turned to his most trusted advisor, the young and devoted Sheela Birnstiel, known as Ma Anand Sheela. Find him a place, he asked her, where he could lead his movement free from judgment, where his followers could live in peace, and where he could build his utopia.

With her husband Marc Silverman, Sheela began searching for a place and before long she had found it. A 64,000-acre plot of land, a patch of desert in the northwest area of the United States. Together, the Rajneeshee pooled their finances, uprooted their lives, and moved halfway around the world to their ranch, which they named Rajneeshpuram, in the heart of Antelope, Ore.

Matthew NAYTHONS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty ImagesBhagwan Shree Rajneesh arriving in Oregon.

For most of the followers, it was their first time in the states. Half of them didnt even know where Oregon was, let alone where the tiny town of Antelope fell within it. But Sheela knew, as soon as she saw the plain, that isolated or not, this was the utopia Rajneesh had dreamed of.

It was so clear we had reached the promised land, she said in an interview for the the Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country. It was the Shangri-la that everyone dreamt of.

When they arrived, the land was effectively a desert, a flat wasteland of brown dirt. Sheela rallied the Rajneeshee, urging them to band together and create the utopia that Rajneesh expected. When he arrived in several weeks, she wanted everything to be perfect.

Wikimedia CommonsAn aerial view of Rajneeshpuram commune, in Antelope.

And so, the Rajneeshee built it. They built it from the ground up power, plumbing, roads. Then a shopping mall, an airport, a pizza parlor and a 10,000 person meditation building. They even had their own zip code. An environmentally sustainable farm followed, complete with solar power, irrigation, and check dams. They turned the desert green, bringing wildlife back to the plains, and created a lush oasis.

From the wasteland that was the Oregon desert, the followers of Bhagwan Rajneesh built their own Shangri-la.

They should have offered us a Nobel prize, Sheela said.

NetflixRajneeshs right hand woman, Ma Anand Sheela.

In interviews conducted years after the cult had faded from the spotlight, it is abundantly clear that while the Rajneeshee followed Bhagwan Rajneesh, the true mastermind behind the group was Sheela. Reports indicate that Rajneesh was obsessed with the finer things in life, becoming the owner of the worlds largest collection of Rolls Royces, and indulging in multi-million dollar jewels. He would take money from his followers, donations to his cause, and use them on himself.

Sheela, on the other hand, was power hungry. Not concerning herself with material things, Sheela threw herself into building her utopia, her Shangri-la, her town in the desert, touting a belief in Rajneesh, but embodying the spirit of a leader herself.

While the Rajneeshee were preparing for their mystical leaders arrival, and Sheela was driving them into excess, the native residents of Antelope were becoming restless.

Theyre invading, said one local. Maybe not with bullets, but with money and, um, immoral sex.

Antelope was a small community, of about 40 people. Most were hunters and ranchers, who had lived in the town their entire lives. They were, for the most part, conservatives. Given its secluded location, the people of Antelope werent used to outsiders.

They especially werent used to 7,000 of them, all dressed in red, playing music and preaching free love and open sexual relationships. Before long, their welcoming, albeit hesitant, attitude had turned completely volatile.

Francois LE DIASCORN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images Rajneeshees doing morning exercises in Antelope.

A hunting magazine declared open season on the Rajneeshee, and locals began referring to them as Red Vermin, or Red Rats. Not helping the situation was the fact that the Rajneeshee had taken to patrolling the perimeter of their commune with machine guns and armored cars.

As the locals hatred toward the Rajneeshee built, so did the Rajneeshees hatred of the locals. Eventually, the Rajneeshee overpowered the residents of Antelope, and several other towns, promptly renaming it Rajneesh.

When Sheela announced that the Rajneeshee had plans to build a city on a mountain, in 1984 the state intervened, denying the permits. In retaliation, Sheela announced plans to place Rajneeshee in the state legislature, bussing in several thousand homeless people from nearby areas to vote for her appointee.

Her plan failed, as the state wouldnt let the homeless people vote, but Sheela was undeterred. If her people couldnt vote, she would make sure no one could.

As the election loomed closer, Sheela drew a small group of people into her inner circle and turned one of the buildings on the compound into a bio-lab. There, she and her team created a deadly toxin, which they called salsa a liquidy brown sludge contaminated with toxic levels of salmonella. Over several weeks, the cult contaminated 10 local restaurants with their salmonella salsa, spraying it on salad bars, the salsa bars of taco restaurants, fruits, vegetables, and even dumping it in water.

Matthew NAYTHONS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty ImagesMembers of the Oregon commune, welcoming new members into their community.

The result was a state-wide epidemic, the largest bioterror attack that the United States had ever seen. Over 700 people fell ill, 45 were hospitalized, and though no one died, it could have been much worse. When investigators later raided the compound, they found the makings of Salmonella typhi, typhoid fever. Had their plans escalated, it would have been disastrous.

The outbreak of salmonella was originally attributed to workers mishandling the food. However, several legislators became suspicious of Sheela and her relentless patriotism for her commune. Though they had no evidence, they believed she could have been involved in what they were now calling an act of bioterrorism.

In response to the allegations, thousands of people turned out to vote against Rajneesh and his followers, determined to push them back to the limits of their commune, and possibly farther away than that. To everyones surprise, within a year, Rajneesh himself was ridding himself of the commune, and fleeing the U.S. altogether.

One of the restaurants that Ma Anand Sheela and the Rajneeshee contaminated with their salsa.

In 1895, after pleading guilty to entering the country without a visa, Bhagwan Rajneesh fled the commune. He called his followers a gang of fascists, openly blaming Sheela for the bioterrorism attack. It wasnt until then that the government conducted a full investigation and realized the extent of the crimes that Sheela was planning.

Within the compound, there was evidence of several more biological weapons, and a detailed plan to assassinate Charles Turner, a U.S. attorney in Oregon. As hundreds of the Rajneeshee fled, others simply wondered how the peaceful, loving, expressive group they had joined had gone so wrong.

Armed with the evidence from the compound, Ma Anand Sheela was arrested and brought to trial. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison for her crimes but released after 39 months.

Ma Anand Sheela claims, to this day, from her home in Switzerland, that she acted at the behest of Rajneesh, that she was in love Rajneesh, and that everything she did was in the interest of Rajneesh. Interviews show a woman desperate to be understood, unrepentant for her crimes, and steadfast in her belief that in the end, everything she did was done with the best of intentions.

This whole thing is a big living opera, she said. Sheela a soprano, Bhagwan, a tenor. Operas are, in the end, always tragic, but there are so many facets, so many dimensions. People of Oregon, think yourselves lucky that this opera came your way.

Next, check out these five insane cults from around the world that are still active today. Then read about the Chldren of God, a cult that encouraged sexual abuse of children.

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The Cult Of Rajneesh And The Largest Act Of Bioterrorism In U ...

Written by admin

July 28th, 2018 at 5:45 pm

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