Strange and Curious Sects: Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

When a new sect with strange and unfamiliar beliefs bursts onto the scene, it almost invariably meets with hostility (most of it from the old sects with strange and familiar beliefs). And depending on the nature of the newcomer, there are two common responses. It may stress its own virtue and righteousness all the more strongly, wearing its persecution as a badge of pride. Or it may become bitter and apocalyptic, denouncing its enemies as God’s enemies and warning of a day of reckoning. Those sects that travel farthest down the latter path often end up waging acts of terrorism or going out in a blaze of suicidal glory.

But oddly enough, the teachings of the sect before it’s forced to make this choice don’t predict what the decision will be. Such is the moral of today’s post on a particularly strange and curious sect.

The guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was born Chandra Mohan Jain in 1931, to a wealthy Jain family in the Madhya Pradesh state of central India. By his own account he was an intelligent and well-educated young man, but rootless and lacking a sense of purpose. Around the age of 21 he fell into a spiral of depression, which he later claimed was finally lifted when he suddenly had an experience of enlightenment:

The moment I entered the garden everything became luminous, it was all over the place – the benediction, the blessedness. I could see the trees for the first time – their green, their life, their very sap running. The whole garden was asleep, the trees were asleep. But I could see the whole garden alive, even the small grass leaves were so beautiful…. The whole universe became a benediction.

After a brief stint as a philosophy professor, he found his calling as a lecturer, traveling across India to give sermons critical of socialism and traditional Indian religion, which he viewed as empty and ritualistic. In their place, he preached his own unique blend of ecstatic mysticism, universal love, and “dynamic meditation” that alternated periods of silence with jumping, shouting and dancing. It was an unoriginal blend of ideas, albeit one which seemed harmless enough. But most controversial of all, he spoke openly about sex, which drew the wrath of conservative Indian authorities even as it made him more popular.

In the 1970s, he opened an ashram in Pune to promote his teachings. It was popular from the beginning, attracting wealthy patrons and devotees from around the world. But the more attention and followers Rajneesh attracted, the more hostile attention he got from India’s conservative Hindu government, which harassed and impeded him. Land use permits were denied, tax violations were assessed, tourist visas to visit were refused; a Hindu fanatic even attempted to assassinate him.

In 1981, deciding enough was enough, and perhaps taking a cue from the increasing numbers of Western tourists at his ashram, Rajneesh packed up and moved to the United States. His secretary, Ma Anand Sheela, bought a large ranch in rural Oregon, and Rajneesh’s followers flocked to the site, turning it into a bustling town of 7,000 almost overnight. Rajneesh himself was of course the focal point, although by this time he rarely lectured in public anymore and had acquired a taste for luxury, as evidenced by his diamond-encrusted Rolex watches and fleet of custom Rolls-Royces. Every day, hundreds of his disciples lined up alongside the road to get a glimpse of him as he drove past. (It also emerged later that he had developed a drug habit, becoming addicted to Valium and nitrous oxide.)

The Rajneeshis’ relations with their neighbors, however, soured even more quickly than they had in India. Their land-use plans stated that they intended to use the ranch as a small farm, but as more and more followers arrived and more buildings were constructed, it soon became apparent that they were building a town. Rajneeshis also moved into the neighboring town of Antelope and began purchasing lots and registering to vote there. When the Antelope city council denied them a permit to run a mail-order business, the Rajneeshis voted en masse for their own candidates, packing the council and effectively taking over the town. The ranch was also incorporated as a separate town called Rajneeshpuram.

By this point, the Rajneeshis had become aggressive and litigious, filing libel suits against critics and busing in devotees to stage counterdemonstrations when they were picketed by local churches and community groups. Their private police, the “Peace Force”, controlled security in Antelope and Rajneeshpuram and publicly displayed semiautomatic weapons. Sheela, Rajneesh’s secretary, had become the public face of the movement and was caustic and abusive toward its critics in media interviews, calling them “bigoted pigs”, “fascists”, and “full of shit”, as well as making thinly veiled threats.

The biggest remaining obstacle to the cult’s expansion was the Wasco County land-use commission, and in November 1984, several county commissioners were up for reelection. Sheela and other senior Rajneeshis hatched a plan: by exploiting a social program called “Share-a-Home”, they had several thousand homeless people bused in whom they hoped they could persuade to vote for their own candidates. But that was only half the plot. In a more horrifying step, they ordered samples of Salmonella typhimurium bacteria from a medical supply company. Rajneeshi doctors cultivated the bacteria, then went to The Dalles, the county seat, and deliberately spread the bacteria on salad bars at local restaurants. The intent was to sicken anti-Rajneeshi voters so that they would stay home on Election Day. (see also)

But this act of bioterrorism, however malevolent, failed to achieve its goal. 750 people fell ill with salmonella poisoning, and about 50 required hospitalization, but there were no deaths. Forewarned local officials enforced voter registration laws, and an angry electorate turned out in droves, overwhelmingly defeating the Rajneeshi candidates. At the time, however, no one realized the salmonella outbreak had been an intentional act.

In September of 1985, Rajneesh himself gave a press conference, one of his first public appearances in years. He stated publicly that the salmonella poisoning was intentional, that it had been masterminded by his followers, and that Sheela and other top cult officials, whom he denounced as a “gang of fascists”, had fled the country. Stunned local officials swooped in to investigate, and found a fully-stocked bioterrorism lab in the Rajneeshi compound. Even more alarmingly, they found evidence that the group had been planning to assassinate numerous public figures who had been hostile to them, including U.S. District Attorney Charles Turner and Oregon Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer. The plan had progressed to the point of buying guns, choosing specific Rajneeshis to fire the fatal bullets, and renting an apartment to serve as the base of operations.

By this time, law enforcement had arrived en masse. Rajneesh himself was arrested on board a private plane in North Carolina in October, apparently attempting to flee the country. He was never charged in connection with the bioterrorism or assassination plots, though state officials believed he had known about them. Instead, he was charged with conspiracy to violate immigration laws by arranging sham marriages to get citizenship for his non-U.S. followers. He pleaded no contest and was deported to India. Sheela and other top Rajneeshis, meanwhile, were arrested the same month in West Germany, deported, and pled guilty to felony charges of conspiracy, assault and attempted murder. Without its leaders, the Rajneeshi cult rapidly dissolved, and Rajneeshpuram was abandoned and bankrupt by 1987. Rajneesh resumed his lectures in India, though he took pains to be less controversial than he once was. These appearances became less and less frequent as his health declined, and he died in 1990.

Until the post-9/11 anthrax attacks, the Rajneeshi plot was the only organized bioterror campaign waged against the United States. One would think that such a prominent association with that degree of evil would end one’s career as a guru. But amazingly, despite being both disgraced and dead, Rajneesh himself has bounced back – this time under the name of “Osho“, the posthumous head of a thriving publishing empire churning out self-help books, videos, and seminars based on his teachings. The whole awkward cult-compound/drug-addiction/bioterrorism thing is tactfully omitted from these materials, of course.

The Rajneesh cult’s story, like other cults that collapsed in disaster, shows the peril of following gurus. Even when the initial teachings seem harmless, people who give their absolute obedience to a single leader are all too easily exploited for evil ends – and absolute power over one’s followers is a dangerous temptation that even good people find hard to resist. It also shows how easy it is for true believers to ignore criticism and whitewash the reputation of their beloved leader, even after he’s fallen prey to that temptation. This is a point that atheists would be well advised to remember the next time we hear an argument about how some other cult leader or self-proclaimed prophet proved the truth of his words by his supposedly unimpeachable morality.

Other posts in this series:

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Ritchie

    Wow! Heavy stuff.

    In September of 1985, Rajneesh himself gave a press conference, one of his first public appearances in years. He stated publicly that the salmonella poisoning was intentional, that it had been masterminded by his followers, and that Sheela and other top cult officials, whom he denounced as a “gang of fascists”, had fled the country.

    Am I reading that wrong, or is it fair to think of this as an act of contrition and repentance on Rajneesh’s part? Do we dare hope even he realised the vindictive and morally hollow terror group his cult had become?

  • Hendy

    Wrote some thoughts on this at my blog… (LINK)

    Christianity’s origins and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh: Ebon Muse at Daylight Atheism put up a STORY today of a cult…

  • ThatOtherGuy

    Hot damn. I’d liked Osho, the only thing I’d seen of his was that thing where he listed uses of the word “f*ck.” It amused the hell out of me, I had no idea the guy was such a scumbag…

  • Orion

    Fascinating article–I admit I’m shocked that such a thing could happen on American soil. Where were the bellicose anti-immigrant lobby when they had a genuine problem to complain about?

    I want to threadjack though to ask if anyone can help me locate an article I’ve been trying to find. It’s not by Ebon, I don’t think but he may had linked to it or a carnival it was on. It’s a parable explaining the scientific method and addressing criticisms thereof via extended debate about tracking the movements of sheep by a system which drops rocks into a bucket when they pass.

  • Hendy

    @Orion:

    Ran into that very ARTICLE about two months ago. It’s by Eliezer Yudkowsky, the author of LessWrong. What a truly great find. I love almost everything he writes.

  • nogrief

    To continue the story, Adam, there was a time after the legal problems that Rajneesh was to be allowed back into the Oregon community. The authorities had decided to let baghwans be baghwans………………….groa-a-a-a-n “forgive me Adam for I have committed the sin of low “punnery”

  • http://peternothnagle.com Peter N

    Thanks for writing this, Ebon — I was living in Oregon in the early ’80s, and even shared a house with a Rajneeshi for a while. While all the political shenanigans in Antelope/Rajneeshpuram were certainly in the news, and I have since seen a documentary about the salmonella attack, I still didn’t know half of this!

    Orion,

    Where were the bellicose anti-immigrant lobby when they had a genuine problem to complain about?

    I think there’s an “authentic” American conservatism that is nothing like the Fox News teabaggery that seems to have taken over the political right. An old-fashioned conservative would say, you can do your thing, and as long as it doesn’t interfere with me doing my thing, I’ll let you be. I suspect that they are as disgusted with the Becks and Palins as any liberal. But the 24-hour, in-your-face news cycle depends on conflict. Tolerance doesn’t sell nearly as well.

  • Demonhype

    @Ritchie: I was thinking the same thing. I mean, it sounds like the perfect crime where no on would have been the wiser about the bio-terrorism if he hadn’t opened his mouth. I’m not sure if there’s something I’m missing or not realizing, but I can’t imagine how his telling everyone that the seemingly non-suspicious salmonella poisoning outbreak was a deliberate act of bio-terrorism could benefit him in any way, even by protecting himself by outing his comrades. If a crime isn’t even identified as a crime and is not under investigation, why would he panic? People usually do that sort of thing when they’re in danger of being “outed”, not when they’re free and clear.

    Yes, he was trying to board a private plane, but who wouldn’t under those circumstances? You’re the head of a cult that’s made itself a thorn in everyone’s side, so you might be a little scared of being lynched!

    I don’t know about you, but I’m almost inclined to be generous and think he realized this cult thing had gotten way out of control and was trying to wash his hands of it.

  • http://Daylightatheism.org J. James

    Dang. If I had known it was so easy to start a cult I would have started my neo-Victorian steampunk cult a long time ago, and built a vast armada of aircraft-carrier blimps to conquer Luxembourg! Muahaha!
    Ahaha!
    Hem. On a more serious note, why on earth haven’t I heard about this before? Oh, and Ebonmuse, did you hear about those teachers that poured holy water on an atheist teacher?

  • BKS

    Osho Rajneesh was one of the biggest influences that converted me to an atheist. In his biography, he considers himself as an atheist. He was a good orator and some of his speeches are very enlightening, provocative and humorous. His 5 minute talk about the word f**k is very famous and hilarious. He also is famous for the largest collection of Rolls Royce cars – more than 90.
    And his ten commandments:

    Never obey anyone’s command unless it is coming from within you also.
    There is no God other than life itself.
    Truth is within you, do not search for it elsewhere.
    Love is prayer.
    To become a nothingness is the door to truth. Nothingness itself is the means, the goal and attainment.
    Life is now and here.
    Live wakefully.
    Do not swim – float.
    Die each moment so that you can be new each moment.
    Do not search. That which is, is. Stop and see

  • Ravi

    I’m not sure if the people on this board are actually interested in exploring today’s story, but since I was living with and was part of the group described in today’s article I may have a perspective somewhat different from those who are only now reading about Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. I am encouraged by the bewilderment expressed by at least one poster regarding how the poisoning event was revealed. If nothing else this detail may hint at the fact that things were far more complicated and nuanced than this report and its references suggest. Still, this does not minimize or deny that the poisoning was executed. It only is to suggest that a scene carefully framed may exclude some details that if known might put the whole affair, in this case the Rajneesh phenomenon, in a different light.

    For a group of people interested in atheism and the myriad expressions of religiosity including the one that occurred (and to some extent still occurs) around Rajneesh, it seems there are at least a couple of issues worth considering. One is why such an individual might appear and involve a moderately large number of people (several tens of thousands at a minimum) in some sort of activity that might be described as religious. Another, one that is far more relevant to the life-orientation called atheism, though it is almost never discussed on atheist forums, is how we are to understand our existence without the obvious crutches (training wheels?) of traditional religions. I could write something about both these topics, and I suspect others here could as well. I wonder whether any of this has any relevance to participants on the site.

    As for the violent act in this story that has caught the attention of people here (as it does everywhere) it may interest you to know that the vast majority of the people who were involved in the Rajneeshpuram community only learned of that poisoning when it was announced by Rajneesh himself. I was among the ignorant and was as shocked as you no doubt were when I heard about what was done. As I did not live or work close to Rajneesh, I had no opportunity to learn when he was informed of this violence, but it is entirely possible and it is congruent with my understanding of who he was that he only knew what was done after the fact. That said, there were plenty of other details about what went on at that time that made little sense to me then and still do to this day.

    I’ll monitor this site for a while to see if anyone has any responses to this post and most specifically to the two issues I mentioned above.

    R

  • Carl

    Ravi,

    I found myself disappointed by your post. Three paragraphs of text full of hints, yet you’ve told us nothing. Nobody is smarter now because of what you wrote, so why did you bother?

    The only point of interest in your message was your unfounded assertion that atheists require religion to understand our existence.

    I’d be interested to hear anything thus far undisclosed about the people or the reasons for the poisoning, or about the circumstances behind the confession and any treason that may have gone on behind the scenes. Do you know anything about this? If so, then please let the cat out of the sack!

  • jack

    I was living with and was part of the group described in today’s article I may have a perspective somewhat different from those who are only now reading about Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

    Okay, so please tell us your different perspective. In what way would you revise Ebon’s historical account?

  • Thumpalumpacus

    BKS:

    The third commandment on your list would seem to obviate the entire point of this, and every other, religion.

  • Rollingforest

    Could it be that Rajneesh knew that the cops had found out something about the salmonella outbreak (or at least thought they had) and he was trying to clear himself of the crime?

  • Ravi

    Carl,
    I rather doubt there’s anything I can say that will make you smarter, or anyone else for that matter, but this isn’t about snarky responses. At least that is not really my interest. I think you are asking for information. I can give my point of view and understanding about all this but as that might be a very long conversation I will stick to just a few details and respond further if there is interest.

    The descriptions about this community that you will encounter are really from several perspectives. People who lived in the surrounding area where this community formed were of two types: those who felt affection toward Rajneesh and/or the community, and those who felt threatened or were offended by it. Within the community there were several points of view that ranged from those for whom everything was perfect (actually a very small minority) to those who felt affection for Rajneesh yet were in various ways disappointed or offended by what they saw and /or how they were treated, to those who became intoxicated with their positions of power. I’m sure there were other subgroups as well, one being the group I guess I could say I was in. And it may have been the majority.

    People in my “group” might be described as grateful for being able to live and participate in the community surrounding Rajneesh, open to doing whatever was needed provided it did not violate our personal mores, all the while making an effort to watch our moment to moment and day to day state of mind because we regarded the community as a place of transformation of individuals (and eventually society) where that sort of attentiveness (to one’s own inner processes — moods, thoughts, reactions, etc.) was understood to facilitate that transformation. A comparable concept people might have heard about is “burning karma”, and meditation is a similar method.

    Of this community that numbered in the thousands, only a few were involved in the shenanigans that are usually mentioned in articles about the community. In that way Rajneeshpuram was like any other town of 5,000 people where most people went around doing their work and behaving responsibly while a few succumbed to the temptation to commit criminal or other harmful activities. Even for Rajneeshpuram, treason would have been a stretch.

    So where was Rajneesh in all of this? Opinions vary. Some believe — and belief is the operative word here — that he was informed about everything including all of the criminal actions that were done by the few people in positions of leadership. Others think — I am one of them — that he was “protected” from some of the schemes: “oh, he doesn’t need to know about that.” For me this explains how it was he who announced that crimes were committed; his work was to guide and teach, so as soon as he was told about the crimes he spoke publicly about them to cleanse the community of them.

    It can be argued that the people who committed those crimes did so out of their (mis)understanding of what Rajneesh wanted to happen and how he wanted things to be accomplished. I find it incredible to suppose that he ordered others to commit these crimes, although he may have encouraged or at least gives his okay for some of the other outrageous things that were done to catch the media’s eye. For example: his stable of Rolls Royces, 93 in total I heard (I didn’t count them myself), certainly were more than any one person needed. I think it is quite possible also that he gave his permission for a number of those cars to be painted in outrageous ways so as to make it impossible for the media to overlook them. I know that the people who did those paint jobs — clouds, one was all clouds; and there were many others — had great fun doing so, all the while wondering how he would respond when he first saw each new paint job. Much was made of the number of vehicles too, that it was the ultimate comment upon America’s pointless consumption.

    As for the reasons for the poisoning, I think they are sufficiently described in the articles. Community leaders thought they could manipulate an election that every evidence suggested was going to go against the community and paralyze its development. Obstructionism by outside interests was a recurrent concern for the community; it was based upon messages from the surrounding communities and from officials who were variously offended by the rapid growth of Rajneeshpuram and the wanton ways of its citizens (remember, Rajneesh was characterized in the media as the “sex guru”), and by the technical cleverness of a community that transformed a decrepit dusty (or muddy) backwater ranch into a vibrant town (yes, tens of millions of dollars flowed into that community) in two years. The public relations arm of the community toyed with the public’s concerns by assuring anyone who would listen that the community would take over the whole state as soon as it could manage to do so. As might be expected, this did provoke a good deal of reaction!

    But enough on the community.

    Carl suggests I am asserting, and without foundation too (what difference does that make?), that atheists require religion to understand their existence. You are close, Carl, but that’s not quite what I was wanting to communicate. I do think it is a central feature of every person regardless of his or her religious orientation (and let’s includes atheism) that they create and carry some sort of understanding of themselves and the world in which they find themselves. I like the question: how do you understand your existence and all that is around you?

    I think one of the selling points of belief is that it gives the believer an answer to this question. Never mind that the answer is a total fabrication; at least it’s an answer for all who otherwise have none, and further, it provides a basis for a relationship with others who share the same answer. Having to stick one’s head in the sand sometimes to preserve this convenience is a small price to pay for many people; denial of course is quite useful as well.

    But what about the person who has managed to discard all of the fabrications that are offered from cultures around the world? How does he answer this question? First, I think it is true that this question can be seen as quasi-religious, although I myself regard it as “spiritual”. Second, as I mentioned in my previous message, atheists almost never talk about how they understand their own existence. Far more often — most of the time actually — the communications I come across from atheists are all about refuting various belief systems. Boring!

    Here’s my point of view about all this. First, the term atheist is negative. A friend of mine provided a positive label which I have adopted with some affection: Matterist. Second, besides dismissing the fantasies of god and afterlife, I have dismissed the idea of soul. I know some atheists don’t. I regard the soul to be the third of three major contemporary myths (that there is a God, that there is an afterlife, that we are a soul apart from our body) and instead see myself as the continuous creation of my nervous system’s activity. This is how I understand myself, and I consider it a spiritual point of view.

    Now while this point of view suffices for the present moment, it does not very well fill the fourth dimensional portion (time) of an understanding of self and all. Religions have created answers for this. Why not atheists (matterists)? Is it only that we are aggregations of matter existing briefly and to no purpose aside from our personal whims? That seems awfully close to the way animals function.

    I think we (the collective we) are awakening to the possibility of defining our purpose. As we are now, we are largely reactive creatures, our protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. But we are coming to a point where we are going to be able to choose our purpose. Now I think some atheists regard “purpose” as one of those obnoxious memes left over from the archaic belief systems of our ancestors. But I like to think — perhaps I’m just a romantic — that we can move past, can transform, our reasons for being from the merely accidental and reflexive to something with what might be called “deep intention”. I think part of the fuss being caused by the fundamentalists involves their subconscious awareness that the traditional purposes of life have today largely lost their power; these people are causing mischief in an attempt to maintain a terminally ill patient.

    So what might our purpose be? How about: to manifest love. Seems like that must be at least a bit of real purpose.

    What do you think?

    Ravi

  • http://wilybadger.wordpress.com Chris Swanson

    I remember when I was a wee lad growing up in Washington and hearing stories about these folk. What a weird bunch. I did learn something vaguely amusing about them earlier this year, though. I found out that actress Anneke Wills, who had played Polly on Doctor Who, was a member of the cult. She seems to have largely gotten over it, though she still seems a bit of a cosmic muffin.

  • ThatOtherGuy

    I’m not sure what it is, but I just could -not- slog through Ravi’s second post. I am usually really good at persevering when what I’m reading just fails to enthrall me, but oh my god… I’ve never seen anyone use so many words to not actually say anything at all. Wordy to the point of being painful…

    Though, I did notice, in his writings about “officials offended by the success of this backwater town,” a hint of that George W. Bush-esque “they hate us for our freedoms” arrogance. Feh.

  • jack

    Much was made of the number of vehicles too, that it was the ultimate comment upon America’s pointless consumption.

    No one dislikes America’s pointless (and destructive) consumption more than I, but you’re way off-base here. The Bhagwan’s numerous Rolls Royces were the ultimate comment on his pointless consumption… not to mention his narcissism, which seems to be the essential character trait of most cult leaders.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    I’m probably not doing this thread any favours by picking up on Ravi’s comments. In any case I agree that there were too many words and not enough content But…
    Ravi – you are setting up a straw man view of atheists. Most are quite clear that there is no existential purpose to life; we are artefacts of a material universe that has within it self-reflective conscious beings. We find our own purpose in the drives and motivations that are necessary to perpetuate that existence until its inevitable demise, hopefully mindful of our contempories and the generations that will follow.
    Most also reject Cartesian duality, concepts of soul or “spirituality” from outside the human condition. In short religious or quasi-religious explanations are unnecessary.

    So what might our purpose be? How about: to manifest love. Seems like that must be at least a bit of real purpose.

    Well that’s very “hippy” of you but is really just question begging.
    Matterist? Atheists are materialists for sure but that doesn’t mean we need to coin another descriptive for ourselves. As commenter ‘D’ is fond of saying; “words are made up” in any case. Regardless of the etymology we all know what an atheist is, and it isn’t the bale of grain stalks you think it is.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    A little late, but I wanted to address a comment that came up earlier in the thread:

    @Ritchie: I was thinking the same thing. I mean, it sounds like the perfect crime where no on would have been the wiser about the bio-terrorism if he hadn’t opened his mouth.

    It’s certainly possible that Rajneesh came forward because he was feeling genuine contrition, but it’s not the case that no one suspected anything before he confessed. I didn’t mention this in the post, but in a series of speeches in February 1985, seven months before Rajneesh’s confession, Oregon congressman James Weaver laid out a circumstantial (but, in retrospect, entirely accurate) argument that the salmonella outbreak had been an act of bioterrorism and that the Rajneeshis were responsible for it. It’s possible that law enforcement had taken him seriously enough to begin an investigation, and that may have been what scared Rajneesh into coming clean.

  • http://www.madhuban.ca Amrito

    Hi Guys,

    I stumbled upon this blog randomly and find the discussion quite interesting to hear.

    My point of view may very well be percieved as a “blind believer”, but I hope to establish an objective argument on the side of “rajneesh”, now know famously as “OSHO” (in every bookstore across the world).

    I think the readers on this blog, to truly have an unbiased opinion of the man, will have to look at certain literature that positively documents Rajneesh between 1978-1985. Such books to read are:

    “Passage to America- Max Weber” “Socrates Poisoned Again- Sue Appleton” “The Golden Guru” “12 Days the Shook America- Maneesha James”

    Rajneesh was surrounded by a documented upscale and very educated audience. His teachings were revered at the time by many influential people, but at the same time, instigated large amounts of controversy by fundementalists (of all religions categorically). At the time of the Dallas poisoning, Rajneesh already “spoke” into existence over 400 books (never written, but spontaneously spoken on a daily basis).

    His ideas of transformation and ability to integrate ancient wisdom and contemporary science brought him alot of attention (wanted and unwanted). Mixed with a sense of humour and wit, made him unstoppable to hear.

    Before comming to America, he was already deemed a threat by the CIA (documented). I’m not planning on a doing a Phd this, but I wouldn’t be saying documented if I had not seen it in valid literature.

    Leading up to the event of 1985 and the poisoning, Rajneesh’s commune was nothing but a success. The city was literally built in a the span 3 years with the latest state of the art planning and eco-friendly projects. The “cream of the crop” in the world of agriculture, design, architecture and art all participated to create what you may call a “utopia” vision. But the fact is, it was. That was the scary part.

    Rajneesh never considered the opinions of authority and often spoke against them in their very presence. He was a not political figure, but very anti–which made his OWN organization very nervous at times. However, for a period of 3 years, in the early stages of Rajneeshpuram, Rajneesh went on “silence” and let the organization run the commune.

    Sheela basically, the perpratrator of the dallas poisoning took over the show and became the spokesperson. She quickly became disliked by almost all of the sannyas community around Rajneesh and the public. Osho still remained in silence and very seldomly came to the public. The organization even owned all the assets of Rajneesh, including his bank account.

    Cut a long story short(more in the books above) since I have to finish work (in my office right).

    Rajneesh busted Sheela out before the Dallas poisoning ever happened and quickly after Sheela found he did not approve of her leadership style, she committed the crimes.

    Rajneesh was the first to bring her to the public eye and infront of all the people.

    He even apologized the Dallas community in antelope personally at a press conference.

    Ironically Sheela got off pretty lightly with the whole thing and now lives comfortably in Switzerland. However during the 12 days Rajneesh was in prison, he was escorted place to place under the name “George Washington”.

    After 4 years, his health detiorated quickly and he maintains that he was poisoned in jail by US authorities.

    Make your own conclusions, but Rajneesh should be viewed fairly under the circumstances because his contributions are enormous beyond fathom.

    99% of the experience around him for myself, from 1973 to 1990 were remarkable and amazing and unlike no other human being.

    Regards,
    Amrito

  • John (A.K.A. I.M Gottfrei)

    Oh my, I read lots of great books by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and having done so, rate him one of the greatest beings ever to have been on planet Earth. I wonder if any of his critics ever read any of his works (printed versions of his lectures)? I suggest they do so and a good place to begin the journey would be “The Book of the Secrets” 5 volumes. My understanding is that there are more than 700 of his different books and some in more than 30 different languages!
    Thank you Ravi and Amrito, I’d love to meet you sometime.


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