A couple of years ago, the internet went wild (pun intended) with the premiere of Netflix’s “Wild Wild Country”. This documentary series followed Osho, a spiritual leader (and sex guru), and his controversial cult. Osho, a single man with thousands of hardcore, and mostly rich, followers from all over the world, managed to create a spiritual movement so powerful that not even the collective force of several countries was able to shut down – the Rajneesh Movement.
But who was this Osho? A living god? A criminal? A real sex guru? One thing is for sure: this Osho character is surrounded by mystery and myth. Apart from his unconventional teachings, his now-famous ashram, and his massive and blind following, little is known about this Indian godman.
So let’s dig in and find out everything there is to know about who was Osho, the Indian sex guru.
Who was Osho? A brief history on the controversial life of a sex guru
The early life of a sex guru
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (né Chandra Mohan Jain) was born in Kuchwada, India on December 11, 1931. An intelligent but rebellious child, he spent his early youth living with his grandparents, and then with his parents.
In 1951, Rajneesh graduated from high school and started attending the Hitkarini College in Jabalpur. After clashing with one of his professors due to his disruptive behavior, he was forced to transfer to D.N. Jain College.
In 1953, he took a year off from his studies to meditate and soul search. Rajneesh came back claiming that he had achieved enlightenment. However, he returned to school, and after graduating in philosophy, he went on to pursue a master’s degree in the same subject at Sagar University.
In 1957, after his successful graduation, Rajneesh accepted a position at Raipur Sanskrit College, as an assistant professor of philosophy. His radical ideas soon made him clash (again) with the college’s administration, and he was forced to leave.
He eventually became a professor at the University of Jabalpur.
Becoming a spiritual leader
Along with teaching at the University, Rajneesh also traveled all throughout India, spreading his controversial and unconventional ideas on spirituality. Among his teachings, he argued that sex was the first step to achieve “super-consciousness”.
By 1964, he had started recruiting followers and conducting meditation camps.
In 1966, he resigned from his job as a professor to fully focus on spreading his spiritual teachings. During this time, and due to his unconventional ideas, he became a media pariah and earned himself the nickname “the sex guru”.
In 1970, Rajneesh introduced on his teachings the practice of “dynamic meditation”. According to him, this enabled people to experience divinity.
His new ideas and practices enticed many young Westerners to follow him, and come to live at his ashram (religious retreat) in Pune, India. They become Rajneesh’s devout disciples, and they were referred to as “neo-sannyasins”. In their quest for spiritual enlightenment, the sex guru’s followers dressed in orange and red clothes, took new Indian names, and even participated in group sessions that sometimes involved sexual promiscuity and violence.
By the late 1970s, the six-acre ashram in Pune was so overcrowded that Rajneesh looked for a new site to relocate to. However, the Rajneesh Movement had become so infamous and controversial that the local government put up several roadblocks to prevent him from leaving. Tensions escalated and came to a head when a Hindu fundamentalist attempted to assassinate Rajneesh in 1980.
In 1981, following the ongoing pressure from the government and other traditional religious groups, Rajneesh decided to flee. Together with over 2,000 of his disciples, he fled to the United States, settling on a 100-square-mile ranch in Oregon. He named the ranch Rancho Rajneesh, and there, together with his followers, started to build his own city, the Rajneeshpuram.
Soon, disapproving neighbors approached local authorities in an attempt to close down the ranch, claiming that it violated land-use laws in Oregon. Rajneesh came out victorious in court and continued to expand his commune.
The criminal life of a sex guru
Tensions between the local government and the commune kept increasing. Rajneesh and his followers soon turned to more twisted measures to meet their ends. These measures included wiretapping, murder, arson, voter fraud, and, in 1984, mass salmonella food poisoning that affected over 750 people.
Several of the ranch leaders ended up fleeing to avoid prosecution for their crimes. The police eventually arrested Rajneesh in 1985 and discovered that he was attempting to also flee the country to escape charges of immigration fraud.
During his trial, Rajneesh pleaded guilty on the immigration charges, realizing that an Alford plea bargain was the only way he would be allowed to return to India.
A sex guru’s death and legacy
After the trial, in which he pleaded guilty, Rajneesh returned to India. There he found out that the number of his followers had dramatically decreased.
In the next months, he searched (unsuccessfully) for a place where he could reestablish his commune. He was denied entry to several countries (as many as 21) and he opted to return to India in 1986.
During the next years, he continued to pass on his teachings and changed his name to Osho. However, his health began to decline. Rajneesh died of heart failure at one of his few remaining communes in Pune, India, on January 19, 1990.
Following his death, this commune was renamed the OSHO Institute, and later (until today) the OSHO International Meditation Resort. It is currently estimated to attract over 200,000 visitors a year.
Rajneesh’s followers also continue to spread his word in the hundreds of OSHO Meditation Centers that they have established in major cities across the world.
Interesting facts about Osho, the sex guru
1 – Osho owned over 90 Roll Royce, all of which were donated by his followers. When people asked him why he didn’t donate them to the poor, he said, “every religion in the world is taking care of the poor, why can’t they just let me take care of the rich?”. He also would famously drive around the Rajneeshpuram area while his followers would stand in massive cues on the road waiting to catch a glimpse of their leader.
2 – Osho’s most praised book was “The Book of Mirdad”, which only a few people around the globe read, and even fewer liked.
3 – Osho was the eldest of 11 children, all born to a cloth merchant in the house of his maternal grandparents.
4 – Because of his parents’ busy schedule, Osho had to live with his maternal grandparents. He was majorly influenced by his grandmother. After his grandfather died, he went to Gadarwara to live with his parents.
5 – In his dissertations, Osho mostly spoke about his original analysis and views on the writings of mystics, philosophers, and religious traditions from around the world. Because of this, he quickly started to attract the attention of westerners.
6 – Osho major speeches and preaches include sexuality. He defended a free, open, and straight attitude towards sex. For this, he was mocked by the Indian press and earned the name of “sex guru”.
7 – After some years, Osho became an anti-theist and was deeply interested in hypnosis, with which he was briefly associated.
8 – Osho was heavily criticized by the press and several Indian religious leaders for “making empty rituals and fake promises”. However, on the other hand, he started getting a massive and loyal following that included wealthy businessmen and merchants from all over the world.
9 – At the age of 21, Osho’s parents pressured him to get married. On March 21, 1953, he became spiritually enlightened under a tree in Bhanvartal Garden, Jabalpur.
10 – In 1991, an influential Indian newspaper included Osho, along with personalities like Mahatma Gandhi and Gautama Buddha, among the ten people who had most changed India’s destiny.
11 – Some conspiracy theories claim Osho did not die from heart failure but, instead, was killed by the United States government.
12 – Osho’s ashram in Pune, known today as the OSHO International Meditation Resort, is one of India’s main tourist attractions. It is visited by over 200,000 people from around the world every year.
Some disturbing things happening inside Rancho Rajneesh
1 – Osho was addicted to drugs. Former followers revealed that he regularly used drugs, particularly nitrous oxide and valium, mainly to deal with the pain of several health issues.
2 – Lead by Ma Anand Sheela (Osho’s secretary), a group of his followers supposedly contaminated 10 salad bars with Salmonella in and around Antelope, Oregon. They ended up poisoning over 750 people. This was done as part of a plan to rig the elections of the local government, by ensuring that a majority of voters wouldn’t be able to turn up to vote.
3 – The Rajneesh Movement, which could be described as a “sex cult”, was known to organize drug-fueled orgies in the ranch.
4 – Osho’s followers arranged over 400 sham marriages to evade U.S. immigration laws. This was considered the “largest recorded marriage fraud in the USA”. It was also one of the major charges against Osho and his movement.
5 – Ma Anand Sheela invited over 3,000 homeless people to the ranch. Without their knowledge, she drugged them with Haldol and kept them there. This was done as another part of the strategy to rig the local elections, by getting the homeless people registered as voters.
6 – The ranch was methodically wiretapped for the fear of leaking of vital information. Unknown to its residents, Ma Anand Sheela established a secret listening post near the ranch’s telephone center. All calls out and into the commune were tapped.
7 – Osho’s followers planned to bomb the county courthouse in The Dalles using an airplane. This was one more of their many desperate attempts to fight the government.
8 – After Rajneeshpuram fell apart, authorities discovered an armory of over 100 weapons. The weapons included semiautomatic Uzi carbines, Galil assault rifles, .357 Magnum revolvers, and also tear gas grenades and penetrating shells for police riot guns.
9 – Ma Anand Sheela was plotting to assassinate the U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. He was, at that time, investigating the sham marriages and immigration fraud conducted by the commune.
There’s only one thing is left to say:
It sure was a wild wild country!