Guru Rajneesh Dead at 58
Controversial Indian Guru, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, "who
turned a central Oregon town into a tumultuous commune of free
love, hedonism and murder plots before being deported,"
died on Jan. 19th of heart failure in Poona, India. (Ft.
Worth Star Telegram, 1/20/90).
Rajneesh captured the nation's attention in 1981 when he moved
his ashram community and 93 Rolls-Royces to Antelope, Oregon
and advocated "enlightenment" through sexual promiscuity. Oregonians were concerned when Rajneesh's followers, who outnumbered
the permanent residents of Antelope, took over the small town
changing its name to "City of Rajneesh." Critics charged that the Guru later tried to take over the county
by bussing in street people gathered from the nation's inner
cities to out-vote the regular citizens.
Ma Anand Sheela, the Rajneesh's personal secretary, later pled
guilty to a number of charges including, "plotting to kill
Mr. Rajneesh's physician with a poison-filled syringe and orchestrating
a food poisoning outbreak that sickened more than 750 people
in The Dalles, the county seat, as part of a plot to take control
of the county," (Ibid).
The Bhagwan was also arrested and deported on charges of immigration
fraud as part of a plea bargain arrangement with U.S. officials.
He returned to his native India after unsuccessfully attempting
to immigrate to several other countries.
Rajneesh's teachings included, "sex is fun, materialism
is good and Jesus was a madman," and the claim that he
was "the world's greatest lover." His "Bible" called, The Orange Book described a typical
yoga session, "Explode! Go totally mad.... Jump up and
down shouting the mantra `Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!' ...Each time you
land on the flats of your feet, let the sound hammer deep into
the sex center," (Ibid).
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 don't 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."
Thousands of the Guru's followers welcomed his death as "a
liberation of the soul" and celebrations began in the Poona,
India compound as soon as his death was announced.