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Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (1931 - 1990)



   Name Change   

Rajneesh founded the Rajneesh Foundation International, and is one of the most controversial of modern gurus. In 1981 he was deported from Oregon under a bevy of serious criminal charges associated with his ashram, or spiritual community. His recent death did little to stem his influence in Europe or America.
John Ankerberg and John Weldon, Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefsoffsite Harvest House Publishers, Oregon, 1996.

[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 Rajneesh's 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.
Rajneesh, Bhagwan Shreeoffsite Encyclopedia Britannica

(...) 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.

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.
Hinduism Outside Indiaoffsite Encyclopedia Britannica

Name Change

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.'' (Ibid, 1/20/90).


» See also the articles in our news articles database

Christian Guru Rajneesh Dead at 58offsite, Watchman Expositor, Vol. 7, No. 2, 1990
Secular Old Bhagwan, new bottlesoffsite ''A 'new' spiritual guru turns out to have a past that includes lavish spending, orgies and bacterial terrorism.'', Salon.com, Oct. 20, 1999
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.

Rajneesh's 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.

Secular Rajneesh, Bhagwan Shreeoffsite Entry in Encyclopedia Britannica
Christian Rajneeshpuram: Another Tragedy in the Making?offsite Statement by the Christian Research Institute
Secular The Story of a Truly Contaminated Election offsite Columbia Journalism Review, Jan/Feb 2000
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 conference's 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 didn't get the results they wanted so the Rajneeshees proceeded to clandestinely sprinkle salmonella at the town's restaurant salad bars. Ten restaurants were hit and more than 700 people got sick.

Secular Wasco County Sheriffsoffsite This history includes a recounting of the Rajneeshees involvement in this Oregon community

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Items added after August, 2002:
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(Includes items added between Oct. 25, 1999 and Jan. 31, 2002. See about this database)
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