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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Religion can make people do funny things. Like join them.

And in the '80s, the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was one dubious character.

For me, It wasn't so much the fact he was this strange little Indian guru who came out of nowhere. I was open to new things even back then.

It was the fact he was simply just every bit of a flaming nutjob as Pat Robertson. And the scary fact there are people attracted to people like these is one I've never been able to live comfortably with.   

The Bhagwan came to America in 1981 and shortly located to a remote area in Northeast Oregon. He bought a big 64 acre ranch and decided to convert it into a mini-village for his thousand-strong faithful called Rajneeshpuram.

Naturally, your neighbours up and down the road are going to have a problem with this if you set a thousand-strong strange people out loose wandering around in an area of less than 400 - often driving the Bhagwan around in Rolls-Royces. His teachings were a bizarre mixture of Eastern philosophy, sexuality and material obsession.

I'm automatically suspicious of any religious leader that needs to ride around in fancy new cars while everyone else has to walk.
The extra population boost from Rajneesh's followers (along with the import of several thousand homeless people) eventually was big enough to overwhelm the nearby city of Antelope, OR and by 1984, the City of Antelope became the City of Rajneesh.

City of Rajneesh, 1985
The original residents were angry at the newcomers whom they saw as invaders.

The Rajneeshees also made a series of New Age music albums under the name Basho's Pond.

This album perfectly defines New Age music if you've never heard it before. Note the "audiophile quality virgin Teldec vinyl" and DMM mastering. It was meant to be played on higher end stereo equipment. Which by the time you're finished buying the stereo amplifier, tuner, speakers, CD player, CDs, cassette deck, cassettes, turntable and records, New Age music was essentially an $8,000 wind chime.
You can hear some of it here:   http://ghostcapital.blogspot.com/2012/12/chaitanya-hari-deuter-govindas-deva.htm

Now things were really getting weird. And so was the Bhagwan. First he encouraged free love....Then he backtracked when AIDS became a terrifying epidemic. There was no cure for HIV/AIDS (there still isn't.) And virtually nothing was known about it amongst the general population, only that it was only a "gay" disease (it isn't.) Gay people (especially gay men) were targets of persecution across the nation due to the AIDS scare. And there was no shelter to be found in the Rajneesh community for them. Rajneesh preached the same hateful rhetoric as the fundamentalist Christians. He also favoured euthanasia for children born with birth defects.

Things came to a nasty head however when it was revealed Rajneesh's followers were involved in a bio-terrorism plot. Their plan involved contaminating salad bars with salmonella at restaurants in The Dalles, OR in an attempt to thwart the local election in their candidate's favour by reducing local voter turnout. The plan backfired - more local people voted than ever and the FBI and INS quickly began to investigate. It was revealed they had salmonella in vials and a petri dish and Rajneesh and his aides quickly attempted to flee the country. Rajneesh was arrested on immigration charges. But not on the bio-terrorism charges. On a plea bargain, he eventually returned to India, where he changed his name to Osho. He died in 1990.

His ashram in India is still active..

Plaque in Antelope, OR which memorializes the Rajneesh "invasion".......

1 comment:

  1. Two words: Transcendental Meditation. Look it up - there will be more stretch limos for a party of one involved.


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