he world is full of small cults that are all believing in something different or choosing to live a very different lifestyle from the rest. This is usually a lifestyle that does not bother or affiliate with others around them, but there is a huge exception for one very specific cult. Osho’s cult is known as one of the most controversial cults in the 80s who took “peace” way too far with guns, drugs, hypnosis, and lots of sex.
Most of you may have not heard about this cult, although it did make the headlines of many News Shows within the United States in the 80s. The 1980s were all about peace and spirituality with the usage of drugs and sex to reach a superstitious nirvana. The Hindu and Buddhist incantations and meditations were always part of the Indian tradition, but as the world evolved so did the government which started taking a more western approach to the way citizens were living.
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was a man who believed in a better way of living, a more spiritual way that is tax-free and filled with lots of sex. Some started following him as they liked the idea of going against the Conservative government within India at the time as well as the more spiritual benefits.
As their vision wasn’t very well seen within India, they all traveled to the United States, to live their lives based on their own rules on land that would let them do so (to a certain extent). What Rajneesh knew is that people within the U.S. were attracted to this sort of thing in the 80s and with more followers, he would gain more power for his let’s say bigger plans.
When the cult arrived in the United States they settled on land in the center of Oregon. They wanted to build a utopian city that would have no laws besides the rules followed by the cult itself. It was all about gaining more followers in order for Rajneesh to complete his plan. Hippies would gather from all around the state in order to get access to the cult as they were inspired by the cult’s way of living.
Rajneesh also had another accomplice to his mastermind plan named Ma Anand Sheela who was known as his secretary as well as the most fanatic member of the cult. She helped Rajneesh with different political frauds, crime attempts, and of course launching a biological war on the United States.
The reality in this spiritual world
The money for the 64,000 acres of land, a personal ranch near antelope, over 90 luxury cars, and even speculations about a private jet came from his followers. It is said that the master was milking his followers of every penny they had, telling them that money is controlling them and that as long as they lived with the cult they didn’t need money.
How much money was raised isn’t known, but based on all the assets gained by Rajneesh, they added up to at least 9 million dollars. The Guru wasn’t just teaching them a new way of life but taught them new sex positions that were supposed to cure the followers of negative phobias as well as give them spiritual enlightenment.
In order to keep their followers under control, they gave them beer mixed with Haldol, a drug that would calm people however very dangerous if used in a long term. This would be beside them being brainwashed by the master whilst taking various types of drugs. Just have a look at this video to see the results.
The way that the follower would be kept feed is with the local farm. Everyone was working as a slave during the day on fields. The only difference between slaves and the followers is that they were working willingly, even if they would get very small portions of food, just enough to not starve to death. At the end of the day, it wasn’t as if the food was really important, the drugs and sex took number 1 priority within the cult.
It wasn’t just the western followers who were addicted to drugs, Rajneesh himself was quite the drug addict himself and allegedly the person who invented “drug-induced orgies”.
Some ex-members that took part in various interviews from documentaries that have been created based on the cult had mentioned:
“We used to have sex all the time just like baboons”
Everyone was welcome to join in, even the 3000 homeless people who were constantly drugged just to maintain control and used towards intensive labor and other dirty schemes.
The Dark Side of the Cult
Influencing the Elections from 1984
Sheela and Rajneesh were seen as sort of the leaders of the club, which is why they were the ones usually convicted for any criminal activities done by the cult. They were the ones controlling the followers so it was about right. For example, in 1984 they tried to influence the elections by offering shelter and food to the homeless in exchange for their votes.
The government was fast enough to see through their scheme and they created a law through which the voters had to have at least 30 days of residence before they would be allowed to vote.
Evading US Immigration laws
Rajneesh and the other followers that came from India had their visas expired, so what they would do is marry U.S. citizens in order to gain new visas. It is said that Rajneesh arranged over 400 sham marriages in order for his foreign followers to evade U.S. immigration laws. All of those marriages were illegal as they were not performed by someone entitled to marry others.
Besides this, he also hid many immigrants within his cult from the law and people are also mentioning that he helped convicted criminals escape the law by joining his cult.
Besides all the vegetables and fruits that the cult was growing (and probably some drugs), the cult also grew pathological bacteria which was to be used with the intent to take out their enemies, whoever wanted them caught by the law or dead.
The initial plan for the biological attack was to kill the local beavers and transform their corpses into compost that would be used to poison the local drinking water.
This plan was abandoned for a much better one. Something more efficient and impactful in their eyes. Salmonella seemed like a better bacteria to use as it would be more difficult for the authorities to track it down. Therefore they infected 10 salad bars around Antelope with Salmonella, poisoning over 750 people, making it and still remaining the biggest biological attack in the United States to date.
The reason for this biological attack was so that they could win the elections against the local government. If people get sick they would not be able to vote, but their followers would so they could win.
“During the first wave, eating either macaroni, potato, four-bean, or pea salads was associated with illness,” they wrote in their report on the incident. “During the second wave, blue cheese dressing was associated with illness.”
The authorities were not sure what caused this Salmonella outbreak. All of the restaurants that were infected did not present a hygiene problem and food was prepared following the law. It took years for the authorities to realize that the local cult was the one who infected the restaurants as well as for with what reasoning.
Where they took it way too far was trying to assassinate some of the local officials in order for them to influence the locals. Of course, all the dirty work was done by their followers and never by the Guru or his right hand. It was in 1985 that the authorities arrested Rajneesh and Shella for attempted assassinations.
When arrested, the police also searched their small cult community where they managed to build over 3,000 small houses. What they found besides all the drugs was over 100 firearms and no one with a permit or any paperwork for the guns. This justified that they had even bigger plans following the failed assassination attempts.
In court, Rajneesh threw Sheela under the bus saying that everything that the cult has done was her plan. Sheela was convicted to 20 years in prison for multiple crimes and Rajneesh was forcefully deported back to India. The Utopic city created by him was disbanded and everyone returned to a “normal life”.
If you are interested to see more details about this, Netflix has recently released an adaptation based on this event called “Wild Wild Country”.