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Rajneesh movement


Rajneesh movement

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and disciples in darshan at Poona in 1977

The Rajneesh movement is a term used by Hugh B. Urban[1] and other commentators to refer collectively to persons inspired by the Indian mystic Osho (formerly known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, 1931–1990), particularly initiated disciples who are referred to as "neo-sannyasins"[2] or simply "sannyasins." They used to be known as Rajneeshees or "Orange People," because of the orange and later red, maroon and pink clothes they used from 1970 until 1985.[3] Members of the movement are sometimes called Oshoites in the Indian press.[4][5][6]

The movement was controversial in the 1970s and 1980s, due to the founder's hostility to traditional values, first in India and later in the United States of America. In the USSR the movement was banned as being contrary to "positive aspects of Indian culture and to the aims of the youth protest movement in Western countries". These "positive aspects" were seen as being subverted by Osho, who was portrayed as a reactionary religious ideologist of the monopolistic bourgeoisie of India, promoting the ideas of the consumer society in a traditional Hindu guise.[7]

In Oregon the movement's large intentional community of the early 1980s, called Rajneeshpuram,[8][9] caused immediate tensions in nearby towns such as The Dalles, Oregon, at the peak of which a circle of leading members of the Rajneeshpuram Oregon commune was arrested for crimes including a deliberate food poisoning attack calculated to influence the outcome of a local election.[9] Osho was deported from the United States in 1985 for immigration violations and the movement's headquarters eventually returned to Poona (present-day Pune), India.

The movement in India gradually received a more positive response from the surrounding society, especially after the founder's death in 1990.[10][11] The Osho International Foundation (OIF) is managed by an "Inner Circle" set up by Osho before his death. They jointly administer Osho's estate and operate the Osho International Meditation Resort in Pune.[11][12]

In the late 1990s, rival factions challenged OIF's copyright holdings over Osho's works and the validity of its royalty claims on publishing or reprinting of materials.[10][13][14] In the United States, following a 10-year legal battle with Osho Friends International (OFI), the OIF lost its exclusive rights over the trademark OSHO in January 2009.[15]

There are a number of smaller centres of the movement in India and around the world including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.


  • Origins 1
  • Beginnings 2
  • Beliefs and practices 3
    • Religion 3.1
    • Society 3.2
      • Intentional community 3.2.1
      • Marriage and the family 3.2.2
    • Commerce 3.3
  • Demographics 4
  • Current status 5
  • People associated with the movement 6
    • Literature and thought 6.1
    • Spirituality and psychology 6.2
    • Performance arts 6.3
    • Politics 6.4
    • Others 6.5
  • Footnotes 7
  • See also 8
  • Citations 9
  • Bibliography 10
  • Further reading 11
  • External links 12


Osho's birthday celebrations at his Bombay residence on 11 December 1972

Osho began speaking in public in 1958, while still a lecturer (later professor) in philosophy at Jabalpur University. He lectured throughout India during the 1960s, promoting meditation and the ideals of free love,[16] a social movement based on a civil libertarian philosophy that rejects state regulation and religious interference in personal relationships; he also denounced marriage as a form of social bondage, especially for women.[a][17] He criticised socialism and Gandhi, but championed capitalism, science, technology and birth control;[18] warning against over-population and criticising religious teachings that promote poverty and subjection.

He became known as Acharya Rajneesh, Acharya meaning "teacher or professor" and "Rajneesh" being a childhood nickname (from Sanskrit रजनि rajani, night and ईश isha, lord).[19] By 1964 a group of wealthy backers had initiated an educational trust to support Osho and aid in the running of meditation retreats.[20] The association formed at this time was known as Jivan Jagruti Andolan (sannyasin,[22] taking the name Ma Yoga Laxmi.[23][24][25] Laxmi, the daughter of a key supporter of the Nationalist Congress Party, with close ties to Gandhi, Nehru and Morarji Desai,[26][27] retained this role for almost 15 years.[28]


Symbol of the Life Awakening Movement. Circa 1970.

University of Jabalpur officials forced Osho to resign in 1966. He developed his role as a spiritual teacher, supporting himself through lectures, meditation camps and private counseling (Darśana or Darshan—meaning "sight") for his wealthier followers.[23] In 1971 he initiated six sannyasins, which led to the emergence of the Neo-Sannyas International Movement.[29] Osho differentiated his sannyas from the traditional practice, admitting women and viewing renunciation as a process of renouncing ego rather than the world. Disciples still adopted the traditional mala, and ochre robe, and change of name. At this time, Osho adopted the title "Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh".[30]

By 1972, he had initiated 3,800 sannyasins in India. The total for the rest of the world at that time was 134, including 56 from the United States, 16 each from Britain and Germany, 12 each from Italy and the Philippines, 8 in Canada, 4 in Kenya, 2 in Denmark and 1 each from France, the Netherlands, Australia, Greece, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland.[31] After a house was purchased for Osho in Poona in 1974, he founded an ashram, and membership of the movement grew.[16] More seekers began to visit from western nations, including therapists from the Human Potential Movement. They began to run group therapy at the ashram.[8]

Osho became the first Eastern guru to embrace modern psychotherapy.[32] He discoursed daily upon religious scriptures, combining elements of Western philosophy, jokes and personal anecdotes. He commented on Hinduism, Zen and other religious sources, and Western psychotherapeutic approaches.[8][33]

Swami Prem Amitabh (Robert Birnbaum), one of the therapists in the Poona ashram, estimates that there were about 100,000 sannyasins by 1979.[34] Bob Mullan, a sociologist from the University of East Anglia, states that "at any one time there were about 6,000 Rajneeshees in Poona, some visiting for weeks or months to do groups or meditations, with about two thousand working and living on a permanent basis in and around the ashram."[34] Lewis F. Carter, a sociologist from the Washington State University, estimates that 2,000 sannyasins resided at Rajneeshpuram at its height.[34]

After Osho's death and burial at this site, the ashram in Poona became the Osho International Meditation Resort, one of India's main tourist attractions.[35][36] Identifying as the Esalen of the East, the resort has classes in a variety of spiritual techniques from a broad range of traditions and markets the facility as a spiritual oasis, a "sacred space" for discovering one's self, and uniting the desires of body and mind in a beautiful environment.[37] According to press reports, it attracts some 200,000 people from all over the world each year;[35][38] prominent visitors have included politicians, media personalities and the Dalai Lama.[36]

Beliefs and practices


A 1972 monograph outlined Osho's concept of sannyas.[31] It was to be a worldwide movement, rooted in the affirmation of life, playful, joyful and based on science rather than belief and dogma. It would not rely on ideology and philosophy, but on practices, techniques and methods aiming to offer every individual the chance to discover and choose their own proper religious path; the intent was to lead people to an essential, universal religiousness. The movement would be open to people of all religions or of none, experimenting with the inner methods of all religions in their pure, original form, not seeking to synthesise them but to provide facilities whereby each might be revived, maintained and defended and their lost and hidden secrets rediscovered. The movement would not seek to create any new religion.

Logo of Neo-Sannyas International. Circa 1970s.

To this end, communities would be founded around the world and groups of sannyasins would tour the world to aid seekers of spiritual enlightenment and demonstrate techniques of meditation. Other groups would perform kirtan (call and response chanting) and conduct experiments in healing. Communities would run their own businesses, and various publishing companies would be founded. A central International University of Meditation would have branches all over the world and run meditation camps, and study groups would investigate the key texts of Tantra, Taoism, Hinduism and other traditions.[39]

In one survey conducted at Rajneeshpuram, over 70 percent of those surveyed listed their religious affiliation as "none";[39] however, 60 per cent of sannyasins participated in activities of worship several times a month.[39] In late 1981 Osho, through his secretary Ma Anand Sheela (Sheela Silverman), announced the inception of the "religion of Rajneeshism", the basis of which would be fragments taken from various discourses and interviews that Osho had given over the years.[40] In July 1983 Rajneesh Foundation International published a book entitled Rajneeshism: An introduction to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and His Religion,[41] in an attempt to systematise Rajneesh's religious teachings and institutionalise the movement. Despite this, the book claimed that Rajneeshism was not a religion, but rather "a religionless religion ... only a quality of love, silence, meditation and prayerfulness".[42] Carter comments that the motivation for formalising Osho's teachings are not easy to determine, but might perhaps have been tied to a visa application made to the Immigration and Naturalization Service to obtain "religious worker" status for him.[43]

In the last week of September 1985, after Sheela had fled in disgrace, Rajneesh declared that the religion of "Rajneeshism" and "Rajneeshees" no longer existed, and that anything bearing the name would be dismantled. [44] His disciples set fire to 5,000 copies of the Book of Rajneeshism, a 78-page compilation of his teachings that had defined Rajneeshism as "a religionless religion".[44][45] Osho said he ordered the book-burning to rid the sect of the last traces of the influence of Sheela,[45] whose robes were added to the bonfire.[45]


Intentional community

Osho held that families, large cities and nations would ultimately be replaced by small communities with a communal way of life. By 1972, small communes of disciples existed in India and Kenya, and a larger one, to be known as Anand Shila, was planned as a "permanent world headquarters" in India. However, this plan was repeatedly thwarted. Large communes were planned in the west. The Rajneesh organisation bought the 64,229-acre (259.93 km2) Big Muddy Ranch near Portland. In July 1983 it was bombed by the radical Islamic group Jamaat ul-Fuqra, a group that had connections with militants in Pakistani-held Azad Kashmir and sought to attack "soft" targets with Indian connections in the United States.[48]

The Rajneesh movement clashed with Oregon officials and government while at Rajneeshpuram, resulting in tensions within the commune itself.[49] A siege mentality set in among the commune's leaders, and intimidation and authoritarianism ensued. Disillusioned followers began to leave the organisation. Commune members were instructed to cease communication with anyone who left.[49]

Marriage and the family

Although the movement was without clearly defined and shared values,[50] it was well known that Osho discouraged marrying and having children,[51] since he saw families as inherently prone to dysfunction and destructiveness. Not many children were born at the communes in Oregon and England,[52] and contraception, sterilisation, and abortion were accepted.[53] According to Pike, some women justified leaving their children when moving to the ashram by reasoning that spiritual development was more important.[53]


Hugh B. Urban comments that "one of the most astonishing features of the early Rajneesh movement was its remarkable success as a business enterprise".[54] It "developed an extremely effective and profitable corporate structure", and "by the 1980s, the movement had evolved into a complex, interlocking network of corporations, with an astonishing number of both spiritual and secular businesses worldwide, offering everything from yoga and psychological counselling to cleaning services."[1] It has been estimated that at least 120 million dollars were generated during the movement's time in Oregon, a period when the acquisition of capital, the collection of donations, and legal work were a primary concern.[55] The popular press reported widely on the large collection of Rolls Royce cars Osho had amassed,[16] reported to be 93 at the final count.[56] James S. Gordon reported that some sannyasins saw the cars as an unrivalled tool for obtaining publicity, others as a good business investment or as a test, others as an expression of Osho's scorn for middle-class aspirations and yet others as an indication of the love of his disciples.[57] Gordon opined that what Osho loved most about the Rolls-Royces, apart from their comfort, was "the anger and envy that his possession of so many—so absurdly, unnecessarily, outrageously many—of them aroused".[57] He wrote of a bumper sticker that was popular among sannyasins: "Jesus Saves. Moses Invests. Bhagwan Spends."

By the mid-1980s, the movement, assisted by a sophisticated legal and business infrastructure, had created a corporate machine consisting of various front companies and subsidiaries.[54] At this time, the three main identifiable organisations within the Rajneesh movement were: the Ranch Church, or Rajneesh Foundation International (RFI); the Rajneesh Investment Corporation (RIC), through which the RFI was managed; and the Rajneesh Neo-Sannyasin International Corporation (RNSIC). The umbrella organisation that oversaw all investment activities was Rajneesh Services International Ltd., a company incorporated in the UK but based in

  • Osho International Meditation Resort
  • Moscow Osho Centre "Winds" and Osho-Commune "Bhavata"
  • incl. Sannyas Wiki
  • Considering Controversy and Stagnation in the Osho Rajneesh Movement
  • Ashé Journal in The Rise and Fall of RajneeshpuramArticle
  • Rajneeshees in Oregon: The Untold Story – Five-part series in The Oregonian newspaper, April 2011
  • List of attacks attributed to the Rajneeshees on the START terrorism database

External links

  • Goldman, Marion S. (1999), Passionate Journeys – Why Successful Women Joined a Cult, The University of Michigan Press,  
  • Palmer, Susan Jean (1994), Moon Sisters, Krishna Mother, Rajneesh Lovers: Women's Roles in New Religions, Syracuse University Press,  
  • O'Brien, Paula (2008) The Rajneesh sannyasin community in Fremantle Master's degree thesis at Murdoch University, Western Australia

Further reading

  • Aveling, Harry (1999), Osho Rajneesh and his disciples: some western perceptions, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., .  
  • Brecher, Max (1993), A passage to America, South Asia Books, .  
  • Chryssides, George D. (1999), "Rajneesh/Osho", Exploring new religions, Cassell, .  
  • Carrette, Jeremy; King, Richard (2004), Selling Spirituality: The Silent Takeover of Religion, New York: Routledge, .  
  • Carter, Lewis F. (1990), Charisma and Control in Rajneeshpuram: A Community without Shared Values, Cambridge: .  
  • Clarke, Peter Bernard (2006), New religions in global perspective: a study of religious change in the modern world, Routledge, .  
  •  .
  • .  
  • Fox, Judith M. (2002), Osho Rajneesh – Studies in Contemporary Religion Series, No. 4, Salt Lake City: .  
  • Goldman, Marion S. (1997), "Narcissistic Vulnerability, Transference, and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh", in Janet Liebman Jacobs, Donald Capps, Religion, society, and psychoanalysis: readings in contemporary theory, Westview Press, .  
  • Goldman, Marion S. (2005), "When Leaders Dissolve: Considering Controversy and Stagnation in the Osho Rajneesh Movement", in .  
  • Goldman, Marion S. (2007), "Avoiding Mass Violence at Rajneeshpuram", in Wellman, James K., Belief and bloodshed: religion and violence across time and tradition, Rowman & Littlefield, .  
  • Gordon, James S. (1987), The Golden Guru, Lexington, MA: The Stephen Greene Press, .  
  • Hunt, Stephen (2003), "Rajneeshees", Alternative religions: a sociological introduction, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., .  
  • Idinopulos, Thomas A.; Yonan, Edward A. (1996), The sacred and its scholars: comparative methodologies for the study of primary religious data, BRILL, .  
  • Kakar, Sudhir (1991), Shamans, mystics, and doctors: a psychological inquiry into India and its healing traditions, Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, .  
  • Kuriansky, Judith (2002), The Complete Idiot's Guide to Tantric Sex, Penguin USA, .  
  • Latkin, Carl A.; Sundberg, Norman D.; Littman, Richard A.; Katsikis, Melissa G.; Hagan, Richard A. (1994), "Feelings after the fall: former Rajneeshpuram Commune members' perceptions of and affiliation with the Rajneeshee movement", Sociology of Religion 55 (1),  .
  • .  
  • Mehta, Uday (1993), Modern Godmen in India: A Sociological Appraisal, Mumbai: Popular Prakashan, .  
  • Menen, Rajendar (2002), The Miracle of Music Therapy, Pustak Mahal, .  
  • Mistlberger, P.T. (2010), The Three Dangerous Magi: Osho, Gurdjieff, Crowley, O Books, p. 713, .  
  • Newport, John P. (1998), The New Age movement and the biblical worldview: conflict and dialogue, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, .  
  • Osho (2000), Autobiography of a Spiritually Incorrect Mystic, New York, NY: .  
  • .  
  • Pike, Sarah M. (2007), "Gender in New Religions", in Bromley, David G., Teaching new religious movements, Oxford University Press US, .  
  • Reader, Ian (1996), A Poisonous Cocktail? Aum Shinrikyo's Path to Violence, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, .  
  • .  
  • Süss, Joachim (1996), Bhagwans Erbe: Die Osho-Bewegung heute (in Deutsch), Munich: Claudius Verlag, .  
  • Urban, Hugh B. (2005), "Osho, From Sex Guru to Guru of the Rich: The Spiritual Logic of Late Capitalism", in Forsthoefel, Thomas A.; Cynthia Ann Humes, Gurus in America, SUNY Press, .  
  • Wright, Charles (1985), Oranges & lemmings: the story behind Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Richmond Victoria: Greenhouse Publications Pty Ltd, pp. 166 pages, .  


  1. ^ a b c Urban 2005, p. 171
  2. ^ Idinopulos & Yonan 1996, p. 13
  3. ^ Chryssides 1999, p. 208
  4. ^ Abhay Vaidya (27 May 2005). Oshoites amused by American terrorism tag, Times of India. Retrieved 2011-07-15.
  5. ^ Sunanda Mehta (27 April 2008). Maroon-clad Oshoites no longer endemic to city, Indian Express. Retrieved 2011-07-15.
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  7. ^ A. A. Tkacheva, Counter-culture Slogans in the System of Right Wing Radicalism in India (1986) abstract
  8. ^ a b c Clarke 2006, p. 253
  9. ^ a b Lewis & Petersen 2005, pp. 124–127
  10. ^ a b c Lewis & Petersen 2005, p. 120
  11. ^ a b Urban 2005, pp. 182–183
  12. ^ Lewis & Petersen 2005, pp. 133–134
  13. ^ OSHO'S LEGACY; Royalty Ruckus originally published in India Today 3 July 2000. Retrieved on 7 December 2009.
  14. ^ a b Fox 2002, pp. 44–45
  15. ^ a b (18 July 2009) Osho trademark:OIF appeal dismissed, Indian Express, Retrieved 2011-07-15.
  16. ^ a b c d e f Hunt 2003, p. 127
  17. ^ McElroy, Wendy. "The Free Love Movement and Radical Individualism." Libertarian Enterprise .19 (1996): 1.
  18. ^ FitzGerald, Frances (29 September 1986), "Rajneeshpuram", The New Yorker, p. 77.
  19. ^ Gordon 1987, pp. 26–27
  20. ^ Lewis & Petersen 2005, p. 119
  21. ^ Osho 2000, p. 224
  22. ^ Goldman, Marion S. (2005), page 119.
  23. ^ a b Lewis & Petersen 2005, p. 122
  24. ^ Palmer & Sharma 1993, p. 30
  25. ^ Carter 1990, p. 44
  26. ^ Fitzgerald 1986, p. 77
  27. ^ Mehta 1993, p. 89
  28. ^ Gordon 1987, p. 93
  29. ^ Mehta 1993, p. 91
  30. ^ Fitzgerald 1986, p. 78
  31. ^ a b Yoga Chinmaya, Neo-sannyas International: Visions and Activities, Life Awakening Movement Publications, Bombay 1972.
  32. ^ Mistlberger 2010, p. 87
  33. ^ Goldman 2007, p. 172
  34. ^ a b c d e Aveling 1999, p. 87
  35. ^ a b "Mystic's burial site at commune is reincarnated as posh resort". Mike McPhate ( 
  36. ^ a b Fox 2002, p. 41
  37. ^ Forsthoefel & Humes 2005, pp. 182–183
  38. ^ "Osho? Oh No!". Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  39. ^ a b c Palmer & Sharma 1993, p. 72
  40. ^ Mehta 1993, p. 111
  41. ^ Carter 1990, p. 300
  42. ^ Carter 1990, p. 185
  43. ^ Carter 1990, p. 186
  44. ^ a b Sally Carpenter Hale, Associated Press (1 October 1985). "Rajneesh renouncing his cult's religion".  
  45. ^ a b c Associated Press (2 October 1985). "Guru's arrest not imminent".  
  46. ^ Latkin et al. 1994, pp. 65–74
  47. ^ a b Goldman 1997, p. 209
  48. ^ Mira L. Boland (18 March 2002). Sheikh Gilani's American Disciples. The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2011-07-08.
  49. ^ a b Reader 1996, p. 104
  50. ^ Carter 1990, p. 9
  51. ^ Pike 2007, p. 222
  52. ^ Pike 2007, p. 224
  53. ^ a b Pike 2007, p. 223
  54. ^ a b Urban 2005, p. 179
  55. ^ a b Urban 2005, p. 180
  56. ^ Zaitz, Les (15 April 2011 (print edition: 17 April)), "25 years after Rajneeshee commune collapsed, truth spills out – Part 1 of 5",  
  57. ^ a b Gordon 1987, pp. 114–115
  58. ^ Wright 1985, pp. 141–146
  59. ^ Carrette & King 2004, p. 154
  60. ^ a b Aveling 1999, p. 31
  61. ^ a b c d "Experts draw distinctions between cults, religions (part 18 of 20)".  
  62. ^ Goldman 2005, p. 120
  63. ^ a b Urban 2005, p. 181
  64. ^ Palmer & Sharma 1993, pp. 155–158
  65. ^ a b Süss 1996, pp. 27, 177
  66. ^ Bhagwan: Glaube und Mammon, Der Spiegel, 6 February 1984. Retrieved 2011-07-08.(German)
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  68. ^ Publishers Weekly staff (10 January 2005). "My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru". Publishers Weekly (Reed Business Information) 252 (2): p. 48.
  69. ^ a b c (10 August 2004) Obituaries: Bernard Levin. The Telegraph. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  70. ^ Die Tageszeitung interview dd. 13 June 2006, interview in Lettre International (German)
  71. ^ Margot Anand: An Interview with Virginia Lee,, Retrieved 2011-07-15.
  72. ^ Kuriansky 2002, p. 310
  73. ^ a b c Shupe & Bromley 1994, p. 148
  74. ^ Brecher 1993, p. 38
  75. ^ Kakar 1991, p. 202
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  77. ^ (17 September 2006). The Parveen Tapes: Now I'm alone. MiD Day. Retrieved 2011-07-05.
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  79. ^ Krishnamurti, Arms & Pant Bansal 2005, p. 13
  80. ^ Menen 2002, p. 137
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  82. ^ Martin Kinch (15 August 2009) The Mike Edwards Interview. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
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See also

a ^ The Handbook of the Oneida Community claims to have coined the term around 1850, and laments that its use was appropriated by socialists to attack marriage, an institution that they felt protected women and children from abandonment.


  • Ma Prem Pratiti - Lady Zara Jellicoe, daughter of Earl Jellicoe[98]
  • Shannon Jo Ryan, daughter of former Congressman Leo Ryan, who investigated the Jonestown commune of the People's Temple in Guyana and was killed there by followers of the Temple. She joined the Rajneesh movement shortly after her father's death in 1981.[96] She took the name Ma Prem Amrita Pritam, and married another sannyasin, Peter Waight (Swami Anand Subhuti), at Rajneeshpuram in 1982.[97]
  • Turiya Hanover (born Wibke van Gunsteren), German spiritualist and wife of Prince Welf Ernst of Hanover. She took sannyas with her husband, and was given the name Turiya by Osho.[95]
  • Princess Sophie of Greece and Denmark. He joined the movement in 1975, died from a ruptured cerebral haemorrhage at the age of 33, while at the Poona ashram. Osho gave him the name of Swami Vimalkirti.[95]
  • Pratiksha Apurv, a fashion designer, is Osho's niece and has been a member of the movement since the age of 11.[94]


  • Vinod Khanna, Indian film star and politician, was Osho's gardener in Rajneeshpuram. He later became India's Minister of State for External Affairs (junior foreign minister), holding office from 2003 to 2004. He became a sannyasin on 31 December 1975 and received the name Swami Vinod Bharti.[90][91]


  • Anneke Wills (Ma Prem Anita), British actress most famous for her role as Doctor Who sidekick Polly.[87] She moved to India to stay at the Poona ashram with her son Jasper (Swami Dhyan Yogi) during the 1970s and moved again to a sannyasin commune in California during the early 1980s.[88]
  • Terence Stamp, British actor. In the 1970s, he spent time in the Poona ashram, meditating and studying the teachings of Osho. Stamp was initiated into sannyas by Osho and became Swami Deva Veetan.[85][86]
  • Ramses Shaffy, Dutch singer and actor. He was once a heavy drinker, but stopped drinking when he joined the movement in the early 1980s and became Swami Ramses Shaffy. He later relapsed into alcoholism.[73][84]
  • Nena, German singer and actress. In 2009, she stated that she had become a fan of Osho, his books and meditation techniques, which she had discovered a few years earlier.[83]
  • [81][80]
  • Mahesh Bhatt, Indian film director, producer and screenwriter. He became a sannyasin in the mid-1970s, but later left the movement and instead found spiritual companionship and guidance with U. G. Krishnamurti, whose biography he wrote in 1992.[79]
  • Parveen Babi, Indian actress. She joined the movement in the mid-1970s together with her former boyfriend, the producer Mahesh Bhatt, and later became a devotee of philosopher U. G. Krishnamurti.[77][78]

Performance arts

  • Ma Prem Usha, Indian tarot card reader, fortune teller and journalist. She was a member of the movement for 30 years, until her death in 2008.[76]
  • Nirmala Srivastava, Indian spiritual teacher. She was an early member of the Rajneesh movement and later founded a spiritual movement of her own, Sahaja Yoga, repudiating Osho.[75]
  • Jan Foudraine, Dutch psychiatrist, psychotherapist, writer and mystic.[73] His sannyasin name is Swami Deva Amrito.[74]
  • Margot Anand, a teacher of tantra. She was a student of Osho and first began to teach tantra in his ashram.[71][72]

Spirituality and psychology

  • Peter Sloterdijk, German philosopher. He joined the movement in the 1970s. In interviews given in 2006, he credited the experience with having had a fundamental, beneficial and continuing effect on his outlook on life.[70]
  • Tim Guest, journalist and author. He grew up in the movement with the name Yogesh and later wrote a critical book, My Life in Orange, about his difficult childhood.[68]
  • Jörg Andrees Elten, German writer and journalist. He was a well known reporter for Stern before joining the movement, and later took the name Swami Satyananda.[67]
  • Elfie Donnelly, award-winning Anglo-Austrian children's book author. She joined the movement in the 1980s and was among the disciples Osho appointed to the "Inner Circle", the group entrusted with administering his estate after his death.[66]
  • Joachim-Ernst Berendt, jazz musician, journalist and author. He became a member of the movement in 1983.[65] When Osho died in 1990, he wrote an obituary calling him the "master of the heart" as well as "the holiest scoundrel I ever knew".[65]

Literature and thought

People associated with the movement

After Osho's death, various disagreements ensued concerning his wishes and his legacy. This led to the formation of a number of rival collectives. One of the central disagreements related to OIF's copyright control over his works.[10][14] One group, Osho Friends International, spent 10 years challenging the OIF's use of the title OSHO as an exclusive trademark. In the United States, on 13 January 2009, the exclusive rights that OIF held over the trademark were finally lost. OIF filed a Notice of Appeal on 12 March, but eventually filed for withdrawal in the Court of Appeals on 19 June, thus cancelling the trademarks of Osho in the US.[15]

Urban has commented that the most surprising feature of the Osho phenomenon lies in Osho's "remarkable apotheosis upon his return to India", which resulted in his achieving even more success in his homeland than before.[63] According to Urban, Osho's followers had succeeded in portraying him as a martyr, promoting the view that the Ranch "was crushed from without by the Attorney General's office ... like the marines in Lebanon, the Ranch was hit by hardball opposition and driven out."[63][64] Sociologist Stephen Hunt, on the other hand, writes in Alternative Religions (2003) that "the movement has declined since 1985, and some would argue it is now, for all intents and purposes, defunct."[16]

The movement has survived Osho's death.[1] The Osho International Foundation (OIF), the successor to the Neo-Sannyas International Foundation, now propagates his views, operating once more out of the Pune ashram in India,[16] and the movement has begun to communicate on the Internet.[62]

Current status

A survey of 635 Rajneeshpuram residents was conducted in 1983 by Norman D. Sundberg, director of the University of Oregon's Clinical/Community Psychology Program, and three of his colleagues. It revealed a middle-class group of predominantly college-educated whites around the age of 30, the majority of whom were women.[61] Nearly three quarters of those surveyed attributed their decisions to become Rajneeshees to their love for Osho or his teachings.[61] 91 per cent stated that they had been looking for more meaning in their lives prior to becoming members.[61] When asked to rate how they felt about their lives as Rajneeshees, 93 per cent stated they were "extremely satisfied" or nearly so, most of them choosing the top score on a scale of 0 to 8. Only 8 per cent stated that they had been as happy before joining.[61]

One of the first surveys of sannyasins was conducted in 1980 at the Poona ashram by Swami Krishna Deva (David Berry Knapp), an American clinical psychologist who would later serve as mayor of Rajneeshpuram.[34] In the survey, Krishna Deva polled 300 American sannyasins and discovered that their median age was just over 30. 60 per cent of them had been sannyasins for less than two years, and most continued to live in the United States. Half of them came from California, 97 per cent were white, 25 per cent were Jewish and 85 per cent belonged to the middle and upper-middle classes.[34][60] Almost two-thirds had university degrees and viewed themselves as "successful in worldly terms". Three quarters had previously been involved in some therapy and more than half had previously experimented with another spiritual group.[60] In 1984 the average age of members of the Rajneesh movement was 34; 64 per cent of the followers had a four-year college degree.[47]


[59], and the movement was reported in 2000 to be making $15–45 million annually in the U.S.BMW By the early 21st century, members of the movement were running stress management seminars for corporate clients such as [58][55]

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