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Shree Rajneesh
Chandra Mohan Jain

11 December 1931
Kuchwada Village, Bareli Tehsil, Raisen Distt. Bhopal State, British India (modern day Madhya Pradesh, India)
Died 19 January 1990 (aged 58)
Nationality Indian
Known for Spirituality
Notable work
Many books, audio and video tapes (exact number not known)
Movement Jivan Jagruti Andolan; Neo-sannyas
Osho Drive By
Rajneesh greeted by sannyasins on one of his daily "drive-bys" in Rajneeshpuram. ~1982

Rajneesh (11 December 1931 – 19 January 1990) was an Indian mystic, guru, and spiritual teacher. His international following has continued after his death. Rajneesh was born Chandra Mohan Jain; he was known as the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh during the 1970s and 1980s, and finally as Osho in the last year of his life.

Early life

He was born in a small village in the Narsinghpur District of Madhya Pradesh state in north India. He spent most of his childhood with his maternal grandparents, which he later mentioned as "the blessing in his life" for its carefree environment.

He entered college at his age of nineteen. Asked by the principal to leave the college, he transferred to D.N. Jain College and completed his B.A. in philosophy in 1955. After obtaining his M.A. in philosophy in University of Sagar in 1957, he started teaching at Raipur Sanskrit College and became a professor at Jabalpur University in 1960. While teaching at colleges, he became known as a public speaker.


As a professor of philosophy, he traveled throughout India in the 1960s as a public speaker. He was a critic of socialism, Mahatma Gandhi, and other stalwarts of Indian politics, including institutionalised religions. In 1970, he settled for a time in Bombay initiating disciples, known as neo-sannyasins, and expanded his spiritual teaching and work. In his discourses, he reinterpreted writings of religious traditions, mystics, and philosophers from around the world. Moving to Poona in 1974, he established an ashram that attracted increasing numbers of Westerners.



The Poona ashram was by all accounts an exciting and intense place to be, with an emotionally charged, madhouse-carnival atmosphere. The day began at 6:00 a.m. with Dynamic Meditation. From 8:00 a.m., Rajneesh gave a 60- to 90-minute spontaneous lecture in the ashram's "Buddha Hall" auditorium, commenting on religious writings or answering questions from visitors and disciples. Until 1981, lecture series held in Hindi alternated with series held in English. During the day, various meditations and therapies took place, whose intensity was ascribed to the spiritual energy of Rajneesh's "buddhafield". In evening darshans, Osho conversed with individual disciples or visitors and initiated disciples ("gave sannyas").

The ashram offered therapies derived from the Human Potential Movement to its Western audience and made news in India and abroad, chiefly because of its permissive climate and Osho's provocative lectures. By the end of the 1970s, there were mounting tensions with the Indian government and the surrounding society.

A situation rose when Rajneesh entered a three-and-a-half-year period of self-imposed public silence on 10 April 1981. He occupied himself with satsangs—silent sitting with music and readings from spiritual works, and gave no discourses. Around the same time, Ma Anand Sheela replaced Ma Yoga Laxmi as Rajneesh's secretary.


Later in 1981 Rajneesh moved to the United States, and his followers established a community, later known as Rajneeshpuram, in the state of Oregon. Within a year, the leadership of the commune became embroiled in a conflict with local residents, primarily over land use, which was marked by hostility on both sides. Rajneesh lived in a trailer next to a covered swimming pool and other amenities. He did not lecture and only saw most of the residents when, daily, he would slowly drive past them as they stood by the road. He gained public notoriety for the many Rolls-Royces bought for his use, eventually numbering 93 vehicles. This made him the largest single owner of the cars in the world.

Influence of Ma Anand Sheela

Ma Anand Sheela (born Sheela Ambatal Patel, 28 December 1949) was Rajneesh's personal secretary from 1981 to 1985. On 10 July 1981, she purchased the 64,000-acre (260 km2) Big Muddy Ranch to create the Rajneeshpuram, Oregon commune. She was the main manager and spokesperson. She carried a .357 Magnum handgun, and created a Rajneeshpuram police force armed with Uzi submachine guns and a Jeep-mounted .30-calibre machinegun. It was under Sheela's influence that Rajneesh decided to travel to the United States and begin an ashram there.

While at Rajneeshpuram, Rajneesh depended on Sheela to manage the organisation. She was seen as Rajneesh's principal aide, and as second-in-command of the organisation. She was also president of Rajneesh Foundation International. The two of them met each day in private to go over significant matters for the group.

Sheela ran the operations of virtually all of the sub-groups under Rajneesh's movement, as well as Rajneeshpuram itself. Rancho Rajneesh was administered through the inner circle of followers managed by Sheela. She made decisions for the organisation in meetings with followers in her own private living space. In addition, Sheela would make decisions for the organisation by herself or after meeting with Rajneesh. Those followers of Rajneesh that did not abide by her rulings risked being kicked out of Rajneeshpuram. According to Bioterrorism and Biocrimes, "This peculiar decision-making style had a significant impact on the group's move to employ biological agents".

The Oregon commune collapsed in 1985 when Rajneesh revealed that the commune leadership had committed a number of serious crimes, including a 1984 bioterror attack (food contamination) on the citizens of The Dalles, Oregon. He was arrested shortly afterwards and charged with immigration violations, and was deported from the United States in accordance with a plea bargain.

Ma Anand Sheela was sentenced to three concurrent 20-year prison sentences, for assault, attempted murder, telephone tapping, immigration fraud and product tampering. She served 29 months before being released on parole. Upon release, she left immediately for Switzerland, where she now manages two nursing homes.

After the collapse

Twenty-one countries denied him entry, causing Osho to travel the world before returning to Poona, where he died in 1990. His ashram is today known as the Osho International Meditation Resort. His teachings emphasised the importance of meditation, awareness, love, celebration, courage, creativity and humour—qualities that he viewed as being suppressed by adherence to static belief systems, religious tradition and socialisation. Osho's teachings have had an impact on Western New Age thought, and their popularity has increased since his death.

One of his strong hopes was creating what he called "new man", who embodies characteristics of Gautama Buddha and Zorba the Greek at the same time. Through this concept, Rajneesh tried to reject neither science nor spirituality, but embrace them both. According to him, “New man” is not subject to one’s sex and does not belong to institutions such as family, political ideologies, or religions.

Books by Rajneesh

Many books of his teachings were published. They followed a pattern: he would give talks, they would be recorded. The tapes would be worked up into a typed manuscript by some of his followers. The manuscripts would be published, at first in India, and without ISBN numbers, so they were at first bought by his admirers. Later some of the best were reprinted in the West. His talks covered a wide range of religions and philosophies. The total number of books is not known, but it was certainly more than 30.

  • 1975. Roots and wings: talks on Zen. Rajneesh Foundation, Poona, India.
  • 1975. And the flowers showered: talks on Zen. Rajneesh Foundation, Poona, India.
  • 1976. The hidden harmony: discourses on the fragments of Heraclitus. Rajneesh Foundation, Poona, India.
  • 1976. When the shoe fits: talks on Chuang Tzu. Rajneesh Foundation, Poona, India.
  • 1977. Ancient music in the pines: talks on Zen stories. Rajneesh Foundation, Poona, India.

listed without dates:

  • The ultimate alchemy, vols I & II.
  • Yoga: the alpha and the omega. vols I and II
  • Vedanta: seven steps to the Samadhi.
  • The way of the white cloud.
  • No water no moon: talks on Zen. (UK edition Sheldon Press)
  • The mustard seed: discourses on the sayings of Jesus.
  • Neither this nor that: discourses on Sosan–Zen
  • Tantra: the supreme understanding. (U.S. edition: Only one sky)
  • Just like that: discourses on Sufi stories.
  • Until you die: discourses on Sufi stories.
  • I am the gate. Harper & Row, New York.
  • The inward revolution.
  • TAO: the three treasures: discourses on Lao Tzu, vols I–IV.
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