1. Who Was Osho and What is Rajneeshism?
Born in a small village in Bareli, Madhya Pradesh, as Chandra Mohan Jain, Osho’s transformation from a young man drawn to hypnosis led him to believe in a transcendental life. As a powerful leader, he managed to influence, control and secure a god-like devotion from billionaire heirs, celebrities, lawyers and farmers alike.
In Charisma and Control in Rajneeshpuram: A Community Without Shared Values, author Lewis F Carter mentions that in the years between 1960 and 1968, Osho held several academic positions, even teaching philosophy at a few universities such as Jabalpur University. However, through this period, he began to grow more disillusioned with existing philosophies propelled by Hinduism and even socialism, calling out their “hypocrisy”.
He began to cultivate his own philosophy — one that would later become enshrined in the pages of the Rajneeshee manifesto and would be followed for decades after his death in 1990. A simplified way to sum up Osho’s philosophy would be to refer to one of his most famous quotes:
Carter mentions that by 1970, he had rounded up his first batch of disciples, the ‘Neo-Sannyasis’, and took under his wing, Laxmi Kuruwa. Later known as ‘Ma Yoga Laxmi’, she became his personal secretary and managed to procure funds strong enough for him to settle in Mumbai and receive visitors.
Four years and several hundred followers — who were now calling themselves ‘Rajneeshees’ — later, he moved to a property purchased in Koregaon Park, Pune, by one of his disciples who was a Greek heiress, which later became his core ashram from 1974-1981.