The New Age movement has long been associated with the pursuit of peace, harmony, and freedom from oppressive social norms. But for one of the most controversial figures in the movement, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, these pursuits took a vastly different form. His story is now revealed in the documentary Rajneeshpuram, which exposes his ambitious plans to transform his spiritual commune into a political power – as well as its explosive consequences.
Rajneesh was born in India in 1931 and developed an influential following after starting speaking tours and delivering sermons around the world. In 1981 he established a commune known as Rajneeshpuram in Wasco County, Oregon. There he built a utopia where people could practice his teachings free from traditional societal rules. However, unbeknownst to many of his followers, Rajneesh had loftier ambitions than just creating a peaceful oasis away from the pressures of modern life.
Rajneesh sought to use his commune’s growing popularity to influence local politics and become an all-powerful leader with complete control over his followers. To this end, he began registering thousands of homeless people from across the US to vote for him in local elections. He also employed an army of armed guards at Rajneeshpuram and ordered them to intimidate anyone who opposed him or threatened his rule.
In 1985 it all came crashing down when authorities uncovered evidence indicating that Rajneesh had orchestrated one of the largest bioterrorist attacks in US history – an act that forced him to flee Oregon and leave behind many devastated followers who found themselves abandoned by their leader.
Rajneeshpuram is a sobering reminder of how unchecked ambition can lead even those with noble ideals astray. It is essential viewing for those who wish to understand how an individual’s sense of entitlement can be used to manipulate vulnerable individuals and provoke disaster on a grand scale. So do yourself a favor; take some time out and watch this gripping documentary today!