The Rajneesh Movement
Most Notorious Cults
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh - The Rajneesh Movement
Rajneesh was born Chandra Mohan Jain, the eldest of eleven children of a cloth merchant, at his maternal grandparents' house in Kuchwada; a small village in the Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh state in India. His parents Babulal and Saraswati Jain, who were Taranpanthi Jains, let him live with his maternal grandparents until he was seven years old. By Rajneesh's own account, this was a major influence on his development because his grandmother gave him the utmost freedom, leaving him carefree without an imposed education or restrictions. When he was seven years old, his grandfather died, and he went to Gadarwara to live with his parents. Rajneesh was profoundly affected by his grandfather's death, and again by the death of his childhood girlfriend and cousin Shashi from typhoid when he was 15, leading to a preoccupation with death that lasted throughout much of his childhood and youth. In his school years he was a rebellious, but gifted student, and gained a reputation as a formidable debater. Rajneesh became an anti-theist, took an interest in hypnosis and briefly associated with socialism and two Indian nationalist organisations: the Indian National Army and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. However, his membership in the organisations was short-lived as he could not submit to any external discipline, ideology or system.
University years and public speaker: 1951-1970
In 1951, aged nineteen, Rajneesh began his studies at Hitkarini College in Jabalpur. Asked to leave after conflicts with an instructor, he transferred to D. N. Jain College, also in Jabalpur. Having proved himself to be disruptively argumentative, he was not required to attend college classes in D. N. Jain College except for examinations and used his free time to work for a few months as an assistant editor at a local newspaper. He began speaking in public at the annual Sarva Dharma Sammelan (Meeting of all faiths) held at Jabalpur, organised by the Taranpanthi Jain community into which he was born, and participated there from 1951 to 1968. He resisted his parents' pressure to get married. Rajneesh later said he became spiritually enlightened on 21 March 1953, when he was 21 years old, in a mystical experience while sitting under a tree in the Bhanvartal garden in Jabalpur.
Having completed his B.A. in philosophy at D. N. Jain College in 1955, he joined the University of Sagar, where in 1957 he earned his M.A. in philosophy (with distinction). He immediately secured a teaching position at Raipur Sanskrit College, but the Vice-Chancellor soon asked him to seek a transfer as he considered him a danger to his students' morality, character and religion. From 1958, he taught philosophy as a lecturer at Jabalpur University, being promoted to professor in 1960. A popular lecturer, he was acknowledged by his peers as an exceptionally intelligent man who had been able to overcome the deficiencies of his early small-town education.
In parallel to his university job, he travelled throughout India under the name Acharya Rajneesh (Acharya means teacher or professor; Rajneesh was a nickname he had acquired in childhood), giving lectures critical of socialism, Gandhi and institutional religions. He said that socialism would socialise only poverty, and he described Gandhi as a masochistreactionary who worshipped poverty. What India needed to escape its backwardness was capitalism, science, modern technology and birth control. He criticised orthodox Indian religions as dead, filled with empty ritual, oppressing their followers with fears of damnation and the promise of blessings. Such statements made him controversial, but also gained him a loyal following that included a number of wealthy merchants and businessmen. These sought individual consultations from him about their spiritual development and daily life, in return for donations-a commonplace arrangement in India-and his practice grew rapidly. From 1962, he began to lead 3- to 10-day meditation camps, and the first meditation centres (Jivan Jagruti Kendra) started to emerge around his teaching, then known as the Life Awakening Movement (Jivan Jagruti Andolan). After a controversial speaking tour in 1966, he resigned from his teaching post at the request of the university.
In a 1968 lecture series, later published under the title From Sex to Superconsciousness, he scandalised Hindu leaders by calling for freer acceptance of sex and became known as the "sex guru" in the Indian press. When in 1969 he was invited to speak at the Second World Hindu Conference, despite the misgivings of some Hindu leaders, he used the occasion to raise controversy again, claiming that "any religion which considers life meaningless and full of misery, and teaches the hatred of life, is not a true religion. Religion is an art that shows how to enjoy life." He characterised priests as being motivated by self-interest, provoking the shankaracharya of Puri, who tried in vain to have his lecture stopped.
At a public meditation event in spring 1970, Rajneesh presented his Dynamic Meditation method for the first time. He left Jabalpur for Mumbai at the end of June. On 26 September 1970, he initiated his first group of disciples or neo-sannyasins. Becoming a disciple meant assuming a new name and wearing the traditional orange dress of ascetic Hindu holy men, including a mala (beaded necklace) carrying a locket with his picture. However, his sannyasins were encouraged to follow a celebratory rather than ascetic lifestyle. He himself was not to be worshipped but regarded as a catalytic agent, "a sun encouraging the flower to open".
He had by then acquired a secretary Laxmi Thakarsi Kuruwa, who as his first disciple had taken the name Ma Yoga Laxmi. Laxmi was the daughter of one of his early followers, a wealthy Jain who had been a key supporter of the National Congress Party during the struggle for Indian independence, with close ties to Gandhi, Nehru and Morarji Desai. She raised the money that enabled Rajneesh to stop his travels and settle down. In December 1970, he moved to the Woodlands Apartments in Mumbai, where he gave lectures and received visitors, among them his first Western visitors. He now travelled rarely, no longer speaking at open public meetings. In 1971, he adopted the title "Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh". Shree is a polite form of address roughly equivalent to the English "Sir"; Bhagwan means "blessed one", used in Indian traditions as a term of respect for a human being in whom the divine is no longer hidden but apparent. Later, when he changed his name, he would redefine the meaning of Bhagwan.
Pune ashram: 1974-1981
The humid climate of Mumbai proved detrimental to Rajneesh's health: he developed diabetes, asthma and numerous allergies. In 1974, on the 21st anniversary of his experience in Jabalpur, he moved to a property in Koregaon Park, Pune, purchased with the help of Ma Yoga Mukta (Catherine Venizelos), a Greek shipping heiress. Rajneesh spoke at the Poona ashram from 1974 to 1981. The two adjoining houses and 6 acres of land became the nucleus of an ashram, and the property is still the heart of the present-day Osho International Meditation Resort. It allowed the regular audio recording and, later, video recording and printing of his discourses for worldwide distribution, enabling him to reach far larger audiences. The number of Western visitors increased sharply. The ashram soon featured an arts-and-crafts centre producing clothes, jewellery, ceramics and organic cosmetics and hosted performances of theatre, music and mime. From 1975, after the arrival of several therapists from the Human Potential Movement, the ashram began to complement meditations with a growing number of therapy groups, which became a major source of income for the ashram.
The Pune 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, Rajneesh conversed with individual disciples or visitors and initiated disciples ("gave sannyas"). Sannyasins came for darshan when departing or returning or when they had anything they wanted to discuss.
To decide which therapies to participate in, visitors either consulted Rajneesh or made selections according to their own preferences. Some of the early therapy groups in the ashram, such as the Encounter group, were experimental, allowing a degree of physical aggression as well as sexual encounters between participants. Conflicting reports of injuries sustained in Encounter group sessions began to appear in the press. Richard Price, at the time a prominent Human Potential Movement therapist and co-founder of the Esalen institute, found the groups encouraged participants to 'be violent' rather than 'play at being violent' (the norm in Encounter groups conducted in the United States), and criticised them for "the worst mistakes of some inexperienced Esalen group leaders". Price is alleged to have exited the Poona ashram with a broken arm following a period of eight hours locked in a room with participants armed with wooden weapons. Bernard Gunther, his Esalen colleague, fared better in Poona and wrote a book, Dying for Enlightenment, featuring photographs and lyrical descriptions of the meditations and therapy groups. Violence in the therapy groups eventually ended in January 1979, when the ashram issued a press release stating that violence "had fulfilled its function within the overall context of the ashram as an evolving spiritual commune".
Sannyasins who had "graduated" from months of meditation and therapy could apply to work in the ashram, in an environment that was consciously modelled on the community the Russian mystic Gurdjieff led in France in the 1930s. Key features incorporated from Gurdjieff were hard, unpaid work, and supervisors chosen for their abrasive personality, both designed to provoke opportunities for self-observation and transcendence. Many disciples chose to stay for years. Besides the controversy around the therapies, allegations of drug use amongst sannyasin began to mar the ashram's image. Some Western sannyasins were alleged to be financing extended stays in India through prostitution and drug-running. A few later alleged that, while Rajneesh was not directly involved, they discussed such plans and activities with him in darshan and he gave his blessing.
By the latter 1970s, the Poona ashram was too small to contain the rapid growth and Rajneesh asked that somewhere larger be found. Sannyasins from around India started looking for properties: those found included one in the province of Kutch in Gujarat and two more in India's mountainous north. The plans were never implemented as mounting tensions between the ashram and the Janata Party government of Morarji Desai resulted in an impasse. Land-use approval was denied and, more importantly, the government stopped issuing visas to foreign visitors who indicated the ashram as their main destination. In addition, Desai's government cancelled the tax-exempt status of the ashram with retrospective effect, resulting in a claim estimated at $5 million. Conflicts with various Indian religious leaders aggravated the situation-by 1980 the ashram had become so controversial that Indira Gandhi, despite a previous association between Rajneesh and the Indian Congress Party dating back to the sixties, was unwilling to intercede for it after her return to power. In May 1980, during one of Rajneesh's discourses, an attempt on his life was made by Vilas Tupe, a young Hindu fundamentalist. Tupe claims that he undertook the attack, because he believed Rajneesh to be an agent of the CIA.
By 1981, Rajneesh's ashram hosted 30,000 visitors per year. Daily discourse audiences were by then predominantly European and American. Many observers noted that Rajneesh's lecture style changed in the late seventies, becoming less focused intellectually and featuring an increasing number of ethnic or dirty jokes intended to shock or amuse his audience. On 10 April 1981, having discoursed daily for nearly 15 years, Rajneesh entered a three-and-a-half-year period of self-imposed public silence, and satsangs-silent sitting with music and readings from spiritual works such as Khalil Gibran's The Prophet or the Isha Upanishad-replaced discourses. Around the same time, Ma Anand Sheela (Sheela Silverman) replaced Ma Yoga Laxmi as Rajneesh's secretary.
The United States and the Oregon commune: 1981-1985
In 1981, the increased tensions around the Poona ashram, along with criticism of its activities and threatened punitive action by the Indian authorities, provided an impetus for the ashram to consider the establishment of a new commune in the United States. According to Susan J. Palmer, the move to the United States was a plan from Sheela. Gordon (1987) notes that Sheela and Rajneesh had discussed the idea of establishing a new commune in the US in late 1980, although he did not agree to travel there until May 1981.
On 1 June, he travelled to the United States on a tourist visa, ostensibly for medical purposes, and spent several months at a Rajneeshee retreat centre located at Kip's Castle in Montclair, New Jersey. He had been diagnosed with a prolapsed disc in spring 1981 and treated by several doctors, including James Cyriax, a St. Thomas' Hospital musculoskeletal physician and expert in epidural injections flown in from London. Rajneesh's previous secretary, Laxmi, reported to Frances FitzGerald that "she had failed to find a property in India adequate to Rajneesh's needs, and thus, when the medical emergency came, the initiative had passed to Sheela". A public statement by Sheela indicated that Rajneesh was in grave danger if he remained in India, but would receive appropriate medical treatment in America if he were to require surgery. Despite the stated serious nature of the situation Rajneesh never sought outside medical treatment during his time in the United States, leading the Immigration and Naturalization Service to contend that he had a preconceived intent to remain there. Rajneesh would later plead guilty to immigration fraud, while maintaining his innocence of the charges that he made false statements on his initial visa application about his alleged intention to remain in the US when he came from India.
On 13 June 1981, Sheela's husband, John Shelfer, signed a purchase contract to buy property in Oregon for US$5.75 million, and a few days later assigned the property to the US foundation. The property was a 64,229-acre ranch, previously known as "The Big Muddy Ranch" and located across two Oregon counties (Wasco and Jefferson). It was renamed "Rancho Rajneesh" and Rajneesh moved there on 29 August. One Oregon professor: "The initial response in Oregon was an uneasy balance in which tolerance tended to outweigh hostility with increasing distance." The press reported, and another study found, that the development met almost immediately with intense local, state and federal opposition from the government, press and citizenry. Initial local community reactions ranged from hostility to tolerance, depending on distance from the ranch. Within months a series of legal battles ensued, principally over land use. In May 1982 the residents of Rancho Rajneesh voted to incorporate it as the city of Rajneeshpuram. 1000 Friends of Oregon immediately commenced and then prosecuted over the next six years numerous court and administrative actions to void the incorporation and cause buildings and improvement to be removed. 1000 Friends publicly called for the City to be "dismantled". 1000 Friends Attorney stated that if 1000 Friends won, the Foundation would be "forced to remove their sewer system and tear down many of the buildings. In 1985, the Oregon Supreme Court found that the land was not suitable for farming, and therefore did not need to satisfy the complicated land use procedures and standards, but remanded for determination on other issues. In 1987, the Supreme Court finally resolved the case in favour of the City, by which time of course, the community had disbanded. During the course of the litigation, 1000 Friends ran a fundraising ad throughout Oregon headlined "Rajneeshpuram Alert. Worrying about Rajneeshpuram Won't Help." An Oregonian editorial commented on the ad, stating that 1000 Friends "ought to be ashamed of itself" for a campaign "based on fear and prejudice". Ironically, the Federal Bureau of Land Management found that the highest farm use of the land in question was the grazing of 9 cattle. At one point, the commune imported large numbers of homeless people from various US cities in a failed attempt to affect the outcome of an election, before releasing them into surrounding towns and leaving some to the State of Oregon to return them to their home cities at the state's expense.
In March, 1982, local residents formed a group called Citizens for Constitutional Cities to oppose the Ranch development. (Hortsch, Dan 18 Mar 1982 "Fearing 'religious cities' group forms to monitor activities of commune" The Oregonian p. D28.) An initiative petition was filed which would order the governor "'to contain, control and remove' the threat of invasion by an 'alien cult'". In 1985, another state petition, supported by several Oregon legislators, was filed to invalidate the charter of the City of Rajneeshpuram. In July 1985, the venue of a civil trial was moved because studies offered by the Foundation showed bias. The judge stated that "community attitudes would not permit a fair and impartial trial". The Oregon legislature passed several bills seeking to slow or stop the development and the City of Rajneeshpuram, including HB 3080 which stopped distribution of revenue sharing funds "for any city whose legal status had been challenged. Rajneeshpuram was the only city impacted by the legislation." Oregon Gov. Vic Atiyah stated in 1982 that since their neighbours did not like them, they should leave Oregon. A representative of the community responded "all you have to do is insert the word Negro or Jew or Catholic...and it is a little easier to understand how that statement sounded." In May 1982, US Senator Mark Hatfield called the INS in Portland. An INS memo stated that the Senator was "very concerned" about this "religious cult" is "endangering the way of life for a small agricultural town...and is a threat to public safety". Such actions "often do have influence on immigration decisions". Charles Turner, the US Attorney responsible for the prosecution of the immigration case against Rajneesh, said, after Rajneesh left the US his deportation was effective because it "caused the destruction of the entire movement". In January 1989, INS Commissioner Charles Nelson acknowledged that there had been "a lot of interest" in the immigration investigation from both the Oregon Senators, the "White House and the Justice Department". And there were many "opinions, mostly like 'This is a problem, and we need to do something about it.'" Mr. Turner later acknowledged, "we were using the legal process to solve...a political problem." A noted legal expert on new religion reported, as to press coverage generally, that the commune was the "focus of a huge outpouring of media attention, virtually all negative in tone". The Oregonian, by far the dominant newspaper in the state, ran a full page ad in 1987 which stated that the Oregonian "contributed to the demise of the Rajneesh commune in Oregon and the banishment of Bhagwan". An Oregon State University professor of religious studies stated that the "hysteria...erodes freedom, and presents a much more serious threat than Rajneeshism, which he viewed as an emerging religion". Mr. Richardson further found that "this plethora of legal action also shows the immense power of governmental entities to deal effectively with unpopular religious groups." (id. p. 483.) He concludes his study: "Given the record..., Oregon new religions have been on trial, and usually they have lost." In 1983 the Oregon Attorney General filed a lawsuit seeking to declare the City void because of an alleged violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution. The Court found that the City property was owned and controlled by the Foundation, and entered judgment for the State. The court disregarded the controlling US constitutional cases requiring that a violation be redressed by the "least intrusive means" necessary to correct the violation, which it had earlier cited. The City was forced to "acquiesce" in the decision, as part of a settlement of Rajneesh's immigration case.
Rajneesh had withdrawn from public speaking and lecturing during the upheaval, having entered a period of "silence" that would last until November 1984, and at the commune videos of his discourses were played to audiences instead. His time was spent mostly in seclusion and he communicated only with a few key disciples, including Ma Anand Sheela and his caretaker girlfriend Ma Yoga Vivek (Christine Woolf). Rajneesh lived in a trailer next to a covered swimming pool and other amenities. He did not lecture and saw most of the residents only when, daily, he was slowly driving past them as they were standing 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. His followers aimed to eventually expand that collection to include 365 Rolls-Royces-for every day of the year.
In 1981, Rajneesh gave Sheela limited power of attorney and removed the limits the following year. In 1983, Sheela announced that he would henceforth speak only with her. He would later state that she kept him in ignorance. Many sannyasins expressed doubts about whether Sheela properly represented Rajneesh and many dissidents left Rajneeshpuram in protest of its autocratic leadership. Resident sannyasins without US citizenship experienced visa difficulties that some tried to overcome by marriages of convenience. Commune administrators tried to resolve Rajneesh's own difficulty in this respect by declaring him the head of a religion, "Rajneeshism".
The Oregon years saw an increased emphasis on Rajneesh's prediction that the world might be destroyed by nuclear war or other disasters sometime in the 1990s. Rajneesh had said as early as 1964 that "the third and last war is now on the way" and frequently spoke of the need to create a "new humanity" to avoid global suicide. This now became the basis for a new exclusivism, and a 1983 article in the Rajneesh Foundation Newsletter announcing that "Rajneeshism is creating a Noah's Ark of consciousness ... I say to you that except this there is no other way", increased the sense of urgency in building the Oregon commune. In March 1984, Sheela announced that Rajneesh had predicted the death of two-thirds of humanity from AIDS. Sannyasins were required to wear rubber gloves and condoms if they had sex, and to refrain from kissing, measures widely represented in the press as an extreme over-reaction since condoms were not usually recommended for AIDS prevention because AIDS was considered a homosexual disease at that stage.
During his residence in Rajneeshpuram, Rajneesh also dictated three books under the influence of nitrous oxide administered to him by his private dentist: Glimpses of a Golden Childhood, Notes of a Madman and Books I Have Loved. Sheela later stated that Rajneesh took sixty milligrams of Valium each day and was addicted to nitrous oxide. Rajneesh denied these charges when questioned about them by journalists.
1984 bioterror attack
Rajneesh had coached Sheela in using media coverage to her advantage and during his period of public silence he privately stated that when Sheela spoke, she was speaking on his behalf. He had also supported her when disputes about her behaviour arose within the commune leadership, but in spring 1984, as tension amongst the inner circle peaked, a private meeting was convened with Sheela and his personal house staff. According to the testimony of Rajneesh's dentist, Swami Devageet (Charles Harvey Newman), she was admonished during a meeting, with Rajneesh declaring that his house, and not hers, was the centre of the commune. Devageet claimed Rajneesh warned that Sheela's jealousy of anyone close to him would inevitably see them become a target.
Several months later, on 30 October 1984, he ended his period of public silence, announcing that it was time to "speak his own truths." In July 1985 he resumed daily public discourses. On 16 September 1985, a few days after Sheela and her entire management team had suddenly left the commune for Europe, Rajneesh held a press conference in which he labelled Sheela and her associates a "gang of fascists". He accused them of having committed a number of serious crimes, most of these dating back to 1984, and invited the authorities to investigate.
The alleged crimes, which he stated had been committed without his knowledge or consent, included the attempted murder of his personal physician, poisonings of public officials, wiretapping and bugging within the commune and within his own home, and a bioterror attack on the citizens of The Dalles, Oregon, using salmonella to impact the county elections. While his allegations were initially greeted with scepticism by outside observers, the subsequent investigation by the US authorities confirmed these accusations and resulted in the conviction of Sheela and several of her lieutenants. On 30 September 1985, Rajneesh denied that he was a religious teacher. His disciples burned 5,000 copies of Book of Rajneeshism, a 78-page compilation of his teachings that defined "Rajneeshism" as "a religionless religion". He said he ordered the book-burning to rid the sect of the last traces of the influence of Sheela, whose robes were also "added to the bonfire".
The salmonella attack was noted as the first confirmed instance of chemical or biological terrorism to have occurred in the United States. Rajneesh stated that because he was in silence and isolation, meeting only with Sheela, he was unaware of the crimes committed by the Rajneeshpuram leadership until Sheela and her "gang" left and sannyasins came forward to inform him. A number of commentators have stated that they believe that Sheela was being used as a convenient scapegoat. Others have pointed to the fact that although Sheela had bugged Rajneesh's living quarters and made her tapes available to the US authorities as part of her own plea bargain, no evidence has ever come to light that Rajneesh had any part in her crimes. Nevertheless, Gordon (1987) reports that Charles Turner, David Frohnmayer and other law enforcement officials, who had surveyed affidavits never released publicly and who listened to hundreds of hours of tape recordings, insinuated to him that Rajneesh as guilty of more crimes than those for which he was eventually prosecuted. Frohnmayer asserted that Rajneesh's philosophy was not "disapproving of poisoning" and that he felt he and Sheela had been "genuinely evil". Nonetheless, US Attorney Turner and Attorney General Frohnmeyer acknowledged that "they had little evidence of (Rajneesh) being involved in any of the criminal activities that unfolded at the ranch". According to court testimony by Ma Ava (Ava Avalos), a prominent disciple, Sheela played associates a tape recording of a meeting she had had with Rajneesh about the "need to kill people" in order to strengthen wavering sannyasins resolve in participating in her murderous plots: "She came back to the meeting and began to play the tape. It was a little hard to hear what he was saying. And the gist of Bhagwan's response, yes, it was going to be necessary to kill people to stay in Oregon. And that actually killing people wasn't such a bad thing. And actually Hitler was a great man, although he could not say that publicly because nobody would understand that. Hitler had great vision." Sheela initiated attempts to murder Rajneesh's caretaker and girlfriend, Ma Yoga Vivek, and his personal physician, Swami Devaraj (Dr. George Meredith), because she thought that they were a threat to Rajneesh. She had secretly recorded a conversation between Devaraj and Rajneesh "in which the doctor agreed to obtain drugs the guru wanted to ensure a peaceful death if he decided to take his own life".
On 23 October 1985, a federal grand jury indicted Rajneesh and several other disciples with conspiracy to evade immigration laws. The indictment was returned in camera, but word was leaked to Rajneesh's lawyer. Negotiations to allow Rajneesh to surrender to authorities in Portland if a warrant were issued failed. Rumours of a National Guard takeover and a planned violent arrest of Rajneesh led to tension and fears of shooting. On the strength of Sheela's tape recordings, authorities later stated the belief that there had been a plan that sannyasin women and children would have been asked to create a human shield had authorities attempted to arrest Rajneesh at the commune. On 28 October 1985, Rajneesh and a small number of sannyasins accompanying him were arrested aboard a rented Learjet at a North Carolina airstrip; according to federal authorities the group was en route to Bermuda to avoid prosecution. $58,000 in cash, 35 watches and bracelets worth $1 million were found on the aircraft. Rajneesh had by all accounts been informed neither of the impending arrest nor the reason for the journey. Officials took the full ten days legally available to transfer him from North Carolina to Portland for arraignment. After initially pleading "not guilty" to all charges and being released on bail Rajneesh, on the advice of his lawyers, entered an "Alford plea"-a type of guilty plea through which a suspect does not admit guilt, but does concede there is enough evidence to convict him-to one count of having a concealed intent to remain permanently in the US at the time of his original visa application in 1981 and one count of having conspired to have sannyasins enter into sham marriages to acquire US residency. Under the deal his lawyers made with the US Attorney's office he was given a 10-year suspended sentence, five years' probation and a $400,000 penalty in fines and prosecution costs and agreed to leave the United States, not returning for at least five years without the permission of the United States Attorney General.
As to "preconceived intent", at the time of the investigation and prosecution, federal court appellate cases and the INS regulations permitted "dual intent", a desire to stay, but a willingness to comply with the law if denied permanent residence. Further, the relevant intent is that of the employer, not the employee. Given the public nature of Rajneesh's arrival and stay, and the aggressive scrutiny by the INS, Rajneesh would appear to have had to be willing to leave the US if denied benefits. The government nonetheless prosecuted him based on preconceived intent. As to arranging a marriage, the government only claimed that Rajneesh told someone who lived in his house that they should get married in order to stay. Such encouragement appears to constitute incitement, nor a crime in the US, but not a conspiracy, which requires the formation of a plan and acts in furtherance.
Travels and return to Pune: 1985-1990
Following his exit from the US, Rajneesh returned to India, landing in Delhi on 17 November 1985. He was given a hero's welcome by his Indian disciples and denounced the United States, saying the world must "put the monster America in its place" and that "Either America must be hushed up or America will be the end of the world." He then stayed for six weeks in Himachal Pradesh. When non-Indians in his party had their visas revoked, he moved on to Kathmandu, Nepal, and then, a few weeks later, to Crete. Arrested after a few days by the Greek National Intelligence Service (KYP), he flew to Geneva, then to Stockholm and to Heathrow, but was in each case refused entry. Next Canada refused landing permission, so his plane returned to Shannon airport, Ireland, to refuel. There he was allowed to stay for two weeks, at a hotel in Limerick, on condition that he did not go out or give talks. He had been granted a Uruguayan identity card, one-year provisional residency and a possibility of permanent residency, so the party set out, stopping at Madrid, where the plane was surrounded by the Guardia Civil. He was allowed to spend one night at Dakar, then continued to Recife and Montevideo. In Uruguay, the group moved to a house at Punta del Este where Rajneesh began speaking publicly until 19 June, after which he was "invited to leave" for no official reason. A two-week visa was arranged for Jamaica but on arrival in Kingston police gave the group 12 hours to leave. Refuelling in Gander and in Madrid, Rajneesh returned to Bombay, India, on 30 July 1986.
In January 1987, Rajneesh returned to the ashram in Pune where he held evening discourses each day, except when interrupted by intermittent ill health. Publishing and therapy resumed and the ashram underwent expansion, now as a "Multiversity" where therapy was to function as a bridge to meditation. Rajneesh devised new "meditation therapy" methods such as the "Mystic Rose" and began to lead meditations in his discourses after a gap of more than ten years. His western disciples formed no large communes, mostly preferring ordinary independent living. Red/orange dress and the mala were largely abandoned, having been optional since 1985. The wearing of maroon robes-only while on ashram premises-was reintroduced in summer 1989, along with white robes worn for evening meditation and black robes for group-leaders.
In November 1987, Rajneesh expressed his belief that his deteriorating health (nausea, fatigue, pain in extremities and lack of resistance to infection) was due to poisoning by the US authorities while in prison. His doctors and former attorney, Philip J. Toelkes (Swami Prem Niren), hypothesised radiation and thallium in a deliberately irradiated mattress, since his symptoms were concentrated on the right side of his body, but presented no hard evidence. US attorney Charles H. Hunter described this as "complete fiction", while others suggested exposure to HIV or chronic diabetes and stress.
From early 1988, Rajneesh's discourses focused exclusively on Zen. In late December, he said he no longer wished to be referred to as "Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh", and in February 1989 took the name "Osho Rajneesh", shortened to "Osho" in September. He also requested that all trademarks previously branded with "Rajneesh" be rebranded "Osho". His health continued to weaken. He delivered his last public discourse in April 1989, from then on simply sitting in silence with his followers. Shortly before his death, Rajneesh suggested that one or more audience members at evening meetings (now referred to as the White Robe Brotherhood) were subjecting him to some form of evil magic. A search for the perpetrators was undertaken, but none could be found.
Rajneesh died on 19 January 1990, aged 58. The official cause of death was heart failure, but a statement released by his commune claimed that he had died because "living in the body had become a hell" after alleged poisoning in U.S. jails. His ashes were placed in his newly built bedroom in Lao Tzu House at the ashram in Pune. The epitaph reads, "OSHO // Never Born // Never Died // Only Visited this Planet Earth between // Dec 11 1931 - Jan 19 1990".