by: Serge Mikhailov • 1
Chandra Mohan Jain (About this sound pronunciation (help·info); 11 December 1931 – 19 January 1990), also known as Acharya Rajneesh from the 1960s onwards, as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (About this sound pronunciation (help·info)) during the 1970s and 1980s and as Osho from 1989, was an Indian mystic, guru and spiritual teacher who has an international following.
A professor of philosophy, he travelled throughout India during the 1960s as a public speaker. His outspoken criticism of socialism, Mahatma Gandhi and institutionalised religion made him controversial. He advocated a more-open attitude towards sexuality, a stance which earned him the sobriquet of "sex guru" in the Indian and (later) international press. In 1970 Rajneesh settled for a time in Bombay, initiating disciples (known as neo-sannyasins) and assuming the role of spiritual teacher. In his discourses he reinterpreted the writings of religious traditions, mystics and philosophers from around the world. Moving to Poona in 1974, he established an ashram which attracted a growing number of Westerners. 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 Rajneesh's provocative lectures. By the late 1970s, there were mounting tensions with the Indian government and the surrounding society.
In mid-1981, Rajneesh relocated to the United States; his followers established an intentional community (later known as Rajneeshpuram) in Oregon. Within a year the commune's leadership became embroiled in conflicts with local residents (primarily over land use), which were marked by hostility from both sides. The large number of Rolls-Royce cars purchased for Rajneesh's use by his followers also attracted criticism. The Oregon commune collapsed in 1985 when Rajneesh revealed that the commune leadership had committed a number of serious crimes, including a bioterror attack (food contamination) on the citizens of The Dalles. He was arrested shortly afterwards, and charged with immigration violations. Rajneesh was deported from the United States in accordance with a plea bargain. Twenty-one countries denied him entry, causing Rajneesh to travel the world before returning to Poona (where he died in 1990). Osho's ashram is today known as the Osho International Meditation Resort. His syncretic teachings emphasise the importance of meditation, awareness, love, celebration, courage, creativity and humour: qualities which he viewed as suppressed by adherence to static belief systems, religious tradition and socialisation. Osho's teachings have had a notable impact on Western Spirituality, as well as New Age thought, and their popularity has increased since his death.
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