Chapter 61 of Abhiyana’s book, ‘The Long Reach of the Dharma’: “By Osho leaving, a bloodbath was probably avoided. But at what a cost! Osho was mistreated and possibly poisoned and/or exposed to radiation while under arrest for… what?”
That’s why they call it the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it
It was getting more and more bizarre at Rancho Rajneesh. Those of us who were even peripherally involved in espionage were being interviewed by the FBI.The CIA and other security forces roamed the grounds; it felt like the invasion before the invasion. All the attempted murder, wiretapping and poisoning allegations gave the Feds ample cause.
On October 2, 1985, I noticed a large collection of cars with government license plates were parked at Jesus Grove. A huge meeting of all the different government agencies with the commune lawyers and leaders was taking place. Search warrants had been issued for seven locations on the Ranch – the Pythagoras Medical Clinic, Hotel Rajneesh, Rajneesh Medical Corp. offices, Rajneeshpuram Chamber of Commerce, Pythagoras Pharmacy and the Zarathustra office building. Osho, along with many others, was served a subpoena to appear before a grand jury. With more than 50 agents of the state police, FBI, attorney general’s office, Wasco County Sheriff ’s Department and The Dalles Police Department swarming over the Ranch, we had indeed lost control over our beloved commune.
There is evidence that forces in Washington D.C. (U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese among them) and the Vatican (future Pope Cardinal Ratzinger) colluded to destroy the commune by arresting and deporting Osho, and make certain he couldn’t settle and start another commune anywhere else in the world. Ratzinger was quoted in 1981 as saying: “All sorts of Satanic cults by oriental godmen are out to seduce the faithful away from Christ.”
Rumors of the National Guard being posted on the north end of the Ranch turned out to be true. Guard commanders told the Oregon governor they could mobilize 10,000 soldiers. Major Moine, head of the Oregon State Police, had a plan to send in 800 armed troopers, if the raid was given the go-ahead. If it took another Waco, Texas bloodbath to end this, so be it. I was part of a contingency plan where, upon a given signal, we would rush to surround Osho’s house with locked arms, facing outward. It was rumored the National Guard would land a helicopter on the lawn near his bedroom. A townhouse nearby was kept empty, in case Osho had to be hidden there from the authorities.
No one knew what was going to happen next. I went about my day in a kind of daze. I just wanted to get the hell out. Needing some perspective and a break from the insanity, I flew to San Francisco. There the shock started wearing off, and anger arose. How could we let this happen? How could he let this happen? On October 29th, I received a call from a friend on the Ranch: “Turn on the news!” And there he was on every station; Osho in chains, being paraded around by federal marshals with guns.
Shock returned. This can’t be happening! Someone had the bright idea to fly Osho to Bermuda, all the way across the continent. The two Learjets were easily traced by the Federal Aviation Administration along the flight route. When the plane stopped to refuel in North Carolina, the marshals were waiting. By Osho leaving, a bloodbath was probably avoided. But at what a cost! Osho was mistreated and possibly poisoned and/or exposed to radiation while under arrest for… what? There was no public indictment, no warrant. Some high-ranking politicians wanted to see him humiliated, mortally hurt and deported, by any means necessary.
Just six days before, a federal grand jury in Portland issued a 35-count indictment charging Osho and seven others with conspiracy to evade immigration law. The indictment was “sealed” i.e., secret, but it was apparent that an arrest was imminent. Osho’s attorneys had offered a surrender at any time, but the state and feds refused, seeming to prefer a bloodbath instead. For that reason, I believe Osho was flown off into the night toward Bermuda.
I was glued to my parents’ TV, trying to get the latest news. I called the Ranch, but no one knew more. We were asked not to fly to Charlotte on our own, but to wait. I witnessed my American conditioning surface: “He must be guilty, or they wouldn’t treat him this way.” Some programmed part of myself could not believe Osho was innocent. Watching him being shuttled in handcuffs and ankle shackles, part of me was in grief, and another part felt he was getting his just desserts. After all, I was taught that America is the land of the free and the home of the brave, where justice is served. A few nights later, Ted Koppel from Nightline interviewed Osho in jail. Dressed in prison clothes, Osho looked childish, defensive and demanding; Koppel constantly interrupted him with loaded questions, not giving Osho a chance to answer in his usual long-winded way. The interview really shook me: Have I been hypnotized all along? Am I now seeing the real man behind the Wizard of Oz facade?
There was a moment when I considered not returning to the Ranch. Be finished with the whole story; why go down with a sinking ship? But something compelled me to return. Of course, all my stuff was there; my lover and friends were there, my life was there! More importantly, Osho had done so much for me in my spiritual growth; I could not abandon the master in his time of need. Dharma indeed has a long reach.
There is a beautiful story about Osho coming off that plane in Charlotte. I don’t know if it is true, but like all good stories it radiates truth; if it didn’t happen, it should have happened! The marshals were understandably on edge about confronting what they saw as armed cult members and the guru himself. Standing on the tarmac with a gun pointed in his face, Osho reached up ever so slowly toward the barrel of the gun, and ever so gently pushed it down. Maintaining eye contact with the officer as he did, Osho quietly stated: “Put that down. No need.” And he did.
At his arraignment, Osho told the judge that if he is an illegal immigrant, then the judge and all other non-native Americans are illegal aliens and should leave the country. You can imagine how that argument went over in court!
I flew back to Oregon, and waited at the Ranch with everyone else. It seemed to take forever for him to return, and most of the time we had no idea where he was. He was put on a prison shuttle, and flown for ten days all over the country, in shackles and chains. In 2016, a scathing report of the U.S. prison air shuttle service exposed the horrible conditions on these planes, how prisoners were often forced to stand for hours while shackled. People have even died on these shuttles! For Osho’s delicate body, with degenerative lumbar discs, asthma, diabetes and severe allergies, it must have been hell.
Osho finally arrived back on the Ranch. A short time later there was one final drive-by to the Rajneeshpuram airport, where he flew to Portland for his arraignment; his lawyers had arranged for him to plead no contest to two minor counts of immigration fraud. Osho was accused of arranging sham marriages, and of lying on his tourist visa application that he did not intend to stay in America, and later tried to stay. In my opinion, holding Osho responsible for this on some hearsay evidence, most likely given under coercion, is like charging the Pope for any Catholic staying illegally in the Vatican.
To come to the U.S. on a tourist visa, with the intention of applying later for a permanent one, is not a crime that anyone has been charged for, that I know of. It is entirely plausible that Osho had zero intention to stay when he arrived. After all, the man lives in the here and now. Besides, one can change his mind, for God’s sake! For these “crimes,” Osho was fined almost half a million dollars and deported. Do you know anyone else who has been subjected to such inhumane treatment for immigration fraud?
The Oregon attorney general, when asked why Osho was not accused of the same crimes as Sheela, said: “I did not have any proof whatsoever linking Rajneesh to Sheela’s crimes… All we wanted was to dismantle the commune.” And so they did.
Excerpt from Deva Abhiyana’s recently released book, ‘The Long Reach of the Dharma’.
Read Bhagawati’s review:
‘The Long Reach of the Dharma’
American-born Abhiyana came to Pune in 1976 and lived for years in Osho’s communes in India and the USA. A Doctor of Oriental Medicine, he is author of ‘Osho Divine Healing: A SpiritMindBody Workbook’. Together with his partner Madhu and daughter Sharadevi, he now lives and practices acupuncture in Sedona, Arizona. Sedona-Acupuncture.com