Wild times in the free love Bhagwan cult – it’s a miracle nobody died

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From naked ‘therapy’ sessions to an attempt at mass poisoning, the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’s spiritual movement had it all. Peter Waight [Subhuti] was a British member of the cult, with a ringside seat, he tells Helen Rumbelow – The Times on 26 September 2019 (excerpt)

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Double-page for Wild Wild Guru in The Times
Double-page for ‘Wild Wild Guru’ in The Times

There was sex, of course, as much as you wanted, wherever you wanted and in front of or with any number of people. Then there was dressing in red and orange, the mysticism and squabbles over communal living.

So far the story of following Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, related to me by the 71-year-old man sitting next to me on the sofa, is one familiar to many baby boomers. So many of that generation acquired a free-love case of the clap and a bushy beard in India before settling down in a mock-Tudor house in Surrey.

But Bhagwan was different, in so many ways. Bhagwan was also called the “sex guru” for his enthusiasm for copulation as a tool of enlightenment; and was also called the Gucci guru for his love of diamond watches and his nearly 100 Rolls-Royces; and was also called a charlatan. Most of the “groovy” Indian sects, cults and ashrams, popularised by the Beatles and other celebrities, sputtered out at the end of the 1970s. Bhagwan had delirious success with his first ashram in India in 1974; just seven years later he moved his thousands of idealistic western followers to a vast ranch in Oregon. As depicted in last year’s surprise hit documentary Wild Wild Country, this was less a ranch, more Animal Farm.

Subhuti and friends 1978
Peter Waight, by then known as Subhuti Anand Waight (far left), with cult members at the ashram circa 1978 [Subhuti, Pratima, Niket, Pankaja, Vandana, ed.]

The man I meet today in his publisher’s office in London started out as Peter Waight, a young political reporter for the Birmingham Post and a restless soul who in 1976 travelled to India to meet a spiritual leader everyone was talking about. He looks more ascetic now, the beard gone, the frame wiry and the vague accent reflecting years of nomadism. He could pass as a retired university lecturer with no hint of his wild past. Yet he is still a believer in Bhagwan, after everything that happened. A critic, yes, but a believer. Which is, I think, almost unbelievable…

Read more on: thetimes.co.uk (paid content)

Wild Wild Guru by SubhutiWild Wild Guru: An Insider’s Account of His Life with Bhagawan, the World’s Most Controversial Guru
by Subhuti Anand Waight
published by Coronet, an imprint of Hodder & Staughton, London
available as Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle from amazon.comamazon.co.ukamazon.de and oshoviha.org

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