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The Rajneesshee cult started building their utopian city of the future in rural Oregon during the early s. And while it all began with peace and love, it ended with attempted murder, the exploitation of thousands of homeless people, and cult leaders who ordered the poisoning of an entire town by spraying salad bars with salmonella. At least people got violently ill during the salmonella poisoning, which was part of a trial run to keep people home on election day.

When they were no longer needed, the homeless people were drugged and dumped on the streets of Portland. Wild Wild Countryout today on Netflix, is a six-part limited series—a fascinating exploration of a cult that most Americans outside of Oregon hardly remember, even if they were alive during the early s to see it.

I spoke with the directors over the phone earlier this week to ask them about cult leader Bhagwan Rajneesh now referred to by followers as Oshothis hypercapitalistic utopian experiment in Oregon, and Ma Anand Sheela—the woman who helped orchestrate the violence and attempted murders that would ultimately bring the community crashing down.

Gizmodo: So how did you guys first hear about the Rajneeshees? Chapman Way: We had just wrapped our first documentary, The Battered Bastards of Baseballwhich is about a minor league baseball team in Portland, Oregon and we worked with an archive center up there called the Oregon Historical Society.

We decided to dive head first started transferring all of this old footage of what the Center had. When we got the archive back it was even crazier than some of the things Matt had told us about.

We started reaching out to potential characters, talking heads. Pretty quickly, talking to those people it became really clear that this was probably the most important thing that had happened to them in their entire life. That was how they felt about it. And then obviously on the other side too, getting to know people in Antelope. It was certainly a time period that they remember really, really well.

It was probably the biggest thing that ever happened in that entire town. Gizmodo: One of the characters you talked to was Sheela. How did you approach her? Was she eager to talk? Chapman Way: Yeah, we approached her pretty soon off the bat.F OR nine years Jane Stork was a devotee of "sex guru" Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, who in the s and '80s led a cult known for their orange clothes and free love.

Along the way she surrendered her name and identity as a suburban West Australian housewife and mother to become Ma Shanti Bhadra — a woman prepared to do anything, even murder, for her master. In her new book, Breaking the Spell: My Life as a Rajneeshee and the Long Journey Back to FreedomStork writes about how she got sucked into the cult and finally broke free after being jailed for an attempt to kill the Bhagwan's doctor.

She also provides an insight into the mind of the Bhagwan and his mouthpiece Ma Sheela — who famously pronounced "tough titties" in a 60 Minutes interview in when it was suggested the Orange People were not welcome in a local town.

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Stork was introduced to the Bhagwan's teachings through a psychologist she was seeing because of personal and marital problems. The psychologist worked in the public health system but had just returned from Pune, India, where the Bhagwan had established an ashram, a place of religious retreat. He became her mentor, and in Stork followed his footsteps, and those of many other Australians, to Pune.

She was later joined by her husband and children, Peter, 10, and Kylie, 8. Stork says she was attracted to the Bhagwan as a reaction to the guilt of her Catholic upbringing and because of the lack of rules and regulations in his teachings. But she soon found that the ashram was not all it was cracked up to be. Stork felt uncomfortable with many aspects of life there, including the group sex and partner swapping, as well as deliberate moves to fragment families and drive a wedge between husbands and wives, parents and children.

About 87 per cent of residents had a sexually transmitted disease and women who became pregnant were told by the Bhagwan to abort and sterilise, Stork says. She and her teenage daughter were both sterilised. There were no children born in the ashram.

In the Bhagwan left Pune for the US, where he put his followers, including Stork, to work building a massive Rajneeshee city in Oregon. At its peak it had residents, putting it on a collision course with the local community and authorities.

It was in Oregon that the Bhagwan's excesses came to full bloom as he funnelled money from Rajneeshee communes around the world into Oregon. He amassed huge wealth, which he squandered on gold watches, jewellery and a collection of more than 90 Rolls-Royces. He became a star, a showman," Stork says. When a transport came in with two or three Rolls-Royces it was a covered transport.

Things began to unravel in when Kylie was sexually abused on the commune. At the time Stork believed the allegations were lies perpetrated by the enemies of the Bhagwan. Stork had also become a member of one of Ma Sheela's inner circle. Charismatic and feisty, Sheela was hugely influential in the organisation, Stork says. But she was also the Bhagwan's puppet and scapegoat, and ultimately his fall-woman.

Sheela convinced Stork and other members of her inner sanctum that the Bhagwan's enemies were out to get him, and the group began to hatch plans for a pre-emptive strike against those who would harm their spiritual leader.

Stork writes how the group discussed killing district attorney Charles Turner, and later how she made an attempt on the life of the Bhagwan's doctor with an adrenalin-filled syringe. Fortunately the attempt failed, and it marked a turning point for Stork, who left the commune for Germany with Sheela soon after.


But the law caught up with her, and she was extradited to the US in and sentenced to 10 years' jail for attempted murder. She was released after two years and returned to Germany, but was re-arrested in for conspiracy to murder Turner. This time Germany refused to extradite her, and Stork began the long, painful process of coming to terms with her past and moving on.

Today, a slight woman of 64 with a neat grey bob and a string of pearls, Stork says she has finally left her life as a Rajneeshee behind her. Stork says it is wrong to describe her as the victim of brainwashing by an evil cult. Stork says she has no contact with Sheela, who was also jailed but can be seen on YouTube singing the Bhagwan's praises.

As for the Bhagwan, who died in Pune inStork believes he trod the ground somewhere between holy man, showman and conman. They were just a nuisance, they were part of the show. Escaping the Bhagwan.When I got into the van with a group of strangers on the way to a mysterious psychotherapy retreat in rural New South Wales, there was man wearing a branded T-shirt with an unfamiliar name. He was a famous guru who had been rebranded, which is unsurprising because his previous brand had become toxic.

Osho, formerly known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, was the leader of a group known as the Orange People. He is also the subject of a fascinating new six-part Netflix documentary, Wild Wild Country. As a child growing up in the s, the spectre of the Orange People loomed like a bogeyman although there were none that I knew of, hiding out in Warrnambool. Tough titties. Fast forward to and the week I was away at the camp with the guy in the Osho T-shirt was the most intense week of my life.

The camp was not connected to Osho but his influence and some of his techniques were used. We gave up our phones and submitted to a mysterious schedule that started early and finished late. Many of the activities involved therapies of the sort I had never encountered: screaming, hitting things, swearing, jumping up and down on the spot for ages, dancing while blindfolded, making strange sounds.

The noise and the emotional distress of the other participants freaked me out. I dislike yelling, and hearing people scream and cry was frightening. The big sounds and big emotions were frightening to me initially because so much of what I had around me in daily life — from smartphones, to television to alcohol — were effectively numbing agents.

It would be a few days before I adjusted and could lose my inhibitions to also scream, and only on the last day did I cry.

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But after I loosened up, I found I could not stop screaming. I became a champion screamer and hitter of things. In sessions lasting for hours, others at the camp were lying on the ground, spent, and I was still at it — hitting and hitting and hitting stuff with a foam bat, drenched with sweat. Energy burst geyser-like from me from some secret source.

There are psychological theories behind this process of letting go in a contained and safe space. It worked for me. This week watching Wild Wild Country, I was reminded of my week away at the camp. It was the screening of this BBC documentary which initially turned the small US farming community where the Orange People had settled against them.

But it was essentially for the same purpose — a form of purging. Violence in the Rajneesh therapy groups ended in When I returned to Sydney from the camp, I felt a level of happiness and contentment that I had never before experienced.

The night I returned I went to dinner with some friends in Sydney, who quickly clocked my new blissful state.

OSHO: Marriage and Children

One of them was scathing: this was a cult, she said, I needed to be careful. I was in no danger of joining a cult the retreat was not a cult anyway. I was reporting on the experience for a magazine and was hyperaware of what was going on — yet she still managed to bring me down.

Using news footage and interviews with people involved in the Orange People, and those in the town of Antelope where the group made its uneasy home, Wild Wild Country walks the middle line between showing the Orange People as progressive and enlightened and yet depicting how unsettling their presence was in rural Oregon.It was always a Rolls-Royce, although a different one each day, and it would glide slowly past as they bowed and threw roses on the bonnet.

Inside, wearing robes, a tea cosy-style woolly hat, flowing grey beard and beatific smile, was the object of their devotion, the guru and mystic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. In the U. Given that he owned 93 of the luxury cars, the title was more than fair. His followers were often highly educated professionals ready to reject the strictures of middle-class convention and seek enlightenment first in India and later at communes in Oregon, Cologne and Suffolk.

All of them seem nostalgic for those heady days. The series uses some of the reams of previously unseen home-video footage shot by the movement, and has been criticised for leaving viewers to decide whether the Rajneeshis were a terrifying, murderous cult or — as some of them still insist — just a peaceful, persecuted minority religion.

The facts, say former prosecutors and other outsiders who came into contact with the toxic clan, are as indisputable as they are damning. Rajneesh was a philosophy lecturer who, infounded a spiritual movement and commune in Pune, near Mumbai formerly Bombay. His teachings were a bizarre mixture of pop psychology, ancient Indian wisdom, capitalism, sexual permissiveness and dirty jokes that he gleaned from the pages of Playboy magazine.

Sex — lots of it and with as many partners as possible — lay at the core of his philosophy. He insisted that repression of sexual energy was the cause of most psychological problems. Rajneesh argued that monogamous marriage was unnatural and advocated unrestricted promiscuity, including partner-swapping, from the age of Blessed with a captivating stare from huge, soft eyes, he was so charismatic that many of his followers — who would fill 20,seat stadiums to hear him speak — believed he could be a second Buddha.

But Rajneesh, born inwas no ascetic mystic in a loincloth. The fees he charged for group therapies were so exorbitant that some women disciples worked as prostitutes to raise the money. He stayed for several years, dropping out of society. I was a bit bored by the free love thing.

It was the meditation I was interested in. She remained there for six years before following the Bhagwan when he moved to Oregon, where she became one of thousands of non-U.

The group purchased a 64,acre ranch near the tiny settlement of Antelope, and the 7, disciples who moved in swamped the strong resident Bible-bashing population. The two sides mistrusted each other from the start. Antelope was renamed Rajneeshpuram. A local park was reserved for nude sunbathing.

Construction began on a self-sustaining Rajneesh city intended for 50, residents, with scores of houses, shops, restaurants and even an airport built. But local people jointly took legal action against the development, backed by politicians increasingly convinced that the Rajneeshis were a dangerous cult.

Footage showed a crowd of naked men and women packed into a room, screaming and attacking each other. Sobbing with masochistic relief, she humbly enters the tribe.

However, beset by health problems, Rajneesh had already stopped addressing his followers before he arrived in the U. He left day-to-day running of the movement to Ma Anand Sheela, his secretary, who became his official mouthpiece.

Sheela was a young Indian woman whose small stature and disarming smile hid a ruthless megalomaniac who walked around with a large handgun strapped to her hip.We use cookies and other tracking technologies to improve your browsing experience on our site, show personalized content and targeted ads, analyze site traffic, and understand where our audiences come from.

To learn more or opt-out, read our Cookie Policy. In s Oregon, wearing maroon meant you were likely part of a cult. Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox. Heather Walters was 11 when she first encountered the crimson-clad disciples of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in the Dalles in north central Oregon.

It was in the parking lot of a supermarket, though whether it was a Fred Meyer or some other big-box grocer — perhaps it was an Albertsons? What she does remember, however, is feeling a chill as she watched them dancing — twirling, really — with their eyes closed, faces raised beatifically to the sky.

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The most salacious of these, including widespread salad bar poisoningsare documented in Wild Wild Country, a six-part Netflix docuseries by the brothers Chapman and MacLain Way that charts the incredible rise and equally improbable fall of Rajneeshpuram, the city-commune that served as a flashpoint for debate about sexual mores, religious freedom, and land use legislation in s rural Oregon. The Rajneeshees were just beginning to infiltrate Oregonian society, where they were met with a mix of curiosity and wariness.

Little was known about the strangers beyond their hippy-dippy exhortations about unbridled sex and elevated planes of consciousness. And I always remember the scarlet color. Ma Shanti Bhadra73, a former sannyasin who is featured in the Netflix series. There should be a documentary on where the Rajneesh got all their red and purple clothes. It identifies the ascetic, one who has renounced material things. The holy man, on the other hand, was a for-profit prophet who preached opulence and self-indulgence.

He looked higher in the tree and saw it was a flame tree, with a big umbrella of red and gold and orange flowers.

I want my disciples to be the flaming of their human potential. Red, she adds, is the color of the rising sun, of awakening, of celebration. For the blue-denim folks of central and eastern Oregon, however, red also signaled danger. Unlike their counterparts in Pune, who donned flowing robes of one kind or another, the residents of Rajneeshpuram wore typical Western clothing: T-shirts, tank tops, and shorts in spring and summer; turtlenecks, flannel button-downs, and puffy down jackets in fall and winter.

11 Things We Learned From Jane Stork's Memoir

Decades before Donald Trump appropriated the red baseball cap as ideological shorthand, the Rajneeshees touted their devotion with the very same item, albeit with the Rajneeshpuram logo — twin doves silhouetted across the rays of the rising sun — in lieu of a slogan. Things were completely different in Oregon. The ashram in Pune straddled a property of about six acres. In the months that followed, Rajneeshpuram would bloom into an oasis of prefab buildings, A-frames, trailers, and tents.

It would eventually house an airstrip, a disco, a casino, a pizzeria, a luxury hotel, and a small shopping center that contained a beauty parlor, a post office, and a boutique that stocked all the mauve and vermilion threads one could ever need. During the summers, someof theRajneeshees worldwide would converge for a massive celebration — think Burning Man meets Coachella meets South by Southwest.

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But in the beginning, the toil of shaping the land to their needs remained ahead. Roads needed carving, power lines needed installing, and vegetables needed planting.

As the Rajneeshees exercised their growing influence — first in Antelope, then the rest of Wasco County, where they attempted to replace two of the three sitting commissioners with their own people — red transitioned into an expletive.The website's critical consensus reads, " Wild Wild Country succeeds as an intriguing examination of a forgotten piece of American history that must be seen to be believed.

Nick Allen of RogerEbert. Some have criticized Wild Wild Country for leaving out critical information regarding the activities of the Rajneesh followers, particularly regarding sexual assault of women and children as well as possible intent to unleash an AIDS epidemic. They have not addressed squarely some of the more important issues raised by their film, and have left others out completely.

The Osho International Foundation, which co-administers Rajneesh's estate and operates the Osho International Meditation Resort in Pune, Indiaresponded to the docuseries on their website Osho Timessaying that "Unfortunately, the docuseries fails to explore key aspects and so does not give a clear account of the real story behind the story", and arguing that the events in Oregon were part of "a U.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Ma Shanti Bhadra

Crime Documentaries. Daily Express.

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Express Newspapers. Retrieved March 13, The Hindustan Times. The Oregonian. Retrieved March 23, Sundance Film Festival. The Sundance Institute. The Hollywood Reporter.

Prometheus Global Media. The Daily Beast.

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Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved April 30, Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved April 13, Retrieved The New Republic. The Sunday Age. Fairfax Media. Osho International Foundation. March 31, Retrieved March 31, Oregon portal. Rajneesh movement. Byron v.While shopping online for an jane stork is easier and more convenient than shopping in person, it is also harder to know if you are buying a high-quality product.

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