Osho or Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was born in 1931 in Central India. He was a charismatic and gifted speaker who became the leader of a worldwide new spiritual movement. It is said that at the age of 21 he attained enlightenment or Samadhi. At the time he was studying philosophy at the University of Saugar. On receiving a masters degree he taught philosophy at the University of Jabalpur for nine years. As well as teaching philosophy he also began to attract disciples to follow his own eclectic mix of philosophy and religion. In 1966 he decided to leave his teaching post and give full attention to his role as spiritual Master.
In 1970 he settled for a while in Mumbai. He began initiating disciples (known as neo-sannyasins) and took on the role of a spiritual teacher. In his discourses, he reinterpreted writings of religious traditions, mystics and philosophers from around the world. In 1974 he moved with his disciples to Pune, India. Here he established a new ashram in a comfortable setting of 6 acres. In 1980 he was attacked by a Hindu fundamentalist who disagreed with Osho’s unconventional stance on religion and spirituality. It is said that due to police incompetence the assailant was never convicted.
In 1981, Osho relocated to the United States and his followers established an intentional community, later known as Rajneeshpuram, in the state of Oregon. Within a year the leadership of the commune became embroiled in a conflict with local residents, primarily over land use, which was marked by hostility on both sides. Osho’s large collection of Rolls-Royce automobiles was also notorious. The Oregon commune collapsed in 1985 when the news spread that some members of the commune had committed a number of serious crimes, including a bioterror attack (food contamination) on the citizens of The Dalles.
Osho was arrested shortly afterwards and charged with immigration violations. He was deported from the United States in accordance with a plea bargain. Twenty-one countries denied him entry, causing Osho to travel the world before returning to Pune, where he died in 1990. His ashram is today known as the Osho International Meditation Resort. His syncretic teachings emphasize the importance of meditation, awareness, love, celebration, creativity and humour – qualities that he viewed as being suppressed by adherence to static belief systems, religious tradition and socialisation. His teachings have had a notable impact on Western New Age thought, and their popularity has increased markedly since his death.