Apr 8, 2018

A forgotten cult under the spotlight

APRIL 2018

Most people know Osho. You might have even come across an inspirational quote attributed to him. But how many know, and I mean really know, Bhagwan? Throughout the six binge-worthy episodes of Wild Wild Country, that question comes up a lot.

The season, which is available in its entirety on Netflix, looks at Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh aka Osho (in much later years) also simply known as Bhagwan and tells the story of his followers. If the people who are interviewed in diary sessions and the archived footage shown did not appear to be real, it would be easy to believe this entire thing was fiction. To put it mildly: there is a sinister air to the series.

So here’s the gist of it: in the 1980s, there was an Indian spiritual leader simply known as Bhagwan, who led his followers to a utopian land called Rajneeshpuran - in Oregon, America. The Rajneeshees, led by a polarising figure and Bhagwan’s righthand woman, Ma Anand Sheela - simply known as Sheela - buy land in the small town and have plans to govern themselves. But the conservative townspeople won’t have it.

Throughout the series, it seems if Bhagwan had a tagline for all of his sometimes bizarre moves, it would be: Bhagwan for the money. Sorry, I couldn't resist. Back to the series.

What ensues is a very intriguing, four-year-long, existence (and subsequent seemingly vanishing) of people whose stories include assassination attempts, poison plots and a well of WTF moments. The guru flees without telling the members of his cult that he's out. Sheela and those loyal to her also flee. And everyone almost gets away with it.

This movement was both baffling and inspiring. And it’s equally entertaining to know that most people I’ve spoken to about it didn’t even know such a time existed because that compels them to also go down the rabbit hole.

What? I can’t be the only one. Binge today!  

Wild Wild Country is on Netflix now.


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