Episode 12: God vs. The Universe

Bhagwan, who once called organized religion "the corpse of religiousness," becomes the head of his own religion in 1983. But the Oregon Attorney General proves that "Rajneeshism" is the greatest existential threat the new commune has ever faced.

Episode Notes & Sources

Episode 12 Transcript


Photos

Sheela in her “pope” robes

Sheela in her “pope” robes

Delivering the Rebuttal Evidence in support of Bhagwan’s INS case in Portland, August 1983.

Delivering the Rebuttal Evidence in support of Bhagwan’s INS case in Portland, August 1983.

Sheela addressing the press (and kneeling disciples) after delivering rebuttal evidence in support of Bhagwan’s immigration case, August 1983.

Sheela addressing the press (and kneeling disciples) after delivering rebuttal evidence in support of Bhagwan’s immigration case, August 1983.


Cutting Room Floor

The Rajneeshees’ initial efforts to spread word about their new religion, “Rajneeshism,” started small. In late January 1983, Sheela and some other Rajneeshees walked into an Oregon high school to address 120 students studying comparative religion. They spoke in front of a well-lit backdrop featuring photos of Bhagwan. One kid later described it as more of a performance than a real attempt to engage with the students. But the Rajneeshees did make quite an impression on at least some of the kids, who were told — by a teenage disciple — that free beer and sex was available at Rajneeshpuram. One mother seethed to the Oregonian newspaper that the presentation had her poor son “interested, curious and enthralled.” At future school visits, the Rajneeshees were sometimes instructed not to bring any teenagers with them.

Music

Powerwalkin’ by Future Joust (closing credits)

All other music by Rusty King