Self-exiled Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh came to Wasco County, Oregon, in a Rolls Royce in 1981 and founded Rajneeshpuram, an ashram based on harmony, free love and the crafting of the New Man. They didn’t quite harmonize with the locals, who clashed with the cult’s orange outfits. Netflix will explore the cult in its upcoming docuseries Wild Wild Country. Executive produced by Mark and Jay Duplass, the six-episode Netflix Original documentary series launches Globally on March 16.
Netflix released the trailer.
Directed by Chapman Way and Maclain Way (The Battered Bastards of Baseball), Wild Wild Country is “about a controversial cult leader who builds a utopian city in the Oregon desert, resulting in conflict with the locals that escalates into a national scandal,” according to the YouTube synopsis. But other press statements mentioned a massive conflict with local ranchers that produced “the first bioterror attack in United States history.”
In 1984, Shree Rajneesh, whose real name is Chandra Mohan Jain, allegedly poisoned hundreds of people throughout restaurants in Dalles, Oregon, with Salmonella bacteria to rig local elections. Rajneesh maintained that he was in meditation and blamed his secretary Ma Anand Sheela (Sheela Silverman). Rajneesh had already destroyed the image of the ascetic Hindu Guru with his fleet of Rolls Royces, and allegations of prostitution and drug running in India before he founded the Rajneesh Foundation International. He was deported from Oregon in 1981.
Before the Branch Davidians armed themselves and the Aum Shinrikyu Cult did a nerve attack on the Tokyo subways, the Rajneesh cult followed the mass suicide in Jonestown tasked with investigating them. Vigilantes from the neighboring community of Antelope, attacked the Rajneeshees compound, causing the cult to arm itself. The attracted the attention of the FBI, who found evidence of immigration fraud, election rigging, smuggling and a planned assassination attempt on the presidentially appointed U.S. Attorney Charles Turner.
Hinduism is not a proselytizing religion, but after his expulsion Rajneesh went on to continue amassing followers under the names Osho and Acharya Rajneesh. He died on January 19, 1990.
Wild Wild Country screened at the Sundance Film Festival. Wild Wild Country. Executive produced by Mark and Jay Duplass, the six-episode Netflix Original documentary series launches Globally on March 16.