By A Staff Writer
The Rajneesh Chronicles is the true story of the cult that unleashed the first act of bioterrorism on the US soil, told with authority and aplomb by Win McCormack, the editor-in-chief and publisher of the prestigious magazine The New Republic
The Rajneesh Chronicles (Hachette India, Price Rs 450) captures the sensational and shocking events that inspired the smash-hit Netflix show Wild Wild Country. It is the first book to tell the full story of and offer new insight into life within the deadly, infamous cult and includes rare photographs.
One of the most controversial spiritual leaders to have emerged from India in the twentieth century, godman Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, also known as Osho, amassed thousands of followers from across the world in the 1970s, preaching a mix of free love and mysticism from his ashram in Pune. When tensions between him and then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi came to a head, Rajneesh was forced to move his followers to Oregon in the United States, where his disciples toiled day and night to build the fanciful city of Rajneeshpuram, complete with its own police and fire departments, schools, malls, townhouses, as well as an airstrip and a reservoir.
But as the ‘Rajneeshes’ began to invade the surrounding towns, locals registered vehement protests, causing the Oregon state government to intervene and call into question the legitimacy of Rajneeshpuram. What followed was a bizarre series of events, with the cult being accused of launching the first campaign of bio-terrorism in the history of the United States, poisoning 751 people in the town of The Dalles, Oregon.
Here is the astonishing story of the happenings, from beginning to end, told in real-time dispatches from reporters on the ground.
‘Bhagwan is God, and…the disciples of God cannot be made to submit to any of the laws established for ordinary human beings. To attain our goal, everything is permitted,’ says Kristina Koppel, Rajneesh disciple arrested for international drug smuggling.
Win McCormack is publisher and editor-in-chief of The New Republic and Tin House magazine. From 1983 to 1986, he wrote a monthly column on Rajneesh for Oregon Magazine, of which he was then editor-in-chief. The columns won the magazine a William Allen White Commendation for investigative reporting.