Side Note

The Rajneeshees have a wild wild response to ‘Wild Wild Country’

“This was a U.S. government conspiracy, from the White House on down, aimed at thwarting Osho’s vision.”

Warning: We’re going to assume that if you’ve clicked on this article that you’ve already seen ‘Wild Wild Country’ in its entirety, and thus, there will be spoilers below.

Upon finishing the sixth and final episode of Wild Wild Country, I felt like I’d gotten plenty of resolution but little in the way of answers. The Rajneeshee community disbanded and headed back to India, the town of Antelope returned back to normal, and the guy whose dad founded Nike decided he kind of missed being in a cold war with the heavily armed commune that he lived next to. But was Bhagwan Rajneesh actually in on all of the poisonings and assassination attempts his followers carried out, or was his secretary Ma Anand Sheela behind it all? Were the Rajneeshees simply defending themselves against hostile locals, or were the locals simply acting in response to the increasingly ominous acts of the Rajneeshee community? How many secret doors in a secret underground bunker with a hot tub is too many secret doors in a secret underground bunker with a hot tub? And how do the present-day Rajneeshees feel about how they were portrayed in the series?

Some of this is by design: It’s impossible to determine right and wrong in a conflict such as the one between the Antelope locals and the Rajneeshees, and there are very few data points that might suggest an acceptable number of secret doors in secret underground bunkers with hot tubs. But, given that the Rajneeshees — now operating under the name Osho International — are still around and still maintain a “meditation resort,” that can cost thousands of dollars to stay at, you can bet your ass that they have some very strong feelings about Wild Wild Country. And, unsurprisingly, those feelings are very negative.

In a statement posted on their site, Osho International claims that “the docuseries fails to explore key aspects [of the conflict] and so does not give a clear account of the real story behind the story.” According to them, Bhagwan Rajneesh was the victim of “a US government conspiracy, from the White House on down.”

While the statement makes some very valid points, suggesting just as Wild Wild Country does that Rajneesh was a victim of racism on the part of the United States government, the authors also veer into, shall we say, less coherent territory. For one, they claim that both the mass poisonings were Ma Anand Sheela’s idea, but also that since Sheela only served 39 months in prison, that poisoning a bunch of homeless people and also trying to give an entire town salmonella isn’t actually a big deal. The whole statement is worth reading in full, and the Osho International site also features a bunch of mobile apps that I, for one, am going to download and then delete if they ask me for money.