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The name he’d chosen meant “Great Soul.” He’d evolved from an obscure college professor in a remote part of India to become a high visibility media celebrity for a few years. To a large extent his success had been due to the skills of a clever individual schooled in marketing techniques with a keen knowledge of human behavior. They’d contacts in high places and this ensured their “product” received exposure needed to guarantee his rise to fame. The results were unbelievable!
The Ashram in India was a self contained walled in mini city which supplied everything necessary to cater to needs of an affluent resident mostly expatriate community. Careful pricing ensured only rich would be able to enter and spend time there. The Mahatma would be picked up from his quarters each morning in one of his Rolls Royce cars, and driven a block within the Ashram to an open air auditorium where he’d give his discourse. People swooned and danced as the show proceeded, and the Mahatma watched his subjects with intense satisfaction mentally counting his growing fortune.
I’ve met and talked with many of the devotees. There were doctors of medicine and noted scientists, Jews and ex Christians. High officials working for United Nations and various world governments were frequent visitors. Movie stars basked in the reflected glory of the Mahatma and had been known to add to his stable of luxury cars. All showered praises and riches on him, as they expected their movement to sweep the world and usher in an age of peace.
Doctrines of the movement were simple to understand and easy to follow. The hypnotic power of the Mahatma kept devotees in line. They basically believed god was self, and rituals practiced would help them to reach the flash of realization of god inside. No “sin” was there to inhibit these people; whatever the natural urges desired was alright. If the body happened to be involved in something considered socially a thumbs down that didn’t matter. The body was corrupt anyhow, as long as the “spirit” was meditating on higher things as the body was having its fun that was OK!
Then one day a secret approach was made to our College. We were offered the movable buildings of the Ashram and the Mahatma wanted an answer that day and the buildings cleared immediately. The Mahatma was moving out with his devotees! Actually, he’d planned to flee the country to avoid a raid by tax authorities, and he had sufficient friends in high places to enjoy ample warning so he could take some of his wealth with him as he fled with foreign supporters to the USA. There was a greater fortune waiting to be made in Oregon.
Subsequent events proved the Mahatma not to be a great soul, but a charlatan. For a while he tried to carry on his act and the movement did prosper for a time, but magic had gone along with much of his prestige, wealth and friends. He died in relative obscurity and without the worldwide outpouring of mourning he’d dreamed about in happier days as he “transmigrated” to another form of existence. Even his former devotees had serious doubts about his claims to be Mahatma, or Great Soul after his expulsion from the USA. He passed on after being refused entry to several countries and finally finding his way back to India. Former disciples looked for new and more exciting things to awaken their spiritual consciousness. But the ideas he originated have been welcomed by those who follow the New Age Movement even to this day.
“© Copyright Ian Grice 2012 All rights reserved”
Further information from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajneesh