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Rajneeshpuram's Biological Warfare in the United States

Updated on June 2, 2019
Abecedarian profile image

I remember watching this on the news, it was unbelievable that this could happen in America.

Cult leader

 Bhagwan Shree Rjaneesch, the leader of Rajeeshpuram.
Bhagwan Shree Rjaneesch, the leader of Rajeeshpuram.

The start up in motion

Rajneesh, began his cult by purchasing the Big Muddy Ranch property just outside of Antelope, Oregon, Here he would create an agricultural community or so, that is what he lead the surrounding communities believe. The commune quickly grew, their sign said population 1444, but it has been said that he had upwards of 7000 followers.

The commune was built by the members, it was suppose to be a group of people that had no burden, it was free living, free sex and lots of meditation. However, they soon began building a hospital, a fire station, restaurants, a post office, a school and other amenities that made it ti's own city. The city became known as Rajneeshpuram.

Followers of Rajneesh
Followers of Rajneesh
Followers listening intently to Rajneesh
Followers listening intently to Rajneesh
Rajneesh followers
Rajneesh followers


In time, the commune had conflict not only within themselves, but with the surrounding community of Antelope, whose population was only 60 people. Completely outnumber by the people of Rajneeshpuram.

Their police force called themselves the Rajneeshpuram Peace Force, but they trained with automatic weapons and paraded around with them, intimidating community members and making them very uncomfortable.

In order to gain power, people of Rajneeshpuram were sent to live in Antelope and run for public office and quickly took over the town's control.

The Peace Force training
The Peace Force training
The police or was they calmed themselves, the Peace Force.
The police or was they calmed themselves, the Peace Force.

The power behind the leader

Although it was Rajneesh that was the leader of the commune, he was seldom heard from. He gave moral speeches and he paraded down the street in his Rolls Royce of the day, having collected numerous years and styles of Rolls Royce's.

His second in command was the one that dealt with the issues of the day and the planning with the committee members. Should you stay in the good graces of Ma Anand Sheela. She exacerbated the hostilities with the outside communities.

It was Sheela that convinced Rajneesh to take on the Bhagwan name, meaning "God" and that all the members of the commune wear red. Sheela was from a politically and well connected family in Bombay and she was insensitive and boorish. Member of the commune feared her and avoided her.

Ma Anand Sheela, the second in command.
Ma Anand Sheela, the second in command.

The more money and control the better

There were prerequisites to being allowed into the commune. They went after people with skills that could be used to further their cause and survival. Those that had money were key in their recruitment. Members of the commune that might have had connections with celebrities and others in good financial standing were sent to recruit them. Some of those recruited were heirs or heiresses of major corporations, newspaper companies, doctors, lawyers and anyone who could bring income to the commune.

Sheela also had all the buildings in town tapped for sound and video; even the pay phones. She had a monitoring station and they knew what everyone was saying and doing.

In the commune, she kept the members working and exhausted, so much so, that it was hard to make sound decisions and easier to control.

Members with children were encouraged to leave them behind, those that did not were encouraged to undergo sterilization because children were not a part of the equation for the commune.

Biological warfare; spores and many other items were found at the compound.
Biological warfare; spores and many other items were found at the compound.

Biological Warfare

In order to gain power and hold on to that power, Sheela had the members of the commune go out into the neighboring town and spread Salmonella spores via travel size spray bottles. Easy to conceal and this allowed them to walk right up to salad bars and spray the food that was then consumed by the communities. In all they had 751 people who took ill.

This was a technique that she used to keep voters ill and unable to vote and in turn getting members of their commune elected to office.

It was the largest biological warfare attack on United States soil and only a small look at what they actually had on reserve when the property was seized.

The Arrest of Sheela and Rajneesh.
The Arrest of Sheela and Rajneesh.

The end of Rajneeshpuram

Sheela saw the writing on the wall and fled to Germany, where she was extradited and imprisoned on charges of wiretapping, attempted murder due to the Salmonella attack; among other things. She served her time and was released.

Rajneesh entered into a plea agreement and was escorted to a plane that took him back to India and he was never to return to the United States.

Several members went to prison for their involvement in the Salmonella attack, wire tapping, etc. And many just went home and back to their own lives.

While there are many that believe calling them a cult, it hurts other religious groups or the possibility of them, but a cult is a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing. And when you convince an individual that it is o.k. to spread an illness that could kill, this is not a religion, it is a cult being trained to destroy the American way of life.

It is nothing more than a terrorist organization.

© 2019 Lady Liberty


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