Rajneeshpuram postcard collection, 1982-1984  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Rajneesh Foundation International
Rajneeshpuram postcard collection
1982-1984 (inclusive)
5 postcards (1 folder)
Collection Number
Postcards of Rajneeshpuram, a religious commune lead by the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in eastern Oregon from 1981-1985
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
Access Restrictions

Entire collection can be viewed on the Libraries’ Digital Collections website. Permission of Visual Materials Curator required to view originals. Contact Special Collections for more information.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Rajneeshpuram was a commune in the eastern Oregon town of Antelope from 1981-1985. It was founded by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a guru and former philosophy professor from India, and served as the home of 2000 of his followers, who were known as sannyasins. Rajneesh had started his commune in India in the 1970s, until government authorities began to investigate him for smuggling, tax fraud, and other crimes. He then fled to the United States, where his chief of staff and spokeswoman, Ma Anand Sheela, secured land for the commune on 64,000 acres of ranch land in eastern Oregon. They intended to build a large city with housing, warehouses, and other buildings to provide space for businesses and workers.

Oregon law, however, limited how many buildings and people could be on ranch land. In order to accommodate the number of sannyasins and buildings that Rajneesh and Sheela envisioned, Sheela claimed that the group was a farm commune that sought to restore rangeland. She and other Rajneeshee leaders then began to incorporate their own city—which they claimed was necessary to house the workers and operations needed to restore the land—called Rajneeshpuram. The development of this city put the group in battle with environmental groups and government officials.

In order to retaliate against those who attempted to restrict the commune’s growth, Sheela and other Rajneeshee leaders fought back in both petty and serious ways. Some of their enemies had their tires flattened or were tripped as they exited buildings; however, many others were poisoned or targeted for murder. County commissioners were given bacteria-laden water to drink during a tour of the ranch, and were told they would have died if they had not sought medical treatment. Many other innocent citizens in surrounding towns became ill after Rajneeshees contaminated the salad bars at local restaurants in an attempt to deter voter turnout in an election that sought to place a Rajneeshee woman in county office. In other forms of extreme retaliation, Sheela devised plans—which were ultimately unsuccessful—to burn down the Wasco County Planning Department and to murder the U.S. attorney for Oregon, the state attorney general, and a Wasco County commissioner, as well as Rajneesh’s own personal doctor and caretaker.

By September 1985, the commune’s legal battles and internal distrust were quickly leading to its end. Sheela quit her position as chief of staff and fled to Europe, while other Rajneeshees were questioned by state and federal investigators. Many of the commune’s leaders, including Sheela, were sentenced to federal prison time on charges including immigration fraud, burglary, racketeering, arson, and attempted murder. The guru himself, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, attempted to escape the country but was caught and eventually deported on immigration crimes. He ultimately changed his name to Osho and died in India in 1990.

(From "25 years after Rajneeshee commune collapsed, truth spills out" five-part article in the Oregonian, 2011).

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Postcards of Rajneeshpuram in Antelope, Oregon.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Copyrights unknown. Some restrictions may exist on copying, quotation, or publication. Contact Special Collections for details.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Communal living--Oregon--Antelope
  • Postcards--Specimens
  • Corporate Names :
  • Rajneesh Foundation International--Archives
  • Geographical Names :
  • Antelope (Or.)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Postcards

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Visual Materials Collections (University of Washington)
  • Personal Names :
  • Osho, 1931-1990
  • Geographical Names :
  • Rajneeshpuram (Or.)--Photographs