The new Netflix documentary series Wild Wild Country explores the history of the Rajneeshee cult, a group of New Agey maroon-wearing followers of an Indian guru named Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. The documentary begins with the original Rajneeshee ashram in Pune, India, and then spends most of its six episodes following the very strange story of the cult’s time in Oregon. One thing you discover at the end of the series, though, is that the cult leader, Rajneesh (called Osho by many of his followers), returned to India at the end of his life and went back to the original meditation center he founded in Pune.
Another thing you learn is that the Osho International Meditation Resort and Guesthouse is still very much an operational meditation center and tourist destination!
And there are lots of reviews of it on TripAdvisor!
Overall, the Osho Meditation Resort has a 4.0/5 rating with 134 reviews. (It’s worth noting that one of the negative reviewers suggests some of the more positive reviews are written by Osho staff members.) Wild Wild Country introduces the Rajneeshees as a cult mostly focused on adoring the guru Osho, dancing, possibly drugging homeless people with Haldol without their knowledge, capitalism, wearing maroon, and having lots of sex. TripAdvisor reviewers suggest that the capitalism part, at least, is still a part of the Osho worldview:
From a British traveler in 2014:
As many reviewers have previously commented, this place really is ruined by the blatant commercialism and extortionate additional costs … I came away feeling like if they could charge you for air, they would.
From another British traveler in 2017:
I have nothing against places like this charging money from guests, the facilities are in fact very good and beautiful, but the problem is they make you feel extremely awkward at every step you take there: you must BUY overpriced marron and white robes to circulate in there, if you want to use the swimming pool, there’s an extra charge, and you can’t leave the swimming pool and come back on the same day without paying again, and you must also buy marron swim wear.
Complaints about expense are some of the most common negative reviews of the Osho resort, but the staff does occasionally post responses on that front:
Osho is clear that only when people pay for meditation do they appreciate it. To the ‘ashram’ mind this will of course appear to be ‘blatant commercial exploitation’ – but Osho has no interest in the opinions of the ‘ashram mind.’ Anyone really interested in the key to Osho’s approach, meditation, would obviously appreciate more than ten hours of meditation for the price of couple of movie tickets.
Reviews of the meditation sessions themselves suggest that the sex part of the sex cult seems to have been mostly excised:
It was a meditation focused around laughing. We walked into the main auditorium and sat on the floor and when the gong went everyone started laughing – for 15 minutes! It felt a bit weird to me, but I had a go and kept laughing as required – although kept thinking that I was in a rather strange place …
The evening session required the white robe to be worn, and it involved more dancing. Then there was a video of the guru (who died several years ago), giving a talk about his views on things. I cannot write what he spoke about because I’m not allowed, and I found the video distasteful.
From another reviewer in 2014:
Dancing around, breathing heavily, screaming, talking gibberish, laughing, punching the air etc were (it seems, though we had NO explanation around the objective) all to do with releasing frustration etc, but once you’ve done that a few times, I didn’t have much more anger to get out (apart from all the anger at the standards of Osho itself, but screaming wasn’t going to solve it. I hope this review does.)
One crucial part of the cult’s original sex-centric mission does remain a prominent feature of the Osho experience — a mandatory HIV test:
When I then sat down to check on a computer in the reception lobby if I can leave any feedback I was able to access other peoples log in pages including their address details and the results of their HIV tests. when I pointed this out to a member of staff ( as this is not really very protective of clients confidentiality) they started telling me off for using the computer which was situated in the middle of the lobby and had no sign on it to say I was not allowed to.
… there is no clear explanation as to why a HIV test is compulsory. A well hidden link on the website leads to a rambling and nonsensical essay written by Osho on the subject of aids. But that’s about it. There’s nothing in the meditation programme about the exchange of bodily fluids, nor does this seem to be encouraged, so why on EARTH do all guests have to take this test?!
More than one reviewer also notes that some of the meditation rooms are overly air-conditioned. This complaint does result in a fantastic staff response post:
The temperature and design of the Osho Auditorium where the meditations happen were to Osho’s specifications. Then people don’t need to go to the Himalayas, he explains, where the environment would anyway be destroyed by so many visitors.
It’s worth noting that there are also many, many very positive reviews of the Osho resort, from people who do not mind the mandatory HIV tests administered without confidentiality, the exorbitant cost of the required maroon robes, or the frigid marble meditation floors. Here’s one from February 2018:
Tis is not a place you judge by normal “hotel” or “resort” standards. It is a high-quality place of a meditation experience. If you just want 5-star luxury, go to another place – this is a place for experience and adventure – but so rewarding.
Or one from October 2017:
I heard that Osho center is different from other yoga places, but when experiencing, I found the major differences are: Osho’s self re-discovery methodology, the great energetic vibes in every corner of the center, also the people who are very friendly and joyful so that you will calm yourself immediately once you start the sessions. People said that the center charges too much, however, compared to the session quality & the spirit of this resort, I would say avg Rs1500 for a day is actually superb valued deal!
Or a representative five-star review from 2013 that definitely doesn’t sound at all cultish:
Year after year, each time … has felt like the first time ! Rebirth !! Excellent , in every respect, is too mild a term … If there is paradise on Earth, one really wonders, where else it could be ? And, my review is not going to help too much … Till you taste it, you’ll never, ever gain a single clue about this inexpressible splendour …. If you haven’t been here yet, you are yet to arrive …
There’s also this one from just three weeks ago:
This place is not for spiritual fools who visit india and think that meditation is free.
as osho said ‘let them all take care of the poor. I will take care of the rich’.
If you cannot afford this place or you think that that being spiritual is love compassion and all that nonsense KEEP AWAY
For some people, the experience just seems a little … off:
I read in my lonley planet book that this place was $70 a night. After buying robes and taking aids test, I dropped way more money than I wanted to spend. It was a beautiful area with awesome buildings. But, there was a orientation that lasted for 3 hours. I wasn’t feeling well and was asking to go lay down. I had to wait to get my key pad back and talk to 7 different people. I felt like I was in a cult and I wanted out!