Gurus Gone Wild

The good, the bad and the ugly in some of our favorites.

February 28, 2007

Writers Neela Banerjee & Rebecca Klassen



A K A: "Sex guru", self-described "guru of the rich", Chandra Mohan Jain, Acharya Rajneesh Zorba the Buddha, Osho

MULTITASKING: Taught philosophy and was a religious leader.

PHILOSOPHY: A syncretic approach that proposed the creation on the "new man" through self-knowledge and freedom from repressive social conventions, including sexual ones. Later, he revised his sexual liberalism and became obsessed with the idea of an AIDS apocalypse, instructing disciple to stop kissing, wear condoms and rubber gloves during during sex.

NUMBER OF DISCIPLES: 500,000 at its peak.

ACCUSED CRIMES: Tax evasion, insurance fraud, lying on immigration papers. Top aides were charged with the attempted murder or on Oregon district attorney, spreading salmonella on restaurant salad bars, recruiting homeless people as voters to control county politics, arson at the local planning department and wiretapping.

BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT(S): Followers voted themselves into the City Council of Antelope, OR and renamed it City of Rajneesh. His nearby 64,000-acre ranch became the incorporated city of Rajneeshpuram, with an airport, restaurants, malls and a 24-hour "Peace Force" armed with assault weapons. He kept 90 Rolls Royces there. He once bragged that he had made love to more women than any other man earth.

HOT GOSSIP: Reputedly a valium addict and heavy nitrous oxide huffer. His death in 1990 was rumored to have been AIDS-related; he suspected thallium poisoning by US officials.


ETHNICITY: Vietnamese

A K A: "Suma" (for Supreme Master), "Buddhist Martha [Stewart]", "She", Hue Thi Tanh Wallenstatter

MULTITASKING: Nun, nurse, translator, painter, magazine publisher, singer-songwriter, painter, crafter, glam fashion designer and operator of 101 vegetarian restaurants globally. Also auctions off her used good-from a Volvo to sweat socks-for large sums of money.

PHILOSOPHY: Proscribes a semi-ascetic lifestyle along with hours of daily meditation using the Quan Yin Method, or "contemplation of the Sound Vibration," though which immediate enlightenment is possible. There's also a "Convenient Method."


ACCUSED CRIMES: Came under scrutiny during Clinton's "Asian money" fundraising scandal in 1997, when Little Rock restaurateur Charlie Trie delivered $600,000 in bad checks and money orders to Clinton's legal defense fund written by fellow followers, at Ching Hai's urging. Much of the money was returned to the donors. Building an illegal island-complete with an aviary-by importing boulders and hacking through a mangrove forest in Biscayne Bay National Park, FL. She owned the adjacent property under the name Celestia De Lamour.

BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT(S): Being the living reincarnation of Buddha, Quan Yin and Jesus Christ.

HOT GOSSIP: The left side of her face is partially paralyzed from surgery, which explains her lopsided smile. Rumor has it that disciples drink her bathwater and eat her soap.



A K A: Chinmoy Kumar Ghose, "sex pest"

MULTITASKING: Painter, writer, athlete and musician-instruments he plays include the esraj, Indian flute, violin, flute, cello, "spontaneous improvisational piano" and pipe organ. Owner of vegetarian retaurants across the nation.

PHILOSOPHY: Combines Hindu Vaishnavism and modern Vedanta philosophy. Preaches celibacy, vegeiarianijm arid drug- and alcohol-free living-intense athleticism plays a major roler.

NUMBER OF DISCIPLES: An estimated 4.000 worldwide.

ACCUSED CRIMES: Sexual "exploitation.".coercing a woman to have an abortion when she became pregnant with their lovechild. inciting girl-on-girl action in order to watch, insrftuting a weight-loss program based on public humiliation for women who got too big for their saris, using levers and doctoring photographs to boost his weightlifting claims.

BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT(S): Composed 18.097 songs in Bengali. English. Sanskrit and French by 2004 and performed a 14-hour concert in 1995 on 150 instruments. Under the banner of "Lifting up the World with a Oneness-Heart," honoring "people who have made_a contribution to the world on humanity." he's lifted 7.027 individus overhead with one arm between 1988 to 2004.

HOT GOSSIP: Famous disciples included Mahavishnu John McLaughlin and Devadip Carlos Santana (both left by the '80s) Carl Lewis, Roberta Flack and Sheena Easton.



A K A: "That cereal guy", "the boss", Harbhajan Singh Puri, Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji, Sin Singh Sahib

MULTITASKING: Not only did he make healthy cereals and found a drug rehab program, but he also started Akal Security, owned by Bhajan through his 3HO (Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization), or Sikh Dharma Brotherhood. Akal has over $1 billion in federal contracts, protecting military installations, federal courts and airports.

PHILOSOPHY: A blend of Sikhism and Tantrism, especially incorporating Kundalini yoga.

NUMBER OF DISCIPLES: Claimed over 250,000, though in fact it was only a few thousand.

ACCUSED CRIMES: Was sued on several occasions for fraud and deceit, assault and battery, false arrest and imprisonment, intentional infliction of severe emotional distress, violation of the fair labor standards act and invasion of privacy. He's been criticized for diluting Sikhism with Tantrism, yoga and vegetarianism, for misrepresenting his position and personal history within Sikhism and for sexually manipulating female followers.

BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENTS: Going from customs officer at the Delhi airport to being a Kundalini yoga master with followers and multi-million dollar companies. Honored after his death in 2004 through a joint resolution of the US Congress. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson oredered that flags be flown at half-staff.

HOT GOSSIP: Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Kundalini yoga instructor to Madonna and Cindy Crawford, was one of his disciples.

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