PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — One of the most bizarre chapters in Oregon history came with the arrival of a religious cult called the Rajneesh.
Now that story is a new Netflix documentary, “Wild Wild Country.” The series premiere is set for March 16.
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh preached a message of free love, meditation and living in the moment. He was known for his daily drive-bys in a fleet of Rolls Royces.
In 1981, Bhagwan’s followers, known as Rajneeshees or Sannyasins, built a communal city from the ground up on the 64,000 acre Big Muddy Ranch in Wasco County. At it’s height, Rajneeshpuram had nearly 7,000 people from all over the world.
The Rajneesh were led by the combative Ma Anand Sheela, Bhagwan’s personal assistant who threatened anyone she perceived as enemies of the Rajneesh.
In 1984, the Rajneesh poisoned salad bars in The Dalles with salmonella to incapacitate voters so Rajneesh candidates would win elections in Wasco County.
An estimated 751 people became sick and 45 were hospitalized in what’s still known as America’s largest bio-terrorism attack.
Bhagwan was deported and died in 1990 at age 58.