Zorba the Buddha is the first comprehensive study of the life, teachings, and following of the controversial Indian guru known in his youth as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and in his later years as Osho (1931–1990). Most Americans today remember him only as the “sex guru” and the “Rolls Royce guru,” who built a hugely successful but scandal-ridden utopian community in central Oregon during the 1980s. Yet Osho was arguably the first truly global guru of the twentieth century, creating a large transnational movement that traced a complex global circuit from post-Independence India of the 1960s to Reagan’s America of the 1980s and back to a developing new India in the 1990s. The Osho movement embodies some of the most important economic and spiritual currents of the past forty years, emerging and adapting within an increasingly interconnected and conflicted late-capitalist world order. Based on extensive ethnographic and archival research, Hugh Urban has created a rich and powerful narrative that is a must-read for anyone interested in religion and globalization.
List of Illustrations
Introduction: Gurus, God-Men, and Globalization
1. “India’s Most Dangerous Guru”: Rajneesh and India after Independence
2. “Beware of Socialism!” The “Anti-Gandhi” and the Early Rajneesh Community in the 1970s
3. “From Sex to Superconsciousness”: Sexuality, Tantra, and Liberation in 1970s India
4. “The Messiah America Has Been Waiting For”: Rajneeshpuram in 1980s America
5. “Osho”: The Apotheosis of a Fallen Guru in 1990s India
6. OSHO®? The Struggle over Osho’s Legacy in the Twenty-First Century
Conclusion: The Spiritual Logic of Late Capitalism
Hugh B. Urban is Professor in the Department of Comparative Studies at Ohio State University, where he studies comparative religion, religions of South Asia, and new religious movements.
“This book is a must. . . . Smoothly written and accessible, without bias.”—OshoNews
"Anyone hoping to dispel the myth that religious studies is boring will find ample support in this book. The blend of scholarly insights, deeply-felt experiences, and a story worthy of a Hollywood movie, make Zorba the Buddha hard to resist."—Nova Religio
“This is a marvelous book, displaying theoretical sophistication, mature erudition, critical balance, archival and ethnographic hard work, and a fluid engaging writing style. It will make a major contribution to the study and analysis of modern charismatic guru movements.”—Jeffrey Kripal, J. Newton Rayzor Professor of Religion, Rice University
“Balancing personal interviews, archival work, and Osho’s own voice, Zorba the Buddha
gives a vibrant sense of the community of devotees, as well as the sentiments of ex-devotees, without being dragged into the mire of their contested debates. Urban has worked impressively with very difficult materials and productively engaged a highly controversial and often contradictory figure. This book is a pleasure to read.”—Amanda Lucia, Associate Professor of Religion, University of California, Riverside