Rajneesh & Tantra: A History

While Rajneesh wrote about many things during his life, he is best known for his modern transformation of the Asian tradition of Tantra.

| September 2016

  • Tantra
    Rajneesh transformed traditional Tantra by taking the preexisting sexual symbolism and making it central and "sexy."
    Photo by Fotolia/PrintingSociety
  • Zorba the Buddha
    "Zorba The Buddha" by Hugh B. Urban tells the life story of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh who was a key player in the sexual revolution worldwide.
    Cover courtesy University of California Press

  • Tantra
  • Zorba the Buddha

Zorba the Buddha: Sex, Spirituality, and Capitalism in the Global Osho Movement (University of California Press, 2016) by Hugh B. Urban is the first comprehensive study of the life, teachings, and following of controversial Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, also known as Osho. This excerpt from chapter 3 "From Sex to Superconsciousness: Sexuality, Tantra, and Liberation in 1970s India" focuses on the way Rajneesh is remembered in western culture, as a "sex guru."

To find more books that pique our interest, visit the Utne Reader Bookshelf.

"The days of Tantra are coming. Sooner or later Tantra is going to explode for the first time on the masses, because for the first time the time is ripe — ripe to take sex naturally. It is possible that explosion may come from the West, because Freud, Jung, Reich, they have prepared the background […] They have made the basic ground for Tantra to evolve. Western psychology has come to a conclusion that the basic human disease is somewhere around sex, the basic insanity of man is sex-oriented. So unless this sex orientation is dissolved, man cannot be natural, normal." 

— Osho, The Book of Secrets



"The idea of sexual liberation as integral to larger social and political liberation was an underlying theme in radical and romantic theories since the early nineteenth century and became central to both the counterculture and New Left movements of the 1970s."

— Dennis Altman, Global Sex



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