Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh rose from a precocious boy in India to a spiritual guru to tens of thousands of people worldwide. He became famous for his controversial teachings and lavish lifestyle, leading some to call him a cult leader. Building Utopia paints an immersive, unflinching portrait of Rajneesh and the people who chose to devote their lives to him -- including his top lieutenants, who fled his Rajneeshpuram commune in 1985 amid a cloud of criminal allegations. Building Utopia will captivate those familiar with Rajneesh, as well as those who have not yet discovered his fascinating and troubling story.
An Update on Building Utopia
5:11A quick update about upcoming episodes of Building Utopia, as well as an exciting new project!
Episode 12: God vs. The Universe
44:47Bhagwan, who once called organized religion "the corpse of religiousness," becomes the head of his own religion in 1983. But the Oregon Attorney General proves that "Rajneeshism" is the greatest existential threat the new commune has ever faced.
Episode 11: Something in the Water
46:14The largest bioterror attack on U.S. soil hits the sleepy town of The Dalles, Oregon, two months before a high-stakes county election. But it’s just a dress rehearsal for the bigger scheme that Sheela’s closest ally—an enigmatic nurse named Puja—has cooked up in her secret laboratory at Rajneeshpuram, amid her rat cages, incubators, and petri dishes.
Minisode 4: A Child of the Commune
43:24What was it like to be a child living at Rajneeshpuram? In this minisode we’re joined by a special guest — a person who lived at the ranch as a teenager for nearly four years — who discusses his unique experiences living, learning, working, and loving at Rajneeshpuram. CONTENT WARNING: This episode contains a discussion of child sexual abuse and statutory rape.
Episode 10: How to Win an Election
47:40Sheela is given a new mission in 1984: win the Wasco County election, no matter what it takes. The plan she and her lieutenants put into place sets the state of Oregon into crisis mode, from the local politicians all the way to the governor's office.
Episode 9: Reign of Terror
44:52The Rajneeshees extend themselves into the community in an effort to sway public opinion and make some money. But now their enemies have easy access to them — a vulnerability that is violently exploited on July 29, 1983.
Episode 8: Making it Legal (?)
45:56How could Sheela and Bhagwan establish their new commune in America when most of their members came from other countries? The answer rested in a sacred institution — one the sannyasins were not afraid to twist to their own advantage.
Minisode 3: Noah's Ark
25:36Bhagwan develops a bizarre — and potentially lethal — way to escape his silent isolation at Rajneeshpuram.
Episode 7: Inside the Compound
48:08How do the Rajneeshees go about fulfilling their Master's vision of a new utopia on their ranch? We see what life was like for the hundreds of commune members who toiled from sun-up to sundown each day to make it happen. And later, we catch up with the big man himself. Bhagwan had entered into a silent phase before leaving India. So if he wasn’t talking… what was he doing in his secluded compound?
Minisode 2: A Very Rajneeshee Holiday
19:58It’s the holiday season in Rajneeshpuram! We’ll explore the Rajneeshees’ three major holidays and see how they were celebrated during Bhagwan's first year in America. This culminates in the First World Festival in July 1982, which attracted 5,000 visitors and helped lay the foundation for the city of Rajneeshpuram. We’ll close by hearing Bhagwan’s thoughts on Santa Claus.