'I had a close call with charismatic cult leader, Osho'

Andrea Nagel recalls the day she met her supposed 'saviour' Baghwan Shree Rajneesh, which ended with her flushing a vial of pills down the toilet

15 April 2018 - 00:01 By Andrea Nagel
Members (Sannyasins) of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh AKA Osho's cult.
Members (Sannyasins) of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh AKA Osho's cult.
Image: Getty/Rainer Binder

I was introduced to Chandra Mohan Jain, also known as Baghwan Shree Rajneesh, also known as Osho, more than 20 years ago. The first time I heard his name I was 20 years old and what you might call a prime target.

Just out of university, and on the second day of a year of working in London, I was out of my element. I lived with a friend in the tiny attic of a house full of strangers, sharing a bathroom, kitchen and land line.

My friend had arrived in London six months earlier and was at work when the communal phone rang. "Who's this?" said a booming voice. "That's a rude way to say hello," I answered. "Who's that?"

"This is God," came the response. "I'm Andrea."

"Tell Yasmin I'm coming to pick her up," he said. ''And I'm taking the two of you to lunch."

Yasmin lived in the room downstairs and arrived back as I put down the phone. She was in her early 20s, dark and beautiful, with a heart-shaped face and olive skin. She wore a long red dress and lots of beads. I wore black with heavy black platform boots.

Soon a tall man in his 50s, dressed in paprika-coloured robes, his arms covered in red beads and strings, his head bald, with a long black ponytail extending from the nape of his neck, swept like a summer thunderstorm into the house. And the two of us were swept up with him.

He marched us around London banging on telephone booths. He hit them so coins poured out as if they were jackpot machines - the heavens were providing.

I thought Osho was the most enchanting creature I'd ever met

He said he was half Jamaican, and a quarter Chinese, quarter Indian. His name was Dr Mohan, a staunch disciple of Osho, and he was going to save me. I thought he was the most enchanting creature I'd ever met.

That evening we went to another disciple's apartment. By that time Mohan had bought me a red dress like Yasmin's, and I was out of my black.

Only women were in the space and they busied themselves in the kitchen while we sat on the couch and got deeply into a conversation about our saviour Osho, and made plans to go to Pune, India, to Osho's sanctuary.

I was told by one of the women to sit on the floor at Mohan's feet. He told me that my mother was "a bitch" who would try to keep me from my true path to purity and spiritual ecstasy. We watched videos of Osho's teaching for hours and later he cleaned my aura with a clump of burning sage.

My friend, he said, was a vampire and I should leave her and join him. He took me into the bathroom to show me my glowing aura. Then he got naked and invited me into a run bath to baptise me into glory.

When I refused he said that 20 years of conditioning had made me shameful of sharing my naked body. I said that it would take another 20 years to "de-condition" me and that I would like to leave immediately. Mohan drove me home and left me with a vial of pills. I threw them down the toilet. And I never did get to Pune.