In the early days, when Bhagwan Rajneesh started his first commune in Pune, India in the 1960’s, he regularly engaged with his followers. Many would receive advice, spiritual guidance and listen to his “wisdom.” Many reported crying in joy in his presence or felt a certain weight lifted from them, like they could be themselves.
Gloria Malerba put on the orange robe and entered the Pune temple in the late 1960s. According to Waterfall, when Malerba was ready to go home, Rajneesh told her, “Go and spread my word in New York.”
Gloria Malerba, who went by Ma Satya Priya, headed the past Osho Padma NYC Center in her West Village apartment, establishing a small senyassin community.
At the time, thousands flocked to Rajneeshpuram commune in Oregon, which began in 1981, to sit at the feet of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.Priya would often travel to the commune and even recruited homeless people in San Francisco to join the commune. (The homeless were used to take over the county legislature. They were also secretly drugged to make them docile.)
Bhagwan's Broken Cars:
The Osho disciples of New York City
“For me, it was always like if you car is broken, you go to a mechanic,” said Arpana. “The guy who knows most about cars is the mechanic. He’d be the master mechanic. If my life is broken, I want to know a little bit more about how I can love myself, take care of myself, be more relaxed with myself. In a sense, Osho is my mechanic.” Following Osho’s meditation, he explains, is taking responsibility for yourself and letting go of the “self.”
Every Wednesday evening, followers called sannyasins gather to perform Kundalini, a series of four meditation practices designed by the Indian mystic. The old Osho Padma NYC center closed in 2017 after the passing of Ma Satya Priya, a sunyassin who rented a studio space and even lived with Osho in India and Oregon.
Now, two followers named Arpana Waterfall and Meera Sakamoto are about to open their own Osho center near Union Square in mid-May—during a time of contention for the senyassin community.
The popular Netflix documentary series “Wild Wild Country” reignited the decades-old Osho controversy and the cult question. Some New York City followers already received backlash from family who found out their affiliation. Many will continue to practice Osho’s meditations.