Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, the guru of free love, has discovered the AIDS virus at his central Oregon commune and directed all of his followers to undergo testing for the disease.
The latest issue of the commune newspaper, Rajneesh Times, warns the Bhagwan’s followers worldwide to avoid sex until they are tested.
The testing found two people living in Rajneeshpuram who carry antibodies indicating they have been exposed to acquired immune deficiency syndrome, a spokeswoman for the commune’s medical clinic said Wednesday. Those people, a man and a woman, have been given separate living quarters, said Ma Anand Puja, a nurse practitioner.
Puja said no cases of the disease have been found among more than 6,000 residents and visitors at the guru’s settlement on a former cattle ranch 160 miles east of Portland.
Puja said the Rajneeshees are stepping up precautions to avoid AIDS and asking people to be tested voluntarily. She said the program was not unlike the U.S. Army’s decision to give AIDS screening tests to new recruits.
“We take precautions,” she said, “but we are not denying people the chance to come here.”
Rajneeshpuram is a town with about 3,000 permanent residents founded in 1980 by Rajneesh and his followers who moved to the United States from India. Rajneesh’s philosophy of sexual freedom earned him the nickname “guru of free love.”
But 18 months ago Rajneesh issued a stern warning about AIDS, predicting the disease would become the next great plague of mankind. He asked those living at the commune to avoid kissing and to use condoms and rubber gloves while lovemaking.