Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh surprised his followers by telling them they can shed the red clothing and lockets holding his photograph that have been identified with his movement for the last 15 years, a spokeswoman said today.
Rajneesh’s announcement Thursday night brought a mixture of tears and laughter, said Ma Prem Sunshine.
Rajneesh also renounced the Book of Rajneeshism, a small red volume that outlines his beliefs. He said the idea for the book came from his former personal secretary, Ma Anand Sheela, who left the commune Sept. 14 and has been denounced by the guru for a variety of alleged crimes.
Rajneeshees testifying in court have previously been allowed to use the Book of Rajneeshism instead of the Bible when swearing that they are telling the truth. The books will be destroyed, Rajneesh said.
The guru had required that shades of red be worn by his followers at all times to represent the colors of the sunrise.
Ma Prem Hasya, Rajneesh’s new personal secretary, said elimination of the requirements will help disciples who had trouble with the rules because of relatives, work situations or other problems.
In another development, the president of Rajneesh Investment Corp. said First Interstate Bank has given notice that it is closing all its accounts with Rajneeshee corporations and businesses. The investment head, Dhyan John, said the action “seriously impairs our financial position,” although he said the businesses do not have financial problems.
The Rajneeshees also moved to dismiss their lawsuit against Wasco County Clerk Sue Proffitt, the first action taken on a suggestion by Rajneesh to reduce tension between his followers and other Oregonians. The lawsuit initially challenged Proffitt’s decision on how to conduct a 1984 county election.
Earlier this week, Rajneesh told his followers that there was no more “Rajneeshism” and there were no more “Rajneeshees,” a name applied to his followers, formerly called sannyasins, a term meaning Hindu holy persons.