The Rajneesh movement was a cult in the 1970s and ’80s led by the Indian mystic Baghwan Shree Rajneesh. He founded a controversial sect of Hinduism that emphasized materialism and fornication. After getting run out of India, Rajneesh established a utopian community in the American state of Oregon. Thousands of followers flocked to the compound, and the Rajneesh community took over entire Oregon towns, which they then renamed after their charismatic leader. They also patrolled their territory with Uzis, which did not sit well with the Oregonian government. As tension escalated, Rajneesh cultists grew botulism cultures and embarked on the largest bioterror attack in American history.
From this disquieting moment, Stevens has crafted an emotional song about love, terror, and faith. In “My Rajneesh”, Stevens sketches out acts of religious devotion that the narrator performs, though he doesn’t neglect Rajneesh’s conjugal appeal, singing “I’m on the path of love.” But the fulcrum of the song is the wobbly line between revelation and delusion. The chorus explores the cultists’ epiphanies: “Illumination I have seen, my need, my Rajneesh/ Hallucination I have seen, my need, my Rajneesh.” The song doesn’t appear on the tracklist for his forthcoming album The Ascension, but this fascinating cut can be enjoyed on its own terms below.