A cult may or may not be religious, and the movement is often centered on a personality or magic –It can even be political like the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO/ MEK/ PMOI/ NCRI). Such a movement or group has set rituals or traditions that may not be sanctioned by the society in which it works. There is often a founder, considered supreme by the followers, and the cult members follow the instructions or beliefs of the founder such as Osho or Massoud Rajavi.
The cult led by guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh called Osho sprang from India in the Seventies to global notoriety. Sex guru Rajneesh Osho set up a commune that turned into a terror cell which plotted to kill a White House lawyer and infected hundreds of voters to rig an election. Ma Anand Sheela was an assistant to Osho, on top of this matriarchal pyramid, just like Maryam Rajavi on top of the MEK’s hierarchy of power.
Female sex workers in MEK and Osho’s cult
Sheela admits she was in love with the guru and claims he was also in love with her, but she told Vogue: “There was no sex with Osho. Our relationship was not sexual. The integrity mattered because I was already drowning in him…”. However, Maryam Rajavi never claimed that she had no sexual relationship with Massoud. According to the MEK’s former member, Ann Singleton, Maryam even had an abortion when she was the office administrator of Massoud Rajavi before marrying him officially.
It is not a coincidence that virtually all the major administrative roles in the community are given to women in both MEK and Rajneesh Ashram. Satya Franklin, a former member of Ashram told Newseek that power had made Sheela increasingly “unpleasant” and dictatorial. Former members of MEK, whether male or female, also admit that Maryam Rajavi runs Massoud’s totalitarian ideas over the group.
Win McCormack of the New Republic quotes Rajneesh’s rationale for exploiting women: “This is the point. the male mind is a little further away from the no-mind than is the female mind. So the ashram will be run by women until I find people who have no-minds. When the no-minds are available, then there will be no question of male and female; then the ashram will be run by no-minds.”
Rajavi seems to be even more egocentric than Osho. While virtually all the administrative personnel at the ashram were female, most of the Rajneesh therapy leaders were male; and, according to ex-disciples, sexual exploitation of women in the therapy groups, particularly the so called “Tantra” groups, was rampant, based on the Netflix documentary on Osho, published in 2018. “There was tremendous sexism going on there, yet they tried to make you believe that because Rajneesh was picking women to run all those departments he really believes in liberated women,” an ex-Rajneesh disciple Roselyn Smith
Massoud Rajavi has his own fabricated arguments to “liberate women from the bars of sexuality”. He has forced members to divorce their spouses and to submit to mandatory celibacy. Even thinking of the opposite sex is forbidden in the MEK and will be ended in punishments by the side of commanders who are mostly women. In contrast, Massoud Rajavi can sleep with any of the token members of the so-called Elite Council of the group that includes only female disciples. Maryam was his assistant in the Pre-sex sessions held in the group’s commune, Camp Ashraf, Iraq. Maryam was the impelling agent to make women of the Elite Council to take off their clothes and dance before the eyes of Massoud. These sessions of nude dancing were named “salvation dance” by Messoud and Maryam Rajavi.
Batul Soltani, former female member of MEK, who first revealed sexual abuse of female members in the Cult of Rajavi says that she did not even suppose that Massoud and Maryam had a real sexual relationship. She could not believe it until she was summoned by Maryam and ordered to sleep with Massoud. She was made sure that her guru was a man with passions similar to other men.
Hassan Heirani former male member of MEK told the Guardian, “For example, you would have to say: ‘I saw a girl on television and I got an erection,’ or ‘This morning I masturbated,’” said Hassan Heyrani, one of the defectors. “If you admit to it too often, they will get angry and say: ‘How do you want to create freedom for the Iranian people if you have an erection every day?’” The Guardian adds, “Each evening, the men had to gather in small groups with their commanders for “ideological training” as well as a confessional about any sexual thoughts they might have had that day.”
Although Osho is notoriously known as an abusive sex cult guru, male members of his cult seemed to be happy. “The women were harangued into thinking that they were really uptight and negative if they didn’t want to be sexually free,” Roselyn Smith, the ex-member told the New Republic. “The women who didn’t take part in it were made to feel very guilty and selfish and self-centered and uptight, frigid and rigid and rejecting of men. As I get further away from it, I realize more and more . . . I used to think Bhagwan was a feminist. When I was in Pune, I used to want to write a book extracting his views on women. I thought that he supported a woman’s right to an abortion, that he supported a woman’s right to be a leader. Women ran the whole ashram there, and I was so impressed by that. But as I get further away, I realize that he’s got the macho-male trip down flat; the way he got women to be sexual servants for men is every man’s fantasy.”
Sterilization was an open secret in both Rajavi’s and Osho’s cult
“Sheela had a hysterectomy and I believe she was the first,” Satya Franklin says. ”Bhagwan felt children were a distraction from the spiritual path. He said the nuclear family is a disease.” Zahra Mirbagher and Maryam Sanjabi, former members of MEK revealed a list of 100 women who were sterilized through hysterectomy surgeries by the MEK’s doctor Nafiseh Badamchi.
“Not every man, but scores had vasectomies. Were people forced to be sterilized? People were told if you want to be on a spiritual path this is good to do.” says Franklin. Fortunately, male members of MEK are luckier in this subject since they would be able to get married and have babies if they could manage to escape the group.
Members of Ashram and Ashraf, Cut off from the outside world
As Newsweek puts, Meanwhile, the ranch had grown from an empty lot to the vast city of Rajneeshpuram. Populated by thousands of worshippers, all dressed in red, it had infrastructure including an airport and fire department, as well as a meditation center, mall and a pizza restaurant.
Members of the MEK has been cut off from the outside world for over 30 years, since the group was located in Iraq in the 1980s until today that they are settled in a small village in Albania. “The gates to the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) compound, situated on a gently inclined hillside in rural Albania, are usually firmly closed, guarded by two sculpted lions atop stone pedestals and a large team of Albanian security guards,” the Guardian writes. “Unannounced visitors are not welcome at the fenced-off, secretive site, where more than 2,000 MEK members live.”
Children separated from parents in both Ashram and Ashraf
Noa Maxwell and his family were involved in Osho’s cult during the 1980’s. He was interviewed by the Guardian in April 2018. Soon Noa’s mum was living in one place in the ashram, his dad somewhere else, and Noa was in the kids’ hut. “We had been a tight, 70s middle-class family, and within a very short period that family unit was ripped up,” he says.
The children’s hut was an octagonal bamboo structure with bunks. Noa and the other kids – from Australia, Germany, America – were pretty much left to their own devices. There was a school, “run by this crazy English hippie called Sharma with long blond hair and a guitar and we would sing ‘We all live in the orange submarine’. I don’t know how much it mattered if we were in school or not. When I eventually did get back to this country when I was 10, I couldn’t read anything or write anything, or do two plus two.”
Children in the Cult of Rajavi were kept in separate units far from their parents. Rajavi went further in 1991 and sent off all children of MEK members from Iraq to Europe. Read the stories of some of MEK children here.
As Massoud Rajavi established his cult in the early years of the 1980’s by the time that Osho’s cult was in decline, he must have been more up-to-date to formulate his dictatorship on more strict rules than Osho had. His cult of personality is still working despite his nonappearance since 2003. He can be considered as the master of Osho. However, no cult has lasted for ever. More or less cults terminate for the same reasons.