Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, the Indian guru who has been resting in the Himalayas since he was ordered to leave the United States last month, has told an Indian newspaper that he and his followers plan to settle in the Fiji Islands within the next few weeks.
When he arrived here on Nov. 17, Rajneesh announced that he planned to spend the rest of his life in India, his "motherland." But in an interview this week at his Kulu Valley hideaway he told a reporter for the Indian Express that he intends to buy a privately owned Fijian island in a "last effort" to build a commune.
Rajneesh described the southwest Pacific island as "immensely beautiful," with facilities for 350 residents and 80 hotel guests.
The news came as a surprise at the Rajneesh Meditation Center here, where his followers have put the article on the bulletin board but say they have been unable to get a call through to the remote Kulu Valley in the state of Himachal Pradesh to confirm it.
Last month, Rajneesh said he was through with communes and simply wanted to buy 20 acres of land in India for a private home. But Himachal Pradesh government officials have not been pleased by his return and reportedly have not wanted him to buy land in the area. Rajneesh followers had talked of buying private property elsewhere in India, but the guru did not want to settle where it was too hot or humid, which rules out most of the country.
Rajneesh reportedly faces $1.7 million in Indian tax suits left overfrom disputes with the government over his old commune in Poona. He resettled in Oregon in 1981, building a commune that came to house 5,000 people, but left it last month after pleading guilty to immigration fraud charges brought by U.S. authorities.
In another setback for Rajneesh, 10 personal aides who came with him to India have reportedly been forced to leave the country after the Indian government rejected requests for extensions of their three-week visas. They include Rajneesh's personal doctor, Swami Devaraj, and his chief of staff, Ma Prem Hasya, formerly Francoise Ruddy of Beverly Hills, Calif.
The two reportedly left India on Christmas Day for Nepal.
According to the India News Service, the Indian government has asked its foreign missions not to issue visas to Rajneesh followers who want to come to India.