A professor of philosophy, he travelled throughout India during the 1960s as a public speaker. His outspoken criticism of politicians and the political mind, Mahatma Gandhi and institutionalised religion made him controversial. He advocated a more open attitude towards sexuality, a stance which earned him the sobriquet of "sex guru" in the Indian and (later) international press.
In 1970 Rajneesh settled for a time in Bombay, initiating disciples (known as neo-sannyasins) and assuming the role of spiritual teacher. In his discourses he reinterpreted the writings of religious traditions, mystics and philosophers from around the world. Moving to Pune in 1974, he established an ashram which attracted a growing number of Westerners. The ashram offered therapies derived from the Human Potential Movement to its Western audience and made news in India and abroad because of its permissive climate and Rajneesh's provocative lectures. By the late 1970s, tensions were mounting with the Indian government and the surrounding society.