Osho said this was a major influence on his growth because his grandmother gave him the utmost freedom and respect, leaving him carefree; without an imposed education or restrictions.
At seven years old he went back to his parents. He explained that he received a similar kind of respect from his paternal grandfather who was staying with them. He was able to be very open with his grandfather. His grandfather used to tell him, "I know you are doing the right thing. Everyone may tell you that you are wrong. But nobody knows which situation you are in. Only you can decide in your situation. Do whatsoever you feel is right. I will support you. I love you and respect you as well."He resisted his parents' pressure to get married.
He was a rebellious, but gifted student, winning the title of All-India Debating Champion.
He started his public speaking at the annual Sarva Dharma Sammelan held at Jabalpur since 1939, organised by the Taranpanthi Jain community into which he was born. He participated there from 1951 to 1968. Eventually the Jain community stopped inviting him because of his radical ideas.
Osho said he became spiritually enlightened on 21 March 1953, when he was 21 years old. He said he dropped all effort and hope. After an intense seven-day process he went out at night to a garden, where he sat under a tree:
“ The moment I entered the garden everything became luminous, it was all over the place – the benediction, the blessedness. I could see the trees for the first time – their green, their life, their very sap running. The whole garden was asleep, the trees were asleep. But I could see the whole garden alive, even the small grass leaves were so beautiful.
I looked around. One tree was tremendously luminous – the maulshree tree. It attracted me, it pulled me towards itself. I had not chosen it, god himself has chosen it. I went to the tree, I sat under the tree. As I sat there things started settling. The whole universe became a benediction.”
He finished his studies at D. N. Jain College and the University of Sagar,receiving a B.A. (1955) and an M.A. (1957, with distinction) in philosophy. He then taught philosophy, first at Raipur Sanskrit College, and then, until 1966, as a Professor at Jabalpur University. At the same time, he travelled throughout India, giving lectures critical of socialism and Gandhi, under the name Acharya Rajneesh (Acharya means "teacher"; Rajneesh was a nickname he had been given by his family). In 1962, he began to lead 3- to 10-day meditation camps, and the first meditation centres (Jivan Jagruti Kendras) started to emerge around his teaching, then known as the Life Awakening Movement (Jivan Jagruti Andolan).He resigned from his teaching post in 1966.
In 1968, he scandalised Hindu leaders by calling for freer acceptance of sex; at the Second World Hindu Conference in 1969, he enraged Hindus by criticising all organised religion and the very institution of priesthood.
In 1969 a group of Osho's friends established a foundation to support his work. They settled in an apartment in Mumbai where he gave daily discourses and received visitors. The number and frequency of visitors soon became too much for the place, overflowing the apartment and bothering the neighbours. A much larger apartment was found on the ground floor (so the visitors would not need to use the elevator, a matter of conflict with the former neighbours).
On September 26, 1970 he initiated his first disciple or sannyasin at an outdoor meditation camp, one of the large gatherings where he lectured and guided group meditations. His concept of neo-sannyas entailed wearing the traditional orange dress of ascetic Hindu holy men. However, his sannyasins were not expected to follow an ascetic lifestyle.
From 1971, he was known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Shree means Sir or Mister; the Sanskrit word Bhagwan means "blessed one". It is commonly used in India as a respectful form of address for spiritual teachers.
The new apartment also proved insufficient, and the climate of Mumbai was deemed very bad for his delicate health. So, in 1974, on the 21st anniversary of his enlightenment, he and his group moved from the Mumbai apartment to a newly purchased property in Koregaon Park, in the city of Pune, a four-hour trip from Mumbai. Pune had been the secondary residence of many wealthy families from Mumbai because of the cooler climate (Mumbai lies in a coastal wetland, hot and damp, Pune is inland and much higher, so it is drier and cooler).
The two adjoining houses and six acres of land became the nucleus of an Ashram, and those two buildings are still at the heart of the present-day Osho International Meditation Resort. This space allowed for the regular audio and video recording of his discourses and, later, printing for worldwide distribution, which enabled him to reach far larger audiences internationally.
During one of his discourses in 1980, an attempt on his life was made by a Hindu fundamentalist.
Osho taught at the Pune Ashram from 1974 to 1981.