30 Sep 2019
My relationship with Osho wasn't sexual: Ma Anand Sheela
Written bySiddhant Pandey ·
Ma Anand Sheela, the infamous secretary of the late spiritual guru Osho aka Bhagwan Rajneesh, stepped foot in India after 34 long years and sat down for a conversation with Bollywood filmmaker Karan Johar.
The talk was part of an event in Gurugram, The Conversation Fest, co-organized by the women-centric platform Sipping Thoughts and the NGO Humans for Humanity.
Here's all that she said.
I'm in a twilight zone: Sheela about coming to India
Speaking at the Sunday event, themed 'Wild Wild Conversation', Sheela said, "When I stepped in this country two days back, I had mixed feelings, but right now I feel like I am in a twilight zone."
She added, "I really feel grateful to have Indian values of love, trust, and loyalty imbibed in me. I am proud to be born in this beautiful country."
'No misuse of sexuality in Pune or Rajneeshpuram communes'
Now 70, Sheela also spoke about the communities of Osho's followers in Pune and Rajneeshpuram back in the 1970s and 80s, which were often branded a "sex cult."
She said, "There was no misuse of sexuality in our commune in Pune or in Rajneeshpuram. We talked about sexuality openly."
"It's like when you are attracted to somebody, you express your attraction," she added.
Sheela says she and Osho were in love
Sheela told Johar that she loved Rajneesh and he loved her, too.
"You should see some of the photographs and see how he looked at me. And the way he said 'Seela,'" she said.
She recalled watching Umrao Jaan with Osho one "divine" evening.
"There was poetry on love in it," she said, "He explained every word of that poetry to me."
There was no sex with Osho, says Sheela
When Johar pressed her about the nature of their relationship, Sheela asked him if he wished to inquire if their relationship was physical and said, "There was no sex with Osho. Our relationship wasn't sexual. The integrity mattered because I was already drowning in him."
Sheela's actions at Rajneeshpuram detailed in Netflix documentary
For the uninitiated, Sheela became a follower of Rajneesh in the early 70s and served as his personal secretary at Rajneeshpuram in Oregon, United States from 1981-1985.
The story of the Oregon commune was also detailed in the 2018 Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country which made the once-forgotten Ma Anand Sheela world famous again.
The documentary showed how Sheela and Osho's relationship soured.
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Sheela served 39 months in prison
In 1985, Sheela fled the ashram to go to Europe as Osho accused her of "arson, wiretapping, attempted murder, and mass poisonings." She was arrested in West Germany in 1986, sentenced to 20 years' prison-time, and paroled after 39 months. She later moved to Switzerland.
'Never second-guessed my love for Osho'
Speaking about Osho's accusations, Sheela said she never second-guessed her love for Osho, however, his actions did leave her shocked.
She later told Livemint that there is bloodshed once any relationship breaks, and Rajneesh had to say something "believable," as "nobody had ever imagined that Bhagwan and Sheela will be separate."
She remembered him fondly nonetheless.
Sheela says she only learned from her time in prison
Further, about her time in prison, she said, "I only learned. In such hard situations, you can only learn. If you don't learn, then you shouldn't be called human."
She added, "Since childhood, our parents taught us, 'Be ready for every situation and learn from it. Don't play to complain.'"
She said she learned the importance of time and patience from being in prison.
Sheela says she feels like a winner; has no regrets
Sheela says that today she has no regrets and she feels like a winner.
"I have given my full devotion to whatever I did," she said.
She said she still continues to live by the teachings she picked up from Bhagwan Rajneesh's commune and the teachings from her parents.
She now runs Matrusaden and Bapusaden homes for the mentally ill, disabled and the elderly.