Ma Anand Sheela, secretary of late godman Bhagwan Rajneesh (popularly known as Osho), is currently in India. In a conversation with filmmaker Karan Johar, she spoke about the way of life at Rajneeshpuram, a utopian city for Rajneesh’s followers in rural Oregon in the US, the controversies surrounding her and how she still follows the communal lifestyle.
The 70-year-old said that when she came to India, she had mixed feelings about the country but now she feels like she is in a “twilight zone.” “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. I feel grateful to have Indian values of love, trust and loyalty imbibed in me. I am proud to be born in this beautiful country. I want to thank the NGO Humans for Humanity for inviting me here,” Ma Anand Sheela said.
Ma Anand Sheela had spent over three years in the US prisons in the 1980s over charges of assault. When questioned about Osho accusing her of arson, wiretapping, attempted murder and mass poisonings, she said that she was shocked
She also spoke about how the communities in Pune and Rajasthan never hesitated to speak about sexuality. “There was no misuse of sexuality in our community in Pune and Rajasthan. In fact, we spoke about sexuality openly. When you are attracted to somebody, you express that attraction,” she said. She also advised everyone to be true to themselves. “ I have learnt to live a communal lifestyle from Bhagwan Rajneesh,” Sheela said.
Ma Anand Sheela’s life is full of controversies. She had spent over three years in the US prisons in the 1980s over charges of assault. When questioned about Osho accusing her of arson, wiretapping, attempted murder and mass poisonings, she said that she was shocked. “Whatever he said made me sad but it was his problem and not mine. However, I can’t forget my love for him and I am eternally grateful for that,” she added.
Karan Johar also asked Ma Anand Sheela about her unrequited love for Rajneesh. To which she replied, “He was also very much in love with me. You should see some of the photographs and see how he looked at me. And the way he said ‘Seela’.” She also recalled an evening she spent with Rajneesh as he watched Umrao Jaan, featuring Rekha and Farooq Shaikh.
“There was a poetry on love in it. We finished our work and then Bhagwan said, ‘Seela, come sit here’. I sat with him and he explained every word of that poetry to me. It was divine,” she said.
When Karan pressed about their relationship, Sheela quickly added that it wasn’t physical. “There was no sex with Osho. Our relationship was not sexual. The integrity mattered because I was already drowning in him...” she said.
When Karan asked what she would say to Rajneesh if given a chance to meet him one last time, she said, “I would tell Bhagwan, ‘You went with the wrong people who drugged you. And you shouldn't have allowed it and you were too smart for that...' But it was his choice.”
(With inputs from PTI, IANS and Times of India)