Ma Anand Sheela was once the secretary and voice of Rajneesh, also known as Osho. As the spotlight has turned on her once again, she talks to Deebashree Mohanty about her relationship with the celebrated guru, their falling out, and what enlightenment means to her:
Tell us how the Rajneesh ashram moved out of Poona in 1981?
We had to move because after Emergency rule we couldnt buy or sell land. We had actually been looking for a bigger property because there were so many foreigners and Indians. There was no place to house them. Everyone wanted to be close to Bhagwan. I would sleep on the garden path if that would bring me closer to him. That was the story with all Rajneeshis.
One day, I said to Bhagwan, Let me take you to America where wewont face this problem. I would be able to find a better place for you. He said: Sheela you take it up, you make my passport. This trust gave me the clarity on how to go about it.
Later, when you left Rajneeshpuram in Oregon, people said you had fled.
There were 300 people who came to drop me at the airport, so I was not fleeing. When I was given the job of the secretary, Bhagwan had told me to protect him, his commune and his teachings. Then I found out that he was taking medical drugs. His doctor and dentist were pumping him with laughing gas and valiums. I asked Bhagwan to quit because neither was it legal nor was it good for his health. He said, Sheela dont interfere. Keep out of it. That raised a huge conflict between my heart and my mind. I battled with it for months. I couldnt resolve it. Thats when I sent him the resignation. He accepted and I left.
Lets go back to the day when you were arrested in Germany in 1986. Did it feel like the end of the road for you?
I never thought like that. There is a story that Bhagwan had shared. It sums up my position.
Kabir was a poor man. His son used to feed the family by stealing at night. One day Kabir told him that he wants to accompany him and see what his business was. They went to a rich house where Kabirs son opened the door skillfully. He went through multiple doors. Just as he opened the safe, Kabir started shouting chor, chor. His son said: Father they will hear you and come here. Kabir replied: You know how to go in, now you figureout how to come out.
I had to figure it out. I dont blame anyone for it. I was there with Bhagwan because I wanted to be there. I put my head in the guillotine for him. And I would do it again.
Those 39 months that you spent in an American prison, did they make you bitter?
Bitter never. Stronger yes. The way it happened, I was just deeply saddened. Fortunately, there was a law which said if prisoners werent sentenced, they wouldnt have to participate in any activities which meant I could sleep for 15 hours. I did that. This happened for ten months. When I found my strength again, I worked towards my own upkeep.
You say your love was not unrequited but Rajneesh called you a bitch. Was that heart breaking?
It is a sorrow I cannot explain in words. Once upon a time I was the star in his eyes. When things changed it made me sad that he had to stoop to that level. Not befitting a man of his calibre but it only shows how hurt he must have felt when I left. Some people told me that he got angrier when I was not around. But does it make me think any less of him? No. I cannot change my opinion about him just because he had something foul to say about me. I still love the man. He was my jackpot.
I am told that Bhagwan wrote a letter to me. I know someone who saw him write that letter. But it didnt reach me. The management must have destroyed it.
Were drugs the only problem?
The other thing that disturbed me about him was when he told his disciples that they have attained enlightenment. I knew it was a sale. But it was not my place to call it out. It was between him and his people.
So what do spirituality and enlightenment mean to you?
Love and care is spiritual. I dont need to sit in Buddha position, close my eyes every day for an hour. This is not my cup of spirituality. I dont want to do meditation so that someday, someone can call me enlightened. Thats just a sale. Why cant I be myself? Why do I have to be enlightened? So I can have 96 Rolls Royces or sit like Bhagwan on a chair with thousands of people around me? No. Honesty will get you closer to enlightenment than enlightenment itself.Humans for Humanity in association with Sipping Thoughts are the official hosts of Ma Anand Sheela for her visit to India.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.
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