Where is Ma Anand Sheela now? Osho's right-hand woman reveals why she left 'Rajneeshpuram'
She was the closest to the leader, the self-titled 'Bhagwan' Rajneesh, who set up this commune in the hopes of it becoming a 'movement'.
Ma Anand Sheela recently sat down for a tell-all interview about how she handled a multi-million dollar, 350,000-member cult, which established a town called 'Rajneeshpuram', in Oregon.
She was the closest to the leader, the self-titled 'Bhagwan' Rajneesh, who set up this commune in the hopes of it becoming a 'movement' (see: cult) of sorts. When the cult moved into Oregon, natives did not like the idea. This caused a great deal of tension which soon led to bombings and other threats towards to community.
Allegedly acting on Rajneesh's orders, Sheela carried out a biochemical attack which involved homemade salmonella, on the people of Oregon in order to suppress a vote that would dismantle their commune. Following the attacks, Rajneesh spread wild rumors about Sheela and a small group of deflectors, claiming they had scammed the commune. The allegations escalated when Rajneesh accused them of crimes such as arson and attempted murder.
Another accusation involved a story of Sheela and a few defectors that decamped to Europe with $55 million of the sect's money. With such tremendous accusations mounting against Sheela and her defectors, a small task force of 20 which included the FBI, as well as local investigators, moved into Rajneeshpuram.
The documentary, titled 'Wild Wild Country', is her tell-all of the events that followed, that airs on Netflix. Sheela was arrested for her crimes and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. However, her sentence was cut shorter after she pleaded guilty to the biochemical attacks, thanks to a plea bargain.
Sheela and her gang of Rajneesh Rebels stole away to Germany at first. There, she operated a few restaurants while maintaining her innocence and distance from the media.
Her reasons for leaving him was simple: "I had had enough of him. I was in love with him all these years but things just crystallized over that time. There were no specific instances which escalated matters but it kept building up till I reached a stage where I decided to go on my own. He is a desperate man." she told a Times reporter in a rare 2014 interview.
After finishing her sentence, Sheela settled down in Switzerland where she operated two homes for the mentally disabled. She still is haunted by her actions and finds herself thinking back to when she had a breakdown which eventually led to things unravelling between Rajneesh and herself. This, she said set the precedent of her eventual betrayal.
Presently, the Osho defector is working on the documentary series detailing the late guru's life.
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