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I create paradise wherever I am, says Sheela, Osho’s close aide


Ma Anand Sheela describes herself as an “active powerhouse” who has diminished to a “dead volcano”. Sheela, the erstwhile spokesperson and a close associate of spiritual guru Osho Rajneesh, has lived many lives in one. The 16-year-old from a Gandhian family in Vadodara rose to become a powerful leader of the Rajneeshees, as followers of Osho called themselves, practically running the affairs at Rajneeshpuram in the US’ Oregon, only to find herself behind bars for her role in the 1984 bio-terror attacks.

She has since then rehabilitated herself, doing odd jobs like that of a dog walker and a housemaid, before finally running retirement homes spread over several countries.

“There is no possibility of an explosion now,” Sheela said in mirth during her conversation with author Devapriya Roy at the Times LitFest. “I could command a whole commune, but could not control a dog. I used to beg it,” she said, hinting at the challenges she faced after 20 years in prison. Her book, By My Own Rules, traces her eventful life journey.

Sheela said the greatest learning from Osho or Bhagwaan, as she called him, was the understanding that a person could create her own heaven or hell. “Bhagwaan once told me a story of a Zen master who abused a samurai. The samurai became angry and drew his sword. The Zen master said, ‘This is hell.’ The samurai pushed back the sword in its sheath. The master said, “This is heaven.’ Bhagwaan taught us we make our own hell and paradise. So I create paradise wherever I am.”



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