Good or bad, Ma Anand Sheela is an iconic woman who did not shy away from doing what she truly believed in, even if her actions ranked low on ethics, morality, and conscience. When confronted with denouncing questions by journalists, her response was clear-- "tough titties", the Bhagwan's assistant said.
Draped in shades of red, Ma Anand Sheela courted controversies wherever she went. She commanded a power that was almost unheard of for her young age. But then again, she was different. Although dressed like a hippie from the '70s, she functioned with the vigour of a political leader, possessed the brains of an entrepreneur, and committed actions akin to terrorists.
Once Osho's main woman. Sheela today is shaded by a criminal past.
During the closing session of the 11th TiEcon in Mumbai, Bollywood actor Neha Dhupia had a fireside chat with Ma Anand Sheela. The former Ranjneeshe shared her life lessons and urged entrepreneurs to live life on their own terms and build businesses, which makes work pleasure.
Talking about working with the Indian guru Osho, she said, “I worked for a mad man and I loved every minute of it. Every hour of my existence now is fragrance of Bhagwan’s teachings that I have carried in my heart and brains. The way I ran my homes, I have run my homes, there is same love and same intensity. It began from small things like cleaning up, administration and implementation of laws. Before, I did Bhagwan’s work, now I am my own boss.”
She said that it all began when she saw that you could take two people into your home and provide them shelter. She began with one family and said, “Five became 16 and 16 became 34. I was vacationing in Mauritius and I was so ashamed of mankind, the way people were handled. I went home to Switzerland and said you can complain about it only when you can do something about it. I went back, rented and took a residential home for 20 people. It is the same passion about cleaning up in India. I can clean up India if I do it with the right mind. I want to begin somewhere.”
Repeating her famous statement that there are similarities between spirituality and criminality Ma Anand Sheela said, “There is a certain spirituality in criminality. What bigger crime is there than to sell you a product that has no guarantee? People sell meditation and enlightenment. Spiritual leaders make false promises. I do not want to discourage anybody here who is meditating or who is spiritual or is into enlightenment, but I cannot be duped by that. If you understand the concept and logic, you will use the time that you used in meditation into self-reflection.”
To this, Neha Dhupia jokingly replied, “Spiritual leaders are like dieticians, they promise you will lose 10 kgs but there are no such results.”
Born in India, Ma Anand Sheela is a convicted criminal and former spokeswoman of the Rajneesh movement, also known as Osho movement. Bhagwan Rajneesh, who later came to be known as Osho is a controversial figure who caused outrage with his views that were deemed scandalous. In the late 1960s, he became known as "the sex guru".