Rajneesh who later changed his name to 'Osho' was an Indian Godman and the founder of the Rajneesh movement. He emphasized the importance of meditation, mindfulness, love, sexuality, and humor. He can easily be described as controversial because, in the 1960s, he became known as the 'sex guru'. Then, comes in a young lady named Anand Sheela who says that she fell in love with the Bhagwan (that's what she calls him) as soon as she laid eyes on him for the first time. She goes to stay at his Poona Ashram with the rest of his devotees who are mostly foreigners.
The government was at loggerheads with the Rajneesh and was adamant on shutting down his ashram but Ma Anand Sheela wasn't going to take this lying down and she decided to purchase a 64,000 acre ranch in Oregon, the USA with a dream to build a city called Rajneeshpuram, Are you starting to roll your eyes because you can't believe this is real? Trust me, these are real events that took place. The citizens of Oregon (a quiet little town where most retired people came to live) were clearly shaken by the image of Bhagwan and his innumerable devotees in orange robes.
Let's bring our focus back to Ma Anand Sheela who served as Osho's secretary and when he took a 3-year vow of silence, she acted as the link between Osho and his devotees. It is fair to say that she yielded a considerable amount of power. Let me tell you, these devotees who were controlled by Ma Sheela built the entire city from scratch and she even attempted to make Rajneeshpuram, a legal city... ...by filling up buses with homeless people so, they could vote in the local elections and they would get control over the police forces, access to government and criminal records. When the plan, belly flopped she drugged the homeless people and left them at vacant spots around the county.
When her previous plan had failed to influence the local elections, she decided to launch a bioterror attack in the year, 1984 in which she infected salad bars in ten restaurants with Salmonella (which is a bacterium) and this left 750 people ill. All this was done to prevent people from voting in the local election. If they can't win then, no one can. Right?
She eventually fled to Europe and Osho accused her of "Arson, wiretapping, attempted murder and mass poisonings." He also said that she had written the Book of Rajneeshism and published it under his name. Subsequently, her robes and 5,000 copies of the Book of Rajneeshism were burned. For all her crimes, Sheela was caught and sentenced to 20 years in prison and also fined $470,000. In December 1988, she was released on good behavior after serving 29 months of her 20-year sentence in jail.
Rajneesh died in 1990, aged 58 and his city died with him but his devotees still continue to wear robes and dance around like fanatics in his ashrams. As for Ma Anand Sheela, she lives in Switzerland with her husband who is also a fellow Rajneesh follower. She has bought and managed two nursing homes. You can learn more about the Bhagwan, Ma Sheela and Rajneeshpuram from the documentary called Wild Wild Country on Netflix.
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