About the Book
personal secretary between 1981 and 1985, and the second-in-command of His
organization, Ma Anand Sheela
enjoyed an enviably close relationship with Bhagwan
Bhagwan called upon her
when He wanted to discuss personal issues, crucial administrative matters, run
minor errands, and to even place an order for a new Rolls-Royce. Ma Sheela was His confidante, His closest aide, the person He
trusted more than anyone else. She ruled the entire commune under His guidance . until differences crept up.
followed next, soon became part of Bhagwan's
infamous history, as after years of loyal service, Ma Sheela
resigned from her position, left the commune, and fled to Europe with fellow
members. An infuriated Rajneesh wasted no time in accusing her of planning a
bio-terror attack, conspiring to murder important public officials, and running
away with fifty-five million dollars. Ma Sheela pled
guilty to some of the charges in court and spent thirty-nine months in prison.
almost two decades later, Ma Sheela, still in love
with Bhagwan and His teachings, finally tells her
side of the story, claiming that the truth was very different, and sheds light
on that part of Bhagwan's life which has so far been
shrouded in a cover of secrecy and darkness.
This is a book about my life and work with Bhagwan
Shree Rajneesh. My loving father encouraged me to write it. It documents my
experiences, my observations, my feelings and my life while I was working with Bhagwan as His personal secretary.
I hope this book serves to fill in gaps created by Bhagwan's
disciples, who have so far eliminated all references to the period in Oregon
from His biographies. To fully understand the man that Bhagwan
was, it is important to examine His actions honestly and from all dimensions.
As His secretary and a confidant carried out His every wish and command, I had
the opportunity to closely observe His actions as well as the motives behind
them. I was able to understand His grand vision and to see His immense talent,
drive and awesome power. I also witnessed His manipulative side, His
vengefulness, and His failings as an ordinary human being.
During my years with Bhagwan, I learned that
the greatest of gurus can also be fallible human beings. I learned to separate
their personality traits from their immense charisma and the power of their teachings. I also learned
not to give up my integrity in the face of tremendous hardships, false
accusations, and months of wrongful incarceration. I learned how to come
through the worst nightmares without regrets, ill will, or blame.
The book begins on the day I decided to resign as Bhagwan's
secretary and the operating head of the commune in Oregon. The first few
chapters deal with the period immediately following my departure from Rajneeshpuram and the beginning of the legal nightmare
manufactured by false accusations and trumped-up charges levelled against me by
Bhagwan and His followers after my resignation. These
were some of the most difficult and trying days of my life. I had never thought
even in the worst of nightmares that I would have to live almost like a
fugitive for doing so honestly and dedicatedly what I thought was my life's
work. However, I did not have any regrets then, and I do not have any regrets
now about this period, neither do I have' any ill will towards any of the
people responsible for this harrowing experience. I accept it as something that
Existence wanted me "to experience.
In part two, I pick up the thread from the beginning when I joined Bhagwan's movement around 1972. I had just turned twenty
and had recently married my first husband Marc Silverman, who was later renamed
Swami Prem Chinmaya by Bhagwan. In creating a new world of His vision, Bhagwan gave new names to people and places in order to
erase their history and give them a completely new identity and meaning. In
this latter part, I describe my experiences as a young Sannyasin.
I detail how I got the opportunity to be the personal secretary of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in a short time, how I had the Prologue
good fortune of having the chance of a lifetime to build an entire
commune from ground up in Oregon-where over five thousand Sannyasins
later worked together to bring Bhagwan's vision to
reality-and how Bhagwan destroyed it in a fit of rage
after I resigned from His service in the year 1985.
I saw Bhagwan extremely charismatic,
brilliant, inspiring, powerful, and loving, and I also saw Him being
ridiculously manipulative, vengeful, self-serving and hurtful. He disregarded
all laws, moralities, ethics, and legalities of every community, society, and
nation because He wanted to create a society of His own vision with its own
laws and rules. I witnessed how He was at the top of His game in Bombay and
Poona, how He gave shape to His commune, ho; He worked with people, how He
manipulated the media by generating controversies, and what His grand vision
was. I also observed His decline in Oregon which began with His dependence on painkillers
and other drugs, and which ended with the ultimate downfall and dissolution of
the commune in Oregon.
I loved Bhagwan and trusted Him implicitly,
blindly. I've a deep and abiding respect for His teachings and remain His
loving devotee even to this day. I remain grateful for the opportunities that
He gave me, opportunities to work so closely with Him and learn so much from
Him. I try to live by the lessons I learned from Him and the values He taught
me. I urge the readers to dwell not on the scandalous and juicy tidbits of my story but on how my love for Bhagwan and His teachings helped me face all big and small
challenges that came my way in life.
I'm also very grateful to my parents for their love and trust that sustained
me through the most difficult period of my life and for their encouragement thereafter to
live life in love and service. I'm particularly indebted to my father who
introduced me to Bhagwan and His teachings. Since
coming out of the US prisons, for the last twenty years of my life, I have
dedicated myself to the memory of my parents through caring for the mentally,
psychologically, and physically handicapped in my two nursing homes located in
the outskirts of Basel, Switzerland. The nursing homes have been named after
them as Matrusaden (Mother's Home) and Bapusaden (Father's Home). I would also like to express my
gratitude to my family, particularly my sisters and brothers who have supported
me unconditionally throughout life, and to my late husband Dipo
(real name Urs Birnstiel;
renamed Swami Prem Dipo by Bhagwan).
Finally, a word about my use of the words "love"
and "Existence." Often when I've said that I fell in love with Bhagwan
or that He is my eternal lover, I have been asked to define this love. What I
felt for Him cannot be explained. Whatever it was, it was complete and whole.
This feeling had no boundaries, no limits. It was the opening of an infinite
horizon. Everything melted into these feelings and these feelings melted into
everything. Freedom was their basis, and freedom was their end. Sex did not
have to do anything with this feeling of love, but then I would not have
refused sex if He had demanded it. Our every glance, every touch was devoid of
sexuality, yet it was totally filled with passion. Anything and everything that
happened out of this feeling of love was absolutely all right, perfect. This
love had its own clarity and awareness, as one cannot experience in ordinary
life. It opened a deep understanding in me. It was the highest state of my being. It consumed me. This love is still there. It is
not of this world. I cannot stop it. It is just there. It is forever-a plan of
Existence (or Nature or Universe or Brahmaan or
whatever you may call it), and I am proud and grateful to be part of this plan.
I will not exchange this love for anything in the world. I can even go back to
jail for it. It knows no end. And I don't know when it began.
The Man with the Inexplicable Life
My Khidr had
The Odyssey begins
From the Black Forest to German
Contrast between German and American
My Experiences with the US legal
The nightmare continues
Onwards to Switzerland
A new beginning in Switzerland
How it all began
Bhagwan and me: A
Birth of the Rajneesh Ashram in Poona
vision of a new man
The exploitation of Sannyasins begins
Progress in Poona
From hypnotic discourses to Bhagwan's silence
In search of a new land
A castle transforms into a meditation
Big Muddy Ranch, Oregon
Brick by brick: Building Rajneeshpuram for Bhagwan's
Security problems in this remote and
inhospitable part of Oregon
Bhagwan: a saint or
just an ordinary man?
What is the antidote for Bhagwan's boredom? Thirty new Rolls-Royces
Meet the Fourth Estate's puppet and
Why democracy does not work
The final curtain falls
Don't Kill Him: Respect His teachings
and His life
Note from the German Translator,
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