Netflix’s new documentary ‘Searching for Sheela’ follows Ma Anand Sheela’s return to India after decades for an interview tour.
If you’ve seen Wild Wild Country on Netflix, you pretty much know who Ma Anand Sheela is.
But for the uninitiated, she was the spokeswoman of the Rajneesh movement and the secretary of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh from 1981-1985. She overlooked Rajneeshpuram ashram in Wasco County, United States.
So, before you watch the doucmenatry on Netflix, here are some interesting facts about her that will give you a sneak peak into her drama-filled life that was not no less than a Bollywood film.
1. Maa Anand Sheela is not her real name.
Before becoming a cult icon Ma Anand Sheela was known as Sheela Ambalal Patel. She was born in 1949 in Baroda, Gujarat. And, she moved to the U.S at the age of 18 to attend Montclair State College in New Jersey.
2. Ma Anand Sheela was introduced to Bhagwan by her father when she was just 16 years old.
3. In 1972, she shifted base to India from the US with her first husband, Marc Harris Silverman to undertake Spiritual Studies.
It was during that time that the couple became disciples of Rajneesh and Sheela changed her name to Maa Anand Sheela.
4. It was Sheela who wanted Rajneesh to become an international ‘brand.’
She was the one who convinced Rajneesh to leave India. She planned on acquiring a 65,000-acre ranch land in Easco County, Oregon where the cult established its first international base in 1981. The city was named Rajneeshpuram.
5. In 1984 Ma Anand Sheela was accused of a Bioterror attack.
6. In fact, Sheela was also accused of wire-tapping the cult’s ashram.
After parting ways with Bhagwan Rajneesh, the FBI conducted an investigation for months and confiscated hundreds of tapes and cassettes. In 1985, she pleaded guilty for wire-tapping the ashram.
7. Ma Anand Sheela was also accused of stealing $55 million from the cult.
8. Ma Anand Sheela was sentenced to 20 years in prison for a number of crimes.
9. Ma Anand Sheela runs two nursing homes in Switzerland.
10. Ma Anand Sheela married thrice.
11. Ma Anand Sheela is the author of a memoir titled “Don’t Kill Him! The Story of my Life with Bhagwan Rajneesh”.
12. Ma Anand Sheela visited India after 34 years and was interviewed by Karan Johar in New Delhi in September 2019.
During her stay in India, she also attended private dinners and events.
Now that you know about her life, click here to watch the new Netflix documentary.