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. 

Facts About Ma Anand Sheela

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.  

Facts About Ma Anand Sheela

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.

Facts About Ma Anand Sheela

2. Ma Anand Sheela was introduced to Bhagwan by her father when she was just 16 years old. 

And, when she met Bhagwan for the first time she instantly felt devoted towards him. While talking about it in Wild Wild Country she said, “it was in this moment if death were to have come, I accept. My life was complete”. In that moment she fell in love with Rajneesh. 
Facts About Ma Anand Sheela

Check Out – Shocking things about rajneeshpuram

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. 

Checkout – Facts About Krishna

Facts About Ma 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.

Facts About Ma Anand Sheela

5. In 1984 Ma Anand Sheela was accused of a Bioterror attack. 

Hundreds of people fell ill after eating salmonella and Sheela was accused of sprinkling the bacteria on the salad bars across many restraunts. She was trying to take over the county’s municipal legislature by asking thousands of homeless people to vote Rajneeshee members into state government positions. This event is also known as the infamous Rajneeshee Bioterror Attack. Over 751 people fell ill and this is still considered the largest bioterror attack in American history.
Facts About Ma Anand Sheela

Check Out – Conspiracy Theories around Osho’s Death

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. 

Facts About Ma Anand Sheela

7. Ma Anand Sheela was also accused of stealing $55 million from the cult. 

When Sheela left Bhagwan, she was accused of stealing the organisation’s funds. Earlier, she denied the allegations and said that money must have been spent on Bhagwan’s luxurious lifestyle. 

Facts About Ma Anand Sheela

Check Out – Osho Quotes

8. Ma Anand Sheela was sentenced to 20 years in prison for a number of crimes.

She was accused of crimes like attempted murder, wiretapping, and mass poisoning for which she pleaded guilty in 1986 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Though, she was released on parole for good behaviour after serving 39 months in jail. She was fined $470,000. 
Facts About Ma Anand Sheela

9. Ma Anand Sheela runs two nursing homes in Switzerland. 

Taking inspiration from her parents, Maa Anand Sheela started the nursing homes to provide shelter to the elderly suffering from mental illnesses. 

Checkout – Disturbing Fact

Facts About Ma Anand Sheela

Check Out – Osho & Ma Anand Sheela Toxic Relationships

10. Ma Anand Sheela married thrice. 

Reportedly, her first husband was Harris Silverman, an American citizen. After his demise in 1980, she married John Joseph Shelfer, another American. After Shelfer died, she married Urs Birnstiel, a Swiss Citizen who eventually died of AIDS in 1992. 
Facts About Ma Anand Sheela

11. Ma Anand Sheela is the author of a memoir titled “Don’t Kill Him! The Story of my Life with Bhagwan Rajneesh”

After Osho’s death, she shared her experiences with her guru in a memoir that was originally written in German and was later translated into English.

Facts About Ma Anand Sheela

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. 

Facts About Ma Anand Sheela

Now that you know about her life, click here to watch the new Netflix documentary. 

Also Read:

Alia Bhatt To Play Ma Sheela In The Biopic Produced By Karan Johar

Hey Bhagwan! Netflix Releases Teaser For Ma Anand Sheela’s New Documentary

Osho & Ma Anand Sheela Are A Case Study In Toxic & Unhealthy Relationships