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Beyond Sex and Secrets: Ma Sheela's memoir

Ma Ananda Sheela
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Ma Ananda Sheela 

Highlights

Ma Ananda Sheela aka Sheela Birnstiel will give readers an an unwaveringly honest view of her life after Osho in her tell-all memoir 'By My Own Rules' Penguin Random House India announces the acquisition of an intimate and honest memoir by Ma Anand Sheela, 'By My Own Rules' that will be published in the second half of 2020 in English across the country under the Ebury Press imprint

Ma Ananda Sheela aka Sheela Birnstiel will give readers an unwaveringly honest view of her life after Osho in her tell-all memoir 'By My Own Rules'. Penguin Random House launched the cover for the book slated for release in November

Penguin Random House India announces the acquisition of an intimate and honest memoir by Ma Anand Sheela, 'By My Own Rules' that will be published in the second half of 2020 in English across the country under the Ebury Press imprint. For the first time, she will write about the adventures and experiences of exploring each crossroad she has faced in her life and what she learnt from it.

Ma Ananda Sheela is the former administrative head of Rajneeshpuram, initially a popular Aashram in Pune until 1981, when the heat of controversy forced a shift. She is as popular and controversial as her Guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (or Osho) and was an important wheel in the running of a spiritual commune spread over 64,229 acres ranch, a mini town on its own accord, in Wasco Country, Oregon, US.

Osho preached spirituality, freedom, awareness of self, happiness in love, and his methods were surely unorthodox, and he advocated free sex. And according to Ma Sheela, he was also amongst other things a good businessman. "The people who call me 'sex guru' are obsessed with sex. I have not talked about sex more than I have talked about meditation, love, God, prayer, but nobody seems to be interested in God, love, meditation, prayer. If I say anything about sex, immediately they jump upon it – the controversial Guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (or Osho), had said. And it is probably this intrigue and curiosity over his ways, and his influence on people that his, continues to be one of the most read life histories.

Incidentally, Rajneesh was so popular that even in his Ashram in Pune a lot of foreigners would leave everything behind to make it their home. And when he shifted to America, it expanded and rose in fame and wealth. The Rolls Royce loving Godman began to gain alongside popularity, discontentment amidst the locals, who feared and doubted the activities inside the international commune, Rajneeshpuram.


Running it with tight reins was Ma Sheela, the personal secretary to Rajneesh, who had direct access to him. In the much-watched Netflix Docu-series, 'Wild Wild Country' that played a major role in bringing back Osho's story into focus, Ma Sheela is the star character and a villain almost, and the reason behind many decisions including the decision to shift to the US of A, to try and influence the Wasco County Court's November election and capture the two open seats, and Rajneesh also accused her of arson, wiretapping, attempted murder, and mass poisonings.

She was eventually sentenced to four and a half years in prison but was released early for good conduct. Today, she runs homes for the disabled and elderly in Switzerland. Almost three decades later, she is still in love with Bhagwan and his teachings. From being tried by a Swiss court to an interview with Karan Johar on her grand return to India, she is at times adored by the world and at times vilified.

And, she has been called many names; confident, funny, cool, ruthless, no-nonsense administrative head, foul-mouthed, unconventional, fearless, strong, and spirited. Her interviews, articles and books have always removed yet another veil from over her, each time, to reveal the person she is, apart from being as controversial, and as complex as her Guru.

A life embroiled in controversies now a life dedicated to the service of the disadvantaged, Sheela's story will be a captivating and moving tell all of a courageous woman.


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