Searching for Sheela: Crimes Ma Anand Sheela Committed But Refused To Admit In The Netflix Documentary
Netflix documentary – Searching for Sheela is an attempt to introduce to the world the other side of one of the most controversial women in the world, Ma Anand Sheela. The Osho devotee and the president of Rajneeshpuram (religious community in Oregon), Sheela had returned to India after 35 years and Netflix decided to document her journey in the country.
Ma Anand Sheela was given a 20-year sentence for committing several crimes, but was released on good behaviour after serving 39 months. She was accused of crimes like wiretapping, murdering her husband, influencing the Wasco County Court’s election, illegal immigration, etc. She was also accused of being part of the gruesome 1984 Rajneeshee bioterror attack. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho) himself accused her of murder and said that she fled the scene because she was guilty.
Coming back to India, Sheela wanted to get rid of these allegations and redeem herself as a human and not a criminal. Wild Wild Country had painted a different picture of Ma Anand Sheela, and with Searching For Sheela, she has tried to change that image and tell people what she has been up to after all these years.
It was very natural that with the documentary, the most controversial aspects of her life had to be brought into the limelight. While we did see discussions about the alleged crimes that she committed taking place throughout the documentary, Sheela very confidently denied most of them.
Talking about if she fled the scene or not, she said that she only left Rajneeshpuram because she has a problem with Osho, and not because she was escaping the scene. She went on to talk about her fondness for Osho and said that their love was platonic. “His eyes were probably more beautiful than his penis was.” “I have never seen it,” she said during an interview with Karan Johar.
During a conversation with a bunch of youngsters, Sheela was asked why she pleaded guilty for the crimes she did not commit. She said that she never pleaded guilty. She added that she never committed a crime and hence never accepted what was not true. Talking about the illegal immigration allegations, Sheela said, “I admitted to bringing in Bhagwan to the USA, which the USA interpreted as immigration fraud. But it was not immigration fraud. I took Bhagwan with a legal visa, but I said ‘Yes I am responsible.”
She talked about how she feels that once a person has served his time for the crimes he has committed, he should not be seen as a criminal. She is seen saying, “Normally when you serve sentence, It is 0-0. Yes, I have not committed any crime.” She was also asked indirectly asked if she has poisoned three of her aids and people in Dallas. Sheela denied the allegations and said, “I did not do it. I won’t do it. I am my parent’s daughter who has learned the correct values of life. And I am being very patient. You don’t even know how many hundreds of journalists have gone through my life since imprisonment. And the same old… nobody has any creative questions.”
While there was no discussion about Sheela murdering her husband, she did accept that she has wiretapped Bhagwan’s room. “For the safety of Bhagwan and Bhagwan alone. Because Bhagwan was alone in his room and we must have security that in case he needs help, we can come. And that was also with the consent of Bhagwan,” she said.
Searching For Sheela is now streaming on Netflix.