Welcome to our 2-parter episode on Ma Anand Sheela! A woman we all know very very well at this point, thanks to the Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country.
Sheela was the former secretary and personal assistant of the Indian spiritual leader Rajneesh. Rajneesh, also called Osho, was a very popular leader who rallied almost 15,000 followers at the height of his influence. Sheela, as his right-hand woman, moved Rajneesh's commune from a small Ashram in Pune to a massive ranch in a small rural town in Oregon.
The commune, which was known for its alternative ways of life, did not appeal to the local population, who felt they were taking over. And soon the American media and law enforcement also joined them in this understanding.
Sheela, who was the sole spokeswoman for Rajneeshpuram, which was the name of the city -- Osho had taken an unofficial vow of silence around this time, and rarely ever made public appearances. So, Sheela was the public face of it all, and took all this pushback against the Rajneeshpuram commune very personally.
So personally in fact, that she attempted to influence the local county elections, and get Rajneeshpuram more power at the state level, essentially committing voter fraud.
And when that wasn't successful, she decided to poison a bunch of voters with salmonella bacteria, incapacitating almost 750 people in the country.
And when that wasn't successful she attempted to assassinate the attorney general that was prosecuting her case.
And when that wasn't successful… oh actually I think that's the entire list. For now.
She does eventually go to prison for her outstanding work in the field of poisonings and contract killings.
And then she gets out and makes hella money from the experience.
So we are going to spend some time understanding WHO Sheela was. We have many many primary sources for this 2-parter episode, and we hope it does some justice to who Sheela was as a person!
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