Nothing to lose by Manbeena Sandhu is the biographical sketch of Ma Anand Sheela, who was closest to Acharya Rajneesh and also his secretary. After Master’s self-imposed isolation, Sheela became the face of the ashram. Often accused of running the ashram with an iron hand Ma Anand Sheela got involved in many controversies. Some of them were so serious that she landed in jail. This biography is an attempt to show the other side of the story.
I first came across Osho after marriage when I opened a cabinet filled with books and audio recordings of Osho. The husband and father-in-law are followers of Osho’s teaching and philosophies. We often sit and discuss various discourses of Osho.
I know Osho for rebellious thinking, revolting philosophies, piercing gazes, hypnotic voice, and dry humor. People flocked from all over the world to hear him, to imbibe his revolutionary mediation techniques, to have experiences, to have one glimpse of that all-mighty superconscious.
Osho’s not-so-handsome side, as revealed in the book Nothing to Lose, came as a surprise for me. Like all the revolutionary movements or thinkers, Osho also started on a great vision, speaking on many inflammable issues, making people cringe and hate him. But he also earned thousands of followers visiting his ashram daily to listen to his discourses and enroll in his meditation courses.
But the fame and power kicked out humility and contentment, and in came greed and notoriety. The author writes in detail about the whims and fancy of the Master. Osho loved expensive cars, jewels, watches, hats, etc., and a paradise adobe putting immense financial pressure on Ma Anand Sheela and her team.
The book presented a less perceived side of Ma Anand Sheela. She was a devoted lover and the force behind the ashram. If Osho was the soul of the movement, then Ma Anand Sheela was the one who infused life into it, nurtured and nourished it, fiercely protected it by hook or crook. Every challenge, stumbling block polished her, and she emerged as an all-purpose, all-rounder, influential figure, and above all, a fighter who doesn’t give up easily.
Something which I was looking forward to reading was more about allegations on Ma Sheela Anand. Some serious charges like attempted murders and bioterror attacks that landed her in prison. These charges find mere mention or were brushed aside. I was disappointed in this regard.
Hadn’t it been a biography, Nothing to Lose reads more like a fast-paced spiritual thriller. Twist and turns in every scenario will keep you hooked. It felt like the protagonist embarked on a roller coaster ride to pamper her Master and expand and solidify his influence over the world.
Nothing to Lose does a fantastic job in visualizing the story of Maa Anand Sheela, giving insights into the inside happenings of the Ashram. It cleared her stance to some extent. She was a voice to the thoughts of Osho, more of a puppet. The book enables her to emerge as the sunshine amid dark clouds in the life of distressed people.
Nothing to Lose would be a joy for the haters of Osho, as it provides ample reasons to justify their hatred. Followers of Osho might have their reasons to support Osho’s grandiose as an experiment to enjoy all the material pleasures, non-attached. I believe the book should be read with an open mind as there is a lot to learn and unlearn from the life of Ma Anand Sheela.