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How Ma Anand Sheela found sexual liberation at the Osho Ashram

A new biography of Ma Anand Sheela opens up about the hedonism that played out under Bhagwan Rajneesh's watch

Ma Anand Sheela with Osho.
Ma Anand Sheela with Osho.

The age of abandon had truly begun at the Ashram. When Bhagwan stepped in and broke through traditional beliefs by honouring the age old ‘sins’ and labelling them as ‘virtues’, his frenzied sannyasins went berserk. They ran wild, in constant search of a new sexual mate. The lust bug had bitten them all.

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Swamis would hang loose at the gates, eyeing every fresh woman that passed through their ‘free love’ portal. Mas bunched in coral clusters, blowing subtle innuendos in soft whispers in every direction. The Swamis flirted with voluptuous Mas at the darshan queues, bowing and winking at the same time to dignify those alluring glances that came spearing through their fluttering lashes.

Sheela and Chinmaya, too, were now exploring their sexuality in grounds beyond the borders, by joining the ranks of Bhagwan-licensed spiritual hedonists. Groomed by Bhagwan, Sheela was now beginning to spread her wings as a pleasure lark and as she flew joyfully above the Ashram, many covetous eyes followed behind her. And one pair of eyes belonged to Satyamurti, or Hugh Milne, Bhagwan’s handsome Scot bodyguard. Satyamurti was well-known for his sexual free-handedness with sannyasin women. He had also caught this soaring lark’s eye.

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Sheela and Chinmaya, too, were now exploring their sexuality in grounds beyond the borders, by joining the ranks of Bhagwan-licensed spiritual hedonists

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Satyamurti had been appointed as Laxmi’s bodyguard in 1975. One night, as Laxmi was shuffling towards her room in Lao Tzu House after a hard day’s work, a fierce-looking man, jumped out from behind the bushes and made a lunge for her throat. He throttled her viciously and clamped his teeth onto her nose. Blood gushed out of the wound as Laxmi cried out, ‘Bhagwan! Bhagwan!’ Fortunately, an Indian sannyasin who had heard her distant cries jumped to her rescue and freed her from the man’s deathly grasp. Laxmi had denied the man darshan with Bhagwan on several occasions, and the enraged man had attacked her when he got her alone.

Next day, Satyamurti was summoned to Laxmi’s room by Bhagwan to assume the role of her bodyguard. But Laxmi, in turn directed Satyamurti to start guarding Bhagwan instead.

‘… But it is he, not Laxmi, who needs a bodyguard. Laxmi is not so important. He is the important one. Without him nothing can happen. So, Shiva, Laxmi has been given a beautiful gift, such a strong good-looking man, but Laxmi does not need such a gift. It is for him that you will be bodyguard. You will start at darshan tonight, okay? Come to darshan to guard him!’ instructed Laxmi. The young Scot was enthralled by the news of his new role as Bhagwan’s bodyguard and started his work that very night.

The front cover of Nothing To Lose.
The front cover of Nothing To Lose.

Sheela, who would usually be seated close to Bhagwan’s feet during darshan, was immediately attracted to this dapper guardian. The twenty-seven year-old, red-haired samurai, who was now seated upright behind the Guru, was tall, lean but athletic and outstandingly good-looking. The piercing eyes in his bearded face seemed to observe and scrutinize Sheela’s every curvaceous detail. Sheela was momentarily disconcerted and somewhat unnerved by the handsome bodyguard’s furtive glances. But soon, she began revelling in the sparks that flew between the two.

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Later, Laxmi unwittingly placed Sheela and Satyamurti together in the staff kitchen, to coordinate and supervise its functioning. Satyamurti, who had never had a sexual liaison with a woman of Indian origin before, was absolutely floored by the freshness exuberated by the charming, meek and demure Sheela of the former days. Little did he know of the giddy heights of power that this innocent lark would soar to within one year.

Satyamurti, who had a passion for photography was soon appointed as Bhagwan’s official photographer, in addition to his role as his escort. One evening, Laxmi instructed Sheela to deliver a message to Satyamurti while he was working on a photographic film in the dark room. Sheela tapped, pushed the door open and entered the room where Satyamurti was working. Within minutes the two were rolling on the floor, locked in the act of passionate lovemaking.

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Many sannyasin women who had slept with the Master had confided to their boyfriends in hushed tones, that Bhagwan made love only in the conventional missionary position and usually climaxed within minutes

Bhagwan’s all-seeing eye constantly hovered above his romancing sannyasins, and he thoroughly enjoyed pairing and parting his orange paramours—in order to teach them the wise lesson of staying sexual without getting attached. Therefore, this fling between Sheela and Satyamurti was also short-lived. After just one month of fiery romance, Bhagwan gracefully intervened and poured cold water over the searing flames.

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One evening, before the darshan, Bhagwan summoned Sheela and said, ‘Seela … your new relationship with Satyamurti is sallow …. so, it will not come to anything. So you do one thing, you drop it out.’

Sheela tacitly complied and the two parted ways in accordance with Bhagwan’s wishes. Though rumour went that Chinmaya had been experiencing some pangs of jealousy due to his wife’s affair with one of the Ashram’s most infamous playboys, and he had discreetly complained to Bhagwan, who in turn had decided to side with Chinmaya and come to his rescue.

Ironically enough, Bhagwan, who was regarded as a sexual connoisseur by his ardent followers that heartily laughed at his playboy-inspired jokes and strictly adhered to his rule of ‘sex sans frontiers’, did not enjoy such a fulfilling sex life himself. Many sannyasin women who had slept with the Master had confided to their boyfriends in hushed tones, that Bhagwan made love only in the conventional missionary position and usually climaxed within minutes. Other well-known secrets of Bhagwan were that he mostly enjoyed voyeurism and foreplay. He would often ask women to strip in front of him while he leisurely ogled at their bodies or he would instruct a couple to have sex in his presence while he watched.

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Excerpted from Nothing To Lose: The Authorized Biography Of Ma Anand Sheela by Manbeena Sandhu with permission from HarperCollins India.

  • FIRST PUBLISHED
    11.10.2020 | 12:30 PM IST

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