Ashutosh Mehndiratta was born and raised in New Delhi. He holds an MBA from the University of Alabama and has had a long career in
Book Review : Nothing To Lose
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Manbeena Sandhu’s ‘Nothing to Lose’ is the authorized biography of Ma Anand Sheela, the personal secretary of Bhagwan Rajneesh a.k.a Osho, the renowned spiritual guru.
The book begins on a very interesting note where Sheela is arrested for attempting to murder Bhagwan’s personal physician twice. It lends thrill to the story and makes the readers impatient to know the truth. When Sheela is in prison, we get a detailed flashback of her life right from her childhood to her arrest.
Manbeena Sandhu has done complete justice in telling Sheela’s story. We can visualize little Sheela blossoming into a strong and beautiful woman as we leaf through the pages of the book. When Sheela meets Acharya Rajneesh for the first time at the age of sixteen, she is spellbound and mesmerized. She feels an instant, powerful connection that is impossible to shake off.
Sandhu has beautifully narrated how Sheela loses herself to Bhagwan when she listens to his thoughts. There is a touching scene where the sixteen-year-old Sheela sits in front of Bhagwan with folded palms as tears stream down her eyes. She is unable to ask him any questions because the connection that she feels with the spiritual teacher is beyond words.
After completing school, Sheela’s father sends her to the United States where she enrolls herself in a Fine Arts program. She meets her first husband, Marc who is fascinated with her love for Acharya Rajneesh. Later, Bhagwan initiates both of them into his order of neo-sannyasins who are expected to be Zorba the Buddha –both sensuous and spiritual. The scene where Bhagwan initiates Sheela, thereby transforming her into Ma Anand Sheela is another beautiful moment of the book.
As Bhagwan’s unconventional ideas of sex and spirituality became more popular globally, plenty of money started to flow in. Scandalous sannyasin debaucheries started spreading like wildfire and the Indian government kept a wary eye on the sex guru.
Sheela’s strength and determination sparkled when she got promoted to Bhagwan’s secretary. She shifted Bhagwan and his sannyasins to the USA. She headed the ashram at Rajneeshpuram, Oregon USA during which she was the leading face of the Rajneesh movement.
While Bhagwan hankered for Rolls Royces and diamond watches, Sheela had to make several moral compromises to meet her master’s outrageous demands till she got exhausted and resigned from the post of Bhagwan’s secretary. I liked the way the author has portrayed Sheela’s vulnerability and dilemma when she decided to move away from her beloved master.
Sheela’s life after prison captivated me the most. Despite suffering betrayal, her devotion to Bhagwan did not alleviate. She rather considered it a Guru Dakshina. After being clueless about what to do with her life and struggling to make ends meet, she finally found a beautiful purpose that improved plenty of lives.
The strength, resilience, tenacity, confidence, and devotion of Ma Anand Sheela will surely inspire many readers. The way Sandhu has presented her story enables the readers to see every facet of her – the white, the black, and the grey. She emphasized every high and low of Sheela’s life without painting her as a hero.
The book also gives a clear glimpse of what happened behind the closed doors of the Ashram which can be mildly discomforting. Overall, it is an intriguing read. Highly recommended to people who enjoy reading biographies!
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