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wild wild country sheela

Where exactly did Sheela go wrong? Ever since I was a child, I haven’t been able to grasp the actual reason for a division between Bangladesh and West Bengal—we were the same people, with the same language, food, dances, songs and clothes. “Wild Wild Country” is streaming now on Netflix.

Really, she’s both, but how far she skews in one direction is somewhat subjective. Immediately, I became obsessed with her style. The former personal secretary to spiritual guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh emerges as the story's anti-heroine and star. Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox.

They’re smug, and barely attempt to hide their contempt for outsiders. Meet Ma Anand Sheela: the “problem” at the center of “Wild Wild Country.” Though given the inauspicious first impression above by local Oregonian rancher Jon Bowerman, Sheela soon ties audiences into knots with a complex image cultivated from seemingly constant manipulation. She profoundly loved her first husband, Marc Silverman, known as Chinmaya, until his untimely death. In 1986, Sheela pleaded guilty and received a 20-year-sentence. But it wasn’t enough—I craved a spiritual practice. There seemed to be god everywhere, whether in a temple or masjid, or simply sitting in a taxi where a miniature Durga graced a taxi driver’s dashboard. There is no denying that Rajneeshpuram was an impressive community, a civilization engineered from scratch and built by sheer force of Sheela’s will and the residents’ talents. I felt her emotion as she described this loss on-screen, her first great heartbreak. When she speaks to the media, her silken voice is electrified by it. Meet Ma Anand Sheela: the “problem” at the center of “Wild Wild Country.” Though given the inauspicious first impression above by local Oregonian rancher Jon Bowerman… From Tiger King to How to Fix a Drug Scandal, the streaming giant has added many docuseries to its growing collection. As the personal secretary of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh from 1981 through 1985, she managed the Rajneeshpuram ashram in Wasco County, Oregon, United States. There were horrifying poisoning plots, an ill-conceived scheme to bus homeless folks into Rajneeshpuram and secure their votes in Wasco County, and an attempted murder. In my own spiritual quest, I’ve found solace in nature, contemplation of the cosmos and radical love between beings, a radical love for myself. Instinctually, that’s going to be a tough pill for many Christian viewers to swallow. There, Sheela was in charge of the so-called Rajneesh Foundation International, looking after business matters with Rajneesh and working as the spokesperson of the group. Both weren’t committed by Rajneeshees. On the flip side, I felt like my Hindu friends’ gods and goddesses were accepted as exotic—appropriated by New Age white people in search of spiritual meaning, but not considered dangerous—and I wanted to belong to this mystical, benevolent rendition of brownness. The 70-year-old served as a personal assistant to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh during the Rajneesh movement. Abrahamic (or Western) religions teach forgiveness and tolerance. She experienced an ecstatic form of bhakti, a devotional love for god, and in her case, her guru. And even so-called spiritual brown folk are criminalized by American society when they are seen as a threat. Yet, when he died, she was not allowed to process or grieve. So much of what happens in the docuseries stems from a fear of the unknown, and so much of what Sheela does is in reaction to that. But a mad dance of mutual assured destruction unfolded. After a violent relationship in high school, feminism helped me frame my survivorship. Sheela’s vision for the 64,000-acre wilderness did not anticipate the racist history of America, or the racist history of Oregon as an all-white state. It’s hard to fathom why she and the others were so captivated by his dead-eyed stare, stilted speech, and prayer hands—but I suppose you had to be there. The latest hit is Wild Wild Country, the gripping series about Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and his assistant Ma Anand Sheela. I know better now. I conferred with gurus on my travels; in the scariest instance, I spoke about my heartbreak to a guru for eight hours, until our session ended with him trying to take my shirt off and assault me. Every South Asian community reckons with a sense of fractured identity. And they’re curmudgeons who could never imagine the pleasures of free sex, free dance, or psychedelics. Sheela has no moral compass; she’s gone off the deep end and she seems to like swimming there. Alternatively beguiling and infuriating, Sheela is aptly outspoken for someone speaking for two (the Bhagwan has taken a vow of silence), but she, without any evident concern, can also come across as giddily vengeful, brazenly deceitful, and pointedly antagonistic. A hotel owned by the group was bombed by Stephen Paul Paster, a member of Jamaat ul-Fuqra and convert from Judaism to Islam; the details of the bombing are glossed over in the documentary, but it galvanized Sheela and the Rajneeshees, who began guarding the town with assault rifles and training for doomsday, ready for a showdown. It glints just behind her chilling smile.

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Video footage shows her smiling at his funeral, as if accepting this loss, but each time we see her smile, we sense falseness, a covering up of sorrow or rage. “When Jesus says, ‘You turn your other cheek,’ [Bhagwan says] you take both of their cheeks.”. Filiz is a film and TV journalist with a flair for everything related to reality soaps and showbiz. In 1986, she pleaded guilty to attempted murder and assault for her role in the 1984 Rajneeshee bioterror attack. This feeling of longing heightened when I lived in India. Her voice is melodic, but her words sharp as a blade. Immediately, I became obsessed with her style. ELLE participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. Sheela served prison time, then moved to Switzerland. facts — in regard to “Wild Wild Country.”], “I guess you could say the problem started when Sheela got here.”. Again, “an eye for an eye” is not a morally justifiable position, but how the Rajneeshees could be coaxed into wrathful behavior is understandable given the intolerance they faced after moving to America. After finding the land in Oregon and building a community there, complete with banks and airports, she executed every order the Osho gave her in order to grow their following and control their domain. Throughout the story of Rajneeshpuram and its demise, the women—Sheela, inner-circle member Shanti Bhadra, and former Rajneeshee secretary Ma Anand Puja—pay the price for Osho’s vision. But I concede that Sheela’s ongoing devotion exists alongside a new place of strength. Now she stands somewhere between renouncement and devotion.

This is a rage that every person of color has experienced, as explored by feminist thinker bell hooks in her book Killing Rage—born from training ourselves to suppress our emotions under white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism. A criminal or a victim? The first episode of the documentary explores just how much preternatural bigotry the group faced when they arrived in town. Sheela is the most alive when we see her rage.

Have something to tell us about this article? In 1986, she pleaded guilty to …

Copyright © 2020 Penske Business Media, LLC. They merely knew they had strange new neighbors, and they didn’t like them. It is a name my parents gave me to express their syncretic, intercultural beliefs. In her memoir, she writes, “I saw Bhagwan [as] extremely charismatic, brilliant, powerful, inspiring and loving, and I also saw Him being ridiculously manipulative, vengeful, self-serving and hurtful.” A cult fashions itself as a space for liberation, but it is stylized and ritualized conformity in the service of a charismatic leader. I did my Bangladeshi–American–Muslim Westerner version of consuming India: I studied yoga, crystal and chakra therapy, meditation, Ayurveda; I traveled to holy sites on solo pilgrimages. She possesses a total clarity of purpose, which becomes more jarring t0 observe as her purpose starts to feel convoluted and deranged. And perhaps nothing is less inspiring to me than the population of Antelope, a nearby town whose people took against their new neighbors. I sought healing and purpose, a balm for my depression—the same reasons, I imagine, that a person joins a cult. I wanted a faith to speak to me, to make me feel less alien, to ground my experience in the world. Sign up for our Email Newsletters here. I grew up a Bangladeshi Muslim girl in the Midwest, so I understand the xenophobia she faced. She is the author of Bright Lines and founder of independent beauty & fragrance house, Hi Wildflower. The gritty details, of course, are all available for viewing in Wild, Wild Country . Rage like that is potent for inciting change, but like any fire, it can consume us.

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