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Book Review: Ma Anand Sheela in By My Own Rules

Reading is to mind what food is to the body. It nourishes, enriches it so it is equipped to understand and perform better. As a compulsive reader, I’ve kept my mind open and consciously tried to delve into different genres. Today’s non-fiction pick is By My Own Rules, an autobiography by the celebrated (and desecrated) Ma Anand Sheela, former secretary to Osho Rajneesh and spokesperson of the Rajneesh movement.


About the book

Ma Anand Sheela and her controversial life have been fodder for gossip even though she was away from the limelight for many years. Everything from her passionate love for Bhagwan Rajneesh to their infamous falling out has been documented with a generous sprinkling of spice. She has been called names and routinely faced ruthless character assassination. Was it fair to her though?

Through this book, she has put out her side of the story, a chance she was never accorded before. In By My Own Rules, Ma Anand Sheela takes us through her formative years and shares every small and big experience that made her what she is. She talks extensively about her progressive Gujrati family, her reverence for Bhagwan, and the knowledge she gained through him that prepared her for the struggles she went through.

My thoughts

First and foremost, I liked the tone of this book. Ma Anand Sheela has spent years working with different sets of people and the ease with which she communicates her feelings is commendable. Whether it was spearheading the challenging task of developing Rajneeshpuram, spending 39 months in prison, or starting from scratch at the age of 38, not once does she allow negativity to slow her down. This is the kind of positive attitude that mental health experts should advocate.

Ma Anand Sheela has developed multiple care homes in Switzerland and Mauritius for the elderly and patients with Dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc. Her account of their daily activities, small pleasure trips, and general camaraderie filled me with immense gratitude and respect for her. Her dedicated team is her backbone and is inspired to give their best to the residents. Love, empathy, and kindness are the best glue to bind people.

Despite all the good things discussed and done though, I felt like many burning matters were brushed under the carpet. I had read about Ma Anand Sheela and seen her interviews earlier. In this book, she has chosen to paddle on the surface and let a lot of loose ends be. Also, I wished there were more than a few references about her daughter Anuja who must’ve undoubtedly had a hard childhood. Now that’s one autobiography I would love to read.

To sum up, this is a good and quick read if you keep expectations of any major revelations at bay. The Osho movement was a rage in the 80s and this book gives a good glimpse of how it became one.

My rating: *** 3/5 stars

About the author

Ma Anand Sheela managed the city of Rajneeshpuram in Wasco County, Oregon, USA, and was the personal secretary of Bhagwan Rajneesh from 1980 to 1985. Most recently she has featured in the Netflix series Wild Wild Country.

Book Details

Language: English

Genre: Non-fiction, Autobiography

Available in: Paperback and Kindle Edition

You can order your copy of this book from Amazon.

This review has been written as part of the Book Review Program by Blogchatter

This post has been written as part of Blogchatter’s #MyFriendAlexa campaign.

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33 thoughts on “Book Review: Ma Anand Sheela in By My Own Rules

  1. I had read about this book a lot and also get a chance to read many review of it on many blogs all across the web. but felt your review post most honest and crisp. I really liked that your have shared your honest input and share what you had exactly felt. it was surprising for me to know that the book she has chosen to paddle on the surface and let a lot of loose ends be. of course, book should have more info about her daughter as well.

  2. I’m reading a thriller currently and the author whose unpublished autobiography is a subplot in the book says that the autobiography she’s writing will “deliver” and be not easy to digest. Your review reminded of that – how easy it is to fall into the trap of showing oneself in the best of light.

  3. Varsha as always your words had me hooked till the end. I had never paid much attention to this genre of books but Ma Anand Sheela seems to be a very intriguing personality who definitely deserves to be read up on. I would like to grab the book and give a read to this.

  4. I am a huge fan of non-fiction and will definitely order a copy of ‘By My Own Rules’ – an autobiography by Ma Anand Sheela, former secretary to Osho Rajneesh. It will interesting to know about her role in the Rajneesh movement as she was the official spokesperson of that movement.

  5. Thanks for the honest review. These days I am into reading…let me tell you I was a none reader but now my day is incomplete without reading, will get a copy soon for myself :))

  6. I’ve seen her interviews and she’s an impressive personality. Her autobiography will be a good read. Loved your balanced review. #MyFriendAlexa #TinasPicks

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