It isn't easy to write a book about a public figure. It isn't easy to also write a book about your life spent with the public figure and having loved him and done everything as per his wish and command. "Don't Kill Him! The Story of my Life with Bhagwan Rajneesh" by Ma Anand Sheela is a short chronicle of Ma Sheela's life with Bhagwan (self-proclaimed) Rajneesh from the time she met him, worked with him in setting up the commune at Poona and Oregon to the time she resigned from the post of his secretary, was behind bars for thirty-nine months, to what she did after.
The book is divided into two parts. The first part speaks of the accusations on Ma Sheela and how she dealt with them. It also takes a turn to the years spent in prison by her and her so-called courage and persistence that kept her going. The second part is about how she joined the Rajneesh and her ways of working around the ashram and the setting of the Oregon commune.
That in short, is the plot of the book. I think that for memoirs to make an impact, it needs to be honest and more so strongly backed by facts (if they are imperative to the book like in this one). There are a lot of inconsistencies in the book. On one hand Ma Sheela talks about how Rajneesh was different and how she still loves him and on the other she talks of how he falsely accused her and she had lost all respect for the man (implies it in the book). The so-called Bhagwan moved about in close to 100 Rolls Royce and owned watches by the dozens, while his disciples did not have money to pay for his meditation courses. For me, that was the biggest indication of a lie of a man who claimed to combine capitalism with spirituality.
To read the book in its singularity and not judge Rajneesh is very difficult. For most parts, right before I reached the end, I also judged him. I had also begun to think that maybe that was the idea of the book. The writing is sketchy in bits and parts. My favourite part was about Rajneesh's thoughts on education and that made the most sense to me. One would also sense that it must have been quite difficult for Ma Sheela to have written this book, considering her closeness to Rajneesh.
I read the book because the contents somehow interested me. I would recommend the book only to someone who wants a fast read and be done with it in a day or so. You will not get to know a lot about Rajneesh and how he was as a leader (well no other term came to mind) of a large commune or almost a religion, however you will see a lot of details in the way he dealt with his people, more so with Ma Sheela. "Don't Kill Him Now!" By Ma Anand Sheela reads like a thriller and disappoints as a memoirs to a large extent. I give it a 3 only because of some of the parts that were written well and a little that I got to know about the person.
Title: Don't Kill Him!: The Story of my Life with Bhagwan Rajneesh; Author: Ma Anand Sheela; Publisher: FingerPrint!, Prakash Books; Genre: Memoirs, Non-Fiction; Pages: 312; Rating: 3/5