RAJNEESHPURAM, Ore. -- A former top disciple of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh denies committing any crimes and says she left the Oregon commune because she was opposed to drug dealing to buy Rolls-Royces for the Indian guru.
Ma Anand Sheela, who left the commune with 15 others on Sept. 14 for Europe, called the guru a liar and denied she wanted to use AIDS victims as a 'human wall' to keep outsiders away. She also denied accusations that she had embezzled $55 million, tried to poison him and others and had turned the commune into a concentration camp.
She also said she warned the guru the commune was running out of money and said in a West German television interview Tuesday night that the sect 'could not afford to buy all those expensive things, autos and so on unless I took bread away from the people.'
Rajneesh, who held a two-hour news conference Tuesday night, said if Sheela were innocent of the accusations he had made against her - arson, theft and attempted murder -- she would return to Rajneeshpuram to face him.
Sheela told the German magazine Der Stern, 'They will kill me because I know everything about Bhagwan.'
The Hamburg-based magazine said Sheela was interviewed in West Germany's Black Forest. The television station said it talked to her on an unidentified German Island in the North Sea.
Sheela said Rajneesh had drugs brought into the commune to get donations from commune members and to raise money to buy his 93 Rolls-Royces.
'Bhagwan refused to put an end to this intrigue,' she said. 'That's why I had to leave.'
She also denied a report she wanted to bring incurable AIDS victims into the commune and use them as a 'human defensive wall against possible attacks from outside.' She said there was such a proposal but she stopped it because it was 'inhuman.'
In an interview with NBC News Tuesday, Sheela claimed the sect's leaders were using the mind-altering drug Ecstasy to manipulate the disciples. She said the drug had been stockpiled at the 100-square-mile commune in central Oregon.
When told of her charges, Rajneesh answered, 'Nonsense. There are no drugs whatsoever in this comunity. Drugs are against awareness.' He said a dog is used to sniff people for drugs whenthey arrive at the commune.
'I don't need any drugs, I'm 24 hours in ecstasy on the real thing,' he said. I have never heard of the drug named Ecstasy.'
Sheela also said in her network interview at her North Sea island hideout that the guru had threatened to commit suicide if his followers did not give him another Rolls-Royce as a present.
'I never thought Sheela to be so stupid,' he responded. 'When there is 90 Rolls-Royces available, what difference does it make one more or less.'
Sheela told Stern that her disenchantment with Rajneesh began a year and a half ago when he asked her to get him a $2.5 million diamond watch and quoted him as saying he should have the watch 'or I'll die.'
She called the guru's statement that millions of dollars were missing from the commune 'nonsense.'
Rajneesh said Sheela, president of Rajneesh Foundation International, had told him she deposited $43 million in a Swiss bank for his use, but had registered it in her name and that of Prem Savita, head of Rajneesh Services International Ltd.
When asked if she and others tried to poison the waters of The Dalles as charged by Rajneesh, Sheela responded, 'The hell with Bhagwan.'
Sheela also said she knew nothing about any wiretapping of Rajneeshpuram.
Rajneesh criticized the FBI for refusing to grant him interviews about his accusations, saying he tried four times but was refused because he insisted on having his comments videotaped. He said he would not consent to talking with FBI agents now unless the news media were present.
Ma Prem Isabel, a Rajneesh spokeswoman, disputed another statement in Sheela's Stern interview: that she only took a few personal items, a blanket and a pillow when she left a week and a half ago.
'She took seven or eight suitcases when she left,' Isabel said. 'I saw that.'
Ma Deva Barkha, head of the Rajneeshpuram Peace Force, said crimes alleged against Sheela and the others were 'actually well hidden' from her police. She said there had been an 'extremely sophisticated' level of criminal activity.
'We had been believing we were living in the only crime-free city in the world,' Barkha said.