Miracles of Hindu Saints
What is a Miracle?
The term miracle can be simply defined as "that which causes wonder." A miracle is something that contradicts or is beyond ordinary experience, and is caused by some kind of supernatural force or being--God or a God. In one view of miracles, God suspends the laws of nature to produce an astonishing happening. In the other, a miracle is an effect in our world of the natural forces of a higher plane of reality. Hindus reject the notion that miracles contradict science. The so-called "science" of today has limited its knowledge by rejecting a priori any reality beyond that perceived by the physical body's five senses.
Three worlds are spoken of by Hindus--the Bhuloka, this Earth plane in which we live in our physical body; the Antarloka, the in-between world of the devas or angelic beings; and the Brahmaloka, the highest heaven world of God and the Gods. In normal day-to-day life, we live peacefully in our Bhuloka, unaware of the greater reality of the Antarloka and Brahmaloka which exist within this plane. The inner-world beings--the devas, Gods such as Ganesha and the 330 million other Gods--assist in our evolution in this universe in manifold but unseen ways.
But from time to time there is more obvious, even publicly shared interaction.
In its simplest form, this can be the answering of a prayer, or a sudden precognition of a danger ahead. In more developed forms it can be the powers of an accomplished yogi, the siddhis. These siddhis are listed in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, and include such miraculous abilities as becoming invisible, flying through the air, seeing the past and future, entering another's body and the ability to command and control everything. The most impressive miracles, like the milk miracle, result from the direct and unbidden intervention of God.
There are countless examples of miracles in Hinduism from the most ancient of times right to the present day. There are the miracles of the Gods, such as Lord Krishna and Lord Rama, coming to live among men. There are miracles of saints and yogis in thousands of stories.
The following are examples of direct interventions by God which were witnessed by many people, as in the case of the milk miracle. Some people think such miracles are secondary to the songs, teachings or personality of the saint with whom they are associated. A more realistic evaluation is that, as in the case of other world religions, it was the miracles that established the saint's "saintliness" among the people. At the same time, the witnessing of the miracle raised the general religious consciousness of the people.
A most relevant case of a Hindu miracle is that of Nambi Ambar Nambi, who lived about 1,000 ce. His father was priest of a small Ganesha temple in South India. One day he had to go to another village and asked his son Nambi to do the daily puja for Ganesha at the temple. Nambi did the best he could. But, assuming Ganesha always took the food his father brought, he became disheartened when Ganesha would not eat his food offerings. Nambi cried and cried and started to beat his head against the shrine wall. Suddenly Ganesha said, "Stop, Nambi, stop," and then proceeded to eat the food. Nambi was delighted to see all the food in front of Ganesha disappear and asked Ganesha to teach him all there was to know of religion. Later, when his father returned home, Nambi told him what had happened. Not believing his son's story, the father went to the temple and witnessed Ganesha's actually eating the food offerings.
Nambi went on to become one of the foremost seers of Tamil Nadu, personal advisor to King Rajaraja Chola. Nambi located by divine intuition the lost songs of the ancient Tamil saints stored in a sealed room at Chidambaram temple, retrieved them with the king's help, codified and set them to music. Nambi's extraordinary experience contributed to a massive religious renaissance at that time.
Saint Jnanadeva is revered for his Bhagavad Gita translation and commentary in the Maharastrian language. Among several miracles that established this 13th-century saint's reputation, the most famous involved a water buffalo. Challenged by the arrogant brahmins of Paithan that he was not qualified to recite the Vedas, Jnanadeva replied, "Anyone can recite the Vedas." He placed his hand upon a nearby water buffalo, which proceeded to correctly chant Vedic verses for more than an hour. Not only Jnanadeva but the buffalo itself was thereafter revered--its samadhi shrine is today a place of pilgrimage.
The Bengali Vaishnava saint Chaitanya wrought many miracles in his lifetime. But one in particular stands out. He had gone with his followers to witness the great chariot festival of Lord Jagannath in Puri. Suddenly, the towering chariot of the Lord came to a stop. Thousands of people pulled at the ropes but could not budge it. Elephants were brought, but they too failed. Finally Chaitanya came to the back of the chariot and devotedly leaned his head against it. The chariot began to move! By such miracles and his personal saintliness, Chaitanya inspired a religious revival which continues to this day.
In the 9th century ce the Tamil saint Manikkavasagar was a king's minister [see pictures of this story below]. A series of miracles heralded his sainthood. He was sent by the king to buy horses from a neighboring state. On his way he met a most unusual saint who was later revealed to him as Lord Siva Himself. As Manikkavasagar sat at his guru's feet, he forgot the king's mission, renounced the world and eventually even spent the king's money, meant to buy horses, to rebuild a local temple. Upon hearing of this, the king abruptly recalled him to the palace and threw him in the dungeon. His guru told Manikkavasagar not to worry, that the horses, which he had failed to purchase, would be delivered in a day or two. The guru rounded up the jackals of the local forest, turned them into horses and, in the form of a horse dealer, personally delivered them to the king. The king was delighted and released Manikkavasagar. But that same night the horses changed back into jackals and escaped. The enraged king again arrested Manikkavasagar, and this time chained him to the hot sands of the nearby River Vaigai.
Miraculously a great unseasonal flood came down the Vaigai upon the village, and Manikkavasagar was removed back to jail. All residents were required to either work on the embankments or to hire someone in their place. One poor old lady could do neither until Lord Siva in the form of a laborer appeared at her hut and offered His services in return for food. But when the laborer went to the river side He proceeded to laze about, dance and generally interfere with the work in progress. When the king came to inspect, he discovered the troublemaker and hit the laborer across the back with his cane. The laborer disappeared in a flash, but the blow was felt upon the back of the king, his ministers and servants, the villagers, indeed every living thing in the world including the imprisoned Manikkavasagar. Because of these miracles, the king realized it was Lord Siva Himself who had turned his former minister into a saint.
All through his initiation, trials and release, Manikkavasagar sang magnificent devotional hymns, the collection now known as the Tiruvasagam. He performed other miracles, such as making the dumb daughter of the Sri Lankan Buddhist king speak. That miracle resulted in the conversion of the king and all his followers to Saivism. At the end of his life Siva again appeared and personally wrote down his songs. Asked their meaning by the priests at Chidambaram, Manikkavasagar turned, walked into the Siva Sanctum and disappeared! To this day, his story is told and his exquiste songs sung throughout the Tamil-speaking world.
Miracles in Other Religions
All religions accept miracles, but accord them greater or lesser importance. Within Buddhism, for example, miraculous healings occurred among the general population at the moment of Buddha's birth. Later in life he raised the dead, healed incurable diseases and walked across the mile-wide Ganges. The Jews have many miracles described in the Torah, especially Moses' parting the Red Sea as he led his people out of slavery in Egypt. The phenomenon is celebrated to this day during Passover.
Islam assumes Allah can do miracles, and popular Muslim religion abounds in miracles both of the prophet Mohammed and of wonder-working saints. Mohammed himself rejected proving his faith by miracles, saying his only miracle was the Koran itself. Christianity is based upon a miracle, specifically the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion on the cross. The theological centrality of this particular miracle for Christianity is unique among religions. Catholics and Protestants testify in modern times to tears being shed by icons of their saints and many unexplained healings. The founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, first gained public attention when he caused a dry water reservoir in drought-stricken Amritsar to be filled with water. Many converted to his new faith as a result.
The ancient sage Zoroaster was born of a virgin mother and his birth heralded by a star in the sky. With his spiritual power he strived for much of his life in promoting his new faith. Finally he cured the king's favorite horse of paralysis and gained the entire royal household (and later the kingdom) as converts. Confucianism and Taoism place limited importance on miracles, but accept their existence. The Jains, too, place no particular stress on miracles, though some are associated with their saint, Mahavira. The Japanese Shinto religion is miraculous in that it traces its origins to the Sun Goddess as the Grandmother of the first emperor. He received from Her the Three Sacred Treasures: a mirror, a sword and jewels, which to this day are the most hallowed possessions of the Japanese Imperial family.
The tribal religions worldwide remain replete with miraculous happenings. Anthropologist Margaret Mead personally testified to the existence of "special supernatural powers" among the many tribes she studied and advocated additional systematic research.
Qualities of a saint
That which we give willingly to others comes back to us doubled. A story is told of a king who went round in his palanquin. A beggar, hoping the king would give him something, held out his begging bowl. But the king got down from the palanquin and stretched out his hand for alms. Without questioning him, the beggar placed the few grains of rice he had in the king’s hands. The beggar then went back to the place where he usually rested and was surprised to find in his begging bowl twice the number of grains he had given the King. Thus giving makes us richer.
But this is easier said than done. When we have been attached to material possessions for so many years of our life, how can we give up our attachments all at once? But we can do so step by step and gradually distance ourselves from material wealth. We will then realise that the state of being detached from the world is the first step towards spiritual realisation, said T. Rajarathinam in a discourse.
It is given only to a few to totally renounce the world, because renunciation is not easy. In the Kamba Ramayana, Kaikeyi tells Rama that it is Dasaratha’s wish that her son Bharata should be king and that Rama should dress like a sage and do that which is difficult to do — penance. Kamban, realising the challenges of the life of sages and the even greater challenge of doing penance, describes the life of a renunciate as a difficult one.
Pamban Swamigal, the saint who was a devotee of Lord Shanmukha, wrote that a sanyasi should dress simply, should not care about the taste of what he ate, should not speak unnecessarily, should sleep on the floor, should not sleep for many hours, should not make an issue of other people’s shortcomings, should be humble and should not concern himself with income, expenditure and other such monetary matters. Sages must never reside in one place. They are like birds that move from tree to tree, says Saint Arunagirinatha.
But what is doing/ happening with these SAINTs.
India's most controversial gurus
The controversy over Sant Rampal and his army of followers taking the law into their hands has once again thrown the spotlight on the clout that India's godmen possess.
Though health, well-being and spirituality are what they all profess, some have made it to the headlines for the controversy they create, like financial irregularities, sexual abuse and, sometimes, even murder.
Sant Rampal, as he is called by his followers set up Satlok Ashram in 1999 after he came in contact with a seer named Ramdevanand. Soon, he had a number of followers and began opening ashrams all over Haryana.
The 63-year-old engineer, today, owns a fleet of luxury cars, and lives in an ashram in Barwala, Haryana, spread over a sprawling 12 acres.
His legal woes began in 2006 when he clashed with supporters of Arya Samaj founder Swami Dayanand Saraswati, which led to the death of one person.
Since then, Rampal, who faces contempt of court, murder and attempt to murder cases in various courts, has skipped hearings 42 times.
Rampal is said to have over 25 lakh followers in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Delhi and has his own Facebook and YouTube page too, with a huge fan following.
For the last 10 days, Rampal’s ashram has witnessed violent clashes as his supporters have been refusing the police entry into the guarded fortress, which also led to the deaths of six devotees.
Born in Sind in undivided India, today Asaram Bapu has over 425 ashrams and more than 50 gurukuls all over, and a tremendous following both in India and aboard.
Spirituality aside, he has also been courting controversy.
1: Last week Asaram Bapu was accused of sexually abusing a 16-year-old girl at his Jodhpur ashram even as her mother was waiting outside. He was served a summons in the case by the Jodhpur police at his ashram in Indore. The police had earlier served a summons to his officials at his Ahmedabad ashram. The godman claimed he was innocent and regards the minor as his "daughter".
2: Commenting on the December 16 Delhi gang rape incident, Asaram suggested that the victim was equally responsible for the crime. He said the girl could have called her assailants brothers and begged them to stop. His comments invited sharp criticism from across the political spectrum and from women's activists.
3: The ministry of corporate affairs said it had received complaints against him and his son in an alleged 700-acre land-grabbing case and the serious frauds investigation office is looking into the matter.
4: Asaram and his son were also investigated in the mysterious deaths of two boys whose decomposed bodies were found from the banks of Sabarmati River near his ashram in 2008.
Lets Play Brother-Sister – Asharam Bapu
He’s our current favourite in India. This controversial godman hit the nerve of every rational Indian when making a remark on the 2012 Delhi gangrape saying that the girl raped was also to be blamed. He further added that the girl “should have called the culprits brothers and begged before them to stop… This could have saved her dignity and life.” To exemplify his hideous theory he said “Can one hand clap? I don’t think so.”We don’t think so either swami, especially since he has been arrested for paedophilic behaviour recently. This is what is generally called tit-for-tat.
This January, 7 more girls have poured out their tales of horror (which includes forced oral) to the police who have collected the statement of around 100 people, enough to build up a case against this self-styled godman.
Swami Nithyananda Scandal
The Story that Media never told
March 18, 2010 by Rajiv Malhotra
When the sex scandal of Swami Nithyananda suddenly erupted on March 2, 2010, I was already in Delhi as part of a group to go toKumbh Mela. I was also finalizing my new book which deals specifically with Tamil Nadu religious politics, and in particular with the role of various nexuses based overseas. So I decided to jump into the eye of the storm of this scandal in order to investigate whether similar nexuses were at work in this case. Naturally, at one level I have seen this scandal through the framework of a civilization encounter in which Vedic culture is pitted against the Dravidian divisiveness that is beingbacked by Christian evangelism. At another level, I found that the sensationalized media reports were too one-sided, and none of them had a single statement to report from the swami himself. Furthermore, there was chaos and mismanagement of the crisis from Swami Nithyananda’s inner circle.
In hindsight, things might have turned out differently had they managed more sensibly and faster which I will elaborate later in this article. Given this, another interest of mine has been to extrapolate important lessons from this episode for other Hindu organizations, which I predict will face similar scandals as and when their weaknesses become understood by those opposed to them. This article highlights my findings at these multiple levels and issues.
During this 2-week investigative period, I have been loyal to my pledge to give Swami Nithyananda’s organization the benefit of doubt and to report their side of the story. Besides wanting to balance out the one-sided media depictions, I wanted access to the ashrams core group for my own research on the broader subject of civilization encounters. I respect the sensitivities of that organization consisting of many decent and dedicated devotees who have sacrificed a great deal and stand to lose a lot.
But I have concluded that the situation is now beyond repair for Swami Nithyananda and that his continued involvement can only damage the broader interests of dharma as well as jeopardize the ashramites. Along withtwo other sympathizers who are not ashramites, I have personally recommended to Swami Nithyananda that the best course at this stage would be for him to resign completely from his organization.
He should turn it over to a small team of senior Hindu mahatmas, so that the assets can be used in the best interests of dharma. Further, under the guidance of these mahatmas he must live a quiet life as a sadhu devoid of any institutional responsibilities. Because the head of any organization must accept responsibility that the buck stops here,only such a move can salvage the organization and the reputation of dharma at large. Over several years, this resignation would hopefully reduce the massive pressure that has built up against him personally, and enable him to live peacefully as a sadhu. It is up to him to accept or reject this advice. The basis for this conclusion becomes clearer once the reader has gone through the rest of this article.
I want to begin by examining some principles about the relationships between siddhis (extraordinary yogic powers), morality, Tantra and sex. This will provide the framework in which to interpret what has happened. Then I will turn to my initial interest in pursuing the challenges facing Hinduism in south India from a variety of forces.
Siddhis (Extraordinary Yogic Powers)and Morality
A few days ago, I had the honor of having a two-hour private conversation with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at his ashram in Rishikesh. I introduced myself as an independent researcher who is writing a series of books on Indian civilization in the context of the global challenges and opportunities. One of my volumes will be specifically on the major global gurus since the 1960s including Krishnamurti, Swami Muktananda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Pabhupada, among others – as well as living global gurus such as Sri Sri himself. I have been investigating what happened to such gurus, in terms of the shifts in their Western followers over time, their scandals, their Indian followers and critics, and also how each guru negotiated his/her position sandwiched between Indian orthodoxy on one side and Western modernity on the other. The relevance of this in the context of Swami Nithyananda will become clear very soon.
The first provocative question I asked Sri Sri concerned the nature of yogic powers: What is the relationship between siddhis and morality? If siddhis are a scientific phenomena dealing with powers that can be harnessed by all humans then one must bear in mind that science deals with truths that are morally neutral. If Einstein was declared to have lived an immoral life it would not invalidate his scientific theories. A person who designs aircrafts or any other complex technological systems may or may not be moral in order to be effective in his technical work. In other words, rtam (the patterns of the cosmos) which we discover and call science, functions independently of human morality. This is why a scientific principle can be used either morally or immorally, because it is independent of morality. There are moral persons who lack any siddhis or even ordinary scientific competence. Conversely, there are great siddhas (like Ravana) who lack morality. Sri Sri’s Pranayama techniques would also produce results for an immoral person.
Sri Sri seemed impressed by this question, and agreed with my overall position on the independence between siddhis and morality. But he pointed out that the moral dimension, while not determining the siddhis, was also important because it led to receiving the grace of the divine. I agree with him.
So there are two separate phenomena involved:
(i) spiritual technologies that are objective and that allow anyone to harness spiritual energies, and
(ii) morality which is important in itself, not for attaining siddhis, but in order to have a positive relationship with the divine.
Either one can be developed without the other; however, the dharma tradition encourages us to cultivate both.
The reason that meditation systems prescribe things likevegetarian diet, ahimsa, etc. is because an inappropriate lifestyle interferes with the mental tranquility required to advance. This lifestyle change can be appreciated regardless of whether one believes in a personal God. This absence of a personal God is clear in Buddhist meditation. Different Hindu systems place different levels of emphasis upon a personal God for the yoga to function. This is why many secular and scientifically minded persons are also drawn towards meditation techniques. In other words, something cannot be a science if it depends upon morality, because science is objective and stands independent of morality.
The relevance of this question is as follows: Many persons who have learned advanced meditation from Swami Nithyananda want to know if any moral breaches by him would invalidate the whole Hindu claim of achieving higher states of consciousness. When a far worse sex scandal against the legendry Swami Muktananda emerged in the 1990s, involving charges by a large number of his Western female disciples, the Western academy rashly condemned not only one mans morality, but the whole legitimacy of the Indian tradition itself. In that series of debates (with Risa scholars like Sarah Caldwell, etc.), I took the same position then as I am taking now: that Muktananda’s capabilities in harnessing spiritual energies are separate and independent from whether or not he violated any code of morality.
Patanjali warns against getting lured by siddhis which appear along the way when one practices advanced meditation persistently. One is not supposed to indulge in them. This warning is found in various Hindu systems that deal with the body as a vehicle for spiritual evolution, because these energies are very powerful and can get out of control. Another point that is worth noting is that the techniques taught by Swami Nithyananda are not his original ones; he has made it clear repeatedly that they are from the Shiva Sutras which have a long history in our civilization. I feel that he does have the siddhi of being able to transmit these techniques very effectively to others. For instance, I have never before in my life been able to sit still and alert in meditation for the whole night, but he had a few hundred persons in a large hall achieving this.
The point here is similar to saying that the mathematics and golf I have learned from someone is not invalidated when the teacher is found to be immoral.
Hence, the issue of his morality must be pursued separately and independently from whether his siddhis are genuine.
Is Tantra a Part of Hinduism?
The second question that I asked Sri Sri could not be completely dealt with in the time available for our meeting. I hope to pursue this some day with him and with various other acharyas for my own benefit. Its significance in the present scandal becomes clear soon. I asked whether the Shiva Sutras are valid, pointing out that among the 112 spiritual enlightenment techniques taught in them, about 6deal with sexual contact between a male yogi and a female yogini. Kashmir Shaivism as well as the Tantra traditions have included exemplars that practiced these techniques. Recently, Osho tried to revive them and nowadays Deepak Chopra has brought some elements of these into his repertoire. Sunthar Vishvalingam, a US based scholar of Tantra and Kashmir Shaivism, is one of the voices who brings out the authenticity of these approaches in the tradition, despite the common rejections by society at large. The tradition considers itself not suitable for mainstream society and is meant only for a small subset of people.
Many popular Hindu rituals and symbols have emerged out of the Tantra traditions such as Shiva lingam, etc. The Tantra and Vedic traditions were not separate until recent times. The Vedic-Tantric integration is found in Adi Shankara all the way to Jiva Goswami (the great integrator of Vaishnavism who took Ramanujas ideas further), and even more recently in the life of Sri Ramakrishna.The Bihar School of Yoga has Tantra practitioners, but they do it privately and not publicly.
I have an unpublished monograph that shows the history of this shift in Indian consciousness concerning Tantra. It was under British rule that certain Indian leaders (such as Ram Mohan Roy) started to condemn (as part of their reform of Hinduism) those aspects of Hinduism that bothered puritan Christian values. It must be noted that Christianity has had a very negative posture towards the human body starting with the Biblical episode of Origin Sin. This is why female priests (called witches) got demonized by the Church in its very official genocide of several million practitioners across Europe. This Church prosecution was called the Inquisition and was widespread for a few centuries. The use of shakti and anything concerning the body as a spiritual resource was considered not only immoral but also demonic, and was outlawed with draconian enforcement. The term occult was used to refer to a vast assortment of such practices and was heavily condemned by the Church as the work of the Devil.
This mentality entered India under the British. The Criminal Tribes Act of India was passed by the British in the late 1800s. It listed several dozen tribes that practiced such evil techniques, and they were officially persecuted into extinction. A middle-class whitened Hinduism evolved as the mark of being civilized on British terms. We could be proud of our identity, now that it was cleansed of primitive practices of our ancestors.
In this history of removing Tantra out of Hinduism, some people include Swami Vivekananda among those who undermined Tantra. I disagree with this charge. He was saying a separate set of things to his Western audiences than to Indians. In his Western lecture tours, he presented a Hinduism that Westerners could relate to and appreciate, but he did not ask Indians to shift their practice. It is unfortunate that after his death,the Ramakrishna Mission he started has diluted itself into a sort of pseudo-Christianity. Kali and other related Tantra deities, symbols and rituals that were dear to Ramakrishna himself, have become hidden for the private use by the monks, but are marginalized publicly and considered as an embarrassment. Their lead in this direction has spread across modern Hinduism to such an extent that Vedic Hinduism has become separated from Tantra, and Tantra is now widely condemned by many Hindu gurus. This is also a factor that worked against Swami Nithyananda’s reputation among orthodox Hindu leaders, for he uses Tantric techniques that arouse body energies, such as kundalini.
My own feeling is that Tantra is making a big comeback. First there was Western popularity of distorted versions of Tantra; but this is now being followed by more clinical experimentation by psychologists and others. The whole issue of latent human energies and potentials (both positive and dangerous) is a hot topic of serious scientific investigation. Hindus should reclaim this aspect of their own tradition rather than waiting for U-Turned (appropriated) versions to get re-exported back to India, packaged as Made in USA spiritual science. This requires an attitude of experimentation under the appropriate controls to prevent abuses and quackery.
I just returned from Kumbh Mela where I walked amidst several tens of thousands of naga sadhus who were completelynaked. I did not consider them as either vulgar or primitive. The old guard of Hindu orthodoxy rejects Tantra at least in public, and yet lives in contradictions because they do respect the naga sadhus and also the various symbols and rituals that have their foundations in Tantra. The vacuum left by avoiding the subject of Tantra has created opportunities for the likes of Wendy Doniger to formulate distorted interpretations. I feel thatHindu spiritual practitioners as well as intellectuals must take control over Tantra as an intrinsic part of our tradition.
Sex and Morality
Against this backdrop, I will address the issue of Swami Nithyanandas morality.
Just to recap:
My first point above has been that the morality issue about Swami Nithyananda does not impact the effectiveness of the meditation techniques he has taught very successfully. Their efficacy is best evaluated by the tens of thousands of practitioners for themselves.
My second point was that there is nothing inherent about sex that is rejected by Hinduism across the board, althoughcertain strains of Hinduism do reject sex seeing it as harmful to spirituality.
Here it must be noted that brahmacharya (involving sexual abstinence)is just one of the spiritual paths of Hinduism. The first half of my recent stay in Haridwar was as a guest of the Gayatri Pariwar, one of the greatest and largest Hindu movements, that does not advocate being brahmacharya. Its founder, its present head and its members at large, are householders and not brahmacharyas. But for Swami Nithyananda to claim moral authenticity under this system, he would have to pronounce himself as a householder and not a sannyasin. He has never done that, so we must examine his morality by some other criteria.
Another approach for him could have been to announce himself as an experimenter of Tantra for modern times, thereby making himself transparent of any such charges. This would place him in the same category as Osho. Many times in his public discourses and teachings, he has praised Osho as his greatest teacher and enlightened exemplar. He even said that many of his own teachings were derived from Osho. But he failed to publicly clarify whether he was practicing those techniques that involve sex. Privately, he explained to me in recent days that Shiva Sutras have two categories of techniques.
Most of the sutras donot involve physical contact with another person and only use the four senses of sight, sound, taste and smell as pathways to spiritual experiences. Hence an individual practices these techniques entirely on his/her own. This path is what he has taught thus far to the public. The best pursuit of this path is as a brahamacharya according to him, and he has initiated many followers into it. But for a small number of persons, he feels that the 6 sutras involving sexual Tantra need to be tested and perfected for modern times, before they can be safely taught more widely. This he considers like any R & D done in a lab for developing a product.
My sense is that he did practice Tantra with a very small number of persons, and I believe that he even entered into written legal contracts with them to make sure that both parties were clear about the arrangement. The reason for this Non-Disclosure Agreement wasto make sure that someone who willingly approaches him for Tantra does not later accuse him of physical contact. On March 9 (about a week ago), I did a specific video interview with him dealing with this issue very specifically. But this video was blocked by his ashram leaders even though he personally felt that it was a good idea to show it. I gave up arguing in favor of showing it, because his ashram management took a firm stand against it. I still feel that this was a blunder they made. Swami Nithyananda is very forthright and clear in that interview I felt that it was the best interview of all the ones I did with him, but it was never made public.
I surmise that Rancitha, the Tamil actress in the scandalous videotape, was practicing Tantra with him. He taught her the self-control she had to achieve before any intimacy. I have tried to interview her in order to get her side of the story, but so far I have not succeeded in getting through to her. Based on third party reports from some persons who are in touch with her, and the media reports of her statements, her stance seems to be along the following lines: She took the sexual initiative with him on the occasion shown in the videotape, at a time when he was not fully alert. But this activity did not proceed to intercourse. It was terminated. She has also said that the videos being shown on TV are manipulated versions of what actually happened, because they exaggerate the situation. They do not show portions where he asked her to stop. Different clips from various videos seem to have been turned into a single video by editing. She has not filed any complaint against him. So in the worst case, this was consensual sex between adults, and that too backed by a formal written contract between the parties. Because she has refused to give any statement against Swami Nithyananda, she feels threatened by those who set her up and who did this sting. I hear that she has gone overseas to protect her safety from this mafia-like conspiracy. I have not been able to corroborate this thesis directly from her.
My concern about his morality is, therefore, not based on sex between consenting adults. Rather, my moral issue is about the lack of transparency before the public. He could have openly said that he wants to select a few yoginisto experiment Tantra under mutual consent. At worst this would have upset many followers and pushed them away. In response to my concern over his lack of transparency, he could offer the argument that this was a private activity between adults who areunder no obligation to disclose it to the public. After all, people do not go about broadcasting their sexual lives. So long as this was under mutual consent, he might say, it cannot be an offense. And if it was done under the Tantra portions of the Shiva Sutra, it was also an act within the Hindu tradition despite the controversy surrounding Tantra today.
Having given this best case argument on his behalf, I must say that there could also be the alternative scenario, namely, that this was mere lust packaged as Tantric spirituality. David White, one of Wendy’s Children, has written extensively making the claim that all Tantra is hard core porn that gets wrapped up before the public in metaphysical mumbo-jumbo to appear to be legitimate spirituality, which he calls soft porn coating. Whites latest book takes this allegation to the extreme, and states that all major yogic exemplars in Indian history were basically not engaged in any kind of spirituality at all. Instead, he claims, they were developing personal power for the purpose of exploiting others. I am unqualified to comment on whether Swami Nithyananda’s case fits this notion of soft porn, or whether it was legitimate Tantra. Nor do I have adequate factual data of what happened to pass judgment either way.
This concludes what I have to say about his morality issue as shown in the sex tapes.
My Impressions of Swami Nithyananda Prior to this Scandal
I was introduced to Swami Nithyananda a couple of years ago, by a prominent Hindu leader based in California. This man was so impressed by the young swami that he frequently called me to speak about him in glowing terms. I told him that I had a guru already, and that my present interest in interacting with gurus was mainly as a part of my research for my book on global gurus. He arranged a private meeting for me with Swami Nithyananda which I used mostly to explain the civilization threats facing Hinduism, citing numerous examples, and questioned him on his position in this regard. I found him to be very sharp, a great listener, and in agreement that we must engage social issues rather than pursuing the world negating or escapist paths that are typical of many gurus today.
Later on, I attended a weekend course in USA, where he taught the Patanjali Yoga Sutras. I have read several translations of this great classical work, but I had never before seen it taught experientially. Swami Nithyananda gave the attendees their own personal inner experience of every one of the eight limbs of Patanjalis system, right up to and including samadhi. This was quite an achievement in two days.
Overall, my interactions with him remained centered largely on the geopolitics of religions. I saw him as a prominent swami who was not running away from troubling issues, such as Christian conversions and the Dravidianization of Tamil identity. Given that I have been writing a book on this very issue in Tamil Nadu for three years (now in the editing stage), I was especially impressed by his experimental program of a Hindu temple on wheels traveling from village to village. In each village this mobile temple stops and offers chanting, a talk by one of the leaders, food, medicines, etc.
So it combines religion with social service and thus competes directly against Christian evangelism. Rather than building a temple in every village and needing a purohit in each of the thousands of villages across Tamil Nadu, the strategy was to bring to each village this temple on wheels.What I discovered by my own independent fact finding was that wherever this temple on wheels went, the missionaries were upset because it blunted their conversion efforts.
I attended his 21-day meditation program in December 2009. The various techniques in it are very deep and transformative. The best evaluation of this can be doneby the hundreds of attendees, who were divided roughly equally between Indians and whites from North America.
In several side conversations with him as well in the public forum, I pursued the point that I already have a guru since 1994, so I was not looking for a new guru. Since my guru had left the body a few years ago, I wanted to continue learning new techniques for my practice. I explained to him that I had previously learned and practiced meditation techniques from multiple sources for over 30 years, including: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Yogi Amrit Desai (who certified me as a teacher), Deepak Chopra, Vipasana, and more. Additionally, I had practiced numerous bhakti traditions, as well as formal Vedanta education from Swami Chinmayananda and Ramakrishna Mission. I went through a serious study of the writings by Sri Aurobindo, various Madhyamika Buddhist systems, Kashmir Shaivism, Ramana Maharshi, etc. So I was not seeking a new guru like most others who took his courses.
I have to say that he never pressured me to adopt him as my new guru, and even said that one must remain loyal to ones guru. To be classified as a devotee/disciple of his, there are two criteria, neither of which applies to me. First,there is an optional program one can sign up for, to do paada puja at the gurus feet, in order to develop a special link with him. The second is that one can ask to be given an initiation with a new name, in which case his policy is that the person must legally change his/her name, and use this new name publicly. I did not do either of these steps. So my relationship is not as a devotee or disciple, but more arms-length.
It was a two-way street. While he taught me meditation, I brought to him my scholarship on the geopolitical positioning of Hinduism which I feel the gurus know only superficially. They do not adequately know things like: Western philosophy, neither religious nor secular; or Western history; or Western institutions that have been set up explicitly to spread its civilization; or various global campaigns under way to invade Indian civilization through conversions, education, media, political policy making and more.
He requested that I should present him my findings on such matters so that he and his senior acharyas could learn. I told him that most gurus have little time to listen attentively to a layperson like me, because the gurus like to do all the talking. He replied that he would sit and listen to me seriously. I made it clear that I was disinterested in giving a short talk of a few minutes, because my findings required considerable time to be examined seriously. I told him that I would need two full days of undivided attention, so that I could present 300 Powerpoint slides.
Swami Nithyananda sent me an invitation when I was in Delhi to visit his ashram and present my research. I was delighted to have such an important audience. I was very impressed by the fact that he sat through two long days of my talks, about 12 hours per day. He asked his 40 top acharyas and various thought leaders in his ashram to sit and listen to me for both the days. The interactions were intense, and I explained many points from my forthcoming books. I felt that he and I had a peer relationship, each side being an expert in his domain to teach the other. After my two days of talks were over, he asked me to help him incorporate my core ideas into his curriculum, so as to make sure that his teachings helped position the Vedic civilization properly.
No other guru in the world has invested so much time with me to try and learn these global issues so deeply. (The only other prominent guru I know personally who understands these issues about the external challenges is Swami Dayananda Saraswati.) Most gurus tend to either be dismissive by resorting to spiritual loftiness, or imagine that they already know whatever there is worth knowing. Thus, my primary interest in Swami Nithyananda was as a vehicle to spread greater awareness of the kinds of issues that I was researching. (For instance, he bought a couple of hundred copies of the book, Invading the Sacred at the full price, and made it required reading for all his ashram residents.)
I must balance this praise with criticism. In my 2-day talks, I had explicitly discussed that many gurus were falling prey to sex scandals, often with women planted as part of sting operations, or women in the inner circle who got too close and let things get out of control. Despite these warnings, it seems that nothing concrete was done to prevent or at least anticipate the crisis that was to follow.
My Approach to this Investigation
When the scandal broke out I was in Delhi. I called the Bangalore ashram management and found them confident but confused. Probably they felt that the matter would soon get forgotten if left alone. But exactly the opposite happened,as each day brought fresh allegations and sensational media coverage. After several days had passed I was invited to go to Bangalore tostudy the situation for myself. At that time I had no clue about his Tantra practice with any women. Whatever I knew was based on what his followers told me, because he was personally inaccessible for several days even after I reached Bangalore. I spent many hours daily with some of his ashrams top team.
What I wrote earlier in this article actually comes later in the chronology of my investigation. But I presented it up front because most readers are obsessed with getting my answer to only one single question: did he or did he not have sex? Nothing else seems to matter to them, whereas my investigations emphasis has been about issues broader and more consequential than any one mans morality.
Until I concluded my fact-finding 2-week period recently, I was unable to discuss the sexual acts shown in the videotapes. I had to respect the policies of his people as part of the trust being placed in me to gain access. They also needed legal clearance on what can and cannot be said by them. Their policy on the sex tapes was that Swami Nithyananda would directly explain his acts. The Tamil actress lawyer was also in contact with them and her sensitivities had to be respected. The sensitivities of the 140-strong ashramites had to be protected also. Given this set of circumstances facing me, I feel that it was unfair to demand that I should hound him with the one critical question. People have assumed that it was up to me to decide what would be within the scope of each interview. As I have mentioned earlier, even after certain interviews were recorded by me, the ashram leadership used its discretion not to air them.
In response to my critics on how I conducted my interviews, I would also like to explain why I chose to focus on the criminal charges being made against Swami Nithyananda. Besides the sex-tape being off limits as mentioned in the foregoing paragraph, the criminal charges became my focus for two reasons. These charges could be ascertained with objectivity such as asking for documents on the land ownership, the medical reports on the death of one meditation participant 2 years ago, and so forth.
The evidence was more clear-cut than the evidence on what exactly happened in the videotapes between two persons none of whom were willing to talk with me about it. Secondly, the consequences of criminality would be far more severe than mere moral fallibility. While immoral conduct is a big concern for the devotees, it is not enough grounds by itself for the state to confiscate the entire property that runs into very large sums of money. Also, as a matter of principle, regardless of whether or not he is guilty of the morality charge, I felt opposed to spurious criminal charges being piled up by the irresponsible media just to create sensationalism.
The Conspiracy against Swami Nithyananda
Since I had arrived at the scene while writing my book on the conspiracy in Tamil Nadu religious politics, it was natural to start with that as my emphasis for the investigation. But in this short article I have decided to focus on the matters surrounding his conduct and his organizations conduct, because these have assumed a more urgent nature. The details of the conspiracy belong in my book as corroborating evidence for my thesis there. The types of parties reported to be behind the conspiracy, both foreign and India based, were remarkably similar to the ones I have written about in the book. So for now I shall merely summarize some of the main points concerning this conspiracy.
First one must understand why Swami Nithyananda became such a target. He was virtually unknown 7 years ago, but once he appeared in public his popularity catapulted at a dramatic rate. For example, last year, YouTube wrote to him that he was the most watched of all Indian spiritual leaders on the Internet and proposed a closer collaboration for their viewers. This letter also stated that among all spiritual leaders worldwide (not just Indian) he was the second most popular one, the Vatican being first. His meditation programs have become very popular in USA and in certain Indian states. The main factors are that participants almost invariably report experiencing higher states of consciousness, and he has healed a large number of persons of a variety of diseases. His healing powers are what brought together his core inner group of devotees from around the world doctors, businessmen, IT professionals, corporate executives. Many of them have explained their personal healings from terminal illnesses as the turning point in their lives. His meditation programs sometimes bring up to a few thousand attendees for periods ranging from a few days to several weeks.
While the funds come mostly from upper strata participants in India and USA, a large portion of the expenses have been allocated to develop grass-roots social and spiritual programs focusing primarily in Tamil Nadu, his native state. This is where he is seen as a threat by Dravidian as well as Christian forces. For instance, in December 2009, about 600 villages across Tamil Nadu sent their local Nithyananda leaders for a celebration and planning session in his main ashram near Bangalore. I happened to be present for the event. These common folks, mostly from the lower strata of Tamil society, had walked 300 kilometers for this journey which they saw as a spiritual pilgrimage. The reason for the anger of Christian and Dravidian forces is that his activities have put a dampener to conversions in many districts, and several Christians have return to Hinduism by getting initiated formally into his organization. The swami himself has spoken against conversions, and has also stated that the Dravidian movement had made Tamil people unspiritual in their lives, and that this had caused social decay. His Tamil language publications and courses have become his most popular ones, far exceeding the numbers in English. Also he is a very big threat because he is not a Brahmin. Because he cannot be targeted using the classical attack on Brahmins, and because the masses in Tamil Nadu were rising to swell his ranks, the threat he posed to the existing political power structure had to be stopped one way or another.
The attack against Swami Nithyananda has consisted of two prongs, image and legal. At first a highly sensational sexual charge was broadcast in order to devastate his credibility and create an atmosphere in which any and all kinds of outlandish allegations would be taken at face value. Once the media and popular sentiments had been turned against him, there was one amazing allegation after another in rapid sequence. It was clear that none of this was spontaneous but was being centrally orchestrated under a systematic plan.
What became evident to me was that there was cooperation in informal and unofficial ways among the media, police and lower level judiciary. In fact, many third parties were aware of the attack in advance and had warned his people before it happened with specific details of the plan. For instance, one of his top devotees got a phone call from someone based in New York describing the media and police attack that was to come. His predictions turned out to be accurate but at that time the ashramites did not take the threat literally. He said that for the right sum of money he could be helpful in preventing such an attack. He claimed that the planning for this attack had started a year ago. He mentioned that a budget of Rs 200 crores was allocated by some overseas groups to demolish Hindu gurus especially in south India, and named two south Indian churches as the nodal agencies to coordinate this strategic plan. (I am presently pursuing these leads as part of my book investigation.)
There was another concrete extortion effort about eleven or twelve days prior to the scandal breaking out. A lawyer contacted them and claimed that his client had compromising videos, and that the client was seeking money or else they would get released. The same intermediary later sent a letter containing a variety of unsubstantiated criminal allegations against Swami Nithyananda, and this letters distribution list included India’s Prime Minister, President, Sonya Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, various Chief Ministers and police heads, various national criminal investigation and security organizations. I have a copy of this letter, and it makes the Nithyananda organization seem like a terrorist outfit that needs to be attacked for the sake of public safety. This letter along with a DVD of the sex video was delivered to the Chief Minister of Karnataka state two hours before the videotape was first aired. Clearly, the attack was well planned and executed across many locations, and was persistently carried out over several days. This is not the work of some isolated individuals.
There were warnings given to individuals in the ashram that their phones were being tapped and that they better leave to save their own lives, because something horrible was about to happen. One friendly man based in Pune who runs a magazine and is a devotee of Swami Nithyananda, told the ashram a week in advance of the attack that some such catastrophe would happen. He named his source as a man in Bangalore press club. Another publisher in Hyderabad who distributes Swami Nithyanandas books in Telugu, called three times to warn that a graphic video would be released and gave a precise time for this to happen. It was also reported that an American devotee who had fallen out of the ashram was working in association with Jody Razdik who specializes in guru bashing at a prominent web site. He was being helped by an Indian based in San Diego, who was once very deeply involved inside the Nithyananda organization but had turned malicious. The only man who has openly come out as the main accuser was an ashramite who had a falling out when he got demoted due to his conduct. It was recently reported that he had a prior criminal record against him but nobody in the ashram had checked out his background before admitting him.
There were constant threats received to harass the ashramites and scare them away, with claims that narcotics will be planted to cause arrest warrants. The actions by the police were being leaked to the media ahead of time and even to the opposing side, leading to numerous tips received by friendsasking the ashram dwellers to run away before the attack comes.
But even after a couple of weeks since the scandal has erupted, the lawyers for Swami Nithyanandas ashram have failed to get copies of any concrete charges filed with the police, except a few trivial ones. Each time they approach for specific details they are told that there is no formal charge, except relatively minor ones. So the intimidation has been carried out mainly through media reports, without any legal due process starting where facts and arguments could get cross-examined. This lack of formal charges has enabled an atmosphere of intimidation using rumors and threats that cannot be pinned down officially.
It is important to contrast this with the manner in which Indian media treats scandals facing Islamic or Christian groups. The numerous scandals occurring overseas often get blocked by Indian media entirely,or are given mild treatment with tremendous sensitivity, in order to be seen as secular and not communal. By contrast every kind of allegation against any Hindu group gets clubbed in one homogeneous category and treated as a social scourge equivalent to terror groups.
The medias hounding mentality and mafia tactics deserve to be condemned. In the Swami Nithyananda case, they have used carrots and sticks to lure and threaten, using whatever would get them more sensational footage. Several TV stations and journalists camped out in Haridwar and sent me emails requesting my help in arranging an interview. When I failed to deliver (because it was not up to me to deliver any such thing), some of them turned nasty against me. One TV woman promised the swamis people positive coverage if she got an exclusive. But after the interview, she betrayed and turned it into more distortion and smut. This led Swami Nithyanandas handlers to give interviews to more stations in orderto counteract this distortion. But the more they said before TV cameras, the worse the scandal became. One station was blatant in its threat to the swamis assistant: If you dont give us an interview right away, we will show you the power of the media to destroy you. At one point a major TV station also wanted to drag in Ramakrishna Mission with similar allegations, but someone was able to stop that.
Failures of Swami Nithyanandas Organization
Hindu tradition separates three kinds of varna (skills), each representing a form of social capital,and these three were never supposed to be concentrated in a single person, thereby preventing too much concentration of power. I use the terms Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya not as birth based caste, but as merit based social capital and areas of competence. The Brahmin job description focuses on spirituality and research; Kshatriya ongovernance, politics and leadership; and Vaishyas on commerce and financial capital. Swami Nithyananda had persons with Brahmin qualities performing duties that demand Kshatriya and Vaishnav skills. This was counterproductive. The ashram leaders were selected and trained for skills and roles that are very different than this situation demands. Too often their bhakti and spiritual practice substituted for professional competence in managing a rapidly growing global enterprise. The sole emphasis was placed on traditional Brahmin qualities, and none on what would be considered Kshatriya qualities.
For example, there are a large number of white devotees who do have Kshatriyata – leadership expertise, courage and commitment. But even after this attack the ashram organization has blundered in its failure to leverage and deploy them.I met some of these Westerners at the Kumbh and found them remarkably willing to stand up for their guru, but nobody had bothered to organize them and take advantage of the fact that Swami Nithyananda has a global following. Instead of such initiatives to deal with the crisis, his organization was in utter chaos, reacting to each hit by the other side. Its leaders were running scared, driven by one rumor after another. Decisions were being made in desperation and panic. The group was cognitively disoriented and many of its members were psychologically breaking down.
The organization was too much of a one-man show with the leaders operating like children dependent on the swami for every decision. The swami had become the iconic object of the ashrams inner circle. Their proximity to him became their measure of personal power and identity. This is classical cult-like behavior that cannot survive the onslaughts that are inevitable nowadays. Such a concentration of varnas into one man not only makes an enterprise incompetent, but it also can also get into the leaders head and make him power hungry. Especially when the guru has siddhis, this power can easily become co-opted by his ego into a dangerous mixture. The result is that he surrounds himself with psychopaths who tell him what he wants to hear, and this feedback loop of self glorification turns into group delusion.
I noticed this in the form of the inner circles inability to make common sense judgments, and their misrepresenting the facts to their leader by giving him too much good news. The result was that the honest truth did not come out fast enough to allow pragmatic and realistic planning. I had a difficult time to get dependable information, and the stories kept changing not only over time but also between one person and another within the group. I could not tell if there was a cover up and if new lies were fabricated to cover prior lies. In such an atmosphere one cannot tell which individuals might have a separate stake and vested interest from the group. Lacking competent Kshatriyas, the swami had not anticipated that such a crisis was ever possible, despite the fact that outsiders (including myself in my 2-day talks at his ashram) had explained to them the threats facing every prominent Hindu mahatma today.
While on the one hand I blame those in positions of responsibility at the ashram, ultimately Swami Nithyananda bears the responsibility as he selected them, defined their roles, evaluated their performance, motivated and supervised them very closely. In this regard, his spiritual capabilities hadfailed to evaluate those very close to him as well as the external reality. An enlightened master must do better than this, or else he must not try to control everything so personally.
I acknowledge that being a global guru is very demanding today, given that one has to represent a very old tradition authentically and yet in a manner that appeals to modern people. This is why Hindu leaders need a crash course on matters that are well beyond the traditional education in their own sampradayas (lineages).
Swami Nithyanandas own support base in India has started to distance itself out of self preservation amidst all the rumors and slander. His closest supporters were not approached soon enough with his side of the story, and by the time they were approached the damage to his credibility was already irreversible. They did not want to risk being associated with a fallen guru. Many Hindu gurus have started to publicly lash out against the fallen godman;others became silent or neutral publicly, while offering private sympathy but refusing to stick their necks out.
One factor is that the swamis approach was too conservative for some and too liberal for others. It is too filled with deities, symbols and rituals of a very orthodox kind for the aesthetic taste of modern global gurus who propagate a whitened, Westernized clean Hinduism that is abstract and metaphysical but devoid of imagery associated with primitive paganism. At the other end of the spectrum are orthodox Hindu leaders who find his idea of youthful dancing, celebration, and liberal atmosphere to be not real Hinduism. A couple of shankaracharyas interviewed on NDTV lashed out against falsegurus and claimed that only the shankaracharyas had the authority to certify who was qualified to be a guru. So Swami Nithyananda fits neither end of this spectrum.
Many of the gurus I met have told me in confidence that they fear that similar attacks are coming to more Hindu gurus, but that there is no central Hindu mechanism to deal with these episodes along the lines of various church mechanisms that intervene when Christianity faces a scandal. I sent feelers to the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha as to whether it should offer to step in and take over the ashram and itsrelated organizations, thereby bringing new management to clean up matters and bring stability to the enterprise. I was told that while this was a good idea in principle, it was not practical because HDAS is simply not set up to deal with this.
The Way Forward
My overriding concern throughout this investigation has been to find a way to do damage control in order to protect the broader interests of dharma. This requires a pragmatic approach. Given the state of affairs, it seems that the mess cannot be created without the swami leaving the movement and going into a strictly private life of meditation and self inquiry. I worry for the young ashramites who I feel are amazing individuals but in need of proper mentoring. They have a solid commitment to the cause and their personal spiritual paths, but they lack the sophistication and maturity to deal with what they face today.
Swami Nithyananda should resign immediately and hand over all his organizations to senior spiritual masters, preferably Shaivites practicing the Shiva Sutras and related traditions. He told me in an interview hat I recorded on March 9th that he was willing to leave everything and become a wandering sadhu again. I wish that interview had been aired.
The new spiritual leaders would give the ashram a new life and chance to revive itself. It could either remain a place for spiritual training or turn itself into a Hindu social service organization. Either way it would be a better outcome thanthe likely alternative of the government stepping in to take over the ashram and turn it over to administrators who are not positively disposed to Hindu spirituality as has happened in numerous similar cases of government takeoversof Hindu temples and organizations despite claims of being secular.
Besides giving up the organization, Swami Nithyananda should return to his personal sadhana under their guidance. Let them evaluate him and his organization, and issue their independent report to the public. Swami Nithyananda should fearlessly and humbly submit himself to their judgment of what happened and what the remedies ought to be.
Hinduism has survived for many millennia and faced many kinds of crises, just like all the other major religions of the world. It has its own internal resources and mechanisms to deal with such situations. These need to be put to use and they need to become modernized. This is not the last such scandal Hindu groups are going to face in the near future.
Popular for his spiritual discourses and meditation programmes, Swami Nithyananda was named as one of the 100 most spiritually influential living people in the world by Watkins’Mind Body Spirit magazine.
He claims to be the most-watched spiritual teacher on YouTube.com with more than 14 million views, and the author of more than 300 books published in 27 languages.
1: Nithyananda landed in a controversy after a purported video footage showing him in a compromising position with an actress was telecast by local TV channels. Nithyananda said the video was morphed and manipulated to misrepresent his personal life but did not deny his images with actress Ranjita in the film.
The video aired on Tamil TV channels caused a furore, with some Hindu groups and others protesting against Nithyananda. The Karnataka government too promised "very strict" action against him.
Lenin Karuppan, who had exposed the alleged sex scandal, was arrested after a complaint by the manager of Nithyananda's ashram that Lenin had demanded money to keep the video secret.
2: Swami Nithyananda was also accused of rape by Indian-born American citizen, Arthi Rao, in June 2012. Rao went on Indian television accusing Nithyananda of raping her for several years. Nithyananda again denied the allegations.
Caught in the act – Swami Nithyananda
On the day of March 10, 2010 this godman was tainted and painted red by Sun TV (news channel). For even a godman needs a hot full body massage with occasional dips of kisses followed by other such acts (though the video here has deleted most of the racy stuffs). Swami was rather lucky getting it done by a popular actresses. I can hear the sighs.
Nithyananda later said in an interview that he was in a state of ‘samadhi’ i.e. trance while being unrobed & massaged (anyone would be, right?). With the pressure mounting swami made a startling revelation that he was actually impotent. The man has some nerve, we got to give him that!
And this ain’t all, condom, drugs and more secrets told the story of why this ‘playboy’ was in real trouble. When Arathi Rao, a former devotee alleged rape, swami went into hiding digging and further extending the ditch he was in. Because when the police went to nab the man in his ashram they were goggle-eyed to find a heap of condom and ganja (drugs) inside the premise. And then came the answer to the cryptic question, it was Arathi Rao who had secretly recorded the swami’s exceptionally hot moments. Naughty girl!
Considered one of the most controversial spiritual leaders to have emerged from India during the 20th century, Rajneesh or Osho was outspoken in his criticism of socialism, Mahatma Gandhi and institutionalised religion.
He advocated a more open attitude towards sexuality, which earned him the sobriquet of "sex guru".
Rajneesh discouraged marriage and having children. He saw families as prone to dysfunction. His communes in Oregon and England accepted contraception, sterilisation, and abortion.
A former personal secretary, Ma Anand Sheela, of the controversial spiritual guru in a bare-all memoir said that “Osho Rajneesh disregarded all laws, ethics and legalities as he wanted to create a society of his own vision with its own laws and rules.” Rajneesh had once, out of the blue, demanded to get him 30 new Rolls-Royces within one month in spite of already possessing 96 brand new Rolls-Royces.
The 1984 Rajneeshee bioterror attack was the first bioterrorist attack in United States history. Around 751 individuals were poisoned through the deliberate contamination of salad bars at ten local restaurants in Oregon with salmonella.
The attack was orchestrated by followers of Rajneesh to rig the election so that their own candidates would win the 1984 Wasco County elections.
In 1985 high-ranking followers of Rajneesh hatched a conspiracy to assassinate then United States Attorney for the District of Oregon Charles Turner. However, the plot was never carried out and was only discovered later during investigations into the bioterror attack and other illegal acts by the Rajneeshpuram leadership.
Popular Bollywood personalities who were part of the Rajneesh movement include Parveen Babi, who joined the movement in mid-1970s along with her boyfriend, producer Mahesh Bhatt.
Film star Vinod Khanna became a sannyasin on December 31, 1975, and received the name Swami Vinod Bharti. He was Osho's gardener at Rajneeshpuram.
1: Increased criticism of his activities at the Pune ashram in 1981 and threats of punitive action by authorities led Rajneesh to move to the United States. However, his Oregon commune collapsed in 1985 when Rajneesh revealed that the commune leadership had committed serious crimes. He was charged with immigration violations and deported.
2: At the Second World Hindu Conference in 1969 he came under criticism when he claimed "any religion which considers life meaningless and full of misery, and teaches the hatred of life, is not a true religion. Religion is an art that shows how to enjoy life."
3: Not only was his therapies questioned, there were allegations of drug use among sannyasins.
Believe It or Not, It’s The ‘Guru’ – Rajneesh
This one was a mash up (yes, he is dead too) and had quiet an international reputation. Popularly known as Osho since 1989, he was a break from the mainstream conventional hoodoo swamis. They even have a cool international website of an Osho Meditation Resort [http://www.osho.com/]. Coming to the point, this singular swami was actually known as the ‘sx guru’ and was quiet a news maker owing to his provocative lectures in his ashrams. And you thought swamis are conservative huh?
Initially, in his Pune Ashram (which is flourishing like never before) some groups were allowed intimated relationship between the participants’. Osho argued, unlike other religious advocators that psychological repression leads to suppression of significant feeling that later raises their ugly heads in some other guise (like rape); he added that sexual repression results in societies becoming obsessed with sex. Osho’s ideas on sex, marriage, family and relationships contradicted traditional views, arousing anger and opposition around the world.
Though being a candid supporter of homos.xuality at the beginning, he later retracted this views and said “homosxuals…. were perverted, created the disease AIDS.” And just when you thought you were beginning to like this sex-swami. Alas!
His association with former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao brought Chandraswami -- the controversial tantrik -- into prominence.
Interestingly, the godman’s finances have fluctuated with his political fortunes.
1: Chandraswami has been accused of several financial irregularities and was ordered by the Supreme Court to pay a penalty in several Foreign Exchange Management Act violation cases registered by the enforcement directorate. The ED has imposed a total penalty of Rs 9 crore (approx) on Chandraswami in 13 cases of Foreign Exchange Regulation Act violations for acquiring foreign exchange in contravention of the Act.
2: In 1996, he was arrested on charges of defrauding a London-based businessman of $100,000.
3: The CBI has been investigating the suspected role of the self-styled godman in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. The Jain Commission dedicated a volume to his alleged involvement in the assassination. The Enforcement Directorate is still investigating his alleged role as financier in the killing.
Jayendra Saraswati is the sixty-ninth Shankaracharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. Keeping with the Shankaracharya's oft-expressed concerns the Jayalalithaa government in Tamil Nadu enacted a law to ban religious conversions and enforced a ban on animal sacrifice in temples.
The Shankaracharya attracted controversy when he left his mutt in 1987 during the Chaturmasya vrata and was not traceable for a few weeks.
1: Kanchi seer Jayendra Saraswati and his junior Vijayendra are the prime accused in the murder of Sankararaman, the manager of the Varadarajaperumal temple at Kanchipuram, in September 3, 2004.
The two seers have been charged under IPC sections for criminal conspiracy and murder. The trial in the case was shifted to Puducherry from Chengalpattu by an order of the Supreme Court on a petition Jayendra had filed before it on October 25, 2005.
2: Another 'attempt-to-murder' case was filed by an auditor, Radhakrishnan, in Chennai. He alleged that Jayendra Saraswathi sent goons to his house to kill him because he had questioned the missing 83 kg of gold meant for the Kamakshi temple at Kanchipuram.
Sathya Sai Baba
The list will remain incomplete without a mention of Sathya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi, probably the most famous guru with millions of followers across 126 countries.
Often regarded as ‘Bhagwan’, Sathya Sai Baba, who passed away in 2011, ruled the hearts of his devotees through many social service endeavours like building multi-specialty hospitals providing free treatment, schools and colleges among others.
However, his life and times were also marked by several serious controversies involving allegations of faking ‘miracles’, sexual abuse and even pedophilia -- all of them vociferously refuted by his followers.
Sai Baba has often been charged, both nationally and internationally, over the veracity of his ‘miracles’ -- be it producing holy ash or vibhuti, gold ornaments and rings from thin air -- by his critics. Skeptics and rationalists have alleged from time to time that his miracles ‘were simple magic tricks to woo his devotees’. Nevertheless, such allegations, although never taken on directly by the Baba, have not dented the faith of his followers.
There have also been allegations, sometimes by former followers, that Sai Baba used to indulge in sexual abuses and pedophilia. However, the allegations have never been proven.
The biggest ever controversy to have haunted Sathya Sai Baba’s Puttaparthy ashram Prashanti Nilayam was on June 6 1993, when four persons were shot dead by the police after they had allegedly stabbed four devotees in Baba's bedroom, killing two and serious injuring the other two.
There also have been allegations of misappropriation of funds in the name of donations in running the Rs 40,000 crore Sathya Sai Baba trust. Moreover, even after the Baba’s demise, trustees found cash of Rs 11.5 crore, 98 kg of gold and silver articles weighing 307 kilograms from his private room, which again raised eyebrows. The money and valuables took 36 hours to be counted.
Like Father, Like Son – Narayan Sai
Asaram Bapu’s has proven that the pull of blood relations is quiet thick. Two sisters had lodged complaints against Sai and his father Asaram of rape, sexual assault and illegal confinement. Grilled in police interrogation and under the hawk-eyed presence of his estranged wife, Sai had revealed physical relationships with eight of his female disciples, and in an OMG moment confessed of even fathering a child with one of his sevikas (disciple).
He died in November 2013 at the age of 91 not before being exposed by an American follower Karen Johnson in her book “Sex, Lies, and Two Hindu Gurus: How I Was Conned by a Dangerous Cult” And Why I Will Not Keep Their Secrets.”
The book is concentrated on the swami’s bed room rituals. In an interview Karen said “Because he is considered to be an avatar of Krishna, his intimated touch and so on are supposed to be a gift of divine love, or prema dan. He gives private audiences to women he can manipulate and blesses them by intimated touch. He invites women to give him ‘charan seva’, a kind of massaging ritual which usually incorporates sexual touching.”
Karen had a very bad experience in past 15 years in his ashram. She told that she was a member of ‘Jagadguru Kripalu Council’ and had spend 15 years of her life in his JKP ashram situated in Austin city. Wonder what took her so long to come out?
Back in 2002 Kripalu was alleged to have raped and molested a 22-year-old Guyanese woman in a prayer-room, at a house in which he was staying in San Fernando, when she visited him in May of that year.
Ichadhari Baba Bheemanand
This self-styled swami apparently while teaching spirituality ran a prostitute racket, or so it was alleged back in 2010. It was said to be a business worth Rs 500 crore (5 billion USD). He used to supply women, including air hostesses, students and house wives, to high end clients all across Delhi and earned approximately Rs 2.5 lakh (4000 USD) everyday. Ichadhari baba collected a mind-boggling amount of Rs. 25000 crores (25 billion USD) by his s..x racket.
The 39-year-old Swamin Bhimanand, whose real name is Shreemurath Dwivedi, started working in Delhi as a security guard in 1988 until in 1997 when he was arrested for managing a prostitution ring. When he got out of jail, he took up religion simply as a front to his sleazy dealings. Police had claimed to have recovered five diaries from him which have the names, phone numbers and even rates of certain prostitutes. Bulls-eye, another swami down.
Ichadhari Baba, Running High Profile Sex Racket in South Delhi
Earlier in 2010, Ichadaar Baba was arrested by a team of Delhi police for running a sex racket in the national capital when he was allegedly conducting a flesh trade business near PVR Cinema in Saket along with his accomplices.
Published: August 28, 2017
The kingpin hails from the Chitrakoot district of Uttar Pradesh and had come to Delhi in search of a job. (Image: Delhi Police)
New Delhi, August 28: The Delhi Police on Monday arrested a self-styled “godman” for running a high-profile sex racket in South Delhi. The swami identified as Shiv Murti Dwivedi alias Sant Swami Bhimanand Ji Maharaj Chitrakoot Wale is also known as “Ichadaari Baba” among his followers. The baba has come a long way in past 30 years and was arrested after he cheated few woman for the tune of Rs 30 lakh after promising them for giving them a job. The arrest of Icchadhari Baba comes in the backdrop of the Special CBI Court sentencing godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim to 20 years of imprisonment, after finding him guilty of raping two female devotees.Also Read - Fire in CBI Building at CGO Complex in Delhi, Blaze Under Control
“@DelhiPolice #SouthEastDistrict held cheater & high profile Sex Racketeer “Ichadhari Baba” 4 cheating 30 lacs from a woman for giving job,” DCP South East Delhi tweeted from their official twitter handle. Also Read - Wife of Ex-Union Minister P Rangarajan Kumaramangalam Found Murdered at Her Home in Vasant Vihar: Delhi Police
Some reports claimed that the self-proclaimed baba use to earn a meagre Rs 2,000 per month but in last few years he had bought property worth crores. Also Read - Earthquake Hits Delhi-NCR, Tremors Felt Across Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurugram, Rohtak, Other Areas
Earlier in 2010, the baba was arrested by a team of Delhi police for running a sex racket in the national capital when he was allegedly conducting a flesh trade business near PVR
Baba Ram Rahim
Alleged malpractices at the Dera first came to light in 2002 when an anonymous letter reached to then Prime Minister of India, accusing this swami of rape and mass-scale sexual exploitation.
“There are 35 to 40 girls here who have compromised themselves at the Dera. We appear to be devis, but are treated like prostitutes,” the woman wrote in her letter, adding: “My life is in danger, so I will not reveal my name.”
Since then, Ram Rahim’s name has figured in many criminal cases, including the murder of a journalist in July 2002. This guy seems grave!
The police had caught hold of his former driver who said that sexual exploitation was rampant, and that several male followers had been forcibly castrated on Rahim’s orders. This guy is gross as well.
Swami – Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Swami – Ravishankar
The man which topped the list of 10 curious scandals of Indian swamis is none other than Ravi Shankar. Last December, when the Supreme Court of India overturned the 2009 landmark adjudication of decriminalizing homosxuality, spiritual swami Ravi Shankar wrote on Twitter – “Homosexuality has never been considered a crime in Hindu culture. In fact, Lord Ayyappa was born of Hari-Hara (Vishnu and Shiva).”
He later tweeted – “Homosexuality, not a crime in any Smriti. Everyone has male and female elements. According to their dominance, tendencies show up and may change.” In another post Sri Sri wrote – “Nobody should face discrimination because of their sexual preferences. To be branded a criminal for this is absurd.”
During the 2012 Delhi gang rape, instead of giving a preposterous gut-revolting comment like the other swamis Sri Sri Ravi Shankar through his social initiative VFABI protested against such barbarism.
For the record, this swami has been honoured by several countries for his humanitarian work and had even been the honorary citizen and Goodwill Ambassador of the city of Houston, USA back in 2008.
वेश्याओं के साथ सेक्स करता था स्वामी नारायण मंदिर का साधु
Agency | May 28, 2013,Tअहमदाबाद।
अक्सर विवादों में रहने वाले स्वामी नारायण संप्रदाय का एक साधु सेक्स स्कैंडल में फंस गया है। साधु को एक सीडी में एक वेश्या के साथ पैसे देकर सेक्स करते हुए दिखलाया गया है। स्वामी नारायण संप्रदाय दुनिया के सबसे अमीर संप्रदायों में से एक है। यहां के साधुओं को पहले भी कई बार समलैंगिक क्रियाओं और सेक्स स्कैंडल में पकड़ा जा चुका है।
गुजरात पुलिस ने तीन शख्स को सीडी बनाने के आरोप में अरेस्ट कर लिया है। इन तीनों पर आरोप है कि उन्होंने साधु को ब्लैकमेल करने के लिए वेश्या के साथ सेक्स करते हुए सीडी बनाई।
घटना गुजरात के सेजपुर के पास के विश्वमंगल गुरूकुल की है। साधु का नाम नीलकांत स्वामी है। इस साधु ने वेश्या के लिए पांच से दस हजार रूपये का भुगतान एजेंट को किया था। जिसके बाद कुछ लोगों ने साधु और वेश्या के संबंधों की सीडी बनाकर उससे पचास लाख रूपये ऐंठने की कोशिश करने लगे। ब्लैकमेलिंग से तंग आकर साधु ने अपने संप्रदाय को अपनी करतूतों की पूरी जानकारी देते हुए ब्लैकमेलिंग के बारे में बताया। जिसके बाद पुलिस में शिकायत दर्ज की गई।
जिसके बाद संप्रदाय और पुलिस ने मिलकर एक प्लान बनाया और 25 लाख रूपये ब्लैकमेलर को देने की ठानी। इसके बाद दो स्वामी ब्लैकमेलर को पैसे देने पहुंचे तो पुलिस ने वहां पांच में से तीन ब्लैकमेलर को अपने शिकंजे में ले लिया। इनके पास से एक पैन ड्राइव भी मिली है। जिसमें स्वामी और वेश्या की अश्लील क्लिपिंग है। इन ब्लैकमेलरों ने बताया कि साधु को हर सप्ताह नई वेश्या चाहती थी। जिसकी सप्लाई वो लोग ही करते थे। बाजार में सीडी आने के बाद से ही नीलकांत स्वामी गायब है।
गौरतलब है कि वर्ष 2004 में भी एक ऐसी ही सीडी आई थी, जिसमें स्वामी नारायण संप्रदाय के दो स्वामियों को एक कॉल गर्ल के साथ सेक्स करते हुए दिखाया गया था। इसके बाद 2005 में भी जूनागढ़ में एक पुजारी समेत चार लोगों को पकड़ा गया था। सभी सेक्स स्कैंडल में शामिल थे।
BAबा के नेटवर्क में शामिल थीं 600 हाई प्रोफाइल लड़कियां
इस बाबा के नेटवर्क में शामिल थीं 600 हाई प्रोफाइल लड़कियां, मंदिर में बने तहखाने में चलता था सेक्स रैकेट
इच्छाधारी संत के नाम से मशहूर स्वामी भीमानंद उर्फ राजीव रंजन उर्फ शिवा द्विवेदी सांप के साथ घूमने और नागिन डांस को लेकर हमेशा चर्चा में रहता था। भीमानंद का असली चेहरा तब सामने आया जब 2010 में सेक्स रैकेट में फंसने के बाद पुलिस ने उसको गिरफ्तार किया। भगवा चोला पहनकर आस्था की आड़ में इच्छाधारी बाबा प्रवचन के बहाने लड़कियों को फंसाकर सेक्स रैकेट का कारोबार चलाता था। उसके पास 2500 करोड़ की संपत्ति थी और उसके नेटवर्क में करीब 600 हाई प्रोफाइल लड़कियां शामिल थीं। बाबा का असली चेहरा रात में नजर आता था जब वो गेरुआ वस्त्र उतारकर जींस और फैशनेबल टीशर्ट पहनकर, हाथों में मोबाइल और महंगी कार से रात के अंधेरे में जिस्मफरोशी का धंधा चलाता था। इस इच्छाधारी संत का ये चेहरा कभी सामने न आ पाता अगर दिल्ली पुलिस की चौकसी की वजह से वो पकड़ा न जाता।
ऐसे खुली स्वामी भीमानंद की पोल
26 फरवरी 2010 में दक्षिण दिल्ली में दिल्ली पुलिस की टीम ने जाल बिछाकर दो कारों को रोका। इसके साथ ही एक हाईप्रोफाइल रैकेट का भंडाफोड़ हुआ। आठ लोग पकड़े गए। इनमें छह लड़कियां भी थीं। दो लड़कियां एयरहोस्टेस थीं। जिसमें से एक यूरोपियन एयरलाइंस में तो दूसरी एक भारतीय एयरलाइंस में काम करती थी। पुलिस ने जिन दो दलालों को पकड़ा उन्हीं में से एक था शिवमूरत द्विवेदी। शिवमूरत का रिकॉर्ड खंगालना शुरू किया तो पुलिस भी ये जानकर चौंक गई कि वो कोई और नहीं बल्कि बदरपुर में साधू के तौर पर मशहूर इच्छाधारी संत स्वामी भीमानंद था।
इच्छाधारी संत स्वामी भीमानंद की गिरफ्तारी की खबर दिल्ली के खानपुर के लोगों के लिए भी चौंकाने वाली रही। आम श्रद्धालु यकीन ही नहीं कर सके कि सात्विक जीवन का पालन करने की सीख देने वाले गेरुआ वस्त्र धारी जिस शख्स को वो साधु समझते थे, वो शैतान निकला। दिल्ली ही नहीं देश में सेक्स रैकेट का सबसे बड़ा दलाल निकला।
हाई प्रोफाइल लड़कियां शामिल थी सेक्स रैकेट में
अपने आश्रम की आड़ में भीमानंद सेक्स रैकेट चलाता था। उसके नेटवर्क में करीब 600 हाई प्रोफाइल लड़कियां शामिल थीं, जिनमें कॉलेज गर्ल, मॉडल, एयरहोस्टेस, एक्जक्यूटिव हर तरह के पेशे से जुड़ी कॉलगर्ल थीं। पुलिस को भीमानंद के ठिकाने से उसकी 6 लाल डायरियां भी मिलीं। इन डायरियों में देश के 100 हाईप्रोफाइल लोगों के नाम दर्ज थे। इनमें कई सांसद, नेता, पुलिसवाले, बिजनेसमैन और बड़ी हैसियत वाले सफेदपोश लोग थे। इच्छाधारी संत भीमानंद के सेक्स रैकेट का लंबा-चौड़ा नेटवर्क देखकर पुलिस भी हैरान रह गई।
दिल्ली पुलिस ने भीमानंद पर संगठित अपराध के खिलाफ बने सख्त कानून मकोका के तहत मामला दर्ज किया। उसकी गिरफ्तारी के करीब 6 महीने बाद पुलिस ने भीमानंद के खिलाफ अदालत में 1215 पन्नों की चार्चशीट दायर की। मामला अदालत में है, लेकिन सवाल ये भी है कि भीमानंद के हाईप्रोफाइल ग्राहकों तक कानून के लंबे हाथ क्यों नहीं पहुंचे। मोटे तौर पर माना जाता है कि जिस्मफरोशी के धंधे, धर्म को कारोबार में बदलकर किए गए धंधे और पैसे ब्याज पर देने के धंधे से भीमानंद ने 2500 करोड़ रुपए की जायदाद और काला खजाना जुटाया।
तहखाने में था सेक्स के धंधे का हेडक्वार्टर
शिवमूरत द्विवेदी उर्फ इच्छाधारी संत भीमानंद ज्यादा पढ़ा लिखा नहीं है। लेकिन जिस्मफरोशी के धंधे में कूदने के बाद उसने किसी प्रशिक्षित मैनेजर की तरह क्लाइंट और लड़कियों का नेटवर्क तैयार किया। धंधा चलाने के लिए उसने स्पेशल ऑपरेशन प्रोसीजर की तरह तय तौर-तरीके बनाए। इस धंधे का संचालन वो उस आश्रम से करता था, जहां बने तहखाने में था सेक्स के धंधे का हेडक्वार्टर।
मोहम्मदपुर और हुमायूंपुर में भी आश्रम की आड़ में जिस्म का बाजार चल रहा था। शिवमूरत द्विवेदी उर्फ इच्छाधारी संत स्वामी भीमानंद का मंदिर बिल्कुल अलग था। यहां एक गुफानुमा रास्ता था। रास्ता, तहखाने जैसे एक अंधेरे कमरे में जा कर खत्म होता था। देह के धंधे के इस पाताललोक में आकर अच्छे घरों की पढ़ी-लिखी लड़कियां रास्ता भूल जाती थीं। वो इच्छाधारी संत की इच्छा की गुलाम बन जाती थीं। स्वामी भीमानंद के गुप्त ठिकाने पर गुफा, खुफिया निगाह रखने के लिए बने झरोखों को देखकर ये समझने में परेशानी नहीं होती है कि मंदिर में ये सारे बदलाव क्यों किए गए।
ऐसा था स्वामी भीमानंद का मंदिर
ये मंदिर दरअसल दो मंजिल की एक इमारत थी। ग्राउंड फ्लोर पर मंदिर बना था। फस्र्ट फ्लोर पर सेक्स रैकेट का कंट्रोल रूम। यहां एक झरोखा भी था। इस झरोखे से भीमानंद मंदिर में आने-जाने वाले लोगों पर निगाह रखता था। ढोंगी बाबा की मायावी दुनिया में 14 सीसीटीवी कैमरे भी लगे हुए थे। पहली मंजिल में झरोखे के बाद शुरू हो जाती थी वो गुफा जिसके जरिए इच्छाधारी के तहखाने तक पहुंचने का रास्ता था। वो करीब 20 मीटर लंबा था।
इसी गुफा के पीछे एक छोटा कमरा था। इसी छोटे से कमरे में इच्छाधारी के राज छुपे थे। इसी कमरे में ही हाई प्रोफाइल कॉलगर्ल से लेकर बड़े-बड़े दलाल तक जुटते थे। इसी पाताललोक से वो लाल डायरियां मिली थीं जिससे शिवमूरत द्विवेदी उर्फ इच्छाधारी संत स्वामी भीमानंद के जिस्म के धंधे के सारे राज खुल गए। राज खुले तो वो भक्त भी हैरान रह गए जो लगभग रोजाना मंदिर आते थे। भीमानंद का प्रवचन सुनते थे। भीमानंद यहीं उन्हें प्रवचन सुनाता था। मंदिर की आड़ में भीमानंद के प्रवचन का खेल लंबे वक्त तक चला। बाद में ये मालूम चला कि भीमानंद दक्षिण दिल्ली के तीन इलाकों आर के पुरम, मोहम्मदपुर और हुमायूंपुर में भी आश्रम की आड़ में जिस्म का बाजार चल रहा था।
अमेरिका तक फैला था कमाई का नेटवर्क
इच्छाधारी संत स्वामी भीमानंद एक आश्रम से सेक्स रैकेट का नेटवर्क चलाता था, लेकिन उसके तार सात समंदर पार दुनिया में जुए के सबसे बड़े शहर लास वेगास तक जुड़े हुए थे। यही नहीं जांच के दौरान पुलिस को ये भी पता चला कि इच्छाधारी सिर्फ सेक्स रैकेट से ही कमाई नहीं कर रहा था। उस पर हवाला नेटवर्क से जुड़े होने का शक भी था। इन मामलों में सजा पाने से बचना अब इच्छाधारी के लिए लगभग नामुमकिन हो गया है। हैरानी की बात है कि उसके धंधे में साथी रहे ज्यादातर लोग कानून के शिकंजे से आजाद ही रहे।
धार्मिक समारोह में डांस और भक्तों की भीड़ जुटाना। उसके पाखंड का एक और चेहरा था। नृत्य कार्यक्रम में इच्छाधारी पटाखे की लंबी लड़ी में आग लगाकर पाखंड का डांस करता था। जैसे-जैसे पटाखें की लड़ी जलती जाती- ढोल- नगाड़े की आवाज के साथ बाबा के बदन की थिरकन बढ़ती जाती। धार्मिक समारोहों में डांस परोसने का बाबा भीमानंद का मकसद पैसा कमाना होता था, क्योंकि भीमानंद अच्छी तरह से जानता था कि सिर्फ प्रवचन से ही वो पैसे नहीं कमा सकता। इस पाखंडी की पैसे कमाने की भूख इतनी ज्यादा थी कि वो ब्याज पर पैसे देने से लेकर, कई तरह के ऐसे धंधे में मशगूल था। जिससे उसे करोड़ों की कमाई होती थी।
Posted by प्रजा राज (Ambedkar Time)
Self-styled godman Ashu Maharaj held for raping woman, minor daughter
Photo from facebook page of Ashu Bhai Guruji
Self-styled godman Ashu Maharaj was arrested on Thursday night for allegedly raping a woman and her minor daughter at his ashram in the national capital. His son Samar Khan was also detained by the Crime Branch for raping the woman, Additional Commissioner of Police (crime) Rajiv Ranjan said.
The two accused were questioned for a couple of hours, the police said. In her complaint to the police, the woman had claimed that she was raped by the self-styled godman, his friends and his son between 2008 and 2013, a police officer said.
She had alleged that he even asked her to bring her minor daughter to him and then raped her, he said.
A case was registered at the Hauz Khas police station last week and the probe transferred to the Crime Branch on Sunday. PTI
शनिधाम के संस्थापक दाती महाराज पर मंदिर में महिला से रेप का आरोप
दिल्ली के फतेहपुर बेरी इलाके में मशहूर शनिधाम मंदिर के संस्थापक दाती महाराज पर एक महिला ने रेप का सनसनीखेज आरोप लगाया है. महिला ने दाती महाराज के खिलाफ पुलिस में शिकायत दर्ज कराई है.
दाती महाराज के खिलाफ रेप का केस दर्ज
चिराग गोठी [Edited by: आशुतोष]
नई दिल्ली,दिल्ली के फतेहपुर बेरी इलाके में मशहूर शनिधाम मंदिर के संस्थापक दाती महाराज पर एक महिला ने रेप का सनसनीखेज आरोप लगाया है. महिला ने दाती महाराज के खिलाफ पुलिस में शिकायत दर्ज कराई है.
पुलिस ने बताया कि लड़की की शिकायत पर दाती महाराज के खिलाफ आईपीसी की धाराओं 354, 376 और 377 के तहत केस दर्ज कर लिया गया है. लड़की ने अपनी शिकायत में कहा है कि दो साल पहले दाती महाराज ने उसके साथ मंदिर के अंदर ही रेप की वारदात को अंजाम दिया था.
Rape case registered against self-styled godman Daati Maharaj in Delhi,. Case registered under sections of IPC 376, Twitter Ads info and privacy
पीड़िता ने यह भी कहा है कि रेप करने के बाद दाती महाराज ने उसे यह बात किसी को न बताने की धमकी भी दी थी. वहीं पीड़िता के पिता ने बताया कि उस समय उन्होंने अपनी बेटी को दाती महाराज के संरक्षण में उनके आश्रम में ही छोड़ दिया था.
पीड़िता ने अपनी शिकायत में कहा है कि वह नियमित तौर पर दाती महाराज के उपदेशों को सुनने के लिए उनके आश्रम जाती रहती थी. पीड़िता के मुताबिक, दाती महाराज के एक सहयोगी ने उसे दाती महाराज से सीधे मुलाकात करने के बारे में पूछा था.
पीड़िता का आरोप है कि दाती महाराज के आश्रम में उसका लगातार यौन शोषण किया गया. इतना ही नहीं उसे मानसिक रूप से भी प्रताड़ित किया गया और किसी को इसके बारे में न बताने और पुलिस में शिकायत न करने के लिए धमकाया भी गया था.
रेप का आरोप लगने के बाद से दाती महाराज दिल्ली स्थित अपने आश्रम से गायब है. पुलिस ने बताया कि शिकायतकर्ता ने दाती महाराज के अलावा तीन और लोगों के खिलाफ केस दर्ज करवाया है.
साउथ दिल्ली पुलिस की डिस्ट्रिक्ट इनवेस्टिगेशन यूनिट मामले की जांच कर रही है. पुलिस का कहना है कि इस मामले में दाती महाराज को भी पूछताछ के लिए समन किया जाएगा.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1978
Mahesh Prasad Varma
12 January 1918
Rajim, Central Provinces, British India (present-day Gariaband district, Chhattisgarh, India)
Died 5 February 2008 (aged 90)
Founder of Transcendental Meditation movement
Philosophy Transcendental Meditation
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (born Mahesh Prasad Varma, 12 January 1918 – 5 February 2008) was an Indian guru, known for developing the Transcendental Meditation technique and for being the leader and guru of a worldwide organization that has been characterized in multiple ways including as a new religious movement and as non-religious. He became known as Maharishi (meaning "great seer") and Yogi as an adult.
After earning a degree in physics at Allahabad University in 1942, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi became an assistant and disciple of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati (also known as Guru Dev), the Shankaracharya (spiritual leader) of the Jyotir Math in the Indian Himalayas. The Maharishi credits Brahmananda Saraswati with inspiring his teachings. In 1955, the Maharishi began to introduce his Transcendental Deep Meditation (later renamed Transcendental Meditation) to India and the world. His first global tour began in 1958. His devotees referred to him as His Holiness, and because he often laughed in TV interviews he was sometimes referred to as the "giggling guru".
The Maharishi is reported to have trained more than 40,000 TM teachers, taught the Transcendental Meditation technique to "more than five million people" and founded thousands of teaching centres and hundreds of colleges, universities and schools while TM websites report tens of thousands learned the TM-Sidhi programme. His initiatives include schools and universities with campuses in several countries including India, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. The Maharishi, his family and close associates created charitable organisations and for-profit businesses including health clinics, mail-order health supplements and organic farms. The reported value of the Maharishi's organization has ranged from the millions to billions of U.S. dollars and in 2008, the organization placed the value of their United States assets at about $300 million.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Maharishi achieved fame as the guru to the Beatles, the Beach Boys and other celebrities. In the late 1970s, he started the TM-Sidhi programme, which proposed to improve the mind-body relationship of practitioners through techniques such as Yogic flying. The Maharishi's Natural Law Party was founded in 1992, and ran campaigns in dozens of countries. He moved to near Vlodrop, the Netherlands, in the same year. In 2000, he created the Global Country of World Peace, a non-profit organization, and appointed its leaders. In 2008, the Maharishi announced his retirement from all administrative activities and went into silence until his death three weeks later.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi belonged to the Kayastha caste, a subcast of scribes and administrators, of the Hindu religion. The birth name and the birth dates of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi are not known with certainty, in part because of the tradition of ascetics and monks to relinquish family connections. Many accounts say he was born Mahesh Prasad Varma (Hindi: महेश प्रसाद वर्मा) into a Kayastha family living in the Central Provinces of British India. A different name appears in the Allahabad University list of distinguished alumni, where he is listed as M.C. Srivastava and an obituary says his name was "Mahesh Srivastava".
Various accounts give the year of his birth as 1911, 1917 or 1918. Authors Paul Mason and William Jefferson say that he was born 12 January 1917 in Jabalpur, Central Provinces, British India (now Madhya Pradesh, India). The place of birth given in his passport is "Pounalulla", India, and his birth date 12 January 1918. Mahesh came from an upper-caste family, being a member of the Kayastha caste, a high-status caste whose traditional profession is writing.
Mahesh studied physics at Allahabad University and earned a degree in 1942. While a few sources say that he worked at the Gun Carriage Factory in Jabalpur for some time, most report that in 1941, he became an administrative secretary to the Shankaracharya of the Jyotir Math, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati (also known as Guru Dev, which means "divine teacher")[ and took a new name, Bal Brahmachari Mahesh. Coplin refers to bala brahmachari as both a title and a name, and considers that it "identified him as a fully dedicated student of spiritual knowledge and life-long celibate ascetic." Saraswati insisted that before accepting Mahesh as a pupil he must first complete his university degree and get permission from his parents. The Maharishi recalls how it took about two and a half years to attune himself to the thinking of Brahmananda Saraswati and to gain "a very genuine feeling of complete oneness". At first Brahmachari Mahesh performed common chores but gained trust and became Guru Dev's "personal secretary" and "favored pupil". He was trusted to take care of the bulk of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati's correspondence without direction, and was also sent out to give public speeches on Vedic (scriptural) themes. The Maharishi said his life truly began in 1940, at the feet of his master, when he learned the secret of swift and deep meditation.
Brahmachari Mahesh remained with Swami Brahmananda Saraswati until the latter died in 1953, when he moved to Uttarkashi in Uttarakhand in the Himalayas where he undertook a reclusive life for two years. Although Brahmachari Mahesh was a close disciple, he could not be the Shankaracharya's spiritual successor because he was not of the Brahmin caste. The Shankaracharya, at the end of his life, charged him with the responsibility of travelling and teaching meditation to the masses, while he named Swami Shantananda Saraswati as his successor.
Tour in India (1955–1957)
In 1955, Brahmachari Mahesh left Uttarkashi and began publicly teaching what he stated was a traditional meditation technique learned from his master Brahmananda Saraswati, and that he called Transcendental Deep Meditation. Later the technique was renamed Transcendental Meditation. It was also then that he was first publicly known with the name "Maharishi" an honorific title meaning "great sage" after the title was given to him according to some sources from "Indian Pundits" and according to another source the honorific was given along with Yogi by followers in India. Later in the west the title was retained as a name.
He traveled around India for two years interacting with his "Hindu audiences" in an "Indian context". At that time, he called his movement the Spiritual Development Movement, but renamed it the Spiritual Regeneration Movement in 1957, in Madras, India, on the concluding day of the Seminar of Spiritual Luminaries. According to Coplin, in his visits to southern India, the Maharishi spoke English rather than the Hindi spoken in his home area to avoid provoking resistance among those seeking linguistic self-determination, and to appeal to the "learned classes".
World tours (1958–1968)
According to William Jefferson, in 1958, the Maharishi went to Madras to address a large crowd of people who had gathered to celebrate the memory of Guru Dev. It was there that he spontaneously announced that he planned to spread the teaching of TM throughout the world. Hundreds of people immediately asked to learn TM. In 1959, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi began his first world tour, writing: "I had one thing in mind, that I know something which is useful to every man".
The Maharishi's 1986 book, Thirty Years Around the World, gives a detailed account of his world tours, as do two biographies, The Story of the Maharishi, by William Jefferson, and The Maharishi by Paul Mason. The first world tour began in Rangoon, Burma (now Myanmar) and included the countries of Thailand, Malaya, Singapore, Hong Kong and Hawaii. He arrived in Hawaii in the spring of 1959 and the Honolulu Star Bulletin reported: "He has no money, he asks for nothing. His worldly possessions can be carried in one hand. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is on a world odyssey. He carries a message that he says will rid the world of all unhappiness and discontent." In 1959, the Maharishi lectured and taught the Transcendental Meditation technique in Honolulu, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, New York and London. While in Los Angeles the Maharishi stayed at the home of author Helena Olson, and during this period he developed a three-year plan to propagate Transcendental Meditation to the whole world. Though most of his audience consisted of average middle class individuals, he also attracted a few celebrities, such as Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Nancy Cooke de Herrera and Doris Duke.
Left to right: Michael Cooper, Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, Shepard Sherbell and Brian Jones; sitting: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (Concertgebouw Amsterdam, 1967)
When the Maharishi came to the U.S. in 1959, his Spiritual Regeneration Movement was called Transcendental Meditation. That same year he began the International Meditation Society and other organizations to propagate his teachings, establishing centres in San Francisco and London. For years, the sole teacher of Transcendental Meditation in America was a San Diego woman named Beulah Smith.
In 1960, the Maharishi travelled to many cities in India, France, Switzerland, England, Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Africa.
While in Manchester, England, the Maharishi gave a television interview and was featured in many English newspapers such as the Birmingham Post, the Oxford Mail and the Cambridge Daily News. This was also the year in which the Maharishi trained Henry Nyburg to be the first Transcendental Meditation teacher in Europe.
In 1961, the Maharishi visited the United States, Austria, Sweden, France, Italy, Greece, India, Kenya, England, and Canada. While in England, he appeared on BBC television and gave a lecture to 5,000 people at the Royal Albert Hall in London, organised by Leon MacLaren of the School of Economic Science. In April 1961, the Maharishi conducted his first Transcendental Meditation Teacher Training Course in Rishikesh, India, with sixty participants from various countries. Teachers continued to be trained as time progressed. During the course, the Maharishi began to introduce additional knowledge regarding the development of human potential, and began writing his translation and commentary on the first six chapters of the ancient Vedic text, the Bhagavad Gita.
His 1962 world tour included visits to Europe, India, Australia and New Zealand. In Britain, he founded a branch of the Spiritual Regeneration Movement. The year concluded in California where the Maharishi began dictating his book The Science of Being and Art of Living. In Rishikesh, India, beginning on 20 April 1962, a forty-day course was held for "sadhus, sanyasis, and brahmacharis" to introduce TM to "religious preachers and spiritual masters in India".
The Maharishi toured cities in Europe, Asia, North America and India in 1963, and also addressed ministers of the Indian Parliament.According to his memoirs, twenty-one members of parliament then issued a public statement endorsing the Maharishi's goals and meditation technique. His Canadian tour was also well covered by the press.
The Maharishi's fifth world tour, in 1964, consisted of visits to many cities in North America, Europe and India. During his visit to England, he appeared with the Abbot of Downside, Abbot Butler, on a BBC television show called The Viewpoint. In October of that year, in California, the Maharishi began teaching the first Advanced Technique of Transcendental Meditation to some experienced meditators. While travelling in America, the Maharishi met with Robert Maynard Hutchins, the head of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, and U Thant, the Secretary General of the United Nations. During this same year, the Maharishi finished his book The Science of Being and Art of Living, which sold more than a million copies and was published in fifteen languages.
The Maharishi’s activities in 1966 included a course in India and a one-month tour in South America. He established Transcendental Meditation centers in Port of Spain, Trinidad; Caracas, Venezuela; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Porto Alegre, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Santiago, Chile; Lima, Peru; and Bogota, Colombia.
In addition, in 1966 the Maharishi founded the Students' International Meditation Society ("SIMS"), which The Los Angeles Times later characterised as a "phenomenal success". In the 1970s, SIMS centres were established at "over one thousand campuses", including Harvard University, Yale University, and UCLA.
In 1967, the Maharishi gave a lecture at Caxton Hall in London which was attended by Leon MacLaren, the founder and leader of the School of Economic Science (SES). He also lectured at UCLA, Harvard, Yale and Berkeley. That year, an article in Time magazine reported that the Maharishi "has been sharply criticised by other Indian sages, who complain that his programme for spiritual peace without either penance or asceticism contravenes every traditional Hindu belief". Religion and culture scholar Sean McCloud also reported that traditional Indian sages and gurus were critical of the Maharishi, for teaching a simple technique and making it available to everyone, and for abandoning traditional concepts of suffering and concentration as paths to enlightenment. At the end of 1968, the Maharishi said that after ten years of teaching and world tours, he would return to India.
Association with the Beatles
In 1967, the Maharishi's fame increased and his movement gained greater prominence when he became the "spiritual advisor to the Beatles", though he was already well known among young people in the UK and had already had numerous public appearances that brought him to the band's attention. Following the Beatles' endorsement of TM, during 1967 and 1968 the Maharishi appeared on American magazine covers such as Life, Newsweek, Time and many others. He gave lectures to capacity crowds at the Felt Forum in New York City and Harvard's Sanders Hall. He also appeared on The Tonight Show and the Today TV shows.
He and the Beatles met in London in August 1967, when George Harrison and his wife Pattie Boyd urged their friends to attend the Maharishi's lecture at the Hilton on Park Lane. The band members went to study with the Maharishi in Bangor, Wales, before travelling to Rishikesh, India, in February 1968 to "devote themselves fully to his instruction".Ringo Starr and his wife Maureen left after ten days, Paul McCartney and Jane Asher left after five weeks; the group's most dedicated students, Harrison and John Lennon, departed with their wives sixteen days later.
During their stay, the Beatles heard that the Maharishi had allegedly made sexual advances towards Mia Farrow. On 15 June 1968, in London, the Beatles formally renounced their association with the Maharishi as a "public mistake". "Sexy Sadie" is the title of a song Lennon wrote in response to the episode. Lennon originally wanted to title the song "Maharishi", but changed the title at Harrison's request. Harrison commented years later, "Now, historically, there's the story that something went on that shouldn't have done – but nothing did." In 1992, Harrison gave a benefit concert for the Maharishi-associated Natural Law Party, and later apologised for the way the Maharishi had been treated by saying, "We were very young" and "It's probably in the history books that Maharishi 'tried to attack Mia Farrow' – but it's bullshit, total bullshit." Cynthia Lennon wrote in 2006 that she "hated leaving on a note of discord and mistrust, when we had enjoyed so much kindness from the Maharishi". Asked if he forgave the Beatles, the Maharishi replied, "I could never be upset with angels." McCartney took his daughter, Stella, to visit the Maharishi in the Netherlands in 2007, which renewed their friendship.
The New York Times and The Independent reported that the influence of the Maharishi, and the journey to Rishikesh to meditate, steered the Beatles away from LSD and inspired them to write many new songs. In 2009, McCartney commented that Transcendental Meditation was a gift the Beatles had received from the Maharishi at a time when they were looking for something to stabilise them. The Beatles' visit to the Maharishi's ashram coincided with a thirty-participant Transcendental Meditation teacher training course that was ongoing when they arrived. Graduates of the course included Prudence Farrow and Mike Love.
Although the Rishikesh ashram had thrived in its early days it was eventually abandoned in 2001. By 2016, some of it had been reclaimed with building repairs, cleared paths, a small photo museum, murals, a cafe and charges for visitors although the site remains essentially a ruin.
Further growth of the TM movement (1968–1990)
The Maharishi's headquarters in Seelisberg, Switzerland
In 1968, the Maharishi announced that he would stop his public activities and instead begin the training of TM teachers at his new global headquarters in Seelisberg, Switzerland. In 1969, he inaugurated a course in his Science of Creative Intelligence at Stanford University, which was then offered at 25 other American universities.
In 1970, the Maharishi held a TM teacher training course at a Victorian hotel in Poland Springs, Maine, with 1,200 participants. Later that year, he held a similar four-week course with 1500 participants at Humboldt State College in Arcata, California. In 1970, after having trouble with Indian tax authorities, he moved his headquarters to Italy, returning to India in the late 1970s. That same year, the City of Hope Foundation in Los Angeles gave the Maharishi their "Man of Hope" award.
By 1971, the Maharishi had completed 13 world tours, visited 50 countries, and held a press conference with American inventor Buckminster Fuller at his first International Symposium on SCI at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts.From 1970 to 1973, about 10,000 people attended the Maharishi sponsored symposia on his modern interpretation of Vedanta philosophy called Science of Creative Intelligence. During these conferences, held at universities, the Maharishi spoke with "leading thinkers" of the day such as Hans Selye, Marshall McLuhan, and Jonas Salk.
The Maharishi announced his World Plan in 1972, the goal of which was to establish 3,600 TM centres around the world. That year, a TM training course was given by the Maharishi at Queen's University and was attended by 1,000 young people from the USA and Canada. At the start of the course, the Maharishi encouraged the attendees to improve their appearance by getting haircuts and wearing ties. He also persuaded the U.S. Army to offer courses in TM to its soldiers and made videotaped recordings of what was thought to be the West's first comprehensive recitation of the Rig Veda.
In March 1973, the Maharishi addressed the legislature of the state of Illinois. That same year, the legislature passed a resolution in support of the use of Maharishi's Science of Creative Intelligence in Illinois public schools. Later that year he organized a world conference of mayors in Switzerland. In that same year, he also addressed 3000 educators at an American Association of Higher Education (AAHE) conference on quality of life and higher education.
In 1974, the Maharishi International University was founded. In October 1975, the Maharishi was pictured on the front cover of Time magazine. He made his last visit to the Spiritual Regeneration Movement centre in Los Angeles in 1975, according to film director David Lynch, who met him for the first time there.
In 1975, the Maharishi embarked on a five-continent trip to inaugurate what he called "the Dawn of the Age of Enlightenment". The Maharishi said the purpose of the inaugural tour was to "go around the country and give a gentle whisper to the population". He visited Ottawa during this tour and had a private meeting with Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau, during which he spoke about the principles of TM and "the possibility of structuring an ideal society". That same year, the Pittsburgh Press reported that "The Maharishi has been criticised by other Eastern yogis for simplifying their ancient art." The Maharishi appeared as a guest on The Merv Griffin Show in 1975 and again in 1977, and this resulted in "tens of thousands of new practitioners" around the USA.
The Maharishi during a 1979 visit to Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa
In the mid 1970s, the Maharishi's U.S. movement was operating 370 TM centres manned by 6,000 TM teachers. At that time, the Maharishi also began approaching the business community via an organisation called the American Foundation for SCI (AFSCI), whose objective was to eliminate stress for business professionals. His TM movement came to be increasingly structured along the lines of a multinational corporation.
The teaching of TM and the Science of Creative Intelligence in a New Jersey public school was stopped when a US court, in 1977, declared the movement to be religious, and ruled adoption of TM by public organisations in breach of the separation of church and state (First Amendment).
During the 1980s, the organisation continued to expand and his meditation technique continued to attract celebrities despite its "outlandish claims" and accusations of fraud from disaffected former disciples. The TM organization made a number of property investments, buying a former Rothschild mansion in England, Mentmore Towers in Buckinghamshire, Roydon Hall in Maidstone, Swythamley Park in the Peak District, and a Georgian rectory in Suffolk. In the United States, resorts and hotels, many in city centres, were purchased to be used as TM training centres. Doug Henning and the Maharishi planned a magical Vedic amusement park, Vedaland, and bought large tracts of land near Orlando, Florida, and Niagara Falls, Ontario, to host the park. The theme park was supposed to be a gateway into understanding the mysteries of the universe. According to the Maharishi's official Vedic city website, "Entering Veda Land through a secret cave on a windswept plateau high in the Himalayas the adventure starts as one travels through a waterfall that leads to a forest where an ancient Vedic civilization awaits to reveal the deepest secrets of the universe (sic)". These plans were never executed and, for Niagara Falls, Veda Land turned out to be just another theme park proposal that never materialized, joining an eclectic list that includes the Worlds of Jules Verne, the Ancient Chinese City and even Canada's Wonderland when it was first being planned. The Maharishi commissioned plans from a prominent architect for the world's tallest building, a Vedic-style pyramid to be built in São Paulo, Brazil, and to be filled with Yogic Flyers and other TM endeavours. The Maharishi founded Maharishi Ved Vigyan Vishwa Vidyapeetham, a self-described educational institution located in Uttar Pradesh, India, in 1982. The institution reports that it has trained 50,000 pundits in traditional Vedic recitation. In 1983, the Maharishi invited government leaders to interact with his organization called "World Government"
In January 1988, offices at the Maharishinagar complex in New Delhi were raided by Indian tax authorities and the Maharishi and his organisation were accused of falsifying expenses. Reports on the value of stocks, fixed-deposit notes, cash and jewels confiscated, vary from source to source. The Maharishi, who was "headquartered in Switzerland" at the time, reportedly moved to the Netherlands "after the Indian government accused him of tax fraud".) Following an earthquake in Armenia, the Maharishi trained Russian TM teachers and set up a Maharishi Ayurveda training centre in the Urals region. Beginning in 1989, the Maharishi's movement began incorporating the term "Maharishi" into the names of their new and existing entities, concepts and programmes.
Years in Vlodrop (1991–2008)
The Maharishi's headquarters in MERU, The Netherlands
In 1990, the Maharishi relocated his headquarters from Seelisberg, Switzerland, to a former Franciscan monastery in Vlodrop, the Netherlands, which became known as MERU, Holland, on account of the Maharishi European Research University (MERU) campus there. During his time in Vlodrop, he communicated to the public mainly via video and the internet. He also created a subscription-based, satellite TV channel, called Veda Vision, which broadcast content in 22 languages and 144 countries.
In 1991, the Maharishi called Washington D.C. a "pool of mud" after a decade of attempts to lower the rate of crime in the city, which had the second-largest TM community in the US. He told his followers to leave and save themselves from its "criminal atmosphere".[ The Maharishi is believed to have made his final public appearance in 1991, in Maastricht, the Netherlands. Deepak Chopra, described as "one of the Maharishi's top assistants before he launched his own career", wrote that the Maharishi collapsed in 1991 with kidney and pancreas failure, that the illness was kept secret by the Maharishi's family and that he tended to Maharishi during a year-long recovery. According to Chopra, the Maharishi accused him, in July 1993, of trying to compete for the position of guru and asked him to stop travelling and writing books, which led to Chopra's decision to leave the movement in January 1994.
As part of a world plan for peace, the Maharishi inaugurated the Natural Law Party (NLP) and calling it a "natural government". His adherents founded the NLP in 1992. It was active in forty-two countries.John Hagelin, the NLP's three-time candidate for U.S. president, denied any formal connection between the Maharishi and the party. According to spokesman Bob Roth, "The Maharishi has said the party has to grow to encompass everyone". Critics charged that the party was an effort to recruit people for Transcendental Meditation, and that it resembled "the political arm of an international corporation" more than a "home-grown political creation".[ The Indian arm of the NLP, the Ajeya Bharat Party, achieved electoral success, winning one seat in a state assembly in 1998.The Maharishi shut down the political effort in 2004, saying, "I had to get into politics to know what is wrong there."
In 1992, the Maharishi began to send groups of Yogic Flyers to countries like India, Brazil, China and America in an effort to promote world peace through "coherent world consciousness". In 1993 and 2003, he decided to raise the fees for learning the TM technique.
In 1997 the Maharishi's organization built the largest wooden structure in the Netherlands without using any nails. The building was the Maharishi's residence for the last two decades of his life. In later years, the Maharishi rarely left his two-room quarters in order to preserve his health and energy. He used videoconferencing to communicate with the world and with his advisors. Built to Maharishi Sthapatya Veda architectural standards, the structure, according to the Maharishi, is said to have helped him infuse "the light of Total Knowledge" into "the destiny of the human race".
In 2000, the Maharishi founded the Global Country of World Peace (GCWP) "to create global world peace by unifying all nations in happiness, prosperity, invincibility and perfect health, while supporting the rich diversity of our world family". The Maharishi crowned Tony Nader, a physician and MIT-trained neuroscientist, as the king or Maharaja of the GCWP in 2000. The GCWP unsuccessfully attempted to establish a sovereign micronation when it offered US$1.3 billion to the President of Suriname for a 200-year lease of 3,500 acres (14 km2) of land and in 2002, attempted to choose a king for the Talamanca, a "remote Indian reservation" in Costa Rica.
In 2001, followers of the Maharishi founded Maharishi Vedic City a few miles north of Fairfield, Iowa, in the United States. This new city requires that the construction of its homes and buildings be done according to the Maharishi Sthapatya Veda principles of "harmony with nature".
The Maharishi in 2007
In a 2002 appearance on the CNN show, Larry King Live, the first time in twenty-five years that the Maharishi had appeared in the mainstream media, he said "Transcendental Meditation is something that can be defined as a means to do what one wants to do in a better way, a right way, for maximum results". It was occasioned by the reissue of the Maharishi's book The Science of Being and Art of Living. That same year, the Maharishi Global Financing Research Foundation issued the "Raam" as a currency "dedicated to financing peace promoting projects".
In 2003, David Lynch began a fundraising project to raise US$1 billion "on behalf of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi" to build a meditation centre large enough to hold 8,000 skilled practitioners.
The Maharishi ordered a suspension of TM training in Britain in 2005 due to his opposition to prime minister Tony Blair's decision to support the Iraq War. The Maharishi said that he did not want to waste the "beautiful nectar" of TM on a "scorpion nation". He lifted the ban after Blair's resignation in 2007. During this period, skeptics were critical of some of the Maharishi's programmes, such as a US$10 trillion plan to end poverty through organic farming in poor countries and a US$1 billion plan to use meditation groups to end conflict.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, concerned about his health, became increasingly secluded in two rooms of his residence. During this period he rarely had in-person meetings and instead communicated with his followers almost exclusively by closed-circuit television.
On 12 January 2008, his ninetieth birthday, the Maharishi declared: "It has been my pleasure at the feet of Guru Dev (Brahmananda Saraswati), to take the light of Guru Dev and pass it on in my environment. Now today, I am closing my designed duty to Guru Dev. And I can only say, 'Live long the world in peace, happiness, prosperity, and freedom from suffering.'"
A week before his death, the Maharishi said that he was "stepping down as leader of the TM movement" and "retreating into silence" and that he planned to spend his remaining time studying "the ancient Indian texts". The Maharishi died peacefully in his sleep of natural causes on 5 February 2008 at his residence in Vlodrop, Netherlands. The cremation and funeral rites were conducted at the Maharishi's Prayagraj ashram in India, overlooking the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers.
The funeral, with state honours, was carried by Sadhana TV station and was presided over by one of the claimants to the seat of Shankaracharya of the North, Swami Vasudevananda Saraswati Maharaj. Indian officials who attended the funeral included central minister Subodh Kant Sahay; Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Ashok Singhal; and former Uttar Pradesh assembly speaker and state BJP leader Keshri Nath Tripathi, as well as top local officials. Also in attendance were thirty-five rajas of the Global Country of World Peace, one-time disciple Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and David Lynch. A troop of uniformed policemen lowered their arms in salute. The funeral received its status as a state funeral because the Maharishi was a recognised master in the tradition of Advaita Vedanta founded by Shankara.
The Maharishi is survived by a brother and "a number of nephews". One nephew, Girish Chandra Varma, is chairman of the Maharishi Vidya Mandir Schools Group and a "senior functionary of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement in India." Other nephews include Prakash Shrivastav, president of Maharishi Vidya Mandir Schools and Anand Shrivastava, chairman of the Maharishi Group.
In its obituary, BBC News reported that the Maharishi's master had bequeathed him "the task of keeping the tradition of Transcendental Meditation alive" and that "the Maharishi's commercial mantras drew criticism from stricter Hindus, but his promises of better health, stress relief and spiritual enlightenment drew devotees from all over the world". Paul McCartney commented saying that "Whilst I am deeply saddened by his passing, my memories of him will only be joyful ones. He was a great man who worked tirelessly for the people of the world and the cause of unity."
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on a 2019 stamp of India
The Maharishi left a legacy that includes the revival of India's ancient spiritual tradition of meditation, which he made available to everyone. He is considered responsible for the popularisation of meditation in the west, something he accomplished by teaching Transcendental Meditation worldwide through a highly effective organization of his own development. The Maharishi is also credited with "the proposal of the existence of a unique or fourth state of consciousness with a basis in physiology" and the application of scientific studies to research on the physiological effects of Transcendental Meditation and the development of higher states of consciousness, areas previously relegated to mysticism. Partly because of this, Newsweek credited him with helping to launch "a legitimate new field of neuroscience". According to the Times of India his "unique and enduring contribution to humankind was his deep understanding of – and mechanics of experiencing – pure consciousness". A memorial building, the Maharishi Smarak, was inaugurated at Prayagraj in February 2013.
Philosophy and teaching
The Maharishi had come out to teach with the "avowed intention" to change "the course of human history". When he first began teaching he had three main aims: to revive the spiritual tradition in India, to show that meditation was for everyone and not just for recluses, and to show that Vedanta is compatible with science. The Maharishi had a message of happiness, writing in 1967 that "being happy is of the utmost importance. Success in anything is through happiness. Under all circumstances be happy. Just think of any negativity that comes at you as a raindrop falling into the ocean of your bliss". His philosophy featured the concept that "within everyone is an unlimited reservoir of energy, intelligence, and happiness". He emphasised the naturalness of his meditation technique as a simple way of developing this potential.
Beginning in 1962, the Maharishi began to recommend the daily practice of yoga exercises or asanas to further accelerate growth.
He also taught that practising Transcendental Meditation twice a day would create inner peace and that "mass meditation sessions" could create outer peace by reducing violence and war. According to a TM website, the performance of yagyas by 7,000 pandits in India, plus hundreds of Yogic Flyers in Germany, brought "coherence and unity in the collective consciousness of Germany" and caused the fall of the Berlin Wall.One religion scholar, Michael York, considers the Maharishi to have been the most articulate spokesman for the spiritual argument that a critical mass of people becoming enlightened through the practice of "meditation and yogic discipline" will trigger the New Age movement's hoped-for period of postmillennial "peace, harmony, and collective consciousness". Religious studies scholar Carl Olson writes that the TM technique was based on "a neo-Vedanta metaphysical philosophy in which an unchanging reality is opposed to an ever-changing phenomenal world" and that the Maharishi says it is not necessary to renounce worldly activities to gain enlightenment, unlike other ascetic traditions.
According to author Jack Forem, the Maharishi stated that the experience of transcendence, which resulted in a naturally increasing refinement of mind and body, enabled people to naturally behave in more correct ways. Thus, behavioral guidelines did not need to be issued, and were best left to the teachings of various religions: "It is much easier to raise a man's consciousness than to get him to act righteously" the Maharishi said.
Some religious studies scholars have further said that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is one of a number of Indian gurus who brought neo-Hindu adaptations of Vedantic Hinduism to the west. Author Meera Nanda calls neo-Hinduism "the brand of Hinduism that is taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Deepak Chopra, and their clones". J. R. Coplin, a sociologist and MIU graduate, says that the Maharishi saw his own purpose as "the 'revival' of the knowledge of an integrated life based upon Vedic principles and Vedantist reality".
Author Barry Miles writes that, in spite of the media's scepticism for the Maharishi's spiritual message, they seized upon him because young people seemed to listen to his pro-establishment, anti-drug message with one TM participant saying the Maharishi "signaled the beginning of the post-acid generation".
During a CNN interview in 2002, the Maharishi said "Transcendental meditation is something that can be defined as a means to do what one wants to do in a better way, a right way, for maximum results". His movement offered in-residence style TM advanced courses. By the time of his death, there were nearly 1,000 TM training centres around the world.
The Maharishi is credited as having contributed to the western world a meditation technique that is both simple and systematic as well as introducing the scientific study of meditation.
In the mid 1970s, the Maharishi began the TM-Sidhi programme, which included Yogic Flying, as an additional option for those who had been practising the Transcendental Meditation technique for some time. According to Coplin, this new aspect of knowledge emphasised not only the individual, but also the collective benefits created by group practice of this advanced programme. This new programme gave rise to a new principle called the Maharishi Effect, which is said to "create coherence in the collective consciousness" and to suppress crime, violence, and accidents.
Maharishi Vedic Science
Entrance to the Maharishi University of Management and Maharishi Vedic University campus in Vlodrop, the Netherlands
Maharishi Vedic Science (MVS) is based on the Maharishi's interpretation of the ancient Vedic texts based on his master, Brahmananda Saraswati's teachings. MVS aims to put forward traditional Vedic literature in the light of Western traditions of knowledge and understanding. According to Roy Ascott, MVS also explains the potential for every human being to experience the infinite nature of transcendental consciousness, also defined as Being or Self, while engaged in normal activities of daily life. Once this state is fully established an individual is no longer influenced by outer aspects of existence and perceives pure consciousness in everything. MVS includes two aspects, the practical aspect of the Transcendental Meditation technique and the TM-Sidhi programme, as well as the theoretical aspect of how MVS is applied to day to day living. These applications include programmes in: Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health (MVAH);Maharishi Sthapatya Veda, a mathematical system for the design and construction of buildings; Maharishi Gandharva Veda, a form of classical Indian music; Maharishi Jyotish (also known as Maharishi Vedic Astrology), a system claiming the evaluation of life tendencies of an individual; Maharishi Vedic Agriculture, a trademarked process for producing fresh, organic food; and Consciousness-Based Education. According to educator James Grant, a former Maharishi University of Management Associate Professor of Education and the former Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Maharishi brought out a "full revival of the Vedic tradition of knowledge from India" and demonstrated its relevance in many areas including education, business, medicine and government.
The Maharishi wrote more than twenty books on the Transcendental Meditation technique and Maharishi Vedic Science.
The Beacon Light of the Himalayas
In 1955, the organisers of the Great Spiritual Development Conference of Kerala published The Beacon Light of the Himalayas, a transcribed 170-page "souvenir" of the conference. Authors Chryssides, Humes and Forsthoefel, Miller, and Russel cite this as the Maharishi's first published book on Transcendental Meditation, although Transcendental Meditation is not mentioned in the text of the book. The book is dedicated to Maharshi Bala Brahmachari Mahesh Yogi Rajaram by his devotees of Kerala and contains photographs, letters and lectures by numerous authors which appear in various languages such as English, Hindi and Sanskrit.
Science of Being and Art of Living
In 1963, the Maharishi audiotaped the text of the book Science of Being and Art of Living, which was later transcribed and published in fifteen languages. K.T. Weidmann describes the book as the Maharishi's fundamental philosophical treatise, one in which its author provides an illustration of the ancient Vedic traditions of India in terms that can be easily interpreted and understood by the scientific thinking of the western world. In the Science of Being, the Maharishi illustrates the concepts of relative existence as the experience of everyday reality through one's senses, and absolute reality as the origin of being, and the source of all creative intelligence.The Maharishi describes this absolute reality, or Being, as unchanging, omnipresent, and eternal. He also identifies it with bliss consciousness. The two aspects of reality, the relative and the absolute, are like an ocean with many waves. The waves represent the relative, and the ocean beneath is the foundation of everything, or Being. Establishing oneself in the field of Being, or unchanging reality, ensures stability.
In his Science of Being the Maharishi introduced an additional concept: that of fulfillment viewed as something to be obtained not through exertion or self effort, but through the progressive settling of the mind during the practice of TM. This was the first full systematic description of the principles underlying the Maharishi's teachings.
Bhagavad-Gita: A New Translation and Commentary: 1967
In his 1967 publication, Bhagavad-Gita: A New Translation and Commentary, the Maharishi describes the Bhagavad Gita as "the Scripture of Yoga". He says that "its purpose is to explain in theory and practice all that is needed to raise the consciousness of man to the highest possible level." According to Peter Russell, the Bhagavad-Gita deals with the concept of loss of knowledge and subsequent revival, and this is brought out by the Maharishi himself in the introduction. In the Preface, the Maharishi writes: "The purpose of this commentary is to restore the fundamental truths of the Bhagavad-Gita and thus restore the significance of its teaching. If this teaching is followed, effectiveness in life will be achieved, men will be fulfilled on all levels and the historical need of the age will be fulfilled also."
A second concept, that of freedom, presented as the antithesis of fear, is also prevalent in the book, according to Jack Forem. Forem states that in his interpretation of the Gita, the Maharishi expressed several times that as man gains greater awareness through the practice of Transcendental Meditation, he gradually establishes a level of contentment which remain increasingly grounded within him and in which the mind does not waver and is not affected by either attachment or fear.
Characterizations and Criticism
The Maharishi was reported to be a vegetarian, an entrepreneur, a monk and "a spiritual man who sought a world stage from which to espouse the joys of inner happiness". He was described as an abstemious man with tremendous energy who took a weekly day of silence while sleeping only two hours per night. He did not present himself as a guru or claim his teachings as his own. Instead he taught "in the name of his guru Brahmananda Saraswati" and paid tribute to him by placing a picture of Saraswati behind him when he spoke. He was on a mission to bring the ancient techniques of TM to the world. Scientist and futurist Buckminster Fuller spent two days with the Maharishi at a symposium at the University of Massachusetts in 1971 and said, "You could not meet with Maharishi without recognizing instantly his integrity." Authors Douglas E. Cowan and David G. Bromley write that the Maharishi did not claim any "special divine revelation nor supernatural personal qualities". Still others said he helped to "inspire the anti-materialism of the late 60s" and received good publicity because he "opposed drugs". According to author Chryssides, "The Maharishi tended to emphasize the positive aspects of humanity, focusing on the good that exists in everyone."
According to The Times the Maharishi attracted scepticism because of his involvement with wealthy celebrities, his business acumen, and his love of luxury, including touring in a Rolls-Royce. A reporter for The Economist calls this a "misconception" saying: "He did not use his money for sinister ends. He neither drank, nor smoked, nor took drugs. ... He did not accumulate scores of Rolls-Royces, like Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh; his biggest self-indulgence was a helicopter. " When some observers questioned how his organisation's money was being used, the Maharishi said, "It goes to support the centres, it does not go on me. I have nothing." However, when the Maharishi died in 2008, he left behind an estate worth an estimated $300 million (U.S.). He was survived by four nephews, who inherited 12,000 acres of land in India, and Tony Nader, a Lebanese neuroscientist whom he had anointed as his successor in the movement.. Since his death, several memoirs have been written by former followers and their children who described the Maharishi as a cult leader who could be controlling, and his Centers a financial business.
He was often referred to as the "Giggling Guru" because of his habit of laughing during television interviews. Diminutive at a little over five feet tall, the Maharishi often wore a traditional cotton or silk, white dhoti while carrying or wearing flowers. He often sat cross-legged on a deerskin and had a "grayish-white beard, mustache and long, dark, stringy hair". Barry Miles described the Maharishi as having "liquid eyes, twinkling but inscrutable with the wisdom from the East". Miles said the Maharishi in his seventies looked much younger than his age. He had a high pitched voice and in the words of Merv Griffin, "a long flowing beard and a distinctive, high pitched laugh that I loved to provoke".
Biographer Paul Mason's web site says that Swami Swaroopananda, one of three claimants to the title Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math, is "an outspoken critic" of the Maharishi. According to Swaroopananda, the Maharishi "was responsible for the controversy over Shankaracharyas" because he gave Shankaracharya Swami Shantanand encouragement and assistance in fighting the court case which challenged Shantanand's inheritance of the title. In a review of the documentary film David Wants to Fly, Variety magazine reported Swaroopananda's assertion that "as a member of the trader class" the Maharishi "has no right to give mantras or teach meditation". According to religious scholar Cynthia Humes, enlightened individuals of any caste may "teach brahmavidya" and author Patricia Drake writes that "when Guru Dev was about to die he charged Maharishi with teaching laymen ... to meditate". Mason says Shantanand "publicly commended the practice of the Maharishi's meditation" and sociologist J.R. Coplin says that Shantanand's successor, Swami Vishnudevanand, also "speaks highly of the Maharishi".
While the Beatles were in Rishikesh allegations of sexual improprieties by the Maharishi in his ashram were circulated but participants later denied them and no law suits were ever filed.
In popular culture
The British satirical magazine Private Eye ridiculed him as "Veririchi Lotsamoney Yogi Bear". The Maharishi was also parodied by comedians Bill Dana and Joey Forman in the 1968 comedy album The Mashuganishi Yogi, by actor Cash Oshman in the film Man on the Moon, by comedian Mike Myers in the film The Love Guru, and in the BBC sketch show Goodness Gracious Me. He was portrayed by actor Gerry Bednob in the 2007 film Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.
He was also the subject of the Beatles' song Sexy Sadie in which John Lennon characterized him as a fraud. In an episode of the popular BBC Radio 4 fictional comedy show Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge a comment is made about Yogi when Partridge is interviewing a spiritual man comparing him to Buddha, Dalai Lama, Uri Geller and "that man The Beatles went to see..."
Other initiatives, projects and programmes
Maharishi International University (renamed Maharishi University of Management (MUM) in 1995), the first university the Maharishi founded, began classes in Santa Barbara, California, in 1973. In 1974 the university moved to Fairfield, Iowa, where it remains today. The university houses a library of the Maharishi's taped lectures and writings, including the thirty-three-lesson Science of Creative Intelligence course, originally a series of lectures given by the Maharishi in Fiuggi, Italy, in 1972. Described in the MUM university catalogue as combining modern science and Vedic science, the course also defines certain higher states of consciousness, and gives guidance on how to attain these states. Though the university claims to grant PhDs, including in neuroscience and psychology, the university is not accredited by either the America Psychological Association (APA) or the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
MCEE School Campus at Bhopal, India
The Maharishi Vidya Mandir Schools (MVMS), an educational system established in sixteen Indian states and affiliated with the New Delhi Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), was founded in 1995 by the Maharishi. It has 148 branches in 118 cities with 90,000 to 100,000 students and 5,500 teaching and support staff.
In 1998, Maharishi Open University was founded by the Maharishi. It was accessible via a network of eight satellites broadcasting to every country in the world, and via the Internet.
The Maharishi also introduced theories of management, defence, and government programmes designed to alleviate poverty, and introduced a new economic development currency called the Raam. In 2000, the Maharishi began building administrative and teaching centres called "Peace Palaces" around the world, and by 2008 at least eight had been constructed in the US alone. The Maharishi Institute, an African university that is part of a group of schools around the world that are named after him, was founded in 2007 and uses his Transcendental Meditation technique in their teaching.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in his farewell message on 11 January 2008, announced the establishment of the Brahmananda Saraswati Trust (BST), named in honour of his teacher, to support large groups totalling more than 30,000 peace-creating Vedic Pandits in perpetuity across India.The Patron of the Brahmanand Saraswati Trust is the Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math.
Organizations and businesses
The Maharishi is credited with heading charitable organisations, for-profit businesses, and real estate investments whose total value has been estimated at various times, to range from US$2 to US$5 billion. The real estate alone was valued in 2003 at between $3.6 and $5 billion. Holdings in the United States, estimated at $250 million in 2008, include dozens of hotels, commercial buildings and undeveloped land. The Maharishi "amassed a personal fortune that his spokesman told one reporter may exceed $1 billion". According to a 2008 article in The Times, the Maharishi "was reported to have an income of six million pounds".The Maharishi's movement is said to be funded through donations, course fees for Transcendental Meditation and various real estate transactions.
In his biography of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, The Story of the Maharishi (published 1976), William Jefferson suggests that the financial aspect of the TM organisation was one of the greatest controversies it faced. Questions were raised about the Maharishi's mission, comments from leaders of the movement at that time, and fees and charges the TM organisation levied on followers. Jefferson says that the concerns with money came from journalists more than those who have learned to meditate.