In India, we are not devoid of deities. Every religion has its own. Hinduism has about 330 million. But that does not obviate the need for an “avatar” or a “godman”. And our country is not devoid of them too. They claim to show you the path that leads to god. And they also profess to have mystical powers to heal and curb all the woes. One can judge their grandeur by looking at the entourage of followers. These gurus have completely ensconced themselves and their teachings in their followers’ minds and hearts. But not all of them are that divine and pure as they purport to be. Behind the veil of spirituality and benevolence, they seem to conduct practices which are not only immoral and unlawful but also inhuman. Here is a list of most controversial gurus in India.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh
Dera Sacha Sauda chief Baba Ram Rahim is known as the “Rockstar Baba” among his followers. He is the jack of all trades. You name the skill and Baba have got it. Be it singing, acting, composing music, writing songs or making movies. Not only this, he is a wizard of sports arena too. He claims to be a master player of 32 games. Once he also claimed to invent the game of T20 cricket way before the British first played it. Babaji has made 5 movies till date and the 6th one was in line to be released though you may not like to pay to watch any of them. He also had a lot of say in the political sphere as a lot of top-notch politicians had nexus with him.
But behind all this pomp and show there also exists a darker side of Baba Ram Rahim. In 2002 an anonymous lady wrote a letter to The Chief ministers of the Haryana and Punjab, Union Home Minister, CBI, and The Punjab and Haryana High Court describing all her woes and misdeeds of Ram Rahim. CBI then started to probe the issue. On 25th August 2017 CBI special court proclaimed him guilty of rape and sentenced him 20 years of imprisonment. And the list of his black deeds goes on. He is also facing trials for the charge of murder of journalist Ram Chander Chatrapatti. Accusations of castrating hundreds of followers against their will are also credited to his name.
Asumal Sirumalani, popularly known as Asaram Bapu, is yet another blacklisted Baba in the litany of tainted spiritual gurus. He is the founder of Shree Yog Vedanta Sewa Samiti and preaches the idea of “One Supreme Consciousness” citing the traditions of “Advaita Vedanta”. According to a biography released by his ashram, he ran away from home at the age of 15 evading his marriage. He was persuaded back home by his parents but again fled his home at the age of 23 in search of god. We are not sure if he found god, but surely he found a lot of devotees. He owns about 400 ashrams in India and abroad and has millions of followers.
But as his devotees follow him, so are the controversies. In 2009 Gujarat police filed a case against him with an attempt to murder charge. Raju Chandak, a former assistant accused him of attempting to kill him as he had filed a comhttps://www.kinnaur.co.in/going-for-your-first-trek-in-the-himalayas-tips-to-remember/plaint against Asaram earlier. In 2000 he was also accused of encroaching land of local farmers for his ashram. Police demolished a part of the ashram and the seized the possession of land. Asaram landed into another controversy as he made a statement regarding the Delhi gang-rape case. He said that the offenders and the victim were both equally responsible for the brutal incident.
In February 2015 he was accused of kicking and abusing one of his followers during a satsang in Madhya Pradesh. He got the media attention when he slapped a journalist in Ghaziabad. In February 2015 a 24-year-old Rahul Pachauri was found dead inside his ashram in Jabalpur. In 2008 two cousins Dipesh Vaghela and Abhishek Vaghela, who were students in the ashram were found missing. Later their bodies were found in Sabarmati River. People made allegations that black magic is practiced inside the ashram. In 2013 a 16-year-old girl accused Asaram of raping her in Jodhpur. He is in police custody and facing trials in various cases. With a life studded with so many disputes he surely deserves a place in the list of most controversial gurus of India.
Rampal Singh Jatin was born in Hisar. He holds a diploma in engineering. He has served as a junior engineer in the irrigation department of the Haryana government till 1996.
But engineering was not the thing for this self-proclaimed godman. Instead, he figured that he is good at doing “chamatkars”. He met Kabir Panth leader Swami Ramdevanand and abandoned Hinduism. Then he joined Kabir Panth. He founded Satlok Ashram in Rohtak in 1991. After that, he continued to gain a lot of followers.
But “sant” in his name does not seem to augur well with his deeds. He has been charged with some serious allegations. In 2006 he bashed some portions of Sathyarth Prakash, the central text of Arya Samaj. This enraged many followers of this group. They surrounded his ashram and a fierce clash between the supporters of the two groups took place. One person was shot dead and 59 were injured. Murder and attempt to murder charges were imposed on him. Another case of forgery was filed against him just one day after this clash took place. This was regarding the sale of Karontha Ashram. He was also charged with contempt of court as he failed to appear before court multiple times.
In 2014 Haryana court issued a non-bailable warrant against him. But as police went to arrest him, his thousands of followers blocked the way and retaliated. After a long struggle 20000 policemen forcefully made their way into the ashram and he was arrested. This struggle lasted for 10 days. Though on 29th August 2017, he was acquitted of two cases, he still faces trials for remaining ones. Others cases include murder and sedition. Hence he qualifies as one of the most controversial gurus in India.
His real name is Nemi Chand. He came in limelight for his associations with former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao. Chandraswami is rumored to have given spiritual advice to some big names like Elizabeth Taylor, Margret Thatcher, Dawood Ibrahim. He was accused of committing fraud of $100000 with a London based businessman. After that, he was also accused of violating Foreign Exchange Regulation Act. He was also alleged to have relations with an international businessman Adnan Khashoggi, who was a supposed arms dealer. Not only this, he was also criticised for his supposed involvement in forging conspiracy of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. He died on 23rd May 2017 in New Delhi.
Prem Kumar, who later came to be known as Premanand was basically a Sri Lankan. He moved to India to escape the civil war. Here he established many ashrams to help orphans and women. But in 1994 a girl living in ashram accused that Swami had raped her. An investigation followed and court proclaimed him guilty. He has sentenced a lifetime imprisonment for committing 13 rapes. He died on 21st February 2011 in prison. People still regard him as one of the most controversial gurus of India
Swami was listed among the top 100 most spiritually influential living people in the world by Watkins’Mind Body Spirit magazine. He has a lot of devotees both in India and abroad. He landed into controversy after Sun TV aired a clip showing Swami having sex with a TV actress. This shocked all his followers but still, he argued that it is a conspiracy to defame him. Arthi Rao an Indian-American also accused him of raping her. Though nothing has been proved yet. But surely it has left a blot on Babaji’s image and hence enlisting him as one of the most controversial gurus of India.
Shiv Murat Dwivedi a.k.a. Swami Bhimanand proclaims himself to be the incarnation of Sai Baba. This “ikshadahari baba” was arrested in 2009 for running a sex racket in Delhi. He was also booked for committing fraud. He got bail from the court at that time. But now again he is arrested by Delhi police for same charges. He worked as a security guard in a five-star hotel in Delhi till 1988. After that, he switched his profession and reinvented himself as a baba. He has amassed property worth millions during his stint as a baba. With so much bruhaha around him, he surely is one of the most controversial gurus of India.
While scanning the most controversial gurus of India, we notice a common attribute among them. They all have millions of followers who blindly believe them, putting their intellect and sense of judgment aside. The prevalent notion that faith does not mean to be questioned is the force strengthening these self-proclaimed godmen. But maybe we need to think twice. Let our conscience and intellect be our guides.