Controversial self-styled godman Asaram Bapu has been arrested on the charges of sexually assaulting a minor girl in his Jodhpur ashram. With the allegations of sexual assault against him,Asaram is the latest to join the ranks of holy men who have been in news for wrong reasons. There have been several spiritual leaders in the past who have been involved in criminal cases or have courted controversies due to their involvement in sex and money scandals.
Here’s the list of a few holy men and their unholy acts:
Asaram Bapu: This self-style godman is not new to controversies. In 2008,Asaram faced allegations of ‘black magic’ practice after the death of two young boys in his Motera ashram in Gujarat. Deepesh and Abhishek had gone missing from the ashram on July 3,2008 and two days later on July 5,2008,they were found dead outside the ashram. Currently,the godman is in police custody in Jodhpur over allegations of sexually assaulting a minor girl in his ashram.
Swami Nithyananda: The controversial southern godman Swami Nithyananda has been embroiled in sex-related controversies. The self-styled godman courted controversy in 2010 after a TV news channel telecast sleazy video clippings purportedly showing him in a sex romp with a Tamil actress. Following the scandal,Nithyananda remained elusive for a month and was arrested from Solan district in Himachal Pradesh on April 21 in 2010. He was later released on bail. The godman landed in a fresh storm in 2012 after a US-based woman alleged that she was abused by Nithyananda for five years.
Sant Swami Bhimanand: Shiv Murat Dwivedi alias Ichchadhari Sant Swami Bhimanand Ji Maharaj Chitrakoot Wale is another self-styled godman who was in news for his unholy acts. He is alleged to have earned crores of rupees through the sex racket and is accused of running a website for flesh trade. Dwivedi was arrested with two air hostesses on February 25,2010 for running a prostitution racket for 10 years in Delhi. He was booked under stringent MCOCA for flesh trade on March 9,the same year. Professed to be a devotee of Satya Sai Baba,this self-styled godman landed in prostitution racket in quest for quick riches and had earned properties and wealth running into crores of rupees. Bhimanand has been filmed doing the ‘naagin dance’,seemingly drunk,to the tune of the famous snake song.
Jayendra Saraswathi: The 60-year-old pontiff of the Kanchi Matth,Kanchi Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati was arrested from Hyderabad in November 2004 in connection with a murder case. Saraswathi was considered the prime accused in the murder of Sankararaman,a manager of the Varadaraja Perumal temple in Kanchipuram. He was killed on September 3,2004 when five men stabbed him to death in the Devarajasami temple. The media reports suggested that his murder was carried out on the direction of Shankaracharya Sri Jayendra Saraswati.
Swami Premananda: Controversial Swami Premananda of Premananda Ashram,Tiruchirapally in Tamil Nadu was sentenced to life imprisonment for various criminal cases including rape and murder. Premananda alias Premkumar alias Ravi was charged of raping 13 inmates,molesting two and murdering Ravi,an engineer,in the ashram in 1994. In 2005,the Supreme Court sentenced him to life sentence for two consecutive terms. He died in February 2011 due to illness.
Swami Amrit Chaitnya: Self-styled godman Swami Amrit Chaitanya landed in controversy when he was arrested in 2008 for raping minor girls and cheating an NRI woman. A Kerala court had convicted Santosh Madhavan alias Swami Amrit Chaitanya,on charges including cheating his devotees of money and raping four minor girls.
(With PTI inputs)