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Jayant Balaji Athavale, the founder of Sanatan Sanstha, which is under the scanner over the murder of rationalist and CPI leader Govind Pansare this February in Kolhapur, enjoys an exalted status among his followers. So much so, they believe he has undergone “divine changes” over the years.
These “changes” are listed in websites and blogs officially linked to Athavale and the Sanstha: “hair turning golden”; “divine particles” that “fall off from his body”; an Om symbol on his “fingernails, forehead and tongue”; “various fragrances” emanating from his body.
One website has posted images of various objects, including that of a pink toilet brush, with captions claiming that they were used by Athavale and changed colour.
“Over the years, there have been many changes on H.H. Dr. Athavale’s body both due to negative energy attacks and due to a gross manifestation of His Divinity,” states an article on http://www.spiritualresearchfoundation.org, which goes on to list these changes along with images.
A blog run by the organisation — englishsanatanprabhat. blogspot — refers to Athavale as the “personification of God”.
“…Guru (Dr.) Athavale, who is striving day and night to achieve the lofty ideal of establishing the ‘Hindu Nation’, is the personification of God. In reading of the Nadipatti predictions, the Maharshis have recently declared that He is the Incarnation of Shri Vishnu. Even from the Divine changes in His body and the Divine auspicious signs appearing on His body, it is proved that He is not an ordinary human being, but God Himself,” states an article posted on the blog.
The post is accompanied by images claiming to be those of a lotus and a trishul that have appeared on Athavale’s body.
These websites refer to the 73-year-old Athavale as the man who would bring a “Hindu Rashtra”. They claim that he was born in Nagathane in Raigad district, studied clinical hypnotherapy and practiced in London before moving to Mumbai.
The official Sanatan Sanstha website (www.sanathan.org) describes how Athavale’s early foray into spirituality was spurred by his observation that religion and rituals helped people get better.
“Between 1967 to 1982 while researching as a hypnotherapist he realized that 30 per cent of people do not respond to medicines. Amongst those who did not respond some of them improved after going to a religious place or conducting a religious ritual,” the website states.
This observation made him foray deeper into spiritualism and in 1987 he was imparted the “Gurumantra” by the Indore based saint Bhaktraj Maharaj, the website states. It was in 1990 that Athavale set up an organization called the Sanatan Bharatiya Sanskruti Sansthawas, it adds. In March 1999, it was named Sanatan Sanstha, it states.
The official website refers to Athawale as the “Avtar of Maharishi Vyas, the second Vivekananda, and the dispenser of India’s destiny”.
Referring to the “divine particles” on Athavale’s body, an article on http://www.spiritualresearchfoundation.org states: “The Divine particles of all colours, except golden particles, contain the elements Carbon, Nitrogen, and Oxygen. Golden Divine particles contain only Carbon and Oxygen elements. The formulae of the Divine particles do not resemble with any of the particles in existence so far.” This article claims to be a report on a paper presented by the Sanatan Sanstha at the All India Aerobiologists Conference in December 2012.
According to his followers, Athavale’s “aura” has rubbed off on the mundane objects he uses, as well. The website of the Forum for Hindu Awakening, which works closely with the Sanatan Sanstha, has put up images with captions claiming that the toilet brush used by Athavale has turned pink and the tumbler that he uses in the bathroom has turned white.
Sanatan Sanstha first made the headlines in 2007 after three of its members were arrested by the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) for allegedly planting crude bombs at cultural venues in the satellite cities of Mumbai to reportedly protest against the screening of a play.
It then came under the spotlight after the 2009 blast in Madgaon that left one dead, when over 150 of its members were questioned. Last week, police said that the man who has been arrested in connection with the murder of Pansare, Sameer Gaikwad, was a member of the Sanstha.