There is no dearth of Self-styled ‘godman’ in india and their limitless followers spreading across the nook and corner of India. Though there sudden rise in fame and sprawling properties worth crores spreading in length and breadth of the country is itself a subject matter of discussion but a look at their living style and acts clearly points to something fishy cooking behind the high and mighty walls of their fortress ‘ashraam’ better to be termed as dens of sins.
Here is a list of such offenders who either accused of financial frauds, running sex racket, murder or rape.
Assaram Bappu: Convicted today in case of a minor’s rape, Asaram Bapu, who has often called himself a “bhagwan”, faces rape charges in another case where two sisters from Gujarat have claimed that Asaram and his son Narayan Sai sexually assaulted them on many occassions and confined them illegally between 2001 and 2006 at one of their ashrams.
In 2008, Asaram was at the centre of controversy when mutilated bodies of two children were found near his ashram in Motera, Gujarat, on July 3. Asaram was accused of practising ‘black magic’. In July, 2009, CID officials, in their affidavit in the Gujarat High Court, had said that a lie detector test conducted on the sadhaks of the ashram had confirmed that ‘black magic’ was being performed. In November of the same year, the CID (Crime) booked seven sadhaks of the ashram for negligence.
After the December 16, 2012 gangrape case in New Delhi, Asaram had, at one of his sermons, said the victim should have pleaded with her rapists to let her go, should have regarded them as her “bhaiya (brother)”, instead of resisting rape, claiming that this could have saved her life. He had later added, “Galti ek taraf se nahi hoti hai (mistakes do not happen from one side).”
Narayan Sai: Asaram Bapu’s son Narayan Sai is currently in jail for sexually assaulting a woman at one of Asaram’s ashrams between 2002 and 2005. Sai has also been accused of sexually abusing eight other girls, some of whom were his followers.
In November 2016, another case was lodged against Sai by a journalist who had alleged he had sexually harrassed her when she had gone to his Karol Bagh ashram in New Delhi to get his interview. The woman had claimed she was advised by her channel head not to lodge a complaint against Sai.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh (Derra Saccha Sauda) : This is one self-styled godman who had his followers dancing to his tunes, quite literally. Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh not only delivered religious sermons but also acted in films and gave performances on stage.
The 50-year-old was convicted in two rape cases on August 25, 2017. One of the victims in question had written to then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002 asking for action to be taken against him, stating that Singh held too much clout for her to go to the police against him.
His conviction was followed by riots across the state of Haryana, particularly in Panchkula and Sirsa, where his followers went berserk. Violence had touched the national capital as well, with Dera Sacha Sauda followers torching a stationary train at the Anand Vihar terminal.
Swami Nithyananda: Nithyananda’s face was plastered all over television screens when video clippings of him cropped up showing him purportedly engaging in sexual acts with a Tamil actress in March 2010. He had claimed then that he was only practising the shavasana, a yoga posture, at the time. He also claimed to be impotent and, therefore, incapable of intercourse.
He was also accused of rape by a former follower. According to reports, the police had found drugs, condoms and other contrabands when his ashrams were raided.
Nithyananda was finally nabbed from Himachal Pradesh’s Solan district on April 21, 2010, and later let off on bail. Two years later, though, he landed again in soup when a US-based woman claimed that Nithyananda had abused her for five years.
Sant Swami Bhimanand: Shiv Murat Dwivedi alias Ichchadhari Sant Swami Bhimanand Ji Maharaj Chitrakoot Wale allegedly amassed wealth to the tune of crores by allegedly running a sex racket. He is also accused of running a website for flesh trade.
On February 25, 2010, he was held with two air hostesses on account of running prostitution ring for almost a decade in the national capital. On March 9 of the same year, MCOCA charges for flesh trade were slapped on him.To top it all, he was purportedly seen in a video doing the ‘naagin dance’, seemingly under the influence of alcohol.
Jayendra Saraswathi: Kanchi Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati, chief priest of the Kanchi Mutt, was an accused in the murder case of one Sankararaman, a manager at the Varadaraja Perumal temple in Kanchipuram, who had been stabbed to death on September 3, 2004 in the Devarajasami temple. He was arrested in connection with the case in November, 2004.
Swami Amrit Chaitnya : Self-styled godman Santosh Madhavan alias Swami Amrit Chaitanya was arrested in 2008 on charges of rape of minor girls as well as cheating an NRI woman. He was convicted by a Kerala court of embezzling money from his followers as well as the rape of four minors.
Swami Premananda: Premkumar alias Ravi alias Swami Premananda of Premananda Ashram, located in Tiruchirapally, Tamil Nadu, was accused of raping as many as 13 inmates and molesting two followers. He was also accused of killing Ravi, an engineer, in the ashram premises in 1994. He was sentenced to life by the Supreme Court in 2005. He passed away in February 2011 owing to ill health.
Rampal: Rampal Singh belongs to Dhanana village in Sonepat district, ‘Sant’ Rampal was popularly referred to by his followers as ‘Jagatguru Rampal Ji’. Rampal had obtained his diploma from Nilokheri’s Industrial Training Institute, after which he worked as a junior engineer in the Haryana Government’s irrigation department. 63-year-old Rampal has been slapped with cases of sedition, murder, attempt to murder, waging war against the state government, rioting, illegal detention and others. He is absolved of two cases and still eight cases are reportedly pending against him.
Zakir Nayyak : Born in Mumbai on 18 October 1965 is an Indian Islamic preacher and the founder and president of the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF). He is also the founder of the Peace TV channel through which he reaches a reported 200 million viewers. He has been called an “authority on comparative religion” Unlike many Islamic preachers, his lectures are colloquial, given in English, not Urdu or Arabic and he usually wears a suit and tie.
Although he has publicly disclaimed sectarianism in Islam, he is regarded as an exponent of the Salafi ideology, and as a radical Islamic televangelist propagating Wahhabism. His preaching is currently banned in India, Bangladesh, Canada and the United Kingdom.
He ran away from India, after India’s counterterrorism agency, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), filed a First Information Report, an official police complaint, against Naik and the Mumbai-based non-profit Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) that he founded in 1991, accusing him of indulging in unlawful activities and promoting religious hatred.