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While there are still Indian swamis and religious spiritual preachers and teachers who are not accused or convicted of crimes, those who have been caught out in nefarious activities are many. As soon as followings grow large, they attract people who are looking for advantages – both supposedly spiritual ones, but also not least financial and social gains. Organization becomes a necessity and, led by a charismatic figurehead whose word is taken as unquestionable divine truth, those who become part of their fiefdoms willingly carry out his or her orders, for which they are rewarded. This scenario is one chief way in which a guru cult begins. This is by no means only an Indian phenomenon, of course, as there are also some very well-known major cults in U.S.A., Italy, South Korea… and, of course, many sexually abusing priests in Christian churches and sects, and there have been many revelations concerning the Catholic Church in many countries, which has had to face vast sums in payouts following lawsuits. This blog is written and regularly updated only by Robert Priddy and copies found on diverse Asian websites are illegal. A retired banker in Bangalore named Ravi Ghatge told Indian media: “Most god-men [gurus] are self-proclaimed, and they are being increasingly outed as hypocrites and fakes. Then everybody finds out that there is not an iota of spirituality in any of them.”
Religious gurus are among the big money-earners in India, so it is hardly surprising that these cults are able to buy police and yet higher protection. Despite this, in an increasing number of instances, so-called “spiritual” gurus have been successfully prosecuted by Indian authorities for crimes ranging from sexual abuse to cynical murder. India, being such a religious cauldron seems to have the lions’ share. Indian gurus either convicted or widely accused of crimes, including major fraud, include:-
1) Sathya Sai Baba (deceased 2011) is most likely the most influential guru in India and abroad – self-proclaimed God Incarnate, Deity of Deities, the Vishnu Avatar of the Age etc. – who has obtained protection from attempts to convict him for murder complicity (http://www.saibaba-x.org.uk/8/MurderReview.htm) and serial sex abuse (http://www.saibaba-x.org.uk/6/saisex1.htm) by his devotees among Indian Prime Ministers, Presidents and Supreme or High Court judges. This is itself an indictment of the Indian State’s ongoing corruption – a kind of protection that typifies a de facto despotism (though possible only while in office) rather than the exercise of democratic and legal principles. Of course, his fraudulent ‘materializations’ and many false statements and predictions are also very well documented or reported by disaffected followers.
3) Indicted for many felonies, but not convicted, was Rajneesh-Osho (who fled the USA with over 100 indictments against him). See documentation here.
4) Swami Premananda (deceased)- convicted for murder and 13 rapes - double life sentence. The case went right to the Supreme Court of India, which confirmed the conviction, based on DNA evidence. See also Deccan Herald April 5 and April 6, 2005. Premananda’s alleged vibuthi materializations were investigated for fraud by Erlendur Haraldasson and Richard Wiseman See larger photo no. (No. 42) here- and read their most critical report (1995) Investigating Macro-PK in India: Swami Premananda. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 60(839) 193-202t
6) Swami Rameshwaranand Giriji Maharaj – who has a large following in India and abroad – was arrested in September ’95 as a party to the murder of his lover’s husband. The 26-year old Manoj Girothra, husband of Savita, who was having an affair with the ‘godman’, was murdered on December 3rd, 1994, some two months after his marriage. Two professional hitmen had been hired by the ‘godman’.
7) Gayatri Swami, whose influence in South India was very considerable was thoroughly exposed by Professor Erlendur Haraldsson and Richard Wiseman. He was found to be pretending to materialize objects within fruits, but had a silk thread attached to them! Likewise, his ‘materialization’ of right-handed conches (extremely rare in India as ‘Sri Lakshmi conches’) the ‘left-handed type’ are the only indigenous sort), Haraldsson traced his imports of them from California, where they are indigenous! (See larger photo here photo no. 17). Erlendur Haraldsson & Joop M. Houtkooper (1994). Report of an Indian swami claiming to materialize objects: The value and limitations of field observations. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 8(3), 381-397. (Full text).
8 ) Swami Balyogi Premvarni. (‘Yogant Foundation’) of Rishikesk, where he has an ashram. He also has various branches abroad. He has been exposed as a serial womaniser, especially convincingly in Mary Garden’s book ‘The Serpent Rising’ which she bases on her experiences in India in the 1970s. See the book here. And read a review by David Mainwaring here
9) Gowrishankara Swami; ‘Hindu monk gets 10 years RI for sodomy.’‘The Hindu’ Bangalore, Feb. 3 2004 (PTI): “The Karnataka High Court today sentenced a Hindu monk to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment and awarded a fine of Rs 25 lakhs after holding him guilty of sodomy. In default of payment of fine, the court sentenced the Gowrishankara Swami, the previous junior pontiff of Sri Siddaganga Mutt at Kyatasandra in Tumkur District, to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a further period of one year.” The Hindu March 26, 2008, also reported: “Allowing an appeal from the swami against the High Court judgment, a Bench of Justice S.B. Sinha and Justice H.S. Bedi directed that he be set free.In the case, the FIR was filed on August 29, 1986, though the incident was alleged to have taken place in July 1986. The trial court recorded a judgment of acquittal. On an appeal from the State, the HC reversed the judgment of acquittal and held him guilty.”
10) Swami Shyam , a current ‘advaita’ guru, popular with Westerners (particularily Canadians and Northern Europeans), many of whom have bought expensive residences at Kullu in the Himalayas, where he has his ashram. He considers himself a reincarnation of Krishna! He is under attack for seducing the wives of his followers. He has recently been exposed by Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper here. Another exposé source is found here. A book has recently been published which exposes him – Himalayan Hoedown.
11) Swami Amritachaitanya A spiritual guru known as “Swami Amritachaitanya” held in Kerla for charges of rape, fraud, possession of narcotic drugs . Swami Amritachaitanya, whose real name is Santosh Madhavan, was arrested by Interpol on criminal charges in a police raid at his 16-suite ashram in Kochi, India following multiple police complaints against him. Indians living in Bahrain came forward and filed a case against Madhavan in India on allegations of fraudulent practices related to his supposed charity activities. Twenty Indians living in Bahrain filed a case against 35-year old Madhavan. They claim they were victims of a scam after Madhavan convinced them to invest in a charitable organization and tourist resort, but allegedly kept the money for himself. Madhavan arrived in Bahrain in 2005.
12) The Palghat (of Kerala) born Bala Sai Baba (the child Sai Baba), who at 35 years of age is a bit overgrown for his name. He claims to be the real Sai avatar, set up an ashram in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh and purposely copies Satya Sai Baba trait for trait in amazing detail. A clearly fraudulent attempt to hi-jack the Sathya Sai Baba ‘phenomenon’. He is the most ‘lookalike’ of a series of imitators of Sathya Sai Baba, a few of whom can be seen here.
13) Swami Nithyananda The scandal of his sexual activities broke early in 2010 with a video of him and a well-known actress (he originally claimed to be celibate!), later documents came to light showing how tantrik sexual perversions were practiced and partakers were sworn to secrecy by signatures. An overview can be obtained here: Swami Nityananda chargesheet: rape and unnatural sex In April 2012 he was appointed 293rd head of Madurai Adheenam. In October 2012 removed as head. See “Condoms, drugs and secret contracts… the story of why Nithyananda is in trouble”. India Today. 2012-06-13. Further, see “TN Police Books Nityananda For ‘Serving Drug-laced Holy Water to Devotees”. International Business Times. 23 June 2012.
14) Bhagavan Kalki See Severe Problems with ” Deeksha Oneness Movement also note what dissident voices have to say:- I’m not going to beat around the bush. Kalki is saying that he wants everything disbanded because he doesn’t want it to become a cult. Well, it is a cult. He’s saying he’s an avatar, I am God, and I’m going to decide when you pray, if you get the job you’re praying for or not. So if somebody … is saying that I am God, that’s delusion. There is only God, equally everywhere. Just because there’s realisation doesn’t mean there’s more god, or that the persona has changed into a go. You know, one doesn’t become a god.” transcript of part of Kalki fraud exposed and Exposed on Indian TV here
15) Kripalu Maharaj – 88 years old - It is reported that There are thousands of people who are trapped in his ashrams from around the world living a life of horrible mental abuse in his ashram under disguise to serve him as god. A CBI inquiry has been demanded because ca. 170 bodies are untraceable.The guru himself has absconded. He had faced charges of indecent assault and rape in 1997 in Nagpur. Millions of dollars of money was taken from people in America. See the strong article Hindus Speak out against Kripalu Maharaj. See Another godman mired in controversy - Hindustan Times He passed away on November 15, 2013.
16) Sri Sri Ravichandran, dressed like Jesus, has amassed immense wealth. His field of operation is in the West. He knows that wealthy westerners are depressed and he promises mental happiness by introducing a course called, “The Art of Living.’ As a matter of fact this title, ‘The Art of Living,’ was plagiarized from the project originally started by Norman Vincent Peale. Peale started a radio program, “The Art of Living,” in 1935, which lasted for 54 years. (See comment to this blog)
17) Prakashanand Saraswati led one of the top Hindu temples in the United States until a jury convicted him of molesting children and he took off for Mexico, reports Ben Crair of ‘The Daily Beast’ (June 20, 2011). He led the premier Hindu temple in Texas and, perhaps, the whole United States. Barsana Dham sat like the Taj Mahal in the hillsides south of Austin. When PBS made its 2004 Many Voices documentary project about American congregations, producers chose Barsana Dham as their exemplar of the Hindu faith. Barsana Dham was “very much an ecumenical mainstream Hindu organization,” says Robert King, a former professor of Asian studies and dean at the University of Texas. And yet there was Saraswati, ordered to trade in the saffron robes for an orange jumpsuit. The charges were serious—20 counts of indecency with a child. See also San Marcos Mercury uses public records law to get $ details of bond deal for Hindu guru/convicted child molester
19) Asaram Bapu has many reported dark sides and has a strong claim to be India’s worst male chauvinist guru (See Times of India). He stands charged for sexual assault and has a history of illegal and entirely unspiritual actions and involvements. He stated at a rally in 2013 that the gang-raped and murdered young lady on a Delhi bus, Nirbhaya, was equally to blame for the rape and added, “Mistake is never from one side alone.” Considering the utterly horrendous treatment she received, this put him among the very worst of ignorant and unscrupulous male chauvinist gurus alive.
Other Hindu and Muslim gurus with a dark past of widespread accusations and charges of sexual assault/rape and/or financial fraud and other major crimes have escaped prosecution/imprisonment due to total laxity of the judiciary in India.
See The Laws are unholy for India’s holy men! by Sanal Edamaruku
Sudhanshu Maharaj (charged with manipulating financial accounts, harassing patients and much more).
Swami Amritachaitanya (alias Ram Rahim Singh and aka Santosh Madhavan) arrested by Interpol for rape, drug possession, financial fraud. Santosh Madhavan exposed in Kerala ”wanted by Interpol since 2004 for fraud committed in the United Arab Emirates. Interpol has issued a red alert against the godman Santosh Madhavan 35 years old & Saifudeen Alikanu 47 years old after the Dubai government issued an arrest warrant against the duo in a fraud case.” Santhosh’s former wife told police in her statement that he was in constant touch with Nazar, a close aide of Dawood, via phone. She also said that she divorced her husband when he tried to sell her to underworld kings & prostitute centres in Dubai.
Baba Gurmeet Singh charged with murder of journalist Ram Chandra Chatapati and sexual exploitation of women after sting op. by Tehelka and India TV.
Swami Gnvanachaitanya Arrested for sexually abusing women followers as charged by his ‘wife’ Amanda Williams.
Swami Sadachari arrested in Delhi for running a brothel. Had mingled with PMs and Presidents of India.
Shiv Murat Dwivedi alias Ichchadhari Sant Swami Bhimanandji Maharaj Chitrakootwale. Arrested twice in 1997 and 8 for involvement in theft and prostitution racket. Started a Sai Baba temple for the flesh trade racket. Built own temple later.
Bhimanand Ji Maharaj Chitrakootwale of New Delhi was revealed to have run a massive prostitution ring comprising more than 1,000 girls, who “serviced” many politicians and big businessmen.
A further short list of some gurus East and West, including facts about some of the criminals among them is seen here (http://www.kheper.net/topics/gurus/listing.html).
See also Swamis and Scandals, Indian Express
and Super-Rich Spiritual Gurus of India
Please also note: (following addition 19/10/2013) The Indian owner of a website based in California at weebly.com (http://indianguruscandals.weebly.com/) calling himself Edwin John of 1: 6/50E, Shanti Path, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110021., copied this blog and claimed via DMCA Automattic to own the copyright. He wrote “This came to our knowledge that some unknown people who are using your free blogs are copying our content and publishing it on your free blogs under their name without my permission. They are copying our content and we are the copyright owner of the above mentioned articles.” This was a blatant lie and the blog, though taken down temporarily by wordpress.com, has been reinstated because my counter-accusation to DMCA was not challenged in court by semi-literate Edwin John (of course!). My blog of 2000 is dated May 24 2008, while his copy is dated 5/10/2008! I have just stuck it to the top of the blogsite so all can easily be informed about this attack. He copied it months afterwards! His copy also contains all the same links to my website and blogs which I made! Moreover he has posted the entire blog which contained up-dated materials from later years, additions about events which had not occurred back in 2008, so he effectively claimed that he had posted material in 2008 about events which did not happen until years afterwards! What kind of a crook is this, one may ask? He uses a cloaked IP for his website and is unaccountable and uses dirty tricks against my comment, adding me as a ‘newbie’ but not posting my comment! This is Indian corruption and untruth as per all too usual!
In an important announcement by wordpress on this kind of scam, they announce they are taking legal steps against offenders. WordPress users who follow the news there will better know what steps to take in future.