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.
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 documented or reported by disaffected followers.
2) The well-known ‘all singing all dancing’ Indian-based Hare Krishna sect (ISKCON) has had many and major convictions against them in the USA. See here, here
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 multiple rape – 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
5) Swami Rama (Deceased – Author of ‘Living Among the Himalayan Masters’) who escaped likely conviction for sexual abuses by dying before the case could be concluded. See evidence here. Also here
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’ inside fruits of right-handed conches (extremely rare in India as ‘Sri Lakshmi conches’) the ‘left-handed type’ are the only indiginous 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.”
Swami Shyam of Kulu
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) 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.
12) 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
13) 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 Oneness U. Snafu – Enlightenment or Oneness
14) 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.
15) 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)
16) 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
17) Swamiji Maharaj of Dwarka, Gujurat rapist and criminal … see scan on right
18) 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).
Public Petition for Official Investigations of Sathya Sai Baba and his Worldwide Organization
View ex-follower signatures
(Spanish version PETICIÓNPÚBLICA PARA INVESTIGACIONES OFICIALES)