Almost every month, there is news in the Indian media about a fake or fraudulent godman being arrested or busted by the law enforcement agencies. Most of the time, while Indian and a segment of the international media exhibit enthusiasm in publishing reports, features, and op-eds about some of the godmen and play the role of their PR agencies – news about a fraud, fake, or rapist godman being arrested by the law enforcement agencies do not get appropriate coverage in the media, as because, people are – most possibly interested in getting hypnotized or fooled by those godmen instead of knowing the truth.
Here are a few of the news or commentaries of fake godmen in India:
On October 23, 2020 Indian newspaper The Hindu published a report titled – Fake godman peddling ‘hidden treasure’ held. Here is the report:
A fake godman and two of his accomplices were arrested by Rajampeta police for trying to hoodwink people by claiming that they had knowledge of a hidden treasure.
Shaik Mahboob Basha alias Usman Ali Khan, hailing from Gooty town in Anantapur district, donned the guise of a godman and began calling himself ‘Syed Baba’. Basha used to sell coffee powder and later sold saris for a living before he decided to earn a quick buck by becoming a fake godman.
Along with a man named Murali of Enampalli village in Puttaparthi mandal, Basha began posing as a man with deep occult knowledge who had the ability to detect ‘treasures’ hidden deep below the ground. Basha managed to hoodwink several people and collected ₹10,000 to ₹20,000 from them in order to tell them where such treasures were hidden.
On September 13, 2017, Indian news portal The Quint published a report caption: ‘The Full List of Fake Indian Babas Who’ve Been Blacklisted’. Here is the report:
The Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad, the top body of Hindu sadhus, has released a list of 14 “fake babas” and demanded legislation to crack down on “rootless cult leaders.”
Here’s a list of those who made the cut.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh – A convicted rapist and on trial for murder,
Asaram Bapu – Accused of murder and rape and has been in jail since 2013,
Narayan Sai – Asaram’s son. Accused of raping disciples of his father. He owns a fortune of almost one billion dollars,
Radhe Maa – Faces criminal charges,
Sant Rampal – Falsely claimed to be successor of Saint Kabir. He faces murder charges,
Swami Aseemanand – Former member of radical Hinduist RSS and charged with plotting 4 terrorist attacks. He has made confessional statement saying his prime targets were Muslim religious sites,
Swami Sachidanand – Known as ‘Disco Baba’ or ‘Builder Baba’. Faces charges of involvement in illegal activities,
Om Swami – Introduced on ‘Big Boss 10’ as a social, religious and political leader, and known to have assaulted women LIVE on television programs,
Nirmal Baba – TRP superstar and his shows were aired on 40 different TV channels. Now he faces charges of fraud, tax evasion and spreading superstitions,
Ichadhari Bhimanand – This South Delhi-based godman’s sex racket was busted in 2010,
Acharya Kushmuni – Wanted by police,
Brihaspati Girl & Malkhan Singh – The Bareilly-based godmen were accused of kidnapping and also accused of operating illegal business [drug and prostitution] inside their temple.
On February 10, 2020, Indian news agency IANS released an article by DC Pathak, former Director of Intelligence Bureau in India. The article captioned – The Malaise of fake godmen. Here is the article:
India’s proud legacy of its civilizational history would not be complete without the mention of its holy sages and divine thinkers who set an example of how to bring the benefit of the spiritual advancement to the man caught in the conundrum of day-to-day life and who also enriched the human understanding of the universe around us. It is our thinking saints who could, through their insight into how Mother Nature worked, come out with empirical deductions like there being ‘no difference between the seen and the unseen’, ‘the universe turning into nothingness’, or ‘time having no beginning or end’. Science’s discoveries of conversion of matter into energy, the phenomenon of ‘black hole’ and reversibility of time, respectively prove the effectiveness of Indian thought. Albert Einstein, fascinated by Indian spiritualism, famously said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge” and this is what the sages in meditation, who made these findings through their deep imagination, proved. Our saints naturally were renunciatory in their outlook, were not drawn to living in the midst of population and were at best ‘intermediaries’ who helped their followers to acknowledge divine supremacy. They never proclaimed to be God themselves. Their ‘ashrams’ practiced frugality and never attracted notice for wealth and luxurious lifestyle.
It is a matter of concern that India is now infested with many fake godmen who are, if anything, damaging the pristine gift of our ancient civilization in the form of spiritual guidance provided by the saints and ‘sanyasis’ whose natural abode was closer to forests and mountains away from the crowded centres of population and who would only occasionally visit their followers in the cities. The ‘saints’ in the news these days often are those who stood out for the display of wealth and property, attire of gold and diamonds and the most expensive travel and living habits.
To be continued …