The sordid episode surrounding self-styled godman Paramahamsa Nithyananda has prompted the country’s Hindu saints, gathered at the Hardwar Mahakumbh Mela, to cleanse their community of “fakes and frauds” who pass themselves off as religious and spiritual leaders.
Nithyananda The All India Akhara Parishad, an apex body of saints and sadhus that represents India’s all-important 13 Akharas, has decided to launch a campaign to “identify” and “throw out religious gurus” who “cheat and dupe people” in the garb of spirituality.
Parishad president Mahant Gyan Das told Deccan Herald that saints and sadhus at the ongoing Mahakumbh were concerned at the recent exposure of some “fake godmen” and “fake religious gurus” as their deeds have “tarnished the image of the age-old Sanatana Dharma”.
Even as the saints reached this decision following two days of intense debate in Hardwar, it is now certain that Nithyananda is not at the Mahakumbh as is being claimed by his disciples at his Bidadi ashram near Bangalore. Additional Mela officer V S Dhanik told Deccan Herald over phone that Nithyananda’s land allotment at the Kumbh Mela venue was cancelled on March 8 after Hindu sadhus and saints gathered at the country’s largest religious congregation “raised serious objections” to the alleged involvement of the godman in the sex scandal.
Dhanik said neither Nithyananda, who had applied in October last year for allotment of land where he could set up tents near Har ki Pauri, nor any of his disciple(s) have so far approached the Mela administration to inform them of their arrival at the Kumbh.
The land that was earmarked for Nithyananda is located in Gaurishankar, which is about one-and-a-half kilometre from Har Ki Pauri, the centre of the Kumbh fair.
The story of Nithyananda being at the Kumbh Mela was first spun on March 3, a day after the videos went public and when a building at the Kallugopahalli ashram was burnt in a mysterious fire. That day Nithyananda’s press coordinator Sachitananda had said the “swamiji is at the Kumbh Mela”.
Nithyananda has been issuing statements from an undisclosed location. On Thursday, one Rajiv Malhotra, claiming to be a researcher, interviewed Nithyananda in a bid to create conditions for the scandal-tainted godman to “refute certain allegations”.
The video was uploaded on the Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam website with an alert that “Swamiji will be back from Kumbh Mela soon, he will be addressing a press conference; please stay tuned for more details”.
The Mela administration’s decision to cancel Nithyananda’s application stems from a raging deliberation among Hindu saints who, Dhanik said, “are furious” with the Bidadi godman for his alleged sexual activities with a woman.
“The saints told the Mela administration in no uncertain terms to reject and cancel his application,” Dhanik said. The saints, according to Mela administration officials, have also taken the position that Nithyananda’s entry to future Kumbh congregations be barred.
The officials said “the sentiments expressed by the saints indicated Nithyananda has been ex-communicated by them”.