Sri Sri telecon with Nithyananda from defunct Los Angeles temple
Art of Living Foundation guru Sri Sri Ravishankar visited godman-in-hiding Nithyananda’s now defunct Vedic Temple in Los Angeles on Friday and spoke to him over phone briefly before denouncing him in private to some of his former devotees.
During the brief telecon, Nithyananda is believed to have “welcomed” Ravishankar to his temple which, along with another one in Seattle, was shut down on Saturday following an intense power struggle among his devotees a majority of whom have taken a dim view of the godman since the sex scandal broke early last month.
When contacted with specific questions, Ravishankar's media relations manager at his Kanakapura ashram here, Charu Garhwal, admitted that the Art of Living guru did visit the Nithyananda's LA temple. "He met and talked to some of the traumatised devotees of Nithyananda."
But within an hour Garhwal called back Deccan Herald, saying: "Actually, he (Ravishankar) is in Los Angeles to inaugurate a new temple where some of Nithyananda's traumatised devotees came to meet him." When asked if Ravishankar spoke to Nithyananda over phone, Garhwal said she would "check and get back". She never called back.
Some former Nithyananda devotees Deccan Herald spoke to over phone said Ravishankar visited the so-called Vedic Temple on Friday evening. "He went around the whole temple complex, visiting all the departments," a senior former devotee said.
While at the temple, whose possession has become a bone of contention among some former and a few last remaining devotees of Nithyananda, a temple attendant got the godman-in-hiding on the phone for Ravishankar to speak to.
"The two talked briefly after which Ravishankar told the temple priest in private that if they needed help they could approach him," an influential NRI, who is a former Nithyananda follower, told Deccan Herald.
Ravishankar has had past association with Nithyananda. On Nithyananda's invitation, Ravishankar had visited the so-called godman's Tiruvannamalai Dhyanapeetam on August 6, 2009. Photographs of the two together are prominently displayed on the Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam website.
Sources in LA wondered whether one of the primary reasons behind Ravishankar's visit to the LA temple was to "win back" devotees who are cut up over Nithyananda's sexual indiscretions. In this context, a former devotee said: "A few years back, no less than a dozen of Ravishankar's followers deserted him to join Nithayananda's order in which they became 'acharayas'. Ravishankar is returning the favour and trying to wean them back."
Former Nithyananda devotees believe Ravishankar is trying to capitalise on the situation and may be looking for ways and means to take control of the LA temple and to have donors, who till lately contributed to the disgraced godman's coffers, make monetary offerings to his foundation. "This is almost like a corporate takeover," an Nithyananda ex-devotee said.