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Saturday 29 April 2017
News updated at 3:50 AM IST

Godman, conman

Last updated: 23 April, 2010

''Nithyananda’s house of deceit has now collapsed.''

The law has finally caught up with Swami Nithyananda who was hiding in Himachal Pradesh after a sex scandal involving him and a film actress broke last month. It is ironical that the Himalayas and its foothills, which have for ages been the abode of great sages who nurtured their spiritual powers in the cool and peaceful environs, was the refuge of a self-styled godman on the run from the law and the consequences of his actions. The swami made himself scarce after video tapes of his sex romp became public. Convoluted attempts at denial have not carried conviction. In fact his disappearance from public view has only helped to strengthen the suspicions and the charges against him.
Other charges have followed the sex scandal. He is now accused of fraud, cheating, intimidation and financial malpractices. The growth of a boy from an obscure village into an international spiritual master in a short period was dazzling. But the network of spiritual centres set up all over the world became a web of deception and signposts of material greed. Thousands of people were taken in by the fake claims and pretences. Many left their own families and dedicated themselves to him. The whole house of deceit has now collapsed.

The arrest of Nithyananda is only the beginning of the legal process to bring him to account for his misconduct. In the past it has been seen that many cases involving self-styled godmen were not taken to their logical conclusion of punishment of the guilty. Failure of the prosecution to prove or press the cases or deficiencies in the deposition of witnesses have helped many fake godmen to escape punishment. That encourages other bad characters to carry on with their dubious business. It is hardly realised that their misconduct sullies the great spiritual traditions of the country and the reputations of masters who have lighted up the lives of countless people with their words and deeds. It is easy to deceive people with the promise of a higher life and enlightenment. The basic human urge to transcend the self, the credulity and simple faith of aspiring minds and the tensions of modern life all combine to make godmen out of cheats. There may be only one genuine spiritual teacher for a thousand fake masters. Nithyananda’s conduct should be a warning to other fake-gurus-in-the-making and an eye-opener to common people.

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