Sex, lies and videotape

Scandal triggers mob fury Ashram attacked in Bidadi near Bangalore

Sex, lies and videotape

The latest ‘sex scandal’ involving a Tamil Nadu born self-styled Godman, Rajasekharan, a handsome youth with a winsome smile who turned into Swami Paramahams Nityananda, and a Tamil film-star Ranjitha, is not uncommon here, where sex and spirituality have had a dubious run.

Though born in Thiruvannamalai, known for its shrine of Arunachala Shiva and the world-renowned centre of spiritualism, founded by Ramana Maharshi, whose spiritual journey had marked him out in the true Indian tradition of self-enquiry, Nityananda, analysts say, was the manifest of a libertine side of a self-made ‘Guru’, whose out-of-the box, syrupy spirituality won him a large following.

Nityananda’s captivating smile and attractive demeanor in his ochre robes, is easily marketable in an age when an upwardly mobile Indian middle class looks to refreshing interpretations of India’s spiritual tradition, laced with catchy tips for self-improvement, analysts add. A large number of women looked up to him as an “icon of positive energy”.    

He has a large fan-following in the US too, the Tamil diaspora in particular. Nityananda tried to build a ‘grand ashram’ at his native Tiruvannamalai, but could not as the Supreme Court had banned construction of any permanent structure along the ‘Giri valam’ (path-way around the sacred mountain), a source there said. But the Godman’s large fan following ensured a bigger ‘Ashram’ in Bangalore, where the sting operation of his sexual intimacies probably took place, the source added.

Tamil Nadu has witnessed a couple of big spiritual anti-climaxes in the recent past. Premkumar, a Sri Lankan Tamil who styled himself as Swami Premananda and set up an ‘Ashram’ in Tiruchirappalli, managed to lure many girls, some of them minor, into his ‘free consciousness’ style of thinking. The ‘Ashram’ had allegedly degenerated into unqualified hedonism and drug-running amid a foreign currency racket.
After several girls fled the ‘Ashram’ leveling rape charges against Premananda, he was convicted in 1997 of raping girls inside the ‘Ashram’ and being involved in a murder and is now serving a double life term.
DH News Service

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