After earthly communion, commune falling apart

After earthly communion, commune falling apart

 
File photo of fire at ashramaThe police suspect he took off in his SUV late on Tuesday night when television channels began beaming the secretly-filmed footages.

Nithyananda abandoned a stunned flock to whom he would deliver erudite discourses under a banyan tree, described as an ‘energy hub’, at the huge Kalluguppahalli ashram in Bidadi, barely 35 kilometre south-west of Bangalore.

Disillusioned by their guru’s alleged weakness, at least 50 disciples, including young men and women, left the Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam ashram by Wednesday night. There are about 400 full-time initiated Nithyananda followers who live at the Bidadi ashram. More deserted the ashram on Thursday.

Ramanagara Deputy Superintendent of Police D Devaraj told Deccan Herald that angry guardians and parents of these disciples arrived from various parts of Tamil Nadu as well as Bangalore to take their children back home. “Denouncing the so-called guru, they went into the ashram, looked for their children and wards and dragged them out. None of the young men and women protested,” Devaraj said, indicating the disciples had finally ‘experienced truth’ from ‘seeing-is-believing’. No one at the ashram took the Deccan Herald’s call for a version.

Elsewhere in Tamil Nadu enraged disciples, who had blindly trusted their ‘Master’ before ‘surrendering their logic to a higher state of intelligence’, denounced Nithyananda, damaging ashram property in Thiruvannamalai, the swami’s hometown.

The Karnataka police would not act against Nithyananda because no person has so far formally lodged a complaint. But the police are reminded of controversies that dogged the Kalluguppahalli commune when, in December 2009, a Canadian national died under mysterious circumstances. Although 10-15 complaints were registered the police could not establish either homicide or suicide, leaving the case as an accident.

For the ‘ashramites’ life in Bidadi ashram is, if not divine bliss, pure luxury. But that did not come free of cost. Typical ashramite apartments are of two kinds, according to the Nithyananda website. A spacious single bedroom, with a hall and a kitchen, with a built up area of 665 sq ft costs Rs six lakh. A spacious two-bedroom apartment, with a built up area of 910 sq ft costs Rs eight lakh.

The dream ‘Anandpuri’ that Nithyananda sold to people was to include a health club, an ayurvedic spa, a department store and pharmacy, a recreation centre, a library, an open-air amphitheatre, laundro-mats, landscape garden, a swimming pool and a creek and lake ‘flowing through the contours of the ashram’.

Nithyananda’s abode, where an imposing gate, painted in green, says ‘restricted area, no entry’, was off-limits for other ashramites, unless he chose to invite them there.

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