From Asumal the 'tongawala' to Asaram the godman

From Asumal the 'tongawala' to Asaram the godman

As a trial court in Jodhpur convicted Asaram Bapu of raping a minor, the 'tongawalas' of Ajmer were in complete disbelief.

At the age of seven, Asaram, then Asumal, accompanied his father Thaumal Harpalani to Ajmer where he started ferrying pilgrims on a tonga from the railway station to the dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti.

The 'tongawalas' still remember Asumal as a hardworking and ordinary person who used to dream of becoming rich.

"I still can't believe that he has been convicted for such a heinous crime. After his popularity as a godman started spreading, we remembered him. He was of my age, and as a fellow 'tongawala', I remember his tonga used to stand out with a velvet cushion seat," said 77-year-old Ustad Mian, a member of the Tonga Association of Ajmer.

Asumal was born on April 17, 1941, in the Sindh province of Pakistan. His father Thaumal came to Gujarat and worked in different cities before moving to Ajmer in 1963 after a relative, Dodhi Ustad, asked him to settle there.

Asaram, who claims to have nearly two crore followers in India and abroad, is said to have learnt meditation from his mother.

At the age of 15, Asumal ran away from home and joined an ashram in Bharuch. Later he lived in several other ashrams and in one of them, he met his spiritual 'Guru' Lilashah, who gave him the name Asaram Bapu.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily