The preacher who built a Rs 10,000 crore empire

Screen grab from the website
He may still have many followers, but after rape allegations, he was accused of other crimes like land grabbing and practice of black magic in his Ashrams.

From the high pedestal of a preacher having thousands of followers, self-styled godman Asaram's fall from grace came after he was embroiled in the rape case of a minor girl.

If we go by figures, Asaram can surely give top businessmen a run for their money as the jailed self-styled godman created an empire of Rs 10,000 crore within four decades, starting from a humble hut on the banks of the Sabarmati river in the early 1970s to over 400 ashrams across the country and the world.

The scrutiny of documents seized by the police from Asaram's Ashram in Motera area in Ahmedabad following his arrest revealed that the 77-year-old has amassed a wealth of around Rs 10,000 crore which is excluding the market value of vast track of lands that he holds.

He may still have many followers, but after rape allegations, he was accused of other crimes like land grabbing and practice of black magic in his Ashrams.

As per a short documentary available on his official website, Asaram was born in 1941 as Asumal Sirumalani in Berani village of Sindh province in Pakistan.

After the Partition of 1947, Asumal came to Ahmedabad with his parents and studied only till class IV at a school in Maninagar, as he was forced to leave his studies after the death of his father Thaumal when he was 10.

After doing some odd jobs during his early youth, Asumal embarked on a "spiritual quest" towards the Himalayas, where he met his 'Guru', Lilashah Bapu, the documentary claimed.

The Guru gave him the name 'Asaram' in 1964 and "commanded him to carve his own path and guide people".

Asaram came to Ahmedabad in the early 1970s and started doing penance on the banks of Sabarmati near Motera.

His journey as a spiritual leader started in 1972 when he set up 'Moksha Kutir', a humble hut, on the banks of the river.

Over the years, his popularity as 'Sant Asaramji Bapu' started soaring high and that 'humble hut' converted into a full-fledged Ashram.

Within a span of four decades, he added around 400 ashrams in India and abroad.

Even today, the Motera Ashram is flocked by followers, who are still in denial mode and maintain that their 'Guru' has been jailed on false charges.

Asaram is married to Laxmi Devi and they have two children - son Narayan Sai, who is also behind bars, and daughter Bharti Devi.

Asaram ran into troubled waters for the first time in 2008 when his two cousins - Dipesh and Abhishek Vaghela - who used to stay at the Motera Ashram, were found dead under mysterious circumstances on the riverbed.

In 2009, the state CID booked seven followers in connection with the case. Dipesh and Abhishek's parents alleged that they were killed in the Ashram as they practice black magic.

But Asaram's real fall began in 2013 after he was arrested for raping a minor in Rajasthan.

Later, two Surat-based sisters came out and spoke about their sexual exploitation at the hands of Asaram and Narayan Sai.

The Surat Police registered complaints on October 6, 2013, one against Asaram and another against Narayan Sai, of rape, sexual assault, illegal confinement and other charges. The case is going on at a court in Gandhinagar.

Asaram's followers were held for threatening and assaulting witnesses in rape cases against him and his son after they were arrested.

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