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Asaram Bapu convicted: Other controversial 'gurus' in India

By Deepika
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    Self-styled godman Asaram was today convicted by a Jodhpur court for raping a teenager at his ashram near here in 2013. He was arrested in 2013 in connection with a sexual assault case on a minor.

    Asaram Bapu

    According to the complaint the godman had raped the then 16-year-old girl on the pretext of giving her his blessings at his ashram in Jodhpur.

    Asaram allegedly assaulted many victims, including minors as well as 'sevikas' from his ashram.The matter is pending with the Supreme Court.

    Asaram has over 425 ashrams and more than 50 gurukuls all over, and a tremendous following both in India and aboard.

    Here are some more godmen who have been in controversy and still continue to have a large followers base.

    Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh

    Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh

    Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the Dera Sacha Sauda chief is a multifaceted personality. Singh is a movie actor, a singer, a writer, director and a social reformer. To his followers, he is a spiritual leader and others just wonder why he is so popular.

    Singh was in 2002 accused of having played a role in the murder of journalist Ram Chander Chatrapati, who was writing articles about the Dera.

    He has also been accused by a woman for raping her and two others in 2002. The same year saw a follower claim that he had ordered 400 men to undergo castration to be closer to God.

    Sant Rampal

    Sant Rampal

    Rampal was a junior engineer (JE) with the Haryana irrigation department in Haryana and then went on to becoming a godman.

    The spiritual leader's arrest came on 18 November 2004, after the Haryana police found the bodies of five women and an 18-month-old child at his Satlok ashram in Hisar where they had gone to arrest him in regard to another case. Thousands of his followers fought a pitched battle with the police, and it took 20,000 security personnel to finally capture him the next day. Sant Rampal had earlier been jailed for 22 months after he was charged with the murder of a man who died when his followers clashed with those of the Arya Samaj on 12 July 2006.

    Nithyananda

    Nithyananda

    Nithyananda Swamy landed in a controversy after a video footage showing him in a compromising position with an actress was telecast by local TV channels.

    Nithyananda said the video was morphed and manipulated to misrepresent his personal life but did not deny his images with actress Ranjita in the film.

    Swami Nithyananda was named as one of the 100 most spiritually influential living people in the world.

    Swami Premananda

    Swami Premananda

    Originally from Sri Lanka, Swami Premananda moved to India in 1984 and set up an ashram for women and orphans in Tiruchirappalli. However, in 1994, a young girl, Arul Jyothi, escaped from the ashram and reported that she was pregnant after being raped repeatedly by the Godman. In August 1997, Premananda, along with six accomplices, was convicted of raping 13 minor girls. He was also convicted of murdering a disciple who had tried to out him.

    Chandraswami

    Chandraswami

    Chandraswami -born in 1948 whose real name was Nemi Chand was a controversial Indian tantrik. He was called a godman by some people. His father came from Behror in Rajasthan and worked as a money lender. He is alleged to have been involved in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. An income-tax raid on Chandraswami's ashram reportedly uncovered drafts of payments, totaling USD11 million, paid to arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi. In 1996, he was arrested on charges of defrauding a London-based businessman of USD100,000, and in June 2011, the Supreme Court fined him Rs 9 crore for violating the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act.

    Swami Agnivesh

    Swami Agnivesh

    Agnivesh came under attack during the August 2011 anti-corruption protests.

    A controversial video on YouTube where he is purportedly telling Union minister that the government act tough with Anna Hazare. Agnivesh on his part claimed the video footage was "doctored and concocted" and part of a smear campaign against him.

    Agnivesh's statement that he supported the entry of non-Hindus into the Jagannath Temple at Puri, had also raised the hackles of Hindu priests.

    Agnivesh also spent three days inside the Bigg Boss house as a guest, to "use this opportunity to promote and create awareness on social issues including corruption".

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