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Swami and girlfriends

entertainment Updated: Apr 25, 2010 00:46 IST
Salil Mekaad
Salil Mekaad
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Reverence turned into loathing when a school teacher threw a shoe at the tainted Swami, Paramahansa Nithyananda on his arrival in Bangalore on April 22. It didn’t help that the godman had police protection.
Sleazy videos, shot by his driver, show Nithyananda engaged in sexual acts with women. The video has virtually brought down ‘a spiritual empire’ created over the last decade and across continents.
Considered a spiritual guru with one of the largest followings in south India, Nithyananda, 32, has technocrats, politicians, and movie stars for followers.

Internet and the man
One such disciple, Maa Nithya Archanananda at the swami’s Bidadi ashram says, “The Nithyananda order has more than 5 lakh viewers on YouTube. There are over 1,000 blog posts explaining how people have been transformed through his preaching”.
Internet popularity is one thing but Nithyananda has been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for cheating, rape, defiling place of worship and hurting religious sentiments.

that Healing feeling
Despite the allegations, Nithyananda is credited with having transformed millions of lives. Raja, a mechanical engineer with more than 5 years of experience in multinational firms in Pune and the US, says, “Association with him brought permanent inner peace. It is an experience which is purely our own. It can’t be explained in words”.
Even the police could not escape his healing touch. A senior police officer who arrested Nithyananda from Solan in Himachal Pradesh on April 21, was relieved of his back ache when Nithyananda performed acupressure on him — before being handcuffed.

Tracing roots
Born in Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu in 1978 as Rajasekaran, Nithyananda is believed to have had his first experience of enlightenment at the age of 12.
His roommate at the Sri Ramakrishna Ashram during his formative years 1995-99, Gopalaramakrishna, claims that Nithyananda was entrusted with the most important task of the kitchen as anna daatha — he still believes in feeding the hungry.
Traces of his spiritual brilliance were noticed early. But no one at the ashram believed Nithyananda would emerge as avatar purusha (incarnation), he said.
After his years of parivajaka (wandering life), Nithyananda built his spiritual kingdom after starting the Nithyananda Dhyanapeetham Ashram in Ramanagara district.

here comes the sleaze
He is worshipped by his disciples but dubbed as a ‘self-styled godman’ by channels screening blurred portions of the sex video. His followers have described these images as ‘a mix of conspiracy, graphics and rumour’.
Though he never denied that he was shown in the videos, he claimed that he has done nothing illegal.

Tantric sexologist
Subsequent public outrage and media investigations into the sex episode hinted at measures employed by the spiritual guru to safeguard himself in the form of non-disclosure agreements that stated devotees had volunteered for acts including ‘tantric sex’.
The agreement states that a volunteer understands the programme ‘may involve the learning and practice of ancient tantric secrets associated with male and female ecstasy, including the use of sexual energy for increased intimacy/spiritual connection, pleasure, harmony and freedom’.
It further states that the volunteer understands that activities ‘may involve nudity, access to visual images, graphic visual depictions, and descriptions of nudity and sexual activity, close physical proximity and intimacy, verbal and written descriptions and audio sounds of a sexually oriented, and erotic nature, etc’.
The Criminal Investigation Department is probing all the allegations against the godman.