VHP to raise issue of ‘fake babas’ at Karnataka conclave in November | india-news | Hindustan Times
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VHP to raise issue of ‘fake babas’ at Karnataka conclave in November

The Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad on Sunday released a list of fake godmen that includes Dera Sacha Sauda chief Ram Rahim, Haryana cult leader Rampal and rape accused Asaram and his son Narayan Sai.

india Updated: Sep 12, 2017 18:51 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
File photo of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh at the the premier of his film Jattu Engineer in New Delhi on May 17, 2017.
File photo of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh at the the premier of his film Jattu Engineer in New Delhi on May 17, 2017. (PTI)

The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) will take up the issue of ‘fake babas’, who the apex body of Hindu saints say are maligning saints and ascetics, at its three-day gathering of religious figures to be held in Karnataka in November.

The issue was raised by the Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad (ABAP), an umbrella organisation of 13 recognised akharas or monastic orders, on Sunday when it released a list of 14 fake godmen and demanded a crackdown on “rootless cult leaders” by bringing in a legislation.

The list, which includes Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Haryana cult leader Rampal, rape accused Asaram and his son Narayan Sai, came against the backdrop of a series of controversies surrounding self-styled godmen, including Singh who has been convicted of rape.

A delegation of saints from Akhara Parishad, led by its chief Narendra Giri, is also scheduled to meet the chief minister Yogi Adityanath with a list of ‘fake babas’.

The ‘fake babas’ issue could also figure in the meeting of the Kendriya Margdarshak Mandal, the highest decision-making body of the Hindu nationalist group, scheduled for early 2018 as well as at the meeting of the Bharat Sadhu Samaj, a body of ascetics and saints set up in 1956.

Kamal Nayan Das, the Ayodhya priest and heir apparent to Ram Janmbhoomi Nyas chief Nritya Gopal Das, confirmed that as a member of the VHP’s margdarshak mandal he would, along with other saints, will flag the issue of ‘fake babas’ for discussion during the ‘dharma sansad’.

Ram Vilas Vedanti, a former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator and member of the margdarshak mandal, said he would also like to move a resolution barring the indiscriminate use of the term ‘baba’.

“I guess media, too, is to be blamed for this as everyone from Gurmeet Ram Rahim to Asaram are described as ‘babas’. Nobody ever asked if they belonged to any monastic order and when they are exposed they bring a bad name to all of us,” Vedanti told the Hindustan Times over the phone.

Even though the issue of ‘fake babas’ is making headlines, mainly after the recent conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief, many feel that the enthusiasm won’t last long.

“Wait and see. For any meaningful activity, all of us, including the akhara parishad would need to reflect and look within. For instance, despite the parishad has been raising the issue of ‘fake’ shankaracharyas at its meetings, why hasn’t any action been possible against them,” a seer, who did not want to be named, told HT.

Some of the seers HT spoke to wondered whether the akhara parishad would also put up a list of ‘fake shankaracharyas’.

“Only last year, the akhara parishad had for the umpteenth time discussed the issue of ‘fake shankaracharyas’ and the need to stop their entry at the Ardh Kumbh scheduled in Allahabad in 2019. But due to differences among the different akharas, the issue never gets resolved. Imagine over a dozen people moving around calling themselves as shankaracharyas,” a saint from Ayodhya said.

The VHP was guarded on the issue of ‘fake shankaracharyas’ as well as allegations that several saffron clad men from Ayodhya are involved in various criminal cases, including murder.

“It’s for the saints to decide,” said an evasive Sharad Sharma, the Ayodhya-based spokesperson of the VHP.

“We are against ‘fake babas’ but it would be unfair to view the entire saint community in the same light,” Sharma said.

Kamal Nayan Das, who received a threat to his life some time ago, said people tend to get attracted to the glamour and the well-meaning saint is often ignored.

“That is the reason for most of the problems we face today. We will discuss the issue in our meetings. Let’s see what comes out of it,” Das said.