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The fall of self-styled spiritual gurus, from Gurmeet Ram Rahim to Asaram

Asaram is not the only ‘spiritual guru’ or godman who is accused or convicted of rape. Here is a look at other “godmen” who have been charged with sexual assault.

Asaram Verdict Updated: Apr 25, 2018 16:43 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
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Asaram Bapu, as the 79-year-old is known to his supporters, comes out of court in Jodhpur in June 2015.(Ramji Vyas/HT File Photo)

A special court in Jodhpur on Wednesday found self-styled godman Asaram guilty of raping a minor girl at his ashram in 2013.

Apart from this case, Asaram and his son Narayan Sai, who is a senior functionary in his spiritual empire, are also accused of rape and sexual assault by two Surat-based sisters.

Asaram is not the only ‘spiritual guru’ or godman to be accused of rape and sexual assault and yet have a large, dedicated following. Here is a look at other “godmen” who have been charged with sexual assault:

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh

In August 2017, self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh wasconvicted of rape and was sentenced to 10 years in jail in Rohtak. After the guilty verdict, angry supporters of Ram Rahim went on a rampage and the ensuing violence left 36 people dead.

Singh’s conviction has led to newspaper editorials and social media debate on why people have cult-like faith in godmen accused of rape and sexual harassment.

Narayan Sai

Asaram’s son Narayan Sai is in jail for allegedly raping a Surat-based woman disciple of his father between 2002 and 2005. She was allegedly raped when she was living at Asaram’s ashram in Surat. Sai, 40, is also accused of having physical relations with eight other girls.

Gangananda Theerthapatha

Theerthapatha, a self-styled godman of an ashram in Kollam, was allegedly sexually exploiting a law student for five years on the pretext of conducting pooja (rituals). The woman took revenge on him by chopping off his penis, says this report in May. Theerthapatha allegedly exploited the woman for five years during visits to her family’s home in Thiruvananthapuram. Theerthapatha says he cut off his own penis as penance.

Mehndi Kasim

A Mumbai court in April 2016 convicted the 43-year-old self-styled godman for raping seven girls and sentenced him to life imprisonment. Kasim knew four sisters who had mentally challenged sons and healthy daughters. He promised to cure the boys and asked their mothers to send to him their daughters to him as well for ‘treatment’ that would ensure they don’t give birth to mentally challenged children.

Santhosh Madhavan, alias Swami Amritha Chaitanya

A Kerala court in May 2009 found Madhavan guilty of raping three minor girls. He lured the minor girls hailing from poor families, confined them and assaulted them. He was sentenced to 16 years of rigorous imprisonment and a penalty of Rs 2,10,000 in 2009. Madhavan is also accused of cheating a Dubai-based Indian woman of Rs. 40 lakh.

Swami Premananda

Premananda left war-ravaged Sri Lanka and moved to India in 1984 to set up an ashram in Tiruchirappalli. But in 1994, a young girl from the ashram alleged that she was pregnant after being raped by Premanand. In August 1997, Premananda and six of his accomplices were convicted of raping 13 minor girls.


He spent 14 years in jail for three murders. After his release, he met a British family and convinced them that their daughter was his ‘wife’ in a previous birth. He then sexually abused and tortured the woman for years. After she escaped and complained to her parents and the police, Gnyanachaitanya was arrested again.

First Published: Apr 25, 2018 11:12 IST