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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

Controversial Radhe Maa, Pilot Baba back in fold of seers before Kumbh

The Juna Akhada had anointed Radhe Maa Mahamandaleshwar in 2012. However, many ascetics expressed their strong reservations on her reported lavish lifestyle and conduct

lucknow Updated: Dec 04, 2018 09:21 IST
K Sandeep Kumar
K Sandeep Kumar
Hindustan Times, Prayagraj
Pilot Baba is a retired wing commander-turned ascetic.
Pilot Baba is a retired wing commander-turned ascetic.(HT File Photo)

The Juna Akhada, a Shaivite monastic order of Hindu saints, has welcomed two controversial religious leaders Radhe Maa and Pilot Baba back into its fold as mahamandaleshwars (top office bearers), a few years after they were shown the door.

They have been reinstated just weeks before the formal start of the once-in-six-year Kumbh on the banks of Sangam in Prayagraj on January 15, 2019.

The Juna Akhada’s Mahant Hari Giri said the akhada took the decision for the duo’s return after considering the formal apologies submitted by the two for their conduct in the past and going through reports of probe panels set up to look into allegation against them.

Radhe Maa is a godwoman known for her red-gold attire and frequently breaking into dance while giving sermons. Pilot Baba is a retired wing commander-turned ascetic.

The Juna Akhada will now make land available to Pilot Baba for setting up his camp during Kumbh-2019, Giri said. The akhada also said it has granted permission to Radhe Maa to participate in the shahi snan (royal bathing) during the mega religious congregation.

However, the akhada maintained that it would be up to these two religious leaders to decide whether they would attend the Kumbh or not.

The Juna Akhada had anointed Radhe Maa Mahamandaleshwar in 2012. However, many ascetics expressed their strong reservations on her reported lavish lifestyle and conduct. There were also allegations that the title had been bestowed on her even before her proper initiation into sanyas (asceticism) The outcry was so intense that the day after the ceremony, the Juna Akhada announced that Radhe Maa’s title would remain suspended until a five-member inquiry committee looked into all the charges.

The controversy subsided for a few months but erupted again when the Prayag Kumbh-2013 began. Rumours spread that Radhe Maa would join the contingent of Juna Akhada mahamandaleshwars for the second shaahi snaan (or royal bath), on February 9, 2013. This led to a ruckus and forced the akhada’s office bearers to issue a statement, declaring that the controversial godwoman would not be allowed to participate in any of the shaahi snaans at the Kumbh. It added that her title would remain suspended till the panel submitted its final report.

Pilot Baba was expelled and his title of Mahamandaleshwar taken away by the Akhada Parishad for his role in the formation of the Mahamandaleshwar Parishad during the Prayag Kumbh of 2013. Though, the new parishad could not sustain, he was held responsible for trying to undermine the seers and subsequently forced to go into exile.

Before becoming ‘Radhe Maa’, Sukhvinder Kaur was a mother of two who took on tailoring work to supplement the income of her husband, a sweet shop owner. She was born in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district and her father was a government officer. At the age of 23, she became a disciple of Mahant Ram Deen Das of the Paramhans Bagh Dera Mukerian in Hoshiarpur district. She moved to Mumbai after a few years, as her small group of supporters grew. Her devotees believe Radhe Maa has supernatural powers, but she insists she has never claimed she can perform miracles.


The Juna Akhada is the largest of the seven Shaivite akhadas in the 13-member Akhil Bhartiya Akhada Parishad. It is the Shaivite akhadas that grant the coveted title of mahamandaleshwar to prominent ascetics.

Once the title is granted, mahamandaleshwars are not only allowed to preach and propagate ‘sanatan dharma’ (the eternal faith or Hinduism) but also allowed to participate in the royal procession (or shahi juloos) of their akhadas during the Kumbh Mela.

Photo Caption: Radhe Maa

Photo Caption: Pilot Baba

First Published: Dec 04, 2018 09:21 IST