Sex scandals and stampedes put India’s ‘godmen’ in focus

MUMBAI: With two sex scandals and a fatal stampede, it’s been a bad week for India’s “godmen”, the self-styled Hindu ascetics whose followers range from farmers and housewives to politicians and rock stars.

File photo taken on February 21, 2004 shows Indian Hindu spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi as she prays during a day-long Darshan (Hugging Session) at Ullal on the outskirts of Bangalore. With two sex scandals and a fatal stampede, it’s been a bad week for India’s “godmen”, the self-styled Hindu ascetics whose followers range from farmers and housewives to politicians and rock stars. -Photo by AFP

On Thursday, 63 people – all of them women and children – were crushed to death in a stampede at an ashram run by a popular holy man in northern Uttar Pradesh state.

The day before, angry villagers in the southern state of Karnataka attacked another religious retreat after a television station aired footage purportedly showing its long-haired 30-something guru fondling two women.

And last weekend, police in the capital New Delhi revealed they had arrested a godman for allegedly running a vice ring involving air-hostesses, college students and housewives.

For sceptics, the sex scandals show that many godmen, despite their spiritual air and claims of mystical powers, are nothing more than confidence tricksters craving cash and power.

“Ninety-five per cent of godmen give the remaining five per cent a bad name,” joked Dipankar Gupta, a former sociology professor at Jawarhalal Nehru University in New Delhi.

“Most of them are not (holy). They’re charlatans. That’s why they crave indulgence from the rich and the gullible. This happens all the time. I don’t know why people fall for them.”

But for many Indians, these gurus play an integral role in daily life, taking their place in the country’s vast spiritual supermarket to be handpicked as a pathway to enlightenment.

Foreign tourists have flocked to India seeking spiritual awakening and an escape from their hectic lives in the West, ever since the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi captivated The Beatles with his teachings on transcendental meditation.

Today, popular gurus include Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, the so-called “hugging saint” of Kerala, and Sathya Sai Baba, a wild-haired south Indian godman who claims to be the reincarnation of a 19th century yogi, Sai Baba of Shirdi.

Both have massive followings and hundreds of spiritual centres and charitable foundations working in areas like health and education around the globe.

Mata Amritanandamayi Devi – known as “Amma” or mother – pledged 23.4 million dollars in aid for victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami, as well as free education and counselling for children orphaned in the tragedy.

Padmini Sardesai, a 72-year-old part-time shop worker from south Mumbai who also acts in commercials, is wary of modern-day gurus but like many Hindus reveres Sai Baba of Shirdi.

“He’s like a god,” she told AFP. “He has done some miracles. I have faith in him because he’s the incarnation of Dattatreya (a combination of the three gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva).

“Whatever your wish it will be fulfilled. Praying to someone like Sai Baba is for mental peace. These people won’t harm you. They will show you the proper path.”

The latest scandals, however, are further ammunition for critics of modern-day godmen like Sanal Edamaruku, head of the Indian Rationalist Association, which campaigns for scientific reasoning over superstition.

“All godmen are fake,” he said. “All godmen work on the basis of the gullibility of people… they only want power and money.”

He said anyone can don saffron robes and proclaim to be a godman or join the ranks of the saddhus – the unwashed, wandering mystics often found through a fug of marijuana smoke in places like the holy city of Varanasi on the River Ganges.

Shiv Murat Dwivedi, arrested last weekend in New Delhi, “used the guise of spirituality” as well as the offer of money, expensive gifts and cars to lure young women into a prostitution, from which he made millions, police said.

Edamaruku suggested a need for answers in an increasingly complex world explained the cult of godmen.

“It’s people who want instant solutions, instant miracles, they need something in front of them,” he said.

Gupta agreed. “People want customised, designer religion and the public is becoming more and more individualistic,” he said. “They can’t look for the usual routes to salvation.”

Hinduism – with its many gods, magic and mysticism – leads people to seek out such individuals to fulfil the emotional desire to believe or even a basic human need to congregate, he added.

35 Responses to Sex scandals and stampedes put India’s ‘godmen’ in focus

  1. ALI says:

    pakistan all of a sudden seems to engage in each n every form of tactics to defame everything n anything about india.
    i have a question for you….WHY DONT YOU CONCENTRATE ON YOUR OWN ISSUES??????

  2. Sriram says:

    True. Public are getting fooled. We heard but not untrue that there are similar instances that are on vogue at Sri Ganapati Sachidananda Swamiji Ashram at Mysore. As rightly mentioned in your article these Swamiji’s and self-styled godmen can manage things and influence the local administration to certain extent with their power and status. The Nation will go upward development only primarily the reformation starts not only at the citizen level but also at the administrative level from whom the public basically need support to openly come out.

    • ram says:


      It is with reference to your comment on Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji…. You cannot simply comment without realizing the actual happening in Avadhoota Datta Peetham, its Social service in large…. You have to watch agni Pooja done by Sri Swamiji until 2000 DVDs… Its really amazing…. No normal human being can stand near agni kundam.. but sri swamiji himself enters in to agni kundam for pooja… thousands of devotees experienced in their life…. He is said to be Avadhoota. Why only Rama and Krishna took avataram, during those yugas, why not now…. He is no self styled… Because of those Sages our culture have been protected even today.

      Sir kindly confirm before you hear…. You are welcome to Avadhoota Datta Peetham, Mysore.

      It is adviced to visit Mysore once. with a phone number 0821 2486486

      • parvathaneni datta says:

        you are right sir,but all these ignorant fools don’t know the greatness and divinity of APPAJI.They just bark all the nonsense without any knowledge.Not every one is so lucky and worthy to know about SRI SWAMIJI and be a part of DATTA FAMILY

  3. Manjunath R Pai says:

    While I agree that some of the self-proclaimed ‘gurus’ are like some dirty politicians and media people.I understand that media is always at fault to carry ‘sting’ only with Hindu spiritual leaders. Why,other spiritual leaders are above this nature’s instinct. There are many which will outnumber what is published so far…….but no,media doesn’t have the guts to do that…They know Hindus are basically peace loving,flexible and happy-with-what-is.I ask media people to have the courage to do the same with other religions..they will dare not do that………..

  4. Saravanan says:

    Subject : Ganapathi Sachidananda Swami, Avadhuta datta peetham, Nanjangud Road, Mysore. India.

    Ref : 1. Sun TV Network video clippings on Swami Nithyananda
    2. Ananda Vikatan & Nakkheeran February Editions from Chennai and many magazines from Bangalore and Hyderabad on Swami Nithyananda and other Swamijis.

    The above TV network and Publishers have decently brought out certain valid information of “Nithyananda” and his activities in their recent edition. The innocent public is largely benefited by their publications.

    We should also sensibly think and scrutinize the realities of Ganapthi Sachidananda Swami of Mysore also as it appears THE MOST COSTLIEST ASHRAM in all aspects and similar instances are on vogue in his Ashram too. This gentleman has an ashram at Dindigul on the outskirts of Secunderabad, Girinagar in Bangalore, Velachery in Chennai, Patamata in Vijayawada apart from about 150 centers worldwide. His network mostly covered in Andhra Pradesh fetching billions and billions of money to his trust, having buildings with luxurious facilities in the name of “Guru Nilayam” everywhere in addition to lands acquired. Surprisingly the localites of Mysore and Karnataka poorly recognize this “Sachidananda” because originally he was a class 4 employee of postal department of Mysore with name “Gandluri Satyanarayana” (hails from Anantapur District, Andhra Pradesh). At this stage, fortune favoured him to become a Swamiji there by changed his postman dress into saffron dress to start his so called spiritually oriented (business) rituals, on the same lines expressed in the case of “Nithyananda” beyond worrisome levels.

    This “Sachidananda” also has worldwide movement in the name and style “Music for Meditation and Healing”, a source of funds from foreign countries; while in the case of “Nithyananda”, it is “Life Bliss foundation – Part of a worldwide movement for Meditation and Healing”.

    The position stands gloomy whether the innocent public is gaining anything or foolishly loosing money and precious time and wastage of their life times.

    Reformation among the public is the need of the hour. Such sort of societal atrocities akin Dhuryodhana and Keechaka are condemnable to save innocent public from the clutches of SO CALLED GODMEN.

  5. Saravanan says:

    This is with reference to the Breaking news that was telecast on July 19, 2010 in Headlines Today about SEX SCANDAL of Siddhi Samadhi Yoga Founder Rishi Prabhakar.

    To our knowledge if not wrong, this man’s marriage has been fixed and performed by Swami Ganapathi Sachidananda of Mysore. But for Rishi Prabhakar’s all side support Ganapathi Sachidananda Swami would not have entered into the state of Maharashtra to carry on his Spiritual oriented business rituals since 1995 particularly at mumbai and pune.

    You are therefore requested to pull out the links of Rishi Prabhakar and Ganapathi Sachidananda Swami, their mutually agreed activities and their equations if any for the benefit of the innocent public. Similar instances are on vogue in Swami Ganapathi Sachidananda’s Ashram too and shockingly they happen with the full knowledge of Swamiji. Who knows if this Swamiji is involved in any such sexual affair….truth!!!!! that should come out soon. Unfortunately their social status, power does matter in managing things at all levels.

    All the best Print and Media !

  6. Saravanan says:


    The Director

    Gemini TV, SUN TV Network

    Hyderabad. AP

    Ref : Sunday July 25th morning telecast – Spiritual programs slot

    Within four days of my letter you have shown Sidda Samadhi Yoga Guru Rishi Prabhakar on July 25th in your telecast showing forefront his participation in the Bhajan programme of Ganapathi Sachidananda Swamiji.

    I do not know whether it is by accident or by virtue of my letter addressed to your channel which will definitely benefit many who watch that programme more about these swamijis, who are in disguise.

    Anyhow try to go into more details from your archives to know in-depth relationship between these two Gurus so that people are not misguided in future, because you have got access to all those records kept in archives of your studios.


    S Saravanan

  7. Saravanan says:

    Hi Readers !

    Please go through the news in the following links with regard to Illegal activities of Sri Ganapathi Sachidananda Swamiji, Avadhoota Dattapeetadhipathi of Mysore. You will know better about this swamiji.


    August 20, 2010





  8. Hi Readers !

    Do not get fooled by Self Styled Godmen and Swamijis.

    Be Aware of such self styled Godmen who squeeze the blood of the people and develop the properties taking the name of Lord (as read in the net on August 20, 2010 in THE HINDU “by way of illegal land grabbing” also). Their teachings and sayings are contradictory to their style of living and values. (It is also expressed by some experts that these Godmen manage the things with the local administration and its authorities).

    Attention followers!

    Whatever you have done, you have done in full faith and trust blindly believing God. God blesses you for that as you have wished well for such Ashrams so far. But remember these Godmen will have to take n number of births in order to undergo the Karma and Sins. They pretend they have compassion, they pretend they have many super natural qualities. They play a different role behind the screen. They are ungrateful creatures. They live on people’s money. Their comforts are people’s expense. Their status, enjoyment and travel are people’s burden and what they eat is devotees’ blood. They are capable of influencing people’s mind with their interpretation skills suppressing the facts. If any “concern for Integrity or Honesty” is raised before such Godmen, they do not hesitate to give threat to such people. This is the true colour of so called Godmen and Swamijis.

    Hindu Dharma says “God is everywhere. God is in you. Your parents are your God”.

    Please remember and realize – Doing Seva to Parents and live upto their expectations will only protect you and your family from all the evil effects, this will only give you peace and prosperity to the family and the generations to come. Kindly do not waste unnecessarily your time, efforts, money and matter falling at the feet of these self styled Godmen. You may be blessed if you spend these items for your parents and family.

    You need not go to Ashrams and waste your energies there foolishly. Your “Law of Dharma/Integrity” and the “Law of Nature” will protect you forever.

    Public are the fools which is why these Swamijis are growing day by day. As you are very much aware that we are also alerted through the Media nowadays, Spiritual Guru Scandals are coming out with some stunning realities.

    Dharmo Nasyati Nasitaha – Not only curses from the effected devotees or public but also their own deeds and sins make these Ashrams non-existent during the course of time, if they do not turn to be good at least at this stage.

    Somebody said to me that it was my Bad Karma in associating with this Ashram and Swamiji. May be Yes ! Hence, Readers take care.

    “FOLLOW THE REAL MASTER if at all you need one, there are truthful spiritual leaders. But you are duty bound to thoroughly checklist and struggle to select a right master.” Do not get mesmerized with what all you hear. Be a better judge for your own benefits!

    This article is based on my 32 years experience with Sri Ganapati Sachidananda Swamiji of Mysore, Avadhoota Dattapeetham, Nanjangud Road, Mysore, India.

    “Reformation among the public is the need of the hour”.

    Sarve Jana Sukhinobhavantu (May all have peace and prosperity)!

  9. Indu says:

    Rishi Prabhakar Swamiji is the most characterless s wami. We should be ashamed to be calling them GURS of INDIAN CULTURE.I have seen Rishi Prabhakar Indulging with ladies in his programs but most of the ladies are married so they dont have any option to keep quite.Why this man goes and marries the girl younger then him . How they INDULGE?? I would like to get in touch with ARUNDHATI wife of Rishi to get in to the more detail story personally.

    • Mustafa says:


      I am also intrested in knowing the truth from Mrs ARUNDHATI wife of Rishi. I also attended few SSY courses and couldnt believe that this type of crimes may have been committed by rishi. Indu(or anybody), please let me know if you have got any details about her contact


    • Ravi says:

      WHAts the current status?

  10. Truthseeker says:

    Sri Ganapati Sacchidananda Sadgurubhyoh Namah.

    I am not surprised that these kind of articles to vilify and target people like Sri Swamiji is done as the power of internet gives every one and anyone the freedom to express their opinion. But there is a thin line between freedom of speech and making baseless allegations. Let me write rejoinders one by one:
    1) @churmur blogspot- they have written about Sri Swamiji’s arrest for land grabbing. If people who are running this forum and those who have devoted some time and written here want to know the truth – please do an unbiased research. The person Anil Kumar who claimed that his land was encroached( where incidentally a hospital providing free service and spending 10-15 lakhs of free medicine is located) publicly fell at Sri Swamiji’s feet later and apologized for his misdeeds. Also- Sri Swamiji was not arrested, he was asked to come to the station and dispose his statement. No wonder, the media is as biased as anyone in an age where being secular and agnostic is a style statement.
    2) @ Sarvanan- Sri Swamiji is an avatara and an avadhoota- I am sure your rational and scientific minds will not understand the meaning! and hence his primary medium for teaching is music – and any one and everyone is free to come to the ashrama and attend the sessions, also for Swamiji- everyone is alike- I am sure if you or some people who are running this vilification campaign go to his holiness, he will bless you and talk to you in a very kind manner.That is the manifestation of the cosmic power! instead of wasting your time writing to one and all – write mentally to the cosmic power who governs all of us to provide you some mental relief and peace!
    3) @ disciple of Sri Swamiji for 32 years- It is a pity, that is the only thing that comes to my mind. You had some prabadha karma , merits from your past life which made you get in contact with Sri Swamji for 32 years!! you probably went with expectations that you will get more money or your children will prosper, which did not happen. You are free to lead your own dharmic life.

    Sri Swamiji is sat-chit-ananda- pure consciousness and people in this age of kali- who are blinded by money, power and all the illusions of grandeur will not be able to even fathom the idea, forget understanding. Hence, my request is to stop venturing into and coming to conclusions based on what is reported in the biased media or on the basis of some confused people’s reports!

    • Srinivas says:

      what you understand about Sri Ganapathay Sachidananda Swamiji is all bluff.

      if you are right let him correct me as I am also morethan 30 years of devotee. He is useless shameless lies fraud and so many to say.

      He is highly corrupted swamiji.

      • ram says:

        It took more than 30 years to realize he is corrupt? There is something fishy in your statement. I tend to think you would have begun as a devotee, your own personal ego would have led to some clash some where and now you are spitting venom here.. If he was really corrupt, you or anyone would have realized it right away. You are a thorough bluff yourself.

  11. saveindia says:

    Guys see the URL of the site .. pakistanpal , these guys just wanted to create confusion here

  12. narasimha says:


    hey guru deva please give good thoughts and humanity to these people…

  13. devineindia says:

    Its really unfortunate that Indians are discussing their issues on Pakistani Blog and also attacking each other.

    Trurthseeker i request you not to respond to any type of comments given on such forums or TV.
    Tell me which Swamiji till now dint face allegations. Its the people who wants to make news do such things. Let them talk as much as they want. No harm. We dont want weekminded disciples like Srinivas. One who believes truly will not leave swamiji and one who believes will join him. We want only such people.

    I really pity srinivas. Hope he gets the desired results by at least vising other swamijis and by hook or crook. He is bound to become a criminal in near future the way he talking at present. We he needs some mental attention too. I can really understand sriniva’s frustration…30 long years of faith and not achieved his wishes.

    Request to Truthseeker not to respond to such comments on Net or TV or Email. We have faith in our GOD thats enough.

  14. Devotee cheated by this Godman says:

    Entire Globe was rocking for last three days in Press and Media about this Swamiji’s misdeeds and sexual abusements. ABN Andhrajyothi TV and TV9 brought out the facts.

  15. koteshwara says:

    its bad to discuss about swamijis and baba s leaving the ministers who are highly corrupted

  16. rk says:

    jaya guru datta
    u ppl just see from outside the ashramam and thinking wrong about sri swamiji.when you be a part of it then you will come to know how the ashramam is functioning and the social activities done by this ashram.
    @devotee cheated bt this godman says:
    first ask the stupid ABN channel to prove every sentence what they said.

    • Saravanan says:

      It is beyond any doubt that this self styled Godman Ganapati Sachidananda Swamiji is a womaniser. Media does know its limitations while telecasting such sensitive issues. When they could say a woman at Hyderabad slapped him for his desire, they cannot be wrong. Why not this Swamiji file a case against ABN Andhrajyothi if he is a good conduct person?

      1000′ of people are waiting to take on him directly if he can directly participate in a public forum or open debate with them… ABN has challenged him on many things. Why is this Swamiji still hiding? Dont ever take the name of Avadhuta and fool public and deviate from giving answers to such challenges.

      It is evident from the people who comment supporting swamiji are gaining enormous money from his business oriented ashram acorss the Andhra Pradesh State. Do not you feel shame in fooling innocent people for your personal gains in the name of Mutts and Peethams? Time will surely teach a lesson to this Man shortly.

  17. ex-devotee says:

    This fellow is a cunning crook, cheat and liar who manipulates people to extract money from them. Hope somebody busts this scam…

  18. arnabh says:

    this man is a charlatan of the first order…. why does not somebody start a blog for bad experiences with him? apparently, many people seem to have been cheated by him

    • SUMU says:

      arnabh you are right people should come forward and wright there bad experiences he is a gatar his followers are too cheater he is a womanizer people shoud stop believing him.

  19. ap says:

    This fellow is a cunning crook of the first order. As a family, we were followers of this fellow for 15 years… he extracted all the money we had and left us as beggars… run away from him to save yourself and family

    • Saravana says:

      Write to Arnob Goswami or ABN andhra Jyothi about your experience with this Godman so that they will be of good help to you. Victims of this nature in the hands of the same Godman from South India, Mysore should openly support the cause for poor and innocent trappers. Best thing as I understand is write to ABN. They are very courageous and quick enough to act.

  20. arnabh says:

    as an ex-devotee, I can say this Ganapati Sachchidananda is cunning, crooked and manipulative in extracting money from innocent people… he has looted my family for 15 years and left us beggars … misappropriation of funds is also rampant …. has top police officers & politicians under his control….
    people, pls share your experiences about this man … let us eradicate this evil ….

  21. Shyam says:

    Please don’t use Amma’s photo on this blog. She is very genuine. I know from personal incidents and stories. Why don’t you use a photo who has truly been proved a crook.

  22. Ravi says:

    Can any one reply me about current status?

  23. a s rao says:

    you are offering money to sadhus to escape from your sins.where this escaped sin goes it goes to sadhus account .like wise somany people are the followers of satchidanada swami and offer some money for some charity works so the bad karma of people is deposited in ashram that is why this type of rumers coming.

  24. SUMU says:

    I made a huge mistake in 2007 in Indian news paper I have written an good article about This useless man by reading his books One of
    his stupid devotee told me to write but when I saw on inter net he
    was arrested and I read on this blog I regret he comes to USA and make lot of money did not help needy he is not Datta Guru he is spoiling God’s name. Datta Guru was very kind and real sanysi not like him.

  25. SUMU says:

    I really regret I should not have written article about him his mostly devotees are foolish stupid they think he is a God Pl. stay away from those crap satya sai baba who was cheater liar and womanizer. also magician and he deceived innocent people.
    and should have gone to NARKA this swami anyone can notice on his face he is a very cunning. Once I went to meet him he ignored me even though I have written beautiful an article about him which I made a big mistake. One of his close devotee took me to him than he was pretending with me and acting fake has huge cheating dirty business.He is not a real sant he only wants money stay away from this so called sant they take advantage for gullible people and rather than showing them real spiritual path they mislead them and
    steal there money. Only pray by heart to kind Datta guru now days do not go to any temple in India all having bad dirty business.Every person has to suffer according to there karma’s no one will change destiny so always do good karmas help needy people not greedy,
    poor people, orphan children,Be well wisher. rest is put on Datta Guru’s shoulder. pray from your home to any favorite God. don’t go to the temple in India everywhere is bdirty business all prists are LUTERA,this is KALIYOUGA so stay away from this so called
    sadchidanand. too don’t make them rich.We work hard. they want free money.People who shower money on them they are there chela than they will lick there ASS.and themselves get richest Shree shree Ravi Shankar asaram bapu Ramdev baba ect. are GATARS

  26. SUMU says:

    swami is not avatara or avdhuta he is all bluff chasterless having affair with HAWAIN lady and more he is like asaram bapu assbapu
    cunning crook don haaaaaaaaaaaaaa do not go to him at all.

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