One of the most popular self-styled godmen, Swami Nithyananda, has reportedly fled India. He has been booked under several charges of the IPC, but who exactly is Nithyananda and why is he this popular?
According to Nithyananda’s Facebook page, he is the “reviver of Kailaasa – the enlightened civilisation, the greatest and only Hindu nation”. Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam offers yoga, meditation and fitness courses.
It runs temples, gurukuls, and ashrams across several countries and hosts cultural events in the U.S. In 2017, the ashram set a Guinness World Record for the largest rope yoga lesson. He considers himself an Avatar of Paramashiva.
His YouTube page is used to spread wild theories about scientific facts.
Case in point this video in which he discredits E=MC^2.
Of Sex Tapes, Scandals, and Rape Allegations
The 44-year-old has been accused of raping a disciple during her stay in his ashram. In June 2018, a Karnataka trial court framed charges against Nithyananda. He faces trial under Sections 376 (rape), 377 (unnatural sex), 420 (cheating), 114 (criminal abetment), 201 (disappearance of evidence, giving false information), 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
According to The News Minute, in 2014, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition by Nithyananda seeking to quash the chargesheet against him. But in 2017, in a relief for the survivor, the apex court asked Ramanagara sessions court in Karnataka to frame charges against him and conduct a speedy trial.
However, in March 2018, Nithyananda changed his stance on his impotence at the Karnataka High Court, claiming to have had “consensual sex” with the victim – a big U-turn from before.
Nithyananda made headlines once again when multiple regional channels broadcasted a clip of the Godman in a compromising position with an actor.
The ascetic has also been accused of kidnapping and abusing children at his ashram in Ahmedabad. The police on Wednesday arrested two women ashram managers for allegedly abusing children.
According to The News Minute, the FIR also mentions the name of Nithyananda, other than the two disciples who were arrested — Pranpriya and Priyatattva. This comes after police freed three minor children (a boy and two girls) from his Hirapur Ashram in the outskirts of Ahmedabad city and united them with their parents. The arrest on Wednesday was made based on the statement by the minors.
The police are now claiming that he has fled the country.
Science Level = Nithyananda
Swami’s holy discourses have a special segment for pseudoscientific claims. In one of his sermons, Nithyananda had even gone to the extent of claiming that he would soon make cows, bulls, lions, tigers, and monkeys speak in Tamil and Sanskrit.
He claimed that he stopped the sun from rising for 40 minutes.“I asked the sun not to come out till I finish flag hoisting.”
Thousands of people from India and abroad flock to these sermons and cheer his pseudo-scientific outbursts. Although his explanations have also led to widespread trolling, yet his popularity has largely been unaffected.
Ever Growing Political Clout
Nithyananda's Facebook page reveals that Prime Minister Modi, while he was the chief minister of Gujarat visited the spiritual guru for Nithyananda Jayanti celebrations at Nithyananda peetham in Bengaluru in 2007.
According to Firstpost, Senior Congress leader DK Shivakumar, while serving as the Minister of Energy in the previous Congress-JD(S) Karnataka government had also visited the priest in 2018.
Former Karnataka governor TN Chaturvedi, Congress MLA HC Balakrishna, former Karnataka chief minister SM Krishna, and incumbent CM BS Yediyurappa are among other dignitaries to have shared a stage with Nithyananda.
Industrialist Yashovardhan Birla and former Infosys director TVS Mohandas Pai have also appeared alongside the tainted Swami. Pai, in fact, interviewed Nithyananda at a public event, but later downplayed his association stating it was just a 'public event'.
According to News18, his disciples deny knowledge of his whereabouts. The fact that he managed to escape speaks volumes of his political clout and reach.