Virender Dev Dixit: A Predator in a Godman’s Robes?
An ashram with heavy metal doors and barbed wire marking its boundary walls. On the inside, low-lit passageways lead to small confinements, fitted with metal grill doors, no windows, leaving no chance for sunlight to seep in.
In this place, dubbed an ashram, around a hundred women and girls were found confined to rooms like these brutal spaces, where they were constantly monitored, and privacy to even take bath wasn't provided – in "animal-like" conditions.
The court order came in response to a Public Interest Litigation filed by an NGO, Foundation for Social Empowerment, which alleged rape and sexual harassment, along with illegal confinement in the chain of ashrams run by Dixit.
A Miracle Child, Obsessed with Religious Text
The Indian Express, in a detailed profile of Dixit, tells the story of how a child obsessed with Ramayana went on to don the ‘godman’ hat. According to the report, Dixit, born in 1942 was nothing less than a miracle child.
Born 13th to religious couple Leelavati Dixit and Sohan Lal Dixit in Ahmadganj village in Uttar Pradesh’s Farrukhabad, Dixit managed to survive while the 12 girl children born ahead of him perished as soon as they were born. Leelavati, the report says, read Ramayana for nine days, praying that Dixit would not meet the fate of his dead sisters.
According to a friend of his, quoted by the Indian Express, Dixit had “no life” apart from his school and family.
The article claimed that Dixit would spend a lot of his time reading religious texts, influenced by his mother. In school too, he reportedly “excelled” in Sanskrit, and was interested in reading novels that dealt with religion.
An “Overprotective” Brother Who Beat Up His Sister
Twelve years after Dixit was born, his parents were blessed with a baby girl – Vijay Lakshmi. Now at 63, she revealed to the newspaper how her brother was “overprotective” and beat her up when they were young.
From living in a thatched roof house in Ahmadganj for the first ten years of his life, Dixit and his family moved to Kampil in 1952, to a one-bedroom accomodation. According to the report, it was here that Dixit grew fonder of religious texts.
Association With the Brahmakumaris
In 1970, Dixit reportedly moved to Ahmedabad to pursue a PhD, after a Masters in Sanskrit from a private university in Mathura. Here, he came to be associated with Brahmakumaris – a religious sect founded by Lekhraj Khubchand Kripalani and headquartered in Mount Abu. He would later go on to claim that he had “perfected” the Muralis – a name given to the “knowledge” that Lekhraj used to preach to his followers.
During this time, the report reads, he tried entering the quarters of the female followers and when was stopped by the male members of the sect.
“He tried to convince devotees that he was the incarnation of Shiva, and later, of Brahma. He would recruit devotees outside our centres. He had subverted our muralis for personal use,” says Brij Mohan, the additional secretary of the Brahmakumaris, told The Indian Express.
The Birth of ‘Baba Virender Dixit’
Dixit’s father, the Pandit, passed away in 1982, and Dixit reportedly did not turn up. Neither did he attend the cremation, the article read.
However, soon ‘Baba Virender Dev Dixit’, made an appearance, and was quick to demolish his home in Kampil, and in that space soon stood the first Adhyatmik Vishwavidyalaya. Almost a decade later, in 1994, the second ashram came up in Kolkata’s Salt Lake City, reportedly with a local resident’s patronage.
Over the next two decades, Dixit set up over 160 ashrams in several states across India, with “branches” also opened internationally in US, London, Malaysia and Nepal.
Nearly two decades earlier, the ‘Babaji’ was charged with four rape cases after a Kolkata resident alleged his daughter was confined and raped inside the Kampil ashram, the report said.
Everyone knew he was charged with rape. He was beaten up and for the next four months, we made him clean toilets, sweep the cells and prepare food. He would hide every time he saw usMan who was jailed with the Baba to Indian Express
But with the help of Hridesh Pandey, a lawyer, he remained unscathed despite four months in jail.
Like the Banda girl, will the others jailed inside the ashram get justice? How will the CBI decode the 'Baba'? Is he an alleged rapist and sexual harasser, or just a fake self-made ‘godman’ who duped devotees? Or worse, both?