Nithyananda’s Journey From Self-Styled ‘Godman’ to ‘Sex Swami’

How did a mechanical engineer became a ‘swami’ and then, a serial sexual offender?

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Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

Video Producer: Aparna Singh

While the self-styled ‘godman’ hides in Ecuador – setting up a ‘Hindu nation’ – we take a look at his journey from a mechanical engineer in Karnataka to a serial sexual predator who’s on the run from Indian authorities.

A prolific orator in Tamil and English, Nithyananda’s fan base swelled in Tamil Nadu in the early 2000s after his ‘healing powers’ were endorsed by several celebrities.

He proclaimed he had attained liberation and named himself ‘Nithyananda.’

At a time when the reach of the internet was limited, the audio CDs of his speeches were sold like hot cakes.

By 2007, the ‘godman’ had over 800 yoga and fitness centres in around 21 countries and despite his ‘questionable’ scientific claims, his political clout also grew.

Then came 2010, when his enigma and empire came crashing down when Sun TV aired his alleged sex tape featuring Kollywood actor Ranjitha.

Though both Ranjitha and Nithyananda claimed the footage was ‘doctored,’ his disappointed followers vandalised a number of his ashrams.

However, this was not the end to the scandal and a rape case was filed against Nithyananda in 2012. Almost immediately, his fan base dwindled.

For Tamil Nadu’s people, overnight, Nithyananda went from ‘swami’ to ‘sex swami.’

He successfully delayed the trial and disappeared from the public eye for next eight years. Until his videos started surfacing on YouTube and Facebook in 2018. And he made headlines again. This time, he was accused of illegally confining and torturing inmates in his Ahmedabad ashram.

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