Castrated for God: 400 guru devotees
“Saint” Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan, above, a multi-millionaire Indian guru, is facing allegations that he convinced 400 of his followers have their testicles removed.
According to this report, officers from India’s elite Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) appear to have made a crucial breakthrough in a long-running investigation into the alleged mass castrations by gathering important testimony from victims and other witnesses. Charges of grievous bodily harm against are being prepared against the spiritual leader, who recently released an action movie, MSG: The Messenger.
He not only directed it, but had the balls to do his own stunts.
With most of the victims apparently fearing for their lives if they speak out against the charlatan – he has 40 to 50 million followers around the world – investigators appear to have finally managed to crack a code of silence, with several witnesses now willing to testify in court.
According to the only victim to come forward publicly so far, Hans Raj Chauhan, the castrations began around the year 2000. Chauhan’s lawyer, Navkiran Singh, said:
They [the victims] were told that only those who get castrated will be able to meet God.
Chauhan has said that in addition to fearing retribution from Ram Rahim’s followers, many victims feared being made social outcasts if they came forward with their stories.
According to witnesses interviewed by police last week, the castrations were carried out by doctors at a hospital run by Ram Rahim’s Dera Sacha Sauda organisation in his ancestral village in the state of Rajasthan.
Whether or not the police will bring a successful case against Ram Rahim, the furore surrounding the castrations certainly appears to have dampened public enthusiasm for the guru’s movie.
After a spectacular January opening when a world-record crowd of 157,000 people attended a public premiere in Gurgaon, a satellite city of the capital Delhi, ticket sales have plummeted as the castration scandal makes national headlines.
Despite purporting to show Ram Rahim performing real miracles such as walking on air and tearing tree trunks in half with his bare hands – the film was initially denied a classification by Indian censors who objected to Ram Rahim’s portrayal of himself as God.
Attendances at the 4,000 cinemas where the film is screening have been so low that Ram Rahim has been making bulk ticket purchases in an effort to boost box-office receipts.
Already facing conspiracy charges over the 2002 murder of a newspaper editor who tried to investigate stories of wrongdoing emanating from inside his sprawling gated compound in the state of Haryana, as well as numerous charges of sexual exploitation of female followers, Ram Rahim has proved a master at avoiding convictions, thanks in part to his value to politicians as a source of votes.
In state elections held late last year, it is believed that Ram Rahim helped to deliver tens of millions of voters to Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party in the crucial central and northern states of Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab, helping the BJP win government.
Whatever the eventual outcome of the numerous criminal investigations he is facing, Ram Rahim is only one in a long line of Indian gurus to face accusations of scandal and chicanery. Last November, police arrested Baba Rampal Maharaj after a long and violent siege at his ashram in Haryana, when he refused to comply with court orders over a murder case.
Then there is the more bizarre case of the frozen guru, Ashutosh Maharaj, above, who was declared dead by medical authorities on January 29 last year but is being held in a deep freezer by followers in his Punjab ashram who firmly believe their sadhu is in a particularly uncommunicative state of meditation known as samadhi.
Gurus play an integral role in daily life for many Indians, offering a pathway to enlightenment, and being the focus of such devotion can bring enormous riches – the “spiritual enlightenment” business is worth about $35 billion a year in India.
In addition to Ram Rahim, who has a personal fortune estimated to be in excess of $50 million, other self-proclaimed saints such as Sathya Sai Baba, who died in 2011 aged 85, and whose most famous trick was an ability to conjure ash from thin air, was believed to have amassed a fortune worth more than $7 billion.
Then there is yoga legend Asaram Bapu, now aged 73, who is said to be worth about $1.9 billion, and Mata Amritanandamayi, also known as Amma, who has a built a fortune of nearly $300 million just by offering people “holy hugs”.
Hat tip: Robert Stovold & Angela K