Religious Traditions let Followers ignore their Gurus’ Crimes – 12 Sep 13

The biggest problem with cases like Asaram’s is the religious background of his followers. Hinduism encourages human worship! This religious background is the reason people refuse to speak out against their guru, even if they have seen him commit a crime. It is the reason why victims don’t dare to protest while they are being harassed and hesitate uncovering their master’s deeds. It is the reason for those crimes to even take place!

The scriptures on which the tradition of having a guru is based tell that a guru is on the same level or even higher than God. This means that it would be a big sin to listen how someone says something bad about your guru. Whatever he does can only be right and that’s why you should either make the person stop talking negative about your guru or close your ears and not let any such words enter your mind.

Hinduism tells that you can only reach your goal of liberation through a guru – so everybody should have one such person about whom they should never hear anything bad. They will wash his feet, just like they wash the feet of the statue of God. They bow to him as they bow to God and they devote themselves completely to him.

In some traditions of Hinduism, followers are told to devote their mind, money as well as their body to the guru. Some gurus take this literally and ask their followers to actually give them their bodies. Some former disciples of Asaram are now telling how he often talked indecently, asking them to surrender themselves literally as it is written in the scriptures!

This is not only Asaram, I have heard many stories of communities where a new wife, when she marries into a home, first has to pay a visit to the guru before she can sleep with her husband. She is given to the guru just like you would offer food at the altar – and he will sleep with her, bless her and only then the husband and family will welcome her in their home! This is still happening in India and why? Because a guru is god for them!

A long time ago, I had a friend who also went to give lectures like I did and who was in the role of a guru as well. He was married and about 40 years old but when he came to a certain town, his organizer donated him his 17-year-old daughter! What did he do? He left his wife, married this girl and now has children with her!

Faith has created such customs. Religion is the base for the crimes committed by gurus. People are taught from their childhood that the guru is god. He cannot do anything wrong and you are supposed to obey whatever he tells you to do. If anybody wants to tell you that it is wrong, make him shut his mouth or just don’t listen. Ignore or run away from criticism, give up on your own thinking.

Asaram’s story came out because of one young girl’s bravery. Many such stories all over the country stay in the hearts and minds of the victims. Fear, crime and suppression – that is what religion and those scriptures have brought us.

The Dilemma of Followers: Knowing about the Crimes of a Guru but unable to accept it – 11 Sep 13

Of course even Asaram does not only have such followers who would commit any kind of crime for him without hesitating. Among his crowd of followers, too, there are those who have some doubts – but they decide to close their eyes and hang onto their beliefs. Why? Let’s have a look at their state of mind and state of feelings.

Against Asaram, there is now not only the accusation of sexual harassment but slowly more and more details emerge on similar cases and also completely unrelated crimes. The media reports for example that his Ashrams all across the country are, at least partly and in some cases completely, built on illegally occupied land. It is land that actually belongs to the government and was not meant to be sold. Some corrupt government officials however took may have accepted a bribe, a bit of money cash on the hand and they simply ignored how suddenly a whole Ashram was spreading on land that actually belonged to the government. Of course now everyone is eager to point out such problems but where were they before Asaram went to jail?

It doesn’t matter what accusation it is though, there are these followers who, to the outside, don’t talk much about it and may only deny that their guru has done something wrong but on the inside have big doubts on this statement! They see, they read, they hear the news and if they are truly honest, they believe their guru has done such a crime.

Nevertheless, they just refuse thinking any further in that direction. Their reason is actually quite understandable: they have spent years and lots of money, time, effort and feelings for this guru. They have defended him in front of relatives and friends who thought they were too devoted. If they admitted his fault, they would have to admit that they were wrong all along! It is hard to accept!

These followers want to protect their superstitious belief in a man who is like god or even above god. Obviously, he is infallible and they will try to find any kind of explanation for his misbehavior and crimes! These explanations are then used only to calm themselves and soothe their own doubts. They won’t be completely comfortable however and will try to stay out of public discussions of the matter.

They will shut their ears, stay in their illusion and just wait for the storm to pass by so that they can go on as usual.

My advice to these followers is: don’t be afraid and finally open your eyes and ears to what you actually already know inside! Your guru is no god, just as you are no god! Accept that he is just as human as you are and that he, probably in the face of popularity and wealth has done things which are not only morally wrong but also forbidden by law.

Realize that you don’t need a man like this. Take advice and help from people around you but don’t surrender your everything to anybody. Take your own responsibility and you will feel how this change in your life will actually make you stronger!

Arranging Girls for a Guru’s Lust, following him blindly even in Crime – 10 Sep 13

After having inspected the situation of the betrayed follower, in Asaram’s case the victim’s father, I would like to take a look at those followers who have been actively supporting Asaram in his wrong deeds and are still convinced that their guru has done nothing wrong, that this all is just a conspiracy.

These people are also full of emotions due to this case and of all emotions, anger is the very first – but while the betrayed follower is angry on his former guru, their anger is directed against the victim, her family, the media and everyone who dares saying a bad word about Asaram. They would do anything to please their master and they hate everyone who does something that displeases him.

Just take Asaram’s close aides: the media explained in detail how on events, for which the students of his schools, such as the victim, were present, Asaram would throw flowers or shine a light several times on exactly those girls whom he found pleasant to the eye. His helpers knew that these were the girls whom he wanted – and they ‘delivered’ them to him, finding excuses like that ‘special ritual’ that the victim supposedly had needed. They don’t care anymore what is wrong or right, they have allowed their wish to please their guru to overwrite any moral judgment of their own. Their guru wants it, so it is right and has to be done.

Unfortunately this is a part of Hindu religion and Indian culture that has caused a lot of trouble to many people already, because they just give up all their responsibility and follow their guru even through the worst crimes.

That’s how, when Asaram gave a statement blaming politicians for a conspiracy, when he said that Christians are trying to attack Hinduism by attacking him, when he threatened the media with violence by his followers, all of these blind sheep just followed and chimed in. They protested and are still protesting in public places against that ‘conspiracy’. They threatened and tried to bribe the victim’s family. They heard their guru say that he couldn’t guarantee that there would be no violence by his followers – and they started attacking reporters in front of Asaram’s Ashrams. On several TV channels they showed how cameramen and reporters were shouted on and beaten!

These followers were provoked by their guru to use violence simply because they blindly believe he is right and everyone who thinks the opposite is crazy, stupid or wants to harm them.

The problem is that it is very difficult to reach through to these people or talk some sense into them! Their mind is fully focused on their guru and whenever you will use just one word against him, they will feel attacked and bite back.

Is there really a way to change their mind? I believe only if they themselves experience some kind of disaster that can open their eyes in regards to their guru. They are ready to do anything for him – even if he insults or abuses them, verbally or physically, they believe he is right. It would need a big blow to shake those walls around their minds and open a gap through which some reason and sanity could enter.

Until that happens, they will keep on walking behind their guru as the blind sheep who never question or doubt whatever their master says or does.

The Father of Asaram’s Victim: Bribed, Threatened but still standing strong – 9 Sep 13

In the past week I reported about Asaram and his case of alleged sexual harassment for which he was arrested. While there are more and more details emerging, I would like to take a look on the feelings of the particular people involved, especially as this kind of case is nothing unique. It happens all the time, with many different gurus and their followers, when the latter understand that their worshipped master is not as holy and pure as they had always thought. Let’s first of all have a look at the feelings and situation of that betrayed follower.

In Asaram’s case that is the father of the 16-year-old victim. For years he has devoted his life, his love, his time, his worship and lots of money to his guru. He sent his children to his school, thinking that they would get the best education possible – and it was not cheap either! But he did it happily as he knew that the money would support his beloved guru.

And then this! His trust betrayed and broken in the worst way a father can ever think of! Can you imagine the feeling of being completely lost? Of having wasted years of devotion and all that comes with that to a man who, according to your own daughter, tried to have sex with her and even threatened her with murder? Completely disillusioned, heartbroken and at the same time angry like never before!

He did the best thing that he could do: he reported the crime to the police. Unfortunately, the police or Indian politics decided to play even further with his feelings by treating Asaram as a VIP suspect, not arresting him for nearly two weeks!

In the meantime, he received threats by followers of Asaram until he had his phones placed on police surveillance. Others tried offering him bribes and to buy him if he could stop his accusations. A woman who is close to Asaram and is considered his daughter as well as other family members came personally to beg him pardon, lying at his feet and crying that he should forgive Asaram.

He however stayed strong – and obviously so! He explained that he had given Asaram so much money but his former guru had taken something that nobody could give back! What could he offer him to pay for his crime? And why should he be afraid when he had already faced such a big hit?

No, he did not waver. On the contrary, when it looked like the police was not taking action even after the deadline of Asaram’s summon was over, he went into a hunger strike, saying he wouldn’t eat until they had arrested him, as they should do by law.

I believe he did exactly the right thing: by making the case public, unlike maybe other fathers of victims before him, he may save many more girls and maybe some more formerly blind eyes were opened!

And that is what I would suggest him to think of whenever he has that feeling of having been betrayed and having spent time, money, energy and love for a man who didn’t deserve it. You took action once you could see what is wrong and many others won’t have to face such a disappointment because you did what you did.

Don’t regret, accept what happened and take it along with you for a better future! Help others, let them come to you and tell again and again of your story so that many more may not have to face such problems!

Can Asaram’s little mistake with a minor be forgiven and forgotten? – 5 Sep 13

Of course not only the media is reacting to Asaram’s case of alleged sexual harassment for which he has been arrested and which I was writing about in the past three days. There are reactions from the people around him, too. Sometimes I wonder however if those people who react are still fully in their right minds.

Take famous guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s statement on Twitter for example. He said ‘If you're a public figure & have made a mistake, you must publicly admit it. People have bigger hearts than you think. They'll forgive & forget’. Wait a second, what? Let me make that clear: if you are Asaram and you have sexually harassed a 16-year-old girl whom her parents have entrusted to your care, you just need to get on a stage or in front of a microphone or video camera and say ‘Sorry, my mistake’. The public will forgive and forget. Oh yes, and you won’t be persecuted by law either!

Really, Sri Sri? Are you that far away from reality or do you really think such a crime should be forgiven and forgotten, especially if committed by someone who is standing in the limelight? Is that a new exclusive right for religious and rich celebrity gurus or is it valid also for the regular criminal off the street?

Even better however is the attitude of Asaram’s own son Narayan Sai, who is in the guru business, just like his father. He travelled to Delhi two days ago to speak in front of a crowd of supporters and devotees of his father who are protesting there. He talked about all the good work that his father has done, according to him, saying that he is not ‘as bad as the media presents him’. His idea is ‘When someone has done a hundred good things and then makes some mistakes, his good deeds should be seen, too, not only his fault’!

His son is obviously admitting that his father has done a tiny mistake. Well, yes, he didn’t rape the girl. According to the police report, Asaram did not succeed in having full sex but ‘only’ became completely naked, tried to make the minor girl in front of him naked, touched her inappropriately, fondled her, asked her for oral sex and threatened her with killing her and her family should she tell anybody about their meeting. A small fault, certainly.

Somehow I cannot get myself to agree with Asaram’s son though to say that all the good things he did weigh so much more than this terrible crime! Especially when you think of all the young women and girls who seem to have been systematically chosen by Asaram and his helpers for private meetings with the guru! It is not surprising to hear this kind statement from Narayan Sai, who is not only the accused’s son but of whom we also hear that he likes to announce that he is Krishna and his female disciples his gopis –Krishna’s playmates! How many children and women may have seen the true face of these two men and didn’t dare to speak out, afraid of the threats and ashamed of what they were made to do?

I thank this 16-year-old girl who had the courage to speak up and stand her ground, thus saving the lives of many more minor girls and women!

Asaram and his alleged constant Need for young Girls in his Bedroom – 4 Sep 13

For two days I have been telling you about Asaram, what he is accused of having done and that he is now arrested. While he is now making his statements, trying to get bail, there are a whole lot more details that emerge which really create a shocking, sickening picture: Asaram seems to have had an organized system of getting girls like this minor girl into his bedroom!

Asaram is not the only one who was arrested in his case! He had a close aide whose name is Shiva. This man was arrested as well and the news – who are constantly talking about the new developments and other backgrounds in the case – tell that Shiva stated, Asaram was used to meeting girls alone. Asaram thus has, according to Shiva, not only welcomed that sixteen-year-old alone in his rooms, who now accuses him of sexual harassment. No, there have been many more girls and young women whom Shiva maybe also escorted until the door. From there, Asaram took over.

Together with the summons for Asaram and Shiva, the police gave out one more: the summon for a woman called Shilpi, the warden of the hostel where the teenager was living in. She was the caretaker of the girls in the hostel – and should know a bit more about the case, maybe even be able to clear a whole lot of questions. Unfortunately however, she did not reply to the notice. On the contrary, she vanished and police has sent out a search team to track her down. Suspicious? Just a bit!

Of course the media noticed that, too, and did some research. She is said to have been once very close to Asaram herself and got the job of a warden because of this close relation. Was it usual for her to send girls from the hostel to Asaram’s private rooms? Did he always cure them with such ‘rituals’?

As the accusing family clearly says, it seems to have been a well organized crime: the girl once fainted – for whatever reason. She woke up just shortly after that but the parents were informed that a ghost had entered their daughter’s body, that she had fallen sick and that they had helped her with one of Asaram’s Mantras. For getting fully cured however, the guru would need to perform a ritual himself!

Shiva admitted that this ghost story was told to the parents – making it clear that this was not a spontaneous crime but something that had been planned beforehand! He was the one to bring the girl in, like many others before her – but the person who started the process, the warden of the hostel, is absconding!

Obviously, the questions that come in my mind are plenty. Were his hostels and centers everywhere made for this purpose? For showing that he is educating young people while actually just keeping the possibility to choose from a crowd of young girls whenever he feels like it? To satisfy a sick mind that wants to assault minor girls? Girls whose families are fully devoted to him, so that they have nowhere to go and tell about his wrong actions? Girls who see him as god, so that he can do what he wants without them even complaining? Girls who would easily succumb to threats should they really resist?

We will watch the further development of the case and wait for the truth to come out – no matter how sickening it might be!

Does the Indian Law work different for religious and wealthy Gurus like Asaram? – 3 Sep 13

I yesterday told you about the case of Asaram which has been in the news for the past two weeks. He is accused of sexual harassment of a minor and was arrested in the night from 31st August to 1st September 2013. The reason why there are huge disputes on the media these days is not only the fact that he allegedly tried to have sex with a minor but mostly because it seems that he got a very special treatment that a normal person accused of sexual harassment or even rape would never get!

If you look at the timeline, the 16-year-old girl was alone with Asaram on 15th August. She was shy to tell her parents until they reached their home the next day. The parents tried to get a meeting with Asaram in Delhi and when this was denied, they filed the report on the 20th August 2013. He was arrested only 11 days later – how come?

Obviously the case was immediately picked up by media in that time and as Asaram is a known guru, it is easy to know where he is. Nevertheless, the police took its time in taking action. While Asaram claimed that the whole case was a conspiracy against him, we heard in the media that the police is ‘on their way’ to interrogate him. Asaram himself however moved from one town to another, from one of his Ashrams to another – and the police never really reached to him for a meeting to get his statement! Did they go by foot or is there any other explanation why they could not talk to him?

Naturally, the country was in an uproar, the media on his heels, his supporters condemning the accusers and denying everything and the rest of the nation wondering how it could be that he was still walking around fully free! There were fights in front of his Ashrams when his supporters attacked journalists and police had to intervene and even arrest some people!

On 27th August, media finally reported that the police had sent a notice to Asaram: he should appear before police until the 30th August so that they could question him. Finally there was a deadline for him to cooperate and explain himself in front of the police. Instead of doing that however, he waited until the limit was over and then sent an SMS and a fax to the police, explaining that he could not come because he was ‘too busy’! He asked for 20 more days because he was too busy with his programs!

Thankfully, even the police obviously thought this was getting too ridiculous and they finally arrested him on 1st September. For the next fourteen days at least, his residence will be the jail, no matter how much he affirms that this all is just a political or religious conspiracy!

While I in no way doubt the truth of the accusing teen’s statements, I fully believe that the big delay in Asaram’s arrest is due to a political game in this religious country. If he had been a normal person, he would have been arrested on the spot and not given ten days of time, asked to come by and been waited for! But why, the law is one for all, isn’t it?

Maybe, in India, it isn’t! There is obviously a certain scope within which politicians can manipulate a bit. They obviously did not want to lose the votes of many Hindus by taking strong action against this popular godman!

It is disappointing, outrageous, infuriating, saddening and much more to think this but I still believe that the law has a strong arm, that the truth will come out and he will be punished for his wrong actions which would prove that even wealthy, religious and influential gurus like him will face actions against them if they abuse their followers!

Asaram Bapu accused of sexual Harassment of a minor Girl! – 2 Sep 13

For nearly two weeks now, there has been a big story going on in Indian media which has attracted the attention of the whole country and I have even seen the story on international media. It is about the alleged sexual harassment of a 16-year-old girl by one of the most known religious gurus of India, called ‘Asaram Bapu’.

Asaram is 72 years old and has achieved what many spiritual gurus dream of: he has about 1400 separate organizations and 400 Ashrams around the whole world, altogether worth 15 thousand crore rupees – which is over two billion US-Dollar! He has a big business producing incense, merchandise for worship and lots of other products which he sells all over the world. When you ask about his number of followers you find every estimate from 40 million to 600 million followers who believe in him and devote themselves to him – although there has been a number of controversies around him!

There is a case in which parents tell that their two children just vanished and they accuse Asaram, his organization and Ashram to have killed and sacrificed their children during a tantric ritual that was done in order to achieve Sidhis! This family is still suffering and waiting for justice, blaming Asaram directly for doing something that they believe is black magic. He definitely claims that he takes out ghosts and spirits during poojas and rituals.

Another issue is the many accusations that he has for illegally occupying land of others. For many of his Ashrams across the world, people say that a part of the land they use was not legally taken in possession!

While he has not really faced any serious actions for any of these cases until now, the current case seems to bring him into some more trouble:

Two devotees of Asaram had given their three children – two sons and one daughter – into the hostel and school of his organization in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. They paid about 4500 US-Dollar per year for the education of their three children and had supported Asaram with donations over the years, totaling nearly 30000 US-Dollar, as per the father’s statement. He told that he had even bought land for Asaram so that he could build us his Ashram there.

One day the parents were informed that their daughter was not doing well, that some kind of ghost had entered her body. They were told that the godman himself will take care of this kind of serious cases and the special ritual that has to be performed to cure her.

Obviously, they wanted her to get better and travelled from their home in Shahjahapur in U.P. to Asaram’s Ashram in Jodhpur, where they met their daughter. She was then sent into Asaram’s private quarters where nobody is ever allowed to disturb him. Her parents, in the meantime, believing that their guru would perform a healing ritual for his daughter, sat in front of the quarters and repeated their own mantras.

From what we can read in the media, the girl was welcomed by Asaram and taken into another backside room. There, she tells, the lights were dimmed and the old man took off all his clothes. Standing fully naked in front of her, he started fondling here, trying to take off her clothes at the same time.

When the teenager resisted and protested, he started threatening her not to tell anybody about the details of their meeting, otherwise all members of her family would be killed! Of course the girl was scared and when she wanted to scream, he placed his hand on her mouth, keeping her from making any sound. He then asked her to perform oral sex on him – which she refused completely.

This much is what we can read and hear in the police and media reports. The girl then came out, crying, to her parents and told them to take her home. Only when they had reached their hometown, she finally told them about what had happened. The father was so angry, he said if she had told him at the Ashram, he might have picked up a stone and killed his former guru with it!

After hearing the horrible story of their daughter’s ordeal, the parents immediately inquired where Asaram would be next in order to arrange a meeting with him. It was in Delhi where they tried to get in to have a talk and ask about their daughter’s report – but they were denied a meeting! So they went straight to the police and filed a report.

The Delhi police transferred the case to Jodhpur where a detailed interrogation of the girl and the people at Asaram’s Ashram ensued. In all their probing, they found the girl to be truthful – while Asaram in a statement even denied ever having been there at that time. An obviously lie – as many people knew he had met her. He then had to correct himself and admit that he was there – while still protesting that he had never done any of the things he is accused of.

On 31st August 2013, Asaram was finally arrested and now the family of this minor girl is hoping to get justice. I will tell you tomorrow why they are not fully sure and why it took such a long time to arrest him.