To hear him inform it, there isn’t a lot that self-proclaimed “godman” Paramahamsa Nithyananda can’t do together with his alleged supernatural powers. Need to hear a cow or monkey speak Sanskrit? He’s your man. Heal the blind? Verify. ESP, stop sunrise, see by means of partitions? The swami says he can do all these and extra. And in the event you swear your fealty to him and begin making donations, he’ll educate you the best way to do them too.
Nithyananda, who claims to be the bodily embodiment of Lord Shiva, is the person skeptics and debunkers like to hate. However he’s pulled off a few methods that not even his most strident detractors can clarify. For instance, managing to flee India one step forward of the legislation and with out legitimate journey papers again in 2019. Or how he continues to evade justice to today, regardless of being wanted by Interpol on fees of rape and kidnapping.
Narendra Nayak, the president of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations [FIRA], referred to as Nithyananda a “fraud and a cheat” in an interview with The Each day Beast. “However how he managed to get overseas is a thriller as a result of his passport had expired lengthy again!” he stated.
Nayak has publicly challenged the claims of paranormal powers made by the swami and his legions of followers. He has additionally designed exams by which the miracle employees are requested to indicate off their items in a managed setting, with out hidden cameras or different aids. The shortcoming to repeat their feats below monitored situations does nothing to influence Nithyananda’s true believers, and a few have gone as far as to threaten Nayak for exposing their parlor methods.
One such vengeance seeker even vowed to forged a “curse that I might get carcinoma of the penis,” stated Nayak, who described his metaphysical assailant as “a lady disciple of Nithyananda’s who stated she had already granted most cancers of the mind to somebody who had challenged her man.”
The ‘Intercourse Swami’
Nithyananda, 43, started practising yoga on the age of three. He later roamed the Himalayas as a part of his non secular coaching earlier than opening his personal ashram within the Indian state of Karnataka in 2003. He served as chairman of the Hindu College of America. Though exiled and in hiding he stays wildly fashionable on social media—his Fb web page alone boasts some 1.1 million followers—and he typically surfaces to drop video clips filled with grandiose statements, equivalent to claiming that he and solely he could cure India’s COVID woes.
“Although a few of his pronouncements seem like jokes, they’re all calculated to deliver extra consideration to himself and [serve as] clickbait,” Nayak stated.
Nayak isn’t the one critic to lock horns in public with Nithyananda. Journalist Nakkheeran Gopal helped deliver to mild among the swami’s alleged wrongdoings and wound up in court docket.
A nationally acclaimed Indian journalist who operates his personal journal and web site, Gopal instructed The Each day Beast he revealed “secretly recorded” movies that he stated uncovered Nithyananda’s “sexual indulgence with younger sanyasi [mendicant] women in his ashramam.”
In a ensuing lawsuit, the godman and his attorneys contended the movies had been “morphed” or laptop generated, based on Gopal. “[The] court docket discovered and held that the clippings weren’t morphed and dismissed his swimsuit,” Gopal stated.
A intercourse tape starring the so-called “Sex Swami” had surfaced in 2010, and in that case too he had tried to assert the video was faked, though forensic consultants ultimately testified in any other case.
However movies coming to mild had been simply the beginning of Nithyananda’s bother. He was later accused of rape by an American lady, Aarthi Rao, who had come to check yoga and meditation below him—and who later acknowledged that she thought she was “having sex with God.”
On the time, Rao believed that her private yogi was “not simply an enlightened grasp, however an avatar and incarnation.” Moreover, the guru satisfied Rao herself that she was the “chosen one” ordained by the godhead to be his sole companion on this world—till she discovered him sleeping round with different college students, based on information reports on the time.
Rao pressed fees in opposition to her former trainer in each Michigan and India, “but he continues to go scot free & harass the witnesses & critics by means of his brainwashed disciples & followers,” she tweeted.
Shiva’s private avatar was later accused of luring a minimum of 4 underage women to his ashram and holding them in an condo in opposition to their will, resulting in authorities fees of abduction in opposition to him.
By 2019, Nithyananda “discovered the due processes of legislation lastly closing in on him,” based on Nayak.
“He had tried to dodge [the charges] for thus lengthy by submitting plea after plea [and] acquiring adjournments, making an attempt to forged aspersions on character of the one who had complained of rape and so forth. Lastly there have been no extra avenues left and he absconded,” Nayak stated.
It will definitely got here to mild that the godman had the scholars of his ashram signal a sexually express non-disclosure settlement that might scare the hell out of loving mother and father from any tradition. In accordance with India Right this moment the clause learn:
“Volunteer understands that the Program could contain the training and apply of historical tantric secrets and techniques related to female and male ecstasy, together with the usage of sexual power for elevated intimacy/non secular connection, pleasure, concord, and freedom. Volunteer understands that these actions might be bodily and mentally difficult, and will contain nudity, entry to visible pictures, graphic visible depictions, and descriptions of nudity and sexual exercise, shut bodily proximity and intimacy, verbal and written descriptions and audio sounds of a sexually oriented, and erotic nature, and so on.”
Twilight of the godmen
The Nithyananda isn’t the primary self-styled godman to get himself into bother in India for sexually exploting his cult-like followers.
“There have been quite a few scandals over time,” stated Dr. Brian Collins, an knowledgeable on Hindu research on the College of Ohio, in an e-mail. Collins added that “there’s most frequently cash (and/or intercourse) concerned” and that among the godmen “use their cash and energy to flee penalties.”
Collins additionally stated that many in India don’t see a residing incarnation of the supreme deity as being so farfetched, which may also help conventional godmen like Nithyananda set up their sway over the plenty.
“In contrast to in Christianity, gods come to earth in lots of types in Hinduism, so the thought of the divine in a human being shouldn’t be significantly scandalous for most individuals,” Collins stated.
Dr. Patrick McCartney, who research the intersection between faith and anthropology on the College of World Environmental Research in Kyoto Japan, described Nithyananda as being “about as sleezy as a used-car salesman on the afterparty to a used-car seller’s conference.”
“His followers are drawn to him as a result of he guarantees to assist them achieve powers. Folks appear to really feel powerless and so by means of his pretence of being all highly effective they imagine they can also develop into a strong yogi.”
“Cult leaders [like Nithyananda] use psychological manipulation to interrupt and rebuild focused people into their puppets,” stated Dr. Robert Bunker, director of analysis and evaluation on the safety consultancy C/O Futures, LLC.
“The specialness, and at instances divine origins, of the group’s members and the identification of the ‘others’ who develop into the sworn enemies of the group are half and parcel of this strategy,” Bunker stated. He additionally helped clarify why the swami’s many die-hards run propaganda websites that defend his actions and tear down his accusers, and why they may attempt to curse his enemies with cancers of the mind and genitals.
“As soon as a cult follower has been changed into a ‘true believer’ all bets are off so far as their potential for violence… Such reprogrammed individuals will readily combat for and kill on command of their god.”
‘Individuals are donating from all around the world’
Different sex-crazed mystics could come and go, however Nithyananda has secured his place within the godman pantheon by founding his personal “nation” after he lit out of India on the lam in 2019.
His “Hindu nation” is called Kailaasa and is described on the nationwide Web site as a rustic “with out borders” meant to operate as house for “the traditional enlightened Hindu civilizational nation which is being revived by displaced Hindus from around the globe.”
Kailaasa allegedly boasts its personal forex, flag, forms, and COVID coverage. It’s rumored to be off the coast of Ecuador, with visa-approved vacationer flights coming in by constitution from Australia, though the Ecuadorian authorities has categorically denied promoting the swami an island and even granting him asylum.
“Kailaasa is a decoy,” stated journalist Gopal. “There isn’t any Kailaasa island. My guess is [Nithyananda] is hiding in some secret place in Nepal or another Hindu lenient nation, the place he’s facilitated to seem on social media.”
Others have posited that Kailaasa is actually a “digital nation”—that’s, a metaphor for the handfuls of NGOs which have been set as much as obtain donations and have interaction in pro-Nithyananda outreach packages throughout three continents, together with at least 10 in the U.S.
From Pennsylvania within the east to Hawaii out west, from as far south as Houston to as far north as Minnesota, the guru’s networkers have established a sequence of franchise-like department workplaces that function embassies “for world illustration for the diaspora who’re practitioners (Hindus) of Sanatan Dharma (Hinduism),” based on paperwork obtained by India Today.
Like conventional consulates, in addition they collect intel concerning the U.S. and different nations in order to “analyse [the] political and financial scenario of the host nation and report again to acceptable Kailaasa ministry on points that have an effect on the Kailaasa.”
India Today quoted the maligned non secular chief explaining how Kailaasa would possibly work as a broad-based non secular group—one that would additionally fill his private coffers and fund his fugitive life-style—throughout an Web deal with by which he stated:
“Individuals are donating all around the world, working with the native governments as a result of every donation in any nation belongs to that nation’s NGO, follows that nation’s legal guidelines, working with these international locations in an organised approach [so] this entire construction is completely prepared.”
For FIRA’s Narendra, nevertheless, the as but undiscovered nation is probably going simply the newest iteration of the Intercourse Swami’s previous M.O.
“His Kailaasa appears to be a harem with himself because the grasp stud,” Narendra stated.
‘Entrance corporations, cast papers, and secure homes’
No matter or wherever Kailaasa is, the actual fact stays that Nithyananda continues to evade an Interpol manhunt, whereas additionally dressing in conspicuous orange robes and showing frequently on Web broadcasts.
“It’s an intriguing thriller that Interpol has failed to trace him,” Gopal stated. “Some stealthy safety helps him.”
Interpol declined an interview request for this story.
In late 2019, Indian police traced the fugitive godman so far as the island of Trinidad, within the southeastern Caribbean, the place he had gone to attend a non secular occasion. The Occasions of India cited a police spokesperson who indicated that Nithyananda and a few of his feminine acolytes had later departed Trinidad on a personal jet certain for Ecuador.
However he didn’t keep there lengthy. Not solely does Ecuador deny promoting him an island, it appears they had been additionally fast to indicate him on his approach:
“Ecuador denied the request for worldwide private safety (refuge) made by Mr. Nithyananda earlier than Ecuador and afterward Mr. Nithyananda left Ecuador,” the federal government stated in a statement in December 2019. And that was the final time the whereabouts of the god-made-flesh renegade had been recognized.
Safety analyst Bunker stated the godman’s elusiveness is abetted by his ranks of fanatical worshippers.
“Since cult leaders sometimes suck out the wealth of their adherents, they amass massive battle chests by which to spend money on properties and companies[,] and in addition bribe public officers in much less developed international locations,” Bunker stated. “I’ve little doubt entrance corporations are getting used, journey paperwork cast with bogus identities, and secure homes established to guard him.”
Despite his potential to elude worldwide legislation enforcement, non secular anthropologist McCartney referred to Nithyananda as “simply one other shady snake oil non secular salesman” duping gullible individuals. He additionally described the connection between the godmen and their followers as one based mostly on mutual necessity.
“The guru wants gullible devotees and the devotees want a guru to remove all self-responsibility,” McCartney stated. “It is a lot simpler to let the guru direct you in life than to take cost of 1’s personal.”