Inside Asaram’s Evil Empire
In spite of friends in high places, one of India’s most well- known godmen remains in jail. His once- busy ashrams now wear a deserted look. Is his fall from grace the end of a bizarre dream?
In spite of friends in high places, Asaram remains in jail. The godman’s once- busy ashrams wear a deserted look. Is his fall from grace the end of a bizarre dream?
Isalute Bin Laden,” he proclaimed just three days after the world witnessed unprecedented televised horror as Mohammad Atta and his men brought down the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001. Oblivious to the tragic loss of human lives, this self- appointed ‘ god’ of men, an associate recalls, was filled with admiration for the al Qaeda chief and his unquestioning death squads. “Those are the kind of followers I want,” he declared mocking his own flock. On August 31, a police posse from Jodhpur arrested Asaram Bapu on charges of raping the 16- year- old daughter of a Shahjahanpur ( Uttar Pradesh) couple who had been his devotees for years. He now awaits his fate in a cell at the Central Jail at Jodhpur. Allegations of earlier sexual misdemeanours, macabre tantric rituals, murder, intimidation and land grabbing have also resurfaced, tightening the noose around India’s most controversial godman.
Four decades after he set out in single- minded pursuit of a bizarre dream to become god, Asumal Harpalani aka Asaram Bapu, who reportedly used to be a tongawallah, then briefly a roadside tea vendor and occasionally a bootlegger in Ahmedabad’s Maninagar locality, lords over a 10 to 30 million- strong herd of sadhaks ( followers). To them, he is, “Pujya Sant Shri Asaram- ji Bapu.” The title in English is “His Divine