“HER RAGES WERE NO LONGER A LAUGH­ING MAT­TER”

India Today - - CONTROVERSY -

Where there is mind con­trol, ma­nip­u­la­tion, and abuse of power, there is nor­mally mal­prac­tice around money. I’m sorry to say, but in this re­gard .... was no dif­fer­ent from all the other pedestal moun­ters. She drew money and golden jew­elry like a mag­net, and her pot al­ways over­flowed. For years I no­ticed that rich and gen­er­ous devo­tees re­ceived royal treat­ment, the red car­pet rolled out be­fore them. For the most part, I jus­ti­fied this be­hav­iour as ....’s way of tak­ing from the rich to give to the poor—a mod­ern-day Robin Hood, if you will.

Later I re­alised that a large chunk of the of­fer­ings placed di­rectly in ....’s hands in In­dia went right to her fam­ily. These of­fer­ings had been given by devo­tees in the be­lief that the money would sup­port her char­i­ta­ble work. Ini­tially I was okay with this. I con­sid­ered it ....’s duty to pro­vide her par­ents a com­fort­able home and the dowry to marry off her sis­ters, es­pe­cially in a cul­ture that places such em­pha­sis on fam­ily val­ues. But .... went way above and be­yond the call of duty. Her par­ents, three broth­ers, and three sis­ters each re­ceived large sums of money and gold.

As the num­ber of devo­tees in­creased, so did her ag­gres­sion, and her rages were no longer a laugh­ing mat­ter. She of­ten jus­ti­fied this be-

MATA AM­RI­TANAN­DAMAYI WITH SWAMI AM­RI­TASWA­ROOPANANDA IN THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

who wanted to re­main in the ashram knew bet­ter than to crit­i­cise or ques­tion.... Those who dared to speak out were im­me­di­ately black­listed, deemed a traitor, and looked upon as a threat to the preser­va­tion of faith among her dis­ci­ples. Early the next morn­ing I pro­ceeded to the li­brary to talk with.... He im­me­di­ately locked the door and wrapped his arms around me. Be­fore I knew it, I was ly­ing on the floor and he was forc­ing him­self upon me. It all hap­pened so fast. I felt pow­er­less. I flinched as his ini­tial en­try came with a st­ing. I was no vir­gin, but it had been six years since I had al­lowed any man in­side me. There I lay, mo­tion­less, star­ing at the wall, but this time the tears were in my eyes. There was not a drop of sex­ual ex­cite­ment run­ning through my body, only ter­ror and shock. I couldn’t be­lieve what was hap­pen­ing. But it was too late. Ex­cerpt­ed­from Holy Hell: A Mem­oir Of Faith, De­vo­tion and Pure Mad­ness byGail Tred­well, pub­lished in 2013 hav­ior by say­ing she only scolded those clos­est to her. For years I con­soled my­self with the be­lief that I, then, must be the clos­est, and I clung onto that the­ory like some­one dan­gling over a cliff’s edge. Any­body

THE AU­THOR WITH AM­RI­TANAN­DAMAYI

Pho­to­graph By C SHANKAR

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