Date : 18-03-2010, Thursday | 44 Comments
By Rajiv Malhotra, March 17, 2010
When the sex scandal of Swami Nithyananda suddenly erupted on March 2, 2010, I was already in Delhi as part of a group to go to Kumbh Mela. I was also finalizing my new book which deals specifically with Tamil Nadu religious politics, and in particular with the role of various nexuses based overseas. So I decided to jump into the eye of the storm of this scandal in order to investigate whether similar nexuses were at work in this case. Naturally, at one level I have seen this scandal through the framework of a civilization encounter in which Vedic culture is pitted against the Dravidian divisiveness that is being backed by Christian evangelism. At another level, I found that the sensationalized media reports were too one-sided, and none of them had a single statement to report from the swami himself. Furthermore, there was chaos and mismanagement of the crisis from Swami Nithyananda’s inner circle. In hindsight, things might have turned out differently had they managed more sensibly and faster – which I will elaborate later in this article. Given this, another interest of mine has been to extrapolate important lessons from this episode for other Hindu organizations, which I predict will face similar scandals as and when their weaknesses become understood by those opposed to them. This article highlights my findings at these multiple levels and issues.
During this 2-week investigative period, I have been loyal to my pledge to give Swami Nithyananda’s organization the benefit of doubt and to report their side of the story. Besides wanting to balance out the one-sided media depictions, I wanted access to the ashram’s core group for my own research on the broader subject of civilization encounters. I respect the sensitivities of that organization consisting of many decent and dedicated devotees who have sacrificed a great deal and stand to lose a lot.
But I have concluded that the situation is now beyond repair for Swami Nithyananda and that his continued involvement can only damage the broader interests of dharma as well as jeopardize the ashramites. Along with two other sympathizers who are not ashramites, I have personally recommended to Swami Nithyananda that the best course at this stage would be for him to resign completely from his organization. He should turn it over to a small team of senior Hindu mahatmas, so that the assets can be used in the best interests of dharma. Further, under the guidance of these mahatmas he must live a quiet life as a sadhu devoid of any institutional responsibilities. Because the head of any organization must accept responsibility that “the buck stops here,” only such a move can salvage the organization and the reputation of dharma at large. Over several years, this resignation would hopefully reduce the massive pressure that has built up against him personally, and enable him to live peacefully as a sadhu. It is up to him to accept or reject this advice. The basis for this conclusion becomes clearer once the reader has gone through the rest of this article.
I want to begin by examining some principles about the relationships between siddhis (extraordinary yogic powers), morality, Tantra and sex. This will provide the framework in which to interpret what has happened. Then I will turn to my initial interest in pursuing the challenges facing Hinduism in south India from a variety of forces.
Siddhis (Extraordinary Yogic Powers) and Morality
A few days ago, I had the honor of having a two-hour private conversation with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at his ashram in Rishikesh. I introduced myself as an independent researcher who is writing a series of books on Indian civilization in the context of the global challenges and opportunities. One of my volumes will be specifically on the major global gurus since the 1960s – including Krishnamurti, Swami Muktananda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Pabhupada, among others – as well as living global gurus such as Sri Sri himself. I have been investigating what happened to such gurus, in terms of the shifts in their Western followers over time, their scandals, their Indian followers and critics, and also how each guru negotiated his/her position sandwiched between Indian orthodoxy on one side and Western modernity on the other. The relevance of this in the context of Swami Nithyananda will become clear very soon.
The first provocative question I asked Sri Sri concerned the nature of yogic powers: What is the relationship between siddhis and morality? If siddhis are a scientific phenomena dealing with powers that can be harnessed by all humans then one must bear in mind that science deals with truths that are morally neutral. If Einstein was declared to have lived an immoral life it would not invalidate his scientific theories. A person who designs aircrafts or any other complex technological systems may or may not be moral in order to be effective in his technical work. In other words, rtam (the patterns of the cosmos) which we discover and call science, functions independently of human morality. This is why a scientific principle can be used either morally or immorally, because it is independent of morality. There are moral persons who lack any siddhis or even ordinary scientific competence. Conversely, there are great siddhas (like Ravana) who lack morality. Sri Sri’s pranayama techniques would also produce results for an immoral person.
Sri Sri seemed impressed by this question, and agreed with my overall position on the independence between siddhis and morality. But he pointed out that the moral dimension, while not determining the siddhis, was also important because it led to receiving the grace of the divine. I agree with him.
So there are two separate phenomena involved: (i) spiritual technologies that are objective and that allow anyone to harness spiritual energies, and (ii) morality which is important in itself, not for attaining siddhis, but in order to have a positive relationship with the divine. Either one can be developed without the other; however, the dharma tradition encourages us to cultivate both. The reason that meditation systems prescribe things like vegetarian diet, ahimsa, etc. is because an inappropriate lifestyle interferes with the mental tranquility required to advance. This lifestyle change can be appreciated regardless of whether one believes in a personal God. This absence of a personal God is clear in Buddhist meditation. Different Hindu systems place different levels of emphasis upon a personal God for the yoga to function. This is why many secular and scientifically minded persons are also drawn towards meditation techniques. In other words, something cannot be a science if it depends upon morality, because science is objective and stands independent of morality.
The relevance of this question is as follows: Many persons who have learned advanced meditation from Swami Nithyananda want to know if any moral breaches by him would invalidate the whole Hindu claim of achieving higher states of consciousness. When a far worse sex scandal against the legendry Swami Muktananda emerged in the 1990s, involving charges by a large number of his Western female disciples, the Western academy rashly condemned not only one man’s morality, but the whole legitimacy of the Indian tradition itself. In that series of debates (with Risa scholars like Sarah Caldwell, etc.), I took the same position then as I am taking now: that Muktananda’s capabilities in harnessing spiritual energies are separate and independent from whether or not he violated any code of morality.
Patanjali warns against getting lured by siddhis which appear along the way when one practices advanced meditation persistently. One is not supposed to indulge in them. This warning is found in various Hindu systems that deal with the body as a vehicle for spiritual evolution, because these energies are very powerful and can get out of control. Another point that is worth noting is that the techniques taught by Swami Nithyananda are not his original ones; he has made it clear repeatedly that they are from the Shiva Sutras which have a long history in our civilization. I feel that he does have the siddhi of being able to transmit these techniques very effectively to others. For instance, I have never before in my life been able to sit still and alert in meditation for the whole night, but he had a few hundred persons in a large hall achieving this. The point here is similar to saying that the mathematics and golf I have learned from someone is not invalidated when the teacher is found to be immoral.
Hence, the issue of his morality must be pursued separately and independently from whether his siddhis are genuine.
Is Tantra a Part of Hinduism?
The second question that I asked Sri Sri could not be completely dealt with in the time available for our meeting. I hope to pursue this some day with him and with various other acharyas for my own benefit. Its significance in the present scandal becomes clear soon. I asked whether the Shiva Sutras are valid, pointing out that among the 112 spiritual enlightenment techniques taught in them, about 6 deal with sexual contact between a male yogi and a female yogini. Kashmir Shaivism as well as the Tantra traditions have included exemplars that practiced these techniques. Recently, Osho tried to revive them and nowadays Deepak Chopra has brought some elements of these into his repertoire. Sunthar Vishvalingam, a US based scholar of Tantra and Kashmir Shaivism, is one of the voices who brings out the authenticity of these approaches in the tradition, despite the common rejections by society at large. The tradition considers itself not suitable for mainstream society and is meant only for a small subset of people.
Many popular Hindu rituals and symbols have emerged out of the Tantra traditions – such as Shiva lingam, etc. The Tantra and Vedic traditions were not separate until recent times. The Vedic-Tantric integration is found in Adi Shankara all the way to Jiva Goswami (the great integrator of Vaishnavism who took Ramanuja’s ideas further), and even more recently in the life of Sri Ramakrishna. The Bihar School of Yoga has Tantra practitioners, but they do it privately and not publicly.
I have an unpublished monograph that shows the history of this shift in Indian consciousness concerning Tantra. It was under British rule that certain Indian leaders (such as Ram Mohan Roy) started to condemn (as part of their “reform” of Hinduism) those aspects of Hinduism that bothered puritan Christian values. It must be noted that Christianity has had a very negative posture towards the human body starting with the Biblical episode of Origin Sin. This is why female priests (called “witches”) got demonized by the Church in its very official genocide of several million practitioners across Europe. This Church prosecution was called the Inquisition and was widespread for a few centuries. The use of shakti and anything concerning the body as a spiritual resource was considered not only immoral but also demonic, and was outlawed with draconian enforcement. The term “occult” was used to refer to a vast assortment of such practices and was heavily condemned by the Church as the work of the Devil.
This mentality entered India under the British. The Criminal Tribes Act of India was passed by the British in the late 1800s. It listed several dozen tribes that practiced such “evil” techniques, and they were officially persecuted into extinction. A middle-class “whitened” Hinduism evolved as the mark of being “civilized” on British terms. We could be proud of our identity, now that it was “cleansed” of “primitive” practices of our ancestors.
In this history of removing Tantra out of Hinduism, some people include Swami Vivekananda among those who undermined Tantra. I disagree with this charge. He was saying a separate set of things to his Western audiences than to Indians. In his Western lecture tours, he presented a Hinduism that Westerners could relate to and appreciate, but he did not ask Indians to shift their practice. It is unfortunate that after his death, the Ramakrishna Mission he started has diluted itself into a sort of pseudo-Christianity. Kali and other related Tantra deities, symbols and rituals that were dear to Ramakrishna himself, have become “hidden” for the “private” use by the monks, but are marginalized publicly and considered as an embarrassment. Their lead in this direction has spread across modern Hinduism to such an extent that Vedic Hinduism has become separated from Tantra, and Tantra is now widely condemned by many Hindu gurus. This is also a factor that worked against Swami Nithyananda’s reputation among orthodox Hindu leaders, for he uses Tantric techniques that arouse body energies, such as kundalini.
My own feeling is that Tantra is making a big comeback. First there was Western popularity of distorted versions of Tantra; but this is now being followed by more clinical experimentation by psychologists and others. The whole issue of latent human energies and potentials (both positive and dangerous) is a hot topic of serious scientific investigation. Hindus should reclaim this aspect of their own tradition rather than waiting for U-Turned (appropriated) versions to get re-exported back to India, packaged as “Made in USA” spiritual science. This requires an attitude of experimentation under the appropriate controls to prevent abuses and quackery.
I just returned from Kumbh Mela where I walked amidst several tens of thousands of naga sadhus who were completely naked. I did not consider them as either vulgar or primitive. The old guard of Hindu orthodoxy rejects Tantra at least in public, and yet lives in contradictions because they do respect the naga sadhus and also the various symbols and rituals that have their foundations in Tantra. The vacuum left by avoiding the subject of Tantra has created opportunities for the likes of Wendy Doniger to formulate distorted interpretations. I feel that Hindu spiritual practitioners as well as intellectuals must take control over Tantra as an intrinsic part of our tradition.
Sex and Morality
Against this backdrop, I will address the issue of Swami Nithyananda’s morality. Just to recap:
Here it must be noted that brahmacharya (involving sexual abstinence) is just one of the spiritual paths of Hinduism. The first half of my recent stay in Haridwar was as a guest of the Gayatri Pariwar, one of the greatest and largest Hindu movements, that does not advocate being brahmacharya. Its founder, its present head and its members at large, are householders and not brahmacharyas. But for Swami Nithyananda to claim moral authenticity under this system, he would have to pronounce himself as a householder and not a sannyasin. He has never done that, so we must examine his morality by some other criteria.
Another approach for him could have been to announce himself as an experimenter of Tantra for modern times, thereby making himself transparent of any such charges. This would place him in the same category as Osho. Many times in his public discourses and teachings, he has praised Osho as his greatest teacher and enlightened exemplar. He even said that many of his own teachings were derived from Osho. But he failed to publicly clarify whether he was practicing those techniques that involve sex. Privately, he explained to me in recent days that Shiva Sutras have two categories of techniques. Most of the sutras do not involve physical contact with another person and only use the four senses of sight, sound, taste and smell as pathways to spiritual experiences. Hence an individual practices these techniques entirely on his/her own. This path is what he has taught thus far to the public. The best pursuit of this path is as a brahamacharya according to him, and he has initiated many followers into it. But for a small number of persons, he feels that the 6 sutras involving sexual Tantra need to be tested and perfected for modern times, before they can be safely taught more widely. This he considers like any R & D done in a lab for developing a product.
My sense is that he did practice Tantra with a very small number of persons, and I believe that he even entered into written legal contracts with them to make sure that both parties were clear about the arrangement. The reason for this “Non-Disclosure Agreement” was to make sure that someone who willingly approaches him for Tantra does not later accuse him of physical contact. On March 9 (about a week ago), I did a specific video interview with him dealing with this issue very specifically. But this video was blocked by his ashram leaders even though he personally felt that it was a good idea to show it. I gave up arguing in favor of showing it, because his ashram management took a firm stand against it. I still feel that this was a blunder they made. Swami Nithyananda is very forthright and clear in that interview – I felt that it was the best interview of all the ones I did with him, but it was never made public.
I surmise that Rancitha, the Tamil actress in the scandalous videotape, was practicing Tantra with him. He taught her the self-control she had to achieve before any intimacy. I have tried to interview her in order to get her side of the story, but so far I have not succeeded in getting through to her. Based on third party reports from some persons who are in touch with her, and the media reports of her statements, her stance seems to be along the following lines: She took the sexual initiative with him on the occasion shown in the videotape, at a time when he was not fully alert. But this activity did not proceed to intercourse. It was terminated. She has also said that the videos being shown on TV are manipulated versions of what actually happened, because they exaggerate the situation. They do not show portions where he asked her to stop. Different clips from various videos seem to have been turned into a single video by editing. She has not filed any complaint against him. So in the worst case, this was consensual sex between adults, and that too backed by a formal written contract between the parties. Because she has refused to give any statement against Swami Nithyananda, she feels threatened by those who set her up and who did this sting. I hear that she has gone overseas to protect her safety from this mafia-like conspiracy. I have not been able to corroborate this thesis directly from her.
My concern about his morality is, therefore, not based on sex between consenting adults. Rather, my moral issue is about the lack of transparency before the public. He could have openly said that he wants to select a few yoginis to experiment Tantra under mutual consent. At worst this would have upset many followers and pushed them away. In response to my concern over his lack of transparency, he could offer the argument that this was a private activity between adults who are under no obligation to disclose it to the public. After all, people do not go about broadcasting their sexual lives. So long as this was under mutual consent, he might say, it cannot be an offense. And if it was done under the Tantra portions of the Shiva Sutra, it was also an act within the Hindu tradition despite the controversy surrounding Tantra today.
Having given this best case argument on his behalf, I must say that there could also be the alternative scenario, namely, that this was mere lust packaged as Tantric spirituality. David White, one of Wendy’s Children, has written extensively making the claim that all Tantra is “hard core porn” that gets wrapped up before the public in metaphysical mumbo-jumbo to appear to be legitimate spirituality, which he calls “soft porn” coating. White’s latest book takes this allegation to the extreme, and states that all major yogic exemplars in Indian history were basically not engaged in any kind of spirituality at all. Instead, he claims, they were developing personal power for the purpose of exploiting others. I am unqualified to comment on whether Swami Nithyananda’s case fits this notion of “soft porn,” or whether it was legitimate Tantra. Nor do I have adequate factual data of what happened to pass judgment either way.
This concludes what I have to say about his morality issue as shown in the sex tapes.
My Impressions of Swami Nithyananda Prior to this Scandal
I was introduced to Swami Nithyananda a couple of years ago, by a prominent Hindu leader based in California. This man was so impressed by the young swami that he frequently called me to speak about him in glowing terms. I told him that I had a guru already, and that my present interest in interacting with gurus was mainly as a part of my research for my book on global gurus. He arranged a private meeting for me with Swami Nithyanana which I used mostly to explain the civilization threats facing Hinduism, citing numerous examples, and questioned him on his position in this regard. I found him to be very sharp, a great listener, and in agreement that we must engage social issues rather than pursuing the “world negating” or “escapist” paths that are typical of many gurus today.
Later on, I attended a weekend course in USA where he taught the Patanjali Yoga Sutras. I have read several translations of this great classical work, but I had never before seen it taught experientially. Swami Nithyananda gave the attendees their own personal inner experience of every one of the eight limbs of Patanjali’s system, right up to and including samadhi. This was quite an achievement in two days.
Overall, my interactions with him remained centered largely on the geopolitics of religions. I saw him as a prominent swami who was not running away from troubling issues, such as Christian conversions and the Dravidianization of Tamil identity. Given that I have been writing a book on this very issue in Tamil Nadu for three years (now in the editing stage), I was especially impressed by his experimental program of a Hindu temple on wheels traveling from village to village. In each village this mobile temple stops and offers chanting, a talk by one of the leaders, food, medicines, etc. So it combines religion with social service and thus competes directly against Christian evangelism. Rather than building a temple in every village and needing a purohit in each of the thousands of villages across Tamil Nadu, the strategy was to bring to each village this “temple on wheels.” What I discovered by my own independent fact finding was that wherever this temple on wheels went, the missionaries were upset because it blunted their conversion efforts.
I attended his 21-day meditation program in December 2009. The various techniques in it are very deep and transformative. The best evaluation of this can be done by the hundreds of attendees, who were divided roughly equally between Indians and whites from North America.
In several side conversations with him as well in the public forum, I pursued the point that I already have a guru since 1994, so I was not looking for a new guru. Since my guru had left the body a few years ago, I wanted to continue learning new techniques for my practice. I explained to him that I had previously learned and practiced meditation techniques from multiple sources for over 30 years, including: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Yogi Amrit Desai (who certified me as a teacher), Deepak Chopra, Vipasana, and more. Additionally, I had practiced numerous bhakti traditions, as well as formal Vedanta education from Swami Chinmayananda and Ramakrishna Mission. I went through a serious study of the writings by Sri Aurobindo, various Madhyamika Buddhist systems, Kashmir Shaivism, Ramana Maharshi, etc. So I was not seeking a new guru like most others who took his courses.
I have to say that he never pressured me to adopt him as my new guru, and even said that one must remain loyal to one’s guru. To be classified as a devotee/disciple of his, there are two criteria, neither of which applies to me. First, there is an optional program one can sign up for, to do “paada puja” at the guru’s feet, in order to develop a special link with him. The second is that one can ask to be given an initiation with a new name, in which case his policy is that the person must legally change his/her name, and use this new name publicly. I did not do either of these steps. So my relationship is not as a devotee or disciple, but more arms-length.
It was a two-way street. While he taught me meditation, I brought to him my scholarship on the geopolitical positioning of Hinduism which I feel the gurus know only superficially. They do not adequately know things like: Western philosophy, neither religious nor secular; or Western history; or Western institutions that have been set up explicitly to spread its civilization; or various global campaigns under way to invade Indian civilization through conversions, education, media, political policymaking and more.
He requested that I should present him my findings on such matters so that he and his senior acharyas could learn. I told him that most gurus have little time to listen attentively to a layperson like me, because the gurus like to do all the talking. He replied that he would sit and listen to me seriously. I made it clear that I was disinterested in giving a short talk of a few minutes, because my findings required considerable time to be examined seriously. I told him that I would need two full days of undivided attention, so that I could present 300 Powerpoint slides.
Swami Nithyananda sent me an invitation when I was in Delhi to visit his ashram and present my research. I was delighted to have such an important audience. I was very impressed by the fact that he sat through two long days of my talks, about 12 hours per day. He asked his 40 top acharyas and various thought leaders in his ashram to sit and listen to me for both the days. The interactions were intense, and I explained many points from my forthcoming books. I felt that he and I had a peer relationship, each side being an expert in his domain to teach the other. After my two days of talks were over, he asked me to help him incorporate my core ideas into his curriculum, so as to make sure that his teachings helped position the Vedic civilization properly.
No other guru in the world has invested so much time with me to try and learn these global issues so deeply. (The only other prominent guru I know personally who understands these issues about the external challenges is Swami Dayananda Saraswati.) Most gurus tend to either be dismissive by resorting to spiritual loftiness, or imagine that they already know whatever there is worth knowing. Thus, my primary interest in Swami Nithyananda was as a vehicle to spread greater awareness of the kinds of issues that I was researching. (For instance, he bought a couple of hundred copies of the book, “Invading the Sacred” at the full price, and made it required reading for all his ashram residents.)
I must balance this praise with criticism. In my 2-day talks, I had explicitly discussed that many gurus were falling prey to sex scandals, often with women planted as part of sting operations, or women in the inner circle who got too close and let things get out of control. Despite these warnings, it seems that nothing concrete was done to prevent or at least anticipate the crisis that was to follow.
My Approach to this Investigation
When the scandal broke out I was in Delhi. I called the Bangalore ashram management and found them confident but confused. Probably they felt that the matter would soon get forgotten if left alone. But exactly the opposite happened, as each day brought fresh allegations and sensational media coverage. After several days had passed I was invited to go to Bangalore to study the situation for myself. At that time I had no clue about his Tantra practice with any women. Whatever I knew was based on what his followers told me, because he was personally inaccessible for several days even after I reached Bangalore. I spent many hours daily with some of his ashram’s top team.
What I wrote earlier in this article actually comes later in the chronology of my investigation. But I presented it up front because most readers are obsessed with getting my answer to only one single question: did he or did he not have sex? Nothing else seems to matter to them, whereas my investigation’s emphasis has been about issues broader and more consequential than any one man’s morality.
Until I concluded my fact-finding 2-week period recently, I was unable to discuss the sexual acts shown in the videotapes. I had to respect the policies of his people as part of the trust being placed in me to gain access. They also needed legal clearance on what can and cannot be said by them. Their policy on the sex tapes was that Swami Nithyananda would directly explain his acts. The Tamil actress’ lawyer was also in contact with them and her sensitivities had to be respected. The sensitivities of the 140-strong ashramites had to be protected also. Given this set of circumstances facing me, I feel that it was unfair to demand that I should hound him with the one critical question. People have assumed that it was up to me to decide what would be within the scope of each interview. As I have mentioned earlier, even after certain interviews were recorded by me, the ashram leadership used its discretion not to air them.
In response to my critics on how I conducted my interviews, I would also like to explain why I chose to focus on the criminal charges being made against Swami Nithyananda. Besides the sex-tape being off limits as mentioned in the foregoing paragraph, the criminal charges became my focus for two reasons. These charges could be ascertained with objectivity – such as asking for documents on the land ownership, the medical reports on the death of one meditation participant 2 years ago, and so forth. The evidence was more clear-cut than the evidence on what exactly happened in the videotapes between two persons none of whom were willing to talk with me about it. Secondly, the consequences of criminality would be far more severe than mere moral fallibility. While immoral conduct is a big concern for the devotees, it is not enough grounds by itself for the state to confiscate the entire property that runs into very large sums of money. Also, as a matter of principle, regardless of whether or not he is guilty of the morality charge, I felt opposed to spurious criminal charges being piled up by the irresponsible media just to create sensationalism.
The Conspiracy against Swami Nithyananda
Since I had arrived at the scene while writing my book on the conspiracy in Tamil Nadu religious politics, it was natural to start with that as my emphasis for the investigation. But in this short article I have decided to focus on the matters surrounding his conduct and his organization’s conduct, because these have assumed a more urgent nature. The details of the conspiracy belong in my book as corroborating evidence for my thesis there. The types of parties reported to be behind the conspiracy, both foreign and India based, were remarkably similar to the ones I have written about in the book. So for now I shall merely summarize some of the main points concerning this conspiracy.
First one must understand why Swami Nithyananda became such a target. He was virtually unknown 7 years ago, but once he appeared in public his popularity catapulted at a dramatic rate. For example, last year, UTube wrote to him that he was the most watched of all Indian spiritual leaders on the Internet and proposed a closer collaboration for their viewers. This letter also stated that among all spiritual leaders worldwide (not just Indian) he was the second most popular one, the Vatican being first. His meditation programs have become very popular in USA and in certain Indian states. The main factors are that participants almost invariably report experiencing higher states of consciousness, and he has healed a large number of persons of a variety of diseases. His healing powers are what brought together his core inner group of devotees from around the world – doctors, businessmen, IT professionals, corporate executives. Many of them have explained their personal healings from terminal illnesses as the turning point in their lives. His meditation programs sometimes bring up to a few thousand attendees for periods ranging from a few days to several weeks.
While the funds come mostly from upper strata participants in India and USA, a large portion of the expenses have been allocated to develop grass-roots social and spiritual programs focusing primarily in Tamil Nadu, his native state. This is where he is seen as a threat by Dravidian as well as Christian forces. For instance, in December 2009, about 600 villages across Tamil Nadu sent their local “Nithyananda leaders” for a celebration and planning session in his main ashram near Bangalore. I happened to be present for the event. These common folks, mostly from the lower strata of Tamil society, had walked 300 kilometers for this journey which they saw as a spiritual pilgrimage. The reason for the anger of Christian and Dravidian forces is that his activities have put a dampener to conversions in many districts, and several Christians have return to Hinduism by getting initiated formally into his organization. The swami himself has spoken against conversions, and has also stated that the Dravidian movement had made Tamil people unspiritual in their lives, and that this had caused social decay. His Tamil language publications and courses have become his most popular ones, far exceeding the numbers in English. Also he is a very big threat because he is not a Brahmin. Because he cannot be targeted using the classical attack on Brahmins, and because the masses in Tamil Nadu were rising to swell his ranks, the threat he posed to the existing political power structure had to be stopped one way or another.
The attack against Swami Nithyananda has consisted of two prongs, image and legal. At first a highly sensational sexual charge was broadcast in order to devastate his credibility and create an atmosphere in which any and all kinds of outlandish allegations would be taken at face value. Once the media and popular sentiments had been turned against him, there was one amazing allegation after another in rapid sequence. It was clear that none of this was spontaneous but was being centrally orchestrated under a systematic plan.
What became evident to me was that there was “cooperation” in informal and unofficial ways among the media, police and lower level judiciary. In fact, many third parties were aware of the attack in advance and had warned his people before it happened with specific details of the plan. For instance, one of his top devotees got a phone call from someone based in New York describing the media and police attack that was to come. His predictions turned out to be accurate but at that time the ashramites did not take the threat literally. He said that for the right sum of money he could be helpful in preventing such an attack. He claimed that the planning for this attack had started a year ago. He mentioned that a budget of Rs 200 crores was allocated by some overseas groups to demolish Hindu gurus especially in south India, and named two south Indian churches as the nodal agencies to coordinate this strategic plan. (I am presently pursuing these leads as part of my book investigation.)
There was another concrete extortion effort about eleven or twelve days prior to the scandal breaking out. A lawyer contacted them and claimed that his client had compromising videos, and that the client was seeking money or else they would get released. The same intermediary later sent a letter containing a variety of unsubstantiated criminal allegations against Swami Nithyananda, and this letter’s distribution list included India’s Prime Minister, President, Sonya Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, various Chief Ministers and police heads, various national criminal investigation and security organizations. I have a copy of this letter, and it makes the Nithyananda organization seem like a terrorist outfit that needs to be attacked for the sake of public safety. This letter along with a DVD of the sex video was delivered to the Chief Minister of Karnataka state two hours before the videotape was first aired. Clearly, the attack was well planned and executed across many locations, and was persistently carried out over several days. This is not the work of some isolated individuals.
There were warnings given to individuals in the ashram that their phones were being tapped and that they better leave to save their own lives, because something horrible was about to happen. One friendly man based in Pune who runs a magazine and is a devotee of Swami Nithyananda, told the ashram a week in advance of the attack that some such catastrophe would happen. He named his source as a man in Bangalore press club. Another publisher in Hyderabad who distributes Swami Nithyananda’s books in Telugu, called three times to warn that a graphic video would be released and gave a precise time for this to happen. It was also reported that an American devotee who had fallen out of the ashram was working in association with Jody Razdik who specializes in guru bashing at a prominent web site. He was being helped by an Indian based in San Diego, who was once very deeply involved inside the Nithyananda organization but had turned malicious. The only man who has openly come out as the main accuser was an ashramite who had a falling out when he got demoted due to his conduct. It was recently reported that he had a prior criminal record against him but nobody in the ashram had checked out his background before admitting him.
There were constant threats received to harass the ashramites and scare them away, with claims that “narcotics will be planted to cause arrest warrants.” The actions by the police were being leaked to the media ahead of time and even to the opposing side, leading to numerous “tips” received by “friends” asking the ashram dwellers to run away before “the attack comes.”
But even after a couple of weeks since the scandal has erupted, the lawyers for Swami Nithyananda’s ashram have failed to get copies of any concrete charges filed with the police, except a few trivial ones. Each time they approach for specific details they are told that there is no formal charge, except relatively minor ones. So the intimidation has been carried out mainly through media reports, without any legal due process starting where facts and arguments could get cross-examined. This lack of formal charges has enabled an atmosphere of intimidation using rumors and threats that cannot be pinned down officially.
It is important to contrast this with the manner in which Indian media treats scandals facing Islamic or Christian groups. The numerous scandals occurring overseas often get blocked by Indian media entirely, or are given mild treatment with tremendous sensitivity, in order to be seen as “secular” and not “communal.” By contrast every kind of allegation against any Hindu group gets clubbed in one homogeneous category and treated as a social scourge equivalent to terror groups.
The media’s hounding mentality and mafia tactics deserve to be condemned. In the Swami Nithyananda case, they have used carrots and sticks to lure and threaten, using whatever would get them more sensational footage. Several TV stations and journalists camped out in Haridwar and sent me emails requesting my help in arranging an interview. When I failed to deliver (because it was not up to me to deliver any such thing), some of them turned nasty against me. One TV woman promised the swami’s people “positive” coverage if she got an exclusive. But after the interview, she betrayed and turned it into more distortion and smut. This led Swami Nithyananda’s handlers to give interviews to more stations in order to counteract this distortion. But the more they said before TV cameras, the worse the scandal became. One station was blatant in its threat to the swami’s assistant: “If you don’t give us an interview right away, we will show you the power of the media to destroy you.” At one point a major TV station also wanted to drag in Ramakrishna Mission with similar allegations, but someone was able to stop that.
Failures of Swami Nithyananda’s Organization
Hindu tradition separates three kinds of varna (skills), each representing a form of social capital, and these three were never supposed to be concentrated in a single person, thereby preventing too much concentration of power. I use the terms Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya not as birth based “caste,” but as merit based social capital and areas of competence. The Brahmin job description focuses on spirituality and research; Kshatriya on governance, politics and leadership; and Vaishyas on commerce and financial capital. Swami Nithyananda had persons with Brahmin qualities performing duties that demand Kshatriya and Vaishnav skills. This was counterproductive. The ashram leaders were selected and trained for skills and roles that are very different than this situation demands. Too often their bhakti and spiritual practice substituted for professional competence in managing a rapidly growing global enterprise. The sole emphasis was placed on traditional Brahmin qualities, and none on what would be considered Kshatriya qualities.
For example, there are a large number of white devotees who do have Kshatriyata – leadership expertise, courage and commitment. But even after this attack the ashram organization has blundered in its failure to leverage and deploy them. I met some of these Westerners at the Kumbh and found them remarkably willing to stand up for their guru, but nobody had bothered to organize them and take advantage of the fact that Swami Nithyananda has a global following. Instead of such initiatives to deal with the crisis, his organization was in utter chaos, reacting to each “hit” by the other side. Its leaders were running scared, driven by one rumor after another. Decisions were being made in desperation and panic. The group was cognitively disoriented and many of its members were psychologically breaking down.
The organization was too much of a one-man show with the leaders operating like children dependent on the swami for every decision. The swami had become the iconic object of the ashram’s inner circle. Their proximity to him became their measure of personal power and identity. This is classical cult-like behavior that cannot survive the onslaughts that are inevitable nowadays. Such a concentration of varnas into one man not only makes an enterprise incompetent, but it also can also get into the leader’s head and make him power hungry. Especially when the guru has siddhis, this power can easily become co-opted by his ego into a dangerous mixture. The result is that he surrounds himself with psychopaths who tell him what he wants to hear, and this feedback loop of self glorification turns into group delusion.
I noticed this in the form of the inner circle’s inability to make common sense judgments, and their misrepresenting the facts to their leader by giving him too much “good news.” The result was that the honest truth did not come out fast enough to allow pragmatic and realistic planning. I had a difficult time to get dependable information, and the stories kept changing not only over time but also between one person and another within the group. I could not tell if there was a cover up and if new lies were fabricated to cover prior lies. In such an atmosphere one cannot tell which individuals might have a separate stake and vested interest from the group. Lacking competent Kshatriyas, the swami had not anticipated that such a crisis was ever possible, despite the fact that outsiders (including myself in my 2-day talks at his ashram) had explained to them the threats facing every prominent Hindu mahatma today.
While on the one hand I blame those in positions of responsibility at the ashram, ultimately Swami Nithyananda bears the responsibility as he selected them, defined their roles, evaluated their performance, motivated and supervised them very closely. In this regard, his spiritual capabilities had failed to evaluate those very close to him as well as the external reality. An enlightened master must do better than this, or else he must not try to control everything so personally.
I acknowledge that being a global guru is very demanding today, given that one has to represent a very old tradition authentically and yet in a manner that appeals to modern people. This is why Hindu leaders need a crash course on matters that are well beyond the traditional education in their own sampradayas (lineages).
Swami Nithyananda’s own support base in India has started to distance itself out of self preservation amidst all the rumors and slander. His closest supporters were not approached soon enough with his side of the story, and by the time they were approached the damage to his credibility was already irreversible. They did not want to risk being associated with a “fallen guru.” Many Hindu gurus have started to publicly lash out against the “fallen godman”; others became silent or neutral publicly, while offering private sympathy but refusing to stick their necks out.
One factor is that the swami’s approach was too conservative for some and too liberal for others. It is too filled with deities, symbols and rituals of a very orthodox kind for the aesthetic taste of modern global gurus who propagate a whitened, Westernized “clean” Hinduism that is abstract and metaphysical but devoid of imagery associated with “primitive paganism.” At the other end of the spectrum are orthodox Hindu leaders who find his idea of youthful dancing, celebration, and liberal atmosphere to be not “real” Hinduism. A couple of shankaracharyas interviewed on NDTV lashed out against “false” gurus and claimed that only the shankaracharyas had the authority to certify who was qualified to be a guru. So Swami Nithyananda fits neither end of this spectrum.
Many of the gurus I met have told me in confidence that they fear that similar attacks are coming to more Hindu gurus, but that there is no central Hindu mechanism to deal with these episodes along the lines of various church mechanisms that intervene when Christianity faces a scandal. I sent feelers to the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha as to whether it should offer to step in and take over the ashram and its related organizations, thereby bringing new management to clean up matters and bring stability to the enterprise. I was told that while this was a “good idea in principle,” it was not practical because HDAS is simply not set up to deal with this.
The Way Forward
My overriding concern throughout this investigation has been to find a way to do damage control in order to protect the broader interests of dharma. This requires a pragmatic approach. Given the state of affairs, it seems that the mess cannot be created without the swami leaving the movement and going into a strictly private life of meditation and self inquiry. I worry for the young ashramites who I feel are amazing individuals but in need of proper mentoring. They have a solid commitment to the cause and their personal spiritual paths, but they lack the sophistication and maturity to deal with what they face today.
Swami Nithyananda should resign immediately and hand over all his organizations to senior spiritual masters, preferably Shaivites practicing the Shiva Sutras and related traditions. He told me in an interview hat I recorded on March 9th that he was willing to leave everything and become a wandering sadhu again. I wish that interview had been aired.
The new spiritual leaders would give the ashram a new life and chance to revive itself. It could either remain a place for spiritual training or turn itself into a Hindu social service organization. Either way it would be a better outcome than the likely alternative of the government stepping in to take over the ashram and turn it over to administrators who are not positively disposed to Hindu spirituality – as has happened in numerous similar cases of government takeovers of Hindu temples and organizations despite claims of being “secular”.
Besides giving up the organization, Swami Nithyananda should return to his personal sadhana under their guidance. Let them evaluate him and his organization, and issue their independent report to the public. Swami Nithyananda should fearlessly and humbly submit himself to their judgment of what happened and what the remedies ought to be.
Hinduism has survived for many millennia and faced many kinds of crises, just like all the other major religions of the world. It has its own internal resources and mechanisms to deal with such situations. These need to be put to use and they need to become modernized. This is not the last such scandal Hindu groups are going to face in the near future.
that’s a great article. hope hindus will understand the gist of what you are saying and become aware of what’s happening and conduct themselves i better manner.
that’s a great article. hope hindus will understand the gist of what you are saying and become aware of what’s happening and conduct themselves in better manner.
Hello Pratap !
Thanks for the article. Though I am not aware about him or his ashram but i can imagine the conspiracy that is behind this scandal (for that matter any scandal involves hindu religious leader or organizations). Hindus are always very patient and in receiving end. Why these things always happens to only Hindus although Hinduism is very liberal relegion compare to the other? This is very strange . Probably i guess in Hinduism mainly oraganization is missing which is clearly present in other relegions. Thats why we are becoming easy prey for the conspiracies. Is it not possible to bring all Hindus under one Umbrella. I think it is possible . But a strong will and comitment is required from our Gurus of all the sects of Hindu relegion. I think Kumba Mela will be a nice platform to discuss about the oraganization of Hindus. It will send a strong message to Dravidian Movement or any other forces working to destroy Sanatana Dharma. Hope this will happen soon. I wish a unbiased investigation report may come about this recent incident. Hindus Need to be unite for the protection of Dharma.
“Dharmo Rakshati Rakshita ha”
Please stop the bull sh*t. Whom are you trying to fool? Nithyananda has duped millions and nowyou are taking umbrage under Tantra? Shame on you.
I have one doubt. Is Ranjita & Yuvarani are part of the plot? How many more actress’ you have seen in the Ashram ?
One more question. if you know a perticular teacher is a sexually immoral, would you send your children to take tutions from him?
As you have mentioned if any churches are involved in exposing this SOB Swami then we must be gratefull to them. Please don’t create any direct relationship between these kinds of frauds with the religion, removing low lives from society is great for the society. If this SOB protrayed himself as yoga or medition teacher instead of a Swami then all your arguments are correct, now you are coming across as someone trying to shield a fraud.
Pratap, How come you dont have anything to say (bad mouth) about Nithyananda swamy? Is it bcoz he is hindu? Let your article not be based on religion.
PS : I am Hindu too
Guys… understand that, this article is not written by Pratap.
He had just posted it here!!
You are a good writer, but this type of bullshit articles is not welcome. The swami is a fraud and we have seen it in the video what he does. The article is twisted and you are blaming on Christians for his karma.
I watched his interview with Nithyananda a while ago. This idiot Malhotra was asking lullaby-like questions to Nithyananda in a PURELY polarized way to blame the media (who have been indeed exaggerating his case, indeed, however, circumstantial evidences hints towards the case that it was indeed Nityananda who was in that video), and to my deep surprise, he never bothered to target at least one question about the sex scandal, which was the prime issue. He asked questions about other civil/legal issues such as land dispuite etc, however, never asked anything about the raasaleela of Nithyananda with the Tamil actress!!!!. He claims himself as an “independent investigator” and came all the way from USA MERELY to investigate this case?.
I can’t comprehend, how can one with analytical and honest mind, defend Nithyananda by showing Church Mafia. Whether it is Church or Temple, a blunder SHOULD be consider as blunder only.
Mr.MAlhotra (the stupid contemporary soul), has lost his cradibility for nothing!, but by supporting Nithyananda.
dear mr pratapa simha,
why on earth would you like to protray fraudsters like nityananda under the name of religion ? I really dont understand the rationale behind all this
What a waste of intellect and wisdom, to salvage an image.
Looks like Rajiv Malhotra is making career out of this crisis.
He should have mentioned who politicized Bharat sadhu Samaj.
The regulating body of renunciates in the country.
Now nobody can question these titles Jagadgurus ,Sri Sri Sri, Paramahamsa etc..
Dear Rajiv ji,
you have done an extensive finding on this matter by physically being present in eversuch occasions as and and you must be fittest man to write about it.When you buy beautiful flowers from the florist will you see the character of florist or will start admiring the fragrance and beauty of the flower.persons who do not know anything about him not even seem by glance are talking ill of him without knowing the facts and merits.As you said the other religious gurus and why not our own religious gurus are hand in glove for this sting operation and as Lord Jesus is the best son of God but not his materialistic followers as evidenced and once the euro and US money looses it value and unavailable all these pseudo followers here will be nowhere in this world and Lord Jesus “forgive their misgivings if they had really done it”but i remind that that “for every actions there is equal and opposite reaction” too by the act of Karma which every religions has told and approved.God bless them all and give things what they deserve.Hare Krishna
I have been a fan of yours. I did not like this article of yours. Let’s call spade a spade. Nityananda is a “kaami swami”. He brings bad name to all other true swamis. Don’t be biased in your articles.
Thanks for the great article. I tried to read it the day it was posted, i couldnt understand the context of Yoga, Siddhi, tantra, shakthi etc…
but, after i finished the shri.SL Bhyrappa’s ‘Saartha’ (which is in the samecontext)- really good book, I could see the depth of your article, your thoughts.
I appriciate your work.
You need good ears to listen appritiate a song, good voice and knowlege to create a song. Why worry about each other’s facial appearences and their sexual orientation?
I never asked my professor what he does in his home, I will not ask same thng with Gurus a swell.
Hi brothers and sisters of India,
Please understand the fact that this article is not penned down by Mr.Pratap Simha.
It’s clearly noted at the top that, this article is from
“By Rajiv Malhotra, March 17, 2010”
He has posted the article in his site.
In this modern era, all that one sees is not necessarily true, so why jump to conclusions and malign someone like this? Can’t you folks have patience till the investigation is over? Meanwhile, why nobody is talking about the sequential episodes that were shown on TV. First Kalki Bhagwan, then Paramahamsa Nithyananda, then couple more on successive days ! I smelt a rat here. It can’t be coincidence! Why was it shown on TV on prime time? What happened to their morals? Usually, the police go about investigating the cases, but here the media has shown unusual interest !! It is only much later that MK asks media to exercise restraint. Moreover, Lenin’s complaint is based on hearsay. The authenticity of the video (whether any morphing has been done) is yet to be proved so don’t go hammer and tongs over this issue. It might turn out to be the biggest controversy till date against Hindu resurgence.
sir please translate it into kannada please sir
Hi brothers and sisters of India,
Please understand the fact that this article is not penned down by Mr.Pratap Simha.
It’s clearly noted at the top that, this article is from
“By Rajiv Malhotra, March 17, 2010”
He has posted the article in his site.
oh! what a wonderful article, and a thought provoking one with such a clear insight. you have really opened our eyes to the reality. i wish the Indian govt, and the Hindus wake up to this truth. good show, i am keen to meet you, for you seem to echo mine.
Your version is interesting Rajiv Malhotra
When allegations of sex scandal is made against swamiji, no one listened to his voice, my mind was thinking that swamiji is not so culprit as common men are imagining. No person except a spy who caught swami in camera is allegating and complaining against swamiji – Still swamiji is behind bars and he is treated differently by all the blind media.
When Halappa and ex-minister’s sex scandal is allegated by direct say of victim a great foolish CM gives clean chit to him.
Both episodes expose fake Hindu ideologists.
Swamiji even in video respected women and not forced them.- But there is disgusting scene in Minister episode.
Still now no women complained.- In minister episode although women complained she is being targetted and depicted in media in bad taste. Media is taking role of Judges.
Daily new allegations were made against swami – In minister case daily new news were spread against complainants.
THE WHOLE NATION IS UNDER SORRY STATE OF AFFAIRS – JUST BECAUSE OF BAD MEDIA PROPAGANDA’S – BUT ULTIMATELY TRUTH WILL PREVAIL
Malhotra or Pratap,
What shit is this? Who will believe this?
Tell me what is karma? Don’t talk like a Biased Hindu.
All religions speak of Karma, it is not your father-in-law’s property…
Sorry nothing more. Please write about kaamakodi, puttparthi, santoshmadhavan… Not worth to give feedback
From past 1 year, may be more than that, don’t remember properly, Some of my Friends were discussing about pratap simha’s article in vijaya karnataka and also I had received one mail from my Friend the article was ” Kaan Kholke Suniye Mr.Khan “. I felt sad becasue, In my college days I use to read lots of newspaper and I use to read articles like this. But, when I started working I found difficulty in getting time to read news paper.
Now I am happy becasue after reading Khan’s article once again I have started reading newspaper. One more good thing is that may be 2 days back one of my cousin sent me a link of your website or blog, whatever you call. The article was about SONIA GANDHI.
Mr. Prathap I have read your article ie.,
1. Kaan Kholke sunye Mr. Khan.
2. About Sonia Gandhi (Kannada)
3. How church Destroyed Swami Nithyananda
I was really happy to see the article about Swami Nithyananda. How these christian channels, missioneries etc., are going against Hindhu in a Planned manner. How these channels and missioneries are getting funds etc.
I hope in future, I know you will continue to write about christian channels & missioneries whether some one agree or disagree, we will get more articles about this serious issue of spreading christianity through English Channels, missioneries etc., If possible tell us about islam also in such a way that people should understand the seriousness but it should not become a issue. I am not such big /tallanted person to advice you. SORRY.
Sorry, If I have written a long comment. I am not good in writting comments. Please Please continue and educate us in this matter. Giving information is your duty. There will be wise people those who don’t comment but will be expecting the same from you.
Once again Thank you for the Article.
Hey great article…I am very thankful to you for sharing with us!!!
first of all v need not have to judge who is good or bad. the issue whether swami is right or wrong is not the agenda nor which religion is right or wrong. the whole issue is corruption is worldwide in every nook n corner.let us accept it .the article is an attempt to give one of the insight to the issue.let us know the matter n be cautious from taking any issue as granted.
Christians always tried to destroy other Dharmas. Hope everyone knows about the “crusade” in Europe. Then, it was to route out Muslims, but not so successful though. World knows how a christian Hitler, under the orders of a local priest of a church destroyed millions of helpless Yahudis. You have may examples throught out the planet.
To mention a few in India, hope everyone knows, the famous Goa inquisition, where thousands of Konkani Brahmins were convererted under cruel rule of Portugese. Many people dont know, how Nagaland is getting converted to a christian state; how entire north-east India is preparing to go seperate from Indian sentiments with christian guidence. Pls dont blame yourself if it becomes a seperate nation within next 50 years.
Hope you know whats happening in Orissa, Kerala,Karnataka, Jharkhand, WB and where not?, everywhere conversion of illitrates.
Coming to Swamis, this type of plot is not new to christian lobby.
Americans knows how their churches organised well to kill OSHO by feeding the slow poison. When Rajneesh died, it was a great relief for them. So as Acharya Mahesh Yogi. Churches even tried to kill Great Swamy Vivekananda.
There is a long history behind the systematic destroy of religions and its leaders and followers by Christ Churches.
They have a huge think tank.
If you have time just go thru, http://www.joshuaproject.net/
Its just a brief. Not every good Christian would appreciate this cruelty.
I must salute Mr.Rajiv Malhotra for his research work and article towards truth.
Hey Pratap, I always thank you for bringing up such smart articles from corners of India.
thnaks a lot for posting this. our relegion is under threat because of sucuar terrorists.
thanks for sharing this article sir,
very interesting one. after reading i am feeling that “pramod mutalik’s” opinion is right in this matter.
christian missionaries are in the business of conversion in Raichur dist . I don”t know how they do this. But this is being done at an alarming rate. In the milk colony at the border most of the well-to-do families got converted. It shows poverty is not the reason. I am worried. Veena from Shakti Nagar
cant this be a short rendition?! ….more big the explanation, more confusions and time lapes.
I recemend writers to say “in one tablet” what they actualy want to.
dude first try to know the background of nityananda.. then alligations can be made on a public podium.. the person who did not got the brahmopadesham at right age.. any vaidic education or gone under spiritual training and guidance all of sudden starts an ashram by the help of govt. land near bidadi which well known to foreigners and tamilians not kannadigas.. mostly foregners were the disciplies of him..he was hardly mingled with karnataka people’s spirituality..and can you ask him any veda mantras,veda bhasyas,vedantas,nyaya,meemamsa,vyakarana which were sole part of our hondu practices and spiritualism.. it is not right only to tell what is bhagavadgeetha :it is right to do in our action what bhagavadgeetha has told to do for a man.don’t get fooled by speeches and other materialistic shows in ashrams.. even a babus politician can give an impressive speech..try to learn by your own experiences and knowledge and faith in god, thats what shankarcharya told (bhaja govindam).. swasti
our constitution has given the right to choose our religion wot’s wrong with u guys? in the name of hinduism u all are planning to opress daliths and backward caste people, because of christian missionarries some development happend in Daliths and OBC’s, Bramis don’t want these communities to develop that’s whyyou guys are making such alligations
This article looks interesting but lacks proof to blame the Christian missionary conspiracy. Surprising that so called ‘Hindu Supportive’ govt. in Karnataka did not try to stop this even when they had clue about this conspiracy.
I completely disagree with what the so called “thedalitvoice” has quoted as saying that Brahmins dont want these communities to develop. Thats simply absurd. I say this just because we are living in the 21st century. What I think is that people of each and every caste, creed or religion is obsessed with their counterparts. A dalit leader will say every other castes are inclined to dominate dalits while other caste person say that dalits enjoy all the governament benefits and they are greedy. I know the topic is not related to this context of the article. But people has to accept that each and every individual has to shed the feeling like their caste is the best and they have been conspired by others. Lets work united in the cause for eliminating the negative forces like corrupted people like Nithyananda and mud slinging politicians.
Interview of a Christian Evangelist in India
By: Bandyopadhyay Arindam
The world today could have been a much better place for all of us, had we all refrained from trying to prove the superiority of our own religionâ€¦â€¦â€¦..
This is an interview of â€œFather Johnsonâ€™ after his award by the Government of India for his exemplary work in India in enlightening the people in the path of the ONLY God. Father Johnson returned to the USA after 10 years of service, to uplift the people of India in the name of God. The interview was taken in July 2005 by a journalist in Houston, USAâ€¦â€¦
Welcome home Father. You have been in India for 10 years, where â€œour missionâ€™ is still going on. Tell me Father, how is India?
India is a fascinating country, a land of contrasts. Modern India is the largest democracy, the budding economic superpower, with the second-largest pool of scientists and engineers in the world. India is also the only surviving ancient civilization with over one sixth of the world population. At one time, not so long ago, when Europe was in the â€œdark agesâ€™ and America was not even â€œdiscoveredâ€™, India was a far advanced and developed country with a contribution of over 25% of world GDP till the 17th century and far advanced in all aspects of life, be it knowledge, philosophy, science, mathematics, arts, astronomy or navigation.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox, (1850-1919), American poet and journalist, wrote â€œIndia â€“ The land of Vedas, the remarkable works contain not only religious ideas for a perfect life, but also facts which science has proved true. Electricity, radium, electronics, airship, all were known to the seers who founded the Vedas.â€
Dick Teresi, American author of â€œLost Discoveriesâ€™ mentioned â€œSome one thousand years before Aristotle, the Vedic people asserted that the earth was round and circled the sunâ€¦.Two thousand years before Pythagoras, philosophers in northern India had understood that gravitation held the solar system together, and that therefore the sun, the most massive object, had to be at its centerâ€¦.Twenty-four centuries before Isaac Newton, the Hindu Rig-Veda asserted that gravitation held the universe togetherâ€¦.. The Sanskrit speaking people subscribed to the idea of a spherical earth in an era when the Greeks believed in a flat oneâ€¦..The Indians of the fifth century A.D. calculated the age of the earth as 4.3 billion years; scientists in 19th century England were convinced it was 100 million yearsâ€¦â€
Despite all its riches, history says that India never invaded any country. On the contrary, India has been repeatedly assaulted and conquered by numerous invaders and has been ruled by â€œforeignersâ€™, first the Muslims and then the British for over a thousand years. India, before the advent of the British rulers, was a rich and prosperous country.
Rev. Jabez T. Sunderland (1842-1936), Unitarian minister and reformer, wrote that â€œâ€¦when the British first appeared on the scene, India was one of the richest countries of the world; indeed, it was her great riches that attracted the British to her shores. For 2,500 years before the British came on the scene and robbed her of her freedom, India was self-ruling and one of the most influential and illustrious nations of the world â€¦.. This wealth was created by the Hindusâ€™ vast and varied industries.â€
What about Hinduism as a religion?
Hinduism has a deep philosophical and spiritual heritage that has repeatedly mesmerized the world including western scientists, leaders and philosophers. Despite propaganda to the contrary, Hindus, like us, believes in one Supreme God but they do so in many forms, that helps to develop personalized relations. Hinduism is the oldest major religion in the earth with 900 million followers. Unlike monotheistic institutionalized, religions like Judaism, Islam or Christianity, it is not based on any single prophet or scripture, but allows its followers all the freedom to pursue God and Truth in their own way, while living harmoniously with all creation.
We know that the Hindus are tolerant of other religions. Recently, UNESCO pointed out that out of 128 countries where Jews lived before Israel was created, only one, India, did not persecute them and allowed them to prosper and practice Judaism in peace. Similarly the Zoroastrians, when driven out of Persia by Islam were given shelter by the Hindus in India and still coexist in India peacefully. Very recently, the Dalai Lama, driven from Buddhist Tibet, has been accepted with open arms. Such is the ethos of Hinduism and India.
I have heard that Mark Twain once said that â€œIn religion all other countries are paupers; India is the only millionaireâ€™. I have also read Arnold Toynbeeâ€™s writing â€œâ€¦at the religious level, India has not been a recipient; she has been a giver. About half the total number of the living, higher religions are of Indian originâ€™. What do you think about it?
We know India gave birth to religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism. Hinduism, though the predominant religion, has, to quote Aldous Huxley, â€œnever been a persecuting faith, have preached almost no holy wars and have refrained from that proselytizing religious imperialism which has gone hand in hand with political and economic oppression of colored people.â€™
What many do not know and I will not elaborate further for obvious reasons, is that there are researchers who think that the teachings of Jesus Christ have something to do with the ancient wisdom of Vedas. The Hindu concepts of â€œkarmaâ€™, and â€œreincarnationâ€™, which are part of the New Age Movement that we see today, were not unknown to Jesus.
Then Father, why do we need to convert people in India?
You see, we in the western world, have the â€œwhite manâ€™s burdenâ€™ of civilizing the rest of the world. We also have the need and desire to spread the message of Christ, since we believe that it is the ONLY way to salvation and all other nonbelievers will go to hell. The faith in Christianity is being eroded in Europe and America. That is why our Pope on his visit to India said, â€œJust as in the first millennium, the Cross was planted on the soil of Europe, and in the second on that of the Americas and Africa, we can pray that in the third Christian millennium a great harvest of faith will be reaped in this vast and vital continent.â€™
Why do you target India?
India is the right country because Hindu Indians are generally peace-loving tolerant, law abiding people who are truthful and virtuous. Indiaâ€s devotion to being good rather than being clever comes nearer the heart of a true civilization, said W. J. Grant, in his book,
â€œThe spirit of Indiaâ€™. The unsuspecting Indians have always welcomed everybody on their shore and still keep on doing so. You cannot say the same about a Muslim country or of communist China. You see Hindus are such naive â€“ they go out of their way to say that â€œall religions are same â€“ they all lead to Godâ€™. Christians and for that matter, no other religion, says that.
Where does your resource come from?
There are five major aid-giving countries, viz., USA, Germany, Britain, Italy and the Netherlands. According to the available data, in the last decade alone, foreign aid organizations received more than 2.5 billion dollars. This is only official statistics. According to the record and report of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, the statistics about the foreign aid being received by Indian Non Government Organizations shows that 80% of it is meant only for the Christian organizations that have been buying their ways into the Indian society and converting unsuspecting people under the guise of social service.
How powerful is Christianity in India?
Oh, though we are only 2.4% of the population officially, we have a large control over the country because of our economic invasion. You see, the present leader of the main political party-The Congress Party of India is a Roman Catholic with close contact with the Vatican. There are Christian Chief ministers in 5 out of 29 states. Because of the British rule of India, we have a large section of the leaders of India who look up to us. Believe me, we are the second largest land owners in India. We own and control 80% of the Indian media and newspapers .The best example is how these media made a huge hue and cry over the Gujarat riots. Riots have happened everywhere in India. But in case of Gujarat riots, the reports were deliberately inflated, stories were built up and a systematic, planned malicious and slanderous campaign was launched against the NDA government.
Inspite of the fact that India took giant leaps in progress in every field and there was a surge in National pride and self confidence for every Indian during their tenure,Indiaâ€™s Most Popular Government led by Indiaâ€™s Finest Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was made to suffer shock defeat. We overtly or covertly have alliance with key political associations. So it is very easy for us to influence the right people.
You must have a very organized system?
Yes, we do. Have you heard about the Joshua Project? It identifies and highlights the people groups of the world that have the least exposure to the Gospel and the least Christian presence and shares this information to encourage pioneer church-planting movements among every ethnic group. The Joshua Project has identified the North India Hindi belt as â€œthe core of the core of the coreâ€ because of its population density (40% of the Indian population- the states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh lies in this region); it is the religious hub of India; and it has the smallest Christian presence in India. Thus detailed plans have been drawn up to target Indiaâ€™s 75,000 Pin Codes.
The Seventh Day Adventists owes its Indian success to Canadian evangelist Ron Watts, President for the South Asian Division. When he entered India, in 1997, the Adventist Church had 225,000 members after 103 years of operations. In five years, he took it to 700,000.
Some methods used include the 10-Village and the 25-Village Programs, which involve five sets of laymen, under guidance from a regular pastor, who identify 10 or 25 villages in close proximity. Once the villages were selected, the teams would approach the leaders of each village and invite them to send two leaders to a 10-day seminar at a nearby resort, at the organizationâ€™s expense. It is before no time that the local leaders will then start working for our faith and organization. In 1998, there were seventeen 10-Village Programs and 9,337 were baptized. In 1999, forty programs were held and nearly 40,000 people baptized.
Under the Christian Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y. Samuel Rajashekar Reddy, the Adventists shifted to a 50-village plan. They began baptizing at the rate of 10,000 persons per month and have increased it to 5,000 persons per day all over India.
The US-based Maranatha Volunteers International provides buildings for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. They are committed to build 750 churches in 2 years in India. The Oregon based, Fjarli family have a goal to build 1000 churches at a rate of 1 per day.
How do you carry out conversion attempts?
You see the local people are so simple and naÃ¯ve that they do not have any clue as what out motive or means are. We target mostly the poor, illiterate, tribal people because they are the easiest to convert. We do that by various means â€“ we establish schools, hospitals that overtly or subtly promote our faith, we allure them with money or goods to the needy when they convert, we â€œstageâ€™ miracle cures, we use our influence on the media, we use our experts in propaganda, we promote the influential people and so on. We use the money sent to us by unsuspecting religious and faithful Christians from all over the world. We have numerous NGO and AID organizations to funnel the money into the country. There are a great number of missionaries of various denominations who are working there, all literally competing for the most number of converts. The Southern Baptists alone are a group that has nearly 100,000 career missionaries in North India, all working to spread our â€œgood word.â€
We convince the â€œnativesâ€™ by our appearances and even use their own culture. A native converted person will continue to use his Hindu name so as not to alienate himself. Some of the numerous Catholic priests in Southern India dress like â€œsannyasisâ€™ (monks), and call their organizations â€œashramasâ€™ (hermitage). This is to make Christianity more similar to the Vedic traditions. Bharat Natyam, the classical dance of India, is also taught in the Christian schools, but with Christian symbols and meanings replacing the Vedic. This is all in the attempt to actively sway Hindus over to Christianity. The Evangelical Church of India (ECI), established in 1954, targets the slums, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, in cities and villages. Its logo depicts a cross struck deep in a lotus, the seat of Hindu divinity.
Is the so called caste system in India an advantage?
The â€œCaste-ism in Indiaâ€™ is a boon to us. Though Varna or caste was once an essential part of the culture, based on occupation and vocational skills, which kept the civilization going for over 5000 years, caste-ism is a degenerated socio-political system now that has been declared illegal. However it is one big weapon against Hinduism. We have learnt from the colonial British that it is very easy to divide the population on the basis of caste and religion based politics and we use it to our own interest to the maximum. We join the anti-Hindu forces and help to keep the stigma of caste-ism alive for our own benefit. We target the â€œuntouchablesâ€™ (the unprivileged people, that has so marvelously crafted to be a result of the Hindu religion and not the social system) and convert them in the lure of â€œliberatingâ€™ them. However I must confess that we maintain their â€œuntouchabilityâ€™ by not allowing them to mix with the general Christians, maintaining separate entry to churches and even giving them separate churches and cemeteries.
We also use opportunities that God gives us. During natural disasters like floods, earthquakes and the recent Tsunami, taking advantage of the need, we were able to convert successfully entire low caste villages in Tamil Nadu to Christianity with the lure of money and aid.
How successful are you in your conversion attempts.
Oh we are doing a good job. The Northeast Indian states like Assam, Nagaland, and Manipur, have witnessed a surge of nearly 200% in their Christian population in the past 25 years. Their grasp is so strong now that practicing Hinduism is forbidden in some areas. Hindus can no longer do worship or â€œpujaâ€™ in the open because of our influence.
In another northeast state, Tripura, where there were no Christians at the time of Indiaâ€™s independence, 55 years ago, there are now over 120,000 today. The figures are even more striking in Arunachal Pradesh, where there were only 1710 Christians in 1961, but over 1 million today, along with over 780 churches. In the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, churches are coming-up every day in far flung villages and there is an attempt to set-up one near Tirupati, the world famous Hindu temple. Many of the North-East separatist movements, such as the Mizo or the Bodos, are not only Christian dominated, but also sometimes function with the covert backing of the missionaries. Christian Nagaland terrorists have been killing non-Christians for decades on end. More than 20,000 people have lost their lives to insurgency in Assam and Manipur in the past two decades. We understand that there are some social problems that crept up â€“ the northeast states are the highest in India in terms of drugs and AIDS related problem â€“ but we accept that as â€œcasualties of warâ€ â€“that should not deter us from our goal.
Do you face any resistance?
Of course we do. But we brand any resistance as â€œHindu fundamentalism or militancyâ€ and the media and our favorite leaders take care of the rest. We have set the mind of the unsuspecting population in a way, that whenever any of our people are harassed, attacked or killed, from any reason including their own faults, the blame automatically goes to these so called â€œHindu fundamentalist and Communal Elementsâ€ and even though almost all of these instances are later proved to have nothing to do with these Hindu groups, the initial hue and cry that is raised makes sure the memories persist in the mind of the populace and the sympathy stays with us. There are instances when nuns have been proved to be raped by Christians, but the blames continues to stay with the Hindus.
Is there any legal barrier?
Yes there are some rules and laws that sometimes impair our activities. The Indian Supreme Court had declared that: â€œThe right to propagate religion does not mean the right to convertâ€¦ Conversion done under allurement, use of force and fraud in which the poverty or ignorance of the individual is taken advantage of, is not only undemocratic but also unconstitutionalâ€¦Respect for all religions is the foundation of secularism whereas the seeds of conversion lie in religious intolerance.â€. Anti conversion laws have been passed in various states. But as I said, we have our ways.
Sometimes the law does get us though. We had some instances where members of our faith have been convicted with resultant imprisonment or expulsion. As in churches all over the world, some clergymen have been penalized for cases of sexual exploitation, including pedophilia. But that does not deter us from our goal and our almighty Lord takes care of our soul.
How satisfied are you with the progress of the missions?
It is really satisfying. We find enormous pleasure in converting the Hindu â€œpagansâ€™. However I wish we could do more. I wish I could say like St Francis Xavier, during the Goa Inquisition in 1560, â€œWhen I have finished baptizing the people, I order them to destroy the huts in which they keep their idols; and I have them break the statues of their idols into tiny pieces, since they are now Christians. I could never come to an end describing to you the great consolation which fills my soul when I see idols being destroyed by the hands of those who had been idolaters.â€
Thank you, Father for your time and honesty.
Thank you, my son. God bless you.
â€œChristianity offers nothing that is not already available somewhere in the many forms of Hinduism. Hinduism never rejected the teachings of Jesus. Those who have converted either agreed with a gun pressed at their skulls as in Goa, or because it provided an escape from caste tyranny, as well as a guaranteed professional advancement. Through its Vedic legacy, Hinduism respects all faiths. It clearly states that God is one, but has many formsâ€.
(Paul William Roberts, author of, â€œEmpire of the Soul: Some journeys in Indiaâ€™)
@ Veena – Its quite simple as to why the people are getting converted. Its just that Christ is the savior of this world and he is THE ONLY TRUTH
Hinduism is a system and not a religion,nobody can question this fact.
The system is engrossed in casteism and offlate communalism,This very article is atestimony for that.
Thank you for provin me right once again.
I am not a Christian but I think Chrisitanity would civilize India and bring about equality in the country. In India caste politics and hatred for the poor and lower classes based on the karma theory will come to an end. In India the corrupt and the filthy rich who live off the toil of the poor farmer believe they are rich because they earned it in another life. Jesus said the poor and the meek will inherit God’s kingdom. In India the poor get poorer and are treated as untouchables. Christianity is the religion of the downtrodden. Jesus befriended the downtrodden.
If any where there is forced conversion then it is wrong, but please find out y people are converting and then try to work with them so that they do not convert if you are so concerned about their conversion. I am sure if you can address to their needs and show them your love they will not convert.
I am not a Christian but I think Chrisitanity would civilize India and bring about equality in the country. In India caste politics and hatred for the poor and lower classes based on the karma theory will come to an end
Yes the beauty of christianity will civilize Indians like how the british are civilized.
With christianity came racism, imperialism whats your take on that dude?
Caste system is not a part of Hindu religion…..varna system is writtern by Manu a king of ancient India…there is no caste system in hindu religion…remember that.
However racism is at the start of BIBLE…
Read how BIBLE is used for slavery..European/American slavery, 17thâ€“18th centuries
See how the Brits pushed their ideology of christianity into India.
One should remember that its the diversity in Hinduism that did not dissolve our culture…take a loook at persia…was zaroastrian before the arab invasion, the red indians had their own culture…took over by christian europeans, mayans incas…all wiped out due to christian portugese. Its Hinduism which has saved the Indian Ethos.
Many of them have commented on article, few of them have mentioned that they are not Christian but their name states that. We don’t want Christianity to teach about civilization , it is in our blood, don’t forget you are an Indian and your blood also a Hindu.. Hindu religion is a oldest religion.. so it has thought to respect each every religion….. what you say…. is it civilized or uncivilized. ??….
If don’t want to be called as Idiot and don’t want to make us fool..Never publish such Garbage..
I am pure Hindu from Heart and Soul..People like him defame hindu religion which is pure based on natural science
for all those who cannot understand the views by Mr Malhotra here, they may pick up something this apology letter to swami nityananda by a leading Tv news Channel for showing morphed videos of the swami –http://www.nithyananda.org/news/national-channel-aaj-tak-and-telugu-channel-tv10-tender-public-apology-paramahamsa-nithyananda
only some people with distorted vision will still believe what the media showed them after going thru that apology letter! pity!!