Interesting side note: I’ve been getting tons of negative commentary from Asaram supporters on my Facebook page for posting this article. Like most devotees of these conman gurus, they are rabidly invested in trying to prove their masters are innocent of all crimes and, in fact, are God realized saints living on earth. These people have invested so much, including their hearts, minds, souls, and money, to these fake gurus. They cannot accept the fact that they made a monumental mistake. As a result, obsessed devotee fans of these conmen are a huge part of the problem, because they help the gurus commit the crimes—knowingly or unknowingly.
Asaram was arrested after my two ex-gurus had been arrested—and one of them convicted of child molestation in Texas USA. Kripalu, who got off of his rape charges in Trinidad & Tobago (under questionable circumstances — think: huge payoffs), returned to India a free man. However, he was never again free in his mind. From then until he died (at the hand of his own followers, who were sick of him and the threat he posed to the rest of them), he was obsessed with two things: the fear of being arrested and the need to make more money to pay off as many people as possible to stay out of jail.
And, it isn’t that religious leaders don’t speak out. They are an articulate set of people who weigh on a host of other topics such as population explosion, terrorism, divorce laws, cow-slaughter, beef-eating, "love jihad", girls doing yoga, whether girls should wear jeans, secularism, role of women in society, eating chowmein, influence of western culture, mobile usage by girls, Pakistan, whether Padmavati was assaulted by Allauddin Khilji, and whether Babur destroyed a Ram temple to build a mosque, to name a few.
These holy men and women of piety, who command the devotion of millions belonging to every cross-section of our polity, are perhaps the largest set of influencers in India. And they are not limited by technology either as they have been long present in every village and neighbourhood of the country.On a daily basis, we allow them to guide us owing to their almost irreplaceable position as interface between god and godliness, and us. And yet, these influencers — from an ordinary pandit or a maulvi with a handful of followers of him or his place of worship — to the largest temples, mosques, ashrams and madrasas, choose to sit silent on issues that directly affect the overall development of Indian society.
Why is it that we don’t hear them or see them say or do anything substantial about malnutrition, child marriage, caste-based violence, male preference, or, the culture of violence against women, which at present is dominating the public discourse in the country?
Another leading Hindu saint who has not broken her silence is Mata Amritanandamayi, also known as the "hugging saint".
Like many others of her ilk, she regularly donates to disaster-relief, and other philanthropic causes but, despite her national reach and acceptance, she has not been able to utter a single word in public denouncing the toxic masculinity that underlies the culture of violence against women.
If you have an excess of power in a situation, you’re at risk of becoming an asshole. One thing I’ve learned is that great differences in power bring out the worst in us.
‘Many people who possess information against Amma are terrified to come forward’
When Australian writer Gail Tredwell’s book Holy Hell: A Memoir of Faith, Devotion and Pure Madness was published last November, it sent shockwaves among the devotees of Mata Amritanandamayi, popularly known as the ‘hugging saint’. Based on her 20-year experience at Amma’s ashram, Tredwell’s book exposed some ugly truths about physical abuse and embezzlement of funds. The book triggered a chain of reactions, which resulted in the Kerala Police filing cases against some Facebook users for allegedly “posting and sharing defamatory materials against Amma”. In a candid chat with Jeemon Jacob, Tredwell talks about her tell-all book.