Asaram Bapu

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Asaram Bapu
BornAsumal Sirumalani
(1941-04-17) April 17, 1941 (age 72)
Berani, British India
ResidenceAhmedabad, Gujarat, India
NationalityIndian
ReligionHinduism
Spouse(s)Lakshmi Devi
ChildrenNarayan Prem Sai (Son)
Bharti Devi (Daughter)
ParentsMehangiba (Mother)
Thaumal Sirumalani (Father)
Website
www.ashram.org
 
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Asaram Bapu
BornAsumal Sirumalani
(1941-04-17) April 17, 1941 (age 72)
Berani, British India
ResidenceAhmedabad, Gujarat, India
NationalityIndian
ReligionHinduism
Spouse(s)Lakshmi Devi
ChildrenNarayan Prem Sai (Son)
Bharti Devi (Daughter)
ParentsMehangiba (Mother)
Thaumal Sirumalani (Father)
Website
www.ashram.org

Asaram Bapu, born Asumal Thaumal Harpalani[1][2] or Asumal Sirumalani[3] on April 17, 1941, is a controversial[4] godman from India. He preaches the existence of One Supreme Conscious and claims Bhakti yoga, Gnana yoga and Karma yoga as influences.

In early 1970, Asaram built his first ashram on 4 ha (10 acres) of land in Gujarat and began using the name Asaram Bapu. There are over 400 major and minor ashrams in India and abroad and numerous followers.[5]

Asaram has been involved in several controversies including his remarks on the 2012 Delhi gang rape, criminal cases filed against him involving land encroachment by his ashrams and a 2013 charge of sexual assault of a minor. He was arrested.

Early life

Asaram was born on April 17, 1941,[6] in the Berani village of the Nawabshah District in British India (present-day Pakistan), to Menhgiba and Thaumal Sirumalani.[7] Following the partition of India in 1947, he and his family moved to Ahmedabad, then part of the former Bombay State in India, now Gujarat, leaving behind their immovable assets in Sindh. Thaumal, Asaram's father, subsequently founded a company which produced coal and wood.[8] At one time (1958–1959) he sold tea in front of the Magistrate's office.[3] After the death of his father, he learned meditation and spirituality from his mother. Over a period of years he acquired 10 acres of land in Gujarat, and he set up a small ashram. At that time he dropped his surname and began calling himself Asaram Bapu.[5] He finally left his family and traveled the country, until he went to Vrindavan, to the ashram of saint Lilashah.[9]

Personal life

He is married to Lakshmi Devi with whom he has a son, Narayan "Prem" Sai Harpalani[10] and Bharti Devi, a daughter.[9]

Spiritual life

Asaram's spiritual discourses have been scheduled in different Indian cities like Ahmedabad, Patna and others. His devotees are shown taking diksha (initiation by a guru) from him in these satsang programs. Around 20,000 students visited his satsang in Ahmedabad in December 2001.[11][12] In August 2012, when he was reportedly to deliver a lecture in a local college, his helicopter crashed while landing at Godhra. Asaram, the pilot, and the other passengers survived.[13][14]

Asaram Bapu Ashram

Parents' Worship Day

In 2012, Asaram requested people to celebrate Valentine's Day as Parents' Worship Day. They published a booklet which described importance of worshipping one's own parents. As his spokesperson claimed, they wanted to give youth an alternative to Valentine's Day.[15]

Controversies

Land encroachment

In 2000, the Asaram Ashram was allocated about 10 acres (4 ha) of land in Bhairavi village of Navsari district by the Gujarat government. The ashram encroached on an additional 6 acres (6 ha), leading to protests in the local villages. On a complaint filed by locals, and after repeated notices were ignored, the district authorities with police assistance bulldozed the encroachments and took possession of the land.[16]

The Yog Vedanta Samiti of Asaram was reportedly given permission to use the premises of the Mangalya temple in Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh for 11 days for a satsang in 2001. The samiti failed to vacate the premises after the satsang, and continue to occupy a total of 40 ha (100 acres) of land, valued at over 700 crores.[17] The land belongs to the now defunct Jayant Vitamins Limited.[17] Asaram denied any involvement, saying the reports were baseless and untenable.[18]

The Nashik Municipal Corporation destroyed a part of Bapu's ashram in Bhilwara for a 10-year encroaching on government-owned land.[19]

2012 Delhi gang rape

Asaram was widely criticised after his remark that the 2012 Delhi gang rape victim was equally guilty along with those responsible for the sexual assault on her.[20] He is reported to have said: "Only five or six people are not the culprits. The victim is as guilty as her rapists… She should have called the culprits brothers and begged before them to stop… This could have saved her dignity and life. Can one hand clap? I don't think so."[21] He is also reported to have said that he was against harsher punishments for the accused in the Delhi rape victim case, as the law could be misused. To support his point, he is said to have stated that, "Dowry law in India is the biggest example of law being misused."[22][23]

Asaram denied giving any statement in which he blamed the girl for the gang rape. According to him, his statement was distorted and misrepresented.[24] He announced a reward of 50,000 rupees for anyone who can prove he blamed the victim for the gang rape.[25] [26]

Allegations of sexual assault

In August 2013, Asaram was accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl at his ashram in Jodhpur on the pretext of exorcising her from evil spirits.[1][27][28][29][30] Two days after the alleged assault the girl's parents filed a complaint with the police in Delhi and a medical examination confirmed that she had been assaulted.[31] When Asaram did not appear for interrogation by August 31,[32] Delhi police booked him under Indian Penal Code sections 342 (wrongful confinement), 376 (rape), 506 (criminal intimidation), and sections of the Juvenile Justice Act, and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.[33] Asaram remained inside his other ashram in Indore and avoided arrest while his devotees clashed with journalists and policemen outside.[32] Eventually, the Jodhpur police arrested him on September 1, 2013 from his ashram.[30][34] He has dismissed the girl's allegations[35] and said accusations were a conspiracy orchestrated by Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi of the ruling Congress Party.[36][37]

References

  1. ^ a b "Controversial godman: Can Asaram come clean on the rape allegations?". Hindustan Times. August 29, 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-02. 
  2. ^ "The Politics of Sex". India Today. August 30, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Preeti Panwar. "Asaram Bapu's life journey from a tea seller to the spiritual guru". Retrieved September 1, 2013. 
  4. ^ Nitesh Kumar Sharma; Ajay Parmar. "Asaram capable of sexual assault: Police". The Times of India. Retrieved 2 September 2013. 
  5. ^ a b The Dark Side of Asaram Bapu | OPEN Magazine
  6. ^ "Coal-seller Harpalani turned Asaram ‘bapu’ faces new allegations". Daily Bhaskar. August 22, 2013. Archived from the original on August 22, 2013. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Asaram worked at a tea stall before he became a 'godman'". IBNLive. 30 August 2013. Retrieved 2 September 2013. 
  8. ^ "जब मोदी से बोले आसाराम, ‘देखें तुम्‍हारी गद्दी कब तक और कैसे रहती है". Aaj Tak. Retrieved 2013-09-02. 
  9. ^ a b "Asaram Bapu Son Narayan Sai". May 8, 2005. Retrieved May 8, 2005. 
  10. ^ "Conspiracy to defame ashram: Asaram’s son". Financial Express. November 12, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Students throng at Asaram Bapu's discourse". December 2, 2001. Retrieved December 2, 2001. 
  12. ^ "Many to take 'diksha' today". May 8, 2005. Retrieved May 8, 2005.  Many to take 'diksha' today
  13. ^ "Spiritual leader Asaram Bapu survives chopper crash". The Times of India. August 30, 2012. Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  14. ^ Kapoor, Nirnay (August 29, 2012). "Mirculous escape for Asaram Bapu, helicopter crashlands in Godhra". India TV News. Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Worship parents on Valentine's Day, says Asaram Bapu". India Today. January 29, 2012. Archived from the original on September 1, 2013. Retrieved September 1, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Asaram ashram encroachment demolished in Gujarat - Thaindian News". Thaindian.com. November 27, 2010. Retrieved January 11, 2013. 
  17. ^ a b "Asaram Bapu’s prosecution sought for Rs 700cr land grab - Times Of India". Articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com. January 17, 2013. Retrieved February 2, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Asaram denies involvement in Rs 700 cr land grab case in MP". Money Control. January 18, 2013. Retrieved February 2, 2013. 
  19. ^ Kumar, Krishna. "13 September 2013". India today. Retrieved 15 September 2013. , Also republished in the daily mail: [1]
  20. ^ "The Real War on Women…in India". The Diplomat. January 9, 2013. Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Asaram Bapu holds girl responsible for Delhi gangrape, says 'spare' the rapists, slams media". The Indian Express (New Delhi). ANI. January 8, 2013. Retrieved September 1, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Delhi gangrape victim as guilty as rapists: Asaram Bapu". http://firstpost.com. January 7, 2013. Retrieved January 7, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Asaram Bapu adds to shame, says victim at fault too". http://www.hindustantimes.com. January 7, 2013. Retrieved January 13, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Delhi gang rape: Asaram Bapu denies 'controversial' comment". India News. 2013-01-08. Retrieved 2013-08-26. 
  25. ^ "Asaram on gangrape victim: Godman announces Rs.50,000 reward for proving he blamed victim". IndiaToday. 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2013-08-26. 
  26. ^ "Asaram on gangrape victim: Godman announces Rs.50,000 reward for proving he blamed Delhi braveheart". IBNLIVE. 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2013-08-26. 
  27. ^ "Rajasthan Police dispatches team to interrogate Asaram Bapu in rape case". India Today. August 26, 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-02. 
  28. ^ "After rape, Asaram Bapu threatened me to keep quiet, says girl". Financial Express. August 26, 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-02. 
  29. ^ "Despite allegations ranging from murder to rape, why has Asaram Bapu never been arrested? 'BJP states' hold the answer". Daily Bhaskar. August 25, 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-02. 
  30. ^ a b "Asaram Bapu brought to Jodhpur after late night arrest". NDTV. September 1, 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-02. 
  31. ^ "Asaram Bapu rape case: Medical test confirms sexual assault of victim". India Today. August 21, 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-02. 
  32. ^ a b Singh, Mahim Pratap (August 31, 2013). "Asaram supporters attack on journalists condemned". The Hindu. 
  33. ^ FIR registered by victim against Asaram Bapu reveals a horrific tale of sexual assault : North, News - India Today
  34. ^ "Indian guru Asaram Bapu arrested over rape claims". September 1, 2013. 
  35. ^ "Bakwaas: Asaram Bapu's response to charges that he threatened teen girl". NDTV. August 27, 2013. 
  36. ^ "Asaram Bapu says Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul behind conspiracy against him in sexual assault case". India Today. August 29, 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-02. 
  37. ^ "Sonia & Rahul running a campaign against me, says Asaram Bapu". Deccan Chronicle. August 29, 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-02. 

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