An Indian self-titled godman Asaram Bapu turned 79 this year. In the early 1970s, he gained immense fame among the masses and founded over 400 ashrams in India and overseas by 2013. Nearly two crores followers worship him worldwide and he has more than 50 gurukuls, 40 residential schools, a printing press, and an Ayurvedic unit in India. His journey began with a tea-seller as a kid to a spiritual guru and now a rapist under trial for three rape cases.

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Asaram Biography

Asaram Bapu’s original name is Asumal Sirumalani Harpalani who took birth in the house of mother Mehangiba who was a housemaker and father Thaumal Sirumalani who was a Coal and Wood businessman in the Berani village of the Nawabshah District in British India (presently in Jam Nawaz Ali Tehsil of Sanghar district Sindh, Pakistan) in Bania caste. His natal day falls on 17th April 1941. He hails from a Sindhi middle-class family of Pakistan who moved to Maninagar, Ahmedabad after the Indo-Pak division in 1947. He went to Jai Hind High School, Maninagar, Ahmedabad for early education up-till class III, after his father died. Before transforming into a spiritual guru, he used to ferry Ajmer Sharif dargah pilgrims on his pony cart from the railway station to dargah. His tonga stood out in the crowd of fellow tongawalas because his tonga had cushioned seats. He was also a tea-seller and later was engaged in the business of liquor-selling.

Asaram as Spiritual Guru

There are several flings related to Asaram when he used to run away to the ashrams. In one such event, he ran away from the home at the age of 15 to an ashram in Bharuch eight days before his down the pike wedding to Laxmi Devi. Eventually, his family persuaded him to get married to Laxmi.

During his adolescence, he stayed at several ashrams, and apparently, a local religious-spiritual figure Lilashahji purportedly appointed him as her follower over an ashram at Gandhidham. She gave him a new name Asaram on 7th October 1964. After this, he embarked on his religious journey and started giving guru-diksha. Several devotees started following him and attended his satsang programs. In December 2001, nearly 20,000 devotees attended his program in Ahmedabad. In August 2012, his helicopter collapsed in Godhra in which all the patrons including Asaram and the pilot got through securely. Then onwards, his devotees started doubling day and night. People regarded him a lot and he turned out to be a spiritual guru.  

Asaram Case

The popular self-titled godman Asumal Sirumalani recognized by Asaram Bapu’s image was defamed when a 16-year old girl from Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh blamed him for physical assault at an ashram near Jodhpur. On 20th August 2013, the victim’s family who was also the disciples of Asaram booked a petition against him with the Delhi Police. After the medical examination of the girl proved the physical abuse, the case was registered and was taken up in the Parliament. Subsequently, the Jodhpur Police confined him on 1st September 2013. Conspicuously, Jodhpur Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Court condemned him for the rape case and announced a verdict of life imprisonment along with the fine of Rs. 5 lakh to be paid to the victim. Months later, two girls from Surat also filed a similar case against Asaram Bapu and his son Narayan Sai who raped them frequently and restrained them illegally. On 26th April 2019, Surat court found Narain Sai guilty under Indian Penal Code sections 376 (rape), 377 (unnatural offences), 323 (assault), 506-2 (criminal intimidation) and 120-B (conspiracy) and sentenced him to life incarceration.

Asaram Bapu landed into controversy in 2008 when the two boys were lost from Asaram’s residential school in Motera, Gujarat. The parents purported that the ashram administration restrained them to file a complaint with the Police and the police intimidated them on receiving clues from the ashram’s luminaries. On 5th July 2013, the unprecedented state-wide public turbulence took place when the decomposed bodies of two boys were found near his ashram in Motera on the banks of the Sabarmati River. It was asserted that Asaram and his followers have sacrificed their lives for conjuring.

Furthermore, when the deceased bodies of two more boys were found at a sister-gurukul in Chhindwara, the widespread demonstration took place urging for the closure of gurukul. Several parents decided to discharge their wards. A magistrate-level inquiry was organized which gave the conviction that a fourteen-year-old boy assassinated both the children. Later in 2019, the state parliament exempted Asaram of all charges and held the ashram authorities responsible for carelessness.    

Additionally, several witnesses and relatives of victims in the Asaram case were also attacked from 2014-2015.

Asaram had a rule of thumb in confiscating vacant plots of land through illegitimate means including falsification of records. His several ashrams have endured legal challenges on grounds of illegal infringement. The state governments have demolished ashrams to recover lands that were illegally overreached. Many pending cases and investigations are still going on.

Asaram Personal Life

Asaram Bapu tied the knots with Lakshmi Devi and the couple has two children – one son named Narayan Prem Sai and one daughter named Bharti Devi. His leisure interests include dancing and doing make-up.

Asaram Images on India Content Website

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