How the church destroyed Swami Nithyananda!

source: Hindu Jagruti ,?? March 22, 2010

By Rajiv Malhotra

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.

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.

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