Of fake godmen, politics and society in Kerala

May 19th, 2008 - 11:38 am ICT by admin  

By Sanu George
Thiruvananthapuram, May 19 (IANS) What are all these swamis up to - is what people in Kerala are asking after the dramatic arrest of two fake godmen in the past week that has thrown up their alleged nexus with politicians and police, and their relevance to society. T.N. Jayachandran, former additional chief secretary of Kerala, feels that fake swamis surface due to the degeneration of society in general.

“When this happens, godmen make their presence felt because those who have power and money search for temporary peace through them. These godmen, in turn, exploit these high-profile people and use them to expand their base and fame,” Jayachandran told IANS.

The first saffron-robed guru to hit the headlines was Santhosh Madhavan alias Swami Amritananthachaithanya, who was arrested May 13 and charged with the rape of a teenage girl and possession of ‘ganja’ (marijuana). A tiger skin and a large number of pornographic films were also recovered from his house in Kochi.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was quick to allege that Madhavan is closely linked to Bineesh Kodiyeri, son of state Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

“It was this very swami who had fixed the timing of the marriage of Balakrishnan’s son (held in Thiruvananthapuram last month),” state BJP vice president A.N. Radhakrishnan had told reporters.

But Bineesh denied any such association and threatened to “take legal action” against those making such “baseless allegations”.

Madhavan is said to have links with police officials too. Soon after his arrest, a deputy superintendent of police, who is believed to have shielded the guru, was asked to go on leave.

The second guru, whose antics inside a police station in Aluva were beamed across television sets Saturday, is Himaval Maheswara Bhadranandaji, popularly known as ‘Ernakulam Swami’.

He was taken to the police station after he threatened suicide. And in full view of the media, Bhadranandaji, with a pistol at his forehead, hurled abuses at the media for alleged negative publicity.

When police officials tried to stop him, the gun went off and a bullet whizzed past a reporter. In the ensuing melee, another shot was fired injuring Bhadranandaji.

Bhadranandaji is also believed to be close to politicians. He was reportedly present at the wedding of Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan’s daughter.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan has said that the government would probe Bhadranandaji’s links with politicians and police officials. He termed the police station fiasco as a “blot” on the police and the government.

He lashed out at the Congress-led opposition for remaining mum on the issue, saying, “This clearly shows that they are hand in glove with these fake swamis. Did they even arrest a swami in the five years they ruled the state, whereas we have arrested two?”

E. Joy, a doctor, said he was pained to see literate Kerala going after godmen and added the trend would die out if people stopped pursuing instant gratification.

“These godmen will not have any significance if people don’t go after instant peace and comfort. One’s deeds determine one’s future and in a fast-moving world, money occupies a high place. Many think that peace and comfort can be achieved and they go after godmen for this,” he said.

Opposition leader Oomen Chandy, while admitting to have met Bhadranandaji, said it was too early to comment on the matter.

“Things are just unfolding and it is the job of the police to inquire. Yes, I know the ‘Ernakulam Swami’ and I have taken part in one function to which I was also invited,” said Chandy.

Meanwhile, outspoken Kerala Congress (Secular) legislator P.C. George pointed out a few self-styled Christian leaders have also surfaced in the state.

“Just like there are fake swamis in the Hindu community, there are a few Christian leaders who have formed their own private churches and are flourishing. The state government should certainly inquire about such leaders also,” George said.

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