The unholy doings of Kerala ‘godmen’

May 25th, 2008 - 12:48 pm ICT by admin  

By Liz Mathew
New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram, May 25 (IANS) In ‘god’s own country’ Kerala, the Left government is out godmen hunting! In an unusual drive against the numerous fake ‘godmen’ and ‘godwomen’ in the state, Kerala state police have initiated a probe into the fraudulent deals and disproportionate wealth of almost a dozen such spurious gurus and religious charlatans and arrested some.

The ‘holy war’ began with the arrest of Santhosh Madhavan, a temple priest-turned-astrologer, who was charged with rape of a teen as well as cheating in Alappuzha district earlier this month. The swami turned out to be fake and a benami real estate bigwig. A tiger skin and pornographic films were recovered from his house in Kochi.

Madhavan’s arrest seemed to have opened a can of worms. Since then the state police have raided the homes of several swamis - Divya Joshi, a self-proclaimed sanyasi in Thrissur district, Swamy Thapasyananda, a godman in Panthalam (Pathanamthitta), Swamy Almachaithanya in Kannur district, Matha Prasanna, who runs a ‘charitable’ trust, and Amma Thaya Mahamaya - both in Kottayam district.

Police have recovered documents of fraudulent land deals involving huge amounts, fake passports, bogus passbooks and cheque leaves of various banks from their possession. Many of them have been accused of taking money from “devotees” by promising to heal them of fatal diseases and remove their “bad luck”.

Among those under the scanner is self-proclaimed Christian spiritual leader, Brother Thanku, who has been accused of fraud.

With more and more complaints against “holy men” being reported from different parts of the state, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government has announced that it would not spare any “spiritual leader” against whom there are complaints.

“If there is any complaint of fraudulence, cheating or exploitation against any spiritual leader, the government is ready to initiate an investigation,” said Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, who was in the national capital earlier this week.

He said the state police were preparing a detailed report on the “fake godmen” across the state.

The Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the youth wing organisation of the CPI-M, has publicly demanded that the government probe the source of income of all the ‘godmen’, including Mata Amrithanandamayi, a leading spiritual leader from the state, who has followers across the world.

“We are not against spiritual leaders. But we cannot accept a situation where only small fishes are caught and big sharks are let free. There should be an inquiry into the past lives of all these spiritual leaders and their sources of income in the state,” said DYFI president P. Ramakrishnan.

“There should be a white paper on the issue,” he demanded.

The CPI-M central leadership also has given a green signal to the state government. “There should not be any criminal activities in the name of spirituality. The party is not against any genuine spiritual leaders or sanyasis,” CPI-M politburo member S. Ramachandra Pillai told IANS here.

On Saturday, offices of Thanku ‘brother’, who has established an independent church, Heavenly Feast, in Kottayam district, were searched by the police. The Kottayam municipal corporation has already issued a notice to the sect to demolish its temporary structure built in the heart of the city.

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