India Top News

Gaurav Kanthwal What do Bollywood star Salman Khan and disgraced godman Asaram Bapu have in common? Both suffer from a neural disorder, trigeminal neuralgia, popularly known as the ‘suicide dis

The godman who wasn’t a man of God

The Bollywood star is reported to have sympathised with Asaram and advised him about surgery abroad during their brief meeting in Jodhpur jail in March 2018. Besides putting up a front of being a spiritual guru, the 78-year-old was an aggressive loan shark who dealt in real estate, land-grabbing, benami properties and other investments. Asumal Harpalani, whom his followers revere as Asaram Bapu, was originally an alleged bootlegger who used to sell illicit liquor on the banks of Sabarmati near Motera. The controversial godman, who presented letters of praise from former President KR Narayanan and APJ Abdul Kalam and Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat in the court, wielded enormous clout with politicians, across spectrum, who prostrated in front of him. Commissioner, Rakesh Asthana, the present CBI director, a plum post to manage his chain of ashrams. Despite betraying the trust of gullible people, there are still thousands of his followers who firmly believe that the godman is innocent and it is all a political conspiracy. For some young women, the stigma of being attached to the disgraced father and son is a big hurdle in their marriage and social acceptance in society. Majumdars’s book is primarily a description of events but in chapter 13, Sheeps to Wolves, the author with the help of expert opinion decodes the lure of babas among the masses. The book remains a racy read as long as it describes the events related to Asaram Bapu and his son Narayan Sai. It has almost been two years since the father-son duo was convicted and since most of the things have already been reported in the newspapers and news channels, time lag and redundancy may wean some interest from the book.

You May Also Like