Asaram: The preacher who built an empire of Rs. 10,000cr
(Sourced from PTI)
From high pedestal of a preacher having thousands of followers, self-styled godman Asaram's fall from grace came after he was embroiled in the rape case of a minor girl in 2013. The scrutiny of documents seized by police from Asaram's ashram in Motera area in Ahmedabad had revealed that 77-year-old has amassed a wealth of around Rs. 10,000cr. Here are more details.
As per a documentary on his website, Asaram was born in 1941 as Asumal Sirumalani in Berani village of Sindh province (Pakistan). After partition in 1947, Asumal came to Ahmedabad with his parents and studied only till the fourth standard at a school in Maninagar, as he was forced to leave his studies after the death of his father Thaumal when he was 10.
After doing some odd jobs, Asumal embarked on a "spiritual quest" towards the Himalayas, where he met his Guru, Lilashah Bapu. It was that Guru who gave him the name "Asaram" in 1964 and "commanded him to carve his own path and guide people." Asaram came to Ahmedabad in the early 70s and started doing penance on the banks of Sabarmati near Motera area.
His true journey as a spiritual leader started in 1972 when he set up "Moksha Kutir", a humble hut, on the banks of the Sabarmati river. Over the years, his popularity as "Sant Asaramji Bapu" started soaring high and that "humble hut" converted into a full-fledged Ashram. Within a span of four decades, he added around 400 ashrams in India and abroad.
Even today, Motera Ashram is flocked by followers, who still maintain that their "guru" has been jailed on false charges. Asaram is married to Laxmi Devi and they have two children, son Narayan Sai, who is also behind bars, and daughter Bharti Devi.
Asaram ran into troubled waters for the first time in 2008, when two cousins, Dipesh and Abhishek Vaghela, who used to stay at Gurukul of Asaram's Ashram in Motera, were found dead under mysterious circumstances on the riverbed near the ashram. In 2009, CID booked seven Asaram followers in the death case. Parents alleged the duo were killed as Asaram's followers practice black magic.
Asaram's real fall started in 2013 after he was arrested for a minor's rape in Rajasthan. After that, two Surat-based sisters had come out to speak about their alleged sexual exploitation at hand of Asaram and his son. He was accused of land grabbing for building his ashrams in Surat and Ahmedabad. His followers were held for threatening and assaulting witnesses in rape cases.