May 1, 2018

Miracles, supernatural tales kept Asaram's cult going

Dishank Purohit
Times of India
April 27, 2018

JODHPUR: The appeal of Asaram’s cult is amplified by his astounding claims of performing extraordinary miracles, ranging from halting heavy downpour to being an ‘antaryamin’ (mind reader) capable of curing terminally ill patients.

The dubious stories about his miracles were peddled to keep the faith of supporters reposed in his cult even after he went to jail in 2013.

For instance, his Ashram’s in-house magazine, Rishi Prasad’s online issue number 297, carried an article titled, “Even the clouds obey his commands,” in which a devotee recounts how one day he had to return home after the ‘satsang’ when it was raining heavily. When Asaram asked how he managed to go home, he said he looked up at the sky and said, “Stop now,” and the rain stopped instantly.

Another article from issue number 299 of Rishi Prasad narrates an incident by a devotee who recalls how his minor son was cured of aphasia, an inability to comprehend and formulate language, by a ball of butter as suggested by Asaram.

Jodhpur police officials, who have been managing the godman’s frenzied followers during the many trials at the court, said that Asaram’s claims to “supernatural” powers helped to keep his followers united, despite his involvement in heinous offences.

“During trials when we took him to the court in a Vajra (anti-riot vehicle), his ‘sadhaks’ (devotees) would roll down in front of the vehicle and jostle with each other to get a glimpse of Asaram. They have been trained to believe that proximity to the guru can change their lives,” said an official, adding that these stories were particularly highlighted after his involvement in Jodhpur rape case as his devotees began to leave him.

Neelam Dubey, the spokesperson for Asaram, told TOI that the number of followers hasn’t dwindled and has instead increased. “The number of ‘shivers’ (camps) has increased. Several students who have never even met Bapuji have also begun to attend the ashrams and religious activities,” she told TOI.

Asaram’s core teachings include an emphasis on brahmacharya (celibacy). Apart from “miracles,” his ashram-made medicines are also a rage among his ardent followers. Products like ‘gau chandan’ (cow sandalwood) are still being bought by his followers from his website.

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