What do you do when you’ve been charged on counts like kidnapping children and keeping them in confinement, rape and sexual assault? Run away from the country and start your own nation, of course!
At least that’s what the plan was for one controversial Indian self-proclaimed ‘godman’ named Nithyananda, who among other things, is also known for his bullshit pseudoscientific teachings. The man from Tamil Nadu, who gained followers after he started an ashram in Bengaluru in 2005, provided a kind of enlightenment that has made many compare his teachings to that of Osho: yet another controversial spiritual leader that you probably last spotted raging about hard drugs and sex in the Wild, Wild Country.
However, in 2010, after a sex tape of Nithyananda and a famous actress came to surface, so did many other allegations which basically said he was a sexual predator. Charged with raping and assaulting a woman at his ashram under the guise of giving her spiritual teachings, as well as picking up children, beating them up and forcing them to earn money for the ashram, the police booked him for abduction, wrongful confinement, voluntarily causing hurt, intentional insult to provoke breach of peace and criminal intimidation as well as other charges under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act. However, Nithyananda fled the country last year as soon as these charges were laid against him and has been absconding for over a year. But even as the Gujarat police are trying to get to him, the ‘godman’ released a video on his YouTube channel on Tuesday, delivering a sermon that authorities traced back to the islands of Trinidad and Tobago.
Turns out, instead of doing jail-time and trying to make amends for his heinous crimes, this rape-accused fugitive has instead bought his own island off the coast of Ecuador, which is being projected as Kailaasa, a brand new Hindu nation. This new nation even has its own website and claims to have a dedicated flag, passport, emblem and even a separate currency which will expand into a cryptocurrency. Describing it as “a nation without borders created by dispossessed Hindus around the world who lost the right to practice Hinduism authentically in their own countries,” this Hindu nation is built on a temple ecosystem, teaches things like the science behind the third eye, runs on a Gurukul schooling system and even offers free food, education and healthcare to all devotees wanting to join the mission. There’s just one small problem with this projected Hindu Utopia: no one can seem to figure out where it’s actually located, making it all the harder for authorities in Karnataka and Gujarat to track the absconding godman. The closest they have come after tracking the website’s IP address is that it was registered in Panama and can be traced back to the city of Dallas in the US.
While police have been puzzled as to how Nithyananda fled the nation since his passport expired a year ago in November 2018, turns out the nation of Kailaasa has its very own passport, one that features the fraudulent man along with Nandi, the holy cow used as a vehicle by the Hindu god Shiva.
Still, it’s all pretty shady since no one, especially not a fugitive with serious charges, can just run off and start their own nation. “Other countries have to accept it as a nation and the United Nations too has to recognise it. It is not like going to Gurugram, buying a piece of land and declaring it as a nation,” sources from the Ministry of External Affairs told The New Indian Express, adding that the ministry was “not taking it seriously”.
This is especially scary when you think about other such similar concepts that spiritual leaders convicted of criminal charges like Osho or Jim Jones tried to do, including mass murder attempts. But even as the criminal ‘godman’ remains at large, the Gujarat court rejected the bail plea of two of Nithyananda’s aides who were arrested along with him.
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