The Talking Point: A team sent by self-styled Indian godman and rape accused Nithyananda, attended a United Nations meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, on February 24, to gain recognition for his island nation, United States of Kailasa (USK).
And now, the questioning point: How did Godman Nithyananda’s representatives make it to a UN meet?
A little background: Nithyananda (born Arunachalam Rajasekaran) known among followers as Nithyananda Paramashivam or Paramahamsa Nithyananda, is an Indian Hindu guru, godman and cult leader. He is the founder of Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam, a trust that owns temples, gurukulas, and ashrams in many countries.
Following the charges of rape and abduction filed in Indian courts, he fled India and has remained in hiding since 2019. He is subject of a court-issued non-bailable warrant relating to the allegations. In 2020, he announced the founding of his own self-proclaimed island nation called Kailasa (USK).
Where is USK? On an island off the coast of Ecuador. The country is named after a mountain in the Himalayas that is considered the mythical abode of Lord Shiva. At that time, Ecuador had denied that Nithyananda was in the country. However, as of present date, it is not among the 193 countries recognised by the UN.
Is he really a mystic? To put it briefly, he claimed to be first noticed at the age of three by Yogiraj Yogananda Puri. Nitya also asserted powerful spiritual experiences from age 12 and to have experienced full enlightenment at 22. In 2002 (age 24), he began his public life under the name Nithyananda. He says that this name was given to him by Mahavatar Babaji in a mystical experience during his monastic wandering days in the Himalayas. In 2003, he started his ashram Dhyanapeetam in Bidadi near Bangalore, Karnataka.
His cult grew: A large number of his early followers were foreign nationals seeking spiritual answers. Sceptics attribute Nithya’s creed gaining ground to this early entrenchment of white followers. Thereon, word spread and so did his followers. Primarily a yogi, he has made several pseudoscientific claims, including that he delayed the sunrise for 40 minutes, that he could make cattle speak in Tamil and Sanskrit. Much like Osho in the 1980s, he now stands charged with orgies as a way of transcending sensual pleasures to arrive upon spiritual gratification.
Controversies started in 2010: When Sun TV telecast video recordings that claimed to show Nithyananda and an actress Ranjitha (who was one of his followers) in a bedroom. Despite vehement denials by the duo, a forensic sciences laboratory in Bengaluru confirmed that the video was real. Later, Ranjitha filed a complaint with the High Court of Karnataka and won the defamatory suits.
Later that year, a United States citizen who was a disciple of Nithyananda, accused him of raping her in the US and in India repeatedly over the course of five years. She filed a complaint with the police department of Ann Arbor, Michigan, who did not commence any formal investigation. Thereon, she filed a complaint with the Karnataka Police. In February 2018, the Third Additional District and Sessions Court in Ramanagara ordered the framing of charges against Nithyananda and five others in relation to the case.
The Gujarat angle: In 2019, a couple from Tamil Nadu approached the High Court of Gujarat claiming that three of their four children were taken to Nithyananda’s ashram in Ahmedabad from Bangalore without their knowledge; the couple sought return of their children to their custody. A FIR for alleged abduction was filed by the Gujarat Police in relation to the case in November 2019. In affidavits filed in the Gujarat High Court from various locations in the Americas, two of the missing children, who were by that time adults, rejected their father’s claim that they have been detained forcibly. In a joint live video statement, the two girls further claimed that their father had plotted the abduction controversy after his name cropped up in an embezzlement case.
The matter dragged on: In May 2002, the Gujarat HC observed that the Centre should issue a Blue Corner Notice for the two girls from the ashram located in Delhi Public School (DPS) campus at Hathijan in Ahmedabad. Little has been achieved since.
As of now: Nithyananda was the subject of the 2022 Discovery+ series “My Daughter Joined a Cult” streamed internationally. A representative of Nithyananda attended a Diwali event in October 2022 held at the Houses of Parliament as a guest of the Hindu Forum of Britain. Nithya Atmadayananda, a prominent supporter of Nithyananda, was photographed with Bob Blackman and president of the Hindu Forum of Britain, Trupti Patel. The event was attended by Rami Ranger. The brochure for the event featured a full-page advert for Kailaasa UK.
Still wanted in India, he continues to evade international laws.