His drawing powers make headlines and so does the way he courts controversies. He’s perceived as a self-styled Godman, who calls himself Bageshwar Dham chief and is essentially known for his preaching of Shiva Purana and Ramcharitmanas. Gujarat should know more about this man, Dhirendra Krishna Shastri, during his visits to the state at the end of this month.
Shastri will hold a divine darbar in Gujarat on May 26 and 27 at the Nilgiri Maidan in Limbayat, Surat. On May 29 and 30, he has organised the darbar in Sector 6, Chanakyapuri, Ahmedabad, and on June 1 and 2 in Rajkot.
So, what’s it about Shastri that polarises public opinion? First, a brief profile of this spiritual mesmeriser. Born on July 5, 1996, in Gadhagam village in a Brahmin Krishna Garg family, Shastri narrates the Ramcharit Manas, Satyanarayan Katha, Bhagavat Katha, and Shiv Katha. He has millions of followers and devotees in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, and other northern states of India. His father Krishna Garg is a priest.
In storytelling lies his charm. He holds audiences of all ages who seek his guidance on jobs, family disputes, or relief from haunted experiences. Thousands throng his court, writing down their names and problems in a letter. His popularity soared further during his discourses on Sanatan Dharma (the eternal religion). He rose to fame through televised divya durbars where he claimed to perform miracles.
Soon, he became a prisoner of his own image. An impression was advertised that he considered himself as no ordinary person. Shastri had his devotees believe that he had Lord Hanuman and ascetic baba’s blessings. And that he had powers to resolve people’s physical and mental problems. A certain section of the media reported that he claimed he could see the past and future.
Naturally, he attracted detractors too. According to a Gujarati daily, Shastri had been opposed by Rajkot Commercial Cooperative Bank CEO Purushottam Pipaliya who called him a tantric on his social media account and accused him of spreading blind faith. Shastri’s supporters demanded an apology from Pipaliya, but the latter refused to change his stance saying he hadn’t remarked on any religion. In a series of four social media posts, he reportedly challenged Shastri to provide clues to drug cartels if he were so knowledgeable. He also announced a reward of Rs 5 lakhs should he provide information about drug syndicates in Rajkot.
A greater challenge was posed by Shyam Manav, a rationalist from Maharashtra when he heard that Shastri would be in Nagpur to perform miracles. Manav challenged him to prove his prowess at a public event by appearing for a test. Shastri had to guess the names, contact numbers and other details of 10 people the way he had been doing during his performances. Manav said he would choose the people. If Shastri succeeded, Manav promised to pay him Rs 30 lakh. Of course, Shastri didn’t take up the challenge.
The latest in the soap opera was the indifference exhibited by Gujarat’s famous storyteller Morari Bapu towards Shastri. Recently, Morari Bapu, when quizzed about Shastri, said he didn’t even know the man. According to a report, Shastri had earlier taken potshots at Morari Bapu at a certain event.
Towards the end of May, Gujarat will record another instalment of the Shastri saga. Keep tracking this space.
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