In my recent India trips I tried to inquire into the allegations against Swami Nithyananda and found a totally new set of facts than what I had been led to believe earlier. Though not a legal expert, I feel I should share what I heard from sources that seem reliable.
1) About 4 years back a sudden scandal broke out with charges ranging from stealing land, illegal gold, tiger skins, all the way to sex and drugs. Media constantly replayed a few tapes none of which had been verified. Swami Nithyananda went to Kumbh Mela and became invisible, and later got arrested. This much is well known. It was alleged that a woman named Ranjitha had been sexually compromised by him. This became a headline scandal that preoccupied the media for weeks.
2) But legal experts I spoke with recently told me that the chronology of events that took place was very strange and abnormal: First the allegations against Swami Nithyananda were made solely by media, before any charges had been filed by authorities. Then the police wanted to gather evidence to substantiate the charges and started placing advertisements on TV asking for victims to come forth and approach the police with complaints. Police phone numbers were displayed on TV ads round the clock for people to call. Interestingly, nobody came forth despite massive solicitation by the police and media. It was strange that the allegations were being repeated as though the matter was settled, even before the police had formal complaints from any victims,and even before the evidence was available.
3) So the sequence was: Media scandal ==> police ads looking for victims ==> police starts complaints. This is backwards.
4) 4+ years of due process later, all the charges got dropped, except one charge made by one woman. The other matters concerning illegal financials, land “grab”, and various other unlawful activities initially charged all got dropped one by one.
5) The main woman said to be the victim (an actress named Ranjhita) has since come forth and refuted all the allegations supposedly made on her behalf. She hired a lawyer and filed lawsuits against the main TV stations that started the scandal, charging the media with slandering her name. It turns out that other media across India had blindly copied what had been shown on Sun TV (which is owned by DMK supremo Karunanidhi’s family). Ranjitha now lives in the ashram of Swami Nithyananda – hardly a sign of someone seeing herself as a victim.
6) So where are things today? I am told that one woman is making the sole charges against Swami Nithyananda. Ranjitha and her lawyer appeared in the Supreme Court to petition that she was falsely used as victim in a conspiracy.
7) The sole accuser is said to have a track record that I dont want to state here, as what I was told is very messy, and I have not confirmed it for myself.
8) The matter was sitting dormant with nobody wanting to press it further, presumably because the case lacked merit. Swami Nithyananda could have just let it sit indefinitely and fade away. But his lawyers decided to make an aggressive move, and they initiated a petition in the Supreme Court. They petitioned that the state High Court of Karnataka had failed to dispose of the case in a timely manner, and it was well past all the deadlines applicable. The goal of Swami Nithyananda’s lawyers was to escalate the case higher in order to get rid of it once and for all.
9) Whether this was a wise strategy or whether it might backfire, only time will tell. Now the case is back in full swing in the state High Court, because the Supreme Court reprimanded the High Court for tardiness and sloppiness, and ordered it to hear the trial quickly and resolve the matter.
10) Will the state High Court take its revenge for being embarrassed before the Supreme Court and for being made to look incompetent? Will the police look for every excuse possible to become extra tough just to save face – after all, its very intense and urgent case 4+ years went nowhere, and most charges got dropped anyway? I don’t have a clue how to answer these, as this is not my field of expertise.
11) But one thing is for sure: the biased and opportunistic media is once again seeing this as another chance to sensationalize even though most of the journalists covering this are of modest levels of IQ and even lower levels of due diligence.
My advice to the ashramites of Swami Nithyananda’s organizations is to remain loyal to their guru. He has without doubt helped a large number of people worldwide in solving a variety of personal matters. His teachings resemble those of Osho in many ways, with the added touch that he has revived many rituals and traditional practices alongside the Hindu dharma theory. I have said the same to the disciples of every other guru that approached me at a time of crisis: Be loyal to your guru.
My advice to Hindus at large is to always give the benefit of doubt to a Hindu guru over secular media or other charlatans of faiths making charges of whatever kind. When similar problems hit other religions, they close ranks and resolve the matter internally. Hindus do not have any such internal mechanism. Hence the matter goes to high profile forums, and secularists turn it into an opportunity to mock and ridicule.
I disapprove of Hindus who jump ship at every such opportunity or who join the opponents. For many weak persons, its easier to do that, and harder to stick one’s neck out for the principle of solidarity.
In closing: I was neither present as eyewitness when the alleged events are said to have occurred, nor am I a legal expert to evaluate the case. But my loyalties are clear as a Hindu.