Swami Nithyananda

Godman is a colloquial term used in India for a type of charismatic guru. They usually have a high-profile presence, and are capable of attracting attention and support from large sections of the society. Godmen sometimes claim to possess paranormal powers, such as the ability to heal, the ability to see or influence future events, and the ability to read minds.

In the old days, respected gurus were viewed as barefoot ascetics who spent their lives in solitary meditation in Himalayan caves. But now things are different. Rama Lakshmi wrote in Washington Post, These modern-day mega-gurus are nothing like the wandering saints of ancient Hindu religious texts, who meditated and lived on alms, renouncing all worldly possessions. They’ve built hundreds of ashrams across the globe and run flourishing businesses in everything from herbal medicine to meditation and yoga workshops. They travel in luxury cars, glide past airport security and are guarded by gun-toting policemen and bouncers. Some have criminal pasts. “There is a mushrooming of these gurus who offer black-and-white spirituality without much depth to people who want shortcuts in their fast-paced, urban lives,” said Katharina Poggendorf-Kakar, an anthropologist in Goa. [Source: Rama Lakshmi, Washington Post, September 26, 2013]

Gurus in India have faced charges of murder, sexual abuse, running prostitution rackets and illegal land acquisition. In early 2010 alone one guru was arrested over prostitution, another was caught in a sex-tape scandal, a third was accused of kidnapping a female follower and a fourth allegedly caused a stampede that killed 63 people.

A Keralan holy man named Himaval Maheswara Bhadrananda claimed to have predicted the great Asian tsunami in December 2005 and used his holy power to halt the spread of chikungunya virus. When a local newspaper in 2008 claimed he was fraud, he burst into a police station and threatened to shoot himself. He was arrested. [Source: The Times of London, March 19, 2011]

Websites and Resources: Gurus
Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Why so many Indians flock to gurus - BBC News bbc.com ; The Guru in Hindu Tradition, J Mlecko (1982), Numen (journal) jstor.org/stable ; Spiritual Gurus and Saints of Hinduism, India and the World hinduwebsite.com/saints ; Great Saints of India greatgurusofindia.wordpress.com ; Gurus Gone Bad in India aljazeera.com ; Guru choice and spiritual seeking in contemporary India, M Warrier (2003), International Journal of Hindu Studies springer.com ; Hindu Concepts of Teacher, Sanskrit Guru and Ācārya, Minoru Hara (1980), Sanskrit and Indian Studies ; Sanal Edamaruku's home page sanaledamaruku.com

Why So Many Indians Believe in Godmen

On why Indians believe in Godmen so much, Radhesh Mohandas wrote in Quora.com, “1) Primarily because we have God men of high calibre. Fakes are being touted by the media which is a mouth piece for western values and their way of life. They are telling us how to speak, how to dress, what to eat, hot to think and how to live. 2) Secondly because most Indians know what is the real goal of life. Hence everything that we do in our culture - the language, the food, the education, the jobs, the thinking process, the living experience is optimized around one subject - Spirituality. Everything is calibrated to maximize spiritual evolution. The capitalist maximizes every thing towards material gains. [Source: Radhesh Mohandas, Quora.com, June 16, 2015 /|]

Swami Nithyanada at the Kumbh Mela in 2013

“Please change your perception that every God man is a conman. If you interact with a few, it will become clear that they have such clarity and understanding of reality that a single conversation will cut short your discovery effort by a few years. Please also change your perception that Indians are stupid. Most Indians are smart and can make out between real and fake. The opportunities here might not have allowed them to shine materially but when they do get the chance they have not stopped till they reached the top of the world. Please change your conclusion that Indian religion is belief driven. The western religions do not even come close to eastern religions in explaining reality scientifically and analysing objectively the higher philosophical goals of existence. /|\

Answering the same question, Santosh Savadatti wrote on Quora.com, “Because our people are stupid. I have asked a lot of people why they believe in godmen. It's not like these dudes are born with extra antennae to communicate with unknown entities.They are just ordinary flesh and blood humans like us. People fall for it because they want to fall for it. What happens when a baba they are following is exposed as a fraudster? They start following a second baba. After that, a third baba....never ending stupidity. [Source: Santosh Savadatti, Quora.com, October 25, 2013]

In response to this Vinay Varma wrote: “We are not more superstitious. We are more spiritual. Most of our godmen don't preach fanaticism. When Indians get impressed by a godman (or godwoman), they get impressed for the spiritual clarity with which the godman or godwoman addresses anxieties of life. They are looking for answers to such questions as 'why do bad things happen', 'how can I cope with this'. But generally more Indians visit temples than godmen. Why not ask why Americans believe in everyone who touts himself/herself as a life/success coach/guru and writes a sloppy book with all promising catchy title. That ought to be any equally interesting question. People in the West go after success coaches who promise to show the road to money, happiness and power and make best sellers of fluffy books that sell motherhood statements as profound wisdom. [Source: Vinay Varma, Management Consultant; Social Scientist and Philosopher at Large; Poet, Quora.com, May 27, 2013]

Debraj Chakrabarti posted: “Indians are insecure and superstitious (the latter is a consequence of the former.) They need crutches like these gurus and god men. Also, Indians are hypocrites, so they advertise this weakness as "spirituality". Cibi Kulandaisamy said, I think the number of so called 'god mans' that Hindus believe are far lesser when compared to the priests that Christians believe in their churches every Sunday! there is no faith in which the followers do not follow a human who says he is touched by god! after all it is the oldest trade of deceit! [Source: Debraj Chakrabarti, math student, August 27, 2014; Cibi Kulandaisamy, Tech Entrepreneur - Designer - Programmer, September 10, 2012, Quora.com]

India’s Rich and Powerful ‘Godmen’

2013 Sai Baba stamp

Reporting from Puttaparthi, Simon Denyer wrote in the Washington Post: “India’s gurus, “miracle workers” and spiritual leaders, often collectively known as “godmen,” have become savvy, powerful figures who control vast philanthropic and business empires, dabble in politics and manipulate the media. With that power and wealth, however, have come questions about the business of religion, fueled in recent months by the discoveries of hoards of gold, silver, diamonds and cash, the declaration of assets running into hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars, and accusations of money laundering. [Source: Simon Denyer, Washington Post July 12, 2011*/]

“The godmen range from “miracle-workers” and “living gods,” such as Sathya Sai Baba, the diminutive holy man with a black Afro who left behind a secret trove of gold, silver and cash when he died in April, to yoga gurus including Baba Ramdev, a television star who joined a popular campaign against official corruption, only to be investigated for tax evasion. The rising wealth and prominence of the godmen in the past two decades has accompanied rising incomes in India and the liberalization of the media. To an extent, it also mirrors the rising political popularity of the Hindu nationalist movement, with its assertion of pride in Hindu traditions and values. But their popularity is more an expression of “the extraordinary religiosity of the Indian people, which has withstood the forces of education and modernization,” said historian Ramchandra Guha. “Its manifestation is the offering of money and jewels to a deity, whether living or frozen in stone.”*/

“While some of the self-styled godmen are crooks or charlatans, many provide immense spiritual succor to their followers. When Sai Baba died of heart failure, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called it an “irreparable loss,” describing him as a “spiritual leader who inspired millions.” Sai Baba’s philosophy of love, social service and the universality of all religions proved both appealing and powerful, with his motto of “Love all, serve all,” and his message that more merit could be gained through service to humanity than through religious observance.” */

How India’s ‘Godmen’ Get So Rich

Simon Denyer wrote in Washington Post, Often the godmen’s “most devoted followers come from the middle classes, and donations also stream in from Indians abroad. The flood of money is partly a function of the huge rise in disposable income that many Indians now enjoy, but some sociologists say it reflects a need to balance newfound wealth with old-fashioned values. “The Indian middle classes are a very schizophrenic bunch of people,” said Meera Nanda, author of “The God Market: How Globalization Is Making India More Hindu,” who argues that it is time the religious trusts were properly regulated, audited and taxed. “They look at renunciation, asceticism, a life of simplicity as a higher ideal, but that is an ideal hardly anyone can live up to with this growing wealth. Giving ends up doing the balancing act for them.” [Source: Simon Denyer, Washington Post July 12, 2011*/]

“And give they certainly have. When Sai Baba died in April, his personal chambers were found to contain $2.8 million in cash, along with gold and silver worth about $5 million. Cupboards contained cloth bags filled with diamonds, hundreds of robes, more than 500 pairs of shoes and dozens of bottles of perfume and hair spray. While his followers insist Sai Baba never even had a bank account, the trust in his name is thought to be worth about $10 billion.

Unmasking Fraudulent Gurus

Sanal Edamaruku giving a lecture on "Flying Fakirs and Starvinf Saints"

Sanal Edamaruku is an Indian version of the Amazing Randi. As head of the Indian Rationalists’ Association, he specializes in unmasking guru frauds and is regarded. Some say he is India’s self-appointed sceptic-in-chief. Jeremy Page wrote in The Times of London, “Mr Edamaruku has dedicated his life to exposing the charlatans — from levitating village fakirs to televangelist yoga masters — who he says are obstructing an Indian Enlightenment. The immediate goal I have is to stop these fraudulent babas and gurus,” says Mr Edamaruku, 55, a part-time journalist and publisher from the southern state of Kerala. “I want people to make their own decisions. They should not be guided by ignorance, but by knowledge. “I’d like to see a post-religious society — that would be an ideal dream, but I don’t know how long it would take.” [Source: Jeremy Page, The Times of London, March 19, 2010 ^]

“The Indian Rationalist Association was founded officially in Madras in 1949 with the encouragement of the British philosopher Bertrand Russell, who sent a long letter of congratulations. For the next three decades it had no more than 300 members and focused on publishing pamphlets and debating within the country’s intellectual elite.” The “organisation traces its origins to the 1930s when the “Thinker’s Library” series of books, published by Britain’s Rationalist Press Association, were first imported to India. They included works by Aldous Huxley, Charles Darwin and H.G. Wells; among the early subscribers was Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister. ^

“But since Mr Edamaruku took over in 1985, it has grown into a grass-roots organisation of more than 100,000 members — mainly young professionals, teachers and students — covering most of India. Members now spend much of their time investigating and reverse-engineering “miracles” performed by self-styled holy men who often claim millions of followers and amass huge wealth from donations. ^

“Exposing such tricks can be risky. A guru called Balti (Bucket) Baba once smashed a burning hot clay pot in Mr Edamaruku’s face after he revealed that the holy man was using a heat resistant pad to pick it up. The chief rationalist was almost arrested by the government of Kerala for revealing that it was behind an annual apparition of flames in the night sky — in fact, several state officials lighting bonfires on a nearby hill — which attracted millions of pilgrims. Despite his efforts, he admits that people still go to the festival and continue to revere self-styled holy men.^

“But the media revolution has also helped Mr Edamaruku, who made 225 appearances on television last year, and gets up to 70 inquiries about membership daily. Thanks to his confrontation in 2008 with the tantric master, the rationalist is now a national celebrity, too.” ^

Tricks Used by Fraudulent Gurus

Edamaruku shows students at the National Science Centre in New Delhi how a levitation trick is done

On ways gurus appear to have miraculous powers, Jeremy Page wrote in The Times of London, “One common trick they expose is levitation, usually done using an accomplice who lies on the ground under a blanket and then raises his upper body while holding out two hockey sticks under the blanket to make it look like his feet are also rising. “It’s quite easy really,” said Mr Edamaruku, who teaches members to perform the tricks in villages and then explains how they are done, or demonstrates them at press conferences. Other simple tricks include walking on hot coals (the skin does not burn if you walk fast enough) and lying on a bed of nails (your weight is spread evenly across the bed). The “weeping statue” trick is usually done by melting a thin layer of wax covering a small deposit of water. [Source: Jeremy Page, The Times of London, March 19, 2010 ^]

“Some tricks require closer scrutiny. One guru in the state of Andhra Pradesh used to boil a pot of tea using a small fire on his head. The secret was to place a non-conductive pad made of compacted wheat flour between his head and the fire. “I was so excited when I exposed him. I should have been more reasonable but sometimes you get so angry,” he said. “I cried: ‘Look, even I can do this and I’m not a baba — I’m a rationalist!’.” ^

“Another swami — who conducted funeral rites for Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister who was assassinated in 1984 — used to appear to create fire by pouring ghee, clarified butter, on to ash and then staring at the mixture until it burst into flames. The “ghee” was glycerine and the “ash” was potassium permanganate, two chemicals that spontaneously combust within about two minutes of being mixed together.” ^

Guru Tries to Kill Sceptic on Live Television

In 2010, the guru Pandit Surender Sharma tried to kill Edamaruku live on television. After several hours of trying, Edamaruku was still alive, Jeremy Page wrote in The Times of London, “When a famous tantric guru boasted on television that he could kill another man using only his mystical powers, most viewers either gasped in awe or merely nodded unquestioningly. Sanal Edamaruku’s response was different. “Go on then — kill me,” he said. Mr Edamaruku had been invited to the same talk show... At first the holy man, Pandit Surender Sharma, was reluctant, but eventually he agreed to perform a series of rituals designed to kill Mr Edamaruku live on television. Millions tuned in as the channel cancelled scheduled programming to continue broadcasting the showdown, which can still be viewed on YouTube. [Source: Jeremy Page, The Times of London, March 19, 2010]

Guru Pandit Surender on television

“First, the master chanted mantras, then he sprinkled water on his intended victim. He brandished a knife, ruffled the sceptic’s hair and pressed his temples. But after several hours of similar antics, Mr Edamaruku was still very much alive — smiling for the cameras and taunting the furious holy man. “He was over, finished, completely destroyed!” Mr Edamaruku chuckles triumphantly as he concludes the tale in the Rationalist Centre, his second-floor office in the town of Noida, just outside Delhi.

When the guru’s initial efforts failed, he accused Mr Edamaruku of praying to gods to protect him. “No, I’m an atheist,” came the response. The holy man then said he needed to conduct a ritual that could only be done at night, outdoors, and after he had slept with a woman, drunk alcohol and rubbed himself in ash. The men agreed to go to an outdoor studio that night — all to no avail. At midnight, the anchor declared the contest over. Reason had prevailed.

Swami Nithyananda and His Sex Scandals

Swami Nithyananda (also called Paramahamsa Nithyananda) is a self-styled Hindu godman. Believed by his disciples to be an avatar named Mahasadashiva, he is the founder of Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam, which is based in India but has devotees, temples, gurukulas, and ashrams around the world. He has been named in several scandals, including one involving an actress and a sex tape. [Source: Wikipedia]

Swami Nithyananda was born A. Rajasekaran in Tiruvannamalai, in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India. There are discrepancies over his birth date. His passport and a 2003 US visitor visa gave a date of 13 March 1977, while 2010 Karnataka High Court documents showed a date of 1 January 1978.

Swami Nithyananda Paramhamsa, a popular and handsome Godman

Swami Nithyananda’s religious organisation regularly hosts cultural events related to Hinduism in the United States. Wwo Guinness world records — one in rope yoga — and one in pole yoga (mallakhamba) were set at these events. Swami Nithyananda's organization claims that he and his inducted disciples have spiritual powers, including kundalini awakening and third-eye awakening. He has claimed that there are 400 extraordinary spiritual powers which can be expressed by humans and has claimed to have initiated his disciples into 60 such powers. He and his followers claim to be able to perform paranormal phenomena like extrasensory perception and materialisation, body scanning, distance vision, and ability to find lost objects. Several miracles have been attributed to him. In January 2019, a child disciple of Nithyananda, claimed to have given 82 students, afflicted with degrees of blindness at a blind school in Vastrapur area of Ahmedabad, the power to see using the third eye to see.

In 2010, Sun TV released a sex tape of Swami Nithyananda and his follower actress Ranjitha. Nithyananda and Ranjitha have claimed the video was fake but scientists at the Forensic Sciences Laboratory in Bengaluru said that Nithyananda and Ranjitha indeed were the two people shown in the tape. Nithyananda's ex-driver Lenin Karuppan owned up to filming his 'guru' and Ranjitha clandestinely and said he did because he lost faith in his guru after seeing him sleeping around with other women. Nithyananda was also accused of raping a disciple over a nearly five-year period, during her stay in the ashram. In June, 2018, he was charged with rape, unnatural sex, cheating, criminal abetment, disappearance of evidence, giving false information, criminal conspiracy and other charges

Guru Sant Rampal Arrested for Attempted Murder

Sant Rampal

In November 2014, guru Sant Rampal was arrested in the northern state of Haryana in connection with a murder-conspiracy case after a standoff over two days at his ashram during which six people died. Aditi Malhotra wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “Indian police use batons and water cannon to disperse supporters of Hindu guru Sant Rampal as they storm his ashram at Hisar in Haryana state, The 63-year-old guru, Sant Rampal, was taken into custody after a roughly 33-hour siege at the complex which was defended by thousands of his devotees. [Source: Aditi Malhotra, Wall Street Journal, November 20, 2014]

“Mr. Rampal is under investigation for attempted murder, criminal conspiracy and rioting and has ignored a series of summonses to appear in court, police said. He hasn’t been formally charged and has denied the allegations against him. “We are dedicated to fix this lawlessness,” said Shriniwas Vashisht, director-general of the Haryana police.

A former engineer, Mr. Rampal is one of India’s many self-styled “god men.” He says he is the reincarnation of Kabir, a famous Indian poet and mystic, and has acquired a large following. Police in riot gear surrounded the ashram on Tuesday and clashed with thousands of devotees armed with sticks, stones and Molotov cocktails, who formed a human chain to protect the 12-acre compound.

Asaram Bapu

Asaram Bapu is a guru whose real name is Asumal Harpalani. He was born in 1941 and spent time working in a tea stall and as a bootlegger before founding his own ashram in 1971. His empire eventually grew to millions of followers, including high-profile businessmen and politicians. By the 2010s he had attracted 20 million devotees in hundreds of ashrams worth an estimated $760 million. In 2013, he was arrested on sexual assault charges, raising concerns about the boom in spiritual gurus in India and the enormous power and wealth they have accumulated. [Source: Rama Lakshmi, Washington Post, September 26, 2013 /^/]

Asaram Bapu

Reporting from Motera in western India, Rama Lakshmi wrote in the Washington Post, “Men lay prostrate on the floor in front of the elevated seat of their guru: the man they call Asaram Bapu. Pictures of his avuncular face, with its flowing white beard, hang everywhere in his sprawling 12-hectare ashram in Motera.” People worship him at “an enclosed wood-carved altar” with “a large photograph, an air purifier, flashy lights and fake red roses.” /^/

Asaram Bapu Arrested for Sexual Assault

In August 2013 Asaram Bapu was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting the 16-year-old daughter of two of his followers and was imprisoned in a Jodhpur jail. Rama Lakshmi wrote in the Washington Post: “Allegations of sexual abuse of female followers, shady land acquisition deals and even murder have dogged Harpalani for over a decade, but even he could not escape the most recent charge after the two followers turned up at a police station Aug. 18, saying he had sexually assaulted their daughter. The teen, a student in one of the ashram schools, told police that the “godman” called her into his room late one night to exorcize evil spirits. He gave her a glass of milk, switched off the lights and started molesting her, according to charging documents. “He told me not to tell anybody or he would get my father killed,” the girl told police. [Source: Rama Lakshmi, Washington Post, September 26, 2013 /^/]

“Police charged Harpalani with sexual assault of a juvenile, but bringing him in was not easy. In a telling sign of his immense clout, Harpalani avoided arrest for days while he meditated and gave sermons and media interviews, and skipped out on interrogations by hopping between some of his more than 400 ashrams. It finally took about 300 police officers in riot gear to arrest him at one of his ashrams. Angry devotees blocked rail and road traffic in protest and beat up journalists. Harpalani has continued to proclaim his innocence. “Bigger allegations have been made against me in the past; they didn’t stick,” Harpalani said in an interview with the ABP TV channel. “But this is a dirty allegation, and a baseless one. I am so old, the girl is like my granddaughter.” /^/

“Other, darker charges dog him. In 2008, the bodies of two young students of the ashram — aged 9 and 10 — were discovered lying disemboweled on the banks of a nearby river. The boys’ relatives accused the guru of practicing a black magic ritual; he suggested the boys had drowned. A judicial report on the tragedy has not yet been made public.”

Response of Followers to Asaram Bapu’s Arrest

arrest of guru Himaval Maheswara Bhadrananda

Asaram Bapu’s followers responded in different ways to his arrest. A month or so after he was jailed, Rama Lakshmi wrote in the Washington Post, “The ashram, once a place of peace, is now under siege. Devotees look at every newcomer with suspicion. News television crews are chased away by guards. And there is talk of a grand conspiracy to defame their guru. “Devotees are calling all day, asking, ‘What do we do, what do we do?’ We tell them to have faith and chant to get rid of the false allegations,” said Venkat Aravala, an Indian-born software engineer based in Nashville, Tennessee. “He has blessed my family all these years. Now it is my turn to pray for him,” said Anjali Chand, 42. “He is like a beautiful lotus and the allegations are like muck and dirty water.” [Source: Rama Lakshmi, Washington Post, September 26, 2013]

“But for some who grew disenchanted, allegations of sexual dalliances are not a surprise, even though the best-selling item in his ashram’s bookstore is his booklet on celibacy, “The Secret of Eternal Youth.” “I saw him with my own eyes in a sexual position with a female disciple. Otherwise, I would not have believed it either,” said Amritbhai Prajapati, who was Harpalani’s personal physician for 12 years. “The women are told that they are lucky to be touched by him, that he is an avatar of Lord Krishna and the women were his consorts from a previous birth.”

“In the days since his arrest, worshippers are still flocking to the ashram, and faith remains high. But for now, text messages from the ashram are about as much communication as his followers can hope to receive on him, except for a note released Friday that was written from jail. “The truth is fearless,” Harpalani wrote, somewhat inscrutably. “Lies are without legs. May God bless you all.”

Dark Side of Guru Culture in the U.S.

Jayanti Tamm wrote in the Washington Post, “By the time the mud had dried at Woodstock, Swami Prabhupada had created the Hare Krishnas... Communes and ashrams sprouted across America. In the 1960s, the decade now mythic for its anti-conformity, flocks of people conformed to the dictates of self-proclaimed prophets. In 1968, the Beatles sat at the feet of the Maharishi, soaking up his teachings. Consciousness-raising went mainstream. Reciting Sanskrit chants, wearing japa beads and finding a guru became trendy and chic. Everyone who was anyone read "I Am That" and "Autobiography of a Yogi." Many free spirits obediently changed their names, dropped out of college and abandoned their families. Ironically, their wild-child rebellion landed them in rigidly structured cults that controlled their lives — and those of their children. For many, that life eventually grew old. They retired their mantras and moved on. But for others, my parents included, the intrigue never faded. [Source: Jayanti Tamm, Washington Post, August 9, 2009. Tamm is an English professor at Ocean County College and the author of "Cartwheels in a Sari: A Memoir of Growing Up Cult." ~~]

“Like the Beatles, my hippie parents met their guru in 1968. Sri Chinmoy, based in New York, promised them enlightenment — if they obeyed his dictates. All they had to do was surrender their lives to him. To my trusting and vulnerable mother, and to my eccentric and contemplative father, the offer sounded like a bargain. Arriving in the United States in 1964, Sri Chinmoy had vast ambitions. He aimed to infiltrate the United Nations, win a Nobel Prize and gain a worldwide following. His disciples were to lead austere, celibate lives, devoting themselves and their financial resources entirely to his mission. In 1970 when my mother became pregnant — a clear breach of the rules — the guru saved face by divining me as his chosen soul. ~~

“I was born and raised in the ashram of this man who declared himself an incarnation of God. Before I could walk, my parents dressed me in a sari and took me with them on their recruiting trips. Instead of acting in school plays and going to soccer camp, I distributed leaflets proclaiming the guru's divinity from parade floats that wound through city streets. I spent summers scrubbing the cages of the zoo housed in the basement of the guru's Queens home. ~~

“When Chinmoy wanted to attract more media attention, he staged elaborate weightlifting feats, hoisting elephants, helicopters and even Nelson Mandela and Mikhail Gorbachev — a smoke-and-mirrors spectacle that I never understood. How could lifting elephants illuminate and ultimately transform the world? When I was a teenager, the guru's strict rules banning all contact and relationships with the "outside" world provoked questions and longings for everything he forbade — college, career and family. When he told me to neglect the mind and forever remain in the heart "like a 7-year-old," I finally realized that he was a narcissistic charlatan, shamelessly exploiting the faithful. ~~

Swami Nithyananda as a young ascetic

“At 25, older than my parents had been when they renounced the world to serve the guru, I was formally banished from his cult. I lost all my connections to the community I'd known since birth. Fortunately, I was young enough to venture into the "outside" world and forge a life on my own terms. For years, I have struggled with the reckless decision of some in my parents' generation to entrust their present and future to those who claimed to be spiritually enlightened. Cultural historians today portray the '60s as a unique time. I hope they are right. That is, I hope that the cast of corrupt opportunists -- gurus, prophets and messiahs -- who profited from others' naiive belief is indeed a unique '60s phenomenon, safely encapsulated in those glossy anniversary books.” ~~

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Internet Indian History Sourcebook sourcebooks.fordham.edu “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “Encyclopedia of the World's Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); “Encyclopedia of the World Cultures: Volume 3 South Asia” edited by David Levinson (G.K. Hall & Company, New York, 1994); “The Creators” by Daniel Boorstin; “A Guide to Angkor: an Introduction to the Temples” by Dawn Rooney (Asia Book) for Information on temples and architecture. National Geographic, the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Times of London, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated September 2018

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