Angry villagers have ransacked the headquarters of one of India’s most famous "swamis" — or Hindu holy men — after local television stations broadcast footage that appeared to show him cavorting in bed with two women.
Paramhamsa Nityananda, who claims two million followers in 33 countries, was not present when the villagers stormed the sprawling retreat about 19 miles from the southern city of Bangalore on Wednesday, according to local police.
They said that 100 officers had been deployed to protect the ashram, which is home to many Indian and Western devotees, and has been visited by several prominent Indian politicians.
Nityananda — whose Life Bliss Foundation was founded in 2003 and now has 11 ashrams around India and 26 in foreign countries, including one in London — appears to have gone into hiding.
On Tuesday night, local television channels had aired footage that appeared to show Nityananda, 32, kissing, embracing and fondling two young women in the same bedroom, but at different times.
The two women’s faces were blurred in the grainy amateur footage, which was apparently filmed with a hidden camera, but one of them is widely rumored to be a young Tamil actress.
The Life Bliss Foundation says that the footage was faked, and has urged the police to investigate its origins, but has yet to explain who it thinks was responsible.
“At this moment, we feel that a mix of conspiracy, graphics and rumor are at play in these recent events that have unfolded. We are working on a legal course of action,” it said in a statement on its web site www.dhyanapeetam.org.
“In these trying times, we wish to reassure... devotees and well-wishers whose sentiments have been deeply hurt by this conspiracy. We thank all the devotees and disciples for standing with us during these times.”
The attack came less than a week after police in Delhi arrested another Hindu guru on suspicion of using his ashram as a front for a high-class prostitution racket involving airline hostesses and college girls.