As 'Bhole Baba' Hits Headlines, A Look At Controversial Indian Godmen

Trisha Majumder

Hathras Stampede At Bhole Baba Satsang

A total of 121 people, mostly women, had died after the stampede at self-styled godman Baba Bhole's satsang in Hathras on July 2. Police made nine arrests including the event organiser who was sent to judicial custody but the godman wasn't named in the FIR.


Who Is Bhole Baba?

The self-styled godman, who is called Baba Narayan Hari and Saakar Vishwa Hari Bhole Baba has equated himself to God in his sermons. Over two decades after he quit the police department and became a religious preacher, Bhole Baba is presiding over several ashrams, the biggest of them in Mainpuri. Tens of thousands of his dedicated followers would attend his 'satsang' in Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring states.


Bhole Baba On Hathras Stampede

Bhole Baba's presence inside the temple on the day of the stampede is not known, on the next day he issued a brief statement in which he condoled the loss of lives. He refused to make public appearance and claimed that "anti-social elements" caused the tragic incident and named a Supreme Court lawyer for "further legal action" in the matter.

Arun Sharma/PTI

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh

Self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singhi is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence for raping two of his followers. The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Haryana government to seek court permission before considering any parole applications for him. The court also acquitted him in a murder case earlier this year.


Asaram Bapu

The 81-year-old self-styled godman is now in Jodhpur jail, serving a life sentence for raping a young girl at his ashram in Rajasthan back in 2013. He reportedly ran 400 ashrams in India and abroad when he was convicted.

Paramahamsa Nithyananda

The self-styled godman was charged with rape and unnatural sex after he was found in a compromising situation with a Tamil actress in 2010. He escaped India after getting bail and has been reportedly living in a self-proclaimed island called 'Kailasa.'

Self-styled godman Nithyananda

Ichchadhari Bhimanand

Ichchadhari Bhimanand was arrested for operating a high-profile sex racket in 2010 and was later convicted.

Ichchadhari Bhimanand X

Swami Sadachari Sai Baba Omji

This self-styled godman was based in Mumbai and conducted religious rituals for celebrities until he was accused of slapping woman in public and sending death threats and involved in kidnapping of public figures.

Colors TV screengrab

Sant Rampal

Haryana police arrested self-styled godman Sant Rampal after discovering the bodies of five women and a baby at his Satlok ashram in Hisar.