In an e-mail interview, Sanatan Sanstha spokesperson Abhay Vartak minces no words on the ways of his creed
How are Sameer Gaikwad and Virendra Tawde, accused in the Dabholkar and Pansare murders, related to the Sanstha?
Sameer Gaikwad is a seeker of Sanatan Sanstha and Dr Virendra Tawde lives close to our Panvel ashram and used to offer free medical check-up to the seekers. Both are performing spiritual practice under the Sanstha’s guidance. They are innocent and have been falsely implicated.
What do you say about the cases filed by the family members of ‘seekers’?
We live in a society where those who speak of women’s liberation are considered rationalists and modern. The laws give freedom to adults to take decisions in their personal lives. Then why this opposition to those who have decided to serve the society through the Sanstha?
When their old-fashioned family members opposed them, to keep them within the framework of job-marriage-children-family, they were forced to take shelter in the ashram. Some of the women have later take up jobs and got married. The Sanstha does not force anybody to leave their homes as we have full faith in the family structure. Barring one per cent, the rest of the seekers perform sadhana while staying with their families. Some of the women, in fact, revealed in a press conference how they were being tortured in their families and how they willingly decided to stay away. That explains the Sanstha’s role.
Today, social service through secular organisations is appreciated, but those doing service through an organisation devoutly dedicated to dharma are being criticised. This is akin to putting restricting on the right to freedom of expression.
Is it true that Jayant Athawale and the organisation practise hypnosis?
Our founder was a world-renowned hypnotherapist when he realised that Bharatiya spirituality is far superior. It was then that he quit his practice and founded Sanatan Sanstha. Since then he has dedicated himself to the propagation of spirituality.
“Dr Virendra Tawde (above) used to offer free check-ups at our Panvel ashram. He has been falsely implicated in the Pansare case.”
A hypnotherapist cannot make anyone do something against their will. Otherwise people would be getting murders and rapes committed by hypnotising others. A whole lot of hypnotherapists and psychiatrists have stated time and again that this is not possible. Yet the bogus hypnotherapist Shyam Manav, who has no recognised certificate in the discipline, has been accusing the Sanstha and our founder for cheap publicity. In fact, a doctor from Kalyan, Upendra Dahake, has even filed a case against Manav for maligning medical science.
How many ashrams and full-timers do you have? Are all seekers unmarried?
The main ashram is at Ramnathi in Ponda, Goa. Besides, there are ashrams in Panvel (Raigad district) and Miraj (Sangli district) in Maharashtra. Seekers can choose to practise sadhana as a married householder. Or they can decide to remain unmarried and do sadhana.
What about your publications?
We have published over 65,71,000 copies of 290 holy texts in 15 languages. The Sanstha also publishes four editions of Daily Sanatan Prabhat in Marathi, a weekly in Marathi and Kannada, a fortnightly in Hindi and English, and a monthly in Gujarati.
Where do the funds come from?
Sanatan Sanstha is spreading spirituality in society free of cost, besides implementing many welfare programmes. So we have many well-wishers who help the Sanstha in different ways such as giving a hall free of cost for programmes and satsang, or donating grain, clothes, furniture and more. We need minimum funds for our activities. The Sanstha does not take any donations from abroad.
Did Athawale really ask Hindus to become like Naxals to save dharma?
It has been blown out of context. He only meant that Hindus should be active in opposing the denigration of Hinduism. Even the famous playwright Vijay Tendulkar once said, “Shoot Narendra Modi, wherever you find him.” It merely was an expression of dissent against Modi’s alleged tyranny.
Do you conduct arms training as the papers have reported? How often and whom do you train?
The Constitution of India grants every citizen the right to self-defence. Accordingly, the Sanatan Sanstha preaches that self-defence is the need of the hour. In these classes, we are not teaching how to attack others and damage property.
The Sanstha only encourages awareness and tries to create an awakening about the right given by the Constitution for self-defence. During this training, we do not teach how to use dangerous weapons.