Wednesday, Mar 29, 2023

Where Is Nithyananda's 'Kailasa' And What's The Buzz At UN About?

Where Is Nithyananda's 'Kailasa' And What's The Buzz At UN About?

Although the UN human rights office dismissed any submissions made by the representatives as 'irrelevant', it was enough to draw everyone's attention with a singular question – where exactly is Kailasa?

Self-styled godman Nithyananda
Self-styled godman Nithyananda Kailaasa

Indian fugitive and self-styled godman Nithyananda has been in the news for the past few days after two representatives of the ‘United States of Kailasa (USK)’, the so-called country created by him, attended a United Nations meeting in Geneva, demanding protection for the "supreme pontiff of Hinduism".

Videos and images showing a saffron-clad USK representative –  Vijayapriya Nithyananda, who claimed to be "the permanent ambassador of USK” – speaking on behalf of the fictional state on "indigenous rights and sustainable development" at one of the events went viral on social media. 

Although the UN human rights office Thursday dismissed any submissions made by the representatives as "irrelevant", it was enough to draw everyone's attention with a singular question – where exactly is Kailasa?

Where is Kailasa on the map?

Nithayananda, who was accused of rape and sexual assault, fled India and then suddenly emerged in 2020 claiming that he had founded a new nation. A BBC report showed that ‘Kailasa’ was located on an island off the coast of Ecuador. The Ecuadorian government had, however, refuted these claims saying the godman was not residing in their country.

According to its (so-called) official website, ‘Kailasa’ is a movement ''founded and spearheaded by members of the Hindu Adi Shaivite minority community from Canada, the United States and other countries and is created for and offers a safe haven to all the world's practising, aspiring or persecuted Hindus, irrespective of race, gender, sect, caste, or creed, where they can peacefully live and express their spirituality, arts, and culture free from denigration, interference and violence.”

It counts "two billion practising Hindus" among its population. To date, there is no clarity if the country is fictional or actually exists. However, Nithyananda's followers keep on posting videos on social media, suggesting there are developments going on in the country.

Although believed to be fictional, on Thursday, USK’s Twitter handle called for applications for e-visa for e-citizenship. The website also claims to have a flag, an economic system driven by gold currency, an emblem as well as a passport.

The representatives of ‘Kailasa’ were sent to Geneva in a bid to gain recognition and acceptance at an international forum. While it definitely drew eyeballs, the UN still does not recognise it as a “country”.

How did it reach the UN?

Corroborating the participation of the so-called USK representatives at two of its public meetings – registration to which was open to everyone – the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that anyone can submit information to the treaty bodies. But it is the treaty bodies “who will use their judgment to determine the credibility of the submissions received”.

The office added that the representatives were prevented from distributing promotional material and their "tangential" speech was not taken into consideration. 

"On 24 February, at CESCR’s general discussion, when the floor was opened to the public, a USK representative spoke briefly. As the focus of the statement was tangential to the topic at hand, it will not be taken into consideration by the Committee in the formulation of the General Comment," a spokesperson said.

India's former Permanent Representative at the UN, T S Tirumurti, described it as a "complete abuse" of UN procedures.

(With PTI inputs)