India is a nation popularly known for many godmen or guru, and as humans, we believe in following the words of these ‘wise’ men and women, who lead us to the right path. One of the popular ‘Hindu’ institutions in the country, teaching us the ‘right aspect’ of is now in the limelight for all the ‘wrong reasons.’
Gujarat-based Swaminarayan Sanstha is followed by millions of people around the world. The association has successfully made its presence globally where thousands of ‘swami ji’ teach and preach ways of life. However, over the last few months, several members of the association’s centre’s across Gujarat have been blamed for several issues sexual harassment, child molestation, corruption, death threats, etc. As per reports, followers and other disciples of the Swaminarayan Sansthan have spoken openly about these incidents, but very less has been done in terms of actions.
In a recent series of events, Ghanshyam Swami of the Swaminarayan temple based in Vadtal, Gujarat, was accused of sexually abusing one of his disciples at the temple. Following this, the Kheda District Child Welfare Committee has filed a Suo Moto application and an investigation has been ordered by the district child protection officer. The incident came into light, when a video of the incident went viral on social media along with the details.
The video showed his disciple Vedant Vallabh talking about being sexually abused Ghanshyam Swami. He also said that Swami’s followers – Divya Vallabhdas, Vivek Vallabhdas, Darshan Vallabhdas – often use lies to promote Ghanshyam Swami and if one does not follow what Divya Vallabhdas says, then they are given death threats. The video was recorded by Vedant Vallabh to feel safe and share the truth. At present, Vedant Vallabh has absconded.
Furthermore, it has been noted that some members of the association brainwash children and commit such crime, by luring them into private rooms to satisfy their lust. These have been reoccurring event; however no action has been taken so far.
In a recently released audio conversation, two members of the Swaminarayan group – Purnaswaroop Swami and Anupam Swami – share the details of how another ‘guruji’ sexually molested his disciple. Purnaswaroop Swami shares that he went on to find guruji in his room and the bathroom at 7am, but he wasn’t there. However, upon checking the next room, he found him in a naked state, with Amrut Swami, where ‘guruji was behind him performing the ‘kriya’.’
Besides this, Vadtal-based Swaminarayan Temple is also in trouble for issues relating to money and emotional torture. Another video went viral recently, where Yajnapurash Swami from the same temple accused the board and other authorities for torturing saints. He wrote to the Rajkot Police and stated that he would like to sacrifice his life on Janmashtami this year, and may die by suicide. This controversy has raised several questions against the Vadtal-based Swaminarayan temple and Yajnapurush Swami has demanded that the administration of the temple should be handed over to the court, further demanding that the matters should be investigated by the CBI.
This heinous crime shook the followers of the association and many have appealed that he should be fired from his post. Police complaints have been filed regarding the incident and officials are looking into the matter. A verification of the video will be conducted and a report will be submitted in the next week.
However, PM Narendra Modi led BJP government, in 2019, made changes to the existing POSCO act, to ensure safety and justice to children in cases where they have been abused sexually. IN 2019, the Cabinet amended the POSCO Act and included ‘death penalty’ for those involved in sexual assault on children.
With the ‘hindutva’ wave rising in the nation, it is rather surprising that these issues have not made it to the media yet, except for some regional news publications. While the local police officers have taken the matters to their hands, such incidents need to be escalated by PM Narendra Modi and the members of PMO India. Amidst the ongoing crisis, such criminal acts should not go unnoticed. The Swaminarayan sect needs to be exposed and brought an end to with these multiple on going wrongdoings!