Chapter 5: A Twist In The Case
Chapter 5: A Twist In The Case8 mins 23 8 mins 23
Meanwhile, Swamiji was not sitting idle in jail. Remember, he had been arrested by the police but was still held in police custody and not sent to prison. They had arrested him under a bailable section of the IPC. The media had eagerly taken up the case and a media trial was already ongoing. The media reported that before going to jail Swamiji had apologized to the public for his crime and sought their pardon. Had he already confessed to sexual exploitation?
A week after his arrest, his lawyers filed a counter FIR on his behalf. According to Swamiji, the victim Seema, and a few others had trapped him. Swamiji’s counter was that he was being blackmailed for money and the girl demanded a sum of five crore rupees. This created a sensation in the media. Seema had provided the police with half a dozen video clips of Swamiji in compromising positions with her. These tapes, the authorities claimed, seemed authentic and untampered. The video clips left nothing to the imagination and even Swamiji did not deny its authenticity. Was the counter FIR the attempt of a desperate man trying to escape ignominy and punishment? Was it just a diversion to buy time for him?
Many people were already baying for the swami’s blood. Remember, he is a minister of the ruling government and any mud on him sticks to the government and the political party. Within the party, there was a lobby suggesting that Swamiji should be suspended until they cleared him from the scandal. His expulsion from the cabinet was imminent. A section of his party was blaming the opposition parties and claiming that it was a conspiracy hatched by them to discredit a popular godman and an able minister. The opposition wanted to bring down the government and was using nasty methods to do this. The senior party officials were mum for now. The opposition claimed that a corrupt party would have only perverted members, and this was a prime example.
Amidst all this, the victim was also angry with the police they had not charged him with rape. She was telling the media that the authorities were under pressure to cover up the scandal and should have not given Swamiji the option of bail at all. She was, she claimed, being threatened by his disciples every day. She was receiving death threats if she did not withdraw her FIR.
One fine morning, Seema vanished. No one knew where she had gone, neither the police nor the paparazzi. Was she murdered by disciples of Swamiji? Had they abducted her and kept her somewhere to threaten her to withdraw her case?
These events disturbed me even as I was trying to unravel the man behind Swamiji. He had not denied the charges and had even apologized publicly. In my short association with the man he did not seem to be capable of committing such crimes, but who knows? I do not consider myself a good reader of minds and hearts and like most others, my impressions were from the meetings I had with him in person. My disappointment stemmed from the fact that I had known and met the man myself and registered good impressions about him.
But from Anabelle’s account of HN, there was surely a part of him that was not visible to the naked eye and that part was not desirable. Is he a sexual pervert and if yes, why? Why people with such influence and power succumb to the very mortal weakness of sex? He has a wife and children whom he had distanced from long ago.
The thought about his family drove me to find out what his wife and children were doing and where they were? There had been no mention of them in the media. I told myself that I will find out about them and perhaps meet them if I could locate their present address. To do this, I needed some inside information, and who better than the treasurer of the ashram? I knew him, but not well enough to strike a relationship with him. I was also curious to see what went on at the ashram with all the trouble brewing.
The ashram looked peaceful except for a band of policemen who were apparently guarding it against unruly protesters should they think of taking law into their own hands. I found a group of disciples meditating in peace. I sat with them and waited for the session to end. I barely recognized anyone and there were none who knew me. I looked around to see if the treasurer was available but I could not locate his whereabouts. Just as I was leaving, he drove into the gates in his Maruti Dzire. He saw me and waved. I walked up to him and exchanged the usual pleasantries. He had seen me many times with his Master and had also noted that his Master liked me and spent a lot of time discussing with me. So, he was at least friendly, which made me bold to ask about the state of affairs.
“Swamiji will be freed and nothing will happen to him. Don’t you worry about that? Bogus, all this is manipulation by people who envy his achievements. I have been faithful to him ever since he opened this ashram and I know him better than anyone else.”
“But is it true that he has apologized?”
“Statements twisted by media. What apology? Why should he apologize for nothing?”
“Morphed, you know about that? Messing up pictures. They have even shown Aishwarya Rai naked in pictures!” He guffawed. This man means what he says, he truly believes in the innocence of Swamiji.
“What about disciples, how are they taking it?”
“Nothing.No one has left us and we are working as before. See, you have also come. Swamiji has a lot of love and respect for you. Rare.”
“I hope his wife and children are safe. Surely, all this is bad for them, isn’t it?”
“They have nothing to do with this. They are safe and far away in their village. Don’t you worry.”
We shook hands and parted. I already know that HN was born in Deoria in that village Ahirlauli. Maybe I will go there and see for myself. But how was it I had missed the family when I visited the village? In fact, nobody there seemed to know about HN or his spiritual status and popularity. Which village was the treasurer referring to? I needed more information before embarking on my journey.
My wife seemed astonished at the way I was pursuing the case. She was a disciple of Swamiji and had even recommended him to me, but she did not seem too bothered about Swamiji’s fate. She explained to me that public figures always get into controversies and scandals. Common people like us waste our time worrying about problems of the nation and politicians and even film stars. One of her friends always talked about the health of film personalities when they met. It worried her that Rishi Kapoor would die of cancer, feel happy for Irfan Khan when he returned to India after treatment, and wondered how Dharmendra and Hema Malini lived as a couple with no problems? She felt so connected to Bollywood that even her husband remarked that if only she could show this much care and concern for her family, it could work miracles.
My wife was telling me I was wasting time and drifting from her and our children. I thought about it and she sounded right. Why was I chasing the story when I could read everything in the papers or see on the TV? What was my interest? How am I connected to Swamiji? Anabelle said that after meeting Mataji, she could not resist coming back to her again and again. That her connection with Mataji was Karmic, destined and pre-written. Did I have some kind of Karmic connect with Swamiji? Unlike Anabelle, I felt nothing except admiration and respect for a man who had risen from a Mason to become a Master.
I told my wife about my visit to the ashram and my conversation with the treasurer. Very few people, I thought, knew about Swamiji’s wife and children. My wife surprised me.
“Arre! You did not know? His wife’s name is Lilawati and they have a son and a daughter. Swamiji sent them away to Lilawati’s village, Aam Ghat in Deoria. Everyone knows.”
This happens when you think too much about yourself. I thought his origins and development were my discovery, but how wrong I was? I could have saved a visit if only I had asked my wife. What else can she tell me about HN?
“Do you know his real name?”
“Hriday Narain Tiwari.”
“Do you know what he did before becoming a guru?”
“He worked in a factory.”
“He was an engineer or something.”
“Do you know about Mataji?”
“She had lesser powers than Swamiji and tried to stop him from becoming superior to her. That is why he left her ashram. Poor lady, she is dead.”
Well, so much for the information and truth.
“Where did you get all this information?”
She brought a book and gave it to me.
“Read this. You seem to know nothing. At least you could have asked Swamiji when you met him!”
The book was a biography of Swamiji and not published by the ashram. Seems one of his loyal devotees took it upon himself to write about Swamiji. Did Swamiji know about this? Had he allowed it? If he had, it would have at least a preface from him, which I could not find in this book. It was about 75 pages long and I read it fast. It was nothing but a documentary about his powers, miracles that he performed, and small tidbits about the man and his family. It said that Swamiji left the grihastha ashram to focus on the spiritual development of mankind.