Sunday, May 30, 2010

Witchcraft through ages

Picture: Witches (Woodcut, 1508) by Hans Baldung Grien (1480-1545), the famous German Renaissance artist in painting and printmaking in woodcut.

Among the believers of monotheistic religions, sorcery came to be associated with heresy and apostasy, and hence it was viewed as evil. Among leaders of established popular religions and even secular leadership of the late Medieval/ early Modern periods, fear of witchcraft was widespread and sometimes it led to large scale witch hunts. In such hunts, not only practitioners of witchcraft, but even believers of minor religions and sects were also targeted. As a result, in Europe and some parts of the middle east, hundreds of thousands of people suspected of practicing witchcraft were imprisoned, tortured, banished, executed, and the lands and possessions of tens of thousands of accused persons were confiscated.

Interestingly, the majority of the accused witches were women, though in some regions the main focus shifted on men. Mostly, accusations of witchcraft were combined with charges of heresy against groups such as the Cathars and Waldensians. Cathars, or believers of Catharism, were a Christian religious sect with dualistic and gnostic beliefs who lived in the Languedoc region of France and other parts of Europe in the 11th century to 13th century.

The Waldensians (aka Waldenses or Vaudois), a Christian movement of the later Middle Ages and descendants of whom still exist, are active congregations in Europe, South America, and North America, and they are followers of the Waldensian Evangelical Church. Their spiritual heritage is considered lofty, and includes proclaiming the Gospel, serving the marginalized people, promoting social justice, fostering inter-religious services, and advocating respect for religious diversity and freedom of thoughts.

An infamous and widely circulated witch-hunting manual written by Heinrich Kramer, an Inquisitor of the Catholic Church, is ‘Malleus Maleficarum’, first published in Germany in 1487. It instructs governments, law courts and priests about how to identify witches, why most witches are women, how to put witches on trial and how to punish witches. The book also defines a witch as evil and typically as a female. The main purpose of the Malleus was to refute arguments claiming that witchcraft does not exist. Also it promoted the idea that witchcraft do exist in large scale. As a result, anyone found not believing in the mainstream religion was persecuted by others.

Due to invention of mechanical movable type printing press in the fifteenth century by Johannes Gutenberg, the printing and circulation of Malleus Maleficarum dramatically spread throughout Europe rapidly in the late fifteenth century and the early sixteenth century. In the words of Bertrand Russell, "the swift propagation of the witch hysteria by the press was the first evidence that Gutenberg had not liberated man from original sin." The Malleus is also heavily loaded with the subjects of divination, astrology, and healing rituals the Catholic Church inherited from antiquity.

Religious, spiritual and philosophical confusion prevailed all over, as the late fifteenth century was also a period of religious turmoil. The ideas contained in Malleus Maleficarum and the witch craze promoted by it took advantage of the increasing intolerance of the Reformation movement and the Counter Reformation movement in Europe, where the Protestant and Catholic camps, fighting against one another and zealously trying to maintain the purity of their respective faiths.

Even in today’s world, witchcraft accusations are regularly reported, often it is often followed by the satanic ritual abuse and moral panic. Ironically, there seems to be an increase in the followers of witchcraft, and an equally increasing number of people fearing and opposing witch craft. Both are based on superstitions or illogical thinking, sometimes find support from misguided religious, spiritual and political leaders, and lead to blood libel of various kinds. These are not limited to any one region or religion, but can be found across believers of many religious groups all around the globe.

Wicca practitioner Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, who declared herself as India's first trained witch years ago, said in an interview, "Sometimes our darker forces come to the fore and dominate events. These are always there in our subconscious and it is when these forces come out that the unexplainable takes place." In her website ( Chakraverti states, “Even though I studied Wicca in the West, I believe at one time it was a global movement. In India, I have researched Dakini Vidya which draws its strength from the Goddesses Kali and Durga. Just as I have wrapped myself in the black cloak of Isis and stood like a queen among my peers, arrogant and beautiful, so also I have walked with bare feet on the cold grey stones of the Yogini Temple in Orissa, India, and felt them warm with a sudden pulsation under my feet. The same Goddess force which goes by the name of Isis, Athena or Minerva in the West, manifests as the Yoginis in the East.” Chakraverti has published her experiences and views in the form of two books, ‘Beloved Witch’ (2000) and ‘Sacred Evil: Encounters with the Unknown’ (2003).

Do you believe in witchcraft?

Painting: ‘Examination of a Witch’ inspired by the Salem Witch Trials, painted by T. H. Matteson, an American painter, known for the use of historical, patriotic and religious themes in his works.

The notorious ‘Salem Witch Trials’ were a series of legal hearings to prosecute people accused of witchcraft in Essex, Suffolk, and Middlesex counties of colonial Massachusetts (now in USA), between February 1692 and May 1693. The episode has been highlighted in political rhetoric, literature and popular culture as a cautionary tale about the dangers of religious extremism, superstitions, false accusations, lapses in due legal process, and even as governmental intrusion on individual liberties.

The ‘Salem Witch Trials' of 1692 were conducted in a many places such as Salem Village, Ipswich, Andover and Salem Town. The most publicized trials were conducted by the Court of Oyer and Terminer in 1692 in Salem Town. Over 150 people were arrested and imprisoned, with many more accused of witchcraft but not pursued by the authorities. Five of the accused died in prison and all twenty-six people who went to trial before this court were convicted.

The four sessions of the Superior Court of Judicature in 1693, held in Salem Village, but also in Ipswich, Boston and Charlestown, produced only three convictions in the 31 witchcraft trials it conducted. The two courts convicted 29 people of the capital felony of witchcraft. 19 of the accused - 14 women and 5 men - were hanged, and a man, Giles Corey, who refused to enter a plea, was crushed to death under heavy stones in an attempt to force him to do so.

Belief in witchcraft, witch hunts and persecutions of alleged witches can be found in many cultures, almost in all countries in one form or the other. While it is reportedly the worst in Sub-Saharan Africa, witch craft practices and opposition to such practices are still rampant in Europe, many Asian countries and in the Americas. In Europe of 14th to 18th centuries, witchcraft was allegedly seen as ‘a vast diabolical conspiracy against Christianity, and accusations of witchcraft led to large-scale witch-hunts, especially in Germanic Europe.’

In 19th and 20th centuries, a controversial theory speculated that European witchcraft was a suppressed pagan religion. Since the middle of the 20th century, witchcraft has become the self-designation of a branch of neo-paganism, especially in the Wicca tradition.

By simple definition, a witch (old English: Wicce/ Wicca) is a practitioner of witchcraft. Witchcraft is the use of supernatural or magical powers; the use of such powers in order to inflict harm or damage upon members of a community or their property. Reference can also be found about good witchcraft practiced to heal someone from bad witchcraft. Witchcraft is often linked to cultural ideologies, as means of explaining human misfortune by blaming it either on a supernatural entity or a known person in the community.

The cause of the symptoms of those who claimed affliction by witchcraft continues to be a subject of scientific interest. Medical and psychological explanations for the reported effects of witchcraft have been explored by researchers, and most conclusions find the cause in normal afflictions not associated with witchcraft. But some modern academics are less inclined to believe that the cause for the behavior was biological, exploring instead motivations of jealousy, spite and a need for attention to explain behavior they contend was simply acting.

Many practitioners of witchcraft are also found to use methods such as magic, sleight of hand, mesmerism/hypnotism/animal magnetism, and even chemicals and drugs etc., and some of them are also reported to pose as spiritual healers, swamis, babas, or spiritual masters because of the hatred people have now developed against witchcraft. There are also hundreds of cases of lynching/killings of witchcraft practitioners in the villages of Indian states of Bihar, West Bengal, etc., with the maximum killings reported from Chhattisgarh.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Nithyananda’s judicial custody extended to June 9

Swami Nithyananda’s judicial custody, which ended today, has been extended to June 9 by the Karnataka High Court. The court also adjourned the hearing of the bail plea of Nityananda Swami, who was arrested on criminal charges including rape, to June 8.

The orders of the court was announced when the case came for hearing before Justice Subhash Adi, after the CID police sought more time to conduct investigations into the alleged cases against Nithyananda Swami, aka Paramahamsa Nithyananda, after hearing the arguments of both the sides.

Also, a writ petition filed by the counsel of Swami Nithyananda against freezing of bank accounts of the trusts of which he is a trustee has been adjourned to June 4 for hearing. Earlier, Nithyananda’s trust’s bank accounts were frozen as the CID police had communicated to ICICI Bank, Corporation Bank and Canara Bank to freeze that the accounts of Dhyanapeetam Charitable Trust, Nithyananda Foundation, Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam and Nithyanandeshwara Devasthana.

Nithyananda’s lawyer contended before the court that there were ‘no victims or witnesses in the case and it was admitted by the investigating agency’.

Swami Nityananda landed in legal controversies in the first week of March 2010 after some TV channels aired alleged videos showing him in a compromising position with a Tamil film and TV actress. He was later arrested from a village near Solan in Himachal Pradesh on April 21.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nithyananda’s American devotees issued notices

Media reports say that Swami Nithyananda’s American devotees have been issued notices by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Karnataka, seeking their cooperation in the investigations against the self-appointed godman, who is now in judicial custody facing alleged cases of rape, unnatural sex, fraud, criminal intimidation, hurting of religious sentiments and financial irregularities, after he was caught on hidden cameras in a compromising position with a film and television actress and broadcast by television channels.

The American citizens, believed to be the followers or devotees of the alleged sex-scandal hit Swami Paramahamsa Nithyananda, were tracked down through their e-mail ID, according to sources. The two American citizens, now being summoned stayed in Swami Nithyananda’s Bidadi ashram, have agreed to cooperate with the investigation, though no specific date has been fixed for their return to India, according to Deccan Herald.

The controversial godman Swami Nityananda’s bail plea is to come up for hearing on May 26 before the Karnataka High Court, and the CID is expected to include an updated list of notices issued to American nationals in the statement of objections to Swami Nithyananda’s bail plea before the Karnataka High Court. The bail plea was earlier dismissed by a lower court.

Also, the Karnataka High Court, through an order of Justice B.S. Patil, adjourned petitions filed by four trusts run by Nithyananda challenging the freezing of his bank accounts as part of the CID investigation into the alleged sex scam. Earlier, Nithyananda’s Trust’s bank accounts were frozen as the CID had communicated to ICICI Bank, Corporation Bank and Canara Bank to freeze the accounts in the names of Dhyanapeetam Charitable Trust, Nithyananda Foundation, Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam, and Nithyanandeshwara Devasthana.

The CID sleuths have informed the High Court that they have collected evidence from at least 35 witnesses on cases against Swami Nithyananda. Acting upon a search warrant issued by a lower court in Ramanagara, the police have also seized 23 computer hard disks from Bidadi Ashram of Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam.

The bail plea of Nithya Bhaktananda, a disciple of Swami Nithyananda, has also been adjourned to May 26, along with Nithyananda’s petition.

Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam, Hyderabad: According to reports, on Wednesday, May 12, Nithyananda’s ashram was attacked and the ashram inmates chased away by locals of Satamrai in Shamshabad, near Hyderabad. It was the second such attack on the ashram in the last three months. The ashram is built on a 4.5 acre property donated by Sujatha Reddy, a former devotee of Swami Nithyananda. Recently, the locals, who were annoyed by the poor maintenance of the temple and the attitude of Nithyananda’s staff, approached the donor and explained the situation to her.

On Wednesday afternoon, Sujatha Reddy, along with the locals, went to the ashram and asked the Nithyananda’s disciples, who were working as priests and caretakers of the temple, to leave the ashram. Consequently, alleging that they were manhandled by Sujatha Reddy and the local people, the ashram staff approached the RGI Airport police. On the case, inspector R Sanjay Kumar said, "We are talking to both groups and so far no cases have been registered".

Earlier on March 3, after the alleged sex scandal of Swami Nithyananda broke out on television, internet, etc. the local people evicted some of the inmates of Nithyananda’s Ashram here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Painting showing Swami Haridas, Emperor Akbar and Tansen

Photo: Jaipur-Kishangarh mixed style Rajasthani painting (1750) depicting Emperor Akbar and Tansen visiting Swami Haridas in Vrindavan

Swami Haridas, the spiritual poet and classical musician credited with a large number of devotional compositions in the Dhrupad style, is the founder of the Haridasi School of mysticism. His work influenced both the classical music and the Bhakti movements of North India, especially those devoted to Krishna's consort Radha. He is counted as a follower of the Nimbarka Sampradaya, the Vaishnava tradition of devotion to Radha-Krishna. He was the disciple of Purandara Dasa and the teacher of Tansen.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pope tells priests to live holy lives

In this video from, the report says, on his second day in Portugal, Pope Benedict XVI knelt at the Chapel of the Apparitions in Fatima. The pope prayed before a statue of the Virgin Mary, thanked her for saving the life of his predecessor and as a tribute, left behind a golden rose. Most importantly his message tells the priests to live holy lives.

Frano Selak, the most blessed man

Frano Selak, a music teacher and a pensioner now, is mostly dubbed as the world's luckiest man by many websites, but some others consider him as the unluckiest! How can you describe him: the luckiest or the unluckiest? It is like the old proverb about the glass that is half empty! Quite philosophical, as you cannot blame one who is disappointed that the glass is half-empty, or the one who is happy that it is half-full!

But Frano Selak says, “I never thought I was lucky to survive all my brushes with death… I always think I was unlucky to have been in them in the first place but you can't tell people what they don't want to believe." Perhaps this can be the most appropriate assessment of the situation, as it comes from the same man who went through the harrowing experiences and escaped from situations of instant death seven times in his life, and survived every time, unscathed, to tell his story!

Frano Selak is a resident of Petrinja, which is south of Zagreb in the centre of Croatia. He is 81 years old now. He is married five times and says about his fifth marriage, "I guess all the earlier marriages were disasters too."

Five years ago he won one of the biggest lotteries in the world, worth £600,000, and he has now decided to give away his lottery fortune, because, now he does not think money alone can bring in happiness.

Selak said he has never been happier, adding about his wife, “All I need at my age is my Katarina. Money would not change anything… When she arrived I knew then that I really did have a charmed, blessed life."

As he has decided to live a frugal life, the world's luckiest man Frano Selak, has sold his luxury home on a private island, given away all his fortune to family and friends, and moved back to his modest home in Petrinja. He only kept a very small last bit of his winnings for a hip replacement operation so that he can enjoy life with his wife, and also ‘he could build a shrine to the Virgin Mary to give thanks for his luck’.

Selak’s amazing escapes are as follows:

In 1962, Selak was travelling from Sarajevo to Dubrovnik by train. The train derailed and plunged into an icy river killing 17 people. But he miraculously managed to make it to the riverbank, though after breaking his arm, bruises and suffering from hypothermia and shock. It was his first escape from death.

Hardly a year passed when in 1963 he had his first flight, and the only one in his life, when a door of the plane was thrown open killing 19 people. But Selak was lucky to escape death a second time, because he was thrown clear of the crash and he landed on a haystack.

His third encounter with death was in 1966. He was travelling in a bus that skidded into a river, drowning four people. But Selak swam to safety and suffered only some cuts and bruises on his body.

In 1970 Frano Selak was driving in his car along a motorway when his fourth accident happened. Unexpectedly his car caught fire and he fled out of it just seconds before his car’s fuel tank exploded.

Three years later, in 1973, a faulty fuel pump of his car spewed petrol over the hot engine and blew flames through the air vents. He escaped it, though most of his hair was lost to fire.

His sixth accident was a bit later, in 1995 when Frano Selak was knocked down by a bus in Zagreb. As you may expect him to do by now, he walked away with only minor injuries.

In 1996 Selak was driving in his Skoda in a mountainous route and just when he negotiated a corner turning to see a truck of the UN coming straight for him. His Skoda careered through a crash barrier and over a 300-feet precipice. He decided to leap clear in the last seconds and sat on a tree from where he saw his car hit the bottom and explode in flames.

About his many brushes with death Frano Selak said, "I never thought I was lucky to survive my brushes with death; I thought I was unlucky to be in them."

Now, don’t you think it is unusual or miraculous for a man to survive death so many times, and then be lucky to win one of the biggest lotteries, a fortune of £600,000? I think it is one of those rare ‘believe it or not’ stories, just miracles. And I think he is not only the luckiest, but ‘the most blessed man’. Watch him in the video report on Frano Selak in this blog.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The World's Luckiest Man Frano Selak

He survived from the jaws death not once, but seven times, mostly in disastrous accidents from which it is difficult to survive. Most of the disasters, including landing on a haystack after falling out of a plane door that had blown open in the mid air, took place in quick succession. Will you call him the luckiest or the unluckiest person? The 81-year-old music teacher, a pensioner now, Frano Selak, a resident of Petrinja in Croatia, says, “I never thought I was lucky to survive all my brushes with death. I always think I was unlucky to have been in them in the first place but you can't tell people what they don't want to believe."

Five years ago, in 2005, he won one of the biggest lotteries, £600,000, and he has now decided to give away his fortune. More on this amazing man’s story will be in the next post! Come back!

The children of Fatima

Lucia Santos (left) with her cousins Francisco and Jacinta in 1917

Our Lady of Fatima, the Blessed Virgin Mary, gave reported apparitions of her to three shepherd children at Fatima in Portugal on the 13th day of six consecutive months, starting from May 13, 1917. The three children were Lucia Santos and her younger cousins Jacinta Marto and Francisco Marto.

On Sunday, 13 May 1917, ten-year-old Lucia Santos, along with Jacinta and Francisco, was tending sheep at the Cova da Iria near their home village of Fatima in Portugal. Lucia reported seeing a woman ‘brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal ball filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun.’ Further visions were reported to have taken place on the 13th day of the month in June and July. In these, the woman exhorted the children to do penance and to make sacrifices to save sinners. According to Lucia’s account, in the course of her appearances, the woman confided to the children three secrets, later known as the Three Secrets of Fatima.

Thousands of people flocked to Fatima and Aljustrel in the next months, drawn by reports of visions and miracles. On 13 August 1917, the provincial administrator, a self-professed atheist, Artur Santos, believing that the events were politically disruptive, intercepted and jailed the children. The administrator interrogated the children and attempted to get them to divulge the secrets, by telling them that he would boil them one by one in a pot of oil unless they revealed the secrets. But the children refused. That month, instead of the usual apparition in the Cova da Iria on the 13th, the children reported that they saw the Virgin Mary on 19 August at nearby Valinhos.

Later, Lucia who became a nun reportedly saw Mary in private visions periodically throughout her life. Most significant was the apparition in Rianxo, Galicia, in 1931, in which she said that Jesus visited her, taught her two prayers and delivered a message to give to the church's hierarchy. In 1947, Sister Lucia left the Dorothean order and joined the Discalced Carmelite order.

Lucia’s cousins Francisco (1908-1919) and Jacinta Marto (1910-1920) became victims of the Great Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918-20. Francisco and Jacinta were declared venerable by Pope John Paul II in a public ceremony at Fatima on 13 May 1989. Pope John Paul II returned there on 13 May 2000 to declare them 'blessed'. Jacinta is the youngest non-martyred child ever to be beatified.

In 1941, Lucia claimed that the Virgin Mary had predicted the deaths of two of the children during the second apparition on 13 June 1917. Some accounts, including the testimony of Olímpia Marto, mother of Francisco and Jacinta, stated that her children did not keep the secrets and ecstatically predicted their own deaths many times to her and to the curious pilgrims. According to a 1941 account, on 13 June, Lucia asked Virgin Mary if the three children would go to heaven when they died. She said that she heard Mary reply, "Yes, I shall take Francisco and Jacinta soon, but you will remain a little longer, since Jesus wishes you to make me known and loved on earth. He wishes also for you to establish devotion in the world to my Immaculate Heart." Lucia died on 13 February 2005 at the age of 97.

On Tuesday, 13th May 2010, Pope Benedict XVI, who is marking the 93rd anniversary of the Virgin Mary's reported apparitions, visited Fatima, now one of the most popular Christian shrines in Europe. The chapel there is built on the site where Lucia Santos, Jacinta and Francisco claimed to have seen visions of the Virgin Mary in 1917.

The site was also popularized by the late Pope John Paul II, who visited three times, believing it was Our Lady of Fatima who helped save him from an attempted assassination in 1981. On Wednesday, Pope Benedict prayed in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary, who wears a gold and silver crown in which his predecessor placed the bullet which nearly killed him.

Off-the-track: note the number of times the number 13 repeats in this historical story. Does number 13 have any significance? Do you believe in miracles?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Swami Rama, enlightenment and alleged sexual abuses

"Be happy and fearless. Remember that you are a child of Divinity. Loss and gain cannot even touch your shadow" - His Holiness Sri Swami Rama

The American securities broker Robert Walter’s website Son of a Swami welcomes visitors with the announcement, ‘Robert Walter was 12 when he discovered that his real father was his mother's guru, the renowned Indian yogi Swami Rama - not his alcoholic dad, Arne Walter’, and adds, ‘Robert hoped he'd finally found the strong, wise, and loving father he'd always yearned for. But he quickly realized that he was the guru's dirty little secret: Swamis are Indian monks who take vows of celibacy, and Robert was living proof that "His Holiness Swami Rama" was not the otherworldly saint his followers worshipped’.

Robert Walter who claims to be the son of Swami Rama and his mother, Shirley Walter, plan to publish a book, "Son of a Swami: A Life of Lies", a double memoir of their relationships with Swami Rama and their involvement with The Himalayan Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy. When Swami Rama landed in USA to spread the knowledge of Yoga, meditation, spirituality, etc., Shirley Walter’s Yoga center became his first base of his operations in the United States.

In the proposed book 'Son of a Swami: A Life of Lies', the website says, "Robert explores his painful quest for a bond with his father… Robert becomes caught in a web of lies and false promises… Robert confronts the questions that have plagued him since he was 12, 'Is he the son of a sex addict, a yogi with extraordinary powers, or both?'" Shirley explores "how she became one of Swami Rama's earliest supporters and one of his sexual victims". She also details the price she paid for extricating herself from the Himalayan Institute, and examines the ways she failed to understand her son's need for a truthful reckoning until now.

Swami Rama (1925-1996), born as Brij Kishore Dhasmana, in the Garhwal Himalayas in India, became the lineage holder of the Sankya Yoga tradition of the Himalayan Masters, under guidance by his guru Bengali Baba. After many years of further practice in Himalayan caves, Swami Rama was encouraged by his guru to go to the West where he lived a considerable portion of his life.

Swami Rama is recognized as one of the first Yogis to allow himself to be studied by Western scientists. In the 1960s he allowed the scientists at the Menninger Clinic to research on his ability to voluntarily control body processes such as heartbeat, blood pressure, body temperature, etc., which are considered to be involuntary or autonomic. Thus Swami Rama had contributed enormously to yoga's surging popularity in the United States, as he could control his brain waves, heartbeat, etc. His feats were praised sky-high by the media across the United States, winning him many devotees, including Robert Walter's mother, Shirley Walter.

His first ashram was established at the outskirt of Kathmandu, Nepal, where he went on barefoot with nothing but a Kamandalu and a tiger skin mat. Known widely as His Holiness Sri Swami Rama, he founded the Himalayan Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy which has its headquarters in Honesdale, PA and branches in the rest of USA, Canada, UK, Europe and India. The Himalayan Institute's headquarters are located on a 400-acre (1.6 squire km) campus in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, USA.

The Himalayan Institute declares its mission as 'to discover and embrace the sacred link - the spirit of human heritage that unites East and West, spirituality and science, and ancient wisdom and modern technology.' The institute uses techniques of Yoga, Ayurveda, integrative medicine, spirituality, and holistic healing.

Swami Rama authored several books during his lifetime, in which he described his journey toward becoming a Yogi and emphasized philosophy and benefits of practices such as meditation. One of the common themes expressed in such books as Enlightenment Without God and Living With The Himalayan Masters is the ability of any person to achieve peace without the need for an established religion. He criticized of the tendency Yogis to use supernatural powers to claim their enlightenment.

On September 4, 1997 in the United District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania a jury returned an award against the defendant Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy of the USA in the amount of $275,000 in compensatory damages and $1.6 million in punitive damages for the sexual misconduct of the Himalayan Institute's former 'spiritual leader' Brijkishor Kumar, popularly known as the 'Swami Rama'. The award was in favour of the 19-year-old Jasmine Patel (Jasmine Patel, plaintiff Vs. Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy of the USA).

Jasmine Patel was 13 or 14 years old, when she was introduced to Swami Rama by her parents who treated him as their enlightened spiritual guide and family guru. In the summer of 1989 Jasmine joined the Institute’s 'Self-Transformation Program' from when the swami started abusing her, ending up in full-blown sexual relationship, the American Court order states. It also states, several other women’s similar experiences with Swami Rama.

In the above quoted verdict, the American jury found that Swami Rama (a) had engaged in sexual relations with the plaintiff Jasmine Patel, (b) he had abused his position as the plaintiff's guru to secure her consent to the sexual relations; (c) he had breached the standard of care and fiduciary duties inherent in the relationship between him and the plaintiff; (d) he had intentionally inflicted emotional distress on the plaintiff; (e) had acted maliciously and with conscious disregard for the welfare of the plaintiff; (f) and he was acting within the scope of his agency relationship with the Himalayan Institute when engaging in sexual relations with Jasmine Patel.

Apart from holding the Himalayan Institute liable for compensatory and punitive damages on a respondent superior theory, the American jury also imposed direct liability on the Institute, finding that (a) it had been negligent in allowing Swami Rama to be a sexual predator for a number of years; (b) the actions and inactions of Himalayan Institute constituted the intentional infliction of emotional distress; and (c) the Himalayan Institute had acted maliciously and with conscious disregard for the welfare of the plaintiff.

According to some reports, Swami Rama is survived by a daughter and two sons, two of whom have been acknowledged in 'At the Eleventh Hour', a biography of Swami Rama written by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, the current head of the Himalayan Institute of the USA. The two are his son Mohit Dhasmana, and daughter Devyani Mungali, by Swami Rama's former wife in India, Lilu Kumar. Lilu and Mohit Kumar have been involved in several lawsuits in India, notably Original Suit No. 865 of 1997 filed in the Court of the Civil Judge, Senior Division, Dehradun, challenging the current leaders of the Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust, founded by Swami Rama.

Miranda Marbaniang, another woman from Shillong, India, claims she is Swami Rama's oldest daughter. Swami Rama's devotees and followers have not acknowledged either Robert Walter or Miranda Marbaniang as the guru's children, as he was supposed to have taken vows of celibacy (Sannyas).

While he was alive, Swami Rama said on the allegations of sexual abuse, "Do not defend me", as part of the discipline of Asian Yogis to live up to their ideals.

Bhagawan Nityananda Ashram

The Front View of Bhagawan Nityananda Ashram at Kanhangad (Kerala)
Nithyananda Ashram, originally uploaded by Malabar Magazine.

Bhagawan Nityananda Ashram at Kanhangad (Kerala) and the temples located there are looked after by a trust. The trust also runs a few educational institutions and a Dharmasala.

Bhagawan Nityananda's samadhi is located at the Samadhi Mandir in Ganeshpuri, Maharashtra, India. There is also a shrine dedicated him in the Gurudev Siddha Peeth Ashram at Ganeshpuri. Nityananda Ashram, tourist hostel and other buildings associated with his life in Ganeshpuri are preserved by the Shree Bhimeshwar Sadguru Nityanand Sanstha, Ganeshpuri. This trust is also responsible for his Samadhi Shrine in Ganeshpuri, which is a popular pilgrimage site.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Nithyananda's judicial custody extended till May 26

The Ramanagara Sessions Court judge Vijayalakshmi extended the judicial custody of Nithyananda Swami till May 26, after the Police informed the judge that ‘they were not in a position to produce Nithyananda today as their personnel have been drafted for security for the Gram Panchayat elections.

Swami Nityananda landed in a controversy in March after some Indian TV channels aired purported video footage showing him in a compromising position with a Tamil film and television actress. He was arrested from Solan in Himachal Pradesh on April 21, from when he has been in judicial custody.

Earlier there were reports that Advocate H S Chandramouli, who has been representing Nithyananda in cases pending against him in Ramanagara, Bangalore and Chennai, has filed a no objection certificate whereupon a new lawyer can be appointed for Swami Nithyananda, who faces charges of rape, unnatural sex, hurting religious sentiments , criminal intimidation, etc.

It has been reported that Nityananda has hired the services of a Mumbai based law firm to replace H S Chandramouli, who withdrew from his cases.

Pope Says Church's Own Sins to Blame for Sex Scandal

This Associated Press video of May 11 says, in his most thorough admission of the Catholic Church's guilt in the clerical sex abuse scandal, Pope Benedict XVI said on Tuesday that the greatest persecution of the institution is born from the sins within the church and not from a campaign by outsiders.

Pope blames 'terrifying' sex abuse on Catholic Church

In Lisbon Pope Benedict XVI waved to crowds as he proceeded through the city in his white, bullet-proof Popemobile.
Lisboa: Papa Bento XVI, originally uploaded by Dragom.

Nick Squires in Lisbon, Telegraph News on 11 May 2010

The Pope has laid the blame for the "truly terrifying" clerical sex abuse crisis squarely on the Catholic Church for the first time as he arrived in Portugal for a four-day visit.

In Lisbon, Pope Benedict XVI waved to enthusiastic crowds turned out to welcome the Pope as he proceeded through the city in his white, bullet-proof 'Popemobile'.

Benedict XVI said that "the greatest persecution of the church does not come from enemies on the outside but is born from the sins within the church."

His remarks were a repudiation of a string of senior figures of Vatican who in recent months have attributed the scandal to a shadowy conspiracy mounted by outsiders, ranging from a hostile media to liberals within the Church.

The Vatican has been strongly criticised for trying to apportion blame elsewhere and there was outrage when a close ally of the pope, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, last month dismissed the child abuse allegations as "petty gossip".

In some of his strongest comments yet on the crisis which has dismayed Catholics around the world, the 83-year-old pontiff said that while the Church had suffered from problems of its own making in the past, the scale of the present challenge today was "truly terrifying".

"The church needs to profoundly relearn penitence, accept purification, learn forgiveness but also the necessity of justice," he said.

The Catholic Church has been convulsed by allegations that many bishops did too little, too late to stop the activities of paedophile priests, first in the United States and Australia and more recently in Ireland and continental Europe.

The turmoil has claimed the heads of several senior clerics, including three Irish bishops, a Belgian bishop who admitted that he had sexually abused a boy, and most recently, Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg in Germany, who has also been accused of sexually abusing children.

There have been no reported cases of sex abuse in Portugal, unlike in Malta, where last month the Pope met a group of men who said they were abused by priests in a Church-run orphanage on the island.

In Lisbon, enthusiastic crowds turned out to welcome the Pope as he proceeded through the city in his white, bullet-proof "Popemobile".

Schoolchildren waved flags bearing Benedict's smiling face and shouted "Viva o Papa" – Long Live the Pope.

A warship at the mouth of the Tagus River gave a booming 21-gun salute and presidential guards provided a mounted guard of honour.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn attacks fellow cardinal for 'covering up' abuse case

Photo of Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn
Kardinal Schönborn, originally uploaded by islamkritik.

Photo: Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, 65, who is seen as a possible future Pope

In an article titled ‘Vatican cardinal attacks fellow cardinal for 'covering up' abuse case, The Telegraph reported from Rome on 10 May 2010, ‘A senior Vatican cardinal has launched an attack on a fellow cardinal, accusing him over "covering up" a sex abuse case, in the latest setback for the Roman Catholic Church.

Read the full report below:

Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, 65, who is seen as a possible future Pope, slammed his fellow prince of the Church, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, 83, for dismissing the paedophile priest crisis as "petty gossip."

Cardinal Schoenborn said that Cardinal Sodano, who is currently Dean of the Vatican's all powerful College of Cardinals, had attempted to cover up of a high profile Austrian sex abuse case.

Vienna Cardinal Schoenborn told Austrian Catholic news agency Kauthpress: "The days of cover up are over. For a long while the Church's principle of forgiveness was falsely interpreted and was in favour of those responsible and not the victims."

He added that during the 1990's when Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, the leader of Austria's Catholics was accused of sex abuse a "track of Vatican diplomacy" had muddied the investigation and led to a cover up.

Cardinal Schoenborn said Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Josef Ratzinger and head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had immediately pushed for an investigative commission when abuse allegations against Cardinal Groer emerged.

But Cardinal Schoenborn said that the then Vatican Secretary of State at the time, Cardinal Angelo Sodano indirectly blocked the attempts and Cardinal Groer had simply faded into the background.

The scandal hit Cardinal who was accused of abusing boys, resigned in 1998 without ever admitting his guilt, without any official Church punishment and he died five years later.

Cardinal Schoenborn also accused Cardinal Sodano, of causing "massive harm" to victims when he dismissed claims of priest abuse as "petty gossip" during Easter Sunday Mass at St Peter's.

Two months ago Cardinal Schoenborn acknowledged church guilt during a service for victims in which he openly addressed attempts to cover up abuse.

There was no official comment from the Vatican and its official newspaper L'Osservatore Romano carried no coverage of Cardinal Schoenborn's attack.


Bhaktivedanta Manor ISKCON Temple

The Bhaktivedanta Manor, a Gaudiya Vaishnava Temple set in the Hertfordshire countryside of England in the village of Aldenham near Watford, is owned and managed by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). It is ISKCON's largest property in UK, and one of the most frequently visited Radha-Krishna temples in Europe. The temple stands on 70 acres (280,000 squire meters) of landscaped area consisting of lawns, gardens, a children's playground, an artificial lake and a large parking area for vehicles.

In 1973, the late Beatles singer and composer George Harrison gifted the Manor as an offering of devotion to the founder of ISKCON, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who renamed the property as Bhaktivedanta Manor from its earlier name Piggott's Manor.

Harrison's interest in Indian culture expanded to Hinduism, and during a visit to India with his wife, Harrison studied sitar, met several gurus and visited various holy places in 1966. In 1968, Harrison travelled to Rishikesh with the other Beatles Band members to study meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. In 1969, he produced the single "Hare Krishna Mantra", performed by the devotees of the London Radha Krishna Temple, and he and fellow Beatle John Lennon met A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Thereafter, Harrison embraced the Hare Krishna tradition and became a lifelong devotee, being associated with it until his death.

All Bhaktivedanta Manor activities are focused around the temple room with its altar of carved wood and gilt containing three domed shrines. The first houses deities of Radha and Krishna, the second houses Gaura-Nitai (Sri Nityananda and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu) deities and the third has the deities of Sita, Rama, Lakshman and Hanuman.

The rest of the property has shops selling souvenirs and devotional items, a bakery, a farm, college facilities, ashrams, a primary school, and a theatre for staging dramatic arts and programs on Bhakti Yoga and stories about Lord Krishna. The manor is also used as a venue for Vaishnava religious festivals, Hindu family gatherings, general functions and civil marriages.

Vaishnava Saint Nityananda Rama

Photo: 'The Complete Glories of Lord Nityananda Prabhu', book transcribed and published from the audio lectures of Swami Gaurangapada by Bhushan Nityananda Dasa.

The Vaishnava Saint Nityananda Rama, also known as Sri Nityananda or Prabhu Nityananda, is famous as a saint, social reformer and religious and spiritual figure within the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition. His disciples and followers believe that Nityananda was an incarnation of Balarama. Nityananda is also considered as the most merciful incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Sri Nityananda was Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's friend and disciple. They are usually mentioned together as Gaura-Nitai (Gaura for Chaitanya and Nitai being short form of Nityananda) or Nimai-Nitai (Nimai for Chaitanya).

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1534), also known as Sri Krishna Chaitanya and Sri Chaitanya, was a saint and social reformer in eastern India, an area comprising of the present day Bangladesh and the Indian States of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa. The followers of Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition believe that he was an incarnation of Lord Krishna. Sri Chaitanya was a notable proponent of the Vaishnava school of Bhakti Yoga based on the philosophy of Bhagavata Purana and Bhagavad Gita. He mainly worshipped Radha and Krishna and popularized the chanting of Hare Krishna Mantra.

Nityananda Prabhu was born (around the year 1474, no exact date is known) to a Bandyaghati Brahmin, Mukunda Pandit (aka Hadai Pandit) and Padmavati in Ekachakra, a village in the Birbhum District of West Bengal in India. His had great talent for singing Vaishnava hymns (Bhajan) from a very early age. According to legends and folklore, as a youth, he became well known for his dramatic presentations of Lord Rama's stories, along with the other boys of the village. Nityananda used to play the role of Lakshman, Rama's younger brother.

At the age of thirteen, Nityananda left home to accompany Lakshmipati Tirtha, a travelling saint (Sannyasi) on his pilgrimages. Nityananda's father, Hadai Pandit, had offered Tirtha anything he wished as a gift, for which Tirtha wanted Nityananda to follow him in his pilgrimage to holy places. As he had already promised, Hadai Pandit reluctantly agreed to the sage’s demand and Nityananda joined him in his travels. This marked Nityananda's long physical and spiritual journey through India, and brought him in contact with great Gurus of the Vaishnava tradition. Besides Lakshmipati Tirtha, who at some point of time initiated him, he was also associated with Tirtha's other disciples such as Madhavendra Puri, Advaita Acharya and Ishvara Puri.

There are many legends and folklore on Nityananda and Chaitanya. But the Nityananda’s encounter with the brothers Jagai and Madhai is one of the most well known tales highlighting the compassion and love of Nithyananda. Though there are many versions of the story, but traditional tale can be summarized as follows.

Once, Nityananda was chanting the name of Lord Krishna on the streets. Then two irreverent drunk brothers Jagai and Madhai attacked Nityananda. Madhai threw an earthen pot which wounded Nithyananda’s forehead. At this point Nityananda is believed to have said in Bengali, "Merechhish kolshir kana, tai bole ki prem debona?" (“Shall I stop giving you love because you have hit me with an earthen pot?”). When Chaitanya came to know of the incident, he was enraged, and wanted to kill the brothers with his divine Chakra. But Nityananda begged him to pardon them, and saved them. The brothers were converted to civilized loving persons by Nityananda's compassion, and they became Chaitanya's disciples.

Prabhu Nityananda married Vasudha and Jahnava, two daughters of Suryadasa Sarakhela and he settled down in Khardaha. By his first wife Vasudha, Nityananda had a son, Virabhadra (Virachandra) and a daughter, Ganga. Virabhadra was later initiated to Vaishnava traditions by Jahnava.

The life and works of Chaitanya and Nityananda have had great religious and cultural impact in Eastern India, especially in Bengal. They are credited with the revival of Hinduism, which was plagued by the caste system, which they denounced. A large chunk of Vaishnava literature, regarded as one the finest literary heritage of medieval Bengal, was contributed by them and their disciples.

Now they have disciples and followers through out India and abroad, and institutions to spread their teachings. The idol of Nityananda and Chaitanya in the Radha-Krishna Temple in Belgium is quite famous. Also, there is a Gaura-Nitai Shrine at ISKCON Temple in Delhi.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Swami Nithyananda - Actress Ranjitha Love Story

Swami Nithyananda is rarest of the rare enlightened masters, if what he tells his disciples is taken seriously. A description of himself in one of the webpages of Life Bliss Foundation is summarized below.

“On 1st January 1978, past midnight in Thiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu, India, Nithyananda was born, with the birth name Rajasekaran. When Nithyananda was about three years, he met Yogiraj Raghupati Maharaj (Raghupati Yogi). Raghupati Yogi was a friend and Guru to young Nithyananda. Raghupati Yogi arranged for Nithyananda to deliver his first public lecture on the Patanjali Yoga Sutra at the age of ten in Thiruvannamalai to an audience of over 1000 people.”

“Right from his early childhood Nithyananda has been drawn to spirituality. He spent as much time as he could with idols of gods. These were his only joys. He rarely participated in sports and games like normal boys of his age.”

You won’t get much to understand about his days in school, the polytechnic institute where he studied for a diploma, his childhood friends, or about five years he spent in Ramakrishna Mission in his biographies or other places. These are things that he tried to hide in his ghost-written biographies.

His date of birth “1st January 1978” has been challenged by the Newspaper Deccan Herald by producing copy of his visa cancelled by the authorities at the Canadian border while he was trying to cross to the United States.

The Kannada TV channel TV9 interviewed Shivakumar, Nithyananda's classmate in the school, class 6 to 10. Shivakumar tells about Nithyananda's crush with Actress Ranjitha when he was in the school.

Ranjitha made her debut in Tamil films when director Bharatiraja cast her in his movie ‘Nadodi Thendral' (1992). When the movie was released in his native Thiruvannamalai, it was watched by Rajasekaran (Nithyananda) who was in his 10th class. It was ‘love at first sight’ (on the movie screen) for him, says Shivakumar. After watching that movie, he tells Rajasekaran always carried Ranjitha's photo in his school bag. Now, Shivakumar is surprised that after many years of waiting, he made his dream love, infatuation come true.

Ranjitha, born Sri Valli, has acted in a number of Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu films. Her first film was a Telugu film Kadapa Reddemma. She played lead roles in Tamil films till 1999, and she briefly retired from acting after marrying Rakesh Menon, an Army Major. Since her comeback in 2001 she has acted in supporting roles and special appearances in films and in television shows.

According to news reports, Ranjitha, who has been eluding the police after the scandal involving Nithyananda Swami was telecast, has been summoned by the Karnataka CID to record her statement.

Meanwhile the CID officials said one victim of Nithyananda's Tantric practices has come forward willingly to testify against Nithyananda, but the person's identity is being kept a secret. They said the person was a former devotee of Nithyananda Swami.

It may be noted that Nithyananda had told the CID to conduct a potency test on him, saying "I’m not a man. There’s no way I could have indulged in sexual activities with women". But the CID is convinced of his gender as his passport clearly identifies him as a male and not as a transgender.

Nithyananda: Himachal Pradesh to Bangalore

Swami Nithyananda's travel from Himachal Pradesh to Bangalore
nityanandastorynewgrid, originally uploaded by

Swami Nithyananda

Swami Nithyananda
nityananda, originally uploaded by

The identity of this photo has been disputed by the readers of this blog in their comments. But a news site shows this photo as Swami Nithyananda. You can click on the photo to go to the original source of the photo. It is not uploaded by me. It is uploaded by the site quoted above, and they show the same photo as Swami Nithyananda.

Nithyananda being interrogated by CID

Singapore Life Bliss Foundation Site Down

As was expected the Singapore Life Bliss Foundation site shows an announcement that says: “Yoga - Meditation - Spirituality - Life Bliss Foundation, Singapore. This site is down for maintenance. Please check back again soon”.

Earlier, after Paramahamsa Nithyananda went into hiding after he was allegedly caught on tape in a secret romp with a Tamil actress and his ashram at Bidadi near Bangalore, was raided by police, there were news reports that the Malaysian Ashram of Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam/ Life Bliss Foundation will be cooperating with the Indian authorities on investigations against Swami Nithyananda. Their website was closed down and the domain name is now on sale.

Similar news reports alleged that the Singapore Branch of Life Bliss Foundation is also distancing itself from Swami Nithyananda. So, possibly, the Singapore site is either being redone by removing the controversial texts and photos of the persons who are either now under judicial custody in India or wanted by police for interrogation. Or, they may put up the new site with their own new content promoting spirituality, yoga, meditation, etc. by totally avoiding any connection with Swami Nithyananda, as some of the organizations abroad, including in USA, have done.

Nithyananda Vedic Temple in USA was closed down and a similar notice appeared in their website,, saying: “Beginning on Saturday, April 17 the Nithyananda Vedic Temple will be closed to the public. Our deepest thanks for your patronage over the years. We look forward to seeing you again when the temple re-opens.” The site continues to remain so even today, i.e., May 9, 2010.

There are other sites that distanced themselves from Swami Nithyananda, whose own site has several pages that are either blank, or being redone. For example, the page containing photos and details of the fourth Acharya training in the US at Camp Buckhorn near Los Angeles, CA, when Swami Nithyananda ‘blessed Los Angeles Ashramites with new spiritual names’,, is removed/deleted. Incidentally, it contained the details/photos of Sri Nithya Bhaktananda (Gopal Reddy/ Sri Anand Roop), Ma Nithya Dayananda Mayi (Jyothi/ Ma Nithya Roop), Sri Nithya Medhananda (Krishna/ Sri Nithya Omkaar), Ma Nithya Medhananda Mayi (Kavita/ Ma Ananda Maatrusri), Sri Nithya Sevakananda (Raj/ Sri Nithya Shaaleen), Ma Nithyananda Gopika (Vidya/ Ma Ananda Satyaprakashini), Ma Nithya Shaantananda (Suman/ Ma Nithya Premanjali), Sri Nithya Sahajananda (Sreraman/ Sri Nithya Saadhak) and Sri Nithya Vimalananda (Vinay/ Sri Nithya Satyajyothi)”.

As per reports, Sri Nithya Bhaktananda was arrested by Bangalore police and he is now in a sub-jail near Bangalore, and news reports say that the Karnataka CID wants Ma Nithyananda Gopika (Vidya/ Ma Ananda Satyaprakashini/ Nithya Gopika) for interrogation.

When Swami Nithyananda visited Singapore in Aug 2008, I happened to read the news and saw the photos and details on a site. Now, after the alleged sex scandal broke out, I rechecked the site and found the photos and details in tact. They include photos and details of his welcome by trustees of Thandayuthapani Temple; reception with Poornakumbha by the temple priests; invocation by children welcoming him; the temple trustee honoring him with garland; shawl and presenting him with a memento; his discourse on Murugan; the one-day program covering Yoga for Body, Verbalization and Being; his arrival in Singapore Polytechnic for the one-day program - Guaranteed Solutions of Bliss; the swami serving dinner to the participants; Ananda Darshan at the end of NSP, etc. Need these photos? Send a message to me!

Now, possibly, after they (or Nithyananda’s own staff) see this post, they may remove/ delete these photos and details with the hope that it will cut of any contact with Swami Nithyananda. This is often viewed as being done to destroy evidence. But, it is the worst thing that can be done for disassociation, because those who want these sites/ photos/ pages might have already saved the details, taken screen shots, etc., and it will only increase the suspicion on the site owners.

What normally happens is that people interested in spiritualism, meditation, cultural programs, etc. get associated with the organizations/ persons who promote such activities. At that point of time, there was nothing like a scandal that broke out now. Possibly, no one in that particular site/ photos/ organization was involved in the alleged cases. So, unless they want to turn the needle of suspicion towards them, they should not shut down the sites, remove pages, etc. Necessary changes can be made by amending the pages with new details and announcements that naturally are required in such circumstances so that people are not misled.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Most Popular Nithyananda SMS jokes

While Swami Nithyananda is busy spending his divine energies to tackle the mundane or the most ordinary worldly matters like answering the interrogators/CID in police lock-up, shuttling between the sub-jail where he has his current abode and the court to move bail applications or to face inconvenient questions, SMS jokes and short tweets on Twitter return to amuse the younger generation, especially students. As the Hindustan Times, and other news sites reported, texting about the ‘Kaami Swami’ is again a campus pastime and over ‘50 SMS jokes are doing the rounds’.

The Nityananda jokes that resurfaced this week show more and more people are now getting new Nithyananda jokes on their mobile phones and they are a huge hit among the youth. The young and enterprising people, who shared their favourite SMS jokes on the self-styled godman Paramahamsa Nithyananda of Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam and Life Bliss Foundation, include students, graduates and postgraduates in disciplines as varied as IT (information technology, software solutions, etc.) business management, engineering and technology, humanities, journalism, medical sciences, etc.

The purported aphorisms such as, “Science destroyed humans’ peace the day the camera was invented” and “It’s easier to find God than a hidden camera,” are a direct pun at the claims made by the swami, like, he has 360 degree vision, and his divine powers to see the future, past, the unknown, etc.

Surf the Net to find out how inventive and clever people can be at devising puns and rhymes. The command of multiple languages and cultures make the possibilities seemingly endless, observes a news reporter, to poke fun at the twin lives of the Swami.

Some of the most popular Nithyananda SMS jokes collected from various sources are below:

Bangalore by day, bang galore by night
Discourse by day, intercourse by night
Divine message by day, divine massage by night
Incense by day, incest by night
Chamatkar by day, Balatkar by night
Sri Sri by day, Stri Stri by night
Saffron by day, blue by night
Mahadev by day, Kamdev by night
Shivlinga by day, cunnilingus by night
Moral by day, oral by night
Pray by day and prey by night
Preach her by day, breach her by night
Ram by day, ram by night
Renounce by day, pounce by night
Sandalwood by day, Tiger Woods by night
Seer by day, leer by night
Spiritual by day, spirited by night
Swahaa by day, Aaah aaaaaha by night
Dear God by day, Thank God by night
Do-gooder by day, Good-doer by night
God-man by day, lay-man by night
Hari Om Shanthi by day, hurry home Shanthi by night
He is a Swami who is also a Kaami
Swami by day, show me by night
Holy by day, Holi hai by night
It’s easier to find God than a hidden camera
Missionary by day, missionary by night
Monk by day, bonk by night
Monk by day, Old Monk by night
Shiva’s disciple by day, Chivas’ disciple by night
Baba by day, black sheep by night

Dattatreya, the incarnation of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva

Picture: Dattatreya, the incarnation of the Divine Trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva - painting by Raja Ravi Varma

Dattatreya, also known as Datta, is considered by Hindus as an incarnation of the Divine Trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, who had ‘given’ (Datta means ‘given’) themselves in the form of a son to the couple Sage Atri and his wife Anusuya. Dattatreya is one of the oldest of the incarnations of the Divine Trinity, the first reference of whom is found in Hindu epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana. Dattatreya is the author of Tripura Rahasya, the best treatise on Advaita Vedanta, which was given to Parashurama.

In the Nath Tradition, Dattatreya is recognized as an Avatar or incarnation of the Lord Shiva and as the Adi Guru (First Teacher) of the Adinath Sampradaya of the Naths. Although Dattatreya was at first a Lord of Yoga with distinct Tantric traits, he was later adapted into the more devotional (Bhakti) Vaishnava cults, and worshipped as a benevolent god rather than as a Guru.

According to legends, Sage Narada praised Anusuya's ‘pativratyam’ (devotion to her husband) a lot before the wives of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The wives became jealous and asked their husbands to reduce her pativratyam. So, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva went to Anusuya disguised as guests when Sage Atri was not at home and asked her to serve them food. When she agreed to do so, they said that they would accept it only if she served them without wearing any clothes. Anusuya got trapped in a dilemma: if she comes nude in front of other men her pativratyam will be reduced. If she refuses it is dishonouring the guests and that can take away all the powers of Atri. Anusuya felt that the three guests were not ordinary men. Anusuya prayed to her husband silently and said that she did not fear serving them in nude, as she was not affected by lust. She considered them as her children and served them as requested. By the time she came to serve food the three gods became small children and her breasts started producing milk. She then breastfed them and put them to sleep in a cradle. Atri returned home, and hearing the story from Anusuya, praised the three gods sleeping in the cradle. They woke up in their original form and praised Anusuya's pativratyam and gave her a boon, for which Anusuya requested that the three gods be born as her children - the incarnation of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma as Sage Durvasa, Dattatreya and Chandra (Moon God).

In Mahabharata, Dattatreya is referred to as from the family tree of Sage Atri, not as his son and the epic Shishupal Vadha (execution of Shishupala) written by poet Magha also refers to Dattatreya to be from Atri's family tree and not as his son.

Child Dattatreya left home to wander naked in search of the Absolute. It is believed he spent most of his wandering life in the area encompassing North Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, and regions up to the Narmada River in Gujarat. It is believed that he attained realization (enlightenment) at a place near the town now known as Gangapura in Karnataka. The original footprints of Datta are believed to be located on a peak at Girnar, also known as Girnar Hills, the mountains situated near Junagadh, about 330 km from Ahmedabad. The Tripura Rahasya refers to Parasurama finding Datta meditating on Gandhamadana Mountain.

According to Brahma Purana, on the advice of his father sage Atri, Dattatreya sat on the banks of River Gautami and prayed to Shiva and finally attained the Brahmagyaan (Eternal Knowledge). This is possibly the reason why Dattatreya is considered as Adisiddha in Natha Sampradaya (Nath Tradition).

The Dattatreya Upanishad starts by referring Dattatreya's identity with Vishnu, but ends with the Mantra, ‘Om Namah Shivaya’, identifying him with Shiva. At the end of the third chapter, Shiva alone is said to pervade reality and shine in the heart of every man. He alone is ‘in front, behind, to the left, to the right, below, above, everywhere and at the center’. Finally, Shiva is identified with Dattatreya, an Avatar of Shiva.

Dattatreya idols are usually depicted with three heads, ‘symbolizing Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva; past, present and future; creation, preservation and destruction; and the three states of consciousness: waking, dreaming and dreamless sleep’ (see the painting above). He is usually portrayed with his Shakti beneath the 'wish tree' (Kalpavriksha) with the 'wish cow' (Kamadhenu) in attendance. In front of him is a 'fire pit', the receptacle of the oblation of 'sacrifice' (Yajna), and around him are four dogs.

The four dogs, of different colours, often found in Dattatreya iconography, is said to represent the four Vedas. Dogs also held the cultural significance of 'dog eaters', the lowest possible forms of human existence, those who existed beyond the confines of Varnashrama Dharma. Dogs are also wild, tame and symbols of fidelity and 'devotion' (Bhakti).

In the Dattatreya Upanishad which is a part of the Atharva Veda, he is described as able to appear in the form of a child, a madman, or a demon in order to help his devotees achieve Moksha (liberation) from the bonds of worldly existence.

There are many traditions and systems of followers of Dattatreya, and their traditions, practices and beliefs vary considerably, and many of them follow the Tantric traditions which prevailed in India in the first millennium.

The Natha Sampradaya of Dattatreya devotees is a continuation of the Siddha or Avadhuta Sampradaya. The establishment of the Naths as a sect was purportedly began around the 8th or 9th century by a fisherman, Matsyendranath. His disciple Gorakshanath (also known as Gorakhnath, 11-12th century) departed from the Aghori traditions and strengthened the Nath Sampradaya as an acceptable, civilized form of society. Gorakshanath, considered the greatest of the Naths, wrote the first books on Laya Yoga. According to Bhagawan Nityananda, the Samadhi Shrines (tombs) of both Matsyendranath and Gorakshanath reside at Nath Mandir near the Vajreshwari temple, about a kilometer from Ganeshpuri, Maharashtra.

In the Datta Sampradaya the first Avatar is Shripad Shri Vallabh and the second is Narasimha Saraswati. They also consider Akkalkot Swami Samarth, Shri Vasudevanand Saraswati (Tembe Swami, Sawantwadi) Manik Prabhu, Krishna Saraswati, Shirdi Sai Baba and Ganapathi Sachchidananda (Mysore, Karnataka) as incarnations of Dattatreya.

The Tripura Rahasya (The Secret of the Goddess Tripura) is believed to be an abridged version of the original Datta Samhita or Dakshinamurti Samhita, traditionally ascribed to Dattatreya. Tripura Rahasya is divided into three parts. The first part, the Mahatmya Khanda is concerned with the origin, Mantra and Yantra of the Goddess Tripura. The Jnana Khanda (the section on knowledge) elaborates the themes of consciousness, manifestation and liberation. The last part, Charya Khanda (section on conduct) has been lost, and some people believe it is destroyed.

In Tantric tradition, the Tripuropasti-Paddhati is supposed to be written by Dattatreya, as it is mentioned in Tripura Rahasya. The summary of Tantra in the Parashuramkalpasutram is also supposed to have been written by Dattatreya.

The Avadhuta Gita, based on the principles of Advaita Vedanta (non-dualism), is the sublime realization sung by Dattatreya and transcribed by two of his disciples, Swami and Kartika. It was originally a work of seven chapters, and ‘a spurious and misogynistic eighth chapter may be a later attempt to append sexual morality to the Nath Tradition by a conservative ascetic’. Some of the ideas in Avadhuta Gita are common to both Shaivite and Buddhist Tantras, and Vaishnava Agamas.

Girnar, in Saurashtra region of Gujarat is a famous place for the Datta Sampradaya. The temple of Narasimha Saraswati in Baroda continues this tradition of Dattatreya devotion. The main Dattatreya devotees who spread the Datta-panth in Gujarat were Pandurang Maharaj of Naareshwar and Shrirang Avadhut.

The town of Gangapura, where Dattatreya is said to have attained realization lies on the banks of River Bhima in Gulbarga District of North Karnataka. There have been numerous disciples and Dattatreya devotees from there, and places such as Borgaon, Chikodi, Kunnur, Sadalaga, Balekundri, Shahapur, Nipani, Hubali, Hangal, Dharwad, etc. have Dattatreya temples, or temples of Narasimha, also considered an incarnation of Dattatreya. Shri Narasimha Saraswati and some of his disciples used to worship this form of Dattatreya.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Swami Nithyananda denied bail by Court

The Times of India has reported from Bangalore on May 7, 2010 that ‘the Ramanagaram district sessions court on Thursday dismissed the bail petition filed by controversial godman Swami Nityananda’. The news was reported by other sources too.

On Monday, the CID investigating numerous criminal cases against Swami Nithyananda, the former head of Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam and Life Bliss Foundation, filed objections for granting bail to Nithyananda. In their objection the Karnataka CID officials mentioned about the non-disclosure agreement he signed with his disciples and argued that it may hold back some of the witnesses to come forward and testify against the swami.

Public Prosecutor Srirama Reddy, in his arguments opposing the bail plea of the sex-scandal hit Swami Nityananda, argued that the swami’s victims were scared of deposing before the investigating agency. Reddy said that several of the godman’s affluent disciples have been preventing the victims from coming forward to testify against him. He further submitted before the court that Nithyananda was likely to tamper with evidence if he were to be let out on bail.

The ‘self-styled enlightened godman’ Paramahamsa Nithyananda, now lodged in the Ramanagara sub-jail, is facing several criminal cases slapped against him before the Ramanagara sessions court near Bangalore, including sexual abuse of his disciples, after Nithyananda had gone into hiding after TV channels aired video clippings allegedly featuring the swami in a compromising position with an actress.

The arguments in the bail application filed by Nithyananda concluded on Monday and ruling was reserved for Thursday, and Sessions Judge Hunugund observed that Nityananda is facing serious charges and the investigations are on.

Nithyananda was arrested on April 21 in Himachal Pradesh where he was hiding and brought to Bangalore as the cases against him were transferred to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

Earlier, the Puducherry police who reached Ramanagara to take custody of Nithyananda in connection with cheating cases were denied custody of the accused Paramahamsa Nithyananda on the ground that the criminal cases being investigated by the Karnataka CID are currently in progress, as Judge CG Hungund of the Ramanagara sessions court turned down the Puducherry Police’s plea.

On March 5, the Orleanpet police in Puducherry registered a case against Swami Nithyananda for cheating several of his devotees and injuring religious sentiments of the people there, based on a complaint filed by a group of lawyers.

Swami Nithyananda Caves

Holy Caves built by Swami Nithyananda
PIC_0251, originally uploaded by bat_the_cat.

The Holy Caves, which are the main attraction at Kanhangad Nithyananda Ashram, were constructed by Sadguru Nithyananda (also, variously referred to as Bhagawan Nityananda, Swami Nithyananda) in the 1920s. The caves have forty four room-like structures carved into a rocky hill without any technical assistance. Considered as an engineering marvel, the caves are a standing ovation to Satguru Nithyananda’s divine inspiration and glory.

Nithyananda used to call the caves “Sunrise-Sunset Caves”, as there is daylight in them all through the day. Also, it is warm inside the cave during winter and cool during summer. There are six entrances - three of them facing the east and three facing the west. The space inside most of Holy Caves is large enough for a person to sit and meditate. On the top of the caves, a very beautiful temple that has the exterior architecture of the famous Somnath Temple (located in the Prabhas Kshetra near Veraval in Saurashtra, on the western coast of Gujarat, India) was built.

In the temple, there is the most remarkable statue of Sadguru Nithyananda made of ‘Panchaloha’ (means five metals, the composition of which is laid down in the Shilpa Shastras as an alloy of gold, silver, brass and iron with copper as the major constituent). The statue shows Nithyananda with his right hand indicating his famous ‘Abhayamudra’. Gurudev once predicted that some day, great saints will be living in those caves and inspire the birth of another Golden Era of Sanātana Dharma (or Dharmam Sanātanam, meaning approximately ‘eternal law’).

After completing the construction of all the caves in Kanhangad in 1931, Bhagawan Nityananda once again began his journey northwards and visited many holy places in the country. In 1934 he came to Akroli near Vajreshwari and to Ganeshpuri in Maharashtra in 1936. Ganeshpuri was to be his permanent residence and centre of pilgrimage as well as worship to his devotees. Also, hundreds and thousands of people who had heard of his divine powers used to flock together at Ganeshpuri.

Thiruchendur, one of the six abodes of Lord Murugan

Thiruchendur Lord Murugan Temple (Thiruchendur Senthilandavan Koil) is one of the six major abodes of Lord Muruga, who is worshipped here by also other names such as Senthilandavan and Senthilkumar. Lord Murugan is also known as Subrahmanya, Karthikeya, Kumaran, Skanda, Saravana, Shanmukha, Arumugan, Swaminatha and many other names. Similarly, Thiruchendur is also referred to by other names as Thirucheeralaivai, Thiruchenthil and Thiruchenthiyoor. The temple is situated so close to the sea that the waves lap at the eastern boundary wall of the temple.

The other five major abodes of Lord Muruga are at Palani (120 km west of Madurai), Swamimalai (150 km east of Madurai), Thiruthani (50 km from Chennai), Pazhamudircholai (10 km north of Madurai) and Thiruparamkunram (10 km south of Madurai). Each of the six major abodes of Lord Muruga has an event mentioned in the Hindu scriptures, of which Tiruchendur is said to be second in importance.

There is an account of Karthikeya's origin in the Mahabharata, in which he is said to have been born of Agni and Shiva, after Shiva impersonated six of the seven wives of the Saptarishi (Seven Sages). The Ramayana also has a version of him, closer to the stories told in the Puranas.

Atharva Veda describes Kumaran as Agnibhuh (son of Agni, the fire god). The Chandogya Upanishad refers to Skanda as the ‘way that leads to wisdom’. The Baudhayana Dharmasutra mentions Skanda as 'Mahasena' and 'Subrahmanya.' The Aranya Parva chapter of the Mahabharata narrates the legend of Kartikeya Skanda. The Skanda Purana is devoted to the narrative of Kartikeya.

Also there are references to Subrahmanya in Kautilya's Arthashastra, in the works of Patanjali, in Kalidasa's epic poem the Kumarasambhavam and in the Sanskrit drama Mricchakatika.

According to legends, Sati, the consort of Shiva immolated herself at the Daksha Yagna, which was later destroyed by Shiva. Sati was reborn as Uma (or Parvati) the daughter of the Mountain King Himavaan (the Himalayas). Shiva was deep in yogic meditation in the Himalayas. During that time, the demon Surapadman ravaged the earth and tormented its beings. The gods realized that only a son born of Shiva could lead them to victory over Tarakasuran, Surapadman and their demon armies. The gods plotted with Kamadeva, the god of love, to shoot a flower arrow at the meditating Shiva, so as to make him fall in love with Parvati. When Kama aimed his arrow, Shiva opened his third eye and burned Kama to ashes instantly.

The sparks of the fiery seed of Shiva were unbearable, and this fire was then transported by the river Ganga into the Saravana forest (probably The Sundarbans), and into a pond called the Saravana Poigai, located at mouths of river Ganga, where the sparks transformed to six children. They were raised by the six Krittika or Kartika - the stars that make up the Pleiades, earning Murugan the name Karthikeya. Parvati combined these six babies into one with six faces (Shanmukha or Arumugan).

Murugan became the supreme general of the gods and lead the army of the gods to victory against the demons. The six sites at which Karthikeya sojourned while leading his armies against Surapadman are Thiruthani, Swamimalai, Tiruvavinankudi (Palani), Pazhamudircholai, Thiruparamkunram and Tiruchendur. These six sites are known collectively as ‘Arupadai Veedu, meaning the six battle camps of the Lord.

Thiruchendur Murugan Temple is a very popular pilgrimage center and tourist destination. It located in the town of Thiruchendur in the district of Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, India. It is 55 km southeast of Tirunelveli, 40 km from Tuticorin and 75 km northeast of Kanyakumari. It is easily accessible by bus or car. Regular train services are available to Tiruchendur from the nearest railway junction, Tirunelveli Junction.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Oda: The Oriental Medicines and Holistic Healing Teacher

Photo of Oda, Anne, Gianni and Chiaki
Reiki 2, December '07, originally uploaded by Oda's Courses.

Photo: Oda, Anne, Gianni and Chiaki - Reiki 2, December 2007, in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Here is an exceptional woman I found on Flickr, where I was drawn to some rare photographs on oriental systems of medicine and holistic healing. According to the information on her website, Oda was born in Israel in 1967. After receiving her Law Degree at Tel Aviv University and becoming a licensed lawyer, some realizations and understandings evolved which were followed by a need to make changes in her profession and lifestyle. She began her studies in the field of Oriental Medicine and holistic healing arts in 1991 with a one-year program of Shiatsu. In the following 10 years she dedicated herself to long-term comprehensive study programs such as 3 years of Shiatsu (Classic, Namikoshi, Masunaga, Zen and Tao styles), and 4 years of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM - oriental philosophy, acupuncture, herbs), various master workshops with teachers from abroad (USA, Canada, Europe, China and Japan), extensive clinical training and internship in Israel and China and a 3-year teacher-training program.

She write on her Flickr profile, “I teach courses and give treatments in the field of complimentary and natural therapy - Shaitsu, Reiki, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, Integral Healing, Knowing Touch , Qi Gong, Meditation and other related subjects. I have been doing this for the past 15 years in different forms in various countries such as Israel, France, Thailand and India”.

She adds, “For the past decade I have lived mostly in Asia and have dedicated my time to cultivating a personal practice, giving treatments and teaching courses in a variety of formats, mostly in the form of intensive retreats. My students have been of many nationalities and very diversified in their professions, - some more directly connected to the fields of complimentary medicine, therapy, healing and bodywork, while others have come from very different professions and life paths.”

To go to her Flickr photos page, click on the above photo.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Fake Sai Baba Picture

This photo is being posted and circulated as 'Sai Baba Original Picture', especially in photo sharing sites. But it is a fake.

Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi, has posted the above photo in their site at with the following comment:

“Dear Sai Devotees, this photograph is not original photograph of Shri Saibaba. This is for your kind information.”

Also, Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust gives some advisory for devotes, which are reproduced below:

Shri Saibaba’s shrine (Samadhi) is at Shirdi only and no elsewhere.

Shri Saibaba has no disciple, heir and nobody is seated on his Asan. Neither Sansthan has appointed any mediator.

Please do not believe anybody pretending himself Shri Saibaba by wearing similar dress. Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust has no concern to any other person, Trust or Institute.

Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust has no relation with the circulation of chain letters in the name of Shri Saibaba. Please do not give any importance to such letters; just neglect them.

You can contact the Trusts offices at Shirdi and Mumbai (Sainiketan, Dadar), or by e-mail for authentic information; Shirdi office:
and Mumbai office:

Sansthan Trust has not appointed any representative (a person or Institute) to collect donation. Please do not give donation in anybody’s hand. You will be deceived (except: Andhra bank is authorized to collect the donations for ‘Nitya Prasadalaya Annadan Scheme’ through their network of branches; but the official receipt is issued by Sansthan itself.)


Monday, May 3, 2010

Shirdi Sai Baba

Photo: To Sai Baba's right is Gopal Rao Mukund Buti, a millionaire of Nagpur. Behind Baba and holding the umbrella is Bhagoji Shinde, his devotee whose leprosy was cured by Baba. To Baba's left is Nanasaheb Nimonkar, a devotee.

Sai Baba of Shirdi aka Shirdi Sai Baba, is regarded as a godly saint by his followers, including Hindus, Muslims and other faiths. Some of his Hindu devotees believe that he was an incarnation of Shiva or Dattatreya. Sai Baba taught a moral code of love, forgiveness, helping others, contentment, inner peace, devotion to God and guru.

He practiced Hindu and Muslim rituals. One of his well known epigrams says of God: ‘Sabka Malik Ek Hai’ (One God governs all). He frequently used to say, ‘Allah Malik’ (God is Master).

The most important source about Baba's life is the Shri Sai Satcharita, written in Marathi in 1916 by Govindrao Raghunath Dabholkar, apart from several other books. Also, several movies and television presentations have been produced on Sai Baba’s life and teachings.

Not much is known about his birth or early life. According to legends, Baba arrived at the village of Shirdi in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, India, when he was about 16 years old. It is generally believed that Baba stayed in Shirdi for three years, disappeared for a year and returned around 1858, which indicates his possible birth year as 1838.

Baba led an ascetic life, sitting motionless under a Neem tree and meditating while sitting in a Yoga asana. The ‘Sai Satcharita’ describes the early reaction of the villagers, “The people of the village were wonderstruck to see such a young lad practicing hard penance, not minding heat or cold. By day he associated with no one, by night he was afraid of nobody.”

Sai Baba attracted the curiosity of the villagers, and the religiously-inclined people regularly visited him, while the Shirdi village children considered him mad and threw stones at him. After some time he left the village, and it is unknown where he was, though there are some indications that he spent time with many saints and fakirs, and even worked as a weaver.

In 1858 Sai Baba returned to Shirdi, when the Khandoba Temple priest greeted him with the words "Ya Sai" (Welcome saint!). From this, the name Sai stuck to him and later he was being called Sai Baba. It was around this time that Baba adopted his dress style consisting of a knee-length one-piece robe (Kafni) and a cloth cap, and he sported long hair' when he returned to Shirdi. He never had his head shaved.

For about five years Baba lived under a Neem (Azadirachta indica) tree. He often wandered for long periods in the jungles in and around Shirdi. He undertook long periods of meditation. Later, Baba was persuaded by the local people to take shelter in an old mosque, where he led a solitary life. He survived by begging for alms. In the mosque he maintained a sacred fire, referred to as a Dhuni, from which he had the custom of giving sacred ash ('Udhi') to his guests. It was believed to have powers for healing and protection from dangerous situations.

Initially, Sai Baba is believed to have functioned as a Hakim and treated the sick by application of Udhi. Baba also delivered spiritual advice to his visitors. He recommended the reading of sacred Hindu texts along with the Qur'an, insisting on the indispensability of the unbroken remembrance of God's name. He also participated in local religious festivals. He used to prepare food for his visitors, which he distributed to them as Prasad.

After 1910 Sai Baba's fame began to spread in Mumbai, when many people started visiting him, revering him as a saint, or even an avatar, capable of performing miracles. Sai Baba neither nominated his spiritual heirs, nor initiated disciples, despite requests from some of his devotees, though some of them later became famous as spiritual figures, such as Upasni Maharaj of Sakori and Meher Baba of Ahmednagar.

Sai Baba shunned any kind of regular rituals but allowed the practice of Namaz, chanting of Al-Fatiha, and Qur'an readings at Muslim festival times. Sai Baba also opposed all sorts of persecutions and discriminations on religious or caste grounds, and opposed superiority and orthodoxy based on caste and birth. Although Sai Baba himself led the life of an ascetic, he advised his followers to lead family lives.

Sai Baba encouraged his devotees to pray, chant God's name and read Holy Scriptures such as Qur'an, Ramayana, Vishnu Sahasranam, Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Vasistha. He advised his followers to lead a moral life, help others, and love every living being without any discrimination. In his teachings Sai Baba emphasized the importance of performing one's duties without attachment to earthly matters and being always content regardless of the situation.

Sai Baba had a profound knowledge of Muslim and Hindu religious texts. He explained the meaning of the Hindu scriptures in the spirit of Advaita Vedanta, and emphasized the elements of Bhakti. The Hindu spiritual paths of Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Karma Yoga were pronounced in the teachings of Baba. An example of the way he combined both faiths is the Hindu name Dwarakamai that he gave to the mosque where stayed.

Sai Baba taught that God penetrates everything and lives in every being, and God is the essence of each of them. Baba said that the world and all that the humans may have is transient and only God and his gifts are eternal. Sai Baba also emphasized the importance of devotion to God (Bhakti) and surrender to His will. He advised his followers to overcome the negative features of character and develop positive ones. He taught them that one’s fate is determined by Karma.

Sai Baba left no written works for posterity. His teachings were oral, typically short, pithy sayings, rather than elaborate discourses. Baba used to ask his followers for money (Dakshina), which he would give away to the poor the same day and spend the rest on buying wood to maintain the Dhuni. According to his followers he did so in order to rid them of greed and material attachment.

Baba emphasized the importance of sharing with others. He said, "Unless there is some relationship or connection, nobody goes anywhere. If any men, or creatures, come to you, do not discourteously drive them away, but receive them well and treat them with due respect. Shri Hari (God) will be certainly pleased if you give water to the thirsty, bread to the hungry, clothes to the naked and your verandah to strangers for sitting and resting. If anybody wants any money from you and you are not inclined to give, do not give, but do not bark at him like a dog." Other favorite sayings of his were, "Why do you fear when I am here", "He has no beginning... He has no end."

The Shirdi Sai Baba Movement began during his lifetime with a small group of Shirdi inhabitants and a few people from other parts of India. It started growing in the 20th century. During his lifetime Hindus worshipped him with Hindu rituals and Muslims revered him greatly as a saint. In the last years of Sai Baba's life, Christians and Zoroastrians started joining the Shirdi Sai Movement.

Around twenty thousand pilgrims visit the Sai Baba Mandir in Shirdi every day, and during religious festivals it will be a hundred thousand. A spiritual organization of Baba's devotees, Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust is based there. The first ever Sai Baba Temple is situated at Bhivpuri, Karjat, in the Indian state of Maharashtra.

While there are at least one Sai Baba Mandir in most Indian cities, the Shirdi Sai Movement has also spread to other countries such as USA, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, and in the Caribbean countries.

Sai Baba's disciples believe that he had performed many miracles. Inhabitants of Shirdi talked about these miracles and wrote about how they were witnesses of his unusual Yogic powers such as levitation, entering a state of Samadhi at wish, even removing his limbs and sticking them back to his body (Khanda Yoga) or doing the same with his intestines. Some of his followers claimed he appeared to them after his death, in dreams, visions and even in bodily form, whence he often gave them advice.

In the mosque in Shirdi in which Sai Baba lived there is a life-size portrait of him. Numerous monuments and statues depicting Sai Baba have also been built after his death. A marble statue is in the Samadhi Mandir in Shirdi where Sai Baba was buried.