Bringing shame to spiritualism: The story of yet another fake baba

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1 (1)In India, 87 percent of people are staunchly religious and spiritual, making way for a booming market estimated to be worth over $40 billion In India, 87 percent of people are staunchly religious and spiritual, making way for a booming market estimated to be worth over $40 billion (2.57 lakh crore). Almost everything in India is saleable, and even destroyable, in the name of God. For a drought-hit farmer or even a crippled child, spiritualism is that antidote that everyone resorts to when nothing comes asa saviour. Being godmen or babas in India is the easiest claim to fame job that requires no qualifications or knowledge.  Seeing this as a profitable trade, many notorious self-proclaimed godmen are using spirituality for their vested interest — making tons of money by deluding people, exploiting women and girls to please their lust, while thousands of blind-folded devotees continue to blindly worship them in their daily lives. One of the nefarious babas of the time is Virender Dev Dixit, whom hundreds of families are looking out for besides the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Around 100 complaints of sexual abuse and illegal confinement of girls and women by Dixit have surfaced so far, and more than 20 rape cases have been registered against him. There are also several complaints of duping people of lakhs of rupees and property fraud cases.

Delhi High Court recently issued a blue corner notice against Dixit, who is no less than Gurmeet Ram Rahim, Asaram Bapu, Rampal or Ichadari Bhimanand — all known sexual predators who were once dhongi babas (fake godmen) and are now languishing in jails.Tehelka was approached by some of the victims who managed to flee from the clutches of Dixit and told about the malpractices that are taking place in the name of spiritual knowledge inside the iron grilled Adhyatmik Vishwa Vidyalaya ashrams. Accused of taking full body massages fromminors while wearing only his brief to touching the private parts of women and girls against their consents, he is surely not a messiah which many of his supporters still vouch for or certify. More shocking is that girlsare as young as eight-years-old when they are encouraged to stay in his ashrams.

CASE 1

You will turn Chandaal

“You will turn chandaal (evil) in your next birth if you disobey baba, so do whatever he says and if you do not listen then bad people will rape you as a consequence.” This is how 13-year-old Geeta (name changed) was constantly threatened along with many others for opposing Dixit’s sexual advances.   Tehelka spoke with Geeta who narrated her ordeal when she was inside the Mount Abu ashram: “Jab baba aata tha sab number laga ke andar jate, fir baba bolta‘yeh prasad hai tumbhi lelo’aur fir sabke saath galat kam karta (When baba used to come to ashram, girls would be sent to visit him in turns. Then he would sexually harass us saying ‘this is my blessing, accept it’”.) The first time when Geeta was summoned to his kaksha (bedroom) to fulfil his sexual desires, it was too complicating for her as an 11-year-old to understand what sex was. She started crying and ran away to lock herself in the toilet. She saved herself that night and Dixit never called her after that but the custom of massaging a half-naked baba continued. In May 2015, she was surrendered by her mother who believed that Geeta would be safe and attain spiritual knowledge under the guidance of baba Dixit. When her mother found out the truth, she took Geeta away at the pretext that Geeta had some money in her bank account which she would like to donate to the ashram and her signature was needed at the bank. At that request, Geeta was allowed to leave the ashram for a few days in February 2017. She never returned.

CASE 2 

A summer vacation in Virender’s ashram 

Summer vacations never brought joy to Shristi (name changed). While other kids would eagerly look up to the long school break of the year to go on a holiday, Shristi ‘s parents would look forward to send their kids to ‘Adhyatmik Viswa Vidyalaya’ or say ‘Spiritual University’, to learn ‘adhyatmik gyan’ which means spiritual teaching, from the self-proclaimed godman Virender Dev Dixit at his Rohini ashram in New Delhi. During one such summer vacation in June 2000, a visit to the ashram turned into a nightmare for 14- year-old Shristi who was studying in Xth standard. One night at around 11 pm, Shanta mata summoned her through another girl. Mata or mother how ashram ladies who are above the age of 18 are referred to.

Shristi was perplexed by the sudden call at that odd hour but rushed downstairs as instructed. Shanta mata was standing outside Virender’s room. She told Shristi that Baba wanted to see her alone in his kaksha and give his blessings and honour.Shristy entered his room which was almost dark, partially lit by a tiny candle. The next thing Shristi saw was that baba was lying half-naked in his bed. In no time he forced himself on her. When she tried to resist him, Virendersaid: “I am Lord Krishna and I will make you one of my 1600 queens … It is my blessing that I am giving it to you as I am Lord Krishna.”  That night she was raped. A traumatised Shristi left his room looking for support, but the matas remained unmoved by her ordeal. “I was too young to understand everything. I locked myself in the toilet for an hour as I couldn’t believe that Virender Dev Dixit, whom we considered an avatar of God, would rape me. Aren’t girls supposed to be protected, safe inside the ashram from the sin people of outside? This is what they claimed,” Shristi narrated as her voice trembled with anger. If that was not enough, the next morning some matas and girls came to appease her and the first thing they said was:“You have been blessed by the baba. Feel the pride and honour of being touched by the Lord himself.” “After your turn, I also went to his kaksha. I feel blessed. This is part of the spiritual lesson,” said a girl who was the same age as Shristi. The trauma didn’t stop after that and the baba continued to rape her on several occasions during that summer vacation.  Today, Shristi is 32-years-old, working in a reputed government firm. However, it was only in November 2017 when Shristi decided to come out in public. She has filed a First Information Report (FIR) against the baba for raping her in 2000.

CASE 3

Blind faith took away daughters 

Bansi Lal (name changed) is a retired policeman from Delhi Police force. His eldest daughter escaped the horror of Dixit but his second daughter is still confined in Uttar Pradesh’s Farukkabad ashram. Bansi was an ardent follower of Virender Dev Dixit until life gave him a reality check. Between 1997-98, Lal and his family were seeking spiritual lessons from Prajapita Brahma Kumari Ishwariya Vishwa Vidhyalaya. In 1999, a pracharak (follower) name Roshan from Virender camp coerced Bansi to join the sect, saying that the “supreme soul of Lord Shiva now resides in Virender’s body” after the death of Dada Lekhraj, founder of Brahma Kumaris institution. The family began going to Vijay Vihar’s ashram. But before that, as part of the preliminary custom, a seven-day course on adhyatmik gyan and Adhyatmik Viswa Vidyalaya was mandatory for new disciples, therefore, the family took up the course.After gaining confidence in the new sect, Bansi started involving his five children too.

In June 2000, during the summer vacation of his children, Bansi sent his three daughters, who were all minors, for a two-month stay and learn adhyatmik gyan in the ashram. Once the vacations got over, his eldest daughter, who is Shristi, refused to never visit the ashram again, even for regular murli classes (murli is called to spiritual lessons). Bansi and his wife could notice a strange change in her behaviour but didn’t pay much heed to it. On several occasions, Shristi tried to narrate her ordeal to her parents but couldn’t gather the courage. In 2003, Bansi surrendered his youngest daughter Lilly (name changed) who was only 12-years-old, to Kampil ashram after Dixit persistently insisted that all his daughters must be given away to his ashram so that they could remain ‘pure’ by staying away from the outside world.  For ashram records, Bansi was made to sign on a ten rupee stamp paper that reads he is surrendering his daughter to Adhyatmik Viswavidyalay at his own will for attaining spiritual knowledge, a copy of which is with Tehelka. In 2015, Shristi finally broke her silence and narrated her account with Dixit. Her revelation shattered the family’s faith and trust in Dixit’s spiritual teaching.  When the family went to meet Riya, their second daughter, they realised that there was something wrong with the spiritual education she was learning in the ashram. “We were shocked when our daughter explained a distorted meaning of Shivalinga to her mother. She told us that all the kanyaiye (girls) are Lord Shiva’s wife Parvati and Dixit is their Lord Shiva and that she has learned this in the ashram,” said Bansi in an apologetic voice. “After Shristi revealed the incident, we tried our best to convince her to come back home as Dixit was a sexual predator but it was too late for her to understand. She had already been brainwashed,” said Bansi. The Viswa Vidyalaya has now slapped a defamation case against Bansi with a fine of 25 lakh for showing the ashram in a bad light. Case 4 Lost four nieces to DixitSarabjit bhai (name changed) is another victim whose four nieces are confined in Dixit’s Kampil ashram. More than anything, Sarabjit regrets persuading his elder sister Renuka (name changed) to join the same hell, where her four daughters are now trapped.She was also forced to pay a hefty amount of  12 lakh.Speaking to Tehelka, Renuka said, “Virender Dixit Sabke saath kukaram karta hai. Mere saath bhi kiya. 12 lakh rupiya bhi loot liya. Humein humari betiya wapas chaiye (Virender Dixit uses every woman for sexual advantages. He sexually assaulted me too. He also took away 12 lakh from us. We want our daughters back). ”Years ago when Renuka surrendered herself with four daughters in the Kampil ashram at the behest of Dixit, her distressed husband Shamlal (name changed) immediately filed a case against him at Allahabad high court but his lawyer took the matter to the Apex Court where Renuka, at first, gave testimony in favour of Dixit.The real eye-opening for Renuka was when Dixit submitted a bill of 12 lakh as remittance to be paid to the lawyers in the case against her husband. Dixit was well aware that Renuka had a property gifted by her husband, the market value of which was worth a crore today. He insisted her that she should sell the property for any price she gets as being materialistic will only make her a ‘chandaal’. Actually, it was only a trick to grab that piece of land from the party she would sell her land to. One day at the ashram, her eldest daughter handed over a chit in which she hadwritten: “Mother, this is a bad place. Escape from here and then free us as early as possible.”Renuka realised the gravity of the situation and convinced the ashram people that she will sell the land and payback their 12 lakh but for that, she has to leave the place. After some time, Renuka returned to pay the amount to the ashram. Upon requesting to see her daughters, Renuka was asked to leave and never return.

Dixit’s secret den for virgins Tehelka learnt from a victim who wished to maintain anonymity fearing death threats from Virender’s followers that the so-called baba Dixit, who must be now in 70s, had a secret wing called Naya Sangathan (new party), commonly known as NS among the ashram people, where young and ‘virgin’ girls between 12 to 18 years of age would be kept together, especially to meet his sexual drive.”The den of the NS was secretly running in Shahbad Daulatpur area in New Delhi until sometime back, at one of his close aides’ residence. Access to the den was only limited to close confidants like the security guard, cook and caretaker besides Dixit.“Every night, Virender would summon girls from NS in his bedroom to seek sexual advantages,” asserted the victim. Another source told to Tehelka that at nights, girls would arrive in a van to the den and leave by dawn. The preaching for NS was opposite from those who were not staying in the ashram, with more focus on sexual pleasure. Dixit would spend maximum time in NS with this kanyaiye around. The Shahbad den was dismantled only after his aid got to know about Virender’s illegal activities at the NS. There is no information whether the NS still runs in other centres of Adhyatmik Vishwa Vidyalaya. Virender’s famous preaching lines to all his female disciples surrendered in the ashram: “Surrender everything to me as I am the Lord Shiva….Lord Krishna …you are my Parvati…one of my 1,600 queens.

You are only safe with me and the outside world is evil…they will take advantage of your physical body. And, anybody who disobeys me will turn chandal, born in penury, face rape, diseases.”

Making of Baba Virender Dev Dixit 

Virender was one of the last heirs to survive the infant mortality fate in his family as he was born after his eight sisters couldn’t survive. His youngest sister was born 12 years after his birth. In the initial days, when Dixit was in Ahmadabad to pursue PhD in Sanskrit, he came in contact with Prajapati Brahma Kumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya (BK) in 1969. His ideology was a misfit with that of BK and his attitude towards female disciples was improper. He proclaimed that Dada Lekhraj’s soul had entered into him after his death to which many BKs opposed. Speaking to Tehelka, BK sister Chandrika of Ahmedabad centre said, “One morning around 4 am, Dixit forcibly tried to enter the female quarters of BK which was stopped by BK brothers on raising alarm. After that misconduct, he was immediately banned to enter all other centres and a circular was issued in regard to this.

“After a couple of years, he started a separate faction called ‘Advanced Party’ in 1976 with some of the Brahma Kumar’s and Kumari’s followers whom he managed to brainwash to join his party.  “BK had earlier firmly opposed any connection with Dixit or his ashram during that time. Today, again, we strongly oppose and stand for what we said earlier. ”Within years, he emerged into baba Dixit with sprawling ashrams in Farrukababad and Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh), Chandigarh, Rohtak, Jaipur, Ahmadabad, Gangtok, Kolkata, Bhopal, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Kerala, Delhi, Kampil in UP and in Nepal and South Africa. In 1998, the first rape case was registered against him and he was jailed for six months.

Need justice for the loss

A victim from Banda district, Uttar Pradesh, is now living a hard life with her 16-year-old daughter after leaving the Dixit sect. Her husband has disowned her after the real picture of Dixit came into the public.  Almost 10 lakh rupees and all her gold jewellery have been taken by the ashram. Fortunately, she and her daughter are not victims of rape or sexual assault.However, she remains stigmatised after being abandonedby her family. “All the females staying inside the Adhyatmik Viswa Vidyalaya will never have a normal dignified life once they are out because society will never accept them even though the culprit is someone else. I am an example before you. My husband has disowned me today. Everything is destroyed,” she told Tehelka hoping that other women shouldn’t face similar consequences. She continued, “On behalf of all the sufferers I want to ask Dixit, what kind of university you are running where so many females have been subjected to sexual exploitation, looted of their bank balance, families, happiness.

If you and your spiritual knowledge is so divine and true, what are you afraid of? Why are you hiding from the law? ”Another former follower name Krishna (65) said, “Humein nyay chaiye (We want justice).We, poor are always the soft targets of nefarious baba like Dixit. The court should enforce stringent punishment to Dixit for destroying so many lives of girls and women. ” A local of Vijay Vihar in New Delhi, Pankaj Pathak, said, “I was there when a poor girl tried to kill herself by jumping off the building of Vijay Vihar ashram. There are many dark stories inside the ashram.”In 2017, when parents and locals took out a protest against the Vijay Vihar ashram for not allowing them to meet their daughters, a new movement to rescue all the daughters emerged out of that lane. Total 41 minors were rescued last year. Today, so many suffering families have found the courage to come out and narrate their ordeals from every nook and corner of the country. “We arranged free accommodation and food for the families that came down from various states with the hope to reunite with their daughters. I felt that there should be a mechanism to stop all such fake spiritual institutions from running in our country as their first targets are the innocent, uneducated, village level people, who could be easily manipulated in the name of God as for them spirituality is everything. Even the educated, high-class people also fall prey to them. This is dangerous.”
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