“Nine out of ten families in my colony worshipped Asaram like he was Lord Vishnu’s avatar in Kalyug”

Why I Do Not Like Asaram: A Guest Post

A Guest post, and a message from thewaterspirit

Dear Indian Homemaker,
Please find below a piece I have written on my experience with Asaram Bapu. Given the raging controversy, I think it could be good to spark a debate on the Godmen’s preachings on women in the well-attended public discourses.

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Please watch the video. However, this lecture is not the one I had heard almost seven years ago.

“Mahila utthan mandal of Asaram ji bapu will help women who mistreated by employers at call centres”

Why I Do Not Like Asaram

I never liked Asaram Bapu. Why I would care to like or dislike him, you might wonder. But when nine out of ten families in my colony worshipped him like he was Lord Vishnu’s avatar in Kalyug, I could not ignore him.

I remember the ladies’ weekly get-togethers to pay tribute to the “great” soul, singing kirtans and chanting “Asaram Chalisa”. To the uninitiated, this Chalisa sings of the Godman’s journey from birth to, well, attaining enlightenment (whatever that means). It recounts details such as how the boy showed early signs of being a divine incarnation because a stranger emerged out of the blue upon Asaram’s birth and gifted the family a baby palna carved in pure gold. In the great soul’s own words, any wish would come true if a disciple read the Chalisa 108 times.

I have no issues with Godmen/women in general. But with this man, I had differences in particular. The opinion built as I happened to attend a public discourse by him organized in my city. A mini-bus was arranged to ferry scores of men and women from our colony and around to the venue and back.

I was almost forced into listening to him but I never mind experiences. The lecture, in fact, opened me to the knowledge that since crores of men/women were grasping the words as the Gospel truth, the change in Indian mindset wasn’t happening anytime soon.

He began with extolling all the sacrificial women of our ancient history for purely being sacrificial. Enumerating exemplary faithfulness/chastity/modesty of ancient Hindu females, Asaram emphasized on his point by adding that this was despite the men paying little attention to the marriages as they were busy changing the world.

Next came a list of do’s and don’ts for women. But what got my goat was his casual dismissal of the profession of a telecaller in a call centre.

Sample what he preached.

“My heart pains to see what our bahu/betiyan have to face in these filthy places. They are molested and even raped. I appeal to those women to come to me for help; I’ll suggest better ways of employment,” he said, while I shuddered at the thought that a majority of those keen listeners would reject a call centre job for their daughters/daughters-in-law the first thing when they return home.

Now, I am no fan of this profession. But I personally know at least two girls who could bring their life back on the tracks thanks to the quick money these jobs provided even with average academic credentials. One of them had been forced to substitute her English-medium school education for a Hindi-medium Government-aided one due to the untimely demise of her father. The girl made more than Rs 20000 a month, enough to rent a small flat in Noida and continue her education through distance learning from a management institute. Today, she is the centre manager at a similar call centre.

Listening to this highly damaging sermon, I seethed even as the crowd nodded vigorously, some, I suspected, with tears of guilt for granting too much liberty to their women than they deserve.

 The post was first published here: ‘Why I Do Not Like Asaram‘ by thewaterspirit

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How do women benefit from religion?

Should religion be seen as a personal matter?

Religion Makes Us Kind and Good!?

Narayana! Narayana!

Some doors are different… they are closed for fifty percent of the population.

56 thoughts on ““Nine out of ten families in my colony worshipped Asaram like he was Lord Vishnu’s avatar in Kalyug”

  1. I have never liked self-proclaimed saints, GodMen or GodMatas. Asaram is a scary manifestation of the desire of people wanting to take short cuts and be guided by other mortals towards spirituality. There are many others. Why make a human God? Why not search for your own godliness, your own nobility?
    Each of us has the power to be better, it just takes commitment to developing ourselves and a bit of hard work.

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      • You see through out the history… If you have to walk to the path of Salvation and want to achieve self realization, you need to have a spiritual leader who Hindu sanskriti terms a Guru… Bapuji has always preached humanity, non-voilence and tried to saved the Indian culture. But I don’t think that any of this will ever make sense to you. Will it… :)… I understand. But if you’d really like to know how satsang can change one’s heart to pure soul. You can visit his online website and view one of them… Also you’ll find that he’s been doing a lot of seva karya at the advasi Kshetra in rural areas…

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      • Anonymous, it’s hilarious that you want to explain made-up achievements of ‘bapuji’.. what about the little boys killed in his ashram? the girl he has now raped? All lies for you, I’m sure? This is what blind faith does, removes the capacity for critical thought altogether.

        It’s sad that you feel you need some rapist baba to get to your god. I wouldn’t believe in a god that needed me to go through a man. Also, you are wrong about history. The people who have achieved ‘enlightenment’, like buddha, have often done it on their own.

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    • As I have always said .India is a Pagal Khans and we always somehow never fail to prove ourselves that way….
      Anyways there were some ladies who used to call my Mom for satsang and also used to say Bapus followers become so good human being that tnt start distributing freebies in each satsang….”thats how bapu pulled crowd ” well we never attended but got the freebies continously so that could be lured.but since we knew that every personhas a brain we simply took masti and took all yum stuff ;-) like icecream halwa etc that after testing on the followers w

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  2. The fact that a word like Godman exists (or maybe not, it got a red underline indicating that the word doesn’t exist) is very sad and hilarious at the same time. Perhaps we should stick to calling these people cult leaders that prey on the illiterate because that’s what they are. There is no such thing as a Godman.

    I remember watching this person gain fame when the Delhi gang rape case was in the news. He started preaching that women can prevent rapes by telling their would be rapists that they were brothers and sisters.

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    • It’s just not the illiterates who fall prey to such nonsense, well educated families too, and abroad as well, not just in India. That’s how their orgs like art of living, isha , etc survive – through external funding …. They are proud to say its entirely run by volunteers, but they volunteers are initially forced to get into their habits and later that becomes a practise for them….

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    • actually, they don’t “get a pass”. They are the same as these men.
      A majority of the people who follow them still continue to, while the others see the truth and try and figure out what the heck to do about such people.

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    • It is interesting when ever there is a question raised about some Indian figure or event/incident someone immediately pulls out the counter figure/event from abroad to match the evil.
      Just wondering do these people think it is okay with what nonsense is committed on this soil because there is a match abroad or they think those protesting desi evil doers endorse the evil doers aboard because they are typing in Roman and speak in English.
      By the way Jehovah’s witnesses have full time job to declare Pope a satan.
      Evil is evil and wrong is wrong no matter what part of the planet you are on.

      Peace,
      Desi Girl

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  3. Justice Katju had once said that 90 percent of Indians are fools and it is very easy to divide people by inciting religion as the reason! People can be tom-fooled in the name of a masjid demolition or a mandir break down to instigate communal riots. Such is India, where religion can help you make a quick buck and make you a celebrity! People like Asaram and their popularity just confirms the truth behind his statement! Meanwhile people in the name of Christ also looted thousands of myopic followers in the protestant church recently! This problem exists in every speck dust in our land! Sadly :(

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  4. While Ashram itself may not big a nice word after this, but the legacy he lives behind unfortunately hangs in all of India in so many Godmans.. I remember 20 years back, how my grandmother worshippped some guy – and she would proudly proclaim he is in america, etc.. and somehow I could never see them in good light.

    Asharam, well the way he reacted speaks by itself he is big time guilty. A true saint would have been like Gandhi, say -.. ok this is you- you do whatever you want, I don’t care.. my truth is this “.. but the way he avoided, therreatened the system, etc.. speaks for itself.
    As

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  5. So many children have mysteriously died in Asaram’s ashrams, I hope those cases are opened up soon. 2 years ago, 2 girls aged between 8-10 died, there were rumors of sexual assault, but they were hushed up very soon.

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  6. Come Saturday and Sunday, television channels air sermons of the so-called Godmen/Godwomen in the mornings. I am amazed at bhajans, kirtans, and satsangs organized in the name of these Godmen/women and the number of people attending these. What’s more, these followers try to convince you to become a follower and how they were once a non believers in the Swamiji/Swamini and how after becoming believers things were smooth for them.

    It is amazing how even highly educated people consult these Godmen/women before making any major decisions in their lives. Do logic and rational thinking that come with education simply vanish in thin air once blind faith begins to take over?

    When I was in Hyderabad, I read in newspapers that a self-proclaimed Godman claimed that he was capable of chanting mantras that would release ‘motherhood’ hormones in ‘barren’ women. He would do so by placing his hands on their breasts. And many women queued up so that they could be ‘blessed’ by him. And there were educated women who believed his claims. Couldnt these women understand his intent, when he said he would do so by placing his hands on their breasts? He was later arrested after one women complained about him.

    There was another news report on how a man was brought to Hyderabad and his tongue was cut off so that he could not speak. He was put in a cage and would appear insane. His caretakers then spread word that ash from the beedi/cigarette smoked by this man had miraculous powers. Believing this, many people offered beedi/cigarette to this man. After he would smoke and throw the these, the ash would be collected in a piece of paper and given to the ‘believers’. Of course there was a fee for all of this. Howelse could the caretakers make money?

    Sad but true that these Godmen/women are able to influence so many people into believing that they are reincarnation of God/Goddess.

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    • Do u think education is strong or our family and social environment.
      Brain vs Mindless Culture…
      Who is the winner , no prize for guesses – Oh ya , prize is there Free Satsang from some fancy dressed and with some strange head gear person , Or from some person who is strangely different and popular with some curative powers to take away all your “Dukh”

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    • I think personal circumstances have a lot to do with how susceptible one is to the (sometimes harmful) influence of the purveyors of twisted forms of religion.
      Deaths,job losses, infertility, bankruptcy-these are some of the reasons I have personally witnessed in my extended family-that have made seemingly sensible people obsessed with godmen-type characters.
      They prey on the vulnerable.

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  7. Do not be swayed by media trials. when abhishek manu singhhvi was found in a compromising position, there was no media trial. when dhirendra bhramachari was found in compromising position in a former prime minister’s room there was media trial. i do not say Asaram is a godly person. Even a murderer/worst character goes through a due process of law and then proclaimed as guilty.and punished. Why you jump to a position. This is an election time. Politicians have already destroyed our country economically. Now they want to destroy us religiously .

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    • I agree with you. Even I didn’t want to steer the conversation against Godmen/women in general, but to highlight the fact that their preachings are somehow directed against the modernization of women.

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    • there is a HUGE difference between a sex tape where the sex has happened between consenting adults and that of what Asaram has been accused of, which is RAPE and peadophilia.

      I’m not saying that singhhvi is a good guy. What I’m saying is that there is no relevance of what singhvi did to this post.

      So stop trying to change the topic.

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  8. I first heard of this Asaram guy when the Delhi gang-rape case was in the news. His view on the matter was that the GIRL was at fault for the rape. That she could have prevented it by calling her rapists “brothers”, which is a ridiculous and callous thing to say.

    I hated the man from that moment, and if he were to drop dead, I think the world would be a better place. I’m not even sorry for feeling that way.

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  9. How is it that men like Asaram hoodwink large swathes of our population, educated and otherwise so that they live their entire lives upon the ridiculous notions he preaches? It is stupefying and saddening at once.

    My blood begins to boil when I think of the (misplaced) trust we put into men like this.

    Imagine all those women who have been subjected to his preaching in their homes, those who have seen him as he is– a sick, dirty man–but whose words would weigh nothing against his.

    Of course, this isn’t just the case with Godmen, but this guy certainly gives me the jeebies.

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    • “How is it that men like Asaram hoodwink large swathes of our population, educated and otherwise so that they live their entire lives upon the ridiculous notions he preaches?”

      Because human beings, fundamentally, need comfort and validation. Some of us find it in healthy ways. Indians, in the name of tradition and culture, find it in these so-called god men. These people are fully aware of the insecurities of our population and very cleverly exploit them. I wouldn’t be surprised if these god men and women themselves aren’t religious at all.

      It’s the same reason why people hold on to tradition for the sake of tradition. Because it’s comforting to know that we still have power and control over somebody, that even as the world changes some things don’t have to change. The concept of the unknown and things like change threaten us. Some of us deal with smartly. A vast majority let their fear get in the way of rational thinking.

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      • That makes a lot of sense, and I agree.

        I think it’s even sadder that so many people inflict their religious opinions on their children as well, and as a result you have generations who worship some strange man without any thought as to what purpose he might actually serve in their lives.

        Something’s got to give somewhere. I don’t know when and how, but we need to revamp our style of breeding and sheltering these hypocrites.

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        • “we need to revamp our style of breeding and sheltering these hypocrites.”

          Yup. For me, the only way I can see this happening is if we stop discouraging people from thinking critically about things. We’re only powerless so long as we lack critical thinking, which is sadly so prevalent in Indian society. Not only do we lack critical thinking (in every aspect of our lives), we actively encourage people to not think critically, because the very act is a threat to the established status quo.

          I can’t tell people how many times I’ve got the answer, “Just because.” in response to theological questions. I’ve been told, “Don’t ask, just do it.” Because the minute you start questioning things that don’t add up, their power and sway is diminished. The only downside is that it requires some effort, and people prefer not to have their brains hurt. So we shelter ourselves. It’s sad.

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  10. Apart from these godmen that other sect i have a major issue with is the swaminarayan sect, they have a beautiful temple where i live andmake amazing sweets :-) so i would frequest this place, hang out int he quiet hall for a few min and go raid and spend my money on sweets. till one day i went when their session was in full swing and they told me women were separated and not to go before the sant or some such and to stay behind and the atri was for men .. ooh i saw red.. after i made a nasty face and told them no thanks i dont want to be part of this, a few women stopped me int he parking lot and told me how women are revered but these was so ‘we’re protected and how women have their own place ,, blah blah blah” , well i told them good for them, but i was out and my not viting or buying sweets would not impact them in any way, but I’m a tiny bot mean, i went and told all my friends not to go there and buy stuff or visit etc., a few stopped and few belongign to that sect stopped associating with us :-) oh well i moved from there later, i still miss the easy access to diwali sweets purchase but i”m amazed at the large number of educated women followers. i love the architecture, o can admire it form outside , but nothing in this world will get me to set foot in that place. if i’m going to hell for it, so be it :-) and i’ll make sure I’ll put the bug in my kids ear,,,

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    • Their temple in london and also in Toronto is beautiful… I’ve been there but never knew they practiced this, although I’ve never been there when it was crowded or for puja. isnt this one a longer standing one.. meaning way before asaram’s time??

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    • I’ve been to their temple in Toronto, and I was FURIOUS at how they were segregating men and women. It started from the day they inaugurated, at the large festival they had to kick things off. The women were made to sit on the floor, while the men sat on a little stage type thing to their left, which was elevated.

      Every single time we went for aarti, the same thing happened. They chased away ALL the girls from the front part of the temple. Even when I went to ask my father for his wallet, an idiot turned up to tell me I couldn’t be here. Even when I inched forward for a better view, I got an annoying person shooing me back. After the aarti was over, and everybody had dispersed, I went up to the front to see the inner sanctum for myself, and I got someone telling me, “Excuse me, you can’t be here.” This was after the aarti. Lucky for me, another gentleman working there told this guy it was fine, but I was stunned and completely infuriated.

      I never want to go back to that temple. Never. I had never felt as awful as I did that day. It was as though I had made a mistake, just because of my presence. As though the temple was not a place for me to pray openly, in any space I want. They’re not running a religious organization in any sense of the slightest. It’s a money making corporation to the last. That’s it.

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  11. Most men and women, lettered I would say not educated , behave like a herd when it comes to religion more so in India. The other day there was a retired IAS officer on a news program with his doctor wife saying we believe in so and so babaji and not even a leaf stirs in our house without his permission.
    I ask this country that KILLS its girls in the womb worships DEVI and most families hope for a son and daughters are just a consolation prize ,we are just a bunch of hypocrites.
    We want to still “PROTECT ” our women and not sensitise the society or address core issues like social and economic disparity.
    The events make me so sceptical.

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    • Very true.

      Things can only change through individual and collective actions. But who wants to question his own hypocrisy, fear, prejudice… everyday ? Nobody. We all want comfortable lives and simple answers. Are we not all waiting for “someone” to speak up, guide us and federate our energies (a guru, a politician, a scholar…) ?

      I am always amazed by the power of the people, who suddenly get together and change history. And even more amazed to see what people endure before starting to fight.

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  12. IHM, my father was telling me today that this ‘fraud’man (and thanks Arnab Goswami for that term) used to first run a tea stall and then was involved in illegal smuggling and sale of hooch in Ahmedabad (since Gujarat is a ‘dry’ state). He even had a ‘theka’ of illicit liquor. Then, when he had amassed enough ‘do number ka paisa’ for investing into his ‘babagiri’ venture, he started this lucrative business. This is exactly the life story of the other ‘fraud’man Nirmal Baba, who was a mines contractor for some time after a string of failed business ventures, and then entered the lucrative business of ‘babgiri’ on the advice of his politician brother-in-law. Ek hi thaali ke chatte-batte, eh?

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  13. Worse even are people like Nithyananda who’ve been proven to succumb to worldly pleasures (without going into specifics). You would be surprised at how popular he is in the US. There was a Nithyananda temple which was pretty popular, near my on-site location.

    You think of NRIs who are more forward-looking, bold/confident, not susceptible to godmen, and then you see all this in the USA

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    • Speaking of nithyananda, my whole family except me were taken in by him. I am talking about harvard educated doctors, lawyers here. I was constantly criticized for not being a believer of him. Finally, you know who had the last laugh..

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  14. I have always been repulsed by LIVE Godmen/Godwomen. I might take what they say if it is sensible(my standards are pretty high) after they are DEAD but mostly I have felt revulsion with anything related to them or their ashrams. I don’t understand their followers. I just dont get it when people can voluntarily, unquestioningly bow their heads to someone who isnt someone they know personally and write Hymns and songs in their praise…Seriously need a head examining. As much as possible I stay away from Temples(I go when the priests have gone home or it is down time and the temple is open without a priest in attendance) too cause I don’t like the ideas they spread about religion, community, children and women in general. If people really want to explore their spirituality/be enlightened, I don’t think temples, babas and priests are the way to go. But who cares what I think.

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  15. I CANNOT stand “God-man” or “saint”. Not just Asaram but anybody who is really a regular man walking on Earth and anoints himself that for his own ego and power over others. His disgusting actions are none of a “saint”, that’s for damn sure. What he is is a very manipulative fraudster and crook who is perverting religion to put money in his pocket. And the things he says about women and sexuality is disgusting. I VOMITED when he said that “couples who have sex on diwali and other auspicious holidays will have physically disabled children”. He is a disgusting human being. And what’s even more depressing is his women followers are blaming his rape victim. What the hell.

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  16. Why on earth do we need godmen/women to show us the way?

    Once when I was travelling from Chennai to Coimbatore, a lady sitting next to me in the train started a conversation with me. “who is your guru?” she asked. I was taken aback. “why do i need a guru?” I asked. She said “we all need someone to show us the way”. “What way? Should not we find our own way in our journey of life? Engaging with her was the biggest mistake I made. The conversation was one sided, with no co-operation from me. She asked me to take down the number and address of a certain ashram and meet the people there. When I saw she was coercing me to join this ashram, I started backing off. I politely told her I have to catch up on my sleep and pretended to go to sleep. When my station came, I got down ignoring her completely.

    In the name of religion many things happen. Once a person is hooked to some cult, they feel it their duty to bring everyone into the fold. The only thing the followers can talk about are stories about the guru and how he/she changed their lives for the better and how grateful they are and blah blah. It is one thing to have a certain belief and it is a different thing to force that belief on others.

    I am surprised how people can lap up every word uttered by a godman. Do they not have minds of their own to think? What a waste of time and effort to hear some shit being dished out!

    Even when a godman is accused of crime, people refuse to believe that he is capable of any wrong doing. Why this blind faith in any human being who is as flawed as others or even more. Being drunk on power, these godmen think they can get away with anything.

    I do hope justice for the victim prevails!

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  17. Pingback: Man in the News: The Enigmatic Sant Shri Asharamji Bapu | Impressions

  18. Meditation in perhaps one of the best techniques known to man kind to control ones thoughts,emotions,mind and body. I can understand people needing a teacher to guide them to master the mediation techniques. There are scientifically proved cases where sages and monks are known to go without food/water for months and meditated for long periods.These things are bound to intrigue any man/woman who are in look out for greater truths about life. As a person who has always been reading about the theories of Buddhism, meditation techniques, rebirths etc. I might be interested if someone organizes a meditation camp /yoga class.
    But does that give that person a satire of being God? Any person with an ounce of common sense will not do that.How can a person who claim he is God can ever be genuine? India has the legacy of some greatly evolved souls like Adi Sankaracharya, Sri Rama Paramahamsa,Sai Baba of Shirdi, Narayana guru,Vivekananda etc. Did anyone claim that they were God? They were not rich and did not go about intimidating people with a flock of followers.They were humble teachers and what ever trust or institutions are set up in their name came long after their death by some of their followers- true that some of them are turning into communal institutions.
    There are in numeral educational institutions, hospitals etc set up in the name of these God men’s/women’s trusts. there are so called ‘Ashrams’ set up inside and outside India and there is lot of money and power involved. Yes there are some seva initiations too…some houses built for the poor, some free treatments..but I strongly suspect these are tiny tricks to convince the mass, there are more money accumulations in the back drop?
    Why would God need so much money and other materialistic wealth?
    In the event of so many babas getting exposed in the near future- Asaram accused of rape, Nithyananda’s tape getting leaked(There is a very funny video of this particular individual where he is trying to levitate himself and his devotees off the floor.Do watch:)) ,Ramdev escaping in churidar(not a scam ,but I was wondering how character-less the action was ) and many more- we should realize the futility of these people.They are just getting richer in pretext of making our souls richer.

    At least we should not allow Asaram to have ganga jal in jail-If he really was god he would at least know-’Man changa tho katothi main ganga’

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  19. Pingback: Girl has disease that draws her to men: Asaram’s lawyer | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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