Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sathya-Guru


Would you like some tea? No? Are u sure? Or some Coffee? Or the myriad of sparkling miraculous waters that are hidden behind that cabinet? What? Yes, yes, I mean liquor. All the imported stuff. Why are u so surprised? It happens everywhere. I have yet to see a swami who doesn't have at least 3 bars for his important guests. Yes, there u go. 
Here, Vinya...oye Vinya...get some of that scotch whisky for this Sahib here. And get some Swiss mineral water for me. After sometime, get tea and juice. Make sure you get the ice-bucket also. It is so hot.
Back to you Saar, tell me what do you want to know? The same old life-story? Biography? What harm will it possible do to me if I reveal all, tell all? There is no inheritor to the treasure Sathya-Guru has left behind. And not a single rupee given to me either. Me. Who cleaned his scabby feet with my own bare hands. Who has been serving him for 63 years now.  Right from the days when Sathya-Guru was just another cowherd. Another dirty scabby lice-infested village boy whose parents could not afford the school fees. We used to steal some milk from the cows that we took to graze. We would squirt the warm milk straight into our mouths. But not too much. That would set off the alarm bells in the owner’s head.
Yes, are you noting that down? But wait, till I tell you more. You will thank me later. And perhaps increase the amount too? Eh? Now where is that Vinya? Ahh…here he is. Please drink Saar. This soda is the best in the world. You may take a bottle if you like. Carry it home with you.So where were we?
Yes, When Shangu was born the only relief his parents felt was that he was a boy. They had already had 4 daughters. None of whom were married. The Andhra farmers’ story you already know. His father committed suicide, as was the fashion in those days, and his mother became a recluse. They scraped by on the money that the four daughters earned doing household work. And suddenly Fortune smiled.
Shangu was coming back home when he was bitten by a cobra. I was not there with him that day. Maybe he was looking for the time when he would be alone. I still have no explanation for how it all happened. Seems, Shangu lay unconscious for a long time outside the village, near the peepul tree, when the cobbler Koka found him. He was foaming at the mouth. Koka quickly called some more men and they carried Shangu home. The medicine-man came with his bag and flicked some ash on his forehead, arms and chest. The family kept vigil day and night. After one full day had passed, Shangu came back to life. He lay there calmly for some time. As his mother fussed over him, he suddenly sat up, shook her hand off and said ‘I am the re-incarnation of Sathyamohan Swami. I am renouncing the world. From now on, I will not be normal. I have gained Nirvana and henceforth will survive on nothing but Love.' 
I had my suspicions. He would always be complaining about this hard life that we were stuck with and frequently looked for miracles to elevate him from his pathetic position. He was only 15 yrs old. It did look like he was play-acting. I did not say anything until I sat with him outside later that night. 'Look, Kesha, the only way for us to claim instant riches is this. I have become a Swami. It is upto you to follow me. All I can promise is, whatever I get, half of it is yours.' I understood perfectly what he said and meant.
The next morning, I went about my rehearsals perfectly. Slowly the days went by. Shangu was now Sathya-Guru. He donned saffron robes stitched at home by his now happy Mother. The sisters did not do any household work anymore. They instead served him. Fanning him while he ate, while he slept, while he sat and spoke of the Eternal Truth, Love and Generosity. With each passing day, his fame grew. The villagers had no way of checking whether he was really Sathyamohan Swami reborn. Mass hysteria was the ploy.
Then we struck upon the idea of conjuring things from air. Both of us started growing our hair. While his was straight and glossy, my hair was thick, unruly, curly and untamed. So much so that small things like my sister’s hairclips, pins, combs could be hidden in it. We placed some brass rings and rudraksh beads in it. The ‘it’ here being my head, of course.
What? Hahaha, well the hair is all gone. And then this is a wig. See here? One tuck and it is out. Well now that you know this secret too, I must again mention the amount. Oh Yes, Oh Yes, that would do. Just as well. 50 lakhs is enough for me to live out the rest of my days in peace.35 would have been a little too less, You catch my drift, Saar? You are generous and kind. Otherwise where would this old man go? Ah, yes, back to the details. They say, God is in the small details. Hahaha.
Well, then we started moving from town to town. Until we reached Mumbai after 3 years of roaming and falling asleep in the middle of discourses. Our followers were initially the villagers. Whatever little money they had, we fleeced. Sathya-Guru started curing people of small ailments like headaches, stomachaches, diarrhea by placing his hand on their bodies. The condition was that they had to stay with us for some days. I would mix the English medicines in their food and Lo and Behold, they would be well. And they thought it was the Pure water and Miraculous Rice that we served which cured them. The fools. Actually it is a very good business saar. Even you should try. Full money, you will get. If you want, I can help you. For a small commission. You understand no, saar?I must kick this Vinya now. Oye Vinya – where is the tea I asked for? I will throw you out now. Too much pampered, you have been.  
Yes, saar, I can make out you are in a hurry. Oh, is it? No problem, saar, I will ask Vinya to drop you off at home. Please call up your house and tell them not to worry saar. This is the Sathya-Guru Ashram. See these blackguards here. Don’t worry, the Bhais and Dons are taken to the other audience hall. They will not come here. This hall is exclusively for the media. Ah, now I see you  relax.
Once we reached Mumbai, it was fun. The big Bollywood celebrities, politicians, ministers everyone would come to us. Of course they did not rush to us on the first day of our arrival. Then Mumbai was the city of dreams. Back in the 60s and 70s. The heydays of Flower power. Love. Karma. Dum Maaro Dum. We organized satsangs, spiritual discourses and also reluctantly, some  health camps. We did not want people to say that we did not do anything for the world and the ‘hapless’ population. It is not good for a Swami to keep accepting donations and not spend it anywhere. The Police were always shown the Ashram whenever they asked to see it. Of course the actual place where the gold was stashed away was known only to Sathya-Guru and me. I always ensured there was no gold or notes lying around. Everything was deposited in the Swiss bank. By the way, seems the government is now being pressurized to give details of the Swiss bank account holders. That is bad news, I’m afraid. All the skeletons will be out in the open. And if people like Anna Hazare get those details, I’m afraid this nation would be destroyed.
Sorry? Oh Mumbai? I made some friends in the Times and asked them to do a coverpiece on Sathya-Guru.  At periodic intervals these news clippings helped to make us known in the Elite Mumbai Circles. Soon enough we were booked for 2-3 months a stretch. Sometimes, Sathya-Guru would encourage the clients to share their sorrow with him. They would. Amidst tears and wails and sobs. Unknown to them, all their conversations were being recorded. I would later, personally edit the tapes so as to cut out Sathya-Guru’s part of the conversation and many years later use it to blackmail them. But you had to be extra careful of course.
We flew to Dubai, Mauritius, US, UK to build new Ashrams. We also built 4 multi-specialty hospitals that give free medical care to patients. Also 3 schools and some health camps. We had to keep the people’s mouths shut, no? Otherwise what if one fine day they asked where all their donation money went to? Then, what answer would we give?
It was also I who insisted that Sathya-Guru take pictures with the dirty, downtrodden people too, to boost his image. He was full of himself. And rubbed shoulders, clicked photographs only with the rich and the famous. Since the past 5 years, we knew he was fighting a losing battle. The controversies of him molesting the female inmates of the Ashram were not without base. It was not molestation. We were rich. The women wanted it themselves. Who would not, if they knew the gifts that would go to them would be diamonds and pearls and platinum and resorts and apartments? It was only that Ranjana who was too greedy and threatened to show proof of the couplings. We had to silence her fast. The family of the youth who accepted the blame is now living in Dubai on Ashram expenses. That was the price. Insignificant, I say. Then the BBC documentary on us being frauds. Thanks to Indians, and our blindfaith in all things Divine, the documentary-maker never found supporters. I felt sad for him. He was right, after all.
63 years, to this Day. 78 years of friendship. Of picking up his shoes. Cleaning his bed-pan. Eating his leftovers. And this is what I get. No share in the trust money. Not a rupee. I arranged the funeral, even after I knew about the will. He did give me a life of material comforts after all. My family is in the US. 2 of my brothers are married to 2 of his sisters. In spite of this injustice, they will live together happily. Their futures are taken care of. A steady stream of money will find its way into their bank accounts every year.  That help atleast, I am grateful to Shangu for.
Yes, we will be lighting his pyre tomorrow. Palace Grounds. Did you pay your respects? Here take this family pass. You can come tomorrow and maybe I might be able to come and meet you. I have personally taken care of all the Funeral arrangements. Just one more day and then, I will be home.  

4 comments:

Sagnik Biswas said...

Wow! Brilliant as Usual! But this one was one long dossier! You really keep 'em coming! Was totally Engrossed! :)

BTW, opened a new blog.
http://sbtime4sarcasm.blogspot.com

Rachit said...

best way to bring out the reality. I can't why there is so much mass hysteria backing a crook.

Shilpa Nair said...

Thanks Sagnik - I will certainly visit ur new space.... :)

Shilpa Nair said...

Hi Rachit - I might not call him a crook, because I'm sure there must be thousands of people who would have benefited from the Free medical care and the Free water supplies given by this trust. But well I do not agree with the whole 'mass hysteria stuff' n drinking the water that has been used to clean his feet n all that. Hahaha. N How can anyone worship a human being, divine or deitified...?