‘Asaram Bapu is now under arrest on charges of sexual molestation of a minor. That is a serious indictment and if found guilty, he deserves punishment to the fullest extent permitted under the law. In all the breathless commentary around the subject, however, a few necessary distinctions are being obliterated. It is not clear whether Asaram is on trial for sexual molestation — indeed a serious charge, as we have noted — or for being a ‘godman’, usually preceded by the epithet ‘self-proclaimed’ (as if there were any other variety). Secondly, occasions when he allegedly consorted with women are being adduced as reason to believe that he is guilty as charged.’ (Excerpt from TOI Editorial Sept 9, 2013 : ‘Place Asaram Bapu in the dock for sexual molestation, not for being a ‘godman”)
Interesting to note the developments that are ‘quickly’ unfolding in Asaram Bapu’s life in recent times. Asaram Bapu ( as he is referred to ) is around 72 years old and has been a controversial spiritual master or preacher right from the start of his practice of conducting hugely populated satsangs. But, I am sure : No one is a God man ! It is only others ( his followers like ‘unthinking’ sheep who follow the shepherd) anointed him as Godman. All of us are mere mortal beings confined in a time span bordered within definite events : birth and death : both are beyond human control. Molestation of a Minor (a boy or a girl) is an absolutely cognizable crime – under the Sections 376, 342, 506 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Section 8 of the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and Sections 23 and 26 of the Juvenile Justice Act. This act is not pardonable, if the guilty is proved to have committed the Act. So, irrespective of his being anointed a ‘Godman’, he should still get a fair quick trial and faster it is done, the better it will be to all the concerned.
Modern spiritual master Osho Rajneesh preached or encouraged ‘having consensual sex’ among his followers, as a way leading to union of souls. But, his point of view is highly debatable ! In fact, many spiritual seekers opine that a spiritual person must not have a carnal side, a belief that stems from the ‘Sanyasi’ tradition where it is popularly believed that a seeker after God should renounce all his desires. This possibly explains why many newspapers and television channels are aghast at the preacher Asaram Bapu’s assumed ‘fall from grace’. Same is the case with Christianity : as per doctrine, the Christian missionaries must be celibate and breaking the vows of chastity would call for de-frocking of the erring priest. But, we all know that many well-learned practicing priests have not remained celibate.
However, according to many Indian traditions, the path of spirituality does not preclude sex. In fact, drawing from the ‘divine’ Krishna tradition, there is a spirit of joy and celebration around the idea of sex and loving union. It follows logically that sex forms a vital part of self-realization. Osho Rajneesh said ‘forced celibacy’ is not just wrong and it is also damaging to the soul of man. It is against man’s natural instincts. Celibacy as a vow has to be voluntary. Otherwise, there is every possibility of the act of self-degradation destroying the initiate itself ( as it is alleged to have happened in the case of Asaram Bapu ).
All Hindu gods had families while several Indian traditions emphasized the sense of the sensual. Yogi Patanjali states that : ‘Swa-ang jugupsa, parai asansargah’. It means that with increasing spiritual insights, with greater realization, with the mind’s constant attachment with truth, there develops apathy for the physical body and it loses its physical affiliation with others. This is considered a high state of spiritual being, and that is what has made ‘celibacy’ the pedestal of Sanyas as many understand it. Yet, ancient Hindu Rishis were known to have families and children. Even modern spiritualists like Swami Ramakrisnha Paramhansa, Lahiri Mahasaya and Sri Yukteswar Giri, the master of Paramahansa Yogananda, were all householders.
What is the absolute truth in case of Asaram Bapu is not completely known to his ‘sheep’ followers and the public in general. But, if he has committed a criminal act of ‘Molestation of Minor’ in his safely guarded or isolated ashram premises, he should be jailed and convicted. Then, there cannot be any two differing points of view on this.