The guru, the sex tape and an unholy row

Spiritual leader claims he's victim of a conspiracy after saucy video triggers outrage

To his countless thousands of followers across India and around the world, Nithyananda Swami was nothing less than a true guru – a genuine holy man who could lead people to spiritual happiness. A message from the young leader posted on the website of his organisation, Dhyanapeetam, or Knowledge Centre, says: "Be blissful".

But then a video emerged that appeared to show the leader getting a little too blissful with two shapely south Indian women.

His followers were furious and his ashram in the city of Bangalore was attacked by crowds angry that the guru's pursuits appeared to include the carnal as well as the sacred.

The handsome 32-year-old has claimed there is a plot against him and said the video, which shows him frolicking with the women and was widely broadcast on Indian television, is "a mix of conspiracy, graphics and rumours".

Now, however, he has decided to stand down as the head of his organisation, and instead lead a "life of spiritual seclusion for an indefinite time".

"In view of this, and to enable the Dhyanapeetam to function with such amended agenda as may be necessary, I am resigning as the head of the Dhyanapeetam and from all the trusts associated with it," he said. "Whenever, if required, I will return and talk about all that had happened as an independent witness to my conduct with a clean heart and pure soul, and also in a less prejudiced atmosphere. I thank you all. Be blissful!"

Yet the matter may not go away so easily. Police have launched an investigation to determine whether the spiritual leader had "outraged" the feelings of his followers.

The case has already come before the courts. The guru, who has also established ashrams in the US and Europe, sought to quash the initial police investigation. He filed a petition accusing his former driver and purported disciple, Karuppa Lenin, of seeking to defame and damage the organisation by making false claims against him.

By the standards of other material readily available on the internet, the video featuring the religious leader is not especially spicy. Indeed, at one point, a woman seeking to rub the guru's feet appears to struggle to get his attention because he seems more interested in watching television.

Yet the allegations about a man who claims big-name movie stars and politicians among his followers have shocked and upset thousands of people, coming amid a flurry of incidents involving religious leaders. Police last month arrested one guru for running a brothel involving air stewardesses and college students, and charged another with kidnapping a minor.

In a recent interview with the Times of India, Nithyananda Swami insisted that he had been in a "state of Samadhi", or trance, when the footage had been recorded late last year. He claimed the actress was a volunteer at the ashram and had been looking after him because he was unwell.

"There's a lot of misinterpretation, manipulation and morphing. Now, we are working to find out which part was recorded and which was manipulated," he said. "When that video was taken, I was in a state of trance. My personal life has been misrepresented and my privacy has been invaded. The media has even taken pictures of me when I am changing my clothes after a bath. This has been done to defame me."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss