A team sent by a self-proclaimed Indian godman appeared at the United Nations in Geneva last week claiming to represent an island nation off South America that most people had never heard of.
Dressed in saffron robes and decked in heavy jewellery, the representatives from the United States of Kailasa (USK) set the internet buzzing after they attended a discussion conducted by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The “country” that the United Nations does not recognise, was founded by Hindu godman Nithyananda Swami who fled India in 2019 after being accused of rape.
The photo of a representative from USK, named Vijayapriya Nithyananda, went viral in India after she appeared at the UN. Ms Nithyananda, who is supposedly the permanent ambassador of USK to Geneva, claimed that the founder of the country was being “persecuted” by India.
In 2019, the fugitive Hindu religious guru claimed he founded the new country after buying an island off the coast of Ecuador. Kailasa is named after Mount Kailash in Tibet, considered sacred by Hindus.
On Thursday, the Twitter handle for USK called for applications for e-visa for e-citizenship. USK claims to have a flag, a constitution, an economic system, a passport, and an emblem.
On the “official” website of USK, Kailasa is described as the “greatest Hindu nation on earth”. It states that “the nation of Kailasa is dedicated to the restoration, preservation and propagation of authentic Hindu culture and civilisation after centuries of oppression and subjugation”.
It calls itself the “home and refuge for the international Hindu diaspora”.
During the UN discussion, Ms Nithyananda said: “Kailasa has been implementing the ancient Hindu policies and indigenous solutions that are in alignment with the time-tested Hindu principles for sustainable development.”
She also spoke about Nithayananda’s “intense persecution and human rights violation for reviving the indigenous traditions and lifestyle and lifestyle of Hinduism”.
Wanted by the Indian police on sex assault charges, Nithyananda said in 2019 that his country for Hindus will fight global warming, offer free healthcare and promote gender equality and vegetarianism.
Nithyananda, who once had thousands of followers that included film stars and politicians in India and abroad, was arrested in 2010 over a sex scandal. He was later charged with rape and abduction, according to reports.
According to an earlier investigation by the India Today, Nithyananda has been setting up charities and corporations in different parts of the world to run his operations. The report stated that the godman established at least ten registered organisations that are likely affiliated with Kailasa in the US.
In 2020, Nithyananda spoke about how he thought of channelling the funds he was receiving: “People are donating all over the world, working with the local governments because each donation in any country belongs to that country’s NGO, follows that country’s laws, working with those countries in an organised way this whole structure is absolutely ready.”
Court filings before US authorities stated that Kailasa intended to create an embassy for Hindus as “there is no place where authentic Hinduism is practised”.
The UN platform last week had allowed the attendance of civil society groups. Experts say that the fugitive holy man likely used the opportunity to gain access to the UN.
The UN on Wednesday said the inputs provided by the USK representatives will not be taken into consideration.
Micronations such as Kailasa are self-proclaimed entities claiming to be independent sovereign states but are not recognised by other countries or the UN.
As of 2019, there were about 80 micronations in the world. Another Indian spiritual guru, Rajneesh, founded the city of Rajneeshpuram in Oregon in the 1980s, with its own police, fire department and public transport system.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies