|This article is outdated. (December 2013)|
17 April 1941
Berani, British India
|Residence||Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India|
|Children||Narayan Prem Sai (Son)
Bharti Devi (Daughter)
Thaumal Sirumalani (Father)
Asaram, born Asumal Thaumal Harpalani or Asumal Sirumalani on 17 April 1941, also known as Asaram Bapu is from India. He preaches the existence of One Supreme Conscious and claims Bhakti yoga, Gnana yoga and Karma yoga as influences.
In early 1970, Asaram built his first ashram on 4 ha (10 acres) of land in Gujarat and began using the name Asaram Bapu. There are over 400 major and minor ashrams in India and abroad and numerous followers.
Asaram has been involved in several controversies including his remarks on the 2012 Delhi gang rape, criminal cases filed against him involving land encroachment by his ashrams and a 2013 charge of sexual assault of a minor, he was arrested.
Asaram was born on 16 April 1941, in the Berani village of the Nawabshah District in British India (present-day Pakistan), to Menhgiba and Thaumal Sirumalani. Following the partition of India in 1947, he and his family moved to Ahmedabad, then part of the former Bombay State in India, now Gujarat, leaving behind their immovable assets in Sindh. Thaumal, Asaram's father, subsequently founded a company which produced coal and wood. At one time (1958–1959) he sold tea in front of the Magistrate's office. After the death of his father, he learned meditation and spirituality from his mother. Over a period of years he acquired 10 acres of land in Gujarat, and he set up a small ashram. At that time he dropped his surname and began calling himself Asaram Bapu. He finally left his family and travelled the country, until he went to Vrindavan, to the ashram of saint Lilashah. He is married to Lakshmi Devi with whom he has a son, Narayan Sai Harpalani and Bharti Devi, a daughter.
Asaram's spiritual discourses have been scheduled in different Indian cities like Ahmedabad, Patna and others. His devotees are shown taking diksha (initiation by a guru) from him in these satsang programs. Around 20,000 students visited his satsang in Ahmedabad in December 2001. In August 2012, when he was reportedly to deliver a lecture in a local college, his helicopter crashed while landing at Godhra. Asaram, the pilot, and the other passengers survived.
Parents' Worship Day
In 2012, Asaram requested people to celebrate Valentine's Day as Parents' Worship Day. They published a booklet which described importance of worshipping one's own parents. As his spokesperson claimed, they wanted to give youth an alternative to Valentine's Day. The Yoga Vedanta Seva Samiti (YVSS), which belongs to Asaram Babu, to combat its perceived cultural invasion from the West declared Valentine's Day to be celebrated as Matri Pitri Poojan Divas which means Parents Worship Day in 2011. The YVSS organised a "worship of parents" programme on 14 February of that year and over 700 parents and children participated in Rourkela, Orissa.
On 29 January 2012, Asaram Bapu published a booklet and called for 14 February to be celebrated as a day to worship parents as a way to revive Indian values. His public relations officer told India Today, "The idea is to give the youth an alternative to western culture, which is eating into our values".
Asaram's proposal was supported by many prominent Indian politicians including President Pranab Mukherjee, the Bharatiya Janta Party leaders Rajnath Singh, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Nitin Gadkari, former Railway Minister Pawan Bansal, former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal. It was celebrated at places like Jammu and Chhattisgarh.
Though Valentine's Day is quite popular in urban India, many conservative parents supported this traditional approach. A YVSS organiser told the New Indian Express that this was a potent tool to shield youngsters from getting swayed by "ill- practices of the West even as they connect with their roots by showing respect to elders" and complained about English-medium schools' refusal to celebrate it. It received negative coverage in the country's mainstream media and it was seen as an peaceful alternative to the violent attacks on those celebrating Valentine's Day by right-wing groups such as the Bajrang Dal.
||This article's Criticism or Controversy section may compromise the article's neutral point of view of the subject. (October 2013)|
In 2000, the Asaram Ashram was allocated about 10 acres (4 ha) of land in Bhairavi village of Navsari district by the Gujarat government. The ashram encroached on an additional 6 acres (6 ha), leading to protests in the local villages. On a complaint filed by locals, and after repeated notices were ignored, the district authorities with police assistance bulldozed the encroachments and took possession of the land.
The Yog Vedanta Samiti of Asaram was reportedly given permission to use the premises of the Mangalya temple in Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh for 11 days for a satsang in 2001. The samiti failed to vacate the premises after the satsang, and continue to occupy a total of 40 ha (100 acres) of land, valued at over R7 billion. The land belongs to the now defunct Jayant Vitamins Limited. Asaram denied any involvement, saying the reports were baseless and untenable.
2012 Delhi gang rape
Asaram was widely criticised[according to whom?] after his remark that the 2012 Delhi gang rape victim was equally guilty along with those responsible for the sexual assault on her. He is reported to have said: "Only five or six people are not the culprits. The victim is as guilty as her rapists… She should have called the culprits brothers and begged before them to stop… This could have saved her dignity and life. Can one hand clap? I don't think so." He is also reported to have said that he was against harsher punishments for the accused in the Delhi rape victim case, as the law could be misused. To support his point, he is said to have stated that, "Dowry law in India is the biggest example of law being misused."
Asaram denied giving any statement in which he blamed the girl for the gang rape. According to him, his statement was distorted and misrepresented. He announced a reward of 50,000 rupees for anyone who can prove he blamed the victim for the gang rape. 
Arrest for sexual assault
In August 2013, Asaram was accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl at his ashram in Jodhpur on the pretext of exorcising her from evil spirits. The girl's parents filed a complaint with the police in Delhi and a medical examination confirmed that she had been assaulted. When Asaram did not appear for interrogation by 31 August, Delhi police booked him under Indian Penal Code sections 342 (wrongful confinement), 376 (rape), 506 (criminal intimidation), and sections of the Juvenile Justice Act, and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. Asaram remained inside his other ashram in Indore and avoided arrest while his devotees clashed with journalists and policemen outside. Eventually, the Jodhpur police arrested him on 1 September 2013 from his ashram. He has dismissed the girl's allegations and said accusations were a conspiracy orchestrated by Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi of the then-ruling Congress Party. He had also claimed that he was impotent and not capable of sexual assault, however this was proven to be a lie as tests showed him to be capable of the act. He has since been in jail and denied bail multiple times, some witnesses in the case have been murdered. . His son Narayan Sai is also in jail for charges of rape.
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- The Dark Side of Asaram Bapu | OPEN Magazine
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- FIR registered by victim against Asaram Bapu reveals a horrific tale of sexual assault : North, News - India Today
- "Indian guru Asaram Bapu arrested over rape claims". 1 September 2013.
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- Official website
- Economic Times Slideshow: Not just boy-girl romance, love for Ganga, Parents, Penguins this Valentine's Day