Rampal

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For other uses, see Rampal (disambiguation).
Sant Rampal
Born Rampal Singh Jatin
(1951-09-08) September 8, 1951 (age 64)
Dhanana, Punjab (now Haryana), India
Nationality Indian
Other names Baba Rampal, Sant Rampal, Rampal Dass
Occupation Leader of a Kabir Panthi sect
Website jagatgururampalji.org

Rampal is an Indian religious leader of Kabir panth, often described as a self-styled godman.[1][2] He is the founder of a Satlok Ashram, a socio-spiritual movement popular in Haryana state. His sect prohibits temple visits, idol worship, untouchability, adultery and "vulgar singing and dancing", among other things.

According to Rampal, the Hindu trinity along with their parents have misled people into illusion instead of the worship of Sat Purush (the ultimate god). He instead recommends worshipping Kabir as the supreme god. He claims that all the major religious scriptures — including Vedas, Gita, Quran, Bible and Guru Granth — name Kabir as the supreme god. He claims to be a spiritual successor of Kabir, and some of his followers consider him an incarnation of Kabir.

In 2006, Rampal criticised Arya Samaj. This resulted in violent clashes between the followers of two sects, in which an Arya Samaj follower was killed. Rampal was charged with murder, and arrested. After spending several months in jail, he was released on bail in 2008. In November 2014, after he failed to appear in the court multiple times, the court ordered his arrest. However, the presence of thousands of followers, allegedly confined by his aides,[3][4] prevented the police from arresting him for a few days. He was finally arrested on 19 November 2014.

Early life[edit]

Rampal was born Rampal Singh Jatin in Dhanana, a village in the Gohana tehsil of Sonepat district, Punjab (part of Haryana since 1966). His father Nand Lal was a farmer, and his mother Indira Devi was a housewife.[5][6] [7]

He obtained a diploma from the Industrial Training Institute in Nilokheri, and then worked as a junior engineer in the Government of Haryana's irrigation department.[5] In 1996, he resigned from the job.[7]

Initiation into Kabir panth[edit]

According to his official biography, Rampal was an ardent devotee of the Hindu deities Hanuman, Krishna and Khatushyam. He states that he never achieved salvation, well-being or peace as a result of this devotion. One day, he met Swami Ramdevanand, a spiritual leader of the Kabir panth. Ramdevanand told him that he could not attain salvation through the prevalent religious practices, which were a "false web" spread by the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, along with their parents Brahm ("Kaal Niranjan") and Durga ("Ashtangi Aadi Maya").[8]

Rampal states that he then studied several spiritual books, including Bhagvad Gita, Kabir Sagar, Sat Granth by Garib Das, and "all the Puranas". He claims to have found evidence supporting the statements of Swami Ramdevanand in these books. He claims that he started an intense jaap (meditative repetition of naam or god's name), after which he started experiencing "mental peace and extreme happiness".[8]

In 1994, Ramdevanand asked him to start preaching.[8] He gained local popularity by touring Haryana as a singer of bhajans (religious songs). After being found out being careless about his work, he resigned from his job in May 1995, and became a full-time preacher. His resignation was formally accepted in 2000, with effect from 1995.[9]

Satlok Ashram[edit]

In 1999, Rampal founded the Satlok Ashram in Karontha village of Rohtak district, drawing on his following from within the Kabir panth. At that time, he lived in Shastri Nagar of Rohtak with his wife and two sons; his two daughters had married.[5]

During the 2000s, he established several other ashrams, and gained a number of followers in Haryana, especially in Rohtak and Jhajjar districts.[10]Deepender Deswal (2013-05-13). "Rohtak clash: Sant Rampal triggered it". The Times of India. , which was distributed to devotees as prasad.[11]

Court case[edit]

In 2006, Rampal raised objections to certain parts of Satyarth Prakash, the central text of the Arya Samaj religious sect. He termed these parts as "impractical and anti-social". This angered the followers of Arya Samaj, who surrounded his ashram, eventually resulting in a clash between the followers of two sects on 12 July 2006.[10] During the clash, one person named Sonu was shot dead, and 59 more were injured.[9][12][13] Rampal was charged with murder and attempt to murder, and jailed for 22 months. His followers claim that he was falsely implicated in the case. Another complaint of forgery was filed against him a day after the 2006 clashes. According to this complaint, the sale of land for his Karontha ashram was fabricated using impersonation.[12] Rampal's followers claim that they had no role to play in this impersonation, and the person who sold the land was at fault.[8] The ashram was forced to vacate the land.[9] After Rampal was released on bail in 2008, he set up his base in Barwala, Hisar.[10] In 2009, the High Court returned the Karontha ashram to him.[14][15] An appeal against the judgement was filed by Haryana government and Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, but was rejected by the apex court in February 2013.[16]

After obtaining bail, Rampal did not appear in court regularly, for trial in the murder case.[17] His followers were inside the karontha ashram when Arya Samaj-affiliated villagers in an attempt to attack the ashram clashed with the police protecting the ashram in May 2013, which resulted in death of 3 people and around 100 people were injured.[18][19] Unable to check the villagers, the police forced Rampal followers to leave the Karontha ashram, and move to Barwala ashram. Arya Samaj activists demanded his arrest and trial.[20] On May 14, 2014, he appeared in the Hissar court through a video link. On this occasion, his followers entered the court premises and created chaos.[21] Sant Rampal is a controversial preacher but has large number of followers in Punjab state of India and in other parts of Northern India.[22]

In July 2014, Rampal's followers again tried to disrupt the court proceedings.[6] In September 2014, Rampal was asked to appear before the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Chandigarh, in a contempt of court case. The local administration imposed Section 144 and deployed 2,000 police personnel to prevent his followers from entering the city. Despite this, thousands of followers gathered in the city, although Rampal did not appear before the court.[23]

Arrest[edit]

During 2010-14, Rampal skipped court hearings 42 times.[24] He was given 'exemption from appearance' by the court to maintain the law and order situation which could get disturbed due to the possibility of his followers flocking the court.[25] In 2014, the Punjab and Haryana High Court issued non-bailable arrest warrants against him. In protest, his followers blocked rail and road traffic in Ambala, Panchkula and Chandigarh on November 5. When the police tried to detain him on November 9, his armed followers, including gunmen, formed human chains outside the Satlok Ashram to prevent the police from arresting him. The police tried to initiate a dialogue, and asked him to surrender.[17] Rampal's followers announced that the police will have to kill more than 100,000 followers before arresting him.[26]

By 18 November, his Satlok ashram in Hisar was protected by thousands of his followers who wielded lathis, sticks and other fire arms. The ashram, where Rampal was hiding, was also protected by thousands of women devotees who blocked the road and entrance for several days, which prevented the police from entering the hideout. They were allegedly confined to the premises by his aides.[27] More than 20,000 security personnel and police forced their way into the ashram, but they could not find Rampal for arrest.[28][29] The police used earth movers to break wall on rear side of ashram to find him, but were opposed by large number of followers who injured 28 police personnel in an effort to halt their entry.[30] The bodies of five women and 18 month old child were found in his ashram.[31][32]

Rampal was arrested on the night of November 19, 2014, along with 492 of his followers, on charges including sedition, murder, attempt to murder, conspiracy, hoarding illegal weapons and aiding and abetting suicide-mongers.[32][33]

Teachings[edit]

Rampal claims to be a successor of Kabir, whom he considers to be the supreme god.[34][35] He claims that all the major religious scriptures — including Vedas, Gita, Quran, Bible and Guru Granth Sahib — name Kabir as the supreme god.[36] Some of his followers consider him an incarnation of Kabir.[6]

Rampal preaches against temple visits, idol worship, charity, donations, untouchability, adultery and "vulgar singing and dancing". He also asks his followers not to criticise him and to consider any critic as a liar.[37]

Personal life[edit]

Rampal is married to Naro Devi. They have two sons and two daughters. The family lived in the Barwala ashram until the siege.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Self-styled 'godman' Rampal in deep trouble, faces fresh murder charges". DNA India. 2014-11-21. 
  2. ^ "Rampals army was armed to the teeth". Times of India. 2014-11-21. 
  3. ^ "rampal charged with murder rioting". NDTV. 2014-11-21. 
  4. ^ "Indian Guru Rampal arrested after deadly ashram clashes". BBC India. 2014-11-19. 
  5. ^ a b c Sat Singh (2013-05-14). "Rampal and his religious engineering". Hindustan Times. 
  6. ^ a b c "Who is godman Sant Rampal". Mint. 
  7. ^ a b c Varinder Bhatia; Dipankar Ghose (23 November 2014). "Sant Rampal: From the most followed, to the most wanted". Indian Express. Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Jagat Guru Rampal Ji Maharaj". Kabir Parmeshwar Bhakti Trust. Retrieved 2014-11-18. 
  9. ^ a b c "5 things you should know about godman Rampal". Business Standard. 2014-11-18. 
  10. ^ a b c Deepender Deswal (2013-05-13). "Rohtak clash: Sant Rampal triggered it". The Times of India. 
  11. ^ "Devotees bathed Rampal in milk, then used it to make kheer, locals say". The Times of India. 20 November 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2014. 
  12. ^ a b "Cases against Haryana godman Rampal". The Times of India. 2014-11-18. 
  13. ^ रामपाल को पेशी से छूट मिलने की समीक्षा, Haryana Mail, September 17, 2013
  14. ^ आखिर कौन हैं बाबा रामपाल, naidunia, 18 Nov 2014
  15. ^ कौन है यह स्वयंभू संत रामपाल, जिसने राज्य को बंधक बनाया, News 24, November 18th, 2014
  16. ^ Rohtak village tense over ashram opening, Hindustan Times, 10 April 2013
  17. ^ a b "Rampal followers stand guard outside his ashram in Barwala". The Times of India. 2014-11-09. 
  18. ^ 3 killed, 100 injured in Rohtak ashram clash, Times of India, 13 May 2013
  19. ^ Two killed, 115 injured in Rohtak clash, The Hindu, 13 May 2013
  20. ^ रामपाल के खिलाफ तेज किया जाएगा आंदोलन : आर्य रामपाल तथा उसके साथियों पर हत्या का मामला दर्ज करने की मांग, Samay Live, 13 May 2013
  21. ^ पुलिस ने गिराई रामपाल के आश्रम की दीवार, समर्थकों ने खड़ी की सिलेंडरों की कतारें Dainik Bhaskar , Nov 18, 2014
  22. ^ Bhatnagar, Gaurav Vivek (16 November 2014). "Haryana cuts supply of essentials to Rampal's ashram". The Hindu, newspaper. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  23. ^ Diljot Singh (2014-09-25). "Rohtak sectors head supporters keep Chandigarh on edge". The Times of India. 
  24. ^ Deepshikha Ghosh (2011-11-17). "No Will to Arrest Murder-Accused 'Godman': Court Slams Haryana". NDTV. 
  25. ^ हाजिरी माफी के चलते रामपाल नहीं हुए कोर्ट में पेश, Jagran, 11 December 2013
  26. ^ Bhaskar Mukherjee (2014-11-10). "Rampal ashram turns into fortress". The Times of India. 
  27. ^ "mole helped cops close in on godman rampal". FirstPost. 2014-11-21. 
  28. ^ "Godman's supporters clash with police, over 100 injured". New Indian Express. 18 November 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  29. ^ "Deadline over, crackdown begins at Rampal's ashram". India Today, New Delhi. 18 November 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  30. ^ "Police enter ashram, clash with godman's follower". The Hindu, news paper. 18 November 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  31. ^ Six dead in Rampal's ashram in Hisar, not even a single one hurt by police bullets, says Haryana DGP
  32. ^ a b November 20, 2014 'Godman' Rampal arrested, 15,000 followers freed, 492 held for violence, The Times of India
  33. ^ "Haryana police arrest godman Rampal". The Times of India. 2014-11-19. 
  34. ^ Dharti Par Avtar, Dr. Sardar Surajpal Singh, 4th Ed, March 2011, p. 28
  35. ^ "So who is this godman Rampal after all?". rediff.com. 18 November 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  36. ^ "Jagat Guru Rampal Ji Maharaj: Holy Books". Kabir Parmeshwar Bhakti Trust. 2014-11-18. 
  37. ^ "Law-breaker Sant Rampal's controversial preachings". ABP News. 2014-11-18.