Nepali Times Asian Paints
Chalo Dilli
Rise and fall of Acharya B


Until a fortnight or so ago, Acharya Balkrishna was a swarthy young man with a squarish face and badly-cut hair, the kind you commonly pass by on the streets of north India.

But this column is not about the revenge of the underclass against India's elite, not even if some of them have become new emperors of wealth via the market route that Manmohan Singh unleashed with some determination two decades ago.

This is about Acharya Balkrishna, one of thousands of saffron-clad godmen claiming either a direct or indirect connection with the almighty, who crisscross the India-Nepal landscape without fear but lots of favour, disregarding man-made rules of citizenship and lines demarcating borders.

Except, Balkrishna decided that his was not the way of the ascetics in the holy books, who gave up the good life in favour of an ashram in the Himalaya or led a secluded existence on the banks of the Ganga, thereby helping to bring to light the myriad meanings of the soul.

Balkrishna is the new age guru, at the very least the most enterprising aide behind India's best-known new age tele-evangelist guru, Baba Ramdev, whose latest claim to national headlines is his protest against corruption and black money. To cut a long story short in which India's leading politicians cut a sorry figure by bending both backwards and frontwards to appease the Baba, Ramdev and Balkrishna have become (depending which way you look at it) either victims of a dastardly establishment trying to discredit spiritual figures, or valiant upholders of the Hindu faith.

Early on, Balkrishna decided the road to gurudom was through the acquisition of wealth. What better way to satisfy Kuber, the pot-bellied god of wealth than to create a spiritual empire which fulfilled several needs at the same time? The first thing to do was to acquire several acres of land, and yes, build an ashram on the banks of the holy Ganga in Haridwar on which organic food would be grown and sold through wholly-owned patents. There were dark whisperings that some of the land had been illegally sold to Balkrishna by the Udaseen Akhara.

And since information is power, and since all those fattened on Manmohan Singh's material reform were also now seeking spiritual gain, what better way to feed them soul food than through 24x7 religious messaging on the Aastha TV channel, 99 per cent of whose shares were owned by Balkrishna himself?

The Ramdev-Balkrishna empire, including an island in Scotland, now amounted to a karmic cool $300 million. But the empire of the state struck back. Influential Congress leader Digvijaya Singh fired the first salvo, accusing Balkrishna of being a Nepali with a criminal record back home, that his Indian passport was fake, and that he had violated the Indian Arms Act.

Poor Balkrishna. Not really being versed in the ways of the Indian elite, leave alone the political elite which can run rings around the most sophisticated entrepreneurs, he began to defend himself to the press. Short of invoking the 1950 India-Nepal treaty, which guarantees to all Nepali citizens the right to live and work in India, the young godman did everything he could to paint a picture of being an honourable citizen. Even if he didn't pay his taxes on time.

A fawning media was taken aback when Balkrishna refused to come clean about the alleged land grab around the Divya Yog Trust. "Who do you think you are? Who are you to ask me?" Balkrishna answered.

That's how the first thread of the holy struggle within the unholy alliance began to unravel. The police cracked down on Ramdev & Co and in the ensuing melee, Ramdev escaped from the police dressed as a woman. Balkrishna went missing and subsequently said he had actually been tending to the injured.

At present, the live tv tamasha is over and India is catching its breath. Even the most ardent devotee will acknowledge that Ramdev and Balkrishna's reputations are somewhat dented because they sought to inject religion into politics. As for their suspiciously-gotten wealth, last heard the Income Tax authorities were beginning to ask a few questions.

1. who cares
those mixing religion with politics, money, to fulfill ill motives should be treated as devils by society.

this world is a living hell, it better for everybody if we blow this earth.

in this earth, no descent people with dignity can protect their dignity. all the power are controlled by evils.

even in democratic countries- politicians, govt sleeps with those with money and some public backing but destroy them as soon as they betray them.

we need someone to punish those politicians and govt. too.

so, balkrishna is the real man behind all the fame, hum.

may be nepal govt. should make a deal with this bal guy. if he agrees to bring all the money, know how in nepal .. nepal govt. should promise him that nepal govt. would make a deal with indian govt.

which is,
since, indian govt. wants some kind of favor for UTL from nepal govt., nepal govt. should ask favor for bal guy from indian govt. too.

but no way that nepal govt. should give this bal. guy nepali citizen. he is a traitor. 


2. chandra gurung
I feel sad when I look at the Indian intellectuals. They basically are being screwed big time by morons like Digvijay Singh and Rahul Gandhi, not to mention a 4-class pass Sonia Gandhi. But the Indian liberal intellectuals are okey with these and are dismissive of local Gurus.

3. sukha

stop giving us such..second hand and quondam news. of very minutiae  significance  to the readers..

hope for better reading next time

4. milan

OK..I get the implied sarcasm...but what is the real point being made in this story? Are Ram Dev and his sidekick charlatans? and also, what is not clear is how this "story" is related to the tamasha of Ram Dev's hunger strike??


5. Atul

Injecting religion into politics? I thought Ramdev was fasting against black money in Indian politics? Very speculative article which makes many accusations without giving much evidence. I call his arm chair reporting.

I wish someone would do this in Nepal!!

6. sunil
Ramdev and Co. should be allowed to set up their establishment in Nepal with dignity and honor. Our country, especially our Hindu right groups, should be pro-active as they can hugely benefit..economically, health and spirit. 

7. Dev Batsya

It is easier for the Indian government to crack down on peaceful protesters like Ram Dev and Anna Hazare than to deal with the nexus of criminals and corrupt politicians who are running the country.
Corruption is rampant in India from the cabinet ministers to the ordinary police officer.

The recent 2G spectrum scam involving 40 billion dollars, commonwealth game scam etc are just the tip of the iceberg of a corrupt system that affects the government and almost all the other parties in India.

The Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha) has the highest density of criminals anywhere in the world.
Almost one out of four members in the Indian parliament is a criminal and is facing criminal charges.
The members of parliament have amassed huge amounts of individual wealth mostly by illegal means.
300 members in the parliament are billionaires and 180 are millionaires out of a total of 543 members .
The politicians have divided the people along caste/communal lines so that each community serves as a perpetual vote bank for these corrupt politicians. As such almost 70 years after independence India still has not been able to get rid of its feudal legacy, especially in rural India where most of the population lives in poverty.
India is a prime example of a dysfunctional government that has not delivered for its people, unlike countries like South Korea, Singapore etc which 70 years ago were much more backward than India, but now have become developed nations.

The growth that India has witnessed in the last decade has mostly been in the private sector mainly due to the unshackling of its socialist centralized economy and the efforts of its entrepreneurial private citizens and individual leaders.
The central government has been mainly a spectator and has not played any meaningful role other than being involved in scandals when government contracts are awarded to private companies.

Nepal too could learn some lessons from India's experience with parliamentary democracy and the management of its economy so as not to repeat the same mistakes.

It is a pity that the writer spends so much time harping against one Acharya B, whom nobody knows rather than focusing on issues that affects peoples lives like corruption that people like Ram Dev and Anna Hazare are trying to highlight and bring to the Indian peoples attention.

Without providing any proof, the writer insinuates that the government is cracking down on Ram Dev because he is involved in criminal activities. The only proof she has to offer is that the trust established by him has prospered financially. But so has Satya Sai Baba's trust. (In other countries the religious establishments like the churches, the Vatican and mosques in Moslem countries are far richer.) If these trusts are used for good causes for the people like fighting corruption, more power to them.

8. babita
Ram Dev had a good cause and he still has large number of genuine followers. 
Ramdev's daily two-hour session has been the most-watched show in India since 2003, drawing an average of 26 million viewers and beating news programs, soap operas, movies and reality shows. His mission is to promote yoga and rid people of their dependence on expensive modern medicines. 
Lets give him the benefit of doubts on his intentions.

9. sharma
India is going in wrong direction!!

Ramdev and balkrishna are much better than congress and dig vijay singh who sayd "osama jee was a pious musilm"

How dare he speak that??

If intellectuals of india despise hinduism, so much then they should all convert to peaceful islam like neighbor pakistan :P

Congress party ,sonia madam and pawar,dmk are the industry of corruption!!

Baba ram dev is visionary and right person!!
What about sai baba property of 5 billion $!!

10. gurung
As i read about UTL deal in nepal.The telecom company UTL is asking for fair deal

They lost revenue and were not allowed to operate for 3-4 yrs,meanwhile some companies were allowed to  do and ate their marketshare!!

so UTL is going by and why should it pay tax once it has lost more money than it earned here!!

11. vikram
what a onesided biased article you have written
you intentionally did not mention the various good and the great work they have done in ayurveda and yog

writing such articles you journalists give up all your credibility

or may be you dont care for credibility - you must have have got nice amount for writing this

12. manish
@ vikram...touche!!! neo christianism is on the rise in nepal with pseudo intellectuals deriding anything hindu 

13. rosi
what is the problem for you if he wants to have a hair like that? I see green Jyoti here.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)