Asumal Sirumalani Harpalani, DNA India Wikipedia popularly known by his followers as Asaram Bapu, is an Indian Hindu religious and spiritual leader. He came to be known as a godman in the late 1960s. As of 2021, Asaram is serving life imprisonment in Jodhpur jail as he was found guilty of the rape of an underage girl in 2018.
Asaram was born as Asumal Sirumalani Wikipedia on Thursday, 17 April 1941 (age 80 years; as of 2021) in Berani village, Shaheed Benazir Abad District (Nawabshah), Sindh, British India (present-day Berani town is located in Jam Nawaz Ali Tehsil of Sanghar district, Sindh, Pakistan). His zodiac sign is Aries.
After the Indo-Pak partition in 1947, Asaram, along with his family, moved to Maninagar in Ahmedabad (then part of the former Bombay State in India). His family left behind all their immovable assets in Sindh. Asaram attended Ahmedabad’s Jai Hind High School. The Indian Express In Ahmedabad, Asaram’s father established a coal and wood selling business. When Asaram was 10 years old, his father passed away. After his father’s death, Asaram left his school (studied up to class 3) and began running his father’s business. He worked there for a while and then shifted to Vijapur, a city in the Mehsana district of Gujarat. When Asaram was 15 years old, he ran away from his home and went to an ashram in Bharuch, Gujarat, in order to escape his marriage to Laxmi Devi. However, his family convinced him to return home and tie the knot with Laxmi. A few years later, he again ran away from his home and moved to Nainital, Uttarakhand. There he met a local religio-spiritual figure named Lilashah at an ashram.
Lilashah ordered him to return home. Thirteen days after his return, he once again went to Lilashah’s ashram and became her disciple. He was renamed “Sant Shri Asaramji Maharaj” on 7 October 1964 by her. The Indian Express Before establishing himself as a godman, Asaram was involved in a number of professions like:
- In 1958-59, he used to sell tea in front of the Magistrate’s office in Ahmedabad. The tea shop was reportedly owned by one of his relatives named Sevak Ram and is still in operation.
- In 1960s, he began selling liquor with his four partners namely Jamarmal, Nathumal, Kishanmal, and Lachrani. He made a huge amount of profits from his business.
- Thereafter, he worked at a milk dairy for a while, where he used to earn Rs 300 per month.
- Asaram was also involved in a cycle repairing and sugar trading jobs for some time.
Hair Colour: Salt & Pepper
Eye Colour: Black
Family & Caste
Parents & Siblings
Asaram’s father, Thaumal Sirumalani, was a businessman. He ran a coal and wood selling business. His mother’s name is Mehangiba.
Wife & Children
Asaram is married to Laxmi Devi (Spiritual Leader). The couple has a son named Narayan Prem Sai (Religious Leader) and a daughter named Bharati Devi (Religious Preacher). His son, Narayan, was also convicted in a rape case and is serving life in prison in the Jodhpur jail. Asaram was never ordained to be a monk. He always lived the life of a householder.
Asaram returned to Ahmedabad in the early 1970s and lived in Motera’s Sadashiv Ashram for two years. Later, in January 1972, he built his hut adjacent to it.
He soon started his spiritual preachings and became a popular Katha-Vachak (a person who tells religious stories). His discourses were often a combination of humour, music, and dance and attracted a wide range of followers from the Other Backward Classes to Dalit communities. In 1973, he transformed his hut into a small ashram.
Slowly, he started attracting the upper-caste followers as well. Asaram offered free food in his ashram. He even started organising feasts in tribal areas with the help of his disciples and distributed utensils and clothes to the poor. Soon, he started receiving economic patronage from the local government and began expanding his operations. By the end of 2013, Asaram had more than 400 large and small ashrams in India and abroad, with over 40 million followers.
Asaram’s core teaching laid an emphasis on Brahmcharya (celibacy) and Guru-Shishya relationship. His devotees were asked to have complete faith in him and blindly obey what he preached. His Satsangs were a combination of quotable quotes and life tips on everything from marital bliss to cures of diseases like cancer. During his discourses, he criticized the increasing sexual liberation of the society and was against the adoption of western cultures in Indian society.
On 14 February 2013, his Shri Yogi Vedanta Seva Samiti organised a Matru Pitru Poojan Divas (mother-father worship day) to eliminate western cultural invasion. After Asaram’s teachings, the Government of Chhattisgarh directed all schools of the region to observe Matru-Pitru Diwas every year on 14 February.
Asaram was against conversion to Christianity, and to counter the celebration of Christmas, Asaram started Tulsi Poojan Diwas (a day to worship Tulsi – the Holy Hindu plant) on 25 December 2014. Apart from Satsangs, his teachings were also available in pre-recorded forms and they were also broadcast through mass media. In his discourses, he accorded ‘Diksha’ (initiation by a guru) to his devotees.
In addition to his teachings, Asaram distributes ‘Ashram-made’ medicines to his ardent followers.
Before his arrest in 2013, Asaram’s cult claimed that he was capable of performing astonishing miracles. The dubious stroies of the miracles performed by Asaram were hawked to keep the faith of his supporters alive even after his arrest in 2013. Some of them are:
- A devotee once recounted that one day he was going to return home after a Satsang when it was raining heavily. He asked Asaram how he would manage to go home, after which Asaram looked up at the sky and said, “Stop Now!” and the rain stopped instantly.
- Another devotee of Asaram recalled how his minor son was cured of Aphasia (an inability to formulate language) after he was given a piece of butter as suggested by his guru.
- In 1959, there were allegations of murder on Asaram and his relatives. They reportedly murdered a man in Vijapur under the influence of alcohol. However, due to lack of evidence, he was bailed out of the case. Financial Express
- A complaint was filed against Asaram in 2000 by the people of Bhairavi village of Navsari district for encroaching 6 acres of land in addition to 10 acres of the area allocated by the Gujarat Government. The Indian Express
- The following year, he was accused of encroaching 100 acres of land (valued at over Rs. 7 billion) of the Mangalya Temple, Madhya Pradesh. Reportedly, he hired the place for a Satsang, but the Yoga Vedanta Samiti of his Ashram didn’t vacate the premises. India TV News
- In 2002, Asaram and his followers forged all the property of a Rajokri-based devotee Bhagwani Devi. His followers first convinced her to donate a part of her land to Asaram’s trust and later duped her. Aaj Tak
- Asaram was accused of practising black magic in 2008 after two boys went missing from his ashram’s residential school (gurukul) in Motera (Gujarat). Their parents also alleged that Asaram restrained them from filing a complaint with the police. Later in July 2013, the boys’ bodies were recovered from the riverbed of the Sabarmati, next to the ashram. The bodies were mutilated, with some vital organs missing. The incident led to public agitations. India TV
- In Bhilwara (Mewar, Rajasthan), a part of his ashram was destroyed by the Nashik Municipal Corporation for illegal possession of the Government land. First Post
- A case was filed against his ashram by the Bihar State Religious Trust in Patna for grabbing a piece of land illegally. Times of India
- On 8 January 2010, the State Government took over 67,059 meter square of land from his Ahmedabad’s ashram, claiming it to be an illigal possession. The Indian Express
- A case was registered against Asaram in the Rajasthan High Court by his followers Satya Narayan Dhoot and Bhanwar Lal Soni for encroaching their lands in Rajasthan. Times of India
- In September 2012, Asaram made headlines for slapping a video journalist during his Satsang in Ghaziabad. India TV
- In 2013, his illegally-built ashram in Cuttack was demolished by the Municipal Corporation of Cuttack.
- In September 2013, he was arrested by the Jodhpur police for sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl. He was also accused of giving death threats to the father of the victim. Her father even submitted the audio clippings of Asaram and his followers in the court. India Today
- The Nashik Municipal Corporation removed illegal encroachment by Asaram’s ashram in September 2013. India Today
- In 2014, Asaram’s ashram located at Chowkitaal in Bhedhaghat was demolished by the local authorities due to illegal construction. News18
- In January 2015, Akhil Gupta, who was the prime witness of the Surat rape case, was murdered. It was suspected that the murder was carried out by the followers of Asaram. The Wire
- On 25 April 2018, Asaram was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Jodhpur Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe Court for raping a 16-year-old girl from Shahajahanpur, Uttar Pradesh. The verdict was pronounced by judge Madhusudan Sharma inside the Jodhpur Central Jail. Two of Asaram’s associates were sentenced to 20 years in prison. India TV
- In 2020, Asaram’s illegally constructed ashram on government land at Raie village in Ghagwal area of Samba district was demolished by the district administration. The ashram was built on 65 kanals of government land. The Tribune
Before his arrest in 2013, Asaram used to reside at Sant Shri Asharamji Bapu Ashram, Motera, Sabarmati, Ahmedabad
- Asaram often dressed in a spotless white dhoti and Kurta and carried a snow-white beard to match the look for his Satsangs.
- Many political leaders including Atal Bihari Vajpayee, LK Advani, Narendra Modi, Digvijaya Singh, and Kamal Nath paid a visit to him, primarily for commanding the votes of his followers. The Hindu
- In 2018, a former disciple and once personal assistant of Asaram named Rahul K Sachan said in his testimony that Asaram followed non-vegetarian food habits. The Indian Express
- His hobbies include dancing and doing make-up.
- In 1992, Asaram was allotted 14,515 square metres of land in Ahmedabad for the expansion of his ashram. In 1999, he was again allotted 25,000 square metres of land for his ashram in Ahmedabad.
- Reportedly, Asaram used to wear the kohl made up of burnt bats in his eyes before his arrest in 2013. Dainik Bhaskar
- In August 2012, while Asaram was on his way to address a Satsang, his helicopter fell from nearly 100 ft to the ground in Godhra, Gujarat. Amazingly, Asaram, the pilot, and two others survived the accident as the helicopter didn’t explode.
- In 2013, before his arrest, Asaram had more than 2 crore followers worldwide. He owned 400 ashrams across 12 countries, around 50 gurukuls, 40 residential schools, a printing press, and an Ayurveda unit in India.
- Asaram owned a fleet of luxury cars but preferred travelling by BMW or Mercedes. He often used to hire choppers to travel to different locations. Asaram preferred travelling only through business class.
- He enjoyed VVIP status at airports and public gatherings. He hired a special team who used to walk along with him to aircrafts or to the public visits.
- In 2021, Asaram was tested positive for COVID-19 while he was a prisoner of the Jodhpur jail. In May 2021, he was admitted to Jodhpur’s Mahatma Gandhi Hospital owing to his deteriorating health. Asaram was kept in the ICU of the hospital. Nav Bharat Times