He would be suspected of a hand in the murder of a prime minister and in the most controversial arms deal ever, the Iran-Contra affair. Famously pretty and accomplished women would flutter around him like exotic butterflies. So would International wheeler dealers and political fixers. Scandal through the 1980s and 1990s had another name : Chandraswami.
He would wield influence with heads of state lie Margaret Thatcher, the Sultan of Brunei, Muda Hassanal Bolkia Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sheikh Isa Khalifa of Bahrain, Sese Seko Mobutu of Zaire and two prime ministers of India. His birthday would be celebrated with pomp and politicians of all hues would fight to be seen with the godman. His fall would be as abrupt as his rise and in 1996, Tihar Jail would receive its most famous prisoner till date: Chandraswami.
The word “godman” would forever take on a dubious meaning as newspapers across the world lifted the veil on his caliginous world of sex, arms, drugs, money and power–broking . For an entire generation, he came to symbolize the seamy side of spiritualism. Gurus before him took meditation, yoga and Ayurveda to the West, the worst that could be said of them was that they were Charlatans. Chandraswami was seen as an unmitigated villain.
[ Excerpted with permission from “Gurus : Stories of India's Leading Babas” by Bhavdeep Kang, Westland Books, June 2016. Views expressed are writer’s personal ]