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Posts Tagged ‘Sri Prakasa

That the self-styled godmen beguile the gullible is understandable. What, however, is surprising is the manner in which the educated persons, quite rational otherwise, block their critical faculty before such a godman even when the godman has been proved to be a crook. It may not be out of place to cite an instance from my student days in Varanasi.

One Jhumari Tiwari disappeared from home and after several years surfaced in Bombay (as it was then known) and assumed the name of Ram Lakshman Acharya. It was rumoured that he had spent the intervening years in the Himalayas where he had practised yoga and attained divinity. While teaching the citizens of Bombay how to attain moksha, he landed in the police dragnet on a complaint from the wife of an influential industrialist. He was prosecuted and awarded seven years’ rigorous imprisonment for the offence.

Sri Prakasa, an eminent citizen of Varanasi, was then the Governor of Maharashtra. A delegation from Varanasi approached the Governor with the request that the godman be transferred from Bombay jail to Varanasi jail. The Governor obliged (those days there was not such a public scrutiny of the actions of Constitutional authorities as it is now). As soon as Ram Lakshman Acharya entered the Central Jail in Varanasi, he was declared ‘ill’ and shifted to the Shiv Prasad Gupta (district) Hospital at Kabirchaura.

Still a convict and undergoing sentence, the godman could not be allotted a private or special ward under the rules. He could not be put up in a general ward, along with lesser mortals. So a way was found out. General Wards 6 and 7 were connected by a small corridor. In the middle of the corridor was a room where the nursing staff assigned duties for the two wards had their paraphernalia. The pieces of furniture and the almirahs were dumped in Ward 7. To create room for these items, some beds of Ward 7 were moved out into the veranda. The nurses’ room was allotted to Ram Lakshman Acharya.

Every morning the ‘hospitalised’ godman would walk some four kms (a couple of constables trailing half a km behind) to take his bath in the Ganga. On return he would shut himself up in the room for a few hours to perform pooja. By the time his pooja was completed, top government officials, Divisional Commissioner of Varanasi Division, the DIG of police and the Jailor downwards, most of them along with their wives, would be waiting outside to touch his feet and obtain his blessings. All the surgeons and physicians of the District Hospital — barring one — took turns to pay their obeisance to the convicted godman. Dr Dutta (I am unable to recall his initials) was the only doctor who would, after completing his round of Ward 6, head straight to Ward 7 without casting a glance at the room situated between the two wards.

I was witness to this shocking degradation of the educated class. During that period, I was an inmate of Ward 7 undergoing treatment for pleurisy.

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November 2017
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Fortune & Crime

“Behind every great fortune there is a crime”, originally attributed to 19th-century French writer Honoré de Balzac.

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