A religious Indian guru who is accused of convincing 400 of his male followers to get surgically castrated is being investigated by police in India. The revelation by the victims comes on the heels of another investigation by authorities where the guru is accused of sexual assault.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, 47, has led the India-based socio-spiritual organisation Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS) since 1990, and reportedly has an estimated 50 million followers and a net worth of approximately $40 million. A report by MSN.com describes Singh as being known as the “guru in bling,” because of his “garish” clothes and jewelry.
According to a report by The New Age Online, Singh told his followers that they had to cut off their testicles if they wanted to “get closer to God.”
The procedures were allegedly performed in 2000 at a medical facility located at Singh’s ashram. The victims are coming forward now after news broke that Singh was under investigation by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation for allegedly sexually assaulting female followers. Singh has also been questioned regarding the 2002 death of an investigative journalist, but has not been charged.
Navkiran Singh, an attorney for one of the victims, Hans Raj Chauhan, told the media that his client and the other men “were told that only those who get castrated will be able to meet God,” and feared being social outcasts if they refused to go through with the operations.
According to the MSN.com report, gurus like Singh “play an integral role in daily life” for many Indians, and are believed to help guide one’s path to enlightenment. Many gurus receive not just substantial financial contributions but also intense spiritual devotion from their followers. In a particularly odd case, the followers of a dead guru in the state of Punjab have gone to court seeking the right to keep his body in a freezer, insisting that the man is not dead but merely meditating.