Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Aug 4:
Still pictures of a self-styled spiritual leader moving around in the lobby of a Hyderabad-based star hotel telecast on a television news channel in Odisha today has set tongues wagging across the state.
The man in question seen on the screen has an uncanny resemblance with Sarathi Baba, the Kendarpara based spiritual guru who claims to be an incarnation of Lord Krishna, the only difference being in the attire. While the Baba is usually clad in all whites, the man in the picture is seen wearing a blue T-shirt and jeans.
An exclusive expose aired on television channel News 7 all day claimed the godman had checked into Hotel Golconda in the posh Banjara Hills area in Hyderabad city in the first week of July with a woman companion, who he introduced as his wife at the reception.
The duo had spent three days in the four-star hotel and the godman had presented his voter ID card as identity proof while checking in, the report claimed.
The woman, in her 20s, is said to be a medical student in Cuttack.
The report carried an interview with Kailash Chandra Mallick, who worked for the Baba for nearly a decade before parting ways with him, during which he made some explosive revelations about his former employer.
Mallick claimed that Sarathi Baba clandestinely carries the bibhuti that he claims to produce out of thin air in an effort to impress his existing and potential disciples.
Contrary to the image of an austere, plain living ascetic that he has assiduously cultivated, the Baba gorges on liquor and non-vegetarian food, Mallick claimed.
Among the items ordered by the Baba during his stay in Room No 607 of the hotel were ‘tandoor chicken’ and ‘foreign liquor’, the channel claimed.
The man who has christened himself ‘Srimad Sarathi’ has a bevy of women, most of them in the age group of 22-27, with whom he spends exclusive hours in his private space, Mallick said in his tell-all interview.
Speaking to the media in the evening, the beleaguered godman, claiming to be an incarnation of Lord Krishna, brushed aside the allegations saying it was an attempt to defame him and mislead his followers.
But unimpressed by his protestations, infuriated people staged protests at various locations in the state, including his bastion Kendrapara, Baleswar, Cuttack, Angul and Bhubaneswar, burning his effigy and posters. The ashram of the spiritual guru at Angul was vandalised by some unidentified men.
With the demand for a probe spreading like wildfire, politicians too joined the chorus.
Aul legislator Devendra Sharma demanded a probe into the incident to ascertain the truth behind the allegations.
From paan shops to offices, Sarathi Baba was talk of the town – indeed the state – all day on Tuesday. “Such was his influence on his devotees that he drove a wedge between husband and wife. While the husband would ask his wife not to go to him, the wife would insist on going there,” said paan vendor Gourahari, popularly known as Goura Bhai, of CRP Square here.
Predictably enough, social media too was abuzz with reverberations of the ‘Srimad Sarathi’ episode with people taking potshots at the Kendrapara based godman and godmen in general.