Asaram, Chinmayanand have damaged religion: Swami Swaroop

Bhopal, Sep 16 (IANS) Religiosity and spiritualism have taken a serious beating after allegations of rape and alleged indulgence in immoral activities against self-proclaimed saints like Asaram and Swami Chinmayanand have come to light, Swami Anand Swaroop of the Shankaracharya Trust told IANS in an exclusive interview here on Monday.
He said that anyone who wears a saffron robe calls himself a ‘baba’ these days, but this concept needs to change.
According to Swaroop, only those spiritual leaders should be allowed to wear saffron robes who have attained spiritual knowledge.
Religion has become a business today, where these people have an agenda of earning money, he added.
“Earlier, only those people who had read all the four Vedas, the 18 Puranas and Shastras, took to religion after attaining enlightenment, but now this tradition is on the wane. Now whoever wears saffron colour robes becomes a sadhu,” he said.
Slamming the moral degradation of so-called sadhus, Swaroop said: “The allegations of sexual misconduct against Asaram and Chinmayanand have dealt a blow to theology and religion. People now look suspiciously at these kinds of self-proclaimed babas.”
“This is all happening because so-called saints have eschewed the path of learning. They are no longer attaining knowledge through India’s age old tradition of spending time with a holy soul. Now they think that not entering into wedlock will make them a saint. Those who have no control over their senses must get married,” he said.
Elaborating, Swaroop gave the example of Ramkrishna Mission where a person has to pass through several layers of tests to become a saint. After clearing all the levels, the aspirant gets the right to wear saffron robes.
“According to our tradition, people look at such persons with reverence and this is the reason why some people take advantage of people’s beliefs. Therefore, there is an urgent need to redefine the process through which a person becomes saint or sadhu,” he said.
Lashing out at the ‘akharas’ (religious orders), Swaroop said these are passing through a bad phase even though some of them were established by Adi Shankaracharya.
The akharas were established to protect the spirit of religion, but now they are full of incompetent so-called sadhus. The akhara chiefs smoke weed and do all kinds of dirty things, he added.

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