Fake gurus

Amal Chatterjee
8 min readOct 16, 2017


Source : Google photo

Synopsis : It is nothing new that the unscrupulous people try to take advantage of simple minded people in the name of religions giving rise to the industry of fake gurus. The blogs warns of such fake religionists everywhere and cautions the gullible people to be more careful in parting with their hard earned cash.

In today’s frantic and competitive world full of stress and anxiety, people have a hunger for spiritual guidance that has given rise to the fake spiritual leaders called gurus who promise the Valhalla for a price and reap enormous benefits in doing so. They are sprouting like mushrooms all over the world but more so where the climate is favorable. This has something to do with the low level of education, poverty and a hopeless life that some people have making them more gullible and vulnerable to fake gurus who offer all sorts of spiritual help for a price.

Recently one such person has been arrested in India who built up his empire using the tax free money he collected from his followers and lived a lifestyle of super-rich and used his place to rape and abuse numerous women who have now filed cases against this person. But this is not an isolated case. I remember a case in the United States where a televangelist was caught living a life of a rich man cavorting with prostitutes and sexually abusing his followers as well.

There is a long list of Catholic priests and nuns who have been found to be pedophiles and have been reported to the authorities in various countries that have prosecuted some of them and are following up on other cases. The Catholic churches have paid enormous sums of money to the victims to settle their cases out of the courts but this sort of thing goes on everywhere in spite of Vatican’s tough stance on the subject of pedophilia.

India is a country where the fake gurus are dime a dozen because it is so lucrative as a business. All one has to do is to set up an ashram, write a few propaganda pamphlets and distribute them among the people and wait. They need some accomplices who will do the job of propaganda and share the loot that starts to flow in sooner or later all tax free.

It is a common practice there to occupy a piece of land illegally, plant a religious flag, build a ramshackle temple of sorts and keep a big donation box with a padlock and a slit on top. No one can force them off the land they so occupy because it has to do with religion fake guru or not. With money flowing in, soon they start the expansion and build more and more buildings and high walls to protect what they have acquired illegally.

This is how the fake guru in Punjab started his business and expanded over the years to over 900 acres of land to include five start hotels, golf courses, massage parlors that doubled as brothels and other amenities where he entertained rich and prominent people seeking favors from them. They in turn protected this man from the justice system.

One such guru set up his ashram in a rural part of Oregon where his fleet of Rolls Royce cars was seen parked. Eventually under pressure from the fundamentalists and other such groups, this guru was ousted and his outfit closed down by the government. His private jet was also seized and he was put in a prison where he was very badly treated and later released. Soon after returning to India, this fellow died of unknown reasons although he was very healthy. His followers say that he was poisoned while in jail in the United States but this has never been substantiated.

When my wife and I were travelling through South India visiting many temples, we were warned by our guide not to give our names and address to any temple where they will invariably ask for them. Once they get your address, they will constantly pester you for donation until they run out of stamps and envelops.

A few women I met while I was staying at the Rama Krishna Mission in Lucknow kept on pestering me for my address for days until they got it. Then they started demanding donation from me for their mission and projects and refused to take no for an answer. I ignored them. There are endless gurus and their followers who are constantly demanding donations and gifts in the name of religion and spiritual advice. Some become quite successful in collecting money and live the rich life style until they are brought to justice but others quickly fill the void.

I have always been wary of fake sadhus, gurus and self-styled messiahs but still they try just in case. One such group in my home town was desperate to seek new members to their cult because a cult cannot survive unless they get new recruits that bring in the cash as donation. They could not get more than 15 people even after trying so hard so I do not know what finally happened. The old members died one by one and no one seemed to be interested in such a guru and his cult so it probably withered at least from our town.

Now a days the gurus go high tech and have their own free webpages in facebook, twitter and run their own blog sites always with the donate button and paypal buttons. They also accept credit cards of any kind so they take full advantage of the technology in a way that was not possible even a decade ago.

This brings me back to the original issue of gullibility. Why common people knowingly and often willingly fall like an insect into the trap of these predatory spiders? Why seemingly normal people lose their common sense and join these dubious sects and cults that these fake gurus set up to enrich themselves? Why they ignore the arrests of these gurus and still proclaim their loyalty to them? Are they really any different from the common uneducated people who proclaim their loyalty to a crooked politician known for his abuse of women, fraudulent business deals and immoral character and vote for him? Sounds familiar?

I think it is due to this hunger for something or someone that is missing from their pitiful life. Of all types of hunger, the spiritual hunger is the most potent one that makes people go to any length to satisfy them. Remember the case of Jonestown massacre in Guyana in South America? That is perhaps an extreme case of brain washing on a massive scale but mollahs are actively engaged in such activities and are training young people to take up terrorism in the name of religion and cause havoc. No one brings these mollahs to justice or even tries to.

In the Philippines it is quite common to find scammers who put up a statue of Mary somewhere, dab a bit of goat blood on the eyes and wait. Soon the word spreads that Mama Mary is shedding tears of blood so the people start bringing in food and money. There is always a donation box with padlock nearby that these crooks watch all the time. It is really no different from the statue of Ganesh sipping milk in India. This sort of fake news spreads rapidly now through the social media. There are many variations of this kind of scam in any country.

One particular scam that I knew of in my home town was truly the work of genius scammer who said that his white hair will be found in every Geeta or MahaBharat in India. If proven true then his believers should show their gratitude by sending money to the following address. So people started looking for a strand of white hair in their Geeta or MahaBharat and many found one not realizing that it is not at all unusual for the old people with white hair to find a strand in their holy book. Such people are the prime supporters of these scammers. Don’t they know that we all shed hair constantly?

My purpose of this blog is to bring you the stories of these fake gurus and unscrupulous people who are out to make money this way to enrich themselves by taking money from people who can least afford it. Most never get caught although some do. The subject of religion and gurus is such a sensitive subject that the authorities always tip toe around them unless they have solid evidence of wrong doings. It is rather easy to identify these fake gurus. Just look at their silk kurtas, Rolex watches, patent polished leather shoes and expensive SUVs .They will say that it is all paid by their admirers but it clearly shows the character of the man.

There have been great spiritual leaders in India who never asked anything from anyone. They lived the life of poverty but enriched the world through their teachings. People have built temples for them and worship them and read their books. People revere them because they have learned that the real spiritual leaders are selfless, live a life of poverty and ask nothing from anyone. What they offer is only the spiritual guidance.

So why the same people lose their common sense and follow the fake gurus? I think it has to do with a bit of charisma and a glib fluency these gurus have in giving sermons. Somehow it is enough to impress the common people who then show how impressed they are by donating money. It is the same thing done by the tele evangelists who run their own TV shows every day and rake in lots of money. These crooks have an added advantage. They hire people to write their sermons and then read it using tele prompters or cue cards that someone holds out of the range of camera.

Then they fill the crowd with their accomplices who pretend to be sick and lame and start walking just at the touch of these crooks and even fall down when touched with just a finger to be caught by other crooks who are in the crowd so it is all stage managed up to the last detail. But do the viewers know it or believe that they are being conned? They don’t. You will see old women who sit in front of their TV and putting their palms on the screen to ”absorb the good vibes” that the preacher is supposedly sending out.

I know a story about a person who used to maintain the computers of a tele evangelist in a church somewhere that recorded all the names of donors and the amount they sent. This chap was a computer expert who made a program that automatically siphoned off some amount from the coffers and sent it to his account somewhere. It was done in a way that was hard to detect but somehow he was caught and fired from his job. But he had long prepared himself for such an eventuality so had inserted a secret program into the computer that was activated when the secretary typed the name on the envelop she received to register them. All he did was to mail an envelope with the name the program could recognize that activated the program that then deleted all the names of the donors and their addresses from the hard drive.

Imagine what they could do without the donor’s list and all the past account of the money they had received? It was hilarious. I hope it was a true story.

You must use your common sense to know when someone is scamming you. But if you are hungry for some spirituality then you can be sure that some people will take advantage of you and convince you to part with your hard earned money.

No one can drill the common sense into you. Either you have it or you don’t.



Amal Chatterjee

I am the village bard who loves to share his stories.