These are bad times for swamis and saints. Each new week brings with it news of some swami biting the dust owing to his misdeeds. Now, a swami from north Karnataka has joined the burgeoning list of swamis who have fallen on hard times.
A self-proclaimed seer Sadashiv alias Appayyaswami, who made jaws drop by exposing himself in front of media persons and the public in June last year, in front of Belgaum DC office, claiming he was impotent, has now been arrested for keeping a 7-year-old girl in an underground chamber for 21 days for the purpose of a bizarre puja.
Appayyaswami, the protagonist of this incredible tale of superstition, is the head of Chandramma Devi Mutt, located in Zanjarwad village, Athani taluk, Belgaum. The mutt reportedly was built by the swami himself in 2003-04.
The bizarre tale involving the swami’s obsession with the girl began last year. The swami, overcome with an intense desire ‘to do good for the world’, reportedly ‘adopted’ the girl. The girl’s parents, poor farmers and devotees of Appayaswami, hail from Jamkhandi taluk, Bagalkot district.
As the news of alleged sexual harassment started doing the rounds, Belgaum deputy commissioner summoned the swami, leading to the now infamous act where the swami stunned everyone by exposing himself in full public glare. The swami was let off with a warning since the parents did not lodge a complaint against him.
But despite the warning, Appayyaswami, around 5 months ago, seemed to have convinced the parents into handing over the girl for his crazy plan.
On Feb 6, Appayyaswami made an announcement that shook everyone: He planned to burn the girl for the ‘welfare of the world’. But there was nothing to worry as the girl, according to Appayyaswami, would return as a ‘Goddess’ on Feb 27.
The swami then reportedly kept the girl in an underground chamber constructed behind the mutt. In the chamber measuring 9x9 ft, the girl was covered in ashes and made to sleep.
The swami also made arrangements to shoot the dramatic act of burning the girl alive in order to release it to TV channels.
Mercifully, the swami’s plans did not materialise. Police rushed to the spot on Wednesday after news about the swami’s intentions leaked. Appayyaswami along with his associate Gurupadgouda Patil were arrested. But parents of the girl fled the scene.
Apart from the victim, five more children - Radhika, 7, Prashant, 10, Sachin, 8, Purushottam, 8, and Kiran, 8, - were rescued from the mutt.
Deputy commissioner N Jayaram and superintendent of police Chandragupta visited the mutt and assured of strict action against Appayyaswami. Jayaram said that construction of the mutt itself was illegal and said it would be demolished soon.
Strangely, when questioned, parents of the girl said they had offered their daughter to the swami when she was three months old as the swami had convinced them that it was for the ‘welfare of the world’.
The accused swami is reportedly facing several police cases since 2003.