The alleged video tape of Sawami Nithyanand Paramhamsa caught in sexual act with a leading Tamil actress has provided a huge sensational and entertainment value. However, once the initial euphoria is over this episode has triggered a debate, answers to it are hard to piece together.
The debate roughly centers around; Are most god man conman? What were the reasons for the sting operation? Is this tape genuine? Do media have the license to enter into the privacy of an individual? Can bedrooms be protected from the lens eyes? Where the media is heading in this digital age?
Swami Nithyanand Paramhamsa, 32, is a young god man who claim to have 45 lakh devotees spread over to 17 countries. In India most of his followers come from the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
On March 2, 2010, a popular TV channel Sun TV in Chennai repeatedly telecast Swami Nithyanand’s alleged bedroom acts with a Tamil actress in a very sensational manner. The tape tends to suggest that this Swami is debauch and hedonistic. To make this point the actress was sleeping with the Swami on the bed and feeding the god man from hand. There are more explicit visuals in this tape that shows the Swami, in a very compromising position on the bed.
Ever since the tape of Swami Nithyananda’s sex acts was broadcast on TV channel, this news spread like wild fire on the internet and hundreds of websites started writing showing the tapes in streamed format. Next day some Tamil print publication like Dinakaran, Tamil Murasu and Nakkeeran also published this story with much spice and juice.
The god men who are called Swamys are supposedly celibates or ‘Brahmacharis.’ They are not expected to indulge in worldly pleasures like sex. Such people are epitome of high moral integrity and supposedly to have godly characteristics. It’s because of such virtues people get attracted towards them and shows their faith towards them and worships them. There are so many such Swami in the country each having a huge following.
However, the faith of the people was completely shaken when the TV Channel beamed the sex romp of Swami Nithyanand with an actress. The tape showing the Swami in a compromising position enraged his devotees around the country. People came out to the streets, burned his effigies, pull down his posters and even vandalized his ashram. The incensed villagers residing in the vicinity of his sprawling ashram Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam near Bidadi in Karnataka and they attacked the devotees staying there. There were also protest reported from several other places in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Even though this case is not the first of its kind, it has tarnished the image of all the god men or swami and seen as conmen corrupting society and indulging in acts that do not commemorate to their holy status.
After the sex scandal, two cases have been filed against the Swami Nithyananda in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka for cheating and offending religious sentiments of the people. The Tamil Nadu and Karnataka government has ordered a high level of inquiry into the matter after consulting state representatives from various religious trusts and institutions.
Is the tape genuine?
After the initial euphoria is over, the basic question that’s doing rounds is the tape genuine? Advocate M Shreedhar, who is representing the god man in Madras High Court, questions the veracity of the tape. He asserts that the clippings in the video are morphed, and the image of the actress is faked. The woman in the clippings always has her neck covered, which is typical of a morphed video, besides, her bindi is intact in all the scenes. The bedroom too is brightly lit, he says and adds that it appears that the whole sting operation is nothing but trick of multimedia and graphics, rumor and conspiracy.
There are other missing links about the Swami’s sex tapes. The TV channel has not given the time and date of video on which it was shot. It has not run any interview of the alleged actress whose pictures it has morphed, speaking against the Swami’s alleged nefarious activities.
Who is the actress in the sex tape?
Who is the renowned Tamil actress found in bed with the Swami Nithyananda? The popular gossip is that she is Tamil actress Ranjitha. It’s reported that the film star started visiting the ashram to overcome depression caused by a failed marriage and soon became a devotee of the Swami. After the breaking off the scandal no one knows the whereabouts of the actress. She has not appeared in public not said anything for or against to come clean. This leads to speculation whether the girl who appeared in the video is actually Ranjitha? Will she ever come to public on this issue, or she will be forced to file a complaint against the swami is something that’s being speculated.
What are the reasons for sting operation?
There are several theories doing rounds that prompted this sting operation. According to some, ego clash among inmates in the ashram have resulted in the making of the video. It’s alleged that one of the inmates of the ashram, Premananda alias Lenin Karuppan, with an intention to defame Swami Nithyanand has used the information technology had morphed his face and released the video clippings. Some argue after Nithyanand’s rival was exposed a day before, this tape appeared in public and in both the cases an insidious connection is seen.
Some say money had a major role to play in the making of the sex tapes. The loose talk is that those who made the video and the TV channel that aired the scandal had a struck a deal. A huge sum has changed for airing of the sex tape.
The other theory that is doing round is the TV channel with huge political clout had demanded Rs 50 crore from Swami Nithyanand, but when that was refused, the sting operation was planned with the help a female decoy. Another theory is the sex tape might be result of property dispute. There is no end to gossip mongering.
The episode of Swami Nithyananda is eye opener in much sense. If the sex tape is true, then he is a slur on the face of not only god man but on the entire religious belief system. After going through the motion of due procedure of law, he be given exemplary punishment. One the contrary, if the tape is fake, fabricated and tells lies; the channel that has indulged in character assassination should be heavily penalized along with other media outlets that have joined the party in the slandering exercise. Of late, media is acting in most irresponsible manner; it’s high time to rein those who prey on sensationalism. In any case, an example has to be set to put such controversies to rest, if not for long but maybe for short time.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org