Thursday, May 19, 2005

Guru Paternity Plantiff Hospitalized, Drugged

File under: Hands Where They Don't Belong

Young Indian "new-age guru" Bhayyu Maharaj seems to have used his ample political pull to fight a devotee's paternity suit by having the woman, Seema Wankhede, forcibly hospitalized. The 36 year old god-man, who apparently counts several current and former politicians among his followers, claims "She is mad" and that "Records and medical examinations prove this." For her part, Ms. Wankhede says she is the guru's wife and that he fathered her four year old son, Chautanya, even though her alleged spouse is married to another woman with whom he has a daughter. Ms. Wankhede's advocate, Uma Soni, asserts that witnesses at the Maharaja Yeshwantrao Hospital in Indore have seen her "being adminstered medicines and injections to make her unconscious," further declaring that "She is not mentally ill."

Without taking sides on these particular differences of viewpoint, we see the situation as an object lesson for the rest of the world about the dangers of political influence in the hands of religious figures. Given the apparent ease with which politically active religionists managed to get two branches of the U.S. federal government involved in the profoundly private matter of the late Terri Schiavo's hospice care, we can easily imagine well-connected clergy and religio-activists avoiding exposure of their own extramarital exploits by the simple expedient of having their accusers subjected to brain-numbing medical treatments.

Well then, why not? After all, a similar approach -- using psychiatric "care" to silence the inconveniently disagreeable -- sure worked out well in the late and unlamented Soviet Union. Get such a time-tested modus operandi together with a few hypocritical spiritual leaders fearing for their reputations and the result is a pretty scary recipe indeed!

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