“In the past few weeks, the events that have unfolded before our eyes could be the stuff that movies are made of. If we weren’t right in the middle of it all, I would not have believed it possible. On the night of March 2nd, when most of us at the ashram heard the news for the first time, it was already public knowledge. A few hours earlier, Sun TV had aired clippings of the video with the promise that the full video would be telecast later that evening. Most of us watched the video on the internet, where it was already being viewed by people around the world. At the time, we had no idea of the monstrous proportions that the whole affair would soon assume. Infact, we had no idea what to make of it at all. All we knew was, something was being shown on TV and on the internet that was completely out of tune with everything that we had seen and known about Swamiji.
By the next morning, the press and TV channels were storming the ashram gates, demanding statements, opinions, interviews. When we asked them to wait till we prepared the press release, they actually broke down a wall of the ashram and entered inside! You can still see that broken part of the wall, which is now protected by a barbed wire fence.
Once they entered inside, they started taking pictures of the ashram without permission. They were especially on the lookout for the ashramites. They asked for our names and tried to take our pictures. They wanted to know where we worked, where we ate, where we slept. They did not even follow the basic ethics of journalism. They had zoom cameras focused on us everywhere, including the place where we slept.
In a horrifying display of cruelty, hooligans not only stoned our Sanyasis and Brahmacharis but also tried to burn them alive when they set a hut on fire where few of them were sleeping.
What was the need to invade our privacy in this way? Why were we being made to answer questions based on fictitious statements made by others? Many of the brahmacharinis simply locked themselves into a room and refused to come out, to avoid answering the personal questions asked by the press in front of a bunch of strangers. Police told us that they are going to lock the ashram forcibly and sent us out. I too was forced to go for few days, during that time I stayed with relatives in Bangalore. I was not scared, I trusted my guru. I came back to aadheenam (Ashram) with my family soon.
On coming back, I was shocked to hear some of the horrendous stories from other females brahmacharinis (Female Monks) that how they used to keep Chilli Powder with them in an attempt to prrotect themselves from the licentious eyes of the Policemen and other hooligans.
Media attacked our dignity and called our Aadheenam (Ashram) Brothel. Every day and night we used to get obscene calls our landline number. It was so disgusting painful to hear voices deliberately mocking at not only our social dignity but also our spiritual chastity. Even the devotees who were staying outside were getting obscene calls. All this was deliberately done to incite fear, mistrust and public anger.
Our Bank accounts were frozen so we survived on whatever grocery we had at that point of time. There was no freedom of movement, no security; there was atmosphere of fear everywhere.
Our branch Adheenams (Ashrams) were burnt, property worth crores of rupees was set on fire. When one of our senior swamis came out to issue the press release, he was mobbed by the press. We understand they were in a hurry to get the latest news, but there was no need to behave so irresponsibly. For them it was just another ‘scoop’, for us it was our life that was being dragged into the open for public review!
Do you know, when one of the brahmacharis (monks) went to Bidadi town for fetching some emergency supplies, a bunch of local hooligans tried to set fire to his car? It was obvious that they were not the local people, with whom we have a cordial relationship even today, but rowdies who were being paid to do this by interested parties. What had we done wrong? Why were we being hounded like this? We could not believe that all this was actually happening in our lives. Suddenly, we were characters in a story that we could never have imagined, leave alone anticipated…”