M A I N   N E W S

Guru who had high and mighty in his spell

New Delhi, October 25
Chandraswamy, acquitted today by a court 14 years after he was charged with conspiracy and cheating in the St Kitts case, was once a high-flier whose self-proclaimed spiritual powers brought him close to prime ministers, kings and international power brokers.

Besides politicians, he counted among his clients film stars like Elizabeth Taylor, industrialists and even a notorious arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi. The Sultan of Brunei, said to be among the world’s richest men, was also among his aficionados.

The peripatetic and mysterious guru to a host of Indian politicians and international celebrities was linked to a web of political scandals and wielded unusual clout in the regime of one of his high profile disciples — then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao.

Though there was no evidence that Rao relied on his counsel or took his advice, Chandraswamy was accused of participating or masterminding various fraudulent activities involving millions of rupees.

He kept popping up wherever there was a whiff of scandal, but he always got away. Harassed investigating officials described him as one slippery customer.

Born Nemi Chand Jain, he began as a humble Congress functionary in his teens before going into spiritual pursuits. The change of name became necessary when he realised that a “Jain” non-Brahmin could not gain acceptance in the Hindu saints’ fraternity.

The notorious Swami gradually climbed up with political and celebrity connections acquired on claims of being a psychic and faith healer — a reputation that got him access to the prime ministers of the day, including Indira Gandhi and Chandra Shekhar.

He was known to advise politicians on career moves and was adept at sweetening deals, with the help of his trusted sidekick and confidant, Kailash Nath Aggarwal, alias “Mamaji” (uncle).

They would all pay quiet visits to his palatial fully air-conditioned ashram that many said put luxury hotels to shame. His extravagant lifestyle raised several questions as to the source of his wealth.

Though his critics accuse him of being little more than a conman who claimed tantric powers, Chandraswamy was believed to be a bit of a polyglot with acknowledged proficiency at least seven languages.

Contrary to his appearance, the generously proportioned guru is a strict vegetarian and teetotaller.

Though he has just been freed of a high profile case, it remains to be seen if Chandraswamy can bounce back into the powerful circles and recapture the days when he packed a mighty wallop. — IANS

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