Frank Report has turned its attention to the curious case of Nithyananda Swami.
Nithyananda is accused of raping an Indian woman, Aarthi Rao, on numerous occasions over a five year period from around 2005- 2010.
We are not directly investigating the many claims Nithyananda makes as to miracles – except insofar as it might impact his credibility.
This is a rape case.
The alleged victim was once an ardent disciple of Nithyananda’s. She was a married woman at the time of the alleged rapes – which occurred over multiple years.
One of the striking aspects of the case is that Aarthi alleges she was raped by Nithyananda then would go home to live with her husband – then come back again to the ashram where Nithyananda lived where she was raped again and again.
The pattern allegedly went on for years. She evidently did not tell her husband that, when she left him to go visit the ashram, Nithyananda was raping her.
In purported emails made public – Aarthi – who herself has gone public with videos, media interviews and a Twitter account– evidently had to argue and fight with her husband to go back to the ashram to see Nithyananda – and be allegedly raped.
There is one purported email I have seen where [during the time period she was allegedly raped] her husband forbid her to go to live at the ashram with Nithyananda – and she resigns herself to this sad fate – with the consolation that her all-powerful guru, Nithyananda, will make everything right with his divine powers.
That does not mean she wasn’t raped. And perhaps we are even entering new territory for rape.
Aarthi was a believer in Nithyananda’s divinity. She apparently believed he was God.
If some being you thought was God commanded you to take off your clothes and spread your legs – and he would enter you with His divinity – and later you came to believe he was not God — is that rape?
In this new world of infant-izing women as helpless creatures – it perhaps is.
In a world where women are presumed to be adults and equal in their power of discrimination with men – obviously it is not rape.
I am not saying this is how it happened. We will look at the evidence and claims Aarthi makes. There may have been coercion.
But Aarthi was a disciple for years and continued to go back – and – if she’s telling the truth – get raped.
If any sexual contact occurred between them, it seems it was not until after she left her “guru” that she came to realize that it was rape and not consensual.
It is also important to parse between the fact that Nithyananda might be a fake guru – a liar in sheep’s clothing – and whether or not he raped Aarthi Rao.
Many of his critics seem to get this mixed up. They think because they believe he is a phony, perhaps a dangerous phony, a big time conman and wish to discredit him – that therefore he raped Aarthi Rao. It is a logical fallacy to equate being a liar with being a rapist.
In India, Nithyananda is quite famous.
He purportedly has millions of followers. It is hard to get any exact numbers of how many followers he really has.
One disciple told me 20 million. But there is no way to substantiate this. There are numerous temples, ashrams [like monasteries where monks and or nuns live – and often allow guests to come and live for a time] and schools that operate in his name.
It appears there are at least dozens if not hundreds of monks [swamis or sanyasins] and nuns [sanyasinis] who live at these ashrams and follow him. But whether his dedicated, non monastic followers number in the thousands or millions is, as far as I know, not easy to ascertain.
Nithyananda claims to be the incarnation of the Hindu national god – Shiva. He is not the first or last to have made such a claim. He also claims to be able to perform miracles.
He claims he can
- make blind people see,
- delay the sun from rising in the sky for 40 minutes,
- teach people to see through walls and fog,
- materialize diamonds from thin air
- teach cows to speak Sanskrit and Tamil.
- open up a “third” eye in people
- heal diseases
These claims have been the subject of much derision in the media and elsewhere by many who think he is a brazen liar.
There was a video of a blindfolded child who apparently could read – thanks to Nithyananda’s powers – offered as proof that the guru could open a “third eye” which is beyond the physical – which can allow people to be able to see without the use of the two physical eyes.
In a debunking video, evidence was offered to suggest that the blindfolded child was wearing a hidden speaker in her ear and that someone was telling her what was being presented to her to read which she merely repeated.
Sex Tape Seems to Have Sparked the Rape Case
The rape allegation by Aarthi Rao came directly on the heels of the release of a purported sex tape that came out via Sun TV in India.
That tape shows two people, purportedly Nithyananda and famous Tamil Nadu actress, Ranjitha – engaged in sexual contact.
Ranjitha has not accused Nithyananda of rape.
In fact, Ranjitha and Nithyananda both claim the tape is a “doctored” fake.
Ranjitha evidently continues to support Nithynanada and left her acting career to become a nun, making vows to be a lifelong follower of her guru Nithyananda.
There have been different analyses of the video – both authenticating and debunking it. The analyses that claim it is a fake argue that it was a morphed video.
A former driver of Nithyananda’s has taken credit for the video, claiming he filmed it secretly because he was unhappy that his celibate guru was a fraud.
Ranjitha claims that Sun TV used the “fake” video as an extortion tool against her and Nithyananda – demanding money not to broadcast the video.
This has not been proven but it has been established that in India many media outlets make part their income not just from what they publish but what they don’t publish – by demanding money from subjects of their stories.
This has been the subject of much debate and voluntary media governing bodies have acknowledged this as a major impediment to honest journalism in India. A former employee of Sun TV reportedly said that it was a longstanding policy at the Sun to extort victims with the threat of publishing real and/or fake news.
That doesn’t mean the purported sex tape is not authentic.
Even if it is, that does not mean that Nithyananda raped Aarthi Rao.
It would suggest he was lying about being celibate.
Nithyananda’s Location Is Unknown
The whereabouts of Nithyananda are unclear at present. He has announced he is forming a new Hindu nation – a borderless nation.
That does not mean like in America anybody can just sneak in and get their driver’s license. It means that his nation is rather one of mind and spirit – not of geography.
However, it was reported that Nithyananda was going to establish headquarters on an island off of Ecuador. He may have planned to do so – but reports that he bought an island seems to be unsubstantiated and may be genuine “fake” news.
In any event, Nithynananda is not revealing where he is currently living – though he does make regular live appearances for his followers on YouTube.
He has not always been so secretive about where he lives and was, in the past, available in India for devotees to visit and get his “darshan” – publicly announcing his schedule online so followers could flock to see him.
The purported spiritual benefit of just being in his presence – that of an “enlightened” person and perhaps if they are lucky being able to touch his “holy feet” – followers believe will confer great spiritual blessings.
On a video of Nithyananda, his followers explained: “The word ‘Darshan’ means ‘to have a glimpse of’. Having Darshan of an Avatar can cleanse the karmas of lifetimes, and create a deep and lasting transformation in the receiver….. During Darshan, His Divine Holiness Paramahamsa Nithyananda creates Mandalas [a geometric configuration of symbols] with His hands. Mandalas are secret decoded Agamic energy circuits that harness the multi-dimensional energy of the universe. The energy He creates falls on you and settles in your system. Even if the Mandala enters into your system three times, you will manifest powers and powerful cognitions. Nothing more is required other than a ferocious intention to manifest them.”
People have come by the thousand to get “darshan” of Nithyananda. But now that his whereabouts are unknown, this opportunity is not available to them.
Meantime the rape case is ongoing. In India that means less than it does in the USA. This criminal rape case has been ongoing for about 8 years. In India that is par for the course – nothing happens quickly in Indian courts. There is no speedy trial act in India. Cases routinely drag on for 10 years or more.
Despite his whereabouts being unknown, and media reports that he is a fugitive, there is no clear indication that Nithyananda has absconded in an attempt to flee the jurisdiction of his rape case.
He appears to be on pretrial release subject to his own recognizance. No bail seems to have been required.
The evidence of his absconding is based on what appears to be the fact that he went to Ecuador and sought refugee status there. However, there seems to be no evidence that any Indian court declared him a fugitive.
The rape case is ongoing. Nithyananda did not attend the latest court hearings – in 2019. It does not mean he will not stand trial. Evidently he has been excused from attending court. His attorneys were reportedly present.
There is no indication that I could find that any court revoked his passport.
Nevertheless, Nithyananda appears to be outside of India. There has been speculation he is island hopping in the Caribbean possibly looking for refugee status.
Whether he will appear in connection with the rape case – or appear for his sentencing if he is convicted – remains to be seen.
Litigation in the US Between the Alleged Victim and Nithyananda
There has been civil litigation between Aarthi Rao and Nithyananda in the USA. Nithyananda sued her for false allegations of rape.
She is a US citizen and she lost that lawsuit. Nithyananda won a judgement of $460,000.
Aarthi Rao claimed she was financially unable to defend the lawsuit because of the inequality of legal resources between her and Nithyananda.
Aarthi claimed Nithyananda uses punishing litigation methods – employing the donations of wealthy devotees to retain a battery of lawyers – with questionable ethics – methods not dissimilar to what Nxivm sex cult leader Keith Raniere did to quash opposition and destroy enemies, using Seagram heiresses, Clare and Sara Bronfman’s nearly unlimited bank accounts to bankroll ferocious litigation and often using perjury and doctored evidence to try to win.
Aarthi Rao filed bankruptcy shortly after losing the lawsuit and it seems the judgment in favor of Nithyananda was never collected.
During discovery in that lawsuit some evidence was apparently revealed that seems to support Nithyananda’s claims of innocence.
One that is highly touted by his followers is that sexual potency tests were administered to Nithyananda– and they purport that he is impotent – not only just merely incapable of getting an erection but that he has a lower testosterone count than a new born baby – leading to the conclusion that he has not had sex in 10 years at minimum.
These tests have been disputed by critics of Nithyananda – saying there is no proof the tests are authentic.
Nithyananda claims he has never had sex in his life. His unusually low testosterone level – lower than the average woman, lower than a newborn male baby – if true -supports his defense in the criminal trial.
Purported medical reports of the alleged victim, Aarthi Rao, have also surfaced. If they are authentic, they reveal she has genital herpes and other STDS. These reports were released to me and seem to be publicly available.
The disciple who gave them to me said the medical reports were part of discovery in the US case Nithyananada pursued against Aarthi.
Nithyananda’s supporters tout this as proof that she is promiscuous – which means a lot more in India than in the USA.
His supporters also claim Nithyananda was tested and was found to be free of STDs. I have not seen that report.
They argue that since herpes is highly contagious, his being STD free suggests that Nithyananda is innocent- otherwise he would have caught herpes during their five years of alleged rapes.
There is also email and medical evidence that seems to have come out in discovery that purports that the alleged victim told her doctor that she may have got her STDs while cheating on her husband with a man who happens to be an avowed enemy of Nithyananda and purportedly sought to extort him for money.
As readers may have noticed, I use the word “purportedly” quite often in this case because it is not inconceivable that any or all documents – on both sides – even those submitted to court – are counterfeit.
It is also important to note that the simple filing of a rape case in India is not proof of anything.
According to one report, 40 percent of rape allegations in India are spurious. Whether that is higher or lower than in other countries is hard to know. How the report came to the conclusion that 40 percent of alleged victims are liars is also hard to know.
According to the Indian National Crime Records Bureau, a total of 38,947 rape cases were reported in India in 2016. In 10,068 cases – about a quarter – the women claimed it was rape on false promise of marriage. In Andhra Pradesh state, 45% of all rape cases filed in the past two years fell into the false marriage category.
In many cases, false rape accusations are simply the result of parents covering up the “shame” of an unmarried daughter having sex.
Of 460 rape cases studied that went to trial in New Delhi in 2013 it was revealed that “more than one third turned out to be cases of couples having consensual sex outside marriage but, when the parents found out, they went to the police to end the relationship”.
It is possible that the married Aarthi Rao needed a justification for having sex with Nithyananda – and rape was preferable to being an adulterous in conservative India. Rao purportedly now lives in India.
Corruption in India
What is less in doubt than cases of spurious rape is that India’s courts are corrupt.
According to Transparency International, judicial corruption in India is rampant, attributable to factors such as “delays in the disposal of cases, shortage of judges and complex procedures, all of which are exacerbated by a preponderance of new laws”.
In short, Indian courts and its police seems to be of a third word character – ranging between corrupt and blatantly corrupt.
In America, the Orwellian named Department of Justice, the FBI, and oftentimes local police are corrupt, but it is not quite as blatant – possibly because of the free press here.
In the US, there is no fixed price tag for “purchasing” justice. Sometimes – if there is a political motivation – innocent people are indicted and tried. Sometimes, if the evidence is too persuasive – a well heeled guilty defendant is convicted, though usually very wealthy people in the USA are above most laws.
This is well known.
But a plain, unvarnished open and notorious purchase of “justice” from the US Department of Justice is not permissible – mostly because there is a veneer – a false pretense of utter integrity that fuels the criminal justice system in America that allows the US to put more of its citizenry in prison than in any nation in the history of the world.
The US has a highly profitable, burgeoning prison industry. Fortunes are made by keeping the supply of Americans in prison high- from private prisons, to vendors of supplies to lawyers and the growing ranks of prosecutors – who are immune from the law if they file false charges – business is brisk and profitable – and absolutely depends on keeping millions in prison in the US.
The Indian model is different.
While in the US, people make money from putting people – even innocent people- in prison, in the Indian system people make money by keeping people – even guilty people – out of prison – through bribery etc..
While both systems are reprehensible, the Indian system is probably the better method, since it costs taxpayers a lot less. And there are some like Blackstone who argue that it is better that 10 guilty men go free rather than one innocent person suffer.
In America, studies have repeatedly proven – through DNA testing and other dispositive methods – that at least 10 percent of convicted defendants are innocent. That means more than 200,000 innocent people are in US prisons today – having experienced the results of America’s prison industry – and its need to fill up cells – rather like so many hotel rooms.
Still, the fact remains that in India – “justice” can be bought at more or less fixed prices. There is no question that Nithyananda – via his many wealthy followers – has more money at his disposal than his alleged victim.
But evidently he has not been able to purchase – if he has indeed tried – his exoneration.
That may be because the case is too high profile. It is also not inconceivable that the enemies of Nithyananada, who have money too, have purchased the original rape case against him.
There is a curious political aspect to this matter.
Nithyananda is a Tamil and he has taken up his largest field of work in Karnataka, a neighboring state. Politically there is a rivalry – and not a pretty one between the leaders of these two states.
Nithyananda’s growing influence in Karnataka may have prompted retaliation against him – as his followers claim. They also claim that the local municipal government is inimical to them and police have tried to plant evidence against him.
They also claim there have been assassination attempts against Nithyananda – which police have had tepid responses to.
An NDA That Suggest Orgies at NIthyananda’s Ashrams
While Nithyananda proclaims he is a celibate – and one of the leaders of the highly disorganized but ancient monastic order of Swamis – there are allegations that Nithyananda secretly teaches Tantric sex practices.
A purported non disclosure [NDA] agreement that Nithyananda’s organization requires of some students has been published online.
If the NDA is authentic, it suggests that Nithyananda’s definition of celibacy is different from the traditional definition of celibacy and against the well known, longstanding teachings and claims of the swamis – who take a vow of poverty and celibacy before donning their orange robes.
In the Ramakrishna order, believed to be the largest monastic order in India, for instance, its founder Swami Vivekananda [1863-1902], ordered that anyone found teaching or practicing tantric sex practices were to be driven out of the order.
“We want no wolves in sheep’s clothing,” he said.
If the NDA is authentic, it opens the possibility that Aarthi Rao participated in tantric sex practices – which are in effect – having sex and calling it a spiritual yoga practice – meant to enlighten the individual.
The typical tantric sex practice has ritualistic elements to it such as lighting candles and incense, offering flowers and the ritualistic eating of meat, fish and grain and consuming alcohol with one’s left hand etc – and having sex with your partner as if he or she was divine.
According to the published NDA, this practice often goes on at the “celibate” Nithyananda’s ashram. The purported NDA demands practitioners to keep it secret or face litigation.
Here are a few excerpts of Nithyananda’s purported NDA:
A3. Volunteer understands that the Program may involve the learning and practice of ancient tantric secrets associated with male and female ecstasy, including the use of sexual energy for increased intimacy/spiritual connection, pleasure, harmony, and freedom.” (Page 9, Section A3)
“Volunteer understands that these activities could be physically and mentally challenging, and may involve nudity, access to visual images, graphic visual depictions, and descriptions of nudity and sexual activity, close physical proximity and intimacy, verbal and written descriptions and audio sounds of sexually oriented, and erotic nature, etc.” (Page 9, Section A3)
“By reading and signing this addendum, Volunteer irrevocably acknowledges that he/she is voluntarily giving … unconditional acceptance of such activities and discharges the Leader and the Foundation… from any liability, direct or indirect, arising from such activities.” (Page 9, Section A3)
If this is an authentic NDA, it belies the notion that this is a genuine monastic order as claimed. It does not mean the alleged victim was raped. She may have willingly engaged in these sex practices and signed the NDA.
Parsing relevant and irrelevant theories
The purpose of our investigation is to ascertain, if possible, whether of not Aarthi Rao was raped by Nithyananada.
Whether Nithyananda can perform miracles is not crucial to our work.
Though if he can’t do the miracle he claims, it would suggest he is a liar. We may not be able to prove it one or the other. Although we remain open to any demonstration of miracles.
Whether he and his followers have orgies in the name of spiritual enlightenment is also not essential. But it would tend to debunk his claim of being celibate – as the world understand the word.
And might also tend to debunk his potency test.
If he lied about being impotent it would show a troubling deceitfulness in his quest to be exonerated. If on the other hand, the potency test is authentic – it has strong probative value.
Whether of not Aarthi has herpes or other STDs – caught from lovers hidden from her husband or contracted from Nithyananda himself – is also not our concern except as it relates to the one distinct matter of our investigation – did Nithyananda rape her.
Whether she is promiscuous is not proof of her not being raped.
The question is, did Nithyananda coerce – not invite – but force her into having sex repeatedly over five years?
Stay tuned. We are just beginning. We have a lot of evidence to present on both sides.