A Hindu guru is a fugitive from the law in India, where he is facing criminal charges of abducting and raping his own followers, so he decided to start his own island nation near Ecuador.
That sounds more like a setup to a superhero movie in which the evil supervillain needs to be brought to justice, but it’s very real. The guru is called Nithyananda, and in addition to sexual assault, he has been charged with confining kids and forcing them to collect money for him.
While Nithyananda’s whereabouts are unknown, on Wednesday he announced he was establishing the sovereign “Republic of Kailaasa”, which would be the “world’s greatest and purest Hindu nation”.
The “cosmic country” will reportedly be established on a private island off the coast of Ecuador, purchased by some of his wealthy devotees. Applications are open for those who want to apply for citizenship and a passport, which allows for “free entry in all 11 dimensions and 14 lokas [the 14 worlds of Hinduism] including Kailaasa”.
Only practising Hindus are allowed to apply for citizenship. A donation needs to be made to Kailaasa in order to be put forward for citizenship and all passport applications will be personally approved by Nithyananda.
This takes cults to a whole new level. And of course Nithyananda requires donations to join his “country.”
The faux nation’s website paints the island as a please for “dispossessed Hindus” who want to practice freely, but in reality, it is a rich, desperate man’s attempt at a Get Out of Jail Free card.
Much like authoritarian dictators and other cult leaders, Nithyananda claims to have all sorts of superpowers. This is only likely to grow as he develops his criminal loophole (a.k.a. country).
… he has attracted much derision over claims of his spiritual abilities, including being able to delay the sunrise for 40 minutes, being able to see through walls, curing 82 children of blindness by “opening their third eye” and getting cows to speak in Sanskrit and Tamil. In 2010 there was further controversy over the release of a sex tape featuring him and a female Tamil actor.
Several people in Nithyananda’s inner circle have already been arrested, but the guru himself has continued to evade authorities. There’s no telling if prosecutors will be able to extradite him from his new nation.