Indian Mythology, as well as history, list numerous instances where noble souls have guided people on the path
of Righteousness. Saints such as Kabir, Guru Nanak and others gave a meaning to the Lives of people through
their Teachings. They alleviated the sufferings of people and worked for the betterment of society.
Today, numerous Godmen can be found across the length and breadth of India. But just a few of them have Any
desire to serve Humanity. These godmen live in swanky Ashrams, are surrounded by burly Bodyguards, have
powerful political connections and millions of followers who pay thousands of rupees just to hear their Godmen
speak at Satsangs or Congregations.
A few years ago, vinod joshi, the Secretary of the trust that manages a small Temple and Ashram nestled in a
picture-postcard Valley called Kainchi near Nainital, got a call from Larry Brilliant, an American Physician and
former director of Google's Philanthropic Arm Google.org. "Larry said some Mark would be coming to the Ashram
for a day," recalls the short, bubbly man with Twinkling eyes, who has spent his life in the service of his
Spiritual guru Neeb Karori Baba at the Ashram.Joshi doesn't remember exactly when because he had no idea
Who Mark Zuckerberg was.
Facebook was yet to become a Daily Habit of about a Billion and half people. But he does Remember that
Zuckerberg flew down to Pantnagar, about 65 km from Nainital, and then drove to the Ashram of Neeb Karori
(often called Neem Karoli) Baba, who died in 1973 but Continues to Enchant several High-profile Americans.
The Baba's halo shined bright last week when Zuckerberg mentioned to Narendra Modi during the Indian PM's
US tour that he had Visited a Temple in India during the early days of Facebook on the advice of Apple founder
"Steve Jobs told me that in order to reconnect with what I believed as the mission of the Company I should visit
this Temple that he had gone to India early on in his evolution of Thinking about what he wanted Apple and his
Vision of the future to be," Zuckerberg told Modi at a town hall meeting at Facebook headquarters.
"So I went and I travelled for almost a month, and seeing people, seeing how people Connected, and having the
Opportunity to feel how much better the world could be if everyone has a strong Ability to connect Reinforced for
me the importance of what we were doing and that is something I've always remembered over the last 10 years
as we've built facebook."
Zuckerberg spent almost 2 days..
Joshi says Zuckerberg landed up with just a book in his hand without even a change of Clothes. "He was
Wearing a Trouser which was torn at one knee," he told ET. Zuckerberg was supposed to spend only one day,
but stayed for two because Pantnagar was hit by a Storm and Flights could not take off.
The Ashram, located beside a bubbling brook and surrounded by tall pine-forested Mountains, itself is small for
a saint who has an Elite following that includes Hollywood star Julia Roberts. It has 5 shrines, including one for
his favourite Hanuman. Many of the Baba's Devotees believe he himself was the monkey God incarnate.
Opposite the shrines is a white building with square columns where the Sage used to live. "We call it the White
House," Joshi says.
On its verandah, there is a small wooden Platform covered with a dark woolen Blanket sprinkled with fresh
flowers — the Baba used to Spend most of his day seated on it. All over the place there are pictures of the ever-
Smiling Baba sitting or half lying down with his left palm supporting his Head. He is always wearing a Blanket.
Even in the shrine where the Baba lives on in a life-size Marble statue, he wears a Burberry-check blanket. As
the evening aarti (lamp service) winds down at the shrine, I tell Rameshwar Dass standing at the back of a small
crowd of Worshippers that the statue is life-like. "Well, almost," Dass replies with a mischievous smile, his eyes
crinkling up crows' feet on the Edges. "He looked quite Different."
Dass, a former New York-based Photographer, was Jim until the sage gave him his new name. When Jim first
met Neeb Karori Baba in 1970, he stayed by his side for two years.
Baba Spoke about Christ
"The Atmosphere around him was very Powerful." Dass says. I ask him what is it that attracts foreigners to the
sage. Dass Thinks for a moment and then says, "He talked to us a lot about Christ. He used to say that Christ
and Hanuman are the same. That Christ never died." He says when the Baba talked about Christ it was as if he
was seeing him. "Tears used to flow from his eyes." Dass says the Baba never gave sermons or Scriptural lessons
except urging them to be of service to others. "The Idea of service appeals to Christians like us."
He remembers Ram Dass, one of the Baba's earliest disciples, joking with him about a giant statue of Hanuman
at another Ashram of the Baba in Nainital. "Ram Dass said, 'What would my friends in the US say if they saw
me worshipping a giant concrete monkey'," Dass says with a hearty laugh. It was Ram Dass or Richard Alpert
who made Neeb Karori Baba famous among elite Americans.
Alpert, an American psychologist, met the Baba with fellow psychologist and psychedelics researcher Timothy
Leary while on vacation from Harvard. He spent many years with the Sage and wrote an unusually designed
book 'Be Here Now' on him and Hindu philosophy. The book, written like a Graphic novel, influenced many
readers in the US who began to associate with a commune and Foundation Alpert had established in New
Alpert, Jim and Larry Brilliant's Evangelism continues to draw followers to the Baba. As I take Joshi's Leave, he
shows me an Email from Brilliant about Steve Jobs. Brilliant, who is also a Science adviser to Warner Bros. and
president of Skoll Global Threats Fund established by eBay founder Jeff Skoll, mentions that Jobs had kept
Pictures of the saint by his bedside till his last. "I met Steve when we were all Young and the world was full of
promise and so, of course, We went to India as spiritual seekers," he writes in the email. "Girija [Brilliant's wife]
gave him our only Blanket from Maharaj ji when Steve was very ill." Though Neeb Karori Baba is no more, he
Evidently continues to be a comforter to many.
But Underneath all this talk of Spirituality lies a sinister world where Murky dealings, rapes, land grabbing,
Murders and other such Nefarious activities reign supreme. Nevertheless for their blind followers, these Godmen
are saintly figures who can do no wrong. A case in point is Ram Rahim who has been convicted for rape cases.
Just as the Verdict came out his followers went on a Rampage in Haryana and some parts of Delhi setting fire to
whatever came their way. Here we present five controversial Godmen who have indulged in unlawful activities
and still have a huge Blind following.
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