Respected guru Prakashanand Saraswati is going to trial today in a San Marcos courtroom after being slapped with 20 counts of sexual indecency with a child. The 82-year-old guru, also known as Shree Swamiji, is the founder and spiritual leader of Barsana Dham, a palatial marble ashram outside of Austin devoted to the Hindu god Krishna.
Saraswati leads meditations on Krishna twice a day at the ashram. If the allegations are true, there are some interesting parallels between Saraswati and the god he extols. In case you haven't read your Bhagavad Gita lately, here's a quick and dirty biography of Krishna. Charming, jacked and a lustrous shade of electric blue, Krishna is basically irresistible to any woman he encounters. He's beloved for his stellar flute-playing, honey wine-drinking and, most of all, his passionate seduction of gopis -- young ladies from the village. Legend has it that Krishna stole hundreds of gopis' clothes when they bathed naked in the river.
An Indian god, Krishna was immune to any sort of sexual decency laws, which probably didn't even exist at the time. But a mortal -- one living in America 5,000 years later -- is not.
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According to a story in the Austin-American Statesman, two women who grew up on Saraswati's ashram reported being groped by the guru in 1993 and 1994, when Saraswati was 65 and the girls were under 17.
Once they reported the alleged abuse to the district attorney a few years back, five other women came forward and said they too had been the targets of Saraswati's sexual whims. Also implicated was Saraswati's guru, Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj, who is based in India. Maharaj was accused of raping a woman in Trinidad in 2007 when he was 85, but the charge was dismissed by a Trinidadian court because of a lack of evidence.
Saraswati was arrested in 2008, when his followers raised the funds for his million-dollar bond. His trial has been held off until today, due to his claim of back problems. Since that time, however, he's been traveling extensively to India and abroad, reported the Statesman. In a presumed effort to alleviate Saraswati's bad back, the judge revoked his passport in October.
If he's found guilty, Saraswati will have plenty of time on his hands to review the Gita and figure out where he went wrong, from the comfort of a distraction-free, gopi-less prison cell.