4

Hindu Ashram Cancels Major Holiday After Its Spiritual Leader, Guru Prakashanand Saraswati, Is Found Guilty of Molesting Young Girls, Then Flees

^
Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Yesterday was Holi, the most exciting, powder-slinging holiday known to Hinduism. It's one that the enormous Barsana Dham ashram outside of Austin celebrates every year with relish.

But not this year. Earlier this month, the ashram's spiritual guru, Prakashanand Saraswati, was found guilty of molesting young girls who grew up at the ashram. In light of the accusations, which Barsana Dham officials vehemently testified against, the ashram decided it had nothing to celebrate. According to an announcement from Diwakari Devi, president of Barsana Dham, the holiday was canceled.

"We are sad to say that, in light of the past several weeks, we will not be celebrating Holi this year at Barsana Dham," he wrote in an e-mail last night.

But while Barsana Dham is in mourning, Saraswati's on the run.

According to the Austin American-Statesman, Saraswati was convicted on all 20 counts of sexual indecency with a child. The accusations were brought forward by three women, who said that Saraswati groped and kissed them for years beginning when they were 12.

Here's a particularly horrific portion from the Statesman's story:

In the few instances in which they told an adult of the incidents, the women said, they were instructed that the touching had a higher purpose. "I was told it was a test and if I failed it I would go to hell," Rose said. The other women said they were told the guru was gracing them.

The 82-year-old Saraswati was sentenced to 280 years in prison. That's 14 years on each of the 20 charges. Saraswati would have been 362 by the time he got out.

But Saraswati knows that even gurus don't live forever. Rather than take his chances, Saraswati fled.

Ironically, Saraswati's attorneys claimed that he was too weak and decrepit to go to prison. Now, it appears he's stronger and more powerful than ever: strong enough to flee Texas and axe an entire holiday in his wake.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.