The Story of Virendra Dev Dixit

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Re: The Story of Virendra Dev Dixit

Post05 Apr 2021

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Re: The Story of Virendra Dev Dixit

Post11 Apr 2021

The strange and shocking story of ‘Baba’ Virendra Dev Dixit by Makarand R Paranjape

I began seriously to study Indian spiritual traditions as a graduate student in the US. My PhD dissertation, subsequently published, was on “Mysticism in Indian English Poetry”. I discovered long back the enduring truth of the Upanishadic injunction that the path to the highest reality is like a veritable razor’s edge (Katha Upanishad 1.3.14) — the wise (poets) say that the path is impassable, as difficult to traverse as the razor’s edge. Many of us are familiar with the first part of this verse because Swami Vivekananda popularised it. Arise, awake, learn from the wise, which Swamiji translated as: “Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.” But the latter part of the verse is of crucial importance too for it cautions against getting conned.

I began seriously to study Indian spiritual traditions as a graduate student in the US. My PhD dissertation, subsequently published, was on “Mysticism in Indian English Poetry”. I discovered long back the enduring truth of the Upanishadic injunction that the path to the highest reality is like a veritable razor’s edge (Katha Upanishad 1.3.14) — the wise (poets) say that the path is impassable, as difficult to traverse as the razor’s edge. Many of us are familiar with the first part of this verse because Swami Vivekananda popularised it. Arise, awake, learn from the wise, which Swamiji translated as: “Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.” But the latter part of the verse is of crucial importance too for it cautions against getting conned.

The fact is that many go perilously astray while on this path, ending up in dire straits, even death. We see this frequently with fundamentalists, such as jihadis, who are evidently victims of religious programming. Many Christian evangelical sects are also known the world over for their irrational and harmful beliefs. In Indic spiritual practice, however, the danger is somewhat different, if no less disastrous: delusion, depression, or worse, economic, social, or sexual exploitation. No wonder it is said that the spiritual life is not for the weak, cowardly, or timid; it requires eternal vigilance. It is not an escape from the world, but rather the mastering of the conditions of our existence.

It is one thing to be the victim of a religious cult, but what about the perpetrators? These latter vary from commonplace conmen to abnormal megalomaniacs. The latter are the greater threat, especially if deranged or unscrupulous. This seems to be the case with Virendra Dev Dixit, the head of Adhyatmik Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya. On December 19, the Delhi High Court ordered a raid on one of his ashrams in Rohini. Subsequently, a team led by Swati Maliwal, head of the Delhi Commission of Women, inspected other premises. TV reports showed warrens of cramped and barricaded cells in which the inmates, among them minors, were confined. Maliwal was quick to accuse the Baba of “running a human trafficking racket”. The Delhi High Court ordered a CBI investigation on the goings-on of the organisation. In the meanwhile, Dixit, the “Baba” behind the whole racket, is absconding.

Who, then, is this man? He heads a breakaway faction of the internationally renowned Brahma Kumari sect. The Brahma Kumari is a UN-recognised, new, religious movement founded by Lekhraj Kripalani in Karachi in 1936.

They have over 8500 centres worldwide and several million followers. Dixit came in contact with them in Ahmedabad in 1969, the year that Lekhraj passed away. Dixit ostensibly tried to take over the movement by claiming that Lekhraj’s spirit had entered his body. But the Brahma Kumaris refused to accept his claim; he was driven out of Ahmedabad and Mount Abu, the headquarters of the movement.

Subsequently, Dixit moved to Delhi, claiming to represent the purer front flank of the Brahma Kumaris. He attracted several disenchanted dropouts so that by 1976 his group came to be called the “Advance Party.” But, again, there was an altercation with the main group of the Brahma Kumaris. Dixit left Delhi to set up his headquarters in Kampil in Uttar Pradesh. He proclaimed himself to be “Krishna”, promising his followers that he would create a new world with the help of his “gopis”. Hence all the women inmates in his various ashrams.

This is not the first time that Dixit has been in trouble with the law. In 1998 he was arrested and jailed for six months; the Income Tax department also raided his ashram in Kampil. No wonder, he kept a somewhat low profile during the last nearly 20 years. But the recent raids have revealed his shocking and disgraceful activities. He is once again in the spotlight. The law will, of course, take its course. However, I am afraid that is not enough. As a nation, we need better awareness and education to prevent the recurrence of such tribulations meted out to the helpless and hapless.

Unfortunately, an egregiously over-zealous secular education and a cunningly pseudo-secular polity have confused the populace. Awareness of Dharma is arguably at an alarming, if not all-time, low. It is the Hindu and Indian samaj or society that must rise to the occasion.

While genuine gurus and spiritual teachers will continue to attract large followings, fake babas, godmen, and religious tricksters should be exposed and excoriated. Given how easy it is to brainwash the gullible, this may not be an infallible remedy. But it will at least be a welcome prophylactic. As the adage says, prevention is better than cure.

The author is a poet and professor at JNU. Views expressed are personal.
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