HYDERABAD: Godmen are in the news these days, it seems. And for all the wrong reasons. In one such case, a Godman well-known in both the Telugu states for his religious discourses on various Telugu channels was on Friday arrested by the Cyberabad police along with his wife. The couple, under the pretext of performing special yagams, had allegedly cheated and looted several devotees diverting their attention. Police recovered property worth Rs 70 lakh, including gold and silver articles, and a SUV from their possession.
The accused Shivoham Ramashivanujam alias Rama Shiva Chaitanyam Swami had started his career as a spiritual guru.He however turned to cheating, after falling into a financial debt. The accused apparently charged Rs 25,000 for giving a 15-minute appearance on TV channels.
Speaking to the media, Cyberabad Commissioner VC Sajjanar said that Ramashivanujam, a native of Kerala, had learnt Krishna Yajurveda at an ashram for 12 years and later set on a pilgrimage to Kedarnath, Badrinath, Varanasi and Amarnath. In 2001, he reached Hyderabad and started attracting devotees in the name of temple pilgrimages. By 2014, he had married one Tejasvi and set up a spiritual centre - Tatva Peetham - at a rented house in Yousufguda. Later he moved to Yellareddyguda and then shifted the centre to Erragadda in January 2018. He also started preaching on television channels and his discourses were telecast on at least seven channels.
Police said Ramashivanujam had organised a massive yagam at NTR stadium in November 2016 and fixed Rs 12,000 as the ticket amount for each devotee who wanted to take part in the yagam. Expecting a huge turnout, he made massive arrangements with his own money. But due to unexpected rains, the footfall was very low and he could not recover the amount, landing him into a financial crisis.
While performing the yagam, he would ask devotees to remove their jewellery and put them in silver-coated pot. While they were engrossed in prayer, he would replace the jewellery with stones and give the pot back to devotees, strictly warning them not to open it until he said so. “Though he cheated several people, only 11 of them lodged complaint against the couple. The gold jewellery looted was mortgaged at Manappuram and Muthoot finance firms,” said Sajjanar.