Bhaiyyu Maharaj death: How can the guru who guided us kill himself? Ask followers
Self-styled spiritual guru, who shot himself in the head on Tuesday, counted rich and famous among his disciples
Fashion model-turned-self-styled spiritual guru Bhaiyyu Maharaj aka Udaysinh Deshmukh shocked his massive following, largely comprising politicians and celebrities, when news of his suicide in Indore broke on Tuesday. He had allegedly shot himself in the head, citing 'depression' and 'domestic issues' in his suicide note.
Condolences poured in from confused high-profile followers unable to comprehend why a spiritual trouble-shooter like him would take such an extreme step. "How can a guru who guided us when in trouble end his life this way?" was a common question on Tuesday. One politician said Bhaiyyu Maharaj had been working on preventing farmer suicides through his social projects in Maharashtra's cotton belt and elsewhere.
Bhaiyyu Maharaj courted controversy when he was anointed Rashtrasant (saint of the nation) to the chagrin of followers of another spiritual leader in Maharashtra, Rashtrasant Tukdoji. Journalists who raised questions were allegedly threatened by Bhaiyyu's followers. The matter, however, died down eventually, thanks to Bhaiyyu's influence.
While he never claimed to possess magic powers, his disciples were convinced he had powers to foresee the future and advise corrective (religious) steps. Poll contestants and leaders, alliance partners — saffron and secular—were in awe of him and regularly sought him out.
Legend has it that an attempt to topple the Congress-NCP government was thwarted by Bhaiyyu's intervention. The NCP-Congress had holed up their legislators at an Indore hotel, under Bhaiyyu's protection. The late Vilasrao Deshmukh and almost all his cabinet members – Congress and NCP – were staunch devotees. He eventually moved to the saffron combine and had once travelled to Ahmedabad to break PM Narendra Modi's (then a state leader) fast there. Recently, he was offered the rank of junior minister in MP, which he politely refused, saying he did not work for political patronage.
Bhaiyyuji belonged to the Marathi-speaking Deshmukh khandaan, spread across the border of Vidarbha and MP. He set up ashrams, schools and water conservation projects in both states, but was more influential in Maharashtra. He was married twice, the second time after his first wife's death, triggering a controversy of sorts and disillusionment among some of his followers.
Accused of being power broker, a smaller version of Chandraswami, Bhaiyyu had to face violence as well. He survived a couple of physical attacks from his adversaries, but seemed unable to tackle his emotional demons.
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