Spiritual leader Asaram Bapu landed himself in a controversy following his remarks about the Delhi gang-rape victim at an event on Monday.

Speaking at an event in Tonk, about 90 km from Jaipur, Asaram Bapu reportedly said the girl was equally at fault for getting raped and could have avoided it had she taken guru diksha and chanted the Saraswati Mantra.

According to a report broadcast on CNN-IBN, Asaram Bapu made the following observations about the Delhi gang-rape.

“Jinone galti ki.. sharabi they. Agar us kanya ne saraswati mantra liya hota, guru diksha li hoti.. toh boy friend ke saath picture dekh kar jis kisi bas mein ghusti nahin. Agar ghus bhi gayi.. toh 6 sharabi the.. Bhagwan ka naam leti aur ek ka haath pakadti "Tere ko toh mai maanti hoon.”

Do ko bolti “Bhaiya! Main abla hoon. Tum mere bhai ho. Dharam ke bhai ho. Bhagwan ka naam lekar haath pakadti, pair pakadti.. itna durachar nahi hota. Galti ek taraf se nahi hoti.”

The spiritual leader’s remarks could be paraphrased thus: Those who were at fault were drunk. Had she taken guru diksha and chanted the Saraswati Mantra, she would not have boarded any random bus after watching a movie with her boyfriend. Even if she did, she should have taken God’s name and asked for mercy.

She should have called them brothers, fallen at their feet and pleaded for mercy. Had she said, “I am a weak woman, you are my brothers”, such brutality would not have happened.

The self-proclaimed godman also said he was against harsher punishments for rape accused as such laws could be misused.

Women’s organisations have expressed shock at the “highly outrageous” remarks.

“It is people like Asaram who want to keep women subjugated. Instead of talking about aggressive masculinity, he is simply blaming the victim,” said Kavita Srivastava of the People’s Union of Civil Liberties.

Women’s rights activists have demanded action against the spiritual leader.

“He has crossed all limits. Of all the statements made on this issue, these are the most shameful and dangerous. And this when he has a mass female following,” Nishat Hussain, convener of the National Muslim Women’s Welfare Society, said.