Mumbai

‘I am not god, I am Radhe Maa’

Self-proclaimed godwoman Radhe Maa finds herself at the centre of controversy. File photo: Vivek Bendre  

It was 12 years ago that Sanjeev Gupta, one of Mumbai’s leading outdoor advertisement providers, got his first “darshan of the devi.” A non-believer, he visited her on the insistence of a friend.

On reaching the venue, he found a self-styled godwoman sitting quietly in an asan. “She whispered things into my ears. I was left mesmerised as she knew everything about me, even my weakest links. Just 18 days after that meeting my problems got solved. Since then, every prediction she has made about me or my business has come true,” Mr. Gupta claims.

Many see her as another purveyor of ‘magic remedies’, even more ridicule her for her ‘antics,’ but for devotees like Mr. Gupta, Radhe Maa, the controversial godwoman based in suburban Mumbai, is “mother.” She comes to the rescue of her “bhakts” and cures their ailments through “divine experiences.”

“She has supernatural powers…This is a matter of faith and devotion. We can’t use brains here, it’s about heart,” explains Mr. Gupta, who has “Radhe Maa” prominently tattooed on his left forearm. Incidentally, Mr. Gupta, also a trustee of Maa’s Trust, is a close relative of Nikki Gupta, the woman who has charged Radhe Maa with instigating her in-laws, who are also Radhe Maa bhakts, to torment her for dowry.

“She is so tender and innocent…all allegations are false and baseless. How can there be dowry in a love marriage?” Mr. Gupta asks with a sneer.

On the first floor of his large apartment in South Mumbai’s posh Walkeshwar, Mr. Gupta has, like many other faithful devotees, constructed a permanent gufa (cave) for Radhe Maa to reside. But don’t fall for its nomenclature — it is a well-decorated room, spattered with a strong theme of red. The bed and the pillows are blood red, so are the huge cushions of velvet on the wall; all this is shadowed by a dim red disco light. Almost personifying the tacky room is the godwoman herself, seated on the bed.

Lavish lifestyle

Wearing her trademark red and gold choli, adorned with glittery ornaments and precious jewels, she firmly holds a gold trident and a rose in her hands. Radhe Maa’s lavish lifestyle is well known. So is her high-profile list of devotees, including director Subash Ghai, BJP MP Manoj Tiwari and Ad-guru Prahlad Kakkar. But the 50-year-old has no qualms about the extravagance.

“This is my style. If you don’t like it, don’t follow me,” she says. “I am not god. I have been created by the same God as you. I am Radhe Maa — rah dikhane wali maa (Mother who shows the way), a sevika of God, and you are all my children” she continues, as a flock of devotees, mostly affluent and educated men and women, sit obediently on the floor, with hands folded in reverence. Her trusted sevadars (aides) Talli Baba, accused of running several rackets, and Choti Maa, closely monitor activities around her. Radhe Maa is known to kiss and hug her devotees and is now facing charges of obscenity — a television reporter was caught by surprise when she kissed him during an interview recently.

Born as Sukhvinder Kaur to a government servant father, Radhe Maa hails from village Dorangla in Gurdaspur district of Punjab. After losing her mother at the tender age of five, Sukhvinder, who studied till class 10, was married off at 18 — she gave birth to two sons. However, soon after, her husband left for abroad to pursue business interests. To counter the loneliness, Sukhvinder took to sewing and even tutored young girls in her neighbourhood. The rest of the time was devoted to bhakti and reciting the Gurbani. The pivotal moment came when she took as her teacher, Mahant Ramdin Das, the caretaker of the Paramhans Bagh Dera, and allegedly 130 years old at that time.

At 23, Sukhvinder renounced household life. In time, she became the controversial Radhe Maa, who is now under the scanner for several criminal charges, including alleged offences under the Dowry Act, indecency, fooling people for money and driving farmers to suicide.

An unknown person recently also hacked her website. “I am pure and pious. I am ready for a CBI inquiry into the allegations…I hurt nobody. If even a single illegal account is found in my name anywhere, I will self-immolate,” she threatens with a sprinkling of English. At this, her devotees beg her to “forgive” those who accuse her. She believes she is being targeted due to her wealth and boasts of spending a “few lakh rupees” each day. “I get a lot of daans but I give away too… Why then would I cheat people for money,” she asks, losing her calm.

A dichotomy

The godwoman is known to shift between two ‘avatars’ — the playful ‘gudiya’ (her childhood name) and the bountiful Maa — a dichotomy she uses to explain her dramatic shift in wardrobe.

She was recently caught on camera publicly dancing in a pinkish mini skirt. Of course, she was trolled and mocked for this ‘ungodly’ moment. But Radhe Maa is not deterred. In her defence, she quotes line after line of Sanskrit shlokas on the ‘power of truth’ before losing herself in a trance of story-telling and a Bollywood song in praise of Lord Shiva — “Jai Shiva Shankar…”

Radhe Maa is a staunch critic of love marriages as she believes that one should only marry with the permission of parents. For young men and women she has this advice: “If you want a husband like Ram, then you must become Sita. And if you want a wife like Sita, you must act like Ram.”

PTI adds:

May be questioned again

Police may call for questioning again the controversial spiritual leader Sukhvinder Kaur alias Radhe Maa, an accused in a dowry harassment case, an official said on Sunday. Her statement was already recorded on Saturday. “Some of the accused have submitted documentary evidence to support their version. The accused, if needed, could be called again for questioning,” Kandivali police inspector Mukund Pawar said.

He said the police had completed recording of statements of all the seven accused in the case.

Mr. Pawar, however, refused to divulge details of the statements, saying, “[since the] investigating officer is further probing the case, sharing of details [of the statements] can harm the case.”


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Printable version | Oct 27, 2021 3:39:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/selfstyled-godwoman-in-the-dock/article7545115.ece

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