A New York-based swami who has headed an international spiritual movement for nearly 40 years has been accused in the New York Post newspaper of fraud and sexual exploitation.
Despite Chinmoy Kumar Ghose, or Sri Chinmoy, preaching celibacy, vegetarianism and meditation to thousands, a number of women alleged he used followers for sex.
The claims have been made in string of damning posts on a website discussion board.
The 72-year-old has also been accused of fraud by a photographer who said he was asked to airbrush photographs to exaggerate the guru`s weightlifting ability.
Ghose claims he can lift nearly three tons with one arm as well being able to play 25 different musical instruments.
Ghose, through his lawyer, denied the sexual allegations.
He left India in 1964 and moved to the Queens borough of New York in 1964. He now has an estimated 4,000 followers, including Olympic champion athlete Carl Lewis and musician Carlos Santana.
Devotees are attracted by Ghose’s tolerant teachings – because he believes all established religions are a manifestation of God, no-one is asked to replace their religious beliefs with his.
His proclamations of celibacy will be rocked by the allegations.
Anne Carlton, a former follower for 20 years, told The New York Post Ghose summoned her for sexual encounters over two extended periods – one in 1991 and another in 1996.
Then, in 2000, Ghose told her to have sex with another female disciple while he watched.
“I had never kissed a woman or touched a woman,” Carlton told the Post.
“It was not something I fantasized about. My mind was completely blown.
“It was so hard for me, but not only did I do it but I acted happy about it.”
The newspaper claims at least two other women have posted similar tales of sexploitation.
One, who wished to remain anonymous, even said she became pregnant by Ghose, who paid for her to have an abortion in the early 1980s.
Further allegations have also come from the organisation’s former attorney, who says Ghose`s operation is almost entirely cash-driven.
Rudra Tamm, a member of the group since 1968 and Ghose’s solicitor until 2002, said disciples across the world pour in money to support the swami’s life and activities.
The accusations were denied by Ghose’s representative. A lawyer, Ed Hayes, told the Post Ghose denied all sexual allegations and maintained he continued to be celibate.
“You`re going to have disgruntled people,” he said.
“His [Ghose`s] philosophy attracts many people, and some of them are deeply troubled, some in a sexual way.”