Bageshwar Dham and its Mahant Dhirendra Krishna Shastri have come under the scrutiny of the Liberal and Islamist cabal. Recently, the Bihar government tried its best to skirt his Katha in Patna and an advocate reached the Madhya Pradesh High Court to stop his event in the state, claiming that it hurt the religious sentiments of tribals and promoted Hindutva. His petition was, of course, thrown out after he was warned of a contempt of court proceeding against him.
In Bihar for example, the Education Minister who had said the Ramcharitmanas is full of garbage, had threatened Mahant Dhirendra Krishna Shastri with jail. Tej Pratap Yadav, the minister for the environment, forests, and climate change, called Dhirendra Shastri a coward and a traitor. He claimed that the former’s followers visit him daily to offer their apologies. He had pledged to go to the airport to stop the religious leader and promised not to allow him to organise his event in the northern state and the Bihar govt had given permission only after severe backlash.
The Bageshwar Dham Temple is situated in the Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh. The temple is devoted to Lord Hanuman. 26-year-old Dhirendra Krishna Shastri originally was Dhirendra Krishna Garg. Shastri is the Mahant (head priest) of the temple and is popularly called ‘Bageshwar Dham Sarkar’. According to the information available on the website of Bageshwar Dham, Shastri is the successor of his grandfather Dada Guruji Maharaj who was a ‘Siddh’ saint. In recent years, Dhirendra Shastri gained popularity among devotees and on social media. A court or Darbaar is held at the Bageshar Dham every Tuesday and Saturday, wherein Dhirendra Shastri demonstrates his ‘miracles’ to solve the problems of the devotees of Lord Hanuman. Shastri has, however, always claimed that it is the power and miracle of Lord Hanuman that blesses the devotees and that he is only a medium and holds no supernatural powers.
The liberals have Islamists who are particularly targeting Dhirendra Krishna Shastri for several reasons. First and foremost, Shastri talks about gharwapasi and Sanatan Dharma unabashedly.
“Ever since I have raised the issue of Gharwapsi for Sanatan Dharma, they are conspiring against us, we don’t have to stop and fear anyone, we have to be cautious. I want to ask the committee convenor in the Nagpur issue, have you ever raised your voice against the priests and people of other religions who convert Hindus? Is praying to your deity superstition (Jaadu-Tona)? I urge all the followers of Sanatan Dharma to stand united I again request you to raise your finger against the superstitions of other religions also”, Shastri had once said.
Secondly and far more notably, Mahant Dhirendra Krishna Shastri holds several of these events in tribal areas which are dens of religious conversions by Christian missionaries and Islamists. With these Kathas, Shastri aims to ensure that religious conversion by missionaries and Islamists is reduced significantly. He also conducts mass weddings for several underprivileged Hindu girls and talks extensively about the protection of Hindus, the menace of Love Jihad and the onslaught against the Hindu faith, traditions and civilisation by Abrahamics.
Apart from the tropes of ‘superstition’, another trope recently being used to attack Mahant Dhirendra Krishna Shastri is that there are several people who have “mysteriously” disappeared after they came to his Katha. The insinuation by the media is very simple – that Bageshwar Dham is not a spiritual destination and Mahant Dhirendra Krishna Shastri is not a spiritual guru – but a fraud who is indulging in criminality. There is, of course, no proof to claim this, however, the media and its liberal foot soldiers have a way of making these insinuations to dent the credibility of an incredibly popular Hindu guru.
On May 10th, Newstrack published a report claiming that 21 people had gone missing from Bageshwar Dham since January 2023. In the headline itself, the insinuation was pretty clear.
There are a few elements in the headline. First, Newstrack says that in 4 months, 21 people have gone missing from Bageshwar Dham. Then, they say that the police has been unsuccessful in tracing them. Then, they go a step further and add “Kahi kuch aisa khel to nahi” insinuating that there is a malicious conspiracy behind the disappearances and that the police has been completely unsuccessful in tracing all the 21 people who went missing.
In their report, after providing no evidence of any conspiracy, Newstrack adds this paragraph.
Without an iota of proof, Newstrack adds that several other ashrams – like that of Asaram Bapu and Ram Rahim (convicted by courts) have seen people going missing. They say that when the police investigated, several terrible crimes came to light. They essentially insinuate that there is criminality is also an element in the 21 people going missing in Bageshwar Dham.
There have been some cases since January that have been sensationalised and presented by the media.
For example, there was a case of a 10 year old who had died while she was there at Bageshwar Dham along with her mother and maternal aunt. According to a report in Times of India, she had epilepsy. On Saturday night, she had apparently not slept and then on Sunday, when she closed her eyes, she never woke up. The mother had rushed the child to the hospital where she was declared dead. Before that, a woman suffering from kidney problems had come to Bageshwar Dham to meet Shastri. She collapsed and died while standing in the queue.
There are no reports which indicate any wrong doing on the part of Bageshwar Dham, however, media reports have since earlier this year made it their mission to offer up these incidents as sensationally as possible, pointing towards criminality.
On 16th February, Sakshi Joshi, a self-proclaimed journalist who was terribly enthusiastic once about how Mamata Banerjee takes her toilet breaks while on political campaigns, posted a video which weaved a dangerous conspiracy theory.
In the entire video, Sakshi insinuated that there was negligence and worse, criminality in Bageshwar Dham and that there is substantial suspicion on the Dham. She questioned the media for supporting Bageshwar Dham and propping up a superstitious baba by “Godi media”. She says that unless Bageshwar Dham is held answerable for the disappearances, they will keep getting embroiled in suspicion.
Sakshi mentioned 3 cases to insinuate criminality against Bageshwar Dham. One, where a woman with kidney ailments died while waiting in a queue. Another Bihar man disappeared after reaching Bageshwar Dham. Reports indicate that he was suffering from mental ailments and his brother had announced a Rs 1,00,000 award for anyone who finds him. The third case was of a woman, Neeraj Maurya, who disappeared from the Bageshwar Dham when she had come with her family for an exorcism. It can safely be assumed that this woman, who disappeared, was also not mentally sound, which could be one of the reasons for her unfortunate disappearance.
What is the truth of disappearances from Bageshwar Dham
An India Today report dated 11th May 2023 elucidated what the police is saying about these disappearances. According to the report, Chattarpur superintendent of police Amit Sanghi told India Today that 21 ‘missing person’ reports had been registered at the Bamitha police station since January this year. Nine missing people had been found and reunited with their families.
The report further said that the people who had gone missing from Bageshwar Dham were because of the high footfall at the Dham. According to the India Today report, the police said that a vast majority of those who go missing are mentally challenged. They are brought to Bageshwar Dham to seek Shastri’s blessings. “Most of the people going missing are mentally disturbed, and appear to get separated from the family members bringing them [to the dham],” said Sanghi.
The India Today report also talks about the high footfall that the Dham sees on a regular basis. 60,000 to 100,000 people visit Bageshwar Dham on Tuesdays and Saturdays, the two days when Shastri meets devotees. On other days, when Shastri is at the dham but not meeting the public, a minimum of 30,000 people turn up. These numbers are also on the lower side. It is pertinent to note that in Patna, for example, when Shastri held his Katha, over 10 lakh people turned up.
These facts that are elucidated by the SP of the area clearly point towards no evidence of criminality on the part of Bageshwar Dham or Mahant Dhirendra Krishna Shastri. It is clear that several individual with mental ailments end up disappearing because they get separated from their family. Interestingly, no media report, which insinuate a conspiracy, mention in their headline that 9 out of 21 people who went missing have been found.
In fact, if one looks at the missing persons’ data by NCRB and the footfall at Bageshwar Dham, it becomes evident that these disappearances, while unfortunate, are not high or shocking. According to NCRB, 3.42 lakh people are still missing in India. According to 2021 data, for example, about 52% people who go missing were tracked. Given that according to the police, in a span of 4 months, 9 out of 21 were traced is a fairly decent track record according the the national average. Further, in Madhya Pradesh, the average missing persons traced were 50%.
It is therefore evident that stray incidents are being taken by the media to create a conspiracy around Bageshwar Dham in order to bring it down and mire it in suspicion and this is being done without an iota of proof.