Trident-toting “godwoman” Radhe Maa worshipped as a miracle worker was questioned by police on Friday over accusations that she tried to extort dowry money from brides, the latest in a long line of popular gurus to run into legal problems.
Named after Hindu god Lord Krishna’s consort, Radhe Maa, 50, is one of modern India’s many self-styled “god people” who command legions of followers including politicians and Bollywood personalities.
Police are investigating allegations that she pressured a woman’s family to pay money to one of her followers as a dowry. She denies this.
Radhe Maa arrived at the police station carrying a small golden trident – a symbol of the goddess Durga, from whom some of her followers believe she is reincarnated. She was questioned for four hours and then escorted out of the station by several policemen.
For her thousands of followers, Radhe Maa is a miracle worker. She blesses her devotees by allowing them to kiss her hand and carry her, and is known to dance with her congregation at religious events.
Radhe Maa has been criticised by religious conservatives after she was filmed dancing in a short skirt.
Radhe Maa has denied all accusations and said she is “pure and pious”. None of her close aides, listed on her website, answered Reuters’ calls for comment.
India is a secular country with a largely Hindu faith. Self styled god people are common but there have been repeated instances where many such leaders have broken the law.
Asaram Bapu, a godman of national fame, is now in jail on charges of sexually assaulting an underage girl.
Swami Nithyananda was booked for raping his female followers, and Chandraswami, famous for his closeness to former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, was arrested for swindling about $100,000 from a London businessman.