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Indian-origin Gokula Nanda ‘swami’ arraigned on sexual assault charges in US

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New York: An Indian-origin businessman claiming to be a Hindu monk (swami) has pleaded not guilty after standing trial on charges that he sexually assaulted three women in the US, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.

According to Deputy District Attorney Maren Dermody, three counts of sexual penetration by foreign object and two counts of sexual battery.

Nanda is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on February 29 in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Torrance Branch.

Nanda sexually abused the victims while claiming to be performing healing rituals at various locations, including his Eastern medicine store in Santa Clarita and a park in Torrance, between April 2011 and April 2015, according to testimony at the preliminary hearing,

 

According to media reports, Nanda, owner of Hari-Om India Market in Santa Clarita in California, was arrested on May 13 last year following allegations that he sexually assaulted female clients at meditative sessions.

He was released in July on a 100,000 dollar bail pending further court proceedings.

Nanda faces a possible maximum sentence of 19 years in state prison if convicted as charged.

The case remains under investigation by the Torrance Police Department.

(Inputs from IANS)

(Picture Courtesy: www.signalscv.com)

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Spiritual head of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha Pramukh Swami dies at 95 in Botad, Gujarat

Born Shantilal Patel on December 7, 1921, Pramukh Swami Maharaj was ordained as Shastri Narayanswarupdas

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Pramukh Swami. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

August 13, 2016: Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the popular spiritual leader of the Swaminarayan sect, breathed his last on Saturday evening, officials from Bochasanvasi Akshar Purushottam Swami (BAPS) said.

The 95-year-old godman had been unwell for over the last three years. He died at Botad in Saurashtra, where he was stationed.

His death left a pall of doom among his lakhs of supporters that included all sections of the society.

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Born Shantilal Patel on December 7, 1921, he was ordained as Shastri Narayanswarupdas. He was initiated as a swami in 1940 by Shastriji Maharaj, founder of BAPS, and took over as the guru of BAPS followers in 1971.

 Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) Logo. Image source: Twitter
Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) Logo. Image source: Twitter

The followers of BAPS believed that Pramukh Swami was the fifth spiritual successor of Lord Swaminarayan.

As head of BAPS, Pramukh Swami Maharaj has overseen the growth of BAPS as a global behemoth after the modest beginning in Gujarat. Under him, maximum Hindu Swaminarayan temples across several countries in the world came up.

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He also spearheaded the efforts of the charitable service organisation affiliated to BAPS. The volunteers of the organisation would be at the forefront of rescue and relief during every national and man-made calamity, from the earthquakes to floods, cyclones and fires.

Expressing condolences, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his tweet called Pramukh Swami “a stalwart among humans who embodied compassion and humility and “he was a mentor to me”.

Among several global leaders, former President Late APJ Abdul Kalam was seen to be among the leading disciples who would seek guidance from Pramukh Swami on spiritual matters. (IANS)

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