Ashutosh Noormahal

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Ashutosh - Founder of Divya Jyoti Jagran Sansthan

Ashutosh Noormahal is a contoversial, fake spiritual leader, an anti Sikh personality who runs an organization called Divya Jyoti Jagaran Sansthan at Noor Mahal so is also called Noormahaliya.

Noormahal was the second cult to have physical clash with the Sikhs after Narakdharis. The cult was started by a Bihari “bhaeeya” named Ashutosh soon after the decline of the Sikh movement. Ashutosh was a servant at “Delhi Manav Dharam” from which he was kicked out due to immoral activities.

He left Delhi and came to Patiala where he became the puppet of the government and decided to mislead people of Punjab. He established his center in Noormahal and called it “Diveya Jyoti” or light of God. His misleading propaganda involves some new and different scamming techniques which are different from those employed by many of the other cults.

Different guises and ways

To mislead the people, Ashutosh has his pictures taken wearing different dresses. He is wearing turban in one picture and has hair open in the other. He wears orange dress to pose off as a Hindu saint and green clothes to look like a Muslim ‘pir’. Gurbani line “ਕਿਆ ਨਾਗੇ ਕਿਆ ਬਾਧੇ ਚਾਮ” is displayed on the pictures to justify his different appearances.

Followers of this controversial sect at Noormahal run by Ashutosh Maharaj have had several serious run-ins with Sikh groups who object to the 'samagams' held by the dera all over Punjab, where besides projecting himself as a reincarnation of the Sikh Gurus, Ashutosh is allegedly also critical of mainstream Sikhism.

Ashutosh is critical of mainstream Sikhism. In the rising din against deras, the Sikh clergy, represented by the five Sikh head priests as well as the SGPC, is being squarely blamed for "letting down the faithful". "Our religious leadership has submitted to politicians, and devotes more time to politicking than propagating the religion. Their grip over the people has loosened, and deras and babas have just stepped in to fill the gap," says Prof Darshan Singh, professor emeritus, Guru Nanak Studies, Punjab University.

In 2005, around 100 Sikh organisations gathered at the Akal Takht to find ways to check the rising dera cult in Punjab. But due to lack of unanimity over the deras against which action was being contemplated, the campaign fizzled out.

Recruitment

This cult has hired many clever agents to bring in new followers. These agents always seek new targets especially Amritdharis. They engage them in ordinary conversation and slowly make transition to religious discussion. Their common question is “Have you seen Diveya Jyoti”? Those who say no are urged to attend the program of Ashutosh which they call “Satsang” and claim that there anyone can see God in physical form and experience higher level of spirituality. Use of the word ‘Satsang’ misleads people into thinking that it is another form of Sikh congregation where Gurbani is sung and explained.

Any agent initially would hold a program at his house to attract new followers. All expenses are paid by the head office. During the program, everyone sits on the floor and stage is setup for the preacher. Picture of Ashutosh is placed at a higher level giving him the status of ‘guru’. People stand in line, bow to the picture and donate money. This is an exact copy of Sikh Gurdwara. Many uneducated and unemployed people are hired as preachers and then trained by the cult. They are required to memorize certain lines from every religious scripture and taught to recite these at every program. Since the program is attended by people from different religions, the preacher speaks in a respectful manner and extensively quotes from their respective scriptures. However, main emphasis is put on the misconception that without obtaining mantra (naam) from Ashutosh, no one can see ‘diveya jyoti’. No preacher has the right to give out mantra. Only Ashutosh has this right. Once an agent gets handful of people to attend the programs on regular basis, he is appointed as ‘head’ of his local area. New attendees are required to attend at least 5-10 programs and then sent to headquarter to receive mantra.

Brainwashing - Obtaining Mantra

Ashutosh- THe fake Baba, Sitting wearing turban

Process of obtaining naam is a complete rip off. New followers are required to arrive at headquarter in the early morning. When new followers get there, they are given a form to fill in their personal information such as their name, address etc. This is done to select candidates for different jobs to serve the cult. An educated person who can fill out the form on his own is trained to become a preacher and an uneducated one is trained to become an agent to bring in new followers. After people are done filling out the form, they are required to pay the admission fee. Each person is charged minimum of 50 rupee. They are also required to bring ‘parsad’ (fruit) to offer to Ashutosh. Since the dera is at a distance from the city, people are told to buy it from the dera. So a large sum of money is collected by agents and in return they provide ‘parsad’ to the new devotees.

Everyone is kept there all day with no food and water. They are told that food and water will be provided after everyone has obtained mantra and seen the ‘diveya jyoti’. After the sunset, around 8pm new recruits are taken to a room. Men stand on one side and women on the other. After taking back the ‘parsad’ sold to devotees they are asked to offer money before getting mantra. Then one preacher comes in a room and starts giving lecture on ‘naam’ and what they will experience when they receive it. People are persuaded to believe that if they are pure souls and good hearted they will have revelation of ‘diveya jyoti’. It is also told that those who do not experience anything are sinful people and will burn in hell till eternity. After the lecture the preacher leaves in an expensive car and rest of the work is given to the agents dressed in light orange clothes with open hair.

First the devotees are asked to sit down and keep their eyes closed. They sit crossed legged crossing their hands and raising their arms perpendicular to the body. They are given one word “Sohan(g)” and taught how to recite it. After a while, eyes of a devotee are pressed hard by an agent and after few seconds he is told to open them. When the light suddenly enters their eyes, it seems very bright. The devotee testifies that he has seen a bright light which he is told is the ‘diveya jyoti’ or light of God. Then an agent presses his hands on devotee’s ears and keeps them closed for few seconds. Then he is asked if he has heard any sound. It is very common to hear a buzzing sound after pressing your ears closed. This sound is what they call “Anhad Shabad” and quote Gurbani to justify it. Those who say they did not see or hear anything the same procedure is repeated until they say yes. Many say yes just to get over with the process so that they can get something to eat and drink. Some say yes to keep themselves from being branded as “sinful” people.

Anti-Sikhi Activities

Belief system of Noormahal cult is created solely to insult Sikhi. Saroops of Guru Granth Sahib are kept in the dera just like other books on the shelf and read like books. No respect is shown such as washing hands, covering head and wrapping in rumalas. Gurbani is called “summary of Vedas”.

Gurbani is quoted and misinterpreted in their programs on daily basis. Followers are preached that keeping hair, reading bani, following the Shabad Guru, wearing five kakkars and going to the Gurdwara etc. are waste of time. Gurbani is misused to prove their belief system. Insulting comments are delivered about Khalsa in their programs and they refer to themselves as the ‘true khalsa’. They believe Jot of Guru Sahib is not in Guru Granth Sahib but within themselves and consider themselves the ‘true image’ of the Guru. Sikh martyrs of 1984 and Khalistan movement are branded as terrorists and Ashutosh is portrayed as the only ‘national hero’. It is further preached that all Gurus were Hindus and Guru Gobind Singh Ji revered hindu deities.

They hold regular diwans at the heart of Sikh cities like Taran Taaran, Amritsar and Gurdaspur. Many times, events of 1978 have been repeated where police was used for protection and attacking and killing the Sikh protestors. On one occasion, a program was held on 19th April 2002 at which a preacher of Ashutosh, Shardha Nand, grossly insulted Sikhi and Guru Granth Sahib. When Sikhs showed up to protest they were attacked and fired upon. Shardha Nana escaped in government vehicles and Sikhs were arrested for causing violence. Similar events have taken place in other cities but with the help of the government Noormahals always managed to escape and Sikhs became the target of violence and police brutality. All of this is being done to cause violence in Punjab so that the government could move in and kill Sikhs in large numbers in the name of “terrorism”. Such events are also used to identify Sikhs who are outspoken and show some bravery. They are arrested and put away in jails forever.

Preachers are trained to tell false stories to glorify Ashutosh to attract new followers. One time a woman preacher came to an Amritdhari person and started telling made up stories about Ashutosh. She claimed that Ashutosh is so great that one time one of his followers had passed away and was cremated at a grave yard. But Ashutosh liked him so much that he brought the dead follower back to life. The woman preacher was not even finished with the story that an Amritdhari Sikh grabbed her from throat and threatened to kill her. She started begging for life and mercy. Amritdhari said, “Don’t worry. You will be brought back to life by your guru. So why are you afraid?” She replied, “We are taught to tell these false stories to mislead Amritdharis and convince them to follow Ashutosh.” This is just one example of how they deceive and mislead people into following an immoral person.

Ashutosh has a taste for wealth and women. While he takes a large sum of money from his followers he also urges them (especially Sikhs) to donate their young daughters to him. He usually keeps 15-20 girls at every dera and after using them (having sexual intercourse) he sells them in the flesh market in Bihar. According to a report published in “Shamsher-E- Kaum” two girls Rekha and Paramjit were sold in Bihar for 500,000 rupee (half million) each. His follower Mr. Sandhu from village Duniya testified to this. This is being done to destroy the progress of Sikh faith and Sikh population.

Ashutosh was caught having an illicit relation with his female follower named Sweeti in Chandigarh. He was caught by his driver who decided to expose his true face. Although numbers of his followers have decreased since then but Sikhs collectively need to start a massive campaign of parchaar to deal with this thug. If Sikh preachers work hard and preach Gurbani then no one will be brainwashed and Sikhs will stay stronger in their faith. Only then such cults will go out of business.

10 Sep 2008

Even as the Dera Sirsa's confrontation with the Sikhs continues, the simmering problem with the self-styled Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS) of Noormahal exploded on September evening in Malout when chelas of Ashutosh clashed with some local Sikhs leading to pitched battles. Police fired in the air during the clash that left 15 people injured, three of them in a serious condition.

Situation continued to be highly volatile. Both parties seemed armed with sticks etc, but the administration failed to intervene despite the fact that the tension prevailed in the town since morning after DJJS followers announced a four-day 'Ram Katha' programme at the Sewa Sadan building. Heavy police deployment was there but no one tried to stop the unauthorised DJJS function. Media people were not allowed near the spot, and reportedly some people on both sides carried fire arms.

Around 200 Sikhs marched to the ashram and crossed the two police barricades set up to break their progress. Soon, all hell broke loose as the groups began pelting stones and cops added to the ruckus with their firing. Since the Ashutoshias have scheduled discourses for five days, from September 8-12 at a dharamshala in the town, the tension continues. The power supply in the city tripped even as the firing was going on.