A self-styled godman with a controversial past and claims of establishing a sovereign nation.

Swami Nithyananda, born Arunachalam Rajasekaran, is a figure surrounded by considerable controversy, often cited for his bizarre claims and a series of legal troubles, including allegations of rape and abduction. He emerged in the early 2000s as a charismatic guru, setting up his ashram in Karnataka, India, and quickly gaining a following with his teachings, public discourses, and published works. Nithyananda’s influence extended internationally, with a foundation established in Los Angeles and several spiritual centers worldwide.

His teachings and claims, however, have often been met with skepticism and criticism. Among the most outlandish claims he’s made are his abilities to make animals speak human languages and to open the third eye of anyone. His reputation took a significant hit in 2010 when a sex tape allegedly featuring him and a female disciple was leaked, leading to public uproar and legal action. Despite his and the disciple’s claims of the video being fake, forensic analysis confirmed its authenticity. Additionally, an American woman accused Nithyananda of raping her multiple times over five years, alleging she was led to believe that sexual relations with him were a path to enlightenment.

The controversies surrounding Nithyananda escalated with allegations of holding children against their will and subjecting them to abuse at his ashram. These accusations came to light when several minors were rescued from dire conditions, leading to further public outrage and scrutiny of his activities.

In a dramatic turn, Nithyananda fled India in 2019 amidst ongoing legal proceedings. Subsequently, he claimed to have established his own sovereign nation, “Kailasa,” purportedly located on an island off Ecuador. This claim includes Kailasa having its own currency, flag, and government system. Despite these assertions, the exact location of Kailasa remains unclear, and it is largely considered a virtual entity, with its legitimacy and recognition as a nation-state being highly questionable. Nithyananda’s current whereabouts are unknown, though he is wanted by Interpol and continues to make public appearances via videos from an undisclosed location.

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