Editorial: Cast a wary eye on this swami scandal

The Province

March 10, 2010

One of the key qualities our public education system should help develop in children is a critical mind. No, we don’t want our schools to raise a crop of cynics who mistrust everything they read or hear and wind up unable to support anything.

But we do want citizens who question things in a healthy manner so they don’t fall prey to con artists who prey on the gullible — or exploit the basic human need to find spiritual enlightenment.

We may have progressed as a society in many ways. However, false prophets of every religious stripe remain. And it is often difficult to distinguish between them and the genuine article.

Certainly, the recent sex scandal involving Indian “godman” Swami Nithyananda, who has many followers in Greater Vancouver, and a Tamil actress has given one pause for thought. A video of the pair was reportedly shot by a disgruntled disciple out to expose the 32-year-old as a fraud.

Nithyananda, 32, has countered by assuring his devotees that he is not involved in anything illegal and is simply victim of a “false campaign” to discredit him.

Only time will tell, though, who the real victims are in this sordid affair. In the meantime, we should treat both him, and the allegations about him, with a healthy degree of skepticism.