400 ashrams and thousands of followers

Asumal Sirumalani, known as Asaram Bapu by his followers, is a religious leader in India. Starting in the early 1970s, he established over 400 ashrams in India and abroad and has hundreds of thousands of followers worldwide.

Born on April 17, 1941 in Berani village of Nawabshah district in British India (present-day Berani town is located in Jam Nawaz Ali district, Sindh, Pakistan), Asaram’s birthname was Asumal Thaumal Harpalani.

Following the partition of India in 1947, he and his family moved to Ahmedabad, leaving behind their immovable assets in Sindh. There Asaram’s father founded a coal and wood business. Asaram ran this business for a short time after his father’s death.

According to ‘Sant Asharam Bapuji ki Jeevan Jhanki’, an auto-biography published by his ashram, Asaram received his formal education at Jai Hind High School, uptil Grade 3, when his father died.

He had a series of escapades to ashrams which started with running away to an ashram in Bharuch at the age of 15, eight days before his scheduled wedding to Laxmi Devi, which though finally happened. The book also mentions Lilashah as the spiritual guru, who accepted him as her disciple and named him Asaram Bapu on October 7, 1964, in one of his escapades.

Sources have described him to be involved in a variety of professions ranging from selling liquor and tea to repairing cycles, prior to becoming a religious leader. Asaram and Laxmi Devi have two children. Their son Narayan Sai is also a religious leader.

Asaram was mentioned in a list of fake ‘sadhus’ (saints) released last year by Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad, the apex organisation of Hindu saints and ascetics.


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