Over the past few days, Bageshwar Dham, a temple in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh, has been the talking point on TV debates and on social media. At the centre of this is the head of the temple and religious preacher Dhirendra Krishna Shashtri
Here is why Bageshwar Dham is trending
Mr Shashtri, a self-styled godman, is known to travel across the country for religious addresses known as “katha”. Recently, a Maharashtra-based anti-superstition organisation challenged him to display miraculous powers he claims to possess at an event in Nagpur.
What followed was a fierce pushback from the self-styled godman. Speaking to news agency ANI, he said he has faith in Bageshwar Balaji, the temple deity. “Anyone can challenge my words and actions on camera. Whatever inspires me, I will write and what I write will turn out to be true.”
In a video from one of his kathas, now viral, the self-styled godman calls a journalist from the crowd and then shares information about his family members. The journalist is seen proclaiming that it is extraordinary that Mr Shashtri is aware of the details. People have thereafter claimed that all the information could be found on the journalist’s social media accounts.
Several BJP leaders, including party veteran Kailash Vijayvargiya, have come out in support of the self-styled godman. BJP leader Kapil Mishra, an accused in several hate speech cases, took out a rally in support of Mr Shashtri in Delhi and alleged that he was being targeted for speaking out against religious conversions and “love jihad”.
According to Bageshwar Dham’s website, Mr Shashtri is 26 years old and his kathas draws lakhs of devotees to the religious spot. The website adds that he is associated with many public welfare initiatives. .
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