Once a famous and controversial self-styled godman Chandraswami who rose to national prominence due to his proximity to former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao died today in obscurity.
Chandraswami, the bearded draped-in-silk man with a heavy gold amulet around his neck and a tilak prominent on his forehead, has always been in the eye of a storm–be it arms deals, FERA violations, blackmail, cheating or fraud.
He first gained fame as an astrologer. He died in a hospital here at the age of 66.
The alleged role of Chandrawami in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi also came to light in a report submitted by the M C Jain judicial commission, which went into the aspect of conspiracy behind the killing of the former prime minister.
Chandraswami was last in the news in 2014 when the Delhi Police probed a complaint by a businessman that he was robbed off gemstones worth Rs 3 crore at the tantrik’s ashram in Qutub Institutional Area in Delhi.
The self-proclaimed faith healer and preacher was said to have been Narasimha Rao’s spiritual adviser. Soon after P.V.Narasimha Rao became prime minister in 1991, Chandraswami built an ashram known as Vishwa Dharmayatan Sanathan in Qutub Institutional Area. The land for the ashram was stated to have been allotted by Indira Gandhi.
Chandraswami, whose real name is Nemi Chand and is a Jain by religion, is said to have dispensed spiritual advice to the Sultan of Brunei, Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa of Bahrain, actress Elizabeth Taylor, British premier Margaret Thatcher and arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi among other famous figures. He also counted some heads of state and government as his close friends.
In May 2009, the Supreme Court granted Chandraswami permission to travel abroad, lifting a ban on overseas travel imposed as a result of his alleged involvement in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.
In June 2011, the Supreme Court fined Chandraswami, for violating the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, a sum of Rs 9 crores.
Chandraswami has been accused repeatedly of financial irregularities.
In 1996 he was arrested on charges of defrauding a London-based businessman of 100,000 USD. He has faced charges for repeated violation of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act.
According to published documents, Chandraswami was attracted to tantric studies from an early age. He left home when still young to become a student of Upadhyar Amar Muni and the tantrik pandit Gopinath Kaviraj.