Sadhus, akharas and their unholy battles of succession

The mysterious death of influential seer Narendra Giri brings into the spotlight the interplay of politics, religion and real estate among India’s ascetics, and how the hallowed guru-shishya relationship is a thing of the past

It’d been a little over two weeks since Narendra Giri died. By 5 October, Baghambari math, a spacious ashram in Prayagraj that he lived in and led, was ready to bid farewell. By throwing a feast of aloo and rabdi-poori.

They spared no expense. A red carpet marked the entrance. Garlands of bel leaves and marigold draped the sides, hundreds of white and orange balloons formed the canopy. Inside, a large mandap had been erected, complete with a stage and chairs to seat over a hundred people. Outside, dozens of policemen screened visitors. VIPs and media persons were …


Omkar Khandekar

Omkar specializes in long-form narrative features and has reported from India, the UK, Germany and the Maldives. He writes across beats, from politics and crime to cinema and sports. His works have been published in Indian and international outlets including The Caravan, Mint Lounge, the BBC, Al Jazeera and The Huffington Post.

Senior Features Writer