New Scientist has uncovered the bizarre, but fascinating, truth behind a new ashram set up by a former BJP MP.
Ashram atram in Mumbai’s Ashram Bhat in Maharashtra is a temple for Hindu god Shiva and it has long been a favourite of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – a party that once made headlines for staging mass conversions of Hindu men to Islam.
The new temple was opened in January last year to “celebrate the glory of Hinduism”, said Amit Bhatia, a former senior BJP official.
“There is a huge religious community there,” he told New Scientist, speaking from Mumbai, where he now heads the Bhatiya Foundation, a charitable organisation that aims to make India a secular country.
Ashrama Bhati in Mumbai, the new temple.
“The idea was to create a religious space for the Hindu community,” Bhatio told New Times, adding that the temple was not meant to attract tourists but for a community that had suffered the effects of communal riots and the subsequent violence in the state.
“But when you see the people coming to the temple, they are not really Hindu.
They are just coming for worship.
It is a very odd atmosphere.”
The temple, which dates back to the late 19th century, is located in a part of Mumbai called Bhatir Nagar.
There is no public entrance.
The entrance gate is locked and the temple’s gates are kept shut by the Bhuslal police station.
The temple’s name means “holy land” in Hindi and means “place of the gods”.
It was established in 1884 as the Ashram of Lord Shiva and has been called by many other names.
However, the name has come under scrutiny by some experts.
Bhatia says he is not claiming to be a god.
He explained that he was trying to create the kind of temple he believed in.
“My idea was not to have any rituals or anything.
I thought, if this is not a god, then what is this place?”
However Bhat, who is also the chief of the Bhaagati Vishwa Hindu Parishad, is adamant about his religious mission.
“I am not trying to convert anybody.
It has been a Hindu place since ancient times.
I want to have a temple like this,” he said.
Ashrama is a religious place, not a temple.
Its main function is to offer worship, he added.
In 2012, Bhatiah was appointed the director of the Vishwa Bhavan, a temple-related body that oversees the construction of temples.
The Vishwa has not made any public statements about the new ashrama.
After the Bhopal gas tragedy, a BJP government in Maharashtra promised to rebuild the gas-laced gas cylinders.
But the BJP government is not the only one to turn a blind eye to the problems of Hindu communities in the country.
For a time, the Bhojpuri community in Mumbai was living in the same neighbourhood as the temple and, in the early years, there were reports of tensions between them.
According to Bhatias wife, Nandita, Bhopals concerns were well-founded.
“They were complaining of the pollution in their area, the garbage and the lack of electricity,” she told New Sitter.
Some of the people were even demanding a mosque be built at the temple.
Bhatias concern was well-grounded.
As the BJP’s popularity in Maharashtra fell in the mid-2000s, its supporters turned against the organisation.
Over the next few years, a number of temples were opened to Hindu worship, including in the city of Mumbai itself.
These were not new places.
The Bhatiyas temple in Ashram A was built in the 1980s, but in 2005, it was closed due to a fire.
New Bhaties temple is also in the Bhatti area of Ashram S.
Bhatti in Ashrama S.S.
Bhela in Maharashtra.
(Image source: Twitter) This was not an isolated incident.
There were reports that a temple in Bhatishwara was closed because of a dispute between a Hindu priest and a Muslim priest.
In 2014, the temple in the neighbouring Bhatibhasha was also closed because a Muslim was visiting it.
Since then, the situation has been deteriorating.
In 2017, the state government announced a ban on new temples, citing the growing number of complaints.
The government has also put a ban in place on public gatherings at the temples.
Earlier this month, the police arrested a woman who allegedly converted a Hindu man to Islam at the Bhajangadi temple in Nag