Murder mystery set in an ashram





‘Guruji’s Ashram’, the debut novel of Sunil Sinha, makes for an easy read. Sunil was born in Odisha, the state where his novel is set. His inspiration came from the many Gurus who accumulate millions in the name of God and peace.

Since India has been rocked by several swami scandals in the last few years, the title makes you assume this too would be a guru scandal. The book, though, is a murder mystery unlike ‘sex, lies and two Hindu Gurus: How I was conned by dangerous cult’ where American follower and writer Karen Johnson exposes an Indian Guru.

The present novel starts with three murders in different states of India. Three people die simultaneously in seemingly unrelated cases. As the investigation progresses, the investigators start finding evidence which ultimately relates these incidents and opens doors to a much larger conspiracy. The twists and turns keep you glued.

The lead character is young Tapas, who had a good job, a bright future and was about to marry the girl he loved, but fate turned against him. His father is detected with last stage cancer, and lakhs are needed for his treatment. One rich businessman strikes a deal with Tapas – marry his daughter, and he will finance the treatment. Tapas leaves his love. Soon after marriage, his father dies. Tapas thinks, ‘Had my father died a month before, I’d have happily married my love’.

Suddenly, his wife also dies. He struggles with depression and leaves his job.  also. That’s when he met a spiritual Guru, who teaches him Pranayama, meditation, and the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. He marries Guruji’s daughter Minakshi, who has been a victim of sexual abuse.

Soon, Tapas starts taking classes of Pranayama, meditation, and gives Gita sermons for a small fee. With this modest beginning, he goes on to build the largest ashram in India at Puri, Odisha and many ashrams in various countries around the world. Guruji donates millions of rupees to educate poor children for free. An MLA, an American and an Ayurvedic doctor are instrumental in his rise. Everything goes well till there is a murder in the ashram. In the end, Tapas’s illegimate daughter from his first love solves the case where an American is involved in a drug business using Tapas’ medicine company. The story goes through a sequence of violence from here.

The author has brilliantly used the protagonist Tapas to give the message that anyone can bring change in society and uplift the poor. He also points out that most people turn to spiritualism when they are in trouble and look for quick-fix solutions for their problems and tensions. One amongst millions of these becomes a Guru, and millions his followers.


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