The scandal of Sarathi Baba being unearthed by a local news channel has created quite a stir in Odisha recently.
Sarathi Baba, whose real name is Santosh Raula, hails from the Ganjam district of the state. His father, Krushna Chandra Raula worked as a meter reader in the Electricity department and he was transferred to Kendrapara district. The family shifted there and lived in a modest little rented home in Banaimal area, with only a bicycle and two trunks in the name of belongings.
Santosh was a below average student and a back bencher. He had to face the wrath of his father as he bunked classes on a regular basis. He did his Matriculation from Gulnagar High School, Kendrapara after which he joined Kendrapara College. He bought a second hand bicycle to commute to college.
He had a very modest life as a college student, running small errands for his classmates usually told them that he would be worshipped like a God someday and this became true.
Santosh left Kendarapra in 1985, returning seven years later in a completely different avatar. He wore a white dhoti with a white vest now, and had a towel on his shoulder. It is believed that he spent these seven years learning some black magic.
Now he came to be known as Shrimad Sarathi and his life took a new direction. He bought some land at Barimula on the Kendrapara-Indupur road, built a house over it and started an ashram there. He held a satsang here on every Sunday. Soon, he became famous because of some miracles performed by him such as bringing bibhuti out of thin air and having honey dripping from his feet.
Very soon, he had a huge following and the small thatched house ashram was replaced by a tall building. A majestic temple called the Sarathi temple was opened here during Rath Yatra in 2014. He sat on a throne and held a satsang here now.
Gradually, his ashram was converted into a Trust which was headed by Baba himself. Transactions worth crores were carried out in the Trust’s account. Merchandise like audio cassettes and CDs of Sarathi Baba’s satsang, clothes, incense sticks, books etc it brings sold by the ashram and all the profits go to the ashram.
Additionally, a separate bank account has been opened in the name of Santosh Raula. He also owns a number of properties in Bhubaneswar, Puri and Baleswar All the accounts are looked after by Baba’s foster son.
His devotees include influential people like politicians, industrialists, police officers and IAS officers, and film stars. Some of them have been seen frequently in his ashram.
Periodically, Baba would leave Kendarapara and had a young woman accompany him. Train tickets were arranged for 4-5 girls and Baba would choose one of the on the last minute. Girls would be dying to accompany Baba on his mysterious journeys.
These facts about Sarathi Baba were disclosed by some unnamed sources who know him right from the days when he was a common man.