Indore: Spiritual leader Bhaiyyu Maharaj, 50, shot himself on Tuesday, leaving thousands of his followers stunned. The "godman", who was born Uday Singh Deshmukh, allegedly killed himself at his house in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. He was at the centre of a controversy that confronted the state’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan government earlier this year, after five spiritual leaders – including Bhaiyyuji Maharaj – were deemed ministers in charge of saving the river Narmada.
Here are 10 facts on Bhaiyyuji Maharaj:
- When the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh offered him ministership, Bhaiyyu Maharaj refused saying: "A post holds no importance for a saint."
- Bhaiyyu Maharaj travelled in a Mercedes and was rarely seen without his Rolex watch. He has a sprawling bungalow in Indore.
- Born in 1968, Bhaiyyuji was a model before he became a spiritual guru. He once modeled for a brand of clothing.
- He married for the second time at the age of 49 last year. On his wedding day, a woman who claimed to be an actress accused him of cheating on her.
- Bhaiyyuji was born to a family of landowners in Shujalpur.
- In 2011, when the India Against Corruption movement for a Lokpal or corruption watchdog was at its peak, the Congress government sent Bhaiyyu Maharaj to mediate with Anna Hazare, who was on an indefinite fast. Anna Hazare broke the fast by having juice given by Bhaiyyu Maharaj.
- Bhaiyyu Maharaj was invited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he observed a "’sadbhavna fast" as Chief Minister of Gujarat.
- Those who have visited his ashram include former president Pratibha Patil, Sharad Pawar, Lata Mangeshkar, Uddhav Thackeray, Raj Thackeray and Asha Bhonsle.
- Bhaiyyuji Maharaj escaped an alleged attack on his car near Pune in 2016, while on his way back to Indore after meeting his daughter.
- When Bhaiyyu Maharaj was injured in the accident, those who visited him included RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and then Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel.