Bhopal: He was once a model for a popular suiting brand and is now a self-styled spiritual guru. Meet Bhayyuji Maharaj, 43, who is trying to mediate between Team Anna and the union government in the stand-off over a strong Lokpal Bill.
One of the youngest spiritual gurus in India, Bhayyuji Maharaj - alias Udaysingh Deshmukh - runs a trust called Shri Sadguru Datta Dharmik and Parmarthik Trust in Indore. The trust was established in 1996 with the aim to "inculcate the spirit of liveliness in each human being and to make him a perfect citizen with social vision. And to inculcate the spirit of nationhood, among others".
A science graduate, Maharaj has done modelling for Siyaram Suiting in his younger days. During his student life, he was involved in several extra-curricular activities like horse riding, fencing, wrestling, cricket, badminton, music and poetry.
Married to Madhavi Nimbalkar of Aurangabad, the spiritual guru is fluent in English as well as Hindi, Marathi and Malvi (of the Malva region) languages.
Since the age of 23, he has been into social and spiritual works and also runs a website bhayyumaharaj.com.
The godman is a new age guru, who drives a car and surfs the internet. His political followers are mostly from Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh like former Maharashtra chief ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh and Narayan Rane and BJP leader Gopinath Munde, and Madhya Pradesh Industry Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya, among others.
"Bhayyuji Maharaj is well known across party lines. His admirers are from both the Congress and BJP. And after Indore, his field of work is also in Maharashtra," Rakesh Dixit, a senior journalist based in Indore, told agency.
In 2005, the godman was involved in a controversy when one of his devotees, Seema Wankhede, slapped a paternity case on him claiming that she is his wife and he is the father of her son Chaitanya.
Probably the Maharashtra connection made him choose to mediate with Team Anna and the government has also accepted it, believes Dixit.
However, the senior journalist adds: "I doubt that the young spiritual guru`s stature is so big that both sides would take his mediation seriously."