London: A British economist of Indian origin has been left perplexed after being hailed by a cult as its "chosen one" who it believes was hiding in the Himalayas for 2,000 years.
"I`m not the messiah... I`m just an economics expert," an exasperated Raj Patel has been saying after being bombarded with email messages from followers of cult Share International across the world.
The cult, founded by Scotsman Creme in the 1950s, believes that the 18-million-year-old Maitreya - the "chosen one" -- combines elements of Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism and Islam and has been living for the past 2,000 years in the Himalayas.
It all began when Patel, 37, gave a television interview in the US in January to discuss his book, "The Value of Nothing", on the global financial crisis.
Thereafter, Share International founder Benjamin Creme stated that the cult`s "chosen one" or Maitreya had finally arrived, The Sun reported Thursday.
He told the cult members: "Maitreya recently gave his first interview in America. The master of all the masters for the first time in human history himself came on a well-known television programme on a major network. But undeclared as Maitreya, just as one of us."
According to the cult, Patel shares many of the characteristics of Maitreya.
Raj, who was raised a Hindu, was quoted as saying: "I started getting emails saying `Are you the world teacher?` Then it wasn`t just random internet folk, but also friends saying, `Have you seen this?` It`s absurd to be put in this position when I`m just some bloke."
He rejected his so-called holy credentials. Yet two members of the cult flew 2,400 miles to meet him at a book signing in his current US hometown, San Francisco.
Raj said, "It frustrates me it might disappoint those looking for Maitreya that, in fact, I`m just an ordinary bloke."