Jayant Athavale is the co-founder of the Hindu militant group Sanatan Sanstha along with his wife, Dr. Kunda and Dr. Ashutosh Prabhudesai. The organization is headquartered in the Indian state of Goa.
Dr. Athavale obtained his MBBS degree in 1964 and worked for five years in various hospitals in Mumbai. He later moved to the UK to successfully conduct Hypnotherapy, making him an expert Hypnotherapist.
The primary objective of Dr. Athavale, who considers himself a Godman, is to convert India into a ‘Hindu Nation. He enjoys an exalted status among his followers. So much so, they believe he has undergone “divine changes” over the years.
A blog run by the organization — englishsanatanprabhat.blogspot — refers to Athavale as the “personification of God.”
Many editions of Sanatan Prabhat, a magazine run by Sanatan Sanstha have proclaimed that the organization aims to establish a Hindu Rashtra by 2023. Its articles and headlines attack Muslims, Christians, rationalists, and communists and label them as evil-doers. “You feel so victorious after killing a mosquito,” said Athavale, as quoted in the Sanatan Prabhat in 2007, “imagine how you would feel after killing an evil person?”
Athavale has publicly announced that the objective of his movement is to establish Ishwary Rajya, or the Kingdom of God, on earth by destroying durjans, or evil-doers, who indulge in “bad habits,” “misinterpreted religious beliefs” and practice “bad politics, economy, and culture.”
Shyam Manav, rationalist, hypnotherapist, and founder of Akhil Bharatiya Andhshraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (All India Committee for the Eradication of Superstitions), who says he was a close friend of Athavale from 1985 to 1990, wrote a scathing critique of the Sanstha in the November 2006 issue of Marathi periodical Kirloskar published from Pune.
“Though the Sanstha was founded in 1999, I had figured out in the early 90s that the obsession with spirituality had led Athavale astray from the science of Hypnotherapy. He had started resorting to the magicians’ tricks, which I was aware of since I knew many magicians, to claim paranormal, spiritual powers in himself,” Manav said. With his hypnotherapy skills and messages amplified by ‘Sanatan Prabhat,’ Jayant Athavale started programming minds and building a cult.
In 2013, while commenting on the assassination of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, Athavala said it was “a blessing from God,” as he had escaped a slow, painful death from old age.
About Sanatan Sanstha
Sanatan Sanstha first made the headlines in 2007 after three of its members were arrested by the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) for planting crude bombs at cultural venues in the satellite cities of Mumbai to reportedly protest against the screening of a play. Other militant groups like Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, Shri Sriram Sene, and Hindu Yuva Sena are part of the larger Sanatan Sanstha family.
It then came under the spotlight after the 2009 blast in Madgaon, Goa, which left one dead, when over 150 of its members were questioned and some later arrested. The group is also behind the killings of various rationalists, activists, and journalists, including Narendra Dabholkar, MM Kulburgi, Govind Pansare, and Gauri Lankesh. The group has been accused of using Ericksonian hypnosis to lure people into joining it and to carry out acts of violence.
In 2011, Vijay Rokade, who works as a senior scientist at a chemical company in Khopoli near Mumbai, filed a petition in the Bombay high court against the Sanstha, describing it as a “terrorist organization and seeking a ban.” In 2018, Maharashtra’s Anti-Terrorism Squad arrested Sanatan members and recovered a massive cache of illegal firearms and crude bombs from Mumbai’s Nalasopara. Reportedly many states were considering banning the organization. The Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) has designated Sanatan as a terrorist organization.