Rishi was asking me in the shout-box to explain something about Dera Sacha Sauda. Here I go.
It is a spiritual organization based in Sirsa (Haryana) since 1948. Its followers call their guru as ‘Master’. It had three Masters so far, the present being the third. The first one was Shehanshah Mastana Ji Maharaj, who led them till his death on April 18, 1960. The second one was Param Pita Shah Satnam Singh Ji Maharaj, who led them till September 23, 1990 when he passed on the leadership to the present Master Sant Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji.
Its website says that the meaning of Sacha Sauda is to truly meditate the name of the Allah, Ram, God without interfering in anyone’s religion or caste.
Courting controversy for the present Master, appears to be not new. In 2002, he was in the eye of a controversy when the editor of a local daily “Poora Sach” was found murdered with bullet injuries. That editor was writing negatively about the goings on on in the Dera. At around the same time, there were reports of sexual exploitation of of some women followers. Though nothing (as usual) remained in public memory, the present controversy arose because some posters appeared showing Ram Rahim Singh dressed up as the 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. That is when the Sikhs (especially the SGPC – Shirmani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee, which overseas the Sikhs’ religious affairs) got wild and started protests. Initially the demands were to tender an apology to the Sikh community for denigrating them. Then the demand was upgraded to giving an apology in writing. The Master is reported to have tendered an apology to the Sikh Guru in writing and handed over the letter to the SGPC. But the SGPC appears to be still not satisfied. The apex Singh Sahibs (Clerics) of the Sikh community have rejected this apology and warned the Master against imitating the practices of any faith across the globe. They said they would continue their struggle against the Dera Chief.