Once a major power centre of national politics, the properties of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s yoga guru Dhirendra Brahmachari in Jammu and picturesque Mantalai in Udhampur have turned into ruins as these are lying unattended because of lengthy legal disputes.
The Mercedes car and other limousines which people at that time would try to get a glimpse of have also turned into junk. Brahmachari ran ashrams in Delhi, Jammu, Katra and Mantalai and wrote books on yoga.
Being the yoga guru of the most powerful prime minister of that era, the Brahmachari enjoyed astonishing political clout and Congress chief ministers would vie to meet him here and seek his blessings. He also had a fleet of his own aircraft that included a 4-seater Cessna, a 19-seater Dornier and Maule-5. Brahmachari decided to set up Air Aparna, an air taxi service. He had three personal airstrips – one in Silokra near Palam, and three private hangars. He had built airstrips and helipads at Katra and Mantalai. Brahmachari died in June 1994 when his microlight aircraft crashed near Mantalai.
His political fall had started in 1983 when he was charged with having smuggled 500 Spanish gun barrels for his Shiva Gun Factory in the industrial estate in Jammu. He personally appeared in court to seek anticipatory bail. However, he politically survived because of his contacts.
The palatial ashrams built by Brahmachari at Mantalai and Jammu around 1971 are decaying as they have been locked for several years with many persons close to him claiming ownership of his properties after his death. There were reports that the costly fixtures he had imported for the Mantalai ashram have over the years gone missing.
Born in Basaith Chanpura village in Madhubani, Bihar, Dhirendra Brahmachari was the yoga mentor of Indira Gandhi. In the late 1970s, he promoted the benefits of yoga in a weekly broadcast on the Doordarshan. He introduced yoga as a subject of study in Delhi administered schools, a considerable innovation. In 1981 he also introduced yoga in the Kendriya Vidyalayas under the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
He was the owner of Vishwayatan Yogashram in the centre of Delhi, now known as the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga. His campuses in Jammu, Katra and Mantalai are lying shut after his death.
Dhirendra Brahmachari wrote books on yoga in Hindi and English including ‘Yogic Sukshma Vyayama’ and ‘Yogasana Vijnana’. His ashram at Mantalai is spread over 126 acres of land with private airstrips, hangar, a zoo and a seven storey building in the posh locality of Gandhi Nagar in Jammu. After his death these properties are lying in shambles.
Brahmachari was so powerful that the portfolio of IK Gujral, minister for housing, was changed when he got annoyed as the minister turned down his request for allotment of additional land for his ashram in Delhi.