In January, officials from Newark, New Jersey met with “delegates” from Kailasa, a Hindu nation off the coast of South America. Kailasa has since been revealed to be a bogus country created by infamous Indian con artist, cult leader, and alleged rapist Swami Nithyananda.
In their excitement over “partnering with people from diverse cultures,” Newark officials, including the mayor, failed to uncover the truth.
According to the New York Post, City Hall admitted to being duped just six days after the January 12 ceremony, declaring that the agreement between them and Kailasa was “baseless and void.” They assured the public that no money was exchanged and that the endeavor was solely motivated by a desire to promote cultural and commercial ties through the sister city program.
During the ceremony, Mayor Ras Baraka said as much, telling Kailasa’s delegates he hoped the agreement “helps to understand cultural, social, and political development and improves the lives of everybody in both places.”
A City Hall spokesperson stated afterward, “Although this was a regrettable incident, the city of Newark remains committed to partnering with people from diverse cultures in order to enrich each other with connectivity, support, and mutual respect.”
Since the news broke, officials have been slammed by everyone from citizens, to pundits, to late-night TV show hosts.
“Jesus Newark, how can an entire city get catfished?” The Daily Show’s Kal Penn quipped. “Not a single person realized they’d never heard of this country before? Not on a globe, not at the Olympics? … There must have been so many red flags, the biggest one being that anyone wanted to be sister cities with Newark!”
Jesse Watters of Fox News questioned why no one had bothered to do any research on the alleged nation beforehand, adding that Kailasa delegates had also managed to dupe the United Nations, sneaking into a meeting in Geneva in February.
This is what happens when a cult begins to blanket a society. Honestly, I'm not surprised they fooled the UN. I guess Jersey couldn't have been that much harder… https://t.co/j3tUJEFDgm— NoApologi3s (@Noapologi3s) March 16, 2023
According to BBC, a UN official told the delegates that their submissions were “irrelevant” and “intangible” to the issues being discussed, and would ignore the statements made to two Geneva public meetings.
During one of these meetings, a woman who identified herself as Vijayapriya Nithyananda, “the permanent ambassador of the United States of Kailasa,” described Kailasa as the “first sovereign state for Hindus” created by Nithyananda, the “supreme pontiff of Hinduism,” and claimed that the island nation has been “successful with sustainable development” because it’s provided food, shelter, and medical care free to all citizens.
According to the BBC, Nithyananda fled India in 2019 after being accused of rape by a female disciple in 2010. Following the accusations, he was briefly arrested and released on bail. Nithyananda was charged in court in 2018.
Separate police charges filed days before his departure accused him of kidnapping and confining children in his Gujarat ashram.
In the same year, Nithyananda claimed to have bought an island off the coast of Ecuador and founded the country, though Ecuador has denied that he was in the country at the time, saying “Nithyananda has not been given asylum by Ecuador or has been helped by the government of Ecuador.”
A simple Google search would have led them to Nithyananda’s website, where he bills himself as “The Reviver,” revered by 20 million people worldwide. He also gives his “great cosmic borderless Hindu nation” citizenship via QR code.