There is a proverb in English language “Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are…” It means find wise people and be in their company as much as possible. Very few know the dark side of Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran‘s life or they know but pretend ignorance. In a recent interview M.A. Sumanthiran alluded that Wigneswaran is a devotee of Premananda who was convicted of raping under-aged orphan girls living in his Ashram and murder of a young engineer Ravi. All the victims of Premananda’s sexual exploits were young girls from Jaffna who followed Premananda when he emigrated to Tamil Nadu following the 1983 communal riots.
Premananda was born on November 17, 1951 at Mandandawela in Matala. His real name is Premkumar Somasunderam but later took the name Premananda meaning one possessed with love and eternal bliss. Premananda’s father Somasunderam is from Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. He married Pushpakanthi. Premkumar (his original name) attended Christ Church College in Matala until 8th standard. The house he was born is still there after undergoing renovation.
His biography reveals that as a young schoolboy Premkumar could manifest sweets or fruits out of nowhere for his friends, and he became renowned in his school for multiplying his lunch food, for holding erudite discussions on philosophical subjects and even for performing miraculous healings. Knowing that he could immediately see anyone’s problems and infallibly predict their future, the parents of his friends became the boy’s first devotees before he reached adolescence. As news of his powers spread, hundreds of people in cities and villages began to seek his blessings and healings.
At the age of 16, after Premkumar used to conduct prayers, ceremonies and interviews in his grandmother’s house. As time passed an Ashram was built to welcome the crowds of people who flocked to see him. Named the ‘Centre of Peace for All Religions’ with symbols of every major faith painted on inside walls.
In 1969 while he was addressing some 200 devotees who had gathered to listen, his body began to glow and a saffron coloured robe suddenly seemed to descend on him. A saffron coloured garb is that of an initiated Hindu monk. At the time he was only 18 years old but from then onwards he became known as Swami Premananda. He often materialised holy ash or vibhuti from thin air. It was claimed that even as a toddler he exhibited an unusual interest in spirituality. While his brothers and sisters played outside, Premananda could be found performing poojas (rituals) with his grandmother, or facing a wall in a corner absorbed in deep meditation. It is said that if he thought too much about the divine or the lives of saints, he would fall into an unconscious state of rapture.
In 1983 Premananda’s modest Ashram was destroyed during 1983 communal pogrom, so he emigrated to Tamil Nadu with some orphan children and settled down in Thiruchi. Soon his name became famous, next only to another god man Sai Bava, for materialising objects like lingam, rings, chains and even watches made in Japan. He bought 150 acres of land at Viralimalai in Pudukkoddai and set up an Ashram and an orphanage. The Ashram was officially opened in 1989 and about 100 boys and girls lived in the Ashram, most of them orphaned during 1983 riots. In the Ashram all the children are provided with food, clothing, and shelter, schooling and medical attention free of charge. Premananda’s Ashram flourished and he set up Premananda Centres and Premananda Youth Groups in many countries, including UK, Switzerland, Belgium. The aim of the Ashram, Centres and Groups is to offer spiritual guidance and help to all who come and to offer service to those in need throughout the world. It is claimed Premananda’s teachings are universal and transcend the barriers of race and religion.
Many politicians and several foreigners became his devotees. They were mesmerised by his production of vibhuti (sacred ash) by sleight of hand. He wore saffron clothes and had a kinky hairdo. When the girls reached puberty, he raped them, hoodwinking them into believing that he had divine powers. Educated fools mistook him as a god incarnation and became his followers. One of them is ex Supreme Court justice and current Chief Minister of Northern Provincial Council Wigneswaran who considers him as his Supreme Guru.
Normally god men look intensely charismatic and attract followers, especially women in their thousands. But, the stoutly built, dark-skinned and bearded Premananda possessed no such charisma, but the magical powers he claimed attracted both the educated and uneducated. They were mesmerised by his production of vibhuti (sacred ash) by sleight of hand. He wore saffron clothes and had a kinky hairdo. When the girls reached puberty, he raped them.