Controversial godman Chandraswami, who wielded considerable clout in the corridors of power in New Delhi and some capitals abroad in the 80s and 90s, died in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Chandraswami, 66, had been ailing for sometime and had recently suffered a stroke that led to multi-organ failure, an Apollo Hospital statement said, announcing his death in the afternoon.
Born Nemi Chand Jain, Chandraswami was close to late Prime Ministers P.V. Narasimha Rao and Chandrashekhar and also had friends in Indira Gandhi's power circle. He was said to have been a spiritual advisor to both Rao and Chandrashekhar. His father hailed from Behror in Rajasthan and the family moved to Hyderabad when Chandraswami was a child.
He attained fame through his skills as an astrologer who built contacts internationally. He gained reputation as a wheeler-dealer and was close to international arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi.
Chandraswami was accused of financial irregularities. In 1996, he was arrested on charges of defrauding a London-based businessman of $100,000. He faced charges of violating the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA).
Soon after Rao became Prime Minister in 1991, Chandraswami built an ashram known as Vishwa Dharmayatan Sanathan in Delhi's Qutub Institutional Area. The land for the ashram was allotted by Indira Gandhi.
Chandraswami is said to have dispensed spiritual advice to the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the Sultan of Brunei, Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa of Bahrain, actress Elizabeth Taylor and Khashoggi.