Trilochan Das claims his medicines have been classified under ‘alternate category’ by AYUSH ministry. But govt denies any such approval.
New Delhi: It’s the eve of Janmashtami. Sitting on a beige sofa, set over a Persian rug in a gated building in Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, Sant Trilochan Das claims to have effectively treated patients with terminal illnesses.
“We specialise in curing HIV and end-stage cancers. We have cured hundreds of fourth-stage breast cancer patients,” says Das, the head of Das Dharam, a Namdhari Sikh sect. His website says he has treated over 10 lakh patients in less than four years.
While his outlandish medical claims have little backing, this means little to his followers. On this day, there are over 2 lakh devotees waiting to catch a glimpse of him outside the lawns of his durbar in Ghaziabad.
Some, like Amanpreet Kaur, are keen to consult Das. Eight months pregnant, she says her unborn child has been diagnosed with a cyst in the kidney.
“I don’t want any medical help. I have seen people coming here in the last stages of diseases but going out on their feet, healthy and smiling. I know my baby will be fine if I take your advice,” she tells Das in a room filled with his followers.
Such beliefs are the driving force behind a burgeoning pharmaceutical business that Das launched in 2015. Its portfolio, Das says, includes drugs that can “cure cancer and HIV”.
The medicinal drugs, Das claims, also have the central government’s endorsement – the Ministry of Ayush, he says, has approved them under the category of ‘alternative medicines’.
“All our all medicines are approved by Ministry of Ayush,” says Das, adding that the Indian government isn’t the only one that has okayed the sale of his drugs.
“We just signed agreements with governments in African countries to sell our medicines there, including the ones to cure HIV and cancer,” says Das, while showing the photographs he says he clicked during his tour to Africa.
The Ayush Ministry, however, has denied approving the medicines and is threatening legal action.
“The ministry of Ayush hasn’t approved any such products and I will get back to you after getting more details,” Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, secretary, Ayush, told ThePrint.
After checking the company’s website, Rajeshawari Singh, research officer at Ayush, said, “We have not approved any product that is being sold on the website and in fact we plan to issue a show cause notice after completing the legal consultation on the matter.”
Medical professionals also slam those who claim to cure non-treatable diseases.
“I won’t comment on a particular company but any firm that claims to treat non-treatable diseases, whether approved or not by Ayush, is committing an offence and must be punished,” says Dr K.K. Aggarwal, former president of the Indian Medical Association.
“We see many patients looking for hope and they are cheated or are kept away from the right treatment due to such products,” he adds.
Also read: Bhaiyyuji Maharaj – The metrosexual godman who walked among the movers & shakers of govt
‘Blessings from the guru’
Das’s medicines are sold by his company, the Abhimantrit GuruPrasadam Ayurveda Herbal Foods Private Limited, under the brand name Guru Prasadam, which translates as blessings from the guru.
The Sikh saint sells a wide range of products from protein powder, child ‘super-food’ to a concoction for de-addiction. His firm, headquartered in Loni in Ghaziabad, sells close to 100 products, including medicines for cancer, hepatitis, haemophilia, paralysis and neurological disorders at an average price tag of Rs 250 a product.
According to the company’s website, its products are ‘generally safe’ for consumption.
Much of the sales, says Das, are through the 500 centres of the sect, spread across the country, and through e-commerce on its website. The company’s officials claim that the website receives traffic of over one lakh users a day.
“We are witnessing huge traffic on our obsolete website that is unable to handle the load. Within this week, we will be launching a website that would work as smooth as Amazon’s website,” says a company official.
The officials, however, refused to share revenue details.
According to the estimates of a retail analyst who does not want to be named, the average website conversion rate is 2.35 per cent — of the around 1 lakh daily visitors, around 2,350 visitors may turn into the buyers.
At the average price of Rs 250 a product, daily sales revenue could touch Rs 5.87 lakh. In total, estimated annual revenue could touch Rs 21 crore.
‘The godmen business tycoons’
For one who has “renounced worldly pleasures”, Das, sporting a white kurta pyjama and a face fringed by an untamed beard, is also hesitant to talk about his firm’s sales figures and revenues.
He asserts that whatever he does is only for charity and that he would not like to promote it as a business. “I am not selling all these herbs as a business. It is the trust of people that make them work. We, in fact, pay pension to people who are old and ill. We also sell these products at heavily discounted prices,” he says.
Also read: Number of non-smokers with lung cancer in north India is now same as smokers, says new study
Das, however, is part of a growing tribe of ‘godmen’ cashing in on the spirituality market – a trend pioneered by yoga guru Baba Ramdev and his decade-old Patanjali Ayurved.
From almost nothing in 2007, Patanjali recorded revenues of Rs 10,000 crore in the 2016-17 financial year by relying on the ‘swadeshi’ business strategy. This strategy has helped Patanjali take on established multinational firms in a spate of sectors.
Patanjali’s success story has encouraged other ‘godmen’ to eye the Rs-5,000 crore herbal market and the Rs 3.4 lakh crore fast moving consumer goods sector.
While Ravi Shankar’s Sri Sri Ayurveda launched operations in 2003, it only recently began aggressively promoting its products on the back of Patanjali’s success.
In February 2016, Sirsa-based ‘spiritual leader’ Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh who is now jailed for rape, had announced that he was launching his own brand of swadeshi and organic products.
“The godmen have millions of followers. In business terms, they have a ready, captive market,” says Arvind Singhal, chairman at Technopak Advisors, a retail consultancy.
He, however, has a word of caution. “Patanjali is just one successful model. I don’t think that betting on just followers provides a long-term market.”
Hi , well after reading your insightful article about the two godmen Patanjali and Das Dharam .
I was tempted to go to their website . Print has been a good news agency but I am afraid just for the heck of publicity they are slacking on their home work bit and an article written by novice journalists is the least that we can expect from The Print .
Please answer the following :
1.No where in their website do they claim to cure HIV or Cancer ? Please share evidence of the same .
2.They have certification of all the ayurvedic supplements that they are producing you can go to their website and have a look your self .
No one can sell these without the proper certification of the govt .
3. I have been looking into Patanjali and guruprasadam on the net and they come across as tax paying companies . The. What is the problem?
4. Their products work for a lot of people as they are simply ayurvedic supplements like cardio care , joint care , protien supplement , thootpaste , ” cancer care ” not cancer cure (please do your home work)
Dear Print : one question you do not ask Fab India’s fashion brand Organic India which is now selling ayurvedic and natural supplements for their supplements of Kidney , Joints , liver , anti age ? You are ready to believe all that because you are upper middle class and you go to a mall .
What do you understand of poverty line personally and their state of health and life . For them faith is a very essential weapon they heal from it In have seen and personally worked with the poor population of Kenya and Northern India .
Ateast these ayurvedic brands and so called Godmen( the legit ones ) are doing their bit even if it brings some kind of profit .
I also saw they are successfully providing food , medical resources and education to the poor population of India .
You should go and check online
Why do you pay 1 lac to ayush University to learn yoga if I may ask ? Bloody scam isn’t it ? Yoga claims to cure a lot of shit even link you with God lol !
Just because they look like Godmen you think it’s a scam .
You are taking the liberty of specially describing his beard and turban . Wooow that’s classy 🙂 so you are now profiling people too . Didn’t expect that from PRINT.
I do not know this Godman or Patanjali personally but I can assure you if people of India are feeling relived by their products who are you to defame them without any evidence ?
Your job is to report truth and you instead report stories made of spice and sugar just to mislead or increase your followers . Aren’t you playing the follower game to ???????? yourself .
One more thing how Can you question someone’s faith in anything ? It is a personal affair and is diffent for everybody .
We can’t blame others for having faith can we now ?
Faith has claimed to heal things we thought were humanly not possible let’s not talk about faith and belief here .
You question about This Godman and Africa well go to you tube and also see the testimonials from African people for their cure and belief . They are on the web.
Please share all the evidence of your claims because you made me waste a lot of my time .
I request you to please keep your readers truly informed not just engaged. We expect better genuine homework from you .
Please do not take this personally. I am an avid reader of The Print but this was a very Desperate and questionable attempt lol !
I need to buy hiv medicine but I don’t know where it is
Comments are closed.