Self-proclaimed Lord Shiva hanged in Japan

Japanese cult leader Asahara
Japanese cult leader Asahara hanged with six followers. Photo courtesy Kyodo.

Japan on Friday executed doomsday cult guru Shoko Asahara, 63, and six cult followers for killing dozens of people.

The cult leader, who claimed himself to be reincarnation of Hindu god Lord Shiva, founded the Aum Shinrikyo cult in 1984.

His cult was behind the 1995 sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway system that killed 13 and injured more than 6,000 people.

The cult was also behind the 1994 sarin gas attack in Matsumoto that killed eight and injured 600.

In all, his cult killed 27 people in 13 attacks.

He was given the death penalty by the Tokyo District Court in 2004 and confirmed by the Supreme Court in September 2006.

HOW THE CULT STARTED: Formerly an acupuncturist, Asahara started his cult Aum Shinsen no Kai in 1984 and renamed it Aum Shinrikyo in 1987.

The cult was a combination of  rituals of Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and yoga. It attracted thousands of young men who were disillusioned with materialism and consumerism. The cult grew rapidly and branched overseas to Russia and New York.

The cult guru brainwashed his followers to the extent that they would drink his bathwater. 

He created a pseudo-government of the Aum empire and recruited top doctors, scientists and lawyers as ministers of the Aum empire.

On his orders, these doctors and scientists ran a plant to mass-produce nerve gas sarin and assembled illegal automatic rifles at the cult’s the compound in Kamikuishiki at the foot of Mount Fuji.

The cult leader preached that murder is a path to salvation.

HIS CLAIMS: Imitating Hindu sadhus, Asahara wore long hair and kept a beard. He claimed that he had achieved enlightenment by going through rigorous ascetic experiences in the Himalayas.

He said he was the reincarnation of Hindu god Lord Shiva and predicted the end of the world. But he assured his followers that he would save them by leading them to salvation.

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