PATNA: It’s been a year since Bihar’s ‘love guru’, 64-year-old Matuk Nath Choudhary has spoken to the woman he described as the love of his life a little over a decade ago. Julie Kumari, the young woman he left his wife for, is on “a spiritual quest”.
“Nobody knows when situations change. That’s what happened with us. We lived together for nearly a decade, then Julie started getting detached from worldly affairs,” says Choudhary, who was 51 when the two met in 2004.
Two years later, Choudhary, a Hindi professor at Patna’s BN College, found himself in all sorts of trouble when news of his love affair with a student hit the headlines. The university suspended and later dismissed him. His wife, along with TV journalists barged into the house he shared with the then 21-year-old, and had him arrested, claiming that he was luring young students by promising them higher marks. Then ensued court battles with his wife, who refused him a divorce, and with the varsity for his reinstatement.
Last week, he finally told the Supreme Court that he’d pay his estranged wife a third of his salary or pension for the rest of his life. And now, he finds himself alone again. Even his son, who lives in Stockholm, doesn’t speak to him.
Julie, who holds degrees from BHU and JNU got interested in spirituality four years ago, and started spending time in places such as Puducherry, Rishikesh and the Osho ashram in Pune.
“She would stay with me for a few days whenever she came to Patna. Finally, we decided that she should follow her spiritual quest full-time,” he says, adding that he wanted her to be “free to find peace”.
He says the age difference was never an issue between them. “Julie says even today that we are of the same mental age,” he explains. He shows us a photo of the elderly and cheerful-looking Choudhury riding a cycle rickshaw with the striking Julie as a passenger, and another of the couple exchanging flowers.
But the shadow of the tumult that followed his arrest and dismissal cloud those happy memories. Choudhury had to hold a public protest to demand reinstatement, prostrating on the ground at the governor’s house in Patna, going on a hunger strike, and finally heading to court. He was reinstated in 2011, but in January 2017, the university suspended him again after a YouTube video surfaced of him dancing with his students in class.
Despite this, the professor says attitudes towards him have changed. “The people who criticised and laughed at me when my wife abused me in front of the entire country now admire me for my beliefs about love. I do not have any grudges. I did what I thought was right. People are free to form their own opinion.”
In 2013, when the university paid him about Rs 20 lakh in arrears for salaries and other perks for the time he was suspended, he bought Julie a car worth Rs 6.3 lakh and gave it to her on Valentine’s Day. Now, Choudhary, who lives alone in an apartment at Shashtri Nagar in Patna, is set to retire in October from Patna University.
And he’s got plans for his retirement years — the professor is determined to set up his Prem Pathshaala in Bhagalpur district to teach students the virtues of love, and a trust for social work.