Four persons, including three disciples of the Sachidanand Ashram, were injured when a gang of unidentified assailants barged into the ashram in Anand district of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, early Monday morning.
The police said Swami Sachidanand opened fire in self-defence with his licensed revolver, injuring one of the assailants.
"The incident happened at about 3 am in the morning when unidentified persons entered the ashram (at Dantali village, about 25 km from Anand town) and attacked some of the 30-odd inhabitants," Swami Sachidanand told PTI.
"Hearing the commotion, I looked out of my chamber on the first floor of the ashram and saw some of the assailants," he said, adding, "I quickly loaded my licensed revolver and came out into the lobby. I saw about three people carrying weapons rushing towards me. This prompted me to open fire in self-defence. If I hadn't done so, they would have smashed my head."
According to the police, one of the assailants was injured in the firing but managed to escape under the cover of darkness. The swami said the assailants bolted most rooms of the ashram to ensure that his disciples sleeping inside could not come out to help.
"Though I could not identify the assailants or their weapons in the dark, I suspect they could be local members of the Swadhaya Parivar," he alleged.
According to sources at the temple, there were about 15 armed assailants. Swami Sachidanand said he had spoken out against the Parivar a few days ago in connection with the suspected involvement of its members in the murder of US-based non-resident Indian Pankaj Trivedi, who was killed at a private club at Ahmedabad on June 15.
"This could be a reaction to the stance I took in the murder case. However, I am not sure. The truth will be before everybody within a few days," he said.
Superintendent of Police (Anand) B S Jebalia said: "About three members of the ashram who received serious injuries have been admitted to a local hospital. All assailants escaped under the cover of darkness. One of the assailants was injured in the firing. The motive of the attack is not very clear."
"Looking at the injuries, it seems they were caused by blunt weapons (like sticks or pipes)," Jebalia said, adding that no arrests had been made as yet.