In the mid-1970s, Mr. Singh arranged a meeting between Chandraswamy and Margaret Thatcher, then the newly elected leader of Britain’s Conservative Party. (She was elected prime minister in 1979.) He said he had watched her skepticism melt away as the “godman,” as he called him, who spoke only Hindi, guessed her scribbled questions correctly.

“By the fourth question, the future iron lady’s demeanor changed,” Mr. Singh wrote. Mrs. Thatcher was so impressed, he said, that she asked for a second appointment, and even agreed to his request that she wear a red dress.

This talent, “for entering the heads of others,” as one journalist put it, gave Chandraswamy access to all manner of regents and superstars in a period when India’s economy was beginning to tap into international networks.

In her book “Gurus: Stories of India’s Leading Babas,” the journalist Bhavdeep Kang wrote that Mobutu Sese Seko, the military dictator of Zaire, would invite Chandraswamy to Kinshasa, the capital, and ask him to hide behind a curtain during an important meeting, then ask his advice on whether the visitor could be trusted.

Mr. Singh, the diplomat, recalled landing in the Bahamas and struggling fruitlessly to get an appointment with the prime minister there, only to get an unexpected call from a chuckling Chandraswamy — who, Mr. Singh said, had not been told of his travel plans — informing him that he had arranged a meeting between the men for the next day.


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