Ananya S Guha
The phenomena of God Men in India is nothing new. Over the years, such people have been spawned by a gullible middle class, yearning for instant spiritualism, what Gita Mehta called ” Karma Cola”. In fact this had a massive export and following in foreign ‘ markets’ as well. Westerners fed up with with their lives, took to this market like fish to water. In the 1980s a Vice Chancellor of the then Madras University challenged Sai Baba to magic match claiming that he could perform with aplomb the latter’s claim to miracles. Even men like Swami Chinmayananda, otherwise will versed in Bhagwad Gita discourses drew some flak. Nearer in times came Asaram Bapu. The disconcerting fact about these God Men is their veneer of spirituality, duping a section of society by platitudinous outbursts. The question is maybe, what is it that attracts them to the people, creating a mass hysteria? And such malfeasance has taken place not only in India but also overseas. Very surprisingly political powers have maintained stoic silence, which indicates rather strongly the political connections of these charlatans and con men. Religion is then packaged for instant consumption. The commodity as religion is a market for consumption. The consumers are not only the gullible, but the moneyed as well as the uneducated or the illiterate. They are a mix of India’s consumerist population ready for exploitation. What is more dangerous is the whipping up of sentiments, to the extent that horrendous violence can take place, as evident from the Panchkula happenings.
Spiritualism takes a back seat. What overrides is fanatical backlash, macho power, money, arms and ammunition. Even Ananda Margis were clearly suspect, at least in a point in time. Money, gold and wealth have been unearthed from the hallowed precincts of temples! While one does not expect every God Man to be self abnegating, one expects I suppose moderate and temperate living.
The Panchkula and nearby happenings show how militarism has been infused into such groups, armed gangsters are protected and they can create mayhem anywhere. The leader a notorious thug, with infallible sexual records, has a following, who will swear by him. The very fact that till today such notoriety has not been suppressed is an indicator of past support as well, with the blessings of political leaders. Political leaders in the country are so insecure, not only of their vote banks, but also need ‘ blessings ‘ of such people. In the process parents, the public and young women are duped and ruthlessly exploited. The incendiary methods of such sects are not far to see. The cash rich ethos of theirs is also so noticeable. Where does all this money come fro? Black money theorists could do well to investigate.
The marketing of religion is another feather in the shaky cap of our country. Mind you this is nothing new. As mentioned earlier, this has been witnessed since the seventies and eighties. There was an infamous Balyogi as well.
Gone are the days of Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna Parahamsa or Sree Narayan Guru, mystics who could touch the other and who also fought against social inequalities. History is now in reverse order. Religions have become corporate houses. How about having ‘ smart’ religions, the Karma Cola of it all, packaging sensibilities and then murdering them.
Insecurity of all classes in society is the base for such immorality. Religion strictly is private but its public manifestation is not only a nuisance but a source of muscle power. What these sects represent no one knows, How a leader is elected, the line of leadership, all these are rather dark aspects, kept to the confines of their hideouts. It is high time such besmirching of devotion and god head goes into laws of jurisprudence.
The tradition of Sants starting with the line of Kabir, Tukaram, Chatainya has been hideously tarnished and broken. It was not only an eclectic cult but the God Head of Krishna was also preached. Moreover some of the Bhakti leaders were instrumental for promoting and creating a local language tradition, breaking away from Sanskrit tradition. This lead to the efflorescence of regional languages. Sankardeva in Assam apart from being a devotee also played the pivotal role of promoting the Assamese language. His satras are even today the hub of religious devotion and culture. Chaityanya bridged two contemporary states, Orissa and Bengal. Mother Teresa took upon herself to devote to the cause of human suffering in an universal manner. In the south men like Narayan Sree Guru preached the oneness of God and took to the line of social action, repudiating caste authority. Buddhism and Jainism arose as protest against rituals, and caste domination or high handedness. These people never asked for protection or immunity. Following came spontaneously, and even world wide. You cannot thrust recognition upon yourself. This is self style of the worst kind of aberration. But now in the crimes of such modern avatars, matters have become like whodunits- crime, cops chasing, law courts working overtime, all because crimes were not seen in the first place. It is high time to shred these people of their falsities, disguise of spirituality and take them to task, in a severe castigation.