"They are Pure and Pious"
Well, Welcome to Babaland, people.
Taking over geographies and histories, this land has carved a niche for itself amidst the mental space of almost everyone. The poor pay tips to get rich. The rich sway hips to get richer. And those who fall somewhere in between would rather part with their hard-earned money to buy their adopted Maa an extravagant dress, while their biological Maa languishes in pain, for the lack of adequate healthcare. These examples are merely a tip of the iceberg. The impact of this culture of Godly Godlessness is far more severe. It would be wise, at this juncture, to analyze the broad contours of what transpires every time we step into the dominion of an 'Ashram'-
1. The Economy of Losses- You undertake a journey to the earthly abode of the God. Obviously, they do not pay your travelling expenses. You reach the gates of a lavish heaven and are instantly charged a hefty fee to 'register' yourself. Maa would bless only the registered candidates while all other lesser mortals incapable of shelling out money, would have to suffer a lifetime of misery. If you decide to somehow find just the sufficient amount to get in, you are asked to choose from amidst a few 'classes' at offer. The A-class people would get to view the divine Mother up close and may even be called up on the stage to shake a leg with her! What a totally amazing opportunity! The B-class people would get to watch the sacred soul from a little far away and there is a possibility that she might throw a glance your way. Can't be missed either! The C-class people are the relatively poorer ones who would get to sit on the fringes and hear the beautiful voice of their Messiah, lifting their sorrows and leaving them spiritually enriched but materially penniless. To top this, a number of people would come equipped with gifts, both cash and kind, in order to please their holy guru. Economically speaking, the investment of a citizen's savings into the purchase of devotional shares is nothing but a meaningless waste of the nation's resources. The currency which could have been spent to boost growth at the household, if not the national, level is drained down a senseless pit. The result? We end up filling the coffers of a few and happily create an economy of losses.
2. The Great reversal of social change-- If you've ever heard this crop of God-men/women speaking, you'd realize that they've somehow skipped that stage of evolution where man gave up being a monkey. The thoughts, ideas and interpretations imposed on a mass of eager believers, is horrendous to say the least. Consider the example of the man currently behind bars, who rendered a simple solution to the brutal Nirbhaya rape case. He said and I quote, "The victim is as guilty as the rapists. She should have called them brothers and begged them to stop". And this is just one declaration. A plethora of other pearls of wisdom have emerged out of these ancient modernists, ranging from, "Get yourself castrated and you shall meet God" to "Women are domestic animals, meant to be treated like one". Hang their photos, buy their magic drops, bring home their products and provide a well-fooled market of aggressive sympathizers. Technically, we have created our very own East India company. However, it doesn't just stop here. Cases of dowry promotion, forced donation, blackmail, abortion, sexual perversion, malpractice and thuggery have been filed against several of our Baba's. If we extrapolate this data on a larger scale, we'd realize that by turning 'followers', we are extensively cultivating a civilization of absolute dependency. We close our eyes and their word becomes our deed. Instead of sacrificing our potential to action, we surrender our dividends to faith. With the promise of dealing with our liabilities, they brazenly take away our assets. And the ever generous, loving and forgiving race that we are, are more than happy to oblige. Socially, India has been a culture of tolerance and amalgamation. But these subtle trends, pregnant with religiously convenient diktats of morality, seem prepared to spell our doom. Nonetheless, what we have suitably forgotten is this- Independence has no meaning for enslaved minds.
3. The Politics of Religion- A rather unobserved and overlooked effect of this classic buffoonery is that it brings together two territories which were meant to be separated. Politics and Religion were designed to run as parallel lines- complementing and not contradicting each other. Whenever, they have crossed into the zone of another, it has spelled disaster. This distinction, however, is slowly being blurred with each passing day. The bunches of devotees are being treated as a measure to consolidate vote banks. In fact, the 2014 general election, saw the strengthening of this tendency. A bearded man who artistically teaches the art of living, openly espoused the cause of a particular candidate. So did the famed Yoga guru who prefers to walk in a set of saffron robes but run in a pair of salwaar-kameez. The Sikh guru of a certain Dera too did not get left far behind. Those who listened to them, took their word for God's word and voted en masse. It doesn't matter who won. What really matters is that Liberty lost. In a democracy, leaders should be chosen by the virtue of reason, not the vice of divinity. God or his loudspeakers should not influence your voting behavior. Education should. Regrettably, for a country that has more places of worship than temples of learning, this is apparently a tough job.
It began with Radhe. And it shall end in her name. It is not her skirts that bother me. She is a free woman and is in a position to decide what she should or should not wear. For all I care, she could make a public appearance in a bikini. It is also not her excessive use of Red, that is of concern to me. She is permitted to use all the make-up in the world and yet look disastrous. What bothers me, is the empire she is unashamedly running, in the name of theology. What bothers me, is the ruthless instructions she is issuing to hapless families, who have no option but to obey her. Quite similarly, I couldn't care less about Asaram's sex life. But I do care about how he deceives. I do care about how witnesses to his criminal intent are being continuously eliminated and nobody is raising a finger. And I certainly do care about how, despite gruesome blood and violence being involved, his 'gang' of followers are still dubbing it as a conspiracy.
After all, what can we do? Maybe raise our hands and pray for deliverance. Because that is what we do best, don't we? Shift the onus of our losses on others and take the credit for our wins ourselves.
And yes, never question the Baba's intention. Like the lady in her refined English spoken with a Gurumukhi accent, clearly stated, "I am Pure and Pious".
You bet, they are.