India has sadly forgotten the difference between guru and godman

It's an irony that even after repeatedly airing statements that contradict this belief, leaders like Sakshi Maharaj still find space in BJP.

 |  5-minute read |   30-08-2017
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In a 15-year-old rape case, self-styled godman and chief of Dera Sacha Sauda, Gurmeet Ram Rahim has been sentenced to 20 years' rigorous imprisonment.

The "devastating" news about a godman with a massive follower base was more than enough to make the states Haryana and Punjab freeze. It's not surprising that the masses would hit the streets to support their "God", challenging law and order to bring two cities to a standstill.

The deadly riots reveal how flexible our democratic setup is and how vulnerable we are as a society.

A section of the media and tailor-made intellectuals exploited the unfortunate riot as a good tool to corner the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Narendra Modi as the baba offered his support to the saffron brigade in the last election.

I am not at all interested in this hullaballoo over vote bank politics and not bothered about the selective outrage of the so-called intellectuals from the Left school of thought. The baba episode has social and spiritual implications that go beyond high-decibel TRP debates.

The way the masses have come out to back a fallen godman reminds us of the rot in the system. Something has gone wrong with the guru-disciple setup. The court found that Ram Rahim is on the wrong path, and what happened was just the dispensation of justice as far as the Indian society is concerned.

So, why did the masses, including homemakers and the youth, come out with a violent pitch over an act of justice by the judiciary? Of course, it seems illogical from any point of view. But for the thousands on the streets, supporting the baba was their logic, dharma, and the right thing to do.

The naïve yet powerful followers, the masses, are under the impression that the elite are targeting their guru, their god, and it's their duty to support him by any means.

dera_083017031755.jpgWhy did the masses, including homemakers and the youth, come out with a violent pitch over an act of justice by the judiciary?

It's the result of a misguided "spiritual" ecstasy.

We have a legacy of superb spiritual gurus who dared to challenge the hardships of life to explore the truth of universe. No reason to doubt that legacy. But clubbing that legacy with the "new-age gurus", the self-styled godmen, and the political immunity that our system offers to them are real issues.

The millions-strong follower base of present-day godmen make things too complex, and political parties are using both the gurus and the masses as shortcuts to power.

Sanathan Dharma matters, not religious Hinduism

It was on August 25, 2017 that the special CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) court held Gurmeet Ram Rahim guilty for the rape of two female disciples at the headquarters of Dera Sacha Sauda in Sirsa, Haryana.

Soon after the news set the streets on fire, killing more than 30 people, BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj came out in open defence of the godman by virtually blaming the judiciary for the ruckus.

Maharaj is himself depicted as a Hindu religious leader. And there lies the problem. A leader who belongs to a party that proudly upholds the legacy of Vedic India has only that much of an "understanding" about guru and society.

The truth is that we have little understanding about the difference between a true guru and godman, or a rishi and godman.

It's a battle between a western-styled Hindu movement and the Vedic-rooted Sanatana Dharma.

The awful reality is that the masses are becoming mere tools of wealth generation for so-called godmen with vested interests.

These babas are confusing the masses to embrace their narrowly devised new-age religious concepts over the supremely embracing Sanatana Dharma.

Exploiting the emotional and physical weakness of followers is the trump card of new-age gurus. Economic insecurity, stress, social alienation - many of us want solutions to these problems.

When politicians who helm the government machinery approach these "gurus" for solutions, to find fortunes and amass wealth, then the masses think it's indeed the right path.

Since time immemorial, Bharat or India has been a land of gurus, but never a land of messengers of gods. Who is a real guru according to Sanatana Dharma?

Look at this question from the standpoint of Swami Vivekananda, one of the most celebrated saints India has ever seen: "The fate of a nation depends up on the condition of the masses. Can you raise them? Can you give them back their lost individuality without making them lose their innate spiritual nature?"

A rishi should have the power to raise the masses. Remember that the neglect of the masses was one of the pivotal causes of India's downfall.

A true guru will never amass followers who unconditionally support his acts; instead, he will help them to explore themselves to become emotionally and physically independent.

Here, the babas are cultivating emotional dependency in their followers in the disguise of empowerment.

Sakshi Maharajs have to realise that Sanatana Dharma is not about religion or godmen and godwomen, nor about creating tens of thousands of followers who compromise their logic, it's about rishis and gurus, about the all-round transformation within an individual, and subsequently the society around us.

Ancient Bharat was all about those great saints who had sculpted the spirit of India from the esoteric and epiphanic traditions of the Vedic age, the music of nature, the mystical lure of the Himalayas, and the cultural ingenuity of age-old civilisations to awaken the masses.

Our Dharma never taught us to seek a middleman to experience the power of this multiverse. It was conceived as an ostensibly pluralistic and all-inclusive concept for the evolution of the mind.

It's high time India reclaimed its physical and spiritual inheritance of Sanatana Dharma. The BJP and RSS believe that India is fundamentally a Vedic nation with a proud history of Sanatana Dharma.

It's an irony that even after repeatedly airing statements that contradict this belief, many leaders still find space in a party.

Also read: Shredding government's logic that a man can't rape his wife


Dipin Damodharan Dipin Damodharan @dipinbharath

The writer is co-founder of EduQuest and Ex-Editorial Head, DC Media, DC Books.

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