To hell with gaudy men

If India of yore was a land of sagacious sages and solemn saints, India today is a breeding ground of salacious saamiyars and smutty saints. For every glorious soul that enlightened this great land in the past, there is an equal and opposite gory creature masquerading as a pious do-gooder in the present.

In a way, it looks as though the unsaintly present is having its revenge on the spiritual past, even while making a mockery of our collective common sense with an uncouth attack on the country’s very roots and culture. What was on display in a very rational satellite channel for the past two nights would no doubt leave even street rowdies with a marked sense of inferiority complex, but still more demeaning was the assault on the hapless ‘devotees’ of the not so gentle men who virtually scorched the screens with their acid tongues.

Indeed, these godmen, or rather, godforsaken men have literally brought religion to the streets, something that even the likes of Vivekananda and Ramanuja failed to achieve, though in a different sense. In a way, the satellite channel has done the nation a service, though its discretion on the very airing of this ugliness can be questioned.

Perhaps in tune with their oft trumpeted ideology of rationalism, it was the channel’s own way of getting back at the protagonists of spiritualism and one can understand their utter glee and relish at watching two men from the other world decimating each other and their beliefs along with, notwithstanding the fact that the channel’s bosses themselves have turned an auspicious yellow leaf long back. Yet a cynical mind is all too visible despite the facade of placing before the public a debate between two highly spiritual beings.

The country of late has been a regular witness to the pranks of these ‘gaudy’men who have grown unchecked like parthenium in an already stinking society. There is no law to control them for the simple reason that their crimes are yet to gain description and definition in the statute books. Though some of these characters could even be booked under sections pertaining to simple fraud and cheating, they still get away owing to their clever ploy of covering their foul deeds by a camouflage of social services and religious activities.

It is only when these saamiyaars attain literal nirvana and get caught with their pants down in some sex scandal or other that their escapades come to light. The media and the public too, only love that angle as it is both newsy and juicy, thanks to Premanandas, and of course, Clintons.

Till then these men rule the roost in their posh ashrams dishing out blessings to their much tormented devotees who throng the venues in multitudes, as an infectious frenzy of misplaced faith takes control of their minds and bodies, for it is always easy to fool the masses than individuals. These merchants of faith invariably maintain their cool and have their sights firmly fixed on pelf and pleasure alone for they have long ago transcended the realm of spirituality and migrated to the more lucrative business of dispensing blessings and advice…for a hefty price.

Having said that, it is only fair to point out, as a statutory precaution, that there are honourable exceptions to the current general rule that all godmen are fraudmen. But such men who are truly ascetic rarely stand up to be identified as they believe that once they do so they lose their hard-earned spirituality, for sanyas is all about relinquishing needs and the first step is to erase the word ‘I’ from one’s lexicon.

But what do most of the present day goddam men do? Their preachings start with a big I, with most of them claiming to possess great powers, even magnetic powers or radiation, while a few others even have the temerity to proclaim that they are indeed god themselves, a reincarnation. Some even dispense ashirwatham through postcards!

Really it is time one evolved a thumb rule, in the absence of a law to rein in this proliferating tribe, to test the genuineness or otherwise of these characters. For starters one can delve into their penchant for inviting publicity and also investigate their business interests which normally are hidden under the garb of social service. Any godman who goes about advertising his wares cannot be anything other than a fake.

True men of god would neither beg to be recognised nor would bill their devotees for services rendered. Of course, even the frauds who fleece the devout claim that they accept only voluntary offerings, but I remember vaguely some law that states that the question of legal correctness does not apply to cases where there is undue influence. The relationship between a master and his disciple is one such which presupposes the existence of such undue influence.

Invariably, for the brainwashed devotee, his guru’s wish is an order and the latter cannot escape the guilt of conning a believer by cleverly exploiting his fears and apprehensions. All the same, the hapless devotee deserves that and even more for becoming such an easy prey to these unseemly suppliers of adulterated religiosity. For, foolishness is a greater sin and the dictum buyer beware applies very much to this business too.

Do we really need godmen, even if they are genuine? The people will have to necessarily do a lot of (unaided) soul searching at least after witnessing the vulgar display of muscle power by a couple of high spirited gaudy men on the small screen, more of which has been promised for the benefit of posterity and of course, the channel’s prosperity.

The religious debate that quickly degenerated into a street brawl would have made even the gods squirm in heaven and raises doubts about these men’s credentials in particular and whether we need such middlemen in general. Why do we need brokers between us and god? Is not religion a personal affair and prayer a virtual hotline between a believer and his god? What can these godmen tell us that we ourselves cannot learn through our own experiences as we traverse the rough and tough terrain of life?

Okay, one may certainly need guidance, especially in troubled times, but is it not prudent to stop at some point and start relying on oneself by building up self confidence instead of making the Unknown a perennial scapegoat for all our failings or having permanent props in the form of godmen to extricate us from largely self created mess?

Do not every religious epic, be it the Gita or the Bible or the Quran tell us that the only way to attain god is by love for fellow humans and service to the needy? Does the fine print in these holy books anywhere mention that god has franchised his powers to a few mortals on the earth who shall henceforth carry on the function of granting blessings and deliverance?

True godfearing men would never cheat in the name of god. To be frank most fake godmen are really atheists who seem to be somehow convinced that the ‘non-existent’ god is never going to retribute, and so they carry on their trade, ironically in the name of god, with gay abandon and conviction.

Whether god catches up with them or not, it is however imperative now for the law to catch up with them. One can begin by first asking all the godmen to get registered and then checking them out by exhuming their past, on the basis that godmen are frauds unless proved innocent.

Though it may sound as the language of infidels, it is the diktat of the times we live, in which even god would find it tough to tell a fake from the original. A few visits to some of their abodes, especially the well furnished ones would also be in order.

If the visits turn out genuine godmen, no problem, we can always seek their pardon, but one can rest assured that quite a few spiritual quacks would vanish at the very inception of such an exercise, that too if it is initiated by the CB-CID! And all those fakes, call them badmen, who still dare and defy the law could always be given a decent samadhi!

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Jawahar T R