We live in a country where so-called godmen – Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Asaram, Rampal and Swami Om to name a few – always remain in limelight for all wrong reasons. They are involved in all kinds of crime from rape to fraud to murder but they still can be seen enjoying the crazy fan following.
But the question is who should be blamed? Godmen or the blind followers who help them earn name and fame.
Another question is why are these godmen multiplying so fast and who are their followers?
The phenomenon of godmen is not new in India. If we turn the pages of history, we would see they started gaining importance way back in the 19th century with the rise of Hindutva. What gave birth to these godmen was the economic diversity and class struggles where lower strata of the society in terms of caste and economic status were subject to humiliation and unequal treatment by the upper class.
Now these victims of the society and circumstances---low on income, low on literacy, low on acceptability and extremely high on vulnerability; who also, unfortunately, represent a major chunk of the population, became an easy and soft target market for these spiritual Babas. Most of these self-proclaimed godmen played on the vulnerabilities of these individuals and became the replacement of gods.
The people who did not have means to spend on education and medical started finding solace in these godmen who became their spiritual guides and came with miraculous solutions for all their problems including personal, family, monetary, health—everything. You name it and they could solve it.
The next interesting thing is that with time these people became so popular that the educated class, industrialists, political parties and many others also succumbed to the magical and spiritual persona of these godmen and became great followers of them. Why these people fall to their tactics was the reason that these godmen are capable of donning different hats of being a psychologist, astrologer, spiritual guru, yoga expert and what not. So, the educated and elite lot that has been dealing with increasing stress and anxieties also started finding escape in these spiritual Babas.
From Sathya Sri Sai Baba to the latest Gurpreet Ram Rahim Singh Insaan, we have seen them all. While Sathya Sri with millions of followers across 126 countries was accused of sexual abuse and even pedophilia, Gurmeet recently got sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment for raping his followers.
Despite these ugly revelations and controversies, the charisma of these gurus has failed to die down; what is even more disturbing is that followers are blind in true sense as their faith does not get shattered even if their guru ends up in jails.
This can be clearly attributed to a deadly mix of socio-economic divide, strong religious faiths and to top it all politicians whose love for vote bank surpasses everything.
Can this menace be solved?
The answer lies in the root problem i.e. if there is a strong political will, the public can be saved from a big financial, mental and physical stress that comes as a by-product of blessings from these self-styled gurus.
Let’s remember that blind faith in anyone is a true recipe for disaster!