I do not quite know what propels so many Indians and even numerous people from other countries across the world to fall for God-men, God-women and Saints. Despite ample evidence to the contrary, I find it amazing that people are willing to suspend their rational thinking and years of grounding to look at facts and figures objectively and critically before drawing conclusions when it comes to these personalities.
These thoughts have surfaced again after coming across news items recently which first said that there has been an attempt on ‘Art of Living’s’ founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar after which other statements appeared from the great man himself stating that he has known for some time ‘that there would be attempts on his life’ but he had already forgiven the attacker. And now comes news that it was some gentleman shooting at street dogs in the vicinity which caused a stray bullet to fly past one of the great man’s disciples. It also turns out that SSRS had departed the scene five minutes before the incident happened, leading to e-mails circulating that the ‘Art of Living’ is actually the ‘Art of Lying’.
I know that bringing up this topic stirs passions and rage among believers which it is sometimes difficult to fathom. I recently experienced this in two different instances. In the first of these, a gentleman who was trying to invite me for one of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s discourses in town, recoiled and uttered impassioned words of condemnation when I made some critical comments about SSRS and expressed my view that attending such discourses is a sheer waste of time. The second was sometime earlier, when I recirculated the link to the video posted on Youtube showing Swami Nithyananda’s sexual escapades captured candidly by a
camera secreted in his sanctum
sanctorum together with the quip that it was easier to discover God than to discover hidden cameras, sent to me by a friend. I was told in no uncertain terms by friends and people I have known for years to stop circulating what was clearly a ‘doctored’ video circulated by Christians to malign him (this despite the fact that Nithyananda himself could not convincingly deny the authenticity of the hours of footage which were made public, other than trying to muddy the waters by mumbling stuff that he was in a trance and hence didn’t quite know what was happening).
I have been accustomed to such reactions for long however. I faced this from believers when, decades ago, while at Pune which I used to frequent on work during those days, I mentioned to someone that Bhagwan Rajneesh (Osho) who was stationed in that city at that time, was rapidly turning Pune into the ‘sex and drugs’ capital of India. Or the strong words of denunciation I have faced, from Hindus and Christians alike, whenever I have remarked that Mother Teresa was merely fulfilling fund-raising and ‘conversion’ targets set by the Roman Catholic Church and the Vatican’s bestowing official ‘Saint’ status on her posthumously was merely indicative of the hypocrisy of that organization.
I have nothing against spirituality, the belief in a greater power and higher being and the creditable credo of doing God’s work by helping fellow human beings, specially the disadvantaged and the less privileged ones. However it is my humble submission that these God-men and God-women do not quite know and hence cannot guide you down the shortest path leading up to the Almighty.
I do know that this post will arouse strong feelings and emotions in some. All I can request is that while it is your prerogative to agree, disagree or be indifferent to the message, do not shoot the messenger even if you want to shoot down the message.
The titles of the links below are self-explanatory mostly. The first three links pertain to SSRS, being the most recent instance chronologically. The text immediately below this para is an excerpt from the historian Ramachandra Guha’s observations about SSRS made couple of years back. The other links, going down, pertain to Bhagwan Rajneesh (Osho), Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Mother Teresa and Sathya Sai Baba. The Nithyananda video from YouTube is embedded.
The Norwegian doctor had heard that this man had brought peace to Kashmir, and had promoted organic agriculture in thousands of Indian villages. She had been asked to promote his candidacy for the prize, and indeed the man himself had been to Oslo several times recently. She asked me if I would give my opinion on the matter.
I answered that so far as I knew, there was no peace in Kashmir. I observed that what the West refers to as ‘organic farming’ we knew as rain-fed agriculture—and that it is nothing new. Where there was no canal water and where they had little capital, millions of Indian farmers had, for the past thousands of years, grown crops without the use of any chemicals (and without any spiritual counselling) whatsoever.
Finally, I suggested to the doctor that if not giving Gandhi the prize was a scandal, awarding it to my fellow townsman would be an even bigger scandal."