A country where more than 330 million gods are worshipped. A country where religious traditions play a significant role in the society. A country whose history revolves around the construction and demolition of temples. Yet it is ridiculous to see a major section of the Indian society worship the so-called self proclaimed “God-Men” and place them at par with the gods themselves. It is quiet common, to see people having huge posters of these god men in their homes or stuck to their cars. Amulets with their pictures on them are also a common sight. While it is acceptable to have a spiritual guru who would be more of a guide, it is disturbing to see these gurus take the position of gods. And who is to be blamed for this trend? Yes, the public indeed! The rise in this trend could be attributed to mass hysteria and the “cult” mentality. In the present day world, where problems of different nature such as terrorism, inflation, diseases unheard of etc., are on the rise, it might be relieving to the general public to have a person, who claims to have godly powers. But this would do more bad than good.
The real spiritual guru would be the one who stays away from fame and attention. However, the gurus these days have a lot of political influence and power, often causing doubts about their authenticity. But the truth is that these spiritual leaders hold a venerable position in the country owing to their charisma, claims of supernatural powers and the huge amount of charitable work. While several scandals surrounding these people have been busted and brought to light, the devotees seem to be blind to these accusations and on the contrary, defend their gurus.
What is it that attracts millions of Indians to these god men? In this time of increasing panic and unrest about one’s well being and in the current scenario where the government seems to be completely inadequate in fulfilling the needs of the people, it is quiet natural to follow a leader who would help them reduce their misery, to an extent. On the bright side, these gurus propagate the message of oneness and peace. Many of them have helped open schools and hospitals. Majority of them widely practice and propagate meditation, yoga and different breathing techniques which often helps in coping with a plethora of physical, mental and emotional problems. But none of these are reasons enough to elevate normal human beings to the position of gods.
Over the past few years, quite a few scandals were dug up in and around the ashrams of some of the renowned spiritual leaders, proving them to be as human as any of us. But this does not cause their followers from losing faith in their “swami”. They all remain as loyal as ever. In a country where so many religions, cultures and languages coexist, it is quiet heartening and unbelievable to see so much unity. Hats off to these gurus, for that. Their consistent effort to help people out of their misery is also to be appreciated. However their remarkable aplomb is also an indication of how gullible people could be. Searching for spiritual peace is no crime. It is in fact, necessary for one to be at peace with oneself. However the means of achieving it has to be looked into. Babas, Gurus, Swamis and Ammas might look alluring and the sense of mystery that they create around them might be attractive. But a fine line has to be drawn! However it is hard to change the faith, which an Indian has bound himself to. And hence, the ‘Baba Culture’ goes on.