India is a land of diverse religions and their respective preachers. They have been peacefully coexisting for centuries. Many contemporary religions had their genesis in this holy land. The distinct religious character of our nation is a manifestation of our tolerance and respect towards each of them. Before Independence, our freedom fighters’ source of binding energy emanated from this strong religious unity. For these great leaders, the nation was paramount and then came religion. Religion didn’t guide them but the rigour for “one nation, prosperous nation” helped them to overthrow the regressive British Raj. This feeling of nationalism itself became a concrete foundation for a pacifist nation.
Even though religious extremism during the Partition left a deep wound in our spirit of togetherness, the nation rose again and rejuvenated into a sovereign and secular republic. Unity in diversity became our motto for development and growth. It echoed in every sphere of our lives. Immediately after our independence, many influential discourses were perpetrated to promote regionalism but our constitutional founding fathers ensured that each community was socially protected and empowered. Many outside influences tried to breach our harmony, but their efforts were too feeble to break our unity. The cynics, sceptics and sinister characters lost their ground and India flourished as a nation. In today’s scenario, irrespective of particular religion, we celebrate our festivals with great fervour and jubilance. For us, these aren’t just festivals but a reason to celebrate the spirit of brotherhood and humanity. Our unity was until recently conspicuous to the rest of the world, infected as it has been by religious outbreaks of violence. The world recognized India as a multi-religious peaceful society.
Religious Diversity has its certain challenges which if not taken care of properly might wreak havoc on the fundamentals of peace and tranquillity. In the Indian context, the heterogeneity in religion brings different viewpoints and counter views, which are revered and adhered to by a large section of society. Each religion has its own leaders and set of followers. It is often quoted that “with power comes great responsibilities”. Yet India’s experience of powerful gurus and clergies has been quite an ugly one. The spiritual leaders rise to power has never materialized into peaceful conduct. The majority of such spiritual leaders have been exposed for irregularities and hideous crimes. Once a normal human, these people have attained an abnormal level of power. The blind faith showered on these bogus self-styled messengers of god, have ironically caused chaos and unrest. Having indulged in deceit and misled a section of society, over time such leaders have attained immense support which has transpired into the brazen violence of power.
The rise of such individuals to power automatically makes them a great asset for politicos. For politicos, these powerful individuals’ followers become a vote bank. Leveraging the power of these so-called demigods, the politicos propagate propaganda. For years, Indian politicians have not shied away from openly accepting their obeisance to these self-styled Mahatmas. The politician often hides their ulterior motive by arguing that they are just devotees/bhakts and they revere the knowledge imparted by their gurus. On the contrary, many a time both guru and bhakt have collaborated to maintain a power balance. The bonhomie between politicians and self-styled godman is as dreadful as modern nuclear weapons. The legislature has been entrusted with unfathomable authority and this collaboration with fraudsters (god men) is a perfect joint venture for fall of a nation. India has time and again bore the repercussions of such collaborations.
The present case of Gurmeet Ram Rahim aka Babaji, leader of Dera Sacha Sauda reiterates the haunting history of blind faith and joint collaboration with politicos. The judiciary in its merit announced what it inferred through the pieces of evidence and witnesses. It followed the well laid out guidelines and procedure before convicting Gurmeet Ram Rahim with the accusation of rape. For his blind followers, rape does not seem to be a crime but charging their leader is a felony. It is a travesty and a tragedy that so many educated and lay people would revere a rapist. These are the same people who would not shy away from any violent act if their own child or mother was raped. They would not leave any stone unturned to get justice done in their case. How often do these people criticise and curse the Judiciary system for its laggard nature.
Image source: Indian Express
In this case, the judge and judiciary have become their enemies for rightfully charging their guruji. The insanity did not end here however, and transpired into meaningless violence and loss of property. Panchkula, a small peace-loving town overnight transformed into a burning hell. There was a harrowing atmosphere as the shops were burned, petrol pumps set on fire, people killed and public property wrecked. The magnitude of loss cannot be measured as not every sentiment of terror can be quantified. The Babaji and his followers are making a mockery of law and order. They have complete impunity in breaching the law as there is a joint venture with the incumbent party in power. This incumbent is reciprocating by respecting the contracts it had made with Babaji.
The court has reflected its frustration at the passive role of governments in handling the situation. It has castigated the state government, holding it squarely responsible for the violence that erupted in Panchkula. The high court slammed the state and said that “You (state government) have been misleading [us]. There has been a sea difference between administrative decisions and political decisions. Administrative decisions were paralysed because of political decisions. You have placed a DCP under suspension, but was he the only person responsible for all this? Are you trying to tell us that?”
This blind faith in a single individual is overpowering the logical reasoning of the common man. His allegiance is immune from any reasoning. This is nothing but spiritual slavery where an individual has been blindly entrusted to guide millions of people. His judgement is unquestionable and sacrosanct. Any criticism will bear severe consequences. I really feel pity for my hard working countrymen and our soldiers guarding our borders. Is this what they deserve in return for their service to the nation? Unfortunately, while India of the 21st century is becoming plagued by such petty issues, the rest of the world is worried about raging issue on climate change and terror. India is still entrapped by the rhetorics of such godmen and politicians who are appropriating religion for their own benefits. We talk about bullet trains, smart cities, digital India but the question is: Can we credibly talk on such areas when we are still entangled by religious hypocrisy?