This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Rajender Bisht. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Spiritual Slavery: A Travesty and Tragedy of 21st Century India

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?

Youth Ki Awaaz is an open platform where anybody can publish. This post does not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions.

You must be to comment.

More from Rajender Bisht

Similar Posts

By Imran Ghazi

By Imran Ghazi

By Anish Bachchan

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

        Read more about his campaign.

        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Read more about her campaign. 

        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

        As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Find out more about the campaign here.

        A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

        She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

        The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

        Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
        biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

        Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
        campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below