Religion is often perceived as a method to approach God, a path in which one attains a peace of mind and finds the purpose of their life. The soul of each human – atheist or theist – longs to embark on a twig in the current of worldly affairs and seeks a place to rest and find some tranquillity. We all have our own methods – some pursue meditation, some listen to music, some like to pray and so on.
The human mind wishes to find the glory of the divine, which already inhibits in our souls. We want to have it manifested through some medium or another, and in this quest, we reside our faith in those who claim to have witnessed that glory – the godmen.
Through the ages, there have been several godmen in India and abroad like Jesus Christ, Rampal, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Guru Nanak, and so on. The Indian society has a large number of such Godmen probably because several faiths developed and merged over a long period of time. Owing to the greatness of these saints, and due to the fact that they practised what they preached, they not only gathered a large following but also managed to bring about reforms in the society.
They uplifted the downtrodden, embraced the exploited, spread the message of universal brotherhood and brought a sense of unification in a deeply divided society. Saints like Swami Vivekananda guided the nation, especially its youth to regain lost glory and break the shackles of slavery that India had become accustomed to under the British rule. Such ameliorations would have been impossible without the presence of such great people.
But unfortunately, in current times, godmen emerge mostly because their followers are poor and want someone to hold their hands during hard times (which often extends to the entire duration of their lives). The poor who remain outside the boundaries of growth are happy to do their part of service to the Lord through their godman. This gives their life a meaning. The godmen, however, feed on their fears and exercise a dominating position – often through mysticism, superstitions, etc. They become an unspoken icon which a person longs to serve to attain the nectar of bliss in their life and beyond.
This entire infrastructure standing upon the foundations of belief takes shape of a business. The business further flourishes by taking shape of various endeavours like educational institutions, hotels etc. More often than not, their endeavours flourish because of a political nexus. Politicians continue to follow such godmen to create a vote bank which consists of the followers of these godmen.
The rising number of allegations and sentences against people like Nirmal Baba, Asaram Bapu, Rampal, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, etc trembles the bedrock of the common man’s faith and also portrays Indian society in a bad light. However, there are several godmen who preach the message of peace among people and help them realise that divinity is within themselves raise tolerance and help make the world a better place to live. They are the ones who serve mankind without any selfish interests, even after they get painted with the same brush because of the deeds of the selfish godmen.
Thus there is a need to educate the masses, shun their superstitions and wake the light of rationality in them. Whistleblowers should be encouraged to come forward and must be provided with physical, social and economic protection so that speedy justice is delivered. Politicians and policemen who hide the shady acts of godmen should also be brought before the court of law. Godmen should be made to declare their assets on a regular basis.
It is not possible to entirely rationalise devotion and faith, but the masses should not blindly follow an ideology or a person. They should focus on being productive members of the society rather than hoodlums who vandalise public property and disrupt peace.