Spirituality is an armchair money minting spinner in India. Turnover from religious activities in the country roughly matches those of drug peddlers and arms dealers abroad. Further, most of the money circulated in all these trades are either unaccounted for or accumulate untaxed.
In view of such facts and circumstances, imagine the conditions in which saintly souls live in the country, think of their pains in moving around from one place to other appearing for religious discourses, and picture their stress in listening to peoples’ woes.
Amidst this when a white robed preacher becomes a phenomenon rising to the position of an observable figure, he is bound to attract undue attention of the social order and more particularly of the bourgeois.
The sensibilities of the intelligentsia are then stirred by vested interests unwilling to appreciate the dissertation interspersed with bhajan, kirtan, stories based on scriptures like Srimad Bhagvad Gita, Upanishads, Vedanta explained in simple words, tips on natural healthy living, yoga and other jewels of wisdom including instances taken from day to day life.
Multiplicity of religious practices in the country as also overflowing politics from region to region make mockery of both the preachers and their disciples. The worst sufferer is thus the faith.
Million dollar question, therefore, is how does one preserve faith? Take for instance the arrest of Asaram following complaint of alleged sexual assault by a 16-year-old girl in the former’s resting place. This guru, endearingly called ‘Bapu’ – a sobriquet used by all Indians to describe their Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi – runs hundreds of ashrams, has followers in millions and is cynosure of the media.
Five years ago, Asaram was at the centre of similar outbursts after four children died in quick succession at two separate institutions run by him in Ahmedabad and Chhindwara. And now he is accused of sexually assaulting a teenager at Jodhpur.
The father of the complainant is stated to have said that even he would not have believed the charges against 72-year-old Asaram if he and his wife were not present near the scene of the alleged crime.
Under such heat, India is witnessing mainly two types of religious linesmen, if it is the right way to describe them – extreme haters and ardent followers; and this land of the Buddha is clearly seen to be missing the middle path.
It would therefore not be exaggeration to say that the institutions of religious gurus are under threat in India. What innumerable invasions over thousands of years could not plunder, is today being subjected to inexplicable humiliation.
Interestingly, the kind of debates demonstrated on national media by people playing tug of wars in all possible tongue-twisters is further shaking the conscience of the common man and his faith.
India is not oblivious to wars of succession in business houses, political families, ruling dynasties and even the vested interests, pregnant with damaging conspiracies. What if the allegations in Asaram’s case are proved and what if the charges do not come true, ultimately? In any case, the faith is under stake.
It is not the first time when devotees, disciples, followers of a creed or a religious leader are seemingly teed off. Neither it’s the final opportunity for the players that be. Must we thus learn to have faith in what we believe, and believe so strongly in, even without having seen the evidences.
May be it is the faith only that people have as their evidence, both for and against.