A religious preacher in India is in controversy. He is behind bars at a jail in Jodhpur in the desert state of Rajasthan. The Indian media is hounding the religious preacher with reports as if there is a hysterical noose that is tightening.
Has the ordeal just begun for the religious guru, endearingly called Bapu! He is though known as Asaram Bapu among his followers.
At the centre of the present controversy is the charge against Asaram Bapu that he sexually assaulted a teenage girl at one of his ashrams in August this year.
Five years ago, this religious guru was at the centre of similar outbursts after four children died at two separate institutions run by him.
It is said that Asaram was a horse carriage driver once upon a time, and also worked at a tea stall.
Today, he runs hundreds of ashrams and has followers in millions.
Well, it is not the first time when a religious preacher in India is facing the heat. Asaram Bapu’s disciples say their guru has been framed in a deep conspiracy.
But the question is how the criminal justice system would proceed in a case where there has been a quick media trial showing the religious guru in poor light, almost without hearing him.
No one has seen the evidences, yet everyone is speaking for or against the 72-year-old religious guru. Is it how we allow our prosecution and courts to proceed?
Of course this has already become a hi-profile case, and hence justice must be fast-tracked, for it may be just another case of sexual molestation for the investigating agency BUT for the Indians it is a matter of faith which is at stake in view of a popular leader facing sex charges. [Click to read How Strong Is Your Faith?]
And this time this popular leader is also a religious preacher. Needless to say that one or the other religious preacher plays an important role in the lives of most of the countrymen.
Also, there has always been a great rapport between a teacher and a student in India that is described as a unique guru-shishya tradition.
This tradition should not be allowed to cave in, come what may, particularly in view of the fact that even the complainant girl’s family has been followers of the religious guru in question.
Whether he was a horse carriage driver or tea-stall owner, I think, is beside the point. If he has overcome humble beginnings and created an empire, good for him. The issue is only related to the alleged crime. It needs to be investigated and appropriate action taken, based on findings. Unfortunately, most of us will keep looking for the easy solution; shirk responsibility, find a godman and take decisions in his name. If this one becomes unavailable, we will find another one soon, and make a godman out of him / her.