INDIA : A country of bhakts

Sometimes I wonder why India has become a country of babas, film actors and big politicians with a following of billions. What is so special and attractive about them that they are such huge crowd pullers? Why a country with so much diversity in every possible way, cuts it down to those few individuals who become our Gods and we shut all our senses to follow them unconditionally.

Supporters of Satguru Rampalji Maharaj, take shelter under placards as they are hit by a police water cannon during a protest outside the ashram of Rampal in Hisar.
Supporters of Satguru Rampalji Maharaj, take shelter under placards as they are hit by a police water cannon during a protest outside the ashram of Rampal in Hisar.

A self-styled godman Rampal is in news as about 12 followers, including women and children, tried to immolate themselves at his ashram at Hisar. Rampal was arrested from his Rohtak ashram following the clashes on charges of murder and attempt to murder but was released in April 2008. Since his 2008 release, Sant Rampal has managed to skip multiple hearings and is accused of contempt of court along with the murder and attempt to murder charges.

I tried to dig down deeper to analyze some of those super humans as to why they have so many followers behind them but I could not reach to a conclusion as they are all different people with all the different qualities and short comings. Like Twitter followers for the great actor Mr. Amitabh Bachchan is around 17,794, 800 and Mr. Shahrukh khan is around 16,194,048, whereas follower count for Mr. Prime Minister, Modi ji is about 16,041,855. Where bollywood actors are leading in twitter fan following they fell behind in the face book fans count with Modi ji leading at 30,960,793 followed by who else but the beautiful Deepika Padukone 29,559,424. shortcutbabaThe Google+ data is just another story topping the charts were Dalai Lama at 6,932,671 fans, followed by Modi ji at 2,970,464 fans count.

But as they say social media is not the most reliable of sources especially when demographics are analyzed. I have always found numbers deceiving, demographics are dimensionally challenged hence fail to provide any real basis for analytics. So I decided to go further down the rabbit hole, in 1930, Mahatma Gandhi’s march to Dandi saw him and 78 satyagrahis walk for 23 days and 386 kilometres to collect tax-free salt from the coast, After prayers were offered, Gandhi spoke to more than 60,000 people who had gathered there. Only true bhakts would do such a thing I believed. More recently on 30 Sep, 2013 over a lakh supporters are said to have attended BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi’s address, making it, as the party claims, “the largest political rally” in the capital — so much so that the entrance to the rally was closed after a while.

GuruManPeople coming together physically to listen to one man, leaving their day’s work, probably spending on transportation too, makes me wonder, must be because of true devotion. Or, unless there are some perks associated making the entire trip worth the effort? Especially when the entire talk or event is being relayed by the news channels and the news papers at their homes.

Sant Rampal himself is said to have over 25 lakh followers in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Delhi and has his own Face book and YouTube page too, with a huge fan following.

The quality actually lies in the followers. This great country with all its history and heritage has turned into a huge bunch of followers. I don’t feel proud in accepting it but Indians don’t have their own virtues and views. One fine day, some wise man shows up with his great thought and express it on a public platform with all the confidence in the world. Suddenly, you see a mob following him without even completely understanding what his thought was.

Then comes that part of the mob which starts following that person just by looking at the number of followers and the crowd gathered around him, forget about the thought. There can be many reasons behind this situation but one thing that strongly comes to my mind is the kind of upbringing that we get and the kind of society we are living in. Right from our childhood, our parents decides what’s good for us and what’s not. It continues to the extent that they decide who we should get married to. Our career gets decided on the basis of some aunt’s or neighbour’s son who is earning more than others. Our youth never get a chance to think for him or take important decisions for his life. They are so low on confidence that rather than doing their own analysis and using their own logic, they make choices on the basis of what others are choosing.

babaoreally2Superstition is another enemy eating away what’s left of logic and free will specially amongst Indian youths educated or uneducated. Ironically the 74% literate percent of people of free India has been found to be the blind believers and practitioners of one or the other superstitions. In 2007, a survey was conducted by the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture of the Trinity College with the help of Center for Inquiry (India) called “Worldviews and Opinions of Scientists in India”. 1100 scientists surveyed from 130 institutes. 24% admitted to believing that holy-men can perform miracles and 38% believed that God could perform miracles. This is perhaps is the classic example of literate people oh! Wait SCIENTISTS as blind believers of superstition in its very basic form, having absolutely no relation to science or logic.

Let me further clarify with another survey, my personal favourite, “Superstitons@Workplace”, carried out by a staffing company called TeamLease in 2012. The survey covered 800 companies in 8 cities. 61% of respondents admitted to believing in a superstition and 51% admitted to following a superstition at their workplace. The further data was an epic in our male dominated society 80% of female employees were comfortable with the practices being followed in their workplace, while it was 68% for males, and 63% admitted thinking that female employees are more superstitious.

Indians from centuries have been religious in nature, the great rulers from early centuries built temples big and small in numbers for their devotion towards gods and goddesses. I wonder if their devotion was the only reason, many rulers built such temples right after they won wars against their enemies causing bloodshed. May be they were seeking god’s forgiveness by building temples on large scale. It is basically the fear that makes Indian’s more vulnerable to the traps put by the godmen, eventually turning them in to blind followers eventually leading to their exploitation.

“The people never have the power, only the illusion of it. And here is the real secret: they don’t want it. The responsibility is too great to bear. It’s why they are so quick to fall in line as soon as someone else takes charge. They want to be told what to do. They yearn for it. Little wonder that, since all mankind was built to serve. – Haytham Kenway”

The change in the Blind follower paradigm of india is certain, though it is not eminent Prabir Ghosh says “when we started working 30-odd years ago, the number of atheists in the world was 2% now it’s 22 %of the world population,”. Prabir Ghosh is the author of over 30 Bengali language bestsellers, and a pioneer of rationalist and humanist movement in India. He is the General Secretary of Science and Rationalists’ Association of India and the President of Humanists’ Association.

bbc6b352fd41bc3424018f94062165c2Largely the godmen followership has been found to be of the miracle seekers, who come in with hopes of finding solutions to their problems, and sometimes a mere hope against an impossible situation is enough for a disturbed soul. Often such godmen are backed by powerful politicians who try to use them for creating their vote banks, and once they have served their purpose they are sent away for good. It is one of the reasons why we see a new baba or guru on rise and eventually fading in to shadows every couple of years.

Even though there seems to be no sign of reduction in the number of followers over the years of every new godman that turns out to be a criminal in disguise, i see a ray of hope in the Indian youth. They are believers but not blind followers, unless they are given a decent degree of independence in making decisions of their lives with out any spiritual influence, they will make a better india in the coming years.

References :

Indians Want Political Change

Originally posted 2016-01-05 19:37:17. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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