Periodically, one or the other of the godmen, of which there are plenty in the country, get to the centre stage involved in one or the other controversy. Like Asaram Bapu, Ramdev, Nithyananda among others.
For the last few days, Sant Rampal, in Hissar Haryana, had kept the entire Haryana administration on tenterhooks refusing to appear in the courts and refusing to surrender.
What was shocking was his followers, including a private army, kept vigil over his ashram and resisted the police.
Such militant loyalty and devotion to their gurus and Babas is not uncommon.
Though Baba Sant Rampal has been arrested and sent to judicial custody, the godmen phenomenon is something which needs an understanding.
Even though their actions are controversial and sometimes criminal, the question is that how they attract so much following.
Even political leaders publicly visit Mutts and such Babas.
Problems escalate when the cultural and emotional life of people is used for political mobilization.
Fragmentation and disintegration in rural life is being misused by these godmen to attract the people.
Cult figures are not peculiar to our country. They are there all over the world. The scope is more in our country.
The nexus that has been developed between these cult figures, political leaders, electoral politics and some people in the administration is responsible for such cult figures to emerge as strong figures. And loopholes in law have given them a way to project themselves larger than life and above the law.
Political parties go after such godmen because of the large cult following that these godmen have. That is purely a vote bank politics.
Why are we so vulnerable to these godmen?
- We have been cut off from our source of spiritual solace.
- The increase in materialism and consumerism, particularly in the middle classes and upper middle classes and,
- Generalized dissatisfaction.
And this has made these godmen market spiritual solutions.
There are different godment offering different spiritual products.
These godmen are said to be entrepreneurs. Some of them even have their own media.
Political process should mature and allow police to be professional. And politicians should learn that in the long run no one is benefited.