Wise words from Baba Penwaley

  • Khushwant Singh, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Jan 25, 2015 13:06 IST

Last week during a visit to Gurgaon, I had the misfortune of getting stuck in the mother of all traffic jams. The cause of the jam was not the maverick HR/DL number drivers but the 1 lakh-odd disciples of Sirsa dera head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh who had descended on Gurgaon’s Sector 29 to watch the screening of MSG. MSG or The Messenger of God has been directed, produced and acted in by the self-styled godman himself. It’s a separate matter though that the organisers couldn’t screen the movie because of censor board issues, but the disciples still got to see their godman rock n roll. Coming back to the traffic jam, I must confess that I felt jealous of the dera head’s following and even pondered how I had wasted my life writing and not striving to become a godman instead. Foolish of me, because in today’s world writing requires far more intellectual rigour than being a baba.

Being baba

Gone are the days when to be hailed a baba the essentials were spirituality and saintliness. All you need now is a flowing beard, some velhas as chelas, a chola and the gift of the gab. The politicians flocked to you, the administration feared you, the bureaucrat came to you for transfer blessings, women came in hordes and the common man was gullible in any case.I am told that the the disciples who had come to watch MSG had paid Rs 2,000 per ticket, even though one could tell that the majority weren’t exactly economically forward. Such is the power of blind faith and who knows they might be the no moh maya types. But sadly such is not the case with godmen and their disciples. It was only a couple of months ago that one was witness to Chandigarh turning into a fortress. It had seemed that police reinforcements had been despatched to counter an alien attack, till it was clarified that it was no alien threat but a godman named Rampal was expected to appear in the high court with his disciples. Disciples or goons though one wonders because why so much security for spiritual people?

Hope over hard work

This takes me back to my original thought that what would be my strategy if I were to make a career shift into Babaism? In other words, what is it that godmen do that attracts the masses? Or simply put, why do people get pulled towards godmen Why is it that a godman’s class has more attendance and attentiveness than that of a school teacher even though the classroom can sort one’s life better?Is it easier to sell hope over the idea of hard work for a better future? Perhaps, because hope has no accountability as it is in the unknown. Jidaan usdi marji, and all its variants which even the organised religion uses.And if you ask me the rate of success between the blessing of a godman and hard work , I would recommend the latter any day.The other place where these godmen are finding their critical mass is in the social engineering model that is actually a space for volunteers, governments and NGOs. It is great if a godman is helping people to shun drugs and other vices but my problem is with the spiritual slavery he expects in return.I have been raised with the idea that hard work and education are the only way to success and no godman can help you achieve that, except through a political-bureaucratic network that is often mistaken as spiritual power.My advice as the Penwala Baba is simple: enlighten yourself so that you don’t get weak and fall prey to these godmen. Invest in a pen, a notebook, reading, education and hard work. Take charge of yourself. khushwant.ahluwalia@gmail.com

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