Why are people so vulnerable to frauds who masquerade as godmen? | opinion$Comment | Hindustan Times
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Why are people so vulnerable to frauds who masquerade as godmen?

What should worry us is the readiness of the masses to embrace slavery. The denizens of the dens of ‘godmanity’ – the perversion of divinity – are voluntary slaves. Why, in an age that has deified freedom, do millions of human beings freely embrace slavery in the name of spirituality?

opinion Updated: Sep 28, 2017 23:16 IST
The pestilence of ‘godmanity’ will not subside with putting one Gurmeet behind bars. The antidote to this perversion is the education of the people and their all-round development as human beings.
The pestilence of ‘godmanity’ will not subside with putting one Gurmeet behind bars. The antidote to this perversion is the education of the people and their all-round development as human beings.(AP)

So-called godmen like Gurmeet Singh and Asaram Bapu among others are meant to deliver the truth and tenets about spirituality to followers. But this begs the question, do we need an angel from heaven to tell us that spirituality and covetousness cannot co-exist? Can we think of a single instance of an authentic spiritual being who became opulent in his lifetime, on account of his work? How is it then, that our hyper-modern godmen and godwomen are rolling in wealth?

Second, is there any precedent in any spiritual tradition of anyone who is godly creating a fortress of secrecy around himself? We associate spirituality with light. Are not dens akin to darkness, rather than light? Do we know of a single instance in which what is good or lawful ever needed iron curtains of secrecy?

Third, who doesn’t know that wherever there is lust for money there will surely be (a) sexual depravity and (b) crime of diverse kinds? It is simply impossible that the sort and scale of crime that Gurmeet and wolves of his ilk perpetrate can be done with assured impunity even in the underworld. Are we to tolerate a situation in which the mask of godliness becomes a cover up for unspeakable depravity?

What should worry us, besides the above, is the readiness of the masses to embrace slavery. The denizens of the dens of ‘godmanity’ – a perversion of divinity – are voluntary slaves. Why, in an age that has deified freedom, do millions of human beings freely embrace slavery in the name of spirituality?

Choice is driven by taste. Taste is a matter of personal development. This puts the spotlight on our growth, on who we are. An animal grows as an animal should; a bird, likewise. So, a human being should grow as a human being. From time immemorial members of our species have known that we are a body-mind-spirit combine. To ‘grow’ humanly, therefore, is to grow in terms of all three dimensions. Fraud godmen thrive on the detritus of rotten religiosity that, by refusing to empower human beings with the light of reason, keeps them vulnerable to the predator that prowls in the darkness of blind faith.

A society that abdicates the duty to propagate a scientific temper and rational outlook abandons people, willy-nilly, to wolves in sheep’s clothing. Mistaking spirituality for psychological dependence, they become like creepers that need something to climb on. They fall short of discernment. This is an open invitation to the Gurmeet Singhs of this world! They are ready with their package of tricks, illusions and delusions to mesmerise even the educated.

We no longer have any excuse for not knowing that our godmen are not a religious phenomenon at all. They are the counterparts of hunters in the wild. Every animal adapts itself to its environment. Our godman predator is no exception to this law of nature. He is an expert in knowing and plying the ropes of society and in donning the attire that serves to deceive his prospective victims and to mask his perverse nature.

The nexus between godmen and what purports to be the secular State is not an accident, but a natural outcome. Godmen need the secular State as a camouflaging device. The public obeisance that ministers and officers of the State proffer to godmen is precisely the camouflage they need. This makes their criminal face inconspicuous to public. Those who provide political cover to these predators prowling with impunity in the society are as culpable as the godmen are. They are partners-in-crime with our fraud-men.

The pestilence of ‘godmanity’ will not subside with putting one Gurmeet behind bars. The antidote to this perversion is the education of the people and their all-round development as human beings. It is certain that no one with even minimal mental and spiritual discernment will succumb to the wiles of these wolves, with their mouths dripping with blood for those who have eyes to see. It is only the territory that the State abandons via quid pro quo that godmen annex. And that is where remedial action needs to begin.

Swami Agnivesh is an Arya Samaj scholar and social activist

Valson Thampu is a Christian theologian and former principal of St Stephen’s College, University of Delhi