16 November, 2008

Spiritually Bankrupt

It was 12th November 2008. As I started for work a huge festive atmosphere greeted me. Posters everywhere and a huge pandal had sprung up overnight at the ground near my house. People bustled about in a frenzy. The men moved in starched white shirts wearing what is called as an Uparna , a cotton or silk shawl thrown about the neck & women wore silk saris. Both the genders were displaying a badge of a face with a bushy moustache, on chests of varying proportions and attractiveness. It was crazy. Nearly a hundred thousand people were here. Aniruddha Pournima screamed the posters from all directions. Typically like all public functions a few decide to take it up on themselves to direct traffic with self important expressions. They displayed quite surly temperaments when not obeyed by the regular commuters.

I had stopped by the side like all others watching the show waiting for the traffic to clear. As a volunteer came by, I asked him, what’s this happening and who is this Aniruddha to have a Pournima named after him? The subject of my enquiry looked at me from the posters with benign amusement. His eyes twinkled from above his unruly moustaches. The volunteer with self righteous indignation looked down at me; I was after all sitting on a scooter. He told with supreme succinctness, its Bapu’s birthday. My face still mirrored confusion and I committed the blasphemy, who is this Aniruddha & who now is Bapu? The only two in my knowledge, who answered to this sobriquet, was the father of our nation and the old uncle from a neighbouring building. I saw several emotions pass through his face in one instant. Evident amongst them were anger, irritation, surprise & pity at my ignorance and he told me that Aniruddha Joshi or Bapu is a spiritual guru. He advises people on how to live a complete life. He was still singing his praises, but the traffic line had cleared so I moved on.

I wasn’t interested in the individual just completely puzzled by the whole scene. You can even say aghast. This mass of humanity had actually gathered to watch a god man or a guru give his schpiel! People seemed from all walks of life; rich, poor or middle income. Each queuing up to meet a man and get her/his fills of spiritual solace.
It was the shock of seeing so many people all assembled to listen to a god man that has put me in this state. I am seriously worried. Are we so completely spiritually bankrupt?

In a normal life there are people we look up to. Our parents, our teachers of our formative years, our professional mentors or some role models we want to emulate amongst others. During these stages we inculcate or create our values, develop a sense of self and define our utility to the eco system we inhabit to live a life full of joy.

Yet something had disturbed me greatly in this spiritual guru business, I witnessed today. Some link was eluding me which caused me great unease about this teeming thong. Aniruddha Bapu had vanished; for me he was just a symbolism of a malaise I witnessed. Then I realized what exactly it was. Nobody had smiled or laughed. I didn’t see any sign of joy, happiness or serenity. I found instead a desperate fervor of “wanting to believe” in anything, something or someone. The requirement of an external emotional crutch.

Spirituality seems like any other business today with a huge upside potential and there are faces to this commerce as well. What Pele did to football, for this business it was Rajneesh. He had the audacity to call himself Bhagwan or God. Satya Sai Baba of the Afro hair-do, Swami Prabhupada the founder of ISKCON , Mahesh Yogi of the Beatles fame and the villainous face of Chandraswami all had reached out to me through periodicals and the print media.They were all contemporaries but Rajneesh was the star The current faces of this wave are Asaramji Bapu, Ravishankar of the multiple Sri’s, the yoga contortionist Ramdeo Baba, who jumps into our living rooms from more than 7 channels dedicated to TV Evangelists.

India the land renowned for its spiritual wisdom seemed bereft of purpose. Where had we lost our way that a hundred thousand people need to seek a Bapu or a Guru?


dotcomgirl said...

What exactly has Ravishankar done to merit the multiple Sris? Or the Yoga contortionist as u call him... why cant he correct his squint first ? The way he professes to correct every malady in the world by making us do the impossible KapalBharati is frightening especially for the medical profession if all what he says turns out to be true. Love your post Kau Kau and keep writing more on such topics.

Kau Kau goes the Crow said...

Thank you. Have often wondered myself why people have absolutely no problem in professing their faith in such godmen and go about suing qualified medical practitioners..something is warped with the thought process.