[I would like to make clear that the following article is not meant to disrespect anyone. It is a mere portrayal of the current scenario in India and a means to have a healthy discussion about it, so as to bring more awareness.]
We live in an age where religion seems to be one of the most flourishing businesses. It is third in line after healthcare and education. Swamis, babas, ammas, etc. have been sprouting up by the dozen in various villages across India. The ‘smart’ ones even manage to setup bases abroad and lure in foreign followers.
People are widely faced with suffering and distress in daily life. In their desperate search for a source of relief, they are willing to make any compromises for some peace of mind. This frantic behaviour of the masses makes them easy prey.
The fact that God is the only remedy that can heal all problems is undisputable, and it is this tagline which is used by many of these aforementioned businessmen/women. Many such saints use some “miracles” as their ‘advertisement’ and then let word of mouth do the rest of the promotion. Once the word gets out, it starts to spread like wild fire and can seldom be stopped. What many innocent victims fail to realize is that many of these initial miracles and the people who supposedly got their problems solved due to them, are all part of the scam.
Most man-gods/goddesses start their venture from villages which comprise more illiterate and superstitious people. This facilitates faster acceptance and allows them to have an initial group of victims, who will then unknowingly lure others to the trap. As the appeal grows, the leader spreads his/her business into the cities and then eventually to other countries. This allows for a stable growth pattern and creates a blind group of die-hard devotees at the base. Simultaneously, the religious cult starts to creep into other fields of business such as healthcare and education. They start to have their own brands and establish themselves as the answer to everyone’s problems. Thus, it sets an unlimited flow of wealth into all of their enterprises. I wish to state that I am not including everyone in this group of frauds. However the shameful acts of even one such person ends up being a stubborn blotch over the whole Hindu community. I wholeheartedly agree that there definitely are many people who really wish and work for universal welfare. But, it is beyond doubt that such people are very rare. Even people who start out with good intentions get dragged into malice by the sight of immense wealth.
What is even more intolerable is the status of god inferred upon human beings. Some spiritual leaders like Sathya Sai Baba and Mata Amritandamayi are regarded as gods/goddesses. I have heard of speeches by the two mentioned spiritual leaders in which they themselves advice to chant the name of god. But, the followers eventually end up considering them as gods instead.
People should definitely follow and accept good things regardless of the source. But, it shouldn’t involve a diversion from the ultimate good – god. Wise people are to be followed and respected as teachers/gurus and not as gods. Hinduism holds great significance for a ‘guru’, but I don’t think any true hindu scripture advices to chant and do pooja only for the guru instead of god. I agree that the blind faith expressed by devotees might be resolving some of their problems. But, I am sure that most of it comes due to the taming of the mind and not merely due to chanting the name of the guru.
There are many people with self-interests who exploit and manipulate such devotees and in the process spoil the name of the spiritual leader and Hinduism. It has lead to large differences among believers and is leading to unnecessary rivalry within the Hindu community. It also gives an opportunity for outsiders to mock at the Hindu community and to destroy Hinduism.
It is time that we help to spread more awareness to help and unite the Hindus. The undeniable fact that we are all children of the same god should be realized and followed by all. It should make us lend a helping hand to our fellow brothers and sisters. This realization will automatically reduce crime, poverty and war.
We fail to realize that the most basic aim of Hinduism is universal welfare. Hinduism is not a tool to create disparity. It is not a means to gain ineligible wealth or fame. It is the most noble of lifestyles, aimed at peace, love and happiness for the whole world. I end this post with a hope that Hinduism will soon overcome the world’s vices and take the world closer to paradise.