Though the sentencing of Gurmeet Ram Rahim has been deferred till October 18, the Dera chief’s fate is more or less sealed as he’s bound to get the comeuppance for a series of crimes he committed as the ‘spiritual guru’ of scores of followers spread across Punjab and abroad, the question remains: what makes this shady business of gurudom still so popular in India?
Be they populist gurus like Asaram, Nirmal, Rampal, Radhema or elitist ‘spiritual masters’ like Rajneesh, Mahesh Yogi et al, the entire country genuflects before a spate of dubious characters who hoodwinked the gullible masses in the name of god, religion, spirituality and all recondite terms like inner engineering, transcendental meditation, Sudarshan Kriya and whatnot. That a very huge chunk of the population still believes that outright criminals like Asaram and Gurmeet are innocent and have been framed, shows that the brainwashed Indian masses are still under a soporific spell of ‘religio-spiritual inebriation.’ It’s a state of simulated trance masses are deeply into for ages.
But the million-dollar question is what makes scores of people believe in these ‘spiritual rogues’. Religion has always been a business in India and spirituality, a kind of a palliative for the masses, most of them being irrational and devolved in thinking. For thousands of years, religion and god have seeped into human consciousness. So much so that they’ve become god and religion spots in the human brain. Now, (religious) belief is in our DNA and god is in our genes.
In other words, it has become our chromosomic character and a neurological reflex. When something becomes a part of human psyche, it’s well-nigh impossible to get rid of that. But there’s always a problem in getting a tangible connectivity to god, hell, heaven, angel and all that jazz. Here come these ‘spiritual mediators’ to bridge the gulf between the fictional gods and humans. These godmen and godwomen are god’s ‘personal secretaries’ to the credulous masses. People start looking up to them as god’s chosen representatives on earth. With the passage of time, this belief gets so entrenched and embedded in our consciousness that we start thinking that these ‘godly’ characters are spotless and cannot err.
Transferred impositon of divinity
This is known as the transferred imposition of divinity on certain humans in the Neurological Studies of Religions and Believers. We transfer our belief of divinity to certain individuals we think to be divine in nature. Thus emerged people godmen like Gurmeet, among others. Since we made up our minds to believe in these charlatans and tartuffians without questioning, even if these criminals rape, molest or sexually exploit a follower, we believe that it was an act of god! Our altered mindset regarding the shenanigans of spiritual gurus is so twisted and skewed that we cannot believe that a guru can rape and kill. The imposed aura of sacredness is too overwhelming for most of us, believing in not just gurus but also in gods, scriptures and tenets of man-made religions. The overwhelming aura of these frauds blinds and bamboozles the masses.
S T Coleridge’s ‘Willing Suspension of Disbelief’ also works here. Somewhere, many of us know that these gurus are phoney and outright dubious characters, but continue to believe because they’re indoctrinated to believing in them, just like mankind is inured to believing in god. Humans’ tangible relatability to these gurus makes us complacent.
We don’t want to pooh-pooh the illusion and the psychological crutch that we get by following these babas. To most of us, it’s heavenly traction! So, a kind of helplessness engulfs us when these people are accused of heinous crimes. We try to defend them because we think that if they’re gone or behind the bars, who’ll take our entreaties to the divine being sitting somewhere in some obscure heaven! A kind of selfish motive also makes us defend people like Gurmeet, Asaram or Rampal. So, even if they’re put behind bars for life, followers will continue to deify them. Remember, faith is mankind’s inalienable fate. It’s inexorable.
The writer is a regular contributor to the world’s premier publications and portals in several languages
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