Continuing with my present state of disillusionment (refer previous post for details), this one comes along as a sequel. The issue of ‘faith’ has always puzzled me beyond question. It could be something as obscure as the faith that many of my female colleagues in office have of fasting today to ensure a long life for their husbands (ok lets not get feministic by arguing why can’t men keep a similar fast on the lines of karva chauth or is it that they don’t want their wives to live long enough!) or the trend these days of falling a prey to the million faith-peddlers who hold sway on the unsuspecting millions. Without getting into names or individuals, it is no secret that ‘spirituality’ of the 21st century is a big booming business. They are run like corporate houses, they have precise market segments and market research to target their most vulnerable ‘customers’, they have super size marketing and publicity blitz, they flood TV channels ( for those who haven’t been caught napping surfing these faith-peddler channels like astha, sanskar, God and ones on quran and Arabic faiths- its almost as big a business as ekta kapoor’s daily soap opera tortures!!!), have modern-age gurus and matas cris-crossing the world with a frequency that would put business honchos to shame. And this phenomenon is not religion or country specific. It has assumed menacingly huge proportions on a global scale. For all those baiters of Indian jet-age gurus, we had a huge conclave of an evangelist in Bangalore last year ( of course amidst protest from our loony Parivar brethren) , who claimed to touch people and cure them of their sickness- all in an atmosphere of intense , artificial and generated mass hysteria!
We all agree that the man ( and woman of course!) of our times is much more literate, much more scientifically inclined, rational and all that is good with the neurons. Isn’t it intriguing then that such people still resort to the likes of touch-and-cure healers? I mean, biology and medical sciences could go on a vacation for all they care?
But then to be fair to the ‘best practices’ that our corporate gurus employ, its no longer mumbo jumbo that would’ve charmed your grandmother or her mother that these chaps use…we have gurus talking science…about how de-stressing their techniques can get and which enzymes and neuro-transmitters change and to what percentage and so on! And with all this high-end medico-statistical analysis in place, a huge trap is laid on a multi-national scale to lure (read ‘serve’) more and more human beings! Miracles are performed, holy ash falls from nowhere, lepers start running, cancers get cured, the night skies turn red and wonder what else happens and we have this huge mammoth gatherings of ‘devotees’ swaying their hands in orgasmic ecstasy of having realized their very Selves! May be they have, but then if the entire process involves a huge dent on my wallet, I am pretty satisfied with my current ‘unrealized,’ ignorant self!
It also makes me wonder how these holy men and women acquire huge tracts of lands to build their palatial ashrams. Wasn’t sanyas all about renunciation or was I just being way too stupid? Wonder what it is with these men-in-holy-robes that attracts those in power? Invariably the hobnob between them and the ruling class exists; while I understand the need that our divine men and women have for those in power to get all their goodies and freebies, what do the power czars get in return? What makes them vacillate in front of people pulling out ash or doing any other inconsequential and totally meaningless miracles?
For the aam-aadmi of our times, I guess spirituality of the hip-hop variety gives a convenient outlet. With the breakdown of our traditional joint family set up, nuclear families are increasingly becoming a thressome- man-woman-kid affair. Insecurities, loneliness, depression, absence of an elderly shoulder to cry upon, lack of sagely and experienced advice plagues us all in the modern society. And these czars and czarinas of the soul conveniently cash in on these very insecurities and make big moolah. I agree, that many of them also indulge in a lot of social work. But then that is more of an eyewash, a lid to cover the muck that their financial irregularities have generated. One casual look at the standard of living of the near-and-dear ones of the said God man or woman before and after he/she declared himself/herself as such is enough to drive home this point! Hitherto average middle class family members would now have chauffer driven limousines, have a battery of servants, would’ve toured the globe a million times, sent their kids to the most expensive of schools abroad. And since the power masters of the day are also in tow, the entire drama carries on unabashed, uninterrupted!
While my agnostic self prevents me from giving an ‘all-pervasive all-knowing entity that oozes with compassion’ image to the concept of god ( ‘cos if he were that compassionate and wonderful, humanity wouldn’t be in the throes of misery that it currently is in), it simply seems out of question to me to raise a mere mortal to a pedestal of divinity. This man in sacred robes is as human as me; he has the same body structure as I have of two eyes, one nose, two ears and the rest, has more or less the same kinds of urges ( of food, water, of nature calls!!), the same kind of passions and desires (ok, may be in a lesser or who knows larger proportion that the very-ordinary me!), falls prey to the same kinds of viral infections and diseases- then what on mother earth makes him an incarnation of God?
But all said and done, the malaise is deep. Religion they say is an opiate for the masses and as long as people remain people- insecure, timid, craving for external strength- so long will our wonder-gurus continue to rule the roost! The show, as they say, would go on and that is what it all is at the end of the day- a huge huge trickery show!