Warning: The article may hurt sentiments and contain strong language.
India is the land of many spiritual leaders or the ‘god men’, more often known as the ‘miracle men’ whose motive in life is to show people the right path. While some of these god men are well known for possessing supernatural powers and perform miracles on a regular basis, the others only rose to fame owing to the charity work they did for the society.
Before we delve into the subject, let us acquaint ourselves with the two very important words:
Spirituality: The meaning of this term is relative. There is no absolute definition of spirituality as it means different things to different people. While a section feels that following organised religion and visiting places of worship is spirituality, another section defines it as reflecting back on their actions and reactions. For the latter, engaging in yoga, meditation, long walks, and silent prayers are integral part of spirituality.
I have a very simple definition of spirituality for myself. I define it as a process of connecting with one’s spirit. Whether it comes from following organised religion or from self-reflection is irrelevant. What’s more important is that we establish this connection with our inner selves and judge ourselves more than we judge anyone else.
- Guru: A guru is a ‘dispeller of darkness’. He is the one who guides you to the light at the end of the dark tunnel. Sri Pramhans Yogananda said that a true, God-illumined guru is the one who, in his attainment of self-mastery, has realised his identity with the omnipresent spirit. Such a one is uniquely qualified to lead the seeker on his or her inward journey to perfection.
The sanctity of guru-disciple’s relationship
One of the earliest and the greatest spiritual gurus that India ever saw was Sant Kabir Das whose poetic verses and utterances, known as ‘ślokā‘ in Sanskrit inspired Guru Nanak Dev Ji and were adopted in Sikhism. Sant Kabir, a Bhramin poet preached union of God and soul to attain salvation or nirvana. He also taught his disciples and non-disciples to practice the religion of heart and respect their gurus who guide them to the righteous path. One of most recited and cited couplet is:
गुरु गोविन्द दोऊ खड़े काको लागूं पायं। बलिहारी गुरु आपने जिन गोविन्द दियो बताय।।
“Guru Gobind dou khade, Kaako laagu paay | Balihaari guru aapne, Govind diyo bataaye ||”
Interpreted as,” I face both God and my guru. Whom should I bow to first? God being formless and guru being the path to god, I shall bow down to my guru first”. This couplet by Sant Kabir Das correctly summarises the pure relationship between a guru and his disciple. One has never seen God as he is a formless entity whose existence is questionable. But one must respect the entity that helps him follow the righteous path in life. Similarly, accurately describing the attributes of a guru, Paramhans Ji also said, “The blind cannot lead the blind. Only a master, one who knows God, may rightly teach others about Him. To regain one’s divinity one must have such a master or guru. He who faithfully follows a true guru becomes like him, for the guru helps to elevate the disciple to his own level of realization.”
However, their utterances have lost its relevance in today’s time.
The present situation
I often wonder why do the people of a country who are ardent believers and practitioners of religion, need spiritual leaders in the first place. The answer lies in the question itself. Its easy to fool a believer than to fool a non-believer. India, the home to greatest men in the world’s history is battling the evils of poverty, illiteracy, food shortage, disease and corruption. In such times, when we need to unite as a nation and fight against these evils, we have some opportunists for whom nothing else but the money matters. The innocent people are cajoled into believing that they are living sinful lives and are in great need of soul cleansing and spiritual healing. These opportunists claim to perform miracles to relieve you of pain and sufferings, which you might not even have in the first place, but they make you believe you do. (Isn’t that the first rule of MBA? If you want to sell your product, make your consumer believe they need it even when they don’t. Oh c’mon even an idiot like me knows that! )
If I remember correctly, none of the saints that India has produced, preached or lived a life of luxury. Let it be Shirdi Sai Baba or Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Mahavir Jain or even Gautam Buddha, they all led a very humble life. They all taught us to be better humans and help the less fortunate. Oh, I am forgetting that this scenario existed centuries ago when we used to offer food and clothes as ‘daan’ or ‘bhiksha’ to the saints. Times have changed and currently, we take pride in offering intricate gold and silver jewellery pieces studded with precious stones along with millions of rupees to the idols of these holy men which once inhabited this holy land. I often wonder, if these men were disinterested in material things when they were alive, how can they be interested in such extravagant gifts after their demise? Also, when they were against this practice, then why is it even a practice? Isn’t that regarded as going against the preaching? (It confuses me to the core.)
Many people will argue that these offerings by disciples are not what the idols or institutions demanded, but a mere symbol of their faith and devotion. If that is the case, why do the religious places have an enormous ‘daan peti’ (a box for monetary offerings)? I see what you did there; you basically conditioned our minds to give offerings. Again, people will also argue that a part of the monetary offerings is required for maintaining the place. Fair enough! But the question I have is, if the places are exempt from taxes and receive benefits from the state, technically, they require only a small amount for maintenance purposes. So, what happens to the remaining sum of money? Is it actually utilised for helping the less fortunate? In some cases yes but in majority of the cases NO! There is a reason why people like Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insaan, Sant Shri Asharam Ji Bapu, Sri Sri Ravishankar, Mata Amritanandamayi Devi
and ‘Yoga Guru’ Baba Ramdev are among the Super Rich Indians without even working for a single penny. The details of their riches and a brief of their life history is summarized in the following link: http://www.siliconindia.com/news/general/SuperRich-Spiritual-Gurus-of-India-nid-110419-cid-1.html
It’s pointless to repeatedly state that we all have been cheated by these gurus at some point in our lives. However, we must be aware of the ways in which we have been tricked to avoid such instances from re-occurring. Here are a few examples which may force you to question your belief if you are willing to accept.
Swami Nithyananda – Sex Tape
On 2nd March 2010, Sun TV, an Indian news channel, aired a short scene which shocked Swami Nithyananda’s followers: he allegedly had sex with a television actress. Shortly after the telecast, Nithyananda pulled the disappearing act leaving his organization alone to defend him. The police filed a case against him for cheating, rape and various other reasons. One of his former disciples then went to the police and admitted that he had made the video to expose Nithyananda and make his devotees all around the world aware of his wrong doings. He gave them the 2½ hour DVD after which the Swami was booked for rape and sexual assault in his ashram’s premises.
Swami Paramananda – Sexual assault, Possession of black money
Dassruth Rajendra Prasad, popularly known as Swami Paramananda, stationed in Mauritius, is currently embroiled in a difficult situation. Since a long time, members of the Satyam Gyanam Anandam Society (SGAS) suspected him of committing “immoral acts”. He had sex with several young women considered to be his disciples and found to be guilty of the same on December 30, 2011. Swami Parmananda accepted that he has had sex with the young Sweety, whose parents are members of the SGAS. However, Rajendra Dassruth gave religious explanations, that is to say that at first he took Sweety to be the reincarnation of the “goddess” Radha and the latter took him to be the god Krishna. So for Rajendra Dassruth, it was normal for them to have sex. (If you bought his explanation, you are a fool without doubts!). Following this, other names of young women have been cited; the “guru” had taken them for his Gopis (cow keepers entirely dedicated to the god Krishna in Hinduism). He also publishes the magazine “Know Thyself” sold without authorization, and the money raised directly enters the pockets of Rajendra Dassruth. The local and international branches of the SGAS hold funds and property worth millions of rupees, from donations from followers.
– sexual exploitation, black money
He acted many years as a successor of Sant Kirpal Singh. He has sexually exploited and abused both males and female followers. Moreover the donations he got were not spent totally for his mission, but hospital and school expenditures were given by the Indian state. Only due to his high intellectual intelligence and ingenious power plays he was able to conceal his wicked doings from the public.
The above cited briefs are best examples of how many of India’s most famous God men are engaged in the business of prostitution, selling sex in the name of Tantra, preaching Brahmacharya and Celibacy while having orgies, sex rackets covered up by spiritual discourses and pious appearance, cheap magic tricks to prove themselves as God, selling enlightenment and materializing God. As Sant Kabir Das and Swami Paramhans said, someone who is himself blind cannot lead anyone else to a path of enlightenment. A guru should be able to help you achieve perfection and rise to his stature. I am certain that these spiritual leaders have no stature at all and certainly a sane person would never want to have such attributes to their personality. Its high time people stop believing and following these ‘fake gurus’ blindly. It will save them time, money and help them focus on things which require our attention the most. A Guru can be anyone who helps you be a better individual, be it your parents, your relatives, your teachers or your friends and well wishers. No one has or ever will attain Nirvana by helping the moral-less get richer, if you really want to make a difference and gain good karma, help the needy, stop wasting food and resources. Let yourself be controlled by humanity and let that be your organized religion