Our fascination with the supernatural and the unknown knows no bounds. Whether it is the debate about the existence of god or the sighting of ghosts or the effectiveness of various tantra-mantras or the reliability of astrology, psuedo-science and blind faith have alw
Our fascination with the supernatural and the unknown knows no bounds. Whether it is the debate about the existence of god or the sighting of ghosts or the effectiveness of various tantra-mantras or the reliability of astrology, psuedo-science and blind faith have always drawn huge crowds and have cashed on the unsuspecting mentality of the god-fearing common man/woman. One day it is the Nirmal Baba who prescribespaani puri as a remedy of all your problems and the next day it is a Bhimanand Swami caught running sex rackets under the guise of spirituality; meaning that frauds, louts and fake scamsters have always found the baba market as the perfect money minting destination.
It is no wonder then that when another self styled baba is exposed, there is a huge public outcry and unending wails of breach of trust. The trajectory of Asaram’s (let’s not call him ‘Sant’ or ‘Bapu’) baba career is littered with FIRs lodged against him on charges as common for someone in his business as land grabbing to the more heinous ones like Murder. The latest charge to join his ever increasing FIR kitty is the charge of sexual assault on a minor. Let us keep in mind that this is the same guy who was one of the leading voices of the Nirbhaya Victim bashing campaign, going on record to say that if she would have called her assailants “bhaiya” or would have chanted the gayatri mantra, she would have “found a way out of the situation”.
It is a commonly held notion that rapes and sexual assaults are all about sex. This seems logical to the common mind and ‘westernization’, ‘decline in moral values’, ‘alcohol’, ‘chowmein’ etc. are considered guilty in ‘inciting’ lust and waywardness among men. However, it is an academically sound analysis which tells us that rape is never only about sex. Sexual assault is about dominance and a display of power. It is about ‘teaching’ the victim ‘a lesson’. In cases where the intention of revenge can be ruled out, we can always find this lust as a substitute to a different kind of power.
In Asaram’s case, clearly, the power over lakhs of his blind followers and the power of having survived so many allegations of various misdeeds was not enough to feed his gargantuan ego. Just like a drug addict graduates from a baser kind of addiction to a higher one, power addicts too jump from the appropriation and display of one kind of power to another. In most cases, this power is coercive in nature as it feeds into the mental setup of such addicts, which is fashioned to often demand a display of its coerciveness.
Just a few days before the Asaram scandal broke out, Narendra Dabholkar, an anti-superstition activist in Maharshtra, was shot and assassinated while taking his morning walk. He was the founder-president of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), an organization set up to eradicate superstition. News reports suggested that a few days before his death, he had been threatened by some groups with the words “Remember Gandhi”. Clearly, his campaign against blind faith and his fight against the frauds looting the public hadn’t gone down well with people whose livelihood depended upon the perpetuation of superstition, black magic and other such non sense.
The question before us as a society is this: how long will it be before we stop attending the satsangs or the social functions of such louts disguising themselves as ‘saints’? When will the time come when these fake scamsters will be subjected to a social boycott and their dubious practices will be exposed to the whole world to see? Most importantly, when will we learn to question everything and seek their answers ourselves instead of turning towards god or astrology for the most trivial of our problems?
The answers to these questions are difficult. However, it is our prerogative as a society to find them. Until we do that, I am afraid that well meaning social activists like Mr. Dabholkar will continue to be slain on the altar of blind faith at the cost of our social progress.