The Chaos Beyond our Walls – Fear and Godmen
I walked with my eyes closed
and the voices helped.
Now I’ve opened my eyes
but the voices won’t go,
and I tread unfamiliar paths… not knowing where they lead…
Many of us were infuriated, appalled, incredulous, and so on about the famous (infamous) Gurmeet Ram Rahim situation.
It’s obvious that the Godmen scenario in India is a sham. Time and again several of these Godmen have proved beyond doubt the fact that they don’t really practice what they preach, inviting an avalanche of outcry against following them blindly on social media. Then why is it that our country continues being stuck in this mire and we can’t seem to stop buying packages of commercially marketed faith?
Societal chasm – Today’s day and age is connected beyond comfortable privacy boundaries. We have access to humongous amounts of information from innumerable sources. You would imagine progress and progressive ideas, therefore, should easily percolate to all corners of the country. We forget, however, that there is an equal amount of regressive content available. We don’t see it because targeted content creation and marketing makes us see what we want to see. In other words, there is social echo. I see a hemisphere that believes in equal rights for women, education for all, equal opportunities for transgender and is against discrimination basis sexual preferences. Someone else sees the hemisphere that believes in the contrary and conforms to their ‘ideologies’. Our individual beliefs are reinforced in two different directions that don’t meet or talk to each other. The earth is always half in darkness. Godmen and their target audience, therefore, survive harmoniously unchallenged in the universe this post won’t reach.
Vulnerability – No one has as shrewdly observed and leveraged the vulnerability and the fear inherent in our minds as self-appointed custodians of religion/faith. It is one of the the most successful Business Plan of entrepreneurial India and let’s face it there’s no shortage of demand. Underprivileged pockets of society with low self esteem resulting from centuries of oppression, people with depression, mental illnesses, people grappling with phases of hardships, the poorest of poor and hordes of people dealing with scarcity of one thing or another (cause if anything is in abundance in our overpopulated under-educated nation, it’s scarcity) – all easily fall prey to masquerading frauds. This is their sense of community and support – a socially approved and even a glorified one at that.
Moral Fibre – The most amusing part of this incident was how disciples’ feelings and support remained unfazed even when Babaji was convicted for a crime as heinous as rape. This is where a discussion on culture becomes necessary. Ours is a culture where women are not actually our pride but our certificate of respect as per the guidelines defined by patriarchy. It’s a culture that protects its cows more fervently than its women. It’s a culture where domestic violence/marital rape is condoned but divorce is shameful. With these values imbued and reinforced for generations, how can we expect anything different?
It goes beyond just women issues. The definitions of crimes are fungible. Charity, for instance, cancels out murders. Criminals are only those who can’t afford charity or a lawyer for that matter. I’m sure if it were a murder or any other crime, the reaction would’ve been no different. In such a scenario mistreatment of people with mental ailments, casteism and domestic violence become just “smaller” issues, which don’t even begin to get the privilege of any attention or debate. With a misplaced sense of values and bargained virtues embedded in our moral fibre; truth is – India wears a veil over its judgment. That’s why, content seizes to matter where faith has taken roots.
These are just a few amongst many plausible reasons that leave us wondering if blind faith is a problem or is it just symptomatic of a gravely blighted socio-economic ecosystem that we’re either unaware of or are too scared to acknowledge. Sadly, the majority of our population is part of that ecosystem and finding purpose in blind faith is a natural fallout of their atmosphere and upbringing. To imagine that the solution to this dysfunction that has taken roots over centuries is simple or easy, would be naivety. To expect everyone to be able to see these issues from our perspective (or to see them as issues at all) would be gross ignorance.
Nothing is obvious. Handfuls of us have chosen to build a fort around ourselves that maintains a semblance of order, but let’s not forget the chaos beyond our walls.