By Rimli Bhattacharya
The recent allegations of rape, stalking, criminal intimidation and physical exploitation by a law student against former union minister of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Swami Chinmayananda, corroborated the fact that so often gods are in news for all the wrong reasons. And here’s why.
The self-proclaimed godman, Asaram Bapu, was held guilty of rape charges. The victim was a 16-year-old minor girl. A court in Jaipur, Rajasthan, brought a closure to the case which generated controversies since 2013. The five charges which have been slapped on this notorious man are raping a minor girl, unwarranted internment, criminal terrorization, sexual abuse and criminal collusion. Of course, there were other allegations against him as well which can be discussed in a separate essay.
The head of religious cult Dera Sacha Sauda and godman, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was guilty of rape charges by a special CBI court located in Panchkula. The victim, a follower of Ram Rahim Singh, accused him of repeatedly raping her inside the Dera campus situated near Sirsa in Haryana. Mind you this is only one case out of the many allegations of rape, murder and violence against him.
The much disputed self-styled godman Paramahamsa Nithyananda too was convicted of rape. He disappeared five days post charges of abduction against him. In a leaked video he was seen in a compromising position with Tamil actress Ranjitha.
Yet in another intriguing case of a self-proclaimed godman, Virender Dev Dixit, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has accused him of raping a minor girl at his ashrams in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. The case dates back to 1999.
Who is a godman?
To the uninitiated, ‘Godman’ is a colloquial term used in India for a type of hypnotic guru proficient in performing miracles/magic/occult practices. They normally have a high profile existence and are capable of gaining support and recognition both from the elite and illiterate sections of the society. They claim to have supernatural powers like capacity to heal, ability to see future happenings and also capacity to read minds. The stress and anxiety of the common people make them vulnerable to fall prey easily to the charms of these godmen. They aren’t just the miracle makers but are also our family physician, psychologist, counselor, psychiatrist and, most importantly, our spiritual guide. They offer easy solutions and answers in this otherwise cruel and difficult world. To sum up, these godmen are POWERFUL.
These godmen have all the attributes of a good as well as a corrupt politician. They are excellent orators and are masters in the art of duping. They show concern for the poor and weak and engage themselves in social work. They guarantee a rich sponsorship and bulwark themselves with a good political network. The arrangement works well as politicians use them for vote banks. They also have a sharp acumen to secure affection and belief of their followers with their tricks of trade. Superstitions and deep need to find hope and happiness attracts more followers and these babas are also clever enough to understand how to cheat and hypnotise people into becoming their followers.
They abuse their position to get sex
These godmen often misuse their position to get sex. I have represented above four cases but there are a lot more of these sadhus and godmen in India who have have been held guilty of abuse and rape. Often those incidents go unnoticed. The reason is simple. Putting up a struggle against these men seems to be inefficacious when rape is increasingly used as an instrument to assert power and intimidate the powerless in India. Hyderabad-based andrologist, Dr. Sudhakar Krishnamurti, who deals with sexual problems of men, says that these godmen often come to him for discussing their own sexual problems in real life. They are just like ordinary lustful men who would like to have more and more sex. In an interview with Sonia Sarkar, he said that these godmen like any other common man have active sex lives. They possess a high libido and have ample chances to have sex with multiple partners. They mostly discuss issues related to erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. Most of them would love to have an erection immediately after an ejaculation. They read and watch porn and they proceed to have sex with multiple women at the same time just like it’s shown in pornographic films. Some of them even inject drugs in them for better performance. They are also addicted to intoxicants and indulge in the same before having sex to counter their own anxiety or self-reliance. People often feel that drug induced sex is always good but we know this is just a myth. Women with no knowledge of hygiene and risks involved fall prey to the traps of these godmen. And this is where these men take advantage. They do not care about precautions and are the biggest transmitters of venereal diseases. They have an inbuilt notion that if they have sex with a virgin they would get cured of their venereal diseases and end up transmitting STDs (Sex Transmitted Diseases) to several other women.
How the society is duped by these conmen
History has been witness that each time a fraud godman stands exposed, one is left pondering at the blind faith of the followers who failed to recognize that the person who was a crook, murderer and rapist at work. Being part of a cult gives an incorrect sense of denotation and resolutions to people who have no other hope. By connecting oneself to a cult gives one a recognition of sorts. The foolish knowledge spouted by these godmen helps to keep one’s hopes going, with a guarantee of heaven, as the last resort.
But it isn’t only the destitute and the uneducated who are duped by these imposter babas. The rich followers are the financial backbone to these immoralities. The affluent that have everything materialistic look for happiness and yearning. In other words, the emperors and empresses of a shallow world lacking substance and contentment, they seek the evasive in the aura of these conmen. These self-proclaimed godmen then act as a channel between politicians and their rich followers, using their smart networking system to help all. These deras, ashrams, satsangs are perfect places for such networking.
Do we still need a godman?
The reason these godmen still can overpower the masses is that people are often tremendously impuissant because of the provocations they face in their everyday life. These godmen act as a quick fix to those challenges. Blinded by conviction and fidelity people are unwilling to believe that there cannot be any such person on earth as godman. If our support system had enough adequacies for people to deal with their daily perturbation, the rise of these godmen could have been curbed. By providing more evidence of their deceitful intentions to the followers these abusers can be exposed of their heinous offences. Only then things can change.
In conclusion, I would like to ask: Despite recognizing the ways of the godmen, does India still need them?
Rimli Bhattacharya completed Mechanical Engineering from National Institute of Technology. After obtaining an MBA, she worked in the corporate sector. Rimli is a trained Indian classical dancer, based out of Mumbai, India. She tweets at: @rimli76
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