Godmen are in the news for all the wrong reasons like the one whose followers pitched an armed battle against the state, or the other one who has been frozen for the past 11 months as his followers await his resuscitation. I do not know what adjectives to use to describe these absurd oddities, but nevertheless they feed on the ignorance and credulity of innocent people who get swayed by their absurd discourse. Never have Marx’s words been more appropriate: religion is indeed the opium of the masses! Well with Godmen being in the news, I have been asked about my opinion on these deviant beings. Here is my take.
First of all, I absolutely and unequivocally condemn such individuals. Let that be understood. Nevertheless one has to be admit that they exist and hold power on millions of followers and thus are agents of change and transformation, albeit of the wrong kind.
Hinduism was first and foremost an oral religious tradition where the sacred texts were cryptic and meant to be the learnt by a few chosen ones. It was left to to them to fulfil the mission of spreading the word. They were given the responsibility of adapting the essence of the precepts to the time and audience. This made the religion dynamic and open to change. At some point however, the texts were written down and the religion slowly turned static. It lost its vigour and adaptability and was only interpreted to suit vested interests. Had it remained oral, things may have looked very different.
The power of Godmen and their ilk is humongous. Sadly these supposedly religious creatures use their power to fulfil their greed in every which way. From amassing obscene wealth to satisfying their base instincts, they do it all.
With the power they yield, these characters could be true agents of social changes but they do just the opposite! One never hears them condemning social evils like child marriage, child sexual abuse, female feoticide and infanticide, bride burning, honour killing and such evils. Imagine the difference they could make if they did!