If a Godman of Ram Rahim can create mayhem in two Indian states, one can imagine the kind of influence and power they wield. In fact, Ram Rahim is a very small fish in ocean of religious gurus which is increasingly pervading India’s spiritual landscape. There was a time when Indian gurus used to impart preaching from the holiest scriptures speaking about true spirituality. Today, the wisdom they impart has mostly to do with how his disciples’ lifestyle would be and is hollow of the spiritualism taught in Gita or Bhagwat. It is increasingly being perceived that the real motivation of these Godmen is to accumulate money than anything else.
Take for example, Matha Amritanandamayi or Amma who preaches spirituality at her ashram in Kerala, housing about 3,000 devotees. Across the country 15 sanyasins preaches Amma’s doctrine. Every year, Amma travels to 28 different countries overseeing the operations of her spiritual empire. The operation of her business is run with corporate efficiency.
Matha’s business includes entertainment and education. A five-campus university, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham and 56 high and primary schools are included in her business portfolio. Is she any less to any high profile business magnet? Most strikingly, everything is under the garb of spirituality.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living (AOL) mostly teaches stress management and in his ashram well do people can socialize and have fun. AOL has presence in 150 countries touching 370 million lives. The business model is intact with AOL as the healing and rejuvenation process comes at a price tag of Rs.3,000 per person. This automatically blocks the poor people from getting the fruits of spirituality. The business model of websites and telecallers are in place to sell the AOL’s services to customers who can then pay via cash, cheque or online.
There are several other Godmen in India and other countries having Hindu population and run with corporate finesse. Most of them are beyond the reach of the poor and are approachable only by the big shots of the community. They are the kind of money spinners that can turn movie stars, high profile business men to shame.
Lord Krishna in Bhagwat Gita (Chapter XVIII, Sloka 65) said:
Give your mind to Me, be devoted to Me, and bow to me. Doing so you will come to me alone, I truly promise you (18.65).
However, these Godmen’s influence is such intense on innocent people that they are more devoted to those Godmen than God himself; at least the Ram Rahim episode points towards that.