Babadom in India

    The arrest of “Sant Sri Asaram Ji Bapu” on charges of rape has provoked strong reactions. The majority has condemned the conduct of Asaram and his son, Narayan Sain. But then there are Baba’s devotees who refuse to believe Baba could ever do anything wrong, much less commit the heinous crime of raping. They see all kinds of conspiracy to defame Baba who they look at as the manifestation of God Himself. Then we have the sadhus and sants who do not wish to be perceived as practitioners of immorality, coming forward to defend Asaram. Again, there are some more so called Babas, like Baba Ramdev, who are more in to politics than into any semblance of spirituality, who must cry foul against a government, not to their liking, when it initiates any action against an erring “godman”. Baba Ramdev was in New York a couple of days ago, attending the Hindu Unity Day celebrations. He was categorical in claiming that the Congress led UPA government harassed Sadhus and Sants and that it was being unfair to Asaram. One would like to know from Baba Ramdev if the evidence that has surfaced till now against Asaram and his son Narayan Sain is not enough to warrant a legal action against them.

    Is the evidence not enough to provoke the wrath of people against Asaram and his son, in particular, and Babas, in general? Is the evidence not enough to embarrass the class of Sadhus worth the name? If Baba Ramdev is an honest and right thinking man, he should demand the strictest possible penalty for the man who has violated with impunity the laws of the land, betrayed the trust of hundreds and thousands of believing followers and brought a bad name to all shades of spiritual leaders whether they are called Sants, Sadhus or Babas. Since the arrest of Asaram, several other cases of corruption in his ashrams have come to light. Many complaints from local residents have surfaced. Charges have been laid against his ashrams for embezzling huge sums of government funds and annexing government land. There are also reports of illegal activities being carried out in the ashrams. But these scams were not exposed earlier because most godmen have political backing. When BJP leader Uma Bharti was the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, she had organized a sermon of Asaram in the state legislature. The entire cabinet and the MLAs of the ruling party attended the meet. The government even prepared the press note for the event and published it in newspapers across the state. Such support from political leaders is responsible for the widespread influence of godmen. Babas also spread their empire by selling merchandise – a multi-crore business. Their products include medicines, cosmetics and clothes and have a ready-made market among their followers. They are also sold on the pretext of encouraging indigenous products instead of foreign brands. Babadom prevails in India.

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