Nowadays, like any other profession, we can see competition in spiritual world too. Some spiritual leaders are vote banks whereas some work as political settlers. Some have gained more than expected exposure whereas some are still struggling for achieving name and fame. Recently, Bhayyuji Maharaj, a spiritual leader with a strong following in Maharashtra, announced retirement from the public life. I was surprised on hearing his announcement and what kind of public life he was in? He says he is not good at managing business, but believe me his business managers will charge you lumpsum money for washing his feet (Paad Pooja) or seeking his special darshan. People queue for his glimpses. Anyways, if you compare him with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar or Baba Ramdev then he is yet a small time guru and failed to spread his empire as wide as they could do.
Bhayyuji, who is originally from Indore in Madhya Pradesh, surprised many with the sudden announcement considering his proximity to political leaders in Maharashtra. He was associated with key Congress, NCP and BJP leaders for 17 years. His most favourite leaders because of whom he remained in limelight such as Vilasrao Deshmukh, Balasaheb Thackeray and Gopinath Munde all passed away, he remained isolated in the present BJP rule. In political arena, he is known as political settler than spiritual leader. Meanwhile, he tried his level best to be on social network such as linkedIn and twitter but his reach was always limited.
On the other hand, Baba Ramdev not only entered into mainstream business but also sold his Yoga to all limits; he overnight became blue-eyed boy of BJP for attacking Congress and its alleged corruption. Whereas Bhayyuji Maharaj is neutral person and he is on ‘good term’ with every parties and its leaders. His utility is quite meagre for present political party. His inferiority complex is justified.
Meanwhile, gurus and mahagurus have been promoted by people in power and not only politicians every citizen who has the power to do so, socially, economically, politically etc. Many of us rethink about the condition, we live and how the guru take centre stage and use the situation to their best ability. They are just ordinary human beings but the ability to sell their ideas to the larger section of society is incredible.
Generally, Indians live with fear of all kinds and this may be the reason for strong beliefs in extra ordinary powers with this human beings. Moreover, people of all faiths walk in to this trap and forget to serve the people for happiness but their objective is to gain all the time in some way or the other and never be a loser of any kind. Most of the today’s godmen and women are far from following the true spiritual path as laid down by the religion. They are more interested in earning easy money and getting patronage from the so-called community leaders (politicians). Eventually, the beneficiaries of these hidden agenda keep propping up these godmen and women for their benefits. They are vote banks, they are money-laundering centres, they can create communal violence and they can promote religion for political advantage. These gurus are backbone to the filthy politics of India. Indian spiritualism is about consumerism and wealth accumulation like the rest of Indian culture today. Nobody is blind here both the guru and the followers know what they are aiming to secure. It is a just another reflection of total social breakdown in India.
For Baba Ramdev, yoga and ayurveda have been the main money-spinners since he shot to fame in 2004. Besides crusading against corruption and black money, he runs a 100-bed hospital, an Ayurveda college, a university, a real estate business and a mini hospitality industry at the sprawling Haridwar campus of Patanjali Yogapeeth.
The success story of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living (AOL), headquartered in Bangalore, is no less fascinating. The organisation’s crowning glory is its international appeal. Founded in 1981 by the soft-spoken guru, AOL has become an educational and humanitarian movement across 150 countries claiming to have touched 370 million lives, with its stress management and other spiritual initiatives. Like all good things in life, the healing and rejuvenation process comes for a price. One has to admire the efficient business model of the AOL. If you are interested, then you click on ‘interested’ and the website then asks you for your personal details (name, phone number, email ID). Within minutes, a person calls you with all the information you need. The payment is made on the spot via cheque or cash, or online transaction if the programme is at the ashram. The money collected by the teachers goes to the ashram funds, which is sent in by the teachers who are basically volunteers working here part-time.
There are other spiritual gurus ‘not so famous’ as the ones above. The chances are that most of them are waiting for the right moment. Inside every successful godman lurks a suited CEO with a power point presentation at hand. However, the one who lack these business skills find no other option than taking break from the public life.
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