Why God-men are a Growth Industry ?
God-men are a growth industry in India. Political patronage keeps their social and economic empire beyond the regulation. The climate of religion based politics creates a fertile ground for the phenomenal growth of so called God-men. The sociology of faith in a deeply divided and hierarchy/status-conscious society like ours sustains the mass following for these self styled spiritual groups even after their conviction.
In mythology, it is given that miracles happen. In a deeply religious society like India, astrology is more popular than astronomy as, great scientist, Jayant Narlikar observed . Mythology and metaphysics are more credible than macro economics or mathematics. Thus, these God-men thrive on the social landscape of India. In a country with humongous inequalities and multiple forms of mass deprivation, the appetite for such miracles get manifold turning into a bonanza for these self styled modern day Gods and Goddesses.
When public discourse is fast being replaced by metaphysical issues than material issues, god men find a favourable terrain to expand .The phenomenal growth of the businesses of these God-men in the recent past is a testimony to the impact of changed social and political landscape in India.
As Vivek Agnihotri a film-maker and writer says, a persisting problem, lack of awareness, financial, physical or social constraints, a failed support system and an environment fed on blind faith leads us to an address which offers hope, instant gratification and a promise to a miracle. However in current times, we have seen fraudsters, scamsters and rapists masquerade as religious gurus. They have palaces, a fleet of cars, all kinds of luxuries, gold, diamonds and a mass of land. Some of them have their own militia. Thus, these God-men while claiming to be exploring spiritual world amass and enjoy unparalleled material wealth and luxuries. Yet, they enjoy following , thanks to the army of supporters they cultivate among whom there are influential people in society too .
Besides, liberalisation and the penetration of TV has also contributed to the growth of this phenomenon , argues, Vivek Agnihotri. A sudden shift from a localised mindset to a global mindset, from joint family to nuclear family, from a secured, lazy government job to demanding, competitive private jobs, unplanned urbanisation and the sudden advent of consumerism and materialism has given birth to a new social disorder. It has resulted in new kinds of pressures, stress and insecurities. This milieu reinforces, faith, belief and hope. At a time when the ruling dispensation accords more importance to faith rather than constitutional values, the God-men becomes a growth industry .
The culture of instant gratifications and instant solutions to longstanding problems provide the instrumentality for the God-men to grow. Politicians , also flock to these God-men for support as masses come under the sway of such God-men who act as magicians, miracle-workers, healers, priests, mystics and masters of all spiritual energies. Thus ,these so called gurus and babas with their mass following and their large sphere of influence in society are seen as perfect vote banks by the politicians . Thus, these God-men escape the scrutiny of law . The politician, god-men nexus is a quid pro quo relationship . Politicians ,businessmen ,corrupt officials and black money hoarders use these empires of God-men even for money laundering. As religious and spiritual issues are sensitive subjects that can rouse public sentiment, the law enforcement agencies too are wary of putting them under legal scanner. Thus, the fiefdoms of these God-men act as some sort of tax havens within the country . These God-men use social engineering , techniques of brand promotion to expand and sustain their mystic image . With the commercialisation of health care making it unaffordable for a large section of Indians, these God-men attract gullible people in the form of alternate health care providers.
Secularism means keeping religion out of politics. Democracy means keeping politics out of religion. But, India compromised both on democracy and secularism. This distortion in polity breeds God-men. In fact as Hegel famously said, by separating church from state we are actually doing both a favour.
As the societies are increasingly getting complex and human life much more complex, these God-men cash in on people’s personal fears, anxieties, uncertainties and problems.