The irony of blind faith

Vasu Pachnanda
The Dera Sacha Sauda’s head Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s conviction in two cases of rape instituted against him, was another instance where rule of law was reinforced as an inexorable medium of justice, and the guilty was made to face the ire of the law. But what ensued, in the form of unrestrained violence unleashed by the Dera supporters, who went on a rampage spree, going berserk over its reverent godman’s hapless fate, was something entirely unwarranted and reprehensible in itself.
Such was the faith of those violent Dera supporters, who were hell bent on avenging the indignity meted to their demigod that it ironically concluded in the loss of several lives that fell prey to the confrontation with the law enforcement agencies, after virtually wreaking havoc and taking the protest to an entire contrast of normalcy.
But when such incidents repeat, with such incessant frequency, from Asaram to Rampal and now Ram Rahim, it becomes pertinent to ask if the society is somewhat lacking to be mislead by such hidden criminals lurking and hiding behind the camouflage of piousness, establishing their own cult with the inculcation of a blind faith, that could have such adverse consequences.
These deras and babas professing to be messengers between the people and the God, are too a consequence of the same society that they symbiotically feed upon, though as mere parasites do to the organisms that host them. Probably a society where most of the prosperity furnishes the life of the well to do and the frustrated ones resort to such cults, which feign liberation by God as a means to rid them of all their immediate problems and by offering them specific and subjective solutions to each of their ailments.
Forming the butter between the toast, these middleman that serve God to their followers, are no merely different from any resort that liberates the followers of their domestic problems and guide them to a life, less problematic than that they are currently undergoing. Offering subsidized food to its followers along with access to free health services are incentives enough to mould the loyalty of a downtrodden poverty stricken man, who is rather too depressed and finds no hope in the implementation of Government’s social security schemes, that are more or less exhausted through corruption or sometimes plagued by untimely delivery and fail to redress his daily concerns.
If the state’s machinery isn’t well oiled, to deliver immediately, it isn’t unnatural for a man to take recourse to such institutions, even if in the name of faith, to live a life more deserving and more inclined to addressing his day to day concerns.
The faith of the devotees thus surpasses their loyalties to the other state institutions, political class and even the law enforcement agencies, which helps these self-styled Godmen, who are considered the messiahs of truth and justice by their devotees, irrespective of their criminal rackets and all the impropriety committed by them, under the garb of religious execution.
It is this kind of raw power and its exercise over its devotees that gives them larger than life image and an obvious license to trade the faith of its devotees, wielding them to their own advantage.
This certainly and subtly also turns into a social complex united by religion, where the followers marry among themselves and create a kind of social fabric of unity for all purposes under the direction of their pious heads. Instances of people marrying each other from the same societal complex as those inclined to such institutions have been common, thereby leading to the kind of linear rise of power of such deras across territories, with these Godmen acting as facilitators of such alliances to cater their own vested interests.
Such communities also act as a medium for business for such  Godmen, as we have witnessed probably in the present case too, where these Godmen wield their community influence to establish their clout in businesses across spectrums of growth channels.
Such realities don’t deter the political class from paying their homage to such religious cults, and garner their support in times of elections. This has not to be denied considering the kind of mass influence and voter appeal residing with these regional demigods that use faith, even to trade the allegiance of their voters, to the advantage or disadvantage of a particular political outfit.
Thus these political parties can surely be seen wooing these deras and taking them into confidence, because the diktats of such deras sees to it that people cast their vote according to their faith, than their conscience, which is not the essence that a true democracy symbolizes.
Considered as a kind of empowerment by such devotees, such an exercise of venturing into the political field by such deras, is considered a kind of political empowerment by the credulous devotees who fall prey to their own gullibility, and the astuteness of these dera managers, who are too complicated for the understanding of a common innocent devotee.
Thus getting state patronage coupled with the blind devotion of its followers, these dera chiefs lead a life of utter leisure untroubled by any kind of political and social scrutiny, and even go on to the extent of sometimes subverting the rule of law and disrespecting its ideals.
Considering that these deras are a response to a stimulus engineered by the frustration that creeps in the life of a common ordinary villager, who is too gullible to read into the tricks of such powerful deras, it can be said that the source of their popularity also is the same society that condemns it.
From caste mobilization to crude practices of caste, sometimes as in the present case of Sera Sacha Sauda, the lower strata get fascinated by the lure of equality that these deras promise to inculcate among its followers, along with the other aids that they bestow upon them.
Thus it is high time, that the state sees to it that its implementation of all the social security schemes and other means that connect individuals to the state institutions are not plagued or marred by corruption or laxity, much to the dejection of common man, who in the absence of a bridge between state and individuals, resorts to such deras for the fulfillment of his daily needs.
And lastly but not least, state should engineer programs to facilitate availability of education to the illiterate masses that can lead them out of the snare of such deras and accord them a conscientious realization of what is right and what is wrong than merely being blindly led by such cults in the name of religion.
With such goals and offcourse, a step towards the direction of eradicating inequalities among the masses and providing everyone with a bare minimum could help solve much of the dilemma around such instances, so that they are not repeated in the future.
(The author is a student of National Law Institute University Bhopal)
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