We read about ‘Shining India,’ its IT sector, its ancient civilization, its rishis and munis, and the Modi magic. We feel good.
We are on a progressive path, constantly comparing ourselves with our failing neighbor Pakistan and our successful neighbor China.
Suddenly, the talk has turned to a more mundane matter, to a man pompously named Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. He had been taking millions of Indians, mostly in Panjab and Haryana, for a ride for the last 27 years, deceiving not only the common folks but also many educated people and even clever politicians. After enjoying luxurious and flamboyant living, and illicit sex behind a curtain, for 27 years, he was caught by the law and sentenced to a jail term of 20 years. Murder charges against him are still pending and may find him headed to the gallows.
India is unique in having a long history and tradition of creating institutions of ever new religious gurus. Some of them were great philosophers. An ‘Adi’ guru often appointed his successor who then appointed his successor and an unbroken line of gurus going back several centuries was created. Gurus shape society’s moral values and culture and often create other institutions such as hospitals, schools, and colleges.
But Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was in a category of his own. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing and indulged in unguru-like behavior to enrich himself and to satisfy his carnal desires. He was charismatic enough to charm millions of his followers to treat him as a god. The truth, however, could not be hidden for too long. His misdeeds were discovered which included rape and murder.
The Indian public is generally accepting of gurus, but both the public and the government need to be extra vigilant of fake gurus.