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Yogi and the Profane Laws: Can Secular Rules apply to the God-men?
01/20/2006
By Ram Puniyani

It is not for the first time that the followers of God-men rampaged when their Guru was asked questions or doubts on the grounds of laws of the land. Brinda Karat, CPI (M) leader and MP pointed out ( Jan 04, 2006) that the medicines produced in Baba Ramdeo's factory in Haridwar contained animal and human parts. She stated this on the basis of the version of the workers sacked from the factory. In response hell was let loose and the supporters of Ramdeo attacked the office of CPI (M) leading to the skirmish between the followers of CPI (M) and Ramdeo.

Ramdeo said that CPI (M) is not nationalist, that it is a ploy of multinationals and that he is being defamed. His strong support came from the Sangh Parivar followers, the hooligans of VHP and Bajarang dal joined the attack on the office of CPM, while the BJP leaders came out strongly to condemn CPI (M) for its insult of India's culture. One of them went to the extent of saying that whenever Indian (read Brahminic Hinduism) culture is gaining prominence CPI (M) feels threatened. Many leaders from other parties kept quiet or 'supported' Ramdeo.

The story, which has been undermined in the din of hysteria, began with factory owned by Ramdeo where many a women employees were exploited heavily and 133 women were sacked for demanding the implementation of work norms in the factory. That's how Brinda Karat, who wanted to defend the rights of women employees, got to know about the factory and got the samples analyzed. The issue was raised by her as a citizen and as an MP. According the prevalent laws the Ayurvedic medicines cannot put any human or animal extract in the medicines. The basic issue of workers right and the ethics of production of Ayurvedic medicines both have been swamped by the emotions roused because the owner of the factory has the halo of a God-man, conducting shows of Yoga on TV.

The cover of Baba-dom is the best to hide the things or to avoid following the laws relating to business and industry. It is not too far back in the time that one Narendra Maharaj was not allowed to violate the norms of security of air travel, as he was prevented from carrying his dandam (Holy staff) along with him while traveling. The whole hell was let loose; his followers were on the streets, rampage and the usual venting of ire. It is touted that the God-men teach religious values of tolerance, peace and non violence! Most of the occasions these followers go on rampage when their Guru is not allowed to flout the laws with impunity, or an uncomfortable question is raised about their activities. It is no different in other religions. Once Asghar Ali Engineer, human rights activist of great repute, questioned the delay in the flight due to late coming of Bohra High Priest Syedna, this mild questioning was followed by the ransacking of his house and office and he himself was beaten up mercilessly.

While nobody in the political circles is picking up courage to raise the question regarding Ramdeo, can one presume that those in the electoral politics believe that there are two sets of laws, one for the ordinary mortals and another for the 'divinely ordained'. The association of saffron God-men with Hindu right is close and overt/subtle, both at the same time. Recently Ramdeo attended the annual convention of Rashtra Sevika Samiti a subordinate organistion of RSS (incidentally RSS does not permit women to be its members). When Shankaracharya was arrested in the Shankar Raman murder case, Vajpayee and Aasaram Bapu rubbed shoulders, to protest against the arrest of the 'holy seer'. The argument put forward was that Shankaracharya represents Hindus and is revered by Hindus, so he should be treated differently.

One has some general observations about the God-men. During last several years they have been flourishing at exponential rate. Most of them have done very well by the profane standards of accumulation of wealth, chain of plush Ashrams, lakhs of devotees, infinite money, foreign junkets and all the luxuries possible. You renounce the world to get the best of it! Their prefixes also are very diverse and keep on getting better and better with time. They do choose their prefixes and suffixes. While other God men do it in their own way, Rajneesh had an interesting trajectory of these. He began as Acharya, went on to become Bhagwan (God!) and finally gave himself the title of Osho before he left this planet. All of them have different strengths (! weaknesses), some one is more for diamonds, someone likes cars and expensive clothes and yet another one prefers videos of dubious distinction.

While many other politicians are bowing to the popular pressure and defending Ramdeo, Sangh Parivar regards them as the representatives of Hindu culture. What is Hindu about their culture needs another investigation. One has seen the spartan life of Buddha, Kabir, Nanak and Gandhi. Budhha in fact renounced his palace to take to jungle and merge with all and sundry in their deprivations. The many from the current genre, which in fact is a blot on the humane traditions of saints, are also close to centers of power, Dhirendra Brahmachari, Satya Sai Baba, Chandraswami and Jayendra Saraswati being some notorious examples.

Ayurveda is being linked to Indian Traditions. As such the development of the Ayurveda was halted, mainly by Brahminical dictates. Ayurveda has lot of elements, which can be put on the scientific foundations to make it more suitable to the human kind. The proper research where critical reason is employed to make it better is not employed in the Ayurveda as it is strongly linked to faith. No doubt multinationals may have their own axe to grind in the whole story, but we need to look at the proper investigation of facts and laws before the medicines produced by any Baba, Acharya and Mahant, can be put to public use. Karat has just raised a simple question, why is Ramdeo's factory violating eh laws of the land? It is a simple matter to investigate and set right. But since here the factory owner has the hallow of God-man, radiating in the reflected glory of God almighty how dare we the mortals raise such questions. The God-men are above the law is the premise of their followers and supporters, whoever they be! So in a single stroke Brinda Karat and her party are dubbed anti Hindu (Anti National, against Hindu Nation) so how is nationalism defined? If you blindly submit to the self proclaimed God-men, you are a nationalist else! Is one against the indigenous system of practices? No way. The only demand is for ethical and rational implementation of the therapies to avoid any one coming up and putting in market medicines or methods which can be injurious to the health. Social scrutiny of any thing and everything is called for. The cloak of Holiness does not exempt one from the laws of the land and being subject to the critical questioning of peers and others from raising questions about the composition and techniques being put forward. The claims related to the efficacy of the medicines and techniques have to be evaluated on the basis of the criterion already developed by rational techniques. Subjecting traditional systems to these rigorous methods will only make them more effective, meaningful and will prune out the grain from the chaff. It will make them above the subjective claims of those promoting it.   

If Ramdeo has done no wrong, why this emotional outburst and the misuse of label anti National against Karat? If he has things to hide than this angry outburst is understandable, as it will harm the proliferating business built up with such a meticulous mix of some knowledge sprinkled with generous helping of emotions and faith which are wonderful smokescreen for hiding one's wrongs. This 'faith' can surely act as an opium, the frenzied followers of Baba's rampaging shows that time and over again!