The conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim in rape cases has once again turned the spotlight on the damage that the charlatans, who pass off as godmen, do to the spiritual culture of India. Devdutt Pattanaik, writer of modern Hindu mythology, talks to News18’s Eram Agha on this form of ‘crony spiritualism’, which, he says, has nothing to do with religion but with the nature of secular democracy and vote bank politics as practiced in India. Edited excerpts:
Q: Hinduism is said to be a religion with 33 crore Gods. But do godmen have a place in Hindu scriptures?
A: Godmen is a pejorative term created by the media. Every religion, not just Hinduism, has holy men who claim access to an alternate reality — call it spiritual, mystical, magical, or divine. We call them shaman, priest, yogi, guru, mullah. Some are sincere, others are charlatans. Some try their best to help their tribe, flock or followers; others exploit the power they have.