Why thousands riot to support bad boy gurus in India
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 27, 2017 11:29AM

The Indian government is failing millions of people.

So they look to those who can provide advocacy, a social safety net, political clout.

Enter the gurus.



You literally can't talk about dera sachha sauda violence without discussing why deras were created in punjab and how their role and warped and changed over time. There's no point to being 'horrified'.

DSS has given thousands of people across north india an identity away from the historical oppression they've known. It's given them safety. a huge number of its members are from backwards castes, who had converted to Sikhism, but found the same upper caste oppression there too. Sikhism is, in theory, casteless. The ground realities, however, are sobering and unfortunate. The jat-khatri coterie has taken over religious politicking, especially representation in sgpc and other gurudwara committee. They've systematically kept new converts out of the loop and have actively oppressed them because they represent a status quo shakeup.

This (along with other factors) has led to people being angry, helpless, disillusioned. They see no way out, no way up. They turn to drugs. Punjab and nasha have become synonymous, and this has been worsened by economic insecurity+lack of education. They're a lost people. So when the dera sachha sauda comes up as a saviour organisation, they're interested. Of course they are. The dera promises them dignity. they dera educates its people, feeds them, keeps them off drugs, gives them jobs, gives them a purpose. It gives them a dignity of being. A lost man doesn't care if a rapist gives him direction. A hungry man will take food from a murderer's hand. Never forget this.

What you see isn't just an expression of misogyny and religious fervour. That too, yes, but it's actively an expression of insecurity too. What you and i see as justice, a large number of people see as a possible slide down to the pits they've barely emerged from. What you see on the today has been simmering over a generation and a half. In our race to appear developed, we forgot that development, as understood by very rudimentary economics, is unfair, unjust, unequal, and problematic. If nothing else, this should serve as a lesson. If we try to climb up by stepping on someone else's broken back, those people will rise.

Politicians understand this. They know a votebank when they see one, that's why they're politicians. they've been allowing these deras to flourish and mutate. Think of this as a very messed up, but immensely effective delegation system. They support the deras in their bullshit knowing the votebank will be appeased by them. this allows deras a free reign. The deras will fight each other, they will fight within themselves, and they will go to any lengths to 'win'. The politicians allow this because it also makes deras comfortably indebted to them. Think of divine right of rule. Same principle applies.

What you have is a reckless product that feeds off people's insecurities and replaces their drugs with a more potent one- faith&security. Religion might be an opiate, but faith? Man, that's a trip if i ever saw one. DSS has a veritable army of people willing to kill for it. And we made this. We allowed this with our apathy. When you look down on the protestors, remember this. We're culpable too, massively so.

Some comments


I felt this after reading an abcnews interview that spoke to a guy who was a drug addict once.

It doesn't absolve what the guru does, but it reflects that there are lakhs of people with severe problems thrown by the wayside in the country. Whoever helps them, owns them. And when that person is gone, and we cheer, are we really going to pick up the pieces of their lives?


As a Sikh (well at least born as one), I can't tell you how the denial in Sikhism about how Sikhism is so much better than Hinduism because "there is no caste". What a bunch of lies. Caste is an integral part of Punjab. Every song has the word "Jatt" and talks about glorious Jatts are. Movies titles? "Jatt and Juliet". Important positions in PCS (civil services) are assigned to Jatts.

Sikhs are in denial about this.


[–]boredmonkEternal Optimist
Fun fact: Punjab has the highest percentage of people in the Scheduled Castes(28.9 pcent according to Census 2011).
Theoretically, Sikhism does not have castes according to its history and scriptures. You probably meant to mean Sikhs instead of Sikhism are in denial.

[–]jasounseebournePunjab 7 points 12 hours ago
Yes, Sikhism by definition did away with castes. The Gurus were against it. Who cares about that though? Caste is still a part and parcel of our life.

[–]me_tera_tauUNESCO Certified Tau of the Year
Exactly! India Untouched documentary exposes along with Hinduism, the hollow claims of all the so called egalitarian religions of India. All the casteism and manual scavenging deniers should watch this documentary. Fair warning, it is quite depressing.

This is an amazing documentary. Fair warning : you will feel feel angry or sad after this depending which side of spectrum you are born in

Gurudwaras in Punjab, UK, and Canada are now based on caste lines.


tardyontrain 6 points 14 hours ago
I am just saying that unemployment and drug use are strongly linked because you said that didn't make sense.

You know as well as I do that not everybody gets to emigrate. There is no money in farming and yields have dropped. The days of Punjab and Haryana being the nation's granaries are over. Soil fatigue has set in and the groundwater table is seriously depleted. Punjab is no longer the top state in any category of agriculture produce. Most small to medium-scale industries have moved to Nalagarh in HP because Badals wanted a 10% cut and HP gives a 10-year tax holiday. So I would believe for sure that Punjab has an unemployment problem. Maybe it's not more than UP or Bihar but then there are other factors that contribute.


This is a really nice post. I am from UP. A lot of people complain that how Mayawati and Mulayam come to power. They blame these politicians for "dividing" people. But what are they doing exactly? If you go to my native village you can see separate wells for lower castes. Guess who gets water, manure, and seeds in last from the government. So when someone comes and pull them out of this discrimination, they treat them like a god.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/27/2017 11:31AM by corboy.

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Re: Why thousands riot to support bad boy gurus in India
Posted by: Misstyk ()
Date: August 31, 2017 10:14AM

This explains a lot. Thanks for posting important background information!

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Re: Why thousands riot to support bad boy gurus in India
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 01, 2017 01:25AM

India's institutions stink of corruption. Bribery and influential connections
are needed to get anything done. If you do not have an influential patron, you
seek help from those who can provide it via other channels -- the mega-gurus
or gang leaders.

The Godmen

When our immune systems break down, we get sick from opportunistic infections -
from micro-organisms that are suppressed by a functioning immune system.

These 'Godmen' and 'Godwomen' are the equivalent of flesh eating bacteria, Staph Aureus and Clostridium

They offer political patronage and social services, even subsidized old age
care and education to people who have been failed by India's corrupt
governments, both national and local.

Here is an example from another such cult, Radhasoami Beas

(Rahim Singh's group is a sect whose founder was part of a sect that
split off from Radhasaomi.)


A woman who did not believe in Radhasoami Beas married into a family
where her in-laws were 'satsangis' -- RS disciples. They were seemingly
tolerant, but became proslytizing and pushy on her after she joined the

Here is what she learned:


I met a lot of so called spiritual people through my immediate family. They are all in a miserable journey of hypocrisy. Some honest enough to let you know that they were volunteering at Beas because it is a good, safe, retired life with state of art medical services and everything else taken care of. There was another guy in his late 40s who was phasing down his own business to move into Radha Soami volunteering full time.

I probed him on the reasons and he was honest enough to tell me that he had two daughters going to senior school and if he becomes a full time volunteer, the girls education will be fully sponsored by Babaji in any foreign country. He also mentioned that old age was comfortable in Beas and what better post retirement life could he get for himself.

I have nothing against cults and religions of the world. I know we all will choose our journey but if the journey is about throttling other peoples lives, then it hardly is a spiritual way of life.

The Underworld

Journalist Suketu Mehta, in his memoir, Maximum City:Bombay Lost and Found, gave chapter on the role of the underworld in providing job opportunities and
also recourse to justice.

Mehta describes how the gang leaders ('bhais') run parallel courts.


They even review tax returns.


The one difference between the Godmen/women and the underworld is that the rich and powerful willingly give money to the former; the latter compel the rich
to disgorge.

A movie cannot be made unless one both funds and purchases protection from
the underworld. If an actor becomes a star, he or she must choose a gang
for protection from all the other gangs.

Many of the gang leaders and their hired assassins are pious men. But --at least the gang leaders do not claim to be God.

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Re: Why thousands riot to support bad boy gurus in India
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 04, 2017 06:12AM

This Washington Post article is informative - and a devastating
indictment of two things:

The Indian caste system and regional biases, which keep people from
organizing in an effective manner nationwide.

And of the failure of India's government to offer basic services to all of its citizens.

This guru created jobs and an effective infrastructure for his home town.

India's independence movement was heavily dependent upon not one but several
charismatic leaders.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar

Muhammad Ali Jinnah

Mohandas Gandhi

Vinoba Bhave - Gandhi endorsed him. After Ghandhi's death, VB led cross country marches inspiring land owners to give surplus acres to the poor.

Subash Chandra Bose (Brilliantly charismatic. He liased with the Nazis and
then the Japanese hoping for their support in fighting against Britain during
World War II. Because of this, he is not as well known as the others. He still
inspires passionate devotion; like JFK conspiracy theories abound concerning
his death. Admirers still refer to him as "Netaji" and "Babu" and movies have
been made about him.

Why so many Indians support men like the recently convicted guru


(Small excerpt)


“It has been profitable here,” said Prabhu Ram, who sat under a tree playing cards with friends. “There has been employment for the men in the factories, schools for our children. Even the value of land has appreciated.”

“We think of this place as heaven,” said his friend Parhlad Singh, who works in one of the factories run by the sect, cleaning and packing pulses, the grains common in Indian cooking. “The work is good, their product is good and I am able to run my house on what I earn.”

But now all of that seems in jeopardy.

“Everyone fell silent, and it felt like we had gone numb,” a resident named Satbir Singh said of the moment when the verdict was announced on television. “Our father has gone to jail, but we hope someone keeps the organization running.”

In a village less than a mile away from the Dera sect’s headquarters, a group of farmers sat in a muddy field smoking a hookah pipe. “He provided so much employment. So much development,” said Mahaveer, who uses only his first name. “We all think that the accusation was false.”

Shaking his head, Mahaveer said, “The Sirsa district will fall back now. I feel they should release him. Earlier, this was such a desolate area. Now look at the difference. We have public transport here, two fire engines and a hospital. We have nothing else that we need or want right now. The Dera has given us every facility. We have schools to educate our children. Colleges for them to study as much as they want.”

The comments are telling. Here are a few.


IC Doug
8/31/2017 10:22 AM PDT
"Singh lived a life of luxury, surrounded by doting followers who attended to his every need. Luxury cars and lavish furniture surrounded him. "

Americans have their own “godmen.” There are too many to name them all, but Joel Osteen, Franklin Graham and many other con artists swindle people in the name of god. As long as there are fools, there will be somebody to take their money.

8/31/2017 10:16 AM PDT
This story reveals a deep pathology in Indian society, where the state is inherently considered corrupt and illegitimate, while godmen of similar ethnic origin to their followers are considered sacrosanct and can do no wrong. This exposes a deep and pervasive animosity to the idea of democracy and rule of and by the people in India. The government may be seen as a remaining vestige of British rule, because the class rift in India between rich and middle class (5%) and the poor (95%) is enormous and has never been socially addressed. Employers treat workers like slaves in many jobs. There is no meaningful interaction between social classes through constructive institutions. Furthermore, there is a tendency to rely upon religious identity and feelings to compensate for all the wordly ills in Indian society, and this is a coping mechanism when nothing else exists. But what is shocking to see again and again, is that there is ZERO belief in democracy as a means to improve government, and ZERO feeling by people that they are represented and have a voice in government.

Why is it shocking? The democratic government has failed, miserably, to improve the lives of the lower 95% of the population. They are understandably reaching out for someone, anyone, to improve their life. For that improvement they are willing to overlook/forgive some disgusting behavior by anyone that lifts them out of the life they are trapped in. Sad, but not shocking.

8/31/2017 9:23 AM PDT
I was born in India. Was raised a hindu. I am of the opinion that these god men came to rise in the mid 90's because Hinduism kinda went moved away from it's core believes. It was no longer satisfying people's spiritual needs. Most of these god men are followed by people who have been left behind by economic prosperity.

Case and point I love watching this guy on Sunday morning who called "Nirmal Baba". People come to him to say hey I need a new job. His answer, you have not eaten ice cream in a while, eat ice cream for next 5 days.
I will never forget my uncle who passed some time ago( devote atheist) , his favorite thing to say was, "Study hard , work hard and if you fail miserably at both, open a temple and you will never starve".

8/31/2017 10:28 AM PDT
Sounds like the US, only with televangelists.

8/31/2017 11:48 AM PDT [Edited]
Your uncle was a smart man. My grandfather too, was a committed atheist who saw straight through the lies of religion, and was quite irreverent of it too.

8/31/2017 7:27 AM PDT
Alt-religion? Who knew. Way ahead of what the megachurch evangelical pastors who preach the same here. This guy actually ran an entire town. Remember pastor Jones taking his whole cult with him when he went off his rocker?

8/30/2017 3:59 PM PDT
Lets be clear - the article is about India and not a comparison between India and America.

So, all this nonsensical comments by Indians living in America or reading this article wherever they live about how America is just as bad - pure nonsense.

Now, as to these "god men" - I live part time in India so I can say from some experience.

It is not just uneducated and so called lower rungs of society who grab on to these "godmen" or "godwomen".

Indians in IT industry and many Indians living in America I know belong to some of these groups - and religiously follow these godmen and godwomen. Just go to some of their homes in America and you will get the picture.

As it is often said, robbers rob banks because that's where the money is. These "godmen" and "godwomen" want as their prize catch these Indians living in America - because on an average they have more money.

And these Indians in America think by following them, they still belong to India

And if these con artists attract "white" devotees, their star power multiplies exponentially in eyes of Indians.

In the end, it is greed that typifies Indian mentality and todays morality is the root cause of attractiveness to these "godmen" and "godwomen."

When this 56 inch chest prime minister - embraces Baba Ramdev at his political rallies - why would not common folks believe even though most think him to be just another con man?

This is not the last of these godmen - but more will follow in his footsteps.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/04/2017 06:19AM by corboy.

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India's Godmen/women flourish in India's failed state
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 11, 2017 09:56PM

In the United States, Jim Jones accomplished the same thing. And, he too
enjoyed support from the political elite of San Francisco.

The Dark Side of India's Spiritual Gurus Comes to Light



According to Swati Parashar, a political science expert and senior lecturer at the University of Gothenburg, sexual exploitation by so-called gurus has been taking place for decades. But what’s new is their increased visibility, she says. And the reason for that, adds Sanjay Srivastava, professor of sociology at Delhi University, is a greater awareness of the contemporary guru as a politically connected public figure and icon of consumerism.

Despite so many cases coming to light, these gurus continue to hold sway over considerable portions of the Indian public. Parashar explains that they have come to fill the voids left by the state. “Many of these gurus run educational institutions [and] hospitals for their followers,” she says, and the followers, especially those who feel marginalized, consider the gurus a path to fulfill their material and spiritual needs. “Many followers are willing to become unquestioning subjects — and willing to put up with a great deal of objectionable behavior — because to follow a rich (and hence successful) guru is to live in the hope that some of his worldly success might rub off on you,” Srivastava tells OZY.


These gurus also influence politicians and celebrities. According to Nayak, the nexus of politicians and gurus is so strong that “sometimes they act as conduits for money between one another.” And this intersection is the biggest obstacle that rationalists face when trying to expose fraudulent individuals, says Nayak. “That man who sits there is not alone; he’s a figurehead,” he says, calling the mutts, or spiritual organizations run by the gurus, “centers of power, money and exploitation.” Confronting them can be extremely dangerous, as evidenced by the recent murder of journalist and rationalist Gauri Lankesh, an outspoken critic of extremist Hindu nationalism. “Twenty to 30 years ago, these things would probably not get reported,” says Nayak. “No one came forward because no one dared to come forward.” Nayak too has received death threats and even assassination attempts, and now has a government-appointed armed bodyguard with him at all times.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/11/2017 09:59PM by corboy.

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