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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
Families have complained of losing daughters to Dixit’s organisation for decades but have been unable to secure official attention until this year, when the Delhi high court took up a public-interest lawsuit against the group.
The case was spurred by the November disappearance of a 24-year-old woman from a town near Jaipur in Rajasthan state. Family members said she had initially become involved in yoga and meditation events put on by the Brahma Kumaris.
But quietly, over the past five years, she was growing closer to members of Dixit’s group.
One day last month, in what investigators believe is standard practice for new converts, the woman entered a local police station with a signed affidavit declaring she was joining the AVV of her own free will. Soon after, she vanished.
A frantic search effort by the family traced the woman to a large Dixit ashram in Rohini, a neighbourhood in the north-west of the capital.
In submissions to the Delhi high court, the family say they were only permitted to meet their daughter after protesting for days, and had to pass through seven layers of locked gates to meet her. They claim she was flanked by women guardians, and appeared to be anaesthetised.
“The girl told them, I am 24, I have come here of my own wish, and I should not be forced to go back,” said Satendra Singh Rathore, a lawyer for the family.
After their story was broadcast by Indian media, disaffected former members of the group and other families searching for their daughters reached out with their own allegations against Dixit.
Neither the din of traffic nor the roar of aircraft from a nearby airport could blot out the screams neighbours say they regularly heard from the apartment building in west Delhi.
On Saturday, on the second floor of the unassuming complex in Mohan Garden, authorities discovered 21 women and children living in a heavily fortified “spiritual university”, at least five believed to be minors.
Raids across India in the past week on properties linked to the same religious organisation, Adhyatmik Vishwa Vidyalaya (AVV), have unearthed nearly 250 women and 48 girls apparently confined behind layers of locked gates.
Authorities in Delhi say they fear thousands more women could be living in similar conditions in the 300 properties estimated to be linked to the group nationwide.
In a society riven by caste hierarchy and yawning economic inequality, ashrams and large-scale spiritual communities, called deras, were an appealing site of social equality and fraternity, said Ronki Ram, a professor of political science at Panjab University.
Their popularity has grown as India’s economy has opened to the world and incomes have soared in past decades. “Once people have everything, a partner, a good job, a family, and find they are not really happy, they go to a dera,” Ram said.
Spiritual organisations have also stepped to provide welfare in places where the state had retreated, he said. “Some have their own schools, hospitals. When the state starts withdrawing from providing basic facilities, the deras fill in the gaps.”
He said politicians have been more likely to seek out gurus for votes than to try to regulate their communities: “They see [the gurus] have a large numbers of followers who can be constituencies.”
Dixit has never registered his organisation with the government. Years of criminal complaints against the guru did not heed a single inspection of his properties. Maliwal said it was typical of the lawless environment in which many spiritual leaders operated. “Nobody bothers to go inside their ashrams,” she said.
“These babas are very influential people, they have a lot of clout. Sometimes they have mafias, and sometimes they are mafias. Nobody wants to deal with this issue.”
At the centre of the organisation is a self-styled “godman”, Virendra Dev Dixit, with a chequered history including allegations of sexual assault dating to 1998. He is currently being sought by police and could not be reached for comment.
Accusations contained in documents filed with the Delhi high court allege that Dixit, 75, is portrayed by ashram workers as an incarnation of the Hindu god Krishna, with the women and girls cast as his gopis, or wives.
The group claims to be a fundamentalist offshoot of Brahma Kumaris, an Indian spiritual movement with about 800,000 members and branches around the world including in the US, Australia and the UK. Brahma Kumaris disavowed Dixit decades ago and reject his beliefs.
It is one thing to be the victim of a religious cult, but what about the perpetrators? These latter vary from commonplace conmen to abnormal megalomaniacs. The latter are the greater threat, especially if deranged or unscrupulous. This seems to be the case with Virendra Dev Dixit, the head of Adhyatmik Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya. On December 19, the Delhi High Court ordered a raid on one of his ashrams in Rohini. Subsequently, a team led by Swati Maliwal, head of the Delhi Commission of Women, inspected other premises. TV reports showed warrens of cramped and barricaded cells in which the inmates, among them minors, were confined. Maliwal was quick to accuse the Baba of “running a human trafficking racket”. The Delhi High Court ordered a CBI investigation on the goings-on of the organisation. In the meanwhile, Dixit, the “Baba” behind the whole racket, is absconding.
Who, then, is this man? He heads a breakaway faction of the internationally renowned Brahma Kumari sect. The Brahma Kumari is a UN-recognised, new, religious movement founded by Lekhraj Kripalani in Karachi in 1936.
They have over 8500 centres worldwide and several million followers. Dixit came in contact with them in Ahmedabad in 1969, the year that Lekhraj passed away. Dixit ostensibly tried to take over the movement by claiming that Lekhraj’s spirit had entered his body. But the Brahma Kumaris refused to accept his claim; he was driven out of Ahmedabad and Mount Abu, the headquarters of the movement.
Subsequently, Dixit moved to Delhi, claiming to represent the purer front flank of the Brahma Kumaris. He attracted several disenchanted dropouts so that by 1976 his group came to be called the “Advance Party.” But, again, there was an altercation with the main group of the Brahma Kumaris. Dixit left Delhi to set up his headquarters in Kampil in Uttar Pradesh. He proclaimed himself to be “Krishna”, promising his followers that he would create a new world with the help of his “gopis”. Hence all the women inmates in his various ashrams.
This is not the first time that Dixit has been in trouble with the law. In 1998 he was arrested and jailed for six months; the Income Tax department also raided his ashram in Kampil. No wonder, he kept a somewhat low profile during the last nearly 20 years. But the recent raids have revealed his shocking and disgraceful activities. He is once again in the spotlight. The law will, of course, take its course. However, I am afraid that is not enough. As a nation, we need better awareness and education to prevent the recurrence of such tribulations meted out to the helpless and hapless
In a paper for the book for the Scientific Study of Religion, Howell wrote that teenage girls surrendering to the organisation are required to pay the equivalent of a dowry to the organization. The payment was meant to prevent parents from “dumping” their daughters at the BKWSU as a way to avoid the costs of ordinary marriages. Return to the world for women who have has such a dowry paid for them is difficult.
The BKWSU is believed by its members to have been established by Shiva Baba (God-Father Shiva), described as the “Supreme Soul” and claimed to be the one God of all religions through the medium of the group’s founder Lekhraj Kripalani
From the beginning, a number of trance-messengers have received messages and teachings. Its mediums also directly channel a messages from deceased senior Brahma Kumaris leaders.In its early days, children would commonly go into trances, having visions of Krishna and Golden Aged Heaven and engaging in ecstatic dances for as long as 7 days. A number of mediumistic female followers known as Sandeshputris (trance messengers) also helped add to the group’s spiritual knowledge through psychic visions.
neha Agrawal | Posted by Deepali Singh
New Delhi, December 31, 2017 | UPDATED 07:22 IST
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The Adhyatmik Vishwa Vidyalaya, from where 40 girls were rescued (Photo: Mail Today)The Adhyatmik Vishwa Vidyalaya, from where 40 girls were rescued (Photo: Mail Today)
The other ashrams of the self-styled godman Virendra Dev Dixit are operating out of small apartments that have been either rented out or surrendered by the followers to ashram activities.
While these ashrams too worked secretly, the crying and howling of girls at night were not hidden from the neighbourhood unlike in the main ashram in Vijay Vihar.
The modus operandi of these other ashrams was such that the ground floor and first floor were occupied by the followers.
Swati Maliwai, chief, Delhi Commission for Women told Mail Today that while interacting with the residents of Mohan Garden - where one of the ashrams is located - they were complaining of constant entry and exit of girls into the building.
"We were told that on the day of the raid, close to 60 girls were relocated from the ashram during the day. The residents complained that at night girls could be heard crying and howling from the building," she said.
As these ashrams were operating out of small rented apartments, they could not be modified like the main ashram which had hidden doors that led to different rooms, maze like tunnel with gates in every three steps but had several locks and were similarly grilled. The team found several medicines stacked in all the ashrams.
"We learnt that anybody who becomes psychologically ill in Vijay Vihar ashram is transferred out to these smaller ashrams. The girls were found dizzy and in trance. While interacting with them, all of them wanted to be there. Even the girls rescued from the Karanwal Nagar Ashram wanted to stay in the ashram," said Maliwal.
"The sad part is that this self-styled godman claims himself to be Lord Krishna's avatar and thinks of it as his duty to maintain relations with 16,000 women."
The literature mentioned sentences like 'The girls when sleep alone will feel scared and when they will sleep with the father they will not get bad visions. You need increase the love percentage with the father'.
Indians love to idolise, whether it is godmen or judges.
The judge who sentenced Gurmeet Singh is being lauded for his bravery.
It does not strike anybody that this is what the law says and the judge was doing his job.
Rather shockingly, a day after the protests in support of Gurmeet Singh The Indian Express carried a piece by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev (who is often invited by media think tanks for their seminars) in which he wrote:Quote
“All the embodiments of the divine you worship — Rama, Krishna, Shiva — cannot call be called morally correct figures. They are not. Because it never occurred to them to be that way. But they are the peak of human consciousness.”
This echoes Singh’s stance. When he boasted that he was god to the sadhvi he planned to rape, she had asked him whether god did such things. He replied: “Sri Krishna too was God and he had 360 gopis (milkmaids) with whom he staged Prem Lila (love drama). Even then people regarded him as God. This is not a new thing.” Asaram Bapu, another godman and rape convict, had said: “Lord Buddha, too, had faced such kind of allegations and I am also facing the same. But the truth will come out…I am willing to go to jail with a smiling face. And I think I want to spend some time in Tihar jail. I consider jail as my Vaikunth (heaven).”