THE GOD THAT FAILED, BUT CAN SURELY RESURRECT
The way events are unfolding in the case of 'Godman' Asaram Bapu it is demeaning not only for him whom crores of devotees looked up as their god incarnate, their guru and their savior but also for those who put their faith in him and other such individuals. Such incidents are violently shaking the faith of people in godliness of individuals. This is a very depressing and disheartening a scenario for all those who subsist just on faith. If people are pushed to losing their mutual faith, their mutual trust and respect in their near and dear-ones, teachers, gurus and leaders, that would be a catastrophic eventuality. It is in an atmosphere of mutual, faith and respect that our universe hangs.
The edifice Asaram Bapu has built in the country and abroad is the sum-total of the people's faith and trust in him and in his professions of godliness. It is something unique in him that he could ignite so much faith and trust in himself from crores of people all over the world. An impersonator can befool some people for some time but not all the people for all the times. The turn of events in his case has been shocking enough to shake the solid foundations of faith people had laid in him. That an aashram should be equipped with a swimming pool like the one people experience in a five-star hotel has startled one out of one's slumber of blind faith. God can be sought and realized not in the corridors of five-star comforts. If it were, everyone staying in a five-star hotel would have been a saint and a man of god. Only hermits living in complete denial of cosy comforts of a home have attained god and godliness and not the rajas and maharajas luxuriating in their palaces.
Maybe, Bapu himself cannot be blamed for all this. Maybe, some over-enthusiastic of his devotees went out of their way to do all this and even indulged in acts of illegal encroachments on adjoining government and private lands and even violated certain laws. But he too cannot escape the vicarious responsibility for whatever was done in his aashrams in his name.
Why single out Hindus?
The followers of Bapu do have a strong question: Why is it that men of god in Hindu way of life are the only target of our media, sting operations and exposures? Every faith has its share of myths, superstations, blind faith, hypocrisies, wrong rituals, customs and traditions. We do hear and read, though occasionally, of wrongdoings in the places of worship and shrines of even non-Hindu faiths too. Some news reports or even books do appear at times. But it is only the Hindus who are being singled out for exposure of their dark side ignoring the unique positive aspects. There has, so far, not been a convincing answer to this question.
The nature of allegations that are emerging against Asaram Bapu, his family members and the aashramites bring no honour to anybody, not even to his followers. But to take the allegations as gospel of truth is equally wrong. It is none else than Asaram Bapu who knows the truth. As a man of gold, he is the custodian of truth. He preaches truth, so he must also practice the truth.
What should Bapu do?
Throughout his long life as a man of god, he had been preaching his followers to inculcate the virtue of penance, punishment that is undergone in token of penitence for sin. Only a person of virtue — and not of vice — can rise so high as to confess one's crimes and sins.
Bapu needs to avail himself of the opportunity of confinement to jail as a golden opportunity for meditation in solitude. If he certainly has committed no crime or sin, he should stand up to it and face the situation with fortitude. But if he thinks he has inadvertently, in any way, in any circumstances, he should practice the virtue of repentance, "an act that shows that you feel sorry about something that you have done, something for religious reasons". He should undertake atonement of his sins and "suffer the wrath of his God....for having eaten the fruit of the 'Tree of Knowledge'". The believers in God", it is said "are content that man's suffering is ordained and, therefore, he accepts life and its trials and tribulations as a penance for living" (Joseph Lewis)
It would be a very depressing, unbecoming and awkward a situation to confront where, god forbid, a court of law were to come to the conclusion that all his pleading of innocence are a series of lies and he is sentenced to any punishment.
It is time we all — his followers and sympathisers — look into ourselves, calmly and coolly. ***