By Pachu Menon
When Karl Marx wrote, “Religion is the opium of the masses,” he definitely could not have envisaged the enticing skills of the later year cult of Godmen, who would usher in the sort of crapulence generally associated with spiritual passion amongst their followers, with sure-shot formulae for those troubled of mind and body.
It is indeed amazing that a few propounding the basic techniques of yogic concepts have today attained high seats of public reverence in modern India. For a country steeped in ancient traditions, where the natural and supernatural occurrences are venerated with consummate ease; where the Ayurvedic form of healing takes a precedence over other modes of treatment for the simple reason that it is as ancient as the Vedas themselves, and at least as a custom in vogue, the medium was right for those smart people, who could mix a right proportion of religion and yoga, promising the distressed path to salvation. A lot has been heard and written about quite a few “fly by night” ascetics, who have been involved in sex scandals and are primarily concerned with amassing wealth.
Today, spiritualism is an industry by itself and the exponents of art of deception taking advantage of the superstitious streak in people have attained surreal and ambiguous identities. A plethora of Swamis and Acharyas have thus become the caretakers of the religious and moral ethos of the nation in present times.
Undoubtedly, in India today, or for that matter, the whole world — Baba Ramdev is synonymous with yoga. Intro-ducing the masses to a system of mental and physical discipline that en-ables one to lead a healthy life, his Shibirs or camps, across the country have helped numerous people.
However, the news reports about the Yoga Guru launching his own political party aimed at cleansing the political system in the country is sure to have taken everyone by surprise. He has courted controversies time and again, be it with his outspoken demeanor or his medicines; but the mighty leap from spirituality to politics is something difficult to palate.
For those, who have no qualms in exploiting the religious sentiments of the populace, and consider it fair and just to divide people on the lines of caste and creed, Baba Ramdev could be their worst critic, denouncing the politicians for their unscrupulous behavior. Indubit-ably a noble intention, the Baba though is yet to cross swords with the stalwarts of the business. For all purposes, as he says, it is his party members and not he who will contest the forthcoming elections. Could they be assumed to possess the same caliber, the grit and determination that are the hallmarks of the skilled yogi? What is to say that they won”t fall preys to the very same system he professes to purify? So, it would be advisable, with no malice intended, for Baba Ramdev to stay away from politics and restrict himself to the curative therapies he is renowned for.