Hokey Godmen and the Mask of Celibacy

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Self-styled guru and father-figure Huzoor Maharaj Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh ji, is the latest , who simply put could not his urges and felt that his status in the Dera Sacha Sauda gave him rape rights. Now, he has been convicted of rape and sent to jail for 20 years rigorous imprisonment, amidst courtroom drama, with him wailing and pleading to the judge, ‘Mujhe maaf karo’ (Forgive me). Earlier, there was large-scale and violence, when the followers of this Godman ran amok. Here’s Payal scathing attack on rape in the name of religion, in the regular column. A Different Truths exclusive.

You could almost say it is part of our tradition and . We have various myths and stories about women seeing the assistance of Babas and sadhus to get pregnant. Niyoga – or the practice of getting pregnant by another man when the husband is impotent or dead, is exemplified by the birth of Pandu and Dhritharashtra, when their were impregnated by Muni Vyasa, at the behest of his mother. Even today, hapless women are sent to ‘sages’ in order to conceive a child, when they fail to get pregnant. And we all know that the pregnancy is achieved through intercourse and not blessings of the said ‘sadhu’.

However, rape by any other name is just as ugly. The latest hokey Godmen, to join the ranks of other illustrious self-styled Babas, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has shown how these so-called spiritual leaders are unable to control their sexual urges and take advantage of young women devotees. Unfortunately, they are aided in the rape by none other than the hapless parents of the girls, who are delighted at the ‘blessings’ showered upon their child. The whole structure of the religious organisation supports the rape. And let us be very clear about this: this is rape. 

Many people seem to think that rape constitutes violence. However, any sexual act where someone is coerced into having sex is rape. Whether the coercion is blackmail, using one’s position or power, getting her drunk or drugged, taking advantage of her emotions, making false promises, let us be clear it constitutes rape. Even if the coercion is by others – family, friends, cult, society, it is rape. If the consent arises from fear or pressure, it is rape.

In September 2013, we had 76-year-old Asaram Bapu arrested for alleged rape. 

In 2012, Swami Nithyanand, 40 years of age, had charges of rape and intimidation levelled against him.

Then there was Ichchdhari Sant Bhimanand Maharaj Chitrakoot wale, who was arrested, in 2010, – he apparently had a multi-crore sex racket running at his ashram. In 2006, Swami Vikasanand was arrested in Jabalpur. He was accused of abusing minor girls and making pornographic films.

Sathya Sai Baba was accused of serial rapes and sodomy. Then there was Swami Sadachari from Delhi whose high-end ashram was a brothel that allegedly catered to politicians and bigwigs.

Sarathi Baba of Bhubaneshwar decided to forgo his celibacy and went ahead to allegedly spend two days in a hotel with a woman who was registered as his wife and was booked later for ‘cheating’.

Swami Premananda of Tiruchirapalli, in I997, he was convicted on multiple counts of rape and murder. Ram Jethmalani famously argued that the women had consented to sex. Yes, well, the ‘consent’ was gained by promises to perform miracle cures for asthma and cancer. It was coerced as a ‘service to God’. The victims were threatened with the wrath of God and dire punishment to keep quiet. And several victims were underage girls.

Digambar Jain Muni Samati Sagar of Gwalior was accused of raping Jain sadhvais, in 1995. One Sadhviwent to him to ask permission to leave the ashram and go to a doctor for stomach pain. The naked sadhu who had supposedly renounced his body called her into a lecture room and shut the door to examine her. When she protested saying she could not be touched by any man, he claimed to be not a man but her guru and then proceeded to commit the very ‘manly’ act of rape.

I really want to know how blind are the devotees and how stupid the mothers? I would stand guard like a lioness before I let them near my children, boys or girls. Are people blind, deaf and dumb?

Self-styled guru and father-figure Huzoor Maharaj Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh ji, is the latest Godman, who simply put could not control his urges and felt that his status in the Dera Sacha Sauda gave him rape rights. Born simply Gurmeet Singh, he was not one for a simple life. His flamboyant shiny costumes, bejewelled turban and glittery hats if nothing else should have been an indicator for the spiritual vacuum within. He supposedly became celibate when he was already a father to a son and two daughters. He adopted a third daughter, who directed his MSG film series. All his followers took the surname of ‘Insan’ (talk about hokey) and he surrounded himself with young female devotees called‘sadhakis’. And all his followers called him ‘Papaji’.

 

Gurmeet also built himself a luxurious ‘man-cave’. Probably in keeping with his Neanderthal attitude to women and sex. Rape was stylised as giving pardon (maafi) to the young girls. His modus operandi was to have the girls sent to his cave, while he lay in bed naked and waiting. The door would be closed so that she could not escape. 

His official Twitter biography states: Spiritual Saint/Philanthropist/Versatile Singer/Allrounder Sportsperson/Film Director/Actor/Art Director/Music Director/ Writer/Lyricist/Autobiographer/DOP. They left out Rapist.

It is unbelievable that his has unleashed a cycle of violence, death, and arson. Earlier, no buses were burnt, people killed when a girl was raped and disemboweled by animalistic men, in Delhi – the Nirbhaya case. But, now, when a rapist is convicted of rape, men up and protest. Despite precautions taken by the government, cancellation of trains, suspension of buses, the imposition of Section 144 in areas of Delhi, , Haryana, and Uttarakhand, and massive police presence, his followers were seen guarding the Dera with sticks and claiming that their ‘Pitaji’ was innocent.

It is actually a travesty of justice that a letter written in 2002, and taken up for investigation by the CBI should come up for justice now. It has taken 15 years for a conviction. So much for so called fast-forwarding of rape cases.

What is it that enables this ilk of so called Godmen to throw sand in our eyes? Do we really believe in miracles, intercession with God, cures, and their ‘Holiness’ or are we wooed by the to be part of an inner coterie, a cult? Many of these so-called ashrams and religious organisations become massive networks of money, power, and privilege. While claiming spiritual nirvana, these men use their power in the same way as all men do: for sexual abuse. They take advantage of fear, need and vulnerability.

All our religions need a major makeover. Celibacy has proven to be a false edifice that hides lust and abuse. It’s time for a new movement. Feminism, anyone? We need the Feminine Principle most now.

©Payal Talreja

Photos from the Internet

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Payal Talreja

Payal Talreja

Businesswoman, curator of handlooms, poet, writer, and erstwhile doctor. Payal Talreja practices everything except her involuntary ‘profession’. She claims that words chose her and are now her weapon of choice because an activist born will stay silent for no man. A wanderer, a voyager, she’s happy to slum it or luxuriate in any life experience. She crafts poems and fiercely feminist essays and will assume her ‘Chandi’ avatar to ‘write’ any wrong.
Payal Talreja
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