As the media exposes many unholy facets to Radhe maa, the question is who created the myth? Who created Radhe maa?
By Mayur Lookhar
Growing up as a child in a Hindu household, we blindly followed what our parents, grand parents thought us. I’m sure it’s same in most religions too. As Hindus we idolised the thousands of our deities, chanted mantras, prayers, fed the holy cows (still do), offered sweets/fruits/water/milk to idols in temples..
Whilst all this had become mandatory, I was always fearful yet intrigued by one sight – that of a woman spinning her head and body 360 degrees, hair untied covering her face, and soon she got garlanded with flowers, linen stolas, and peppered with paper and coins, and even the oldest lady in the temple touched her feet.
Most believers called this as a devout being possessed by the Goddess her self, – Durga, Kali, aliases. This however frightened the child in me as I hid myself into mother’s belly. She comforted me by saying there’s nothing to fear, the woman wouldn’t harm me. That did nothing to assuage my fear. Thankfully, I wasn’t privy to many such scenes again.
As I grew into a man, I stopped most religious activities, but the sight of a woman being possessed by a Devi (Goddess) or or Devil always aroused my curiosity. Well, journalists are always inquisitive.
Well, there was no need to head to temples or mosques, such creatures had become TV celebrities. Being possessed was termed derogatory, in stead here came the Godwomen, the Godwomen of 21st century.
The first Godman – Shri Sathya Sai Baba
I’m sure there must have been Godmen and women before, most notably Osho, but Sathya Narayana Raju, better known as Sathya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi was arguably the first Godman on national television. His popularity stretched beyond nations, races, even the Queen of England claimed that SSB cured her pain with a mere healing touch. His powers were exemplary. He blessed devotees with sweets, gold, pendants and other valuables, each emerging out of his palms, like they were some wand. SSB went on to do great social work, feeding the poor, but in the process, his trust created a million dollar empire, a 24×7 channel airing the perceived miracles of the great man. Even after his death the reruns must be running successfully. He passed away, but not before predicting that his successor would come 8 years after his death carrying the name of Prema Sai Baba and hailing from Mandya district in Karnataka. Unfortunately, SSB died 12 years before he his profound prophecy. He passed away in 2011, and unfortunately, many parents in Karnataka started naming their new born Prema, some have even indulged into family planning for 2019. We shall wait.
2. Bapu Asaram
Forget what he is today, but there was a time when the nation was all ears to Bapu Asaram when he said, “Hey Ram bolna padega'”
I myself listened to his televised sermons. His followers grew by thousands, not including the millions on television who swear by him. Bapu Asaram used his communication skills to pierce the many broken hearts. They confided to him easily, Like SSB, Asaram, too, built a large empire insuring his future and cementing his place among the great and wealthy spiritual gurus until the alleged exploitation of a mentally challenged girl exposed his real identity.
3. Baba Ramdev
he’s no Godman nor has he ever claimed to be one, but Baba Ramdev is the man who tamed the myth of Bapu Asaram. He was gifted with no special powers, but mere yoga. However, what Ramdev brought with him was a brilliant marketing strategy, adopting the old wine in a new bottle philosophy, using the media as his most powerful tool to sell his yoga, his ayurvedic medicines, and he even made great claims of curing terminal diseases . In the process, his trust amassed thousands of crores, a private jet and supposedly even a Scottish island.
4. MSG – The Messenger of God
- Here’s a man who most India knew nothing about, save his Dera Sacha Sauda followers. And unlike the above, he didn’t use any ‘powers’ to create an impression. In fact, it was the threat to his life, bloodshed of his followers that brought Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh into spotlight. The opposing Sikhs wanted him beheaded, but his followers formed a shield to protect their leader. When the threat of death died, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh emerged not just as guru but a ‘messenger of God’, at least on the celluloid. Just like an actor, he travelled across the length and breath of the country, giving interviews to the media, waxing lyrical about his film. And oh boy, from what I’ve seen from the promos, this bearded and bulky man can ride cool bikes, blow up the bad guys in a jiffy. As if one film wasn’t enough, GRRS ensured there’s a sequel too. Not too forget his skilled PR machinery has ensured that guruji features across all media platforms.
There are other Godmen/spiritual gurus in the country, but none of them have what these gentleman have. i.e. THEY ARE LARGER THAN LIFE creations of the media. They took the first step, rather a leap of faith, and boy haven’t the media rolled out red carpet for them. Before SSB, Asaram and Ramdev found themselves at the wrong side of the law, these men had become the poster boys of TRP hungry media, who thought that the million followers of these men would translate into million bucks for them should they project them as larger than life figures. Their initial popularity caught the attention of businessman, who thought some of these gurus could turn their losses into profits, while the politicians worshipped them in the hope that their followers would turn into vote banks.
While SSB passed away but he too wasn’t devoid of scrutiny. Allegations of sexual abuse, unaccounted wealth followed him even after his death. Sathya Sai Baba was lucky that his best years came at a time when both the media, government, and followers silenced any voice of dissent.
Such largesse wasn’t extended to Bapu Asaram who finds himself behind the bars for alleged sexual abuse. Baba Ramdev has no such taint but his following has taken a hit since allegations of unaccounted wealth, political miscalculations, and the infamous attempt of draping a saree to escape the lathi charge. .
5. Radhe Maa or Radhe mistress?
Fast forward to August 2015. Courting controversy, making headlines is a woman who one fine day started behaving like the woman I saw as a kid. Sukhvinder Kaur, better known as Radhe Maa, proclaimed that she gets possessed by Goddess Durga. Though hailing from Punjab, she set her base in upward Mumbai. While she didn’t create a rage like the other Godmen/gurus, Radhe Maa knew where to conduct her satsangs. She targeted the Punjabi hot belts, successfully created a larger-than-life persona attracting the like-minded audience. Her managers go by the name of Talli Baba (how inebriated) and one Choti Maa (looks more like a goon though). Aided by the target audience and the target media too, Radhe Maa built a niche for herself in the industry of Godmen and Godwomen.
But her divine world would crumble under the alleged misdeed of a dowry act, ungodly snaps, and the usual taint of running a harem.
Though, Radhe Maa isn’t a brand like Asaram or Ramdev, what binds her to her illustrious predecessors is how these people have hogged more limelight even in moments of disgrace.
The very media, that is now adamant on exposing every lie of these Godmen/women, is the same media that flashed their cameras when these men and women held religious sermons/satsangs and yoga classes. In fact, they present even greater TRPs, when down in the dumps.
Can some one explain why do we have many religious channels? Why are corporates financing religious channels?
The media is certainly to be blamed in creating these fake gurus, but they too are part of a hapless society that’s always looked onto to someone to bail themselves out of a psychological mess. Poverty, economic, social, and personal condition leave us in a state of emotional wreck that we invariably end in the hands of these Godmen thinking that herein lies our destiny, herein lies our cure. These people merely take advantage of our mental sickness, plant their philosophy into our minds, so, even if the Gurus land in a legal mess, the followers continue to defend them stoutly. As evident from the fist fight on IBN 7.
The Radhe Maas, the Asarams, the Ramdevs are merely encashing on our vulnerability. Perhaps, time has come that we empower ourselves through our logic, faith, reasoning, Once we learn that art, there’ll be no need to go to a satsang or yoga class or any art of living.
Finally, this is a nation that worships a God who had 16,000 wives yet revered and praised by all. Unfortunately, for Radhe Maa, she’s no Krishna’s Radhe, and in a chauvinistic society like ours this act of indiscretion, might just cost Radhe Maa her garlands, her glitter, her self-proclaimed divinity. Try moving to that Miss Mortal Kaur.