Ram Puniyani


AS ELECTIONS in Uttar Pradesh are nearing, so is the number of travels by spiritual gurus. These gurus are giving their discourses against corruption. (November 2011). The major ones amongst them are Baba Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (Sri Sri). Sri Sri has shared space with Anna and played a considerable role when the government had arrested Anna. Sri Sri came to play the role of an interlocutor between Anna and his followers, during his prison stint. As if by a divine design, yoga guru Ramdev and Sri Sri have suddenly realized this menace of corruption and have plunged themselves head long into the anti-corruption movement.


So, the teachings of Ramdev have a supplementary dose of anti-corruption teachings added on to it. Similarly Sri Sri’s ‘Art of Living’ has now the additional flavor of anti-corruption sermons. While this is going on, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh has alleged that Ramdev, Anna and Sri Sri are team members of RSS. Ramdev is known to be close to BJP and had also toyed with the idea of floating his own political party. However, Sri Sri never talked on similar lines, and has maintained that he has nothing to do with politics. According to him his UP tour is a mere extension of what he has been doing, making people take oath against corruption.


And, now Digvijay Singh has gone hoarse, claiming Sri Sri has a political agenda and he is Team C of RSS. Does Sri Sri have no political agenda? Or is he a part of RSS pantheon? Surely one can guess that Sri Sri may not have attended the Shakha bauddhiks (intellectual sessions conducted in RSS branches, known as Shakhas) and might not have worn khaki shorts and saluted the saffron flag in RSS Shakhas. But yet, Sri Sri is surely a part of a scheme to influence electoral politics. Having said that, let’s understand that electoral politics is not the only form of politics influencing the society; it is also done by social movements and awareness programs.


Bills cannot be passed on the streets and not under pressure. The government had accepted and is furiously working in that direction. Despite that the threats from team Anna are on and team Anna actively worked against the ruling Congress in Hisar elections. It seems there is more to the Anna upsurge than just the JLB or anti-corruption issue. They are having a deeper agenda, and Sri Sri is very much a part of it. Earlier the bill for Right to Information, NREGA etc were brought in, anti-corruption bill is in the offing, than why such a pressure from Team Anna and associated gurus. This just reconfirms that there is more to Anna movement than meets the eye.


The political agenda of this movement is much deeper than what is apparent at the surface. One needs to question whether under the garb of spirituality a particular type of politics is being strengthened. Sri Sri had a phenomenal rise during last three decades. To beat the stress of today’s working youth, Sri Sri has devised Sudarshan Kriya, based on the breathing exercises from the past traditions of India. Today, he is in league with many a God-men, people like late Bhagwan Satya Sai, Asaram Bapu, Baba Ramdev, propagating values of a particular type. While these godmen are selling tranquilizing therapies, ‘keep fit regimes’ on one side, on the other they also support the prevalent social dynamics in the society. The ‘deeper changes’ to ensure the rights of weaker sections of society is what we should strive for. On the contrary the type of politics,  which comes in the garb of religion, propagates the values which are opposed to the politics of affirmative action for weaker sections of society. The godmen are rubbing shoulders with the Nitin Gadkaris. Narendra Modis, Ram Madhavs and the like. So logically they are the one’s touring the state where election is due and they know on whose side they are canvassing in a subtle fashion. Such type of politics, laced in color of religion, is tied to the apron strings of a Hindu Rashtra, which in turn is being spearheaded by RSS.


While speaking on the eradication of corruption a noble sentiment, there is obvious rise of parallel movement of Anna and initiatives of Godmen on the issue. There simultaneity is striking. RSS chief claims that he talked to Anna Hazare to take up this issue. It is appalling as to how this triad of Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev and Sri Sri realized the need for anti Corruption movement all at the same point of time? And, of course, the RSS rushed its swayamsevaks in this movement all over the country without a minutes delay. Mere coincidence? No way! While talking against corruption is good, the question is why is there no talk about female feticide, atrocities against dalits and violence against minorities? The spiritual guru, one hopes, is aware that these issues are prevalent in our society. Why no support for ‘right to food’ issue, or why no support to eradicate communal violence? And last but not the least how come there is such a perfect match in what Sri Sri believes and what RSS-BJP want on the issues related to minorities, reservations for dalits, etc?


( Nov. 2011;

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