Millionaire Godmen- And Genuine Ones
By Someswar Bhagwat
Godmen exist in all religions. There are ‘lay preachers’ and evangelists in Christianity who do not belong to any Church and Mathadhipatis who have large following of Hindus and some Muslim leaders like Zakir Naik who spit out anti-India venom in the name of radical Islam. As a reaction such Hindu speakers and fringe groups like Bajrang Dal and Ram Sena are coming up. They are a creation of Islamic militancy -alien to the culture of India which allowed all religions to come.
Every language in India has discourses explaining various aspects of or ‘Sanatan Dharma’ or Hinduism by men (mostly all males though there are a few ‘Ma’ or ‘Matas’ like Anandamayi and a few Sadhvis of Hindu or Jain sects) who are much in demand.
These discourses attract a large following.
Some of these men have set up ashrams that give shelter to many (why mostly the rich?) and in the process build up huge properties. Months ago someone posted on social media what was the value of the properties of these men (or ‘godmen’ as many of them are derisively called) and proved that religion is the top business in India, perhaps followed by another equally noble calling — education. Other industries come down the list.
It is pointed out that Ram Rahim of a ‘dera’ in Haryana and Bapu (father) Asharam Bapu (both in jail now, one for murder and the second for rape) and fugitive Nityananda who bought an island to start a ‘nation’ of his own, are multimillionaires.
While all have ‘gift if the gab’ some also know how to grab (wealth).
Some, called ‘Pravachankarta’ in Hindi or Prabodhak (Marathi), acquired money or power like Bal Thackrey’s father and the grandfather of Maharashtra’s CM Uddhav.
But there are also many genuine ones. Recently someone wrote of Chaganti Koteswara Rao, one of the many in Telugu, He has one speciality – he and his wife travel by sleeper class at his expense to wherever invited. Till recently he was an employee of FCI – where the MD of the company used to bend and touch his feet daily though he was not even a big officer. From childhood he could remember whatever he had read once. He quotes with chapter and verse number from Bible or Geeta. Most speakers get paid and are also given airfare to places they are invited to and earn a lot as ‘Godmen’. Chaganti refuses.
So not all Godmen are crooks.