Saturday, November 16, 2013

Asaram Bapu devotee syndrome.

The title of today's blog proposes a new syndrome, I named this syndrome like this to explain people's reactions during my discussions related one recent incident in India, the arrest of self-styled Godman Asaram Bapu for rape and sexual harassment charges (he is one of many who is in this business of selling spirituality, religion, and God). Some (or many) of his  devotees/followers protested against his arrest and demanded his immediate release, I think they did this because they all sincerely believe that their guru or God (most of them consider him God or incarnation of some God they worship) is wrongly framed for this crime, they also believe he is actually innocent and that is why he should be released immediately. Some of them might even believe that as a God or incarnation of God he is entitled to do whatever he wants and laws framed for common people doesn't apply to him. They also expect police and others should show some respect to their guru because of his godly (??) nature. Many of my friends and family members criticized this attitude of these devotees, they were particularly surprised that even after knowing what type of crime Asaram did all these people are still supporting him, they also asked the question that how come these people are following him so blindly that they cannot see his obvious mistakes or crimes. Actually, I must say that this is a very valid question to ask in many such cases.

I agree with them that whatever Asaram did was disgusting and criminal and he should be punished by law for his crimes, I also agree with them that many Asaram's devotees are behaving like blind followers and because of that they are not willing to listen anything against their guru or even not willing to accept the reality which is right there in front of their eyes. In spite of all the evidence and proof, they all chose to turn a blind eye to everything and continue their devotion and worship of their guru, this is why I gave the name Asaram Bapu devotee syndrome (ABDS). Actually, one can put any famous controversial name with a huge fan following, I just use this name because of I thought about it after Asaram's arrest. But, when I discuss with many people that this quality or syndrome is more or less present in everyone who calls her/himself a devotee of any sect, religion, God or cult movement, or person; as usual, they disagreed with me. They all think that their devotion has a logic, it is rational and reasonable, but Asaram's devotees are fools and morons. Now, we can call this as an anti-ABDS, in this condition, people feel whatever they do is legitimate, thoughtful and rational but if similar things are done by others then they are foolish, irrational, or thoughtless.

This type of behavior is very common everywhere in the world, many people on one hand think that their beliefs, their God, their scriptures, their gurus, their leaders are all great, pious, legitimate, authentic and above any criticism, no one should criticize them or even question them. Whatever their God did (as per their scriptures) was all need of that time and legitimate (very much like ABDS) but at the same time they don't hesitate to question others scriptures, criticize other's beliefs, make fun of them, object to similar actions of other's gods, gurus or leaders (symptoms of anti-ABDS). Many times both symptoms are displayed by the same person or group, and for me, this is an amazing scenario to watch. Actually, we all become victims of these syndromes sometime in our lives. I try hard to not to become a victim of both these syndromes, but you never know, it is not easy, so we need to be careful. When I offer criticism about anything (even if it's constructive criticism), I have to be ready to receive criticism directed towards me and my views, this is what I try to follow on my blog, any counter view or other side of story is always welcomed as long as it's related to the topic. Blind faith in anything is dangerous, and we need to challenge it, question it, but we should also remember that when we question others, they have right to questions us, and we should be prepared to answer those questions if they are related to the subject of discussion. Only such healthy debates, discussions, and confrontations will induce any desirable change, there is no better option than this.

Blind supporters of Asaram are wrong in supporting him even after knowing about his crime, no doubt their demand to release him is irrational and illegal, but these devotees are the product of the same system which has created millions of other devotees which behave in a similar manner. Devotees who are ready to kill their fellow citizens in communal riots to protect their religion, followers who are ready to justify any action or statement of their beloved leader. The only difference is that some believe in something which happened thousands of years ago and some place their faith in something which is current, but both don't see anything wrong with their god, leader, or guru because they all think their idol is divine. Asaram's followers also think that he is divine and can not do anything wrong or may be even worst they might be thinking whatever he did was not wrong at all, as a divine person he is entitled to behave in whatever way he want, after all, he is a god. This attitude is a result of the same system which makes people believe that our idols or leaders are above everything and can not be questioned. This system is equally at fault along with the devotees who follow anything blindly, let's fight with this system and then these type of devotees with irrational demands and attitude will automatically disappear, as long as this system is there it will give birth to some Asaram and his devotees, who will follow him blindly and unconditionally. This type of behavior is similar to crazy fans of some celebrity which are a result of similar attitude, I also like many artists or writers, but none of them I worship or follow blindly. ABDS and anti-ABDS are not different they are different sides of the same coin, let's get rid of that coin itself. Praise or criticize someone or something based on the merit, not based on who they are or what is their status in society. Be aware of both of these syndromes, because many who are suffering from these don't even know that they are affected by these.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]



  1. My friend Anand posted following comment about this post on Google+, I am sharing it below,

    Ha ha.. Liked the title. But finally ABDS is approaching towards NMFS ( narendra Modi follower syndrome) . I totally agree with your view on this matter. We do ignore and blindly follow. There is no doubt about what he did in Gujrat during Godhara. How senior police officer and their staff have put in jail. No one want to listen their voice. We also do not want to. They were acting on strict order from these politician. After knowing all these, common people still believe in him. People still selected him as chief minster of the state and he is approaching towards prime minister seat. No one ask : What kind of plans he has for underdeveloped state like Bihar and UP. What he is going to do for northeastern states. How he is going to implement the same strategy to other state? When you listen him you feel he has lots of grudges. He may turn out to be very biased. He defend all his action. I guess if media is acting against him now will work better for him. We have been given a brain which tends to forget. God has given us this feature. And it's the best thing we are born with. We are not a free thinker. We are totally biased. When you are biased you stop listening other side of the story. Works for both way. If my any relative would have died in that train which burnt by those " people" I would be fully supporting his action. Not realizing right or wrong.. Just " tit for tat " policy. I would be biased and still feel happy and supporting his action. As a normal person " revenge " in our DNA. If someone hit me I will hit them back. Spirituality tells us " forgiveness" which work only in the class. Difficult to practice. So what NM did was supported by many. You and me are sitting in completely protected and safe environment. Think about if something happen like what happen in That train, our philosophy and thinking would be different. To become an idealist without pain is a theoretical approach. If someone who forgive a murderer who murder their close one : we call him GOD. Why because not many of us can do it.

  2. I think, it is the principles - if at all I can call them principles - of these charlatans that initially attract men and women towards them. Eventually, the aura of the charlatan overpowers his principles, and people start believing in the person rather than in the principles per se. The initial followers do not realise that they are in a trap because by that time the number of followers of the charlatan has doubled or tripled and more crowds keep pouring in. The herd mentality creeps in and rational thinking reaches a dead-end. The charlatan is like a black hole - you can only go in, never come out, and the more people go in the more powerful the charlatan becomes. Fans and followers are lead into a stupor and the ardent fan is transformed into a die-hard fanatic who will defend the charlatan at all costs.

    You have rightly pointed out that only the name keeps changing whereas the syndrome remains the same. Now it is Asaram’s syndrome; sometime back it was Satya Sai Baba's syndrome. And again, this phenomenon is not just confined to religion or spirituality; it dominates all spheres of human activity where 'faith' is an essential element, politics included, as Anand has pointed out above. Charlatans and politicians play on this inherent need of man to have 'faith'. Whether that faith is in god or in miracles or in utopia.

    1. nicely expressed...please consider writing a blog or articles [in whatever form (print or electronic) you prefer], you have knack of expressing your thoughts clearly and your language is simple as well as effective. I liked the explanation and totally agree with you. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Vinay, I had given it a thought a long time back. But I am of the opinion that rather than starting an altogether new blog and writing the stuff on similar topics - which, more often than not, will reflect the same ideas as you or anyone else who shares similar thoughts has - it is better to participate in discussions by writing comments or otherwise. What I have noticed in your blog is that you almost voice the very same thoughts that I have in my mind, with hardly any differences; differences, if at all, are too trifle to be of note. So, starting a new blog would be almost akin to repeating the same stuff which, by any means, would be shared by you or some other parallel thinker on his blog. In that way I can avoid being redundant.

    Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I am of the opinion that parallel thinkers like us, who are unfortunately not too numerous, should get together under one umbrella. We can, more or less, see where the world is going and are aware of at least some of the challenges we have to face in this battle. So rather than fighting against such evils individually it is time that people like us should unite. A parallel blog might work if I share thoughts radically different from yours. But when we both have, more or less, the same thing to say we rather stick to a single channel and make that channel more effective. I, therefore, prefer to write comments on your blog rather than starting one of my own.

    1. You are right, if we share similar opinions then starting another blog may not help, but please free to comment whenever you feel there is alternative angle or other side to whatever I post on blog. If necessary your comment (if its radically different) can be published as guest post so that readers can get to know all sides of same issue, this will be very good for readers.

      Please continue to spread love and rational thinking. Thanks again for your comment.