Why Might There Be Religious and Political Disconnects?
Posted by Barry Pittard on September 25, 2007
These short extracts from Shantanu Dutta’s article, Power of godmen, can provide a stimulus for discussion on the issue – are godmen (and godwomen, one supposes) beneficial or baneful or an intriguing mixture of both? (see extract below)
Of a statement by TRS (Telangana Rashtra Samithi) president K. Chandrasekhara Rao, Dutta says:
“Apparently (it) indicates that in the political mind there is a big disconnect between the teachings and thoughts shared in discourses and the course of action that naturally follows as a consequence”.
It Can Take Two To Disconnect
And the disconnect no doubt is not just disconnect by politician from spiritual leader, but the reverse as well.
It is surely a situation which is relevant to religious leaders of any country. Are they fortified by ivory towers or dreaming spires – or can they genuinely relate to the day-to-day issues of people in general? If they cannot, then a disconnect is bound to occur. Might, for example, a lay person think the best counselor to go to in quest of a solution to practical marital problems is a lifelong monk or nun?
That is one side of the question. But then, suppose that a spiritual leader – whether worldly-wise or not – has some useful insight into a public matter. I agree with Dutta. Why should Sai Baba, or anyone for that matter, shut up about important issues? In regard to the greater public weal, who is not a stakeholder of one degree or another?
The issue of religious leaders speaking out arises as an explosive one when few speak out. Let only a few do it and they are a novelty – even a shocking one.
What is the case when abstracts or ideals, are preached? What would be needed to bring about a connect?
Ought We Disconnect from Disconnected Gurus?
Here, are but two questions some of my readers might like to run with their spiritual leaders – whether at a mandir or temple, synagogue, mosque, vihara, church, and so forth:
1. what is our Faith’s specific, injunction or declared statement – if there is one – on sexual abuse?
2. What policy guidelines – if any – are there for dealing with offenses, proved or as yet alleged – within the ranks of the authority or amongst the congregation? (Please be so kind as to write to me with the details. I am interested. Email: bpittard (at) optusnet.com.au)
There is bound to be conflict when a preacher does not grapple with the question of how lay persons can, without great stress – and indeed hypocrisy – act out the precepts in practical and meaningful ways.
That is to say – connected.
Shantanu Dutta Article Extract
“The other Godman in the news was Sri Sathya Sai Baba. He didn’t get accolades of course for his remarks on Telengana and his opinion that those who talk in terms of the division of the country are actually committing a sin. His remarks led to a huge agitation and even violence. The TRS president , K Chandrasekhara Rao commenting on the Sai Baba’s remarks suggested that the Baba stick to singing Bhajans and other dharmic activities. Apparently that statement indicates that in the political mind there is a big disconnect between the teachings and thoughts shared in discourses and the course of action that naturally follows as a consequence”. Power of godmen, by Shantanu Dutta. MeriNews. 25 January 2007, Thursday. Link at begining of this blog. Dutta’s article is also available at Desicritics.org – HERE
See my article, Sai Baba Sparks Political Furore. At the foot of it there are plentiful links to articles from major Indian newspaper sources. My point here was not whether Sai Baba was correct or not in speaking out about a hot political issue. It was this: He has, at 81 years of age, deviated from long decades of non-entry into hot political topics. My view is that, from time to time, he speaks without full control because of his increasingly visible and audible loss of mental faculties. This deterioration his close servitors have gone to great lengths to hide. In an extremely rare moment, the BBC was able to film this happening. It is little wonder that the ashram authorities evicted the BBC documentary makers, who began to ask perfectly reasonable questions – truthful answers to which the public has a right to know. See various film clips, including one where Sai Baba collapses and afterwards, by way of explanation, utters almost certifiable inanities before a vast crowd, HERE. Or for the whole of the BBC’s one-hour documentary (2004), go HERE for broadband and HERE for dialup modem. My detailed review-article The BBC’s The Secret Swami – A Revision is Here