Should a President rub shoulders with godmen?

Either we are in the most well-directed campaign to derail Pratibha Patil‘s presidential hopes. Or the Marathi mulgi is truly gifted with a gab that will ensure that journalists earn every bit of the bread they make during what promises to be a long and colourful presidency.

First, her comments on the purdah caused a flutter among historians. Then, it was her Emergency-era statement that those who have hereditary diseases should be sterilised. But both those now pale in front of the big one, which CNN-IBN unveiled last night.

Apparently, three months ago, Pratibhatai claimed that she had a ‘divine premonition‘ of greater responsibility coming her way while communicating with her spiritual guru who passed away 38 years ago.

“I had a pleasant experience,” Patil told a gathering in Mt Abu in February recounting her meeting with the head of Brahma Kumaris World Spritual University, Hridaymohini, also popularly known as ‘dadiji.’

Dadiji ke shareer mein baba aye (Baba came in Dadiji’s body),” she said. Her reference was to Dada Lekhraj who founded Brahma Kumari sect. Lekhraj died in 1969. Patil claimed the late Baba spoke to her indicating that she should be prepared to shoulder greater responsibility.

“He also made me very lucky,” she added.


Maybe, it’s unfair to target Pratibha Patil for her links with the Brahma Kumaris or its chief. After all, if even a scientist like A.P.J. Abdul Kalam didn’t have any problems in rubbing shoulders with godmen and godwomen—Saibaba, Mata Amritanandamayi, et al—why should Pratibhatai be immune?

Maybe, also, it’s her personal belief—a question of faith—and no one has any right to question it. But the problem arises when, instead of observing them behind closed doors, it is put up for public display, which most godmen and godwomen are experts are turning into advertisements.

An even bigger question is of propriety. Should the head of a State be seen sitting below a religious head? Should a President be seen in close proximity to godmen and godwomen, many of whom are sleazeballs using education and health as a cover for their nefarious activities?

Also read: VIR SANGHVI: The truth about Sabi Baba

An eleven-and-a-half point manifesto for President Kalam