‘Hindus make bad devotees, but are good clients’

Dipankar Gupta, senior fellow at the Nehru memorial museum and library, on the thin crowds around Baba Ramdev after the midnight eviction from Ram Lila grounds in Delhi, in Mail Today:

“Hindus have problems gathering around a religious leader, as a religious leader. They quickly transform the person, saffron robes, notwithstanding, to a specialist healer, magician and personal good luck charm. Hindus, therefore, make bad devotees but good clients.

“As tradition tells us, Hindus are not given to collective sentiments in their religious observances. The concept of a church or congregation is foreign to them. This is why one can be a pious Hindu yet never set foot in a temple.

“To be able to host an at- home with your own customised guru is the ultimate Hindu fantasy. This would not work for Muslims, Sikhs or Christians. The idea of a ‘ communion’ is essential in these religions. Hence, when Hindus flock to a so- called sadhu it is not always on account of religion.

“They are attracted to bearded individuals in saffron because of their supposed magical or physical powers. They are worried when such a person dies for they wonder who their next all- round talisman would be. Other religions do not think that way, primarily because the communion is so important for them.

“That also explains why no Christian priest, or Muslim maulvi or Sikh granthi would produce ashes, watches or sweets out of his sleeve, or hat, to win adherents.”

Read the full article: Ramdev as the Bruce Lee of yoga