| Opinion | Malaysia | 31 Aug 2017 | Asia Samachar |
By T Singh
To market a fake product, you must use an authentic name. Hence, Dera Sacha Sauda!
That is the story of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the head of the Haryana-based Dera Sacha Sauda, who has been thrown behind bars for raping two women. They were his followers, young ladies left under the care of his spiritual centre.
Guru Nanak’s odysseys records ‘sacha sauda’. To hoodwink, you have to use historically reputed names and titles. So, this chap has latched onto it and runs “Dera Sacha Sauda”. He is a simply conman, like so many others around. Except that this one made it!
We have had many charismatic “saints” who appealed to the poor and the so-deemed lower caste people in caste conscious India. The charisma is used to lead the flock. Needless to say, abuses aplenty.
SEE ALSO:Deras & Babas: Why So Many?
Politicians latch on to them for support. The allot them free land. This chap’s centre is reportedly more than 1,000 acres!
With numbers, you have strength. With strength, you have power. And we have all heard the adage: Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Most such babas run their fiefdom with an iron fist, disguised as loving discipline. It develops into a cult. Humans have desires; women are brought to satisfy their desires. Most of them are probably unwilling and intimidated; so its rape.
Rural folk dare not report it. They fear it will bring you shame. If married, husbands may divorce you. If single, you can’t get married. Rape goes unreported.
Then someone braces it and reports. The cult leader commands a vote bank, so he has political support and patronage. Police will refuse to act. Until his luck runs out, then even his imagined spiritual powers will fail to protect him. Trial. Jail.
In the ensuing period, you may have riots, as with the Dera Sacha Sauda chap. Lives are lost, many get injured. The state security apparatus are stretched, a sheer drain on public finances. Who pays? The people, themselves, as it paid out of the taxes they pay.
In Malaysia, ‘babadom’ is hard to fault. Most baba groups are prayer based and centred on Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. They usually have a local sponsor. By and larger, their practices do not comply with the Panthic-approved Sikh Reht Maryada (SRM), but generally do not dabble in malpractices like liquor and women. And any wealth accumulated is used for their centres and not for personal use. That’s my cursory understanding. I stand corrected here.
These ‘babas’ command their centres. That gives them power.
Their mantra is usually naam japo, simran karo. They define these as repeatedly saying and chanting Satnam Waheguru.
They are capable of greatly influencing their followers. They can get patits to be kesadharis; to stop consuming liquor and go vegetarian. They can “convert”. We (those involved in Sikhi parchaar) try but fail to get an audience.
Of course, the huge influence poses the risk of abuse. In the Malaysian context, however, such abuses are rare. It could be due to immigration issues. The desi [a parlance referring to Sikhs hailing from India] saints fear deportation or being blacklisted should the local Sanggat lodge a complaint.
One “saint” or “guru” has been brought to book, but dozens continue to thrive. India is the land of Gods and Saints. History keeps repeating itself. Pray Sikhs are spared such a fate.
T Singh has been involved in Sikh-related activities in Malaysia for many years. He will occasionally share his thoughts on issues that may matter to Sikhs. But he asks readers not to take him too seriously!
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
Dera chief Ram Rahim gets 20 years jail for rape (Asia Samachar, 28 Aug 2016)
Deras & Babas: Why So Many? (Asia Samachar, 24 Oct 2014)