16 January, 2021

That Irrational High

How godmen hoodwink the gullible into subscribing to their divinity

Illustration by Sorit
That Irrational High

When we have a pantheon of gods and goddesses, do we really need godmen? At a very early age, I was exposed to the spiritual guru class. As kids, whenever I and my brother went to Kerala on our summer vacations, we had to call on a great-aunt who had given up all material pursuits to be one with her god—a former lawyer who, one fine day, realised his spiritual calling. My great-aunt, I was told, was a very bright and promising student in school and had therefore been sent for higher studies to Thiruvanathapuram. This was at a time when, even in Kerala, very few women studied beyond matriculation. In fact, had she pursued a career, she would have been a success. But after finding her guru, she chose otherwise.

She lived most of her life like a recluse, remained single, demanded her share of the family property, sold it and donated a chunk of it to her guru’s ashram. I have vivid memories of the modest cottage she lived in. Her prized belongings were an enlarged picture of her swami and a pair of his clogs (wooden footwear...



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