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When idolatry makes you blind...

Today, Monday August 28, most of Gurgaon schools are closed. Not because of a heat wave, of heavy rain, of a pollution peak, or of an election, not even because it’s time for the annual bath of the elephant-headed God. No. It’s because a crazy fanatic, self-proclaimed God, is going on trial for rape. So why close the schools? Because his fans are protesting mind you! He was found guilty on Friday of two rapes – and the riots following the news have caused the death of 30 to 40 people – and he is expecting his sentence today.

India,gurus,worshipping,yoga,hinduism,baba ramdev,amma,controversies,rapes,sri sri ravi shankar,bapuji,modi,PatanjaliThis 50 year old man, Ram Rahim, is the head of a sect, Dera Sacha Sauda, based in Haryana and especially present in the North (Haryana, Punjab and Delhi) – it claims to have 60 million followers. People have been blaming him for his poor sense of style and love of jewels which earned him the nickname of “guru of bling”. But most importantly, in addition to dozens of rapes, he might be responsible for the assassination of a journalist who investigated it in 2002, and the castration of 400 of his advisers. On the other hand, his sect runs hospitals and schools, and takes care of supporting his fans living in poverty. Which perhaps explains why even his female groupies are still defending him.

This country is a little bit crazy!

But you could argue that Madona also has fans who idolize her and would be ready to die for her, so why not worship big fat hairy guys??

Here are some other living gurus who are superstars in India but also outside:

India,gurus,worshipping,yoga,hinduism,baba ramdev,amma,controversies,rapes,sri sri ravi shankar,bapuji,modi,PatanjaliBaba Ramdev – A yoga master who launched the brand of so-called Ayurvedic consumer products Patanjali (successfully marketed as cheap but quality stuff), an empire that today has a turnover of more than $1.6 billion.

India,gurus,worshipping,yoga,hinduism,baba ramdev,amma,controversies,rapes,sri sri ravi shankar,bapuji,modi,PatanjaliAmma (‘mother’) or Mata Amritanandamayi The Saint who heals people by hugging them. Make love not war – even though her hugs are nothing sexual. Her fortune is estimated at close to $3 billion (see NYTimes article).

India,gurus,worshipping,yoga,hinduism,baba ramdev,amma,controversies,rapes,sri sri ravi shankar,bapuji,modi,PatanjaliSri Sri Ravi Shankar (not to be confused with the musician) Known for his philosophy of Art of Living, he is believed to have 300 million followers in 151 countries. His fortune is estimated at nearly $2 billion.

India,gurus,worshipping,yoga,hinduism,baba ramdev,amma,controversies,rapes,sri sri ravi shankar,bapuji,modi,PatanjaliBapuji or Asaram Bapu I had actually never heard of him before (and neither had I head of Ram Rahim) but apparently he is one of the wealthiest, and controversial gurus in India. He has been in jail since 2013 for rape, still awaiting trial.

India,gurus,worshipping,yoga,hinduism,baba ramdev,amma,controversies,rapes,sri sri ravi shankar,bapuji,modi,PatanjaliSathya Sai Baba The guru to the supposedly magical powers died in 2011. He was also accused of rape to several times, without having ever been judged.

It should therefore be noted that: Hinduism is a fertile ground for the worship of gurus; most of them also have trouble with sexuality – possibly due to the fact that they often advocate celibacy, and are in fact unable to resist their urges (but it will be the subject of another article); and the Prime Minister, Modi, often scratches their backs.


The Gods of Indian cinema

I never understood fans. Human beings worshipping other human beings.

For singing, writing, painting. Doing things than anyone can do, with more or less talent.India,cinema,Bollywood,Kollywood,Amitabh Bachchan,Shahrukh Khan,Rajnikanth,top movies,worshipping,temples

I always felt that fans must, somehow, fill a void with the unconditional love for a star.

But enough of philosophical considerations. Everyone does what they want…


If you follow Bollywood cinema, you have heard of Amitabh Bachchan and Shahrukh Khan.

But does the name Rajnikanth ring a bell? He is a South-Indian superstar (originally born in Karnatak from a poor Maharashtrian family, he mainly stars in Tamil movies – Kollywood).

Comparing the popularity of actors by the number of fans is impossible but let’s look at collections.

The top Bollywood movie, 3 Idiots (2009) brought Rs 201 crores (€28 millions) whereas Endhiran (starring Rajnikanth, and dubbed in Telugu and Hindi) brought 400 crores (€56 millions).

Besides, in 2006, Rajnikanth was quoted as the most paid actor with earnings of Rs 15-20 crores (€2.8 millions); in 2009 he was paid more than Rs 40 crores (€5.6 millions) per movie. Well above Bollywood stars.


India,cinema,Bollywood,Kollywood,Amitabh Bachchan,Shahrukh Khan,Rajnikanth,top movies,worshipping,templesSo obviously Rajnikanth has a huge number of fans. And here is what they do to worship him:

§          Build temple dedicated to him,

§          Tonsure their heads and fasting when he is sick,

§          Give a free gift of gold ring for every child born on the date of  the release date of a Rajinikanth’s movie,

§          Publicly ritualizing his film posters and appropriating Hindu rituals to divinize their star deity: to celebrate the release of a film they take poster of the movie to the temple and to a theatre where it is bathed in about 100 to 200 litres of milk carried, on their heads, by the fans.


And you, what do you do to worship Brad Pitt huh??