"Holy" men or "godmen" are very popular in India. Politicians, movie stars and other celebrities often follow one or more very devoutly, and are known to consult them before every important decision. Even public figures who claim to be atheists or "rationalists" defer to people like Satya Sai Baba.

I would like to hear from all of you what your thoughts are about such "holy" men.

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Hey! Great topic....
This is a pet peeve of mine. I think these people are parasites on the system.
I wasn't aware that there are atheists who defer to these clowns. Wow, that is really surprising. Can you point me to some particular case. Im guessing its some politician. Right?
I want to see what the response is to this thread.
-Ajita
Magicians ,charlatans ,con men ...that's what comes to mind when i think of godmen of india. some might even me mentally deluded ,thinking they indeed have a special link to god ,or that they are god incarnate!
its real sad ,but what can you do , the concept of god men are too ingrained in the minds of the average Indian ,that its futile trying to debunk them.Not to mention ,their devotees are a fanatical bunch who would rather strike you down than listen to any rational explanations...but i do hope that one day we will leave these god men where they belong..in the annals of history.
Ajita, yes, I was specifically talking about Karunanidhi and his recent prostration at the feet of Satya Sai Baba.

What I am amazed at is the charisma of these people, and how they manage to pull people into their thrall. I have visited the Osho ashram in Pune, and it is fascinating to see the way the devotees still talk of the love that "Bhagwan" has for them, even so many years after his death!
That quite true , whatever their faults , they do seem to have a magnetic personality . i guess thats what people since antiquity had to have to be prophetic ,cult leaders or even community heads .Its probably the charisma that draws so many people to them...kinda like the way i'm drawn to R.Dawkins..;) ( a complaint i get often ,but no matter how i explain its not the same ,its useless)
I guess we would like to think that we are drawn to Dawkins because of the sense that his arguments make. But then I am sure a lot of Sai Baba's devotees would also claim some similar reason which is perfectly valid to them.

What I like to entertain as an idea is starting a cult of my own, something like the guy who started Scientology. Make a lot of money and be able to sit back and laugh at it, because I would know that it was all made up. Anyone up for the role of my apostles?
You should consider starting an ashram across the street from Saibaba's :)
I used to live a few streets away from his ashram in Hyderabad, but of course, that wasn't Headquarters.
Uhhh, Im shuddering at the thought of living that close to the creep.
This was fun guys, talking to three ex-pat Indians living in three different continents... Im getting more of my atheist friends from India to join here so we'll have more people to share with soon.
Till then.
well... as far as this Sai Baba is concerned... I am sure... all of you must have watched that documentary.... accusing him to be a pedophile....
Well the current situation in India is very saddening.... these so called holy men... have large followings.... their ashrams usually being accused of rapes and drugs usage... usually these crimes do not get highlighted in the media.... possibly due to their political influence.....
and what I believe.... these kind of people... are encouraging... what can be called... a radical hinduism...
News:
The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday asked the police to file a case against spiritual leader Asaram Bapu’s ashram here for the attack on several journalists last month and also asked it to pay appropriate compensation to those injured in clashes.

The court ruling came after a hearing on a public interest litigation.

Civic organizations had given a call for Ahmedabad shutdown on July 18 to protest the alleged tardy probe into the mysterious deaths of Dipesh Vaghela, 10, and his cousin Abhishek, 12.

The boys, studying in the gurukul run by the ashram in Motera on the outskirts of the city, were found dead in the riverbed nearby on July 6.

While the police initially said the two had died of drowning, their parents said they might have been victims of occult practices.

During the shutdown, a group of journalists outside the ashram was attacked and many of them were injured.

The Motera centre run by the Asaram Bapu Trust refused to comment on the court’s order.

The dead bodies of the two children, staying at the ashram ‘gurukul’, were found near Asaram Bapu’s ashram on June 7.

Following the incident, the people of Motera village, surrounded the ashram and clashes broke out between inmates and villagers.

While police initially said the two had died of drowning, their parents said they might have been victims of occult practices.

However, on Monday, the Supreme Court declined to impose any restrictions on the media while reporting about the goings-on at the ashram.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K.G Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam, however, sought response from the Centre regarding the laws and guidelines, if any issued by the government, to regulate the reporting by the media, both electronic and print.

Asaram Bapu has termed the media reports as a violation of his Fundamental Right to Life with Dignity, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
My impression, as an outsider (although I used to work at the printers that had Mahara Ji as a customer) is that these holy men are either hypocritical hedonists who live as parasites, or professional anorexics bent on denying life to the full. Both enjoy - literally - far too much power. They don't strike me as much different from the priests and prophets of the Old Testament, who either lived the good life in the temple
or ranted and raved in the desert.
Good luck to you all. I'm not Indian, I'm English with a Gujurat brother in law and a fondness for the cuisine. I just thought I'd join in as a gesture of solidarity. The problems are international, particularly as economic uncertainty pushes emmigration levels up and world-views meet, not always comfortably.
It's a long road, brothers and sisters, and I wish you well.
The entire world is with such cheaters. Actually it is a fraud and cheating like financial cheaters, insurance cheaters, and many more. These Tantriks are involved in rape cases also.

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