Mohan Bhagwat, Jaggi Vasudev and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to “create hope” amidst Coronavirus pandemic
Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd18 May 2021
Just a few days ago, I saw an interesting news item on my mobile phone. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) top leader Mohan Bhagawat and his friends: Jaggi Vasudev, and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, will address the nation to create hope in times of Corona dance of death. One does not know what networks they will use to do that? According to the news item, they will create an opinion of ‘positivity’ in an atmosphere of ‘negativity’. Obviously, the negativity refers to opposition to the RSS/BJP central Government all over the world and India.
The news of these three great saintly men creating hope is being propagated by the RSS cadres. I wish they would have included all the Shankaracharyas of different pittas in the country. Of course, another Yogi–Adithyanath, who also heads a pitta, apart from the Uttar Pradesh Government where mass cremations are happening like a Kumbh, should have been part of the team.
The Prime Minister himself, who now looks like a saint not a ruler, will anyway address the nation from time to time.
However, the declared team consists of a Saraswat Brahmin from Maharashtra, a Tamil Brahmin who mostly lives abroad and educated in English medium at St. Joseph college of Bengaluru. The third is a Dwija educated at Mysore university-that too in English literature with a chequered life and final guruhood of international institutional base. The Indian diaspora and native upper middle-class swings and waves as they speak but the vast masses of food producers do not know what their guruship is. It is this productive nation that needs hope. For the whole nation should get hope from the central Government not from saints and sanyasis.
The RSS wants to use Ravi Shankar and Vasudev to add Hindu international networking. But the question is why this team did not find a Hindu Guru born in Shudra farmer family and a Dalit family. Is it because they are less Hindu, as they belong to the fourth varna and also no varna (Dalits are known as avarnas)? In the teaching of these three socio-spiritual leaders is there a single sentence that: ‘All Hindus Are Created Equal by Hindu God’. Is there a caste-free God they visualised for protection of all Hindus, leave alone Muslims, Christians and Sikhs of India?
Even assuming that they do not want to save the atheists and seculars, worldwide who were said to have worked for the advanced medical science, how many rural hospitals these gurus established in our poverty-stricken rural India? Ravi Shankar has a network in Geneva where there is a lot of oxygen to breathe in open air as well as in hospitals. But none in the Dandakaranya tribal belt where malnutrition is making their breathing more difficult than in any other part of the world. Why not that be his international base?
Jaggi Vasudev has networks across the United States including the wealthiest California state, but none in the Koraput tribal belt of Orissa. They learnt English in a manner that every English-speaking Asian, American, European, Australian would understand. But they never learnt a single tribal language of India. Their divinity flows in sweet English to promote ‘Hindu, Hindi, Hindustani’ and the RSS loves this nationalism.
Whom are they teaching their methods of pranayama (Isha foundation specialization)? Ravi Shankar is supposed to be an expert on rhythmic breathing. India is now dying without pranavayu, and no breathing–leave alone rhythmic. What scientific advancement they achieved and handed over to the nation? How many good hospitals that RSS and these foundations established to save the poor from lack of pranavayu in the villages and tribal areas?
Even before this deadly disease attacked Indian people in villages and urban slums were dying for want of enough oxygen in the atmosphere. What did they do? Why do they go to teach the Americans and Europeans who have everything–enough pranavayu, prana padarthas to eat along with plenty of cars and planes to travel? Why Hindu God is sending these gurus there not to tribal areas or even to African countries where there is nothing to eat and hardly any energy to breathe? They go to the US and Europe to acquire dollars, Euros and Pounds. How is that nationalism loved by the RSS?
In 1900, Ida Scudder reached the Vellore region to give life to lifeless and started a medical centre, which later became a trend setting hospital. What kind of guruship she initiated and what kind of guruship these Indian Dwijas established? The RSS leaders attack the Christian missionaries on an everyday basis. Did they establish a single hospital in the country that could match the Christian Medical College Hospital in their long life of 95 years? Did they ever look at what that hospital has done to the nation in subsequent years? That was the first hospital that started open heart surgeries in the 1960s itself, when no other hospital in India knew that science. Did any Hindu Pitta, or Foundation or organisation including the RSS did such constructive humanitarian work? Why accuse such Christians as anti-national?
The RSS and the gurus like Jaggi Vasudev, Ravi Shankar, who work around them as great Hindu nationalists must know the caste culture is causing more harm than corona to the spiritual will of the nation. Why are they so silent about it? In Uttar Pradesh where a Yogi rules, dead bodies are being discriminated against. Which culture is responsible for that? Where is a call from these gurus to not to do that?
Most organised religions in the world with strong notion monolith of faith are Hinduism and Islam, though they differ in caste cultural practices. In Hinduism these saints are in control and in Islam the Mullahs are in control. Why could vaccine science not develop in countries of those nations where they play a dominant role? Why does the secular world produce more vaccines and life-saving drugs? Why India of these pranavayu giving gurus begging for oxygen from secular nations? Why did the ‘Art of Living Foundation’, which is said to be a great teacher of breathing exercise, establish a vaccine producing industry and also an oxygen production centre? Do these gugus want to tell us those who breathed according to their methods are not attacked by Corona? We assume that Mohan Bhagwat follows them with a discipline of RSS but was attacked by Corona and treated in a modern medical system developed in Europe and America, not in the Art of Living breathing.
What kind of nationalism in Ravi Shankar and Vasudev the RSS found who established the Art of Living and art of pranayama in America and Europe but not in Indian Tribal Areas? Should Hindu nationalism be taught from California and Geneva to the farmers who are producing food for all Indian to survive and the safai sainiks who are cleaning the roads in the times of this deadly disease?
The RSS leaders must know that the nation is watching them when they are in the driving seat of the national power. There is enough intellectual base among the productive masses that can see through these English-speaking gurus, what they speak and do in their typical saintly attire here, and what they speak and do in America and Europe? The farmers, workers, shepherds, artisans and so on are already on ‘hope production’ jobs. They do not have to listen to these gurus to protect themselves from Corona. They are on the job of killing coronavirus in the fields by producing protein and raw material for medicines.
*Views expressed are the author’s own.
(Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd is a political theorist and social activist. His latest book is The Shudras–Vision for a New Parth co-edited with Karthik Raja Karuppusamy)
Other articles by Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd:
Disease distancing, not social distancing during Covid-19
Babu and Bhasha: The Game may end with this
Remembering Usaa: The greatest revolutionary barber after Upali