Way back when the WWW was still young, we used VT-100 terminals to log on to university-sponsored user forums. Some were general free-for-all text-only discussions about the cultures that the students came from. As a fresh-off-the-boat, homesick H4 housewife, I followed with interest a discussion about the Swami shenanigans of Sai Baba, he of the Afro-hairdo, encapsulated in a monumental epistle entitled "The Good, the Bad, the Ugly". This was over 15 years ago. The whispers grew louder over the years, resulting in exposes like this one from 2007.
Of late, muckraking tabloids and even more staid and venerable newspapers have been engaged in a contest of sorts with the electronic media to dish on assorted Godmen and not-so-godly men. "Popular swami caught in bed with actress" shrieks one headline. " Popular swami caught running a brothel", screams another. The usual outpouring of support vs. condemnation fills the newspapers' letters to the editor page.
Why do people get taken in by these obvious charlatans, even after a high degree of educational attainment and excellent jobs? Why does superstition take over the minds of even those who work in the highest echelons of science and technology?
'Don't question the origins of a river or a Rishi', goes an old saying that my mom was fond of. The problem is that the rishis don't originate in pristine glaciers or streams. Their antecedents take on a mythical quality as the hierarchy of adoring sycophants, disciples and powermongers grows. Their faults and frailties are still all too human, just waiting for the sniffing noses of the dogs of media to pick up the trail and debunk them.
But then, human nature being what it is, the decimated hordes of the Gurus and Swamis will be replenished again, just as a new generation of gullibles grow up, devout in their belief that the blessings of these flawed beings will fulfil their dreams.