September 8, 2017 12:19 PM NPT
By: Kalu Maila
I am not an expert on religious issues but I think people want to believe in something other than the higher being above when they stop believing in themselves.
A few weeks ago a story about Indian Gurus and their followers made headlines on Indian TV channels. My wife was watching one of the stories and asked me why people in hundreds of thousands follow such men who are exploiting them instead of bringing salvation. Well, I am not an expert on religious issues but I think people want to believe in something other than the higher being above when they stop believing in themselves.
Well, some people are atheist and don't believe in any higher being at all but some people seem to believe in some holy man or woman who tells us that he or she is God. If I had all the answers to why people follow such fake prophets then I would myself become one and probably have millions of followers. But it seems that politicians and fake prophets first start out by wanting to change the lives of others for good but then when they get the power and the money they can’t help but let it get into their heads and become evil themselves.
Our politicians ask help from astrologers and Swamis and other so-called holy men when they move to Baluwatar or stand up for election or when dealing with matters that will enrich their lives even more. Movie stars have added an alphabet or omitted one in their names to bring them good luck. Some folks even make movies where the title of the movie begins with the same letter in all of their production.
In Nepal, we do not have any holy men and women who have such large followers like their Indian counterparts but there are many who follow the Swamis, Matas and other cults because they believe that those people have helped them in their lives. In what way, I’m as clueless as the next person.
One of the TV channels had recently done a story on such fake prophets in the valley. A friend of mine is a big believer in such holy men and women. He takes his 'cheena' and visits astrologers and other gurus and matas every once in a while. He makes major decisions relating to work and travel depending on the advice from such folks.
He is a busy man but still has time to visit the holy men and women for advice on life, money and everything else. It seems that the more money you have, the more problems you face and then you have to meet matas and gurus along the way.
My sister-in-law had once booked an appointment with an astrologer and my appointment date was a year later. A day before the appointment, she called me and asked me to put some rice in a plastic bag and put it under my pillow while I slept and to take it to the astrologer the next day. I laughed at her but decided to follow her instructions and visit the guy just to see if he could predict my future or tell me that I will make a million dollars in a year or something along those lines. Everybody needs a little dream to keep them going.
Well, I went to the place with a ticket that my sister-in-law had given me a day earlier. There were hundreds of folks in line. I waited for an hour and when it was finally my turn to visit the astrologer, he looked at me, smiled and began to play with the rice I had brought along.
Then he went on to tell me what I had done so far in my life. The guy was right. I had not climbed Everest or run a marathon or had held any steady jobs or made any money. I was beginning to feel that this guy knew me inside out. So I was waiting for him to predict my future but he didn't. I asked him if I would make a movie someday and win an Oscar for Nepal. He just told me to believe in hard work and everything would be fine.
Then a month later, I was at my cousin's house for lunch and there was a mata who was sitting on the sofa while a dozen folks were all praying to her. My cousin asked me if I wanted to meet the mata. I agreed and the mata looked at me and told me the same thing as the astrologer.
But who will predict my future? Is there anybody out there who can tell me when I will die or how much I will make or how many kids I will have and how they will turn out to be? Well, it seems that nobody can predict the future. But most of our astrologers and so-called holy men and women only talk about money, relationships and other normal stuff rather than tell people where they will be in the next four years.
But why do people believe in such holy men and women? It seems that we, Eastern folks, believe in such matters most than the Westerners. Maybe it is our religion or culture or the way we have been brought up that make us believe astrologers and seek help from gurus and matas.
But, at the end of day, even they tell us to believe in ourselves, that we have the power to change our lives through hard work. It’s not that we didn’t know that already. So, the million dollar question is: Why do we still need, believe, and follow them blindly?