Replace your Guru with a Politician – human Worship in India – 16 Feb 15

I yesterday told you that I have lost two friends in the last year due to politics. It was, at first, unbelievable to me that this could happen – after all, friendship should be more important than political opinion, shouldn’t it? – but then I analyzed the issue deeper and I believe I could find a reason which explains such behavior: India’s long-standing tradition of human worship.

Yes, I know that human worship is in the culture and history of this society and it is very present today as well. Just take a look at all those religious leaders and gurus whom I have written so often about! They are accused of rape and murder but that doesn’t keep their followers to worship them, even from outside the jail they are in! It is not difficult, even for a non-religious person, to apply this concept to others as well, be that your ancestors, ideals such as movie stars or singers or political leaders!

In India, politics is a hot topic at all times. With my German wife, I cannot help but from time to time compare it to what I have seen in Germany: there are less people talking about politics and if they do, it is definitely not as passionate as in India. That may be due to their more sober character and nature – for a proof of that you just have to compare a parliament session in Germany to one in India – but there is also a little bit more to that. In Germany, I haven’t seen people worship their political leaders. They don’t idolize one of them as the best of all, the genius and one-and-only, as many Indians do with their party’s leaders! And they would definitely not break decades-old friendships over one of them!

The joke is however that really only the devotees of these leaders do such a thing – politicians themselves have no such notion! They are more focused on their personal aims and doing what they believe can bring them further, without taking their own words as serious as their followers do. And that’s something I would like to show to all these followers of politicians. I would actually like to ask them to follow the example of their idol even better!

India’s election campaigns are usually very heated and excited. In the past election for the post of Chief Minister in Delhi, the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the candidate of another party, Arvind Kejriwal, a lot of bad names, a terrorist, Pakistani agent, enemy of the country and more – publicly! He won nevertheless – and maybe even because people did not really like such a dirty way of campaigning for his party by the ‘leader of the nation’. Now, after the election, the Prime Minister invited the new Chief Minister of Delhi and tweeted a photo with him drinking chai. Are you surprised that they hugged each other, drank chai together and sat there together in sweet unison?

This man’s followers break relations and friendships of 20 or 30 years for him. What they don’t see is that he is just drama! That behind the curtain, they all are the same, that they don’t care that much about what they say one day or the other!

I want to appeal to each and every follower of any politician out there: please don’t break your personal relations because of them. Not any relation where there is love and no relation that has the possibility to grow with love. Because at some point of life, you need another human being – and Modi or your other politicians won’t be there for you! There are millions like you for them. You will always recognize them but they won’t recall your face or name.

Politicians come and go with every election. Your friends will be there to hold your hand and give you support in real life, when you truly need someone – Modi will not.

So no matter how devoted you are to a leader of any kind, don’t let this devotion destroy your friendships!

Christian Worship of the Pope is also Human Worship – 6 Sep 11

I have written a lot about Hinduism and have condemned the worship of humans many times. Friends who grew up in Christian culture told me that they have always learned as Christians not to worship any person and not to worship any statue. For them there is only one God and He does not have any image. This is why, they said, they don’t have God statues or murtis, as they are called here, in their churches. Although I have repeatedly been told that there is a big difference between Hinduism and Christianity, I see a lot of similarities, even in this point.

I cannot know as much about Christianity as I know about Hinduism but I have also heard about Moses who brought the people of Israel out of Egypt as a kind of messenger of God. When the people there started worshipping a cow out of cold, he got angry and God gave them the message that they should not worship any statues. When he himself claimed to have helped the people, God made him aware that he was not the one with the power, that he was not God and should not want people to believe this.

These stories make it very clear that whoever wrote it wanted to have a very different religion than the ones existing in that time, the Roman Gods, the Greek Gods, the Celtic Gods and maybe they had even heard of the Hindu Gods. They did not want statues and did not want to worship any person pretending to be God. In the end however I do not see much difference in between today’s Hinduism and the Christianity that I have seen and heard of.

Both religions have such scriptures, that is anyway the very first thing. Many people believe in them word by word although they are also only stories, nicely told for people to understand the basic rules of religion. And although Christianity says in their Bible that nobody should worship any statue, I again and again see the crucifix, the statue of Jesus, hanging at the cross, blood running down his sides. People stand in front of that statue and pray to it. What is that? Well, it is not a statue of God himself, I am told. It is a statue of God’s son. But it is a statue! Then there is mother Mary with the baby Jesus. She resembles hope, everything good, soft and loving. Isn’t that as though you are praying to the statue of the goddess Parvati, Lakshmi or Saraswati? Where really is the difference? You ask her, you pray to her and you make a wish. Isn’t it the same thing, praying to a statue? This is why it was easy for Christian missionaries in South India to convert people to Christianity. They just change the statue, it does not make much difference! When we were in Kerala earlier this year, we noticed this. If you see the statues there, they look pretty much as the Hindu Gods and Goddesses, colourful, adorned, flowers spread around them. In its basics it is the same.

The main point that I wanted to make though is that Catholic Christians say that they don’t do any human worship but when I talk against human worship, I also consider their main priest like any of our Hindu gurus: the Pope. What do you do if not worship him? Have you ever seen how those masses of people come together to see him and maybe even be touched by him when he comes out to speak the Easter blessing? Or how many people gather to have a look at him when he comes to their town or anywhere close-by? How many of those believers long for just a single touch, just one word or a look of him? It is the same thing again! How can that not be human worship? He even has the attribute of being impeccable. What he says and writes has to be accepted as the truth, just like the words of any guru!

Again, there is really not any big difference in between the religions. I grew up here in India, in Hinduism and that is why I obviously know much more about it than about any other religion. When anybody tells me anything from other religions though, there are always things that strike me as same. So it doesn’t matter which religion, when I talk against human worship, I speak of human worship in any religion and culture. It is always wrong.

Please do not worship Anna Hazare – 5 Sep 11

Here in India I sometimes watch news on TV and daily read the newspaper. While I was looking for news on TV, I stopped on a channel for a minute on which I saw Anna Hazare sitting on a stage and in front of him there were many people, some of them performing Aarti. Aarti is an Indian ceremony in which you worship a statue of God or a river for example with fire.

I had a very funny feeling when I saw this. Did Anna Hazare become a God now? Did he ask people to do this? But then I had a closer look and my impression was rather that he was not interested and even irritated by what people were doing there. So why do people worship a person if that person doesn’t even want to be worshipped?

I saw this on TV but later I came across an article and realized that he does not even need to be present, people do that nevertheless and they even make money with it! On 1st September India celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi, the birthday of the God Ganesha. India is a religious country with a Hindu majority, so of course there is always a big celebration, many ceremonies and in many cities they have big festivals with enourmous tents called pandals. This time you could not only see statues and pictures of Ganesha in the tents, there were big pictures of Anna Hazare, too! They did not only worship Ganesha in the ceremonies but Anna Hazare, too! And of course they sold T-shirts with Anna Hazare’s image on them and caps of the style that he is wearing.

I wrote before about the flexibility of Hinduism and here you can see once again that they do not mind taking in something new and changing their ceremonies a bit. Priests and organizers are like agents. Religion is their business, those tents are their shops and now they are selling the image of Anna Hazare. They have to sell something and get income to make their living and if they can attract people to buy at their tents by selling Anna Hazare as a God, it is fine for them. I believe it is human worship and it is wrong.

I know that many Swamis and Gurus are promoting human worship, even if they don’t say it as clearly as I do. I was against one of Baba Ramdev’s political ideas for exactly this reason. He wanted to change the political system that we have now in India, with more power in the hand of the parliament than in the hand of the president, to a system more similar to America, with the president in power. Ramdev tried to get higher on the ladder of his political career and may have even tried to become president. Imagine he changed the political system in India and became president with so much power. India is a religious country and many people have many emotions when religion and their guru are concerned. If he had become president in this way, he would be worshipped like nobody else in the country!

We have seen on examples all over the world that human worship is never good and cannot be accepted. Hundreds of names can be listed as examples but I believe you all have an idea what I mean and I don’t have to point out more names here. Anna Hazare was already seen with such people who promote human worship and I believe he should be careful. It can even weaken his cause because human worship is corruption, too!

Please do not understand me wrong, I am not blaming Anna Hazare for the worship of his person but the public and more than that those money oriented, religious people who want to cash in on his popularity. Please don’t do this! This is not right and surely not what he wanted. He did not fight to be worshipped religiously! Let him be Anna, don’t make him God. He is a nice person, let him be a nice human being. Don’t worship him. He woke you up and made you aware of a good cause but now the rest is up to you. I wrote a letter to him in support and one letter to the Prime Minister stating clearly that he is only a symbol for the fight against corruption. I even asked those who were opposing him to please support his cause because it is not about him but about the issue of corruption. It is now our responsibility, the responsibility of everyone together, to further fight corruption. If you put it all on him and make this kind of drama, the real spirit of this fight will get lost!

It is great that the media supported this issue by reporting about it. I thank them for bringing regular news out to people but I also want to say please leave him alone now! You don’t need to follow each and every step that he does as if he was holy. You create the image of a holy person by showing where he showers, where he eats, what he does and more! He is not a guru! You greatly supported the cause by passing out information but now you are responsible not to create this kind of image for him. I supported his campaign because of the fight against corruption, not to make him a God.

Being a Student is better than being a Follower – 16 Jun 11

Yesterday I described the last one of 10 types of followers whom I have written about in the last weeks. These were the ten types:

  1. Blind Followers
  2. Intellectual Followers
  3. Proud Followers
  4. Secret or Ashamed Followers
  5. Bribed or Paid Followers
  6. Strict Followers
  7. Flexible Followers
  8. Mass Followers
  9. Personal Followers
  10. Celebrity Followers

I have seen many followers in my life, during my time as a guru in India and also now on my travels in the west. This is how I could sort them into these types. Not everyone fits into one single category, most of them belong to several types at once.

What happens usually these days when I meet followers is that they don’t stay with me for a long time. The reason is that they usually search for a guru and I am just not a guru or master. Many leave because they realize it and others try to stick around, try to find a way of being my follower without me minding it and actually develop some closeness. What I do is to always try and let them experience that they are their own gurus.

I don’t really like the word ‘follower’ or ‘disciple’. I think it is good to learn from someone, to be a student and to keep on learning. Guru simply means teacher, so if you have the need for a teacher, a guru, why don’t you simply call yourself student? I think rather than being a follower who follows blindly like a sheep, you should be a student, eager to learn more, enthusiastic for getting more knowledge and experience.
Many gurus are good teachers and you can learn from them. Don’t make them holy and don’t see them as Gods. They are human, make their mistakes and have their faults. Don’t worship them. Give them respect as persons who have some knowledge or wisdom which they share with you.

Keep a realistic view, ask deeper than what is on the surface and see who that person is. Don’t get dependent on one individual and don’t get confused if you hear contradictive statements of several of them. In the end you need to see that you are your own master inside yourself. There is the truth and you can feel for any philosophy and teaching whether it is right for you or not.