Sunday, 7 March 2010

Nithyananda and the case of pseudo morality coupled to incurable voyeurism.

“Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike.”
-Oscar Wilde.

It was big sensational news in a long time. Video clippings of a famed godman in a compromising position with a woman (an actress, so the sensation doubles) beamed in a leading channel in its primetime news. Scandalous godmen or their exposed exploits are not new to us. From a humble fortune-teller to an internationally renowned holy man, we have seen them all being brought down from their thrones of sanctitude and celebrity because of their unholy deeds. The media had been so ruthless and unsparing when dealing with such men and they know that news of a scandalous godman is always more sellable than of a politician making crores fleecing the general public.

If you want to settle a score with your rival or to improve the TRP rating of your channel or to increase the dipping circulation of your periodical, all you need to do is to clandestinely fix a video camera in a vantage angle in your enemy’s or any celebrity’s bedroom (unless your enemy is a celebrity the scandal is not going to get the media attention it requires). Naturally men could hardly resist biting the bait called woman and when the amorous acts of the person goes public you triumph with your hands down, and it is the end of that person’s public life.

The incident involving Nithyananda raises many a discomforting questions and most of them point to the sheepish psych of our community which could be ignited and exploited at the slightest pretext that evolves around pseudo morality. One is numbed at the acts of the media (electronic) which stoops too low to serve the people with materials of voyeuristic quality in the disguise of news and ‘warning’ on the sole purpose of improving TRP ratings. If it had been a scandal involving money or other things, except woman, our media wouldn't have paid much attention.

The phenomenon is dangerous. Readers and viewers who are gullible are taken for a ride and they are spoiled for good to be eager for more such filth. And thus we ruin a reader or viewer who could otherwise have been nurtured to become a neutral, rational onlooker to the happenings around him. In the case of Nithyananda it is up to the people who believe and follow him to deliver the judgment. He is not an elected representative of people or a public servant. He hasn’t breached any of the canon laws of Hinduism(at the first place is there canon laws in
Hinduism?). As for as I understand, the argument that he has disgraced the religion of Hinduism is a tall claim. I don’t know whether this guy had preached celibacy and publicly vowed to adhere to it. If it isn’t so what he has done is nothing to complain about. (Celibacy is not a must for Hindu sanyaasis as it is for Roman Catholic priests and nuns, and we all know that Protestants do not adhere to celibacy too). After all, it seems he shares his bed with a willing partner only. If we are prepared to forgive someone who had peeked into a man’s bedroom and took video of him having sex with a woman, we should also be prepared to forgive that guy who is more of a victim than a perpetrator here.

The anger is not because that this man has brought disgrace to the religion. It is the wealth he has amassed and the fame he had earned in India and overseas in the name of religion. If this man is a pauper sanyaasi we would have no qualms whatever he does. What Nithyananda has earned might have come to him as voluntary offerings and possibly not through coercion or threaten, so it is legitimate. His spiritual means,right or wrong, might have offered solace and guidance to some people and that was why he had a huge following. If we argue that these aren’t fair we should have said that when this man was doing them in broad daylight. If we had preferred to wait until some television channel to broadcast his amorous acts, it is solely our fault.

Sex scandals exposed through video footages have become effective tools of vendetta nowadays. People who indulge in such ‘sting’ operations and the media that give prominence to such news have immense faith in the voyeur in us. They know that voyeur is always ready to pick the cue and act upon it. He portentously invokes morality to prosecute the culprit while secretly takes delight in that supposed act of immorality. In the long run the harm such deadly cocktails of moral policing and voyeuristic pursuit can cause could be immeasurable and unimaginable.

(This is a reproduction of my Facebook note which I published on 04-03-2010.