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That there is nothing ascetic about the lifestyles of most of our babas is a given, like the corrupt ways of public servants. Yet I, otherwise resigned to the not-so-spiritual side of our holy men, got a jolt when I read reports of a chopper carrying a popular godman crash-landing in Gujarat.
It was not the fact of the accident that set me thinking since the godman had escaped unhurt. What caught my attention was that he was flying in a hired copter to a satsang.

A sadhu robed in white flying in a chartered chopper to deliver a sermon! The west may have a flourishing crop of suave evangelists jet-setting and raking in millions while exhorting the faithful to discover the lord within, but the east, as they say, is the east.

Right from our mythology through the Bhakti movement to modern era saints like Ramkrishna Paramhansa, we have had a rich legacy of saints and sufis who led a frugal and enlightened life.The poor and wealthy sat in their company like equals and left elevated. The poor took heart from their teachings and lives as they realised one could find happiness without money.

What a long journey our godmen have travelled since then! A little online enquiry will inform you that they are living very much like corporate czars selling their wares for a price. The well-known among them now live in ashrams spreads over hundreds of acres and are surrounded by a retinue of personal staff. They invite lesser mortals to live in their company and soak in their wisdom, but only after charging a hefty price.

While saints and sufis of yore left behind their teachings, our new age babas leave behind prime properties and a band of followers squabbling over their master's assets and properties.


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