Pictorial Odyssey: Stoop Low To Climb High.

Touching Feet of elders and enlightened beings is considered true mark of respect and sign of humility in Indian culture. Seeking the blessings of god men is seen as a shortcut to accumulate good Karma. How is this possible? According to Indian belief system, when a god man blesses, his good Karma is transferred to the blessed. This Karma-Transference does not diminish the accumulated treasure of the god man, but still does help the blessed through transference. Sometimes such transference occurs by enacting the mere form without even the substance attendant belief. Politicians latched onto this *Karma- Transference* principal from the early years of the nascent Indian republic and turned it into an art form. They did it not to gain merit in after life or next life; but to make gains in this life, here and now. They reckoned that by making a show of devotion and loyalty to a god man, the faith and love (more solidly, their votes come election) of his devotees would stand transferred to their credit through Karma-Transference. Well, I am sorry to have painted politicians as pure faithless mercenaries. They were not and are not so completely. They too have their blind spots and believes. Elections are in the air, and here is a round up of god-men circuit, new and old.
Narendra Modi bends before Ma Amritanandmayi to garner support for his Prime Ministerial ambitions.
Digvijay Singh, Congress General Secretary, and Modi’s bête noire, bends sometime in the past before Asaram Bapu, who is currently in Jodhpur jail perhaps teaching *godly virtues* to fellow inmates.
Nitin Gadkari’s weighty persona was backed for second consecutive term as president of BJP by RSS in contravention of the party’s constitution; and he almost made it but for the allegations of corruption about his Purti Group, which surfaced to scuttle his bid. Here he touches the feet of Baba Ramdev, who claims to cure everything -well almost- through his Yoga techniques, but went for bariatric surgery at the hands of surgeon Muffazal Lakdawala of Saifee Hospital to cure his own obesity problem.
B S Yediyurappa led BJP to rule Karnataka for the first ever victory of the party in the southern states; but later had to quit over allegations of corruption. Here he seeks blessings of Sri Balgangadharnath Swamiji.
Modi, who is considered to be arrogant and autocratic, is assiduously trying to cultivate, it seems, an image of humility and empathy. Here he is touching the feet of an elderly lady in Hyderabad.
When it comes to respect of elders, Indians are second to none seems to be Modi’s message at Bhopal, where he seeks to build bridges with BJP patriarch, Lal Krishna Advani. However, latter seems to be so miffed with his onetime protege that he fails to make even a show of good grace by acknowledging Modi’s obeisance, so what if both acts were for the consumption of the audience.
This glimpse of *Stooping Low* to *Climb High* may look heavily biased in favour of BJP; but the fact is that entire political class is complicit in the act. The stormy petrel of Indian politics, Indira Gandhi, too sought blessings of god men a plenty. Unfortunately, I could not find a photograph on the net of Devraha Baba blessing her by touching her head with his foot, which was his wont. “He received visits from politicians seeking his blessings at the time of general elections, including Indira Gandhi, Buta Singh, and Rajiv Gandhi. Rajiv Gandhi and his wife Sonia Gandhi visited his ashram on the eve of the 1989 elections. He used to bless the devotees with his feet. He lived on a 12-foot-high (3.7 m) wooden platform near the river and wore a small deerskin. A barricade of wooden planks hid his semi-naked body from his devotees, and he came down (occasionally) only to bathe in the river“. He is seen below sitting on his *Machan*.
Satya Sai Baba was another favourite god man among the politicians, and counted many powerful leaders among his devotees including former Congress prime minister, P Narasimha Rao.
However, to the credit of the politicians, they just don’t bend, they also make others bend before them. Since bending and psycho fancy comes naturally to Indians, it makes for a competitive showing.
Mayawati of BSP having her feet touched by a man, who is still standing.
Modi has a man at his feet knelt on his knees.
Political Amma, J Jayalalitha won’t even be touched by the supplicant, who is prostrate on the ground. This is considered as the ultimate form of devotion.
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4 Responses to “Pictorial Odyssey: Stoop Low To Climb High.”

  1. Xavier William Says:

    Sadanand,I have a pet theory as regards touching Feet of elders and enlightened beings.We are all the time trying to increase our economic efficiency by getting more and more outputs from less and less input.In the original state men wandered about in the jungles in small bands gathering, scrounging, scavenging, hunting etc which can be considered as the original economic activity. It is the same for other animals. However this activity is not very efficient. Slowly mean turned to pasturing and agriculture which were economic activities which were far more efficient than gathering and hunting in that in the agrarian activities we had more control of the means of production. But even this proved to be not efficient enough and we set our course in the industrial field where we had even better control of the factors of production which in turn meant higher efficiency Now we have left the industrial age behind and are at the threshold of the digital revolution which has enhanced our efficiency even more with the use of the ubiquitous chip.All along these various stages of man's economic advancement, knowledge was of prime importance. In our jungle life knowledge of where food and water could be found in the different seasons, how to get along with the neighbouring bands of humans, how to hunt, how to make stone tools etc were matters of life and death In our primordial stage the elders were repositories of such useful economic knowledge and were respected for this knowledge.In the agrarian age also the contributions made by elders to a more efficient way of life was great. Thus they knew when to plant and where to plant and what to plant and how to plant things, how to water them etc. What is more in the agrarian age the main factor of production was land and this was often in the possession of elders. In short we depended on our elders for a smooth life in the primordial stage as well as in the agrarian age. But with industrialisation, knowledge and specialisation came into the picture and the old knowledge and possession of land became almost irrelevant What is more with new technologies the knowledge contributed by elders were of no consequence. This has become even moire pronounced in this digital age when even school children are more adept at new technologies than people in their 30s and 40s and people like me in their 60s are mere fossils and looked down upon with disdain by the new generation.In short in the primordial state and the agrarian age the elders had much to contribute to society in economic terms. But with the industrial and digital revolutions elders have become more of a liability with no meaningful contributions to society. In short in the past we used to respect the elders and touch their feet for the useful contributions they made to the economy. But now they are relegated to old-age homes because they are more often a liability than an asset to a modern society.It all boils down to the adage 'subse bada rupayaa', repect and everything else is in final analysis all about efficiency, about more useful outputs from less inputs.

  2. Sadanand Patwardhan Says:

    Dear Xavier/ William,I have had difficulty in pricing out your given name, could you do the honours?Turning to your response, which is a nice take on efficiency in an otherwise engaging argument; but fails to account for what some even enlightened thinkers inadequately identify as bio-genetic Hard Wiring of Humans that compels them to make snap judgments based on poor or inadequate data. If one needed a proof that it is evolutionary mechanisms, which are responsible for life and for us, and not intelligent design, then it exists in the very structure of our brain.Human brain comprises of three separate but inter-meshed components: Limbic system (shared in common with lower vertebrates, reptiles), Cerebral Cortex (shared in common with higher vertebrates), and the Neocortex (shared in common with higher mammals, Apes/Whales). While efficiency argument and what is described as rational behaviour are within the purview Neocortex and Cortex; the basic emotions of fight/ flight, sexual behaviour, dominance, submissiveness, etc. are still (and will continue to be) governed by the Limbic system. That is why contemplative persons are often astonished at their own abominable behaviour once the immediate trigger that drove their limbic system to take control has passed. That is also why the smartest people who rise to the top positions of power in any society are more often than not social psychopaths or sociopaths (http://searchlight-is-on.blogspot.in/2013/05/psychopaths-naturally-rise-to-positions.html). Why rest of the Janata engages with them rather than rationally shun them? The reason is to be found in their own limbic system.So even if the rational knowledge base, which may be now outsourced to machines and externalized of human agency as you argue, and thereby render Age and Experience jobless as you predict; the basic behaviour of the limbic system, which drives emotions, would still go unchallenged. Therefore, I do not see the possibility of Babas, God men, Leaders, Saviours, or even the institution of God disappearing in a hurry.cheers to that/spPS: Food for thought: Buddha, Meditation (Ana Pana, Vipassana), and former's connection to Carl Sagan’s book Garden of Eden.

  3. Xavier William Says:

    Adrenalin spikes and the flight and fight response and emotional outbursts are all short term. In the long term everyone is looking for ways to get more returns on investments in terms of resources such as money, time, HM etc. Even evolution is driven by the quest for higher efficiency. Ethics for instance enable us to cooperate with each other and this in turn increases our efficiency with synergistic effects.

  4. Sadanand Patwardhan Says:

    Evolution is not driven by consideration of efficiency, but speaking thermodynamically it represents more order. But in creation of more order locally, the energy expended increases disorder elsewhere. And Entropy in universe is always on the rise.The Adrenaline spikes may be short term, but their effects can be very long term, lasting and game changing. The behaviour of the Markets, the holy cow of capitalism, tends to be irrational, because it looks for maximising returns in the SHORT TERM in total disregard of the long term. That is how the financialization of US economy brought down the meltdown and gridlock of 2007-2008.

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