Spirituality departing from the land of discovery

Wow, what kind of title is this? I myself started wondering as I was writing it as the title. I had, like a couple of options for the title of the subject matter that I wanted to write about this beautiful and cool Sunday morning in Singapore (it rained for some 30 minutes this morning, and I was caught napping – nay, walking briskly at the MacRitchie Reservoir Park.

I wanted to write last evening itself, but got busy with other matters, and thought it would be better to think through more in the head before committing to the blog post, which I promptly did.

Again, I go back to India in terms of the vast availability of topics to write about! A recent WhatsApp message exchange with a close friend induced more thinking, and the result was this post.

India discovered spirituality thousands of years ago. It was not religion, but a state of oneness with the almighty and nature. Advanced thinking, I should say, given the age in which it was discovered or synthesized. Achieving “spiritual nirvana” was to be the mantra for all gurus (or religious teachers) for decades and centuries to come. The ability to give up all material possessions and merge with nature as a “spirit” was much coveted those days. I am sure a few attained nirvana. This philosophy is very similar to Buddhism.

Proliferation of gurus across India is not uncommon. People go to the intermediary or guru to get clarity on their lives and chalk out a future course of action. They need advice and guidance, and it was not an improper ask. As people, we go all the time to our elders, friends, and colleagues to seek some advice or the other. It is a natural thing to do.

However, in India, this process of seeking guidance led to fake gurus dishing out fake advice to the uninitiated or unsuspecting folks, who sometimes want urgent resolution of their problems. One positive outcome or positive result is all that is needed to push up and place the concerned guru on a pedestal, and the misinformed public will follow others in a herd mentality. In the process, the guru makes a huge amount of money, and converts his individuality to a commercial enterprise funded by his followers, spinning out books and products, and minting lots of money.

This is the most common thing happening in the Indian spiritual scene today. The better quality gurus who are reserved and pious, do not deserve the riches of the “crook gurus”. The latest case of the guru being punished by the special court in Haryana State of India which led to arson and disorder is the result of the state nurturing gurus. Secularism has no meaning if the government seeks support of gurus to win elections, and provides facilities to gurus which are only provided to ministers, in the name of security.

Spirituality is departing India. Not just based on incidents as above. The other aspect which plays an equal if not more domineering role is the ascension of materialism which is trumping spirituality. Materialism is the new goal of millions belonging to younger generation in India. People want to be rich. Nothing wrong with that. “To be rich is glorious” according to Deng Xiao Ping from the late Seventies. No politician dare say such things in India, as hundreds of millions of people are still subsisting on less than USD 3 per day, though the per capita income is fast approaching USD 2,000. In comparison, China’s per capita income (for a slightly larger population) works out to little more than USD 9,000. The China economy is almost five times the size of the Indian economy, and this has been achieved in less than 30 years. And, today the Chinese in Mainland China are seized by materialistic desires in every aspect of their lives, if you care to read about the social changes happening in China.

India cannot be much different, though the role of spiritualism is much stronger in India. However, materialism is taking over the lives of the youngsters, notwithstanding stories of one in a million that we read who are donning the saffron robes at a young age. Don’t get me wrong, I support materialism since I strongly believe economic progress stems out of peoples’ desires to upgrade their lives constantly. That means a desire for more things in life, more quality in life, better amenities, better education for children, more opportunity creation, more technology, more devices, better nutrition, more exercise, better health, and what not. I am not sure just following a spiritual journey would produce common advancement to the society in an economic sense.

Well, I am hearing murmurs of dissent. That’s perfectly all right. We need to have all sides of the argument. My conclusion, however, is that spirituality is departing from India in search of its next abode. Materialism is taking a strong root and this is to be expected, not to be fought against. The older generation is now coming to a conclusion, the younger generation sees things differently, defines needs differently, looks at problems as opportunities for upgrading life, etc.,

Let us welcome “materialism”.


Vijay Srinivasan

27th August 2017


Author: Vijay Srinivasan

VJ lives and works in Singapore. He hails originally from Southern part of India, and has lived in Malaysia/Singapore for over 21 years. He loves networking, reading, travelling, amateurish golfing, badminton, and arguing on intellectual issues which affect mankind with his friends and colleagues. He also loves his wines and blogging !

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