Thursday, June 04, 2009


4Ps B&M's Monojit Lahiri investigates this new phenomenon that is gaining frightening and hysterical dimensions in the ritzy, glitzy and glamorous metros of a nation that continues to look west for self esteem!

It is an astonishing paradox of human life that, with progress, sophistication, modernity and success comes depression, loneliness, alienation and insecurity! Today in year 2009, as we scan the lifescape inhabiting planet earth – with special reference to the so- called advanced and developed western countries – we find startling horror stories of dysfunctional life amidst plenty. Why? Because nothing in this world comes for free and the first world joys offered by the enticing packages called Consumerism and Globalisation come with a sinister price-tag! Family life, social life, cultural life, intellectual life … everything is sold at the altar of moving up in life. So, what’s next? What is the solution? Where is the salvation? Enter the marketers of Spiritualism…!

Declares today’s hot young, controversial film- maker (Dev D, Gulal) Anurag Kashyup, “If you have a Sapnon Ka Saudagar, why can’t you have a guy hawking spirituality?! The con-game is the same, boss!” On a more serious note, Kashyup believes that in today’s troubled and recession-hit times where tension and pressures rule the roost, spirituality is in high demand and low supply. “Hence, the smart, shrewd marketer who has his ear to the ground and is able to think on his feet, can do wonders – for his desperate clients and laughing wallet.” He cites the example of Astha and a host of similar TV channels which enjoy a wide viewership cutting across all stratas of society. He also points to the success of Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, Robin Sharma’s The Monk who sold his Ferrari and most of Deepak Chopra’s best sellers. Sister Yogini of the Brahmakumaris (a spiritual movement like The Art of Living, The oneness university, Isha Yoga) looks at it differently. She admits that a lot of seekers come to them because they are freaked out by life’s pressures and desperately desire peace and happiness. “Our movement is not necessarily about renouncing the world but offering peace and progress within the confines of daily life.” Adds Avanti Birla, high profile businesswoman, “Spirituality for me is as much about fulfilling my responsibilities at a personal level as it is about connecting with it in a societal way.” To Parmeshwar Godrej, Mumbai society’s celebrated diva and social activist, “The real path is about self-discovery.” While she agrees that there is a trendy, hybrid spirituality being marketed, she believes that people are evolving all the time and their personal sense of spirituality doesn’t necessarily depend on what’s written in the instruction manual.

The irrepressible Prahalad Kakkar in typical forthright fashion, provides a cool conclusion. “It’s like selling coals to Newcastle! C’mon guys, we are, historically and traditionally, a spiritual nation with rituals and beliefs embedded in our psyche. Whether it’s the sandhya-deep accompanied by conch-shells at dusk or the vision of what life is about – Karma, Maya – spirituality remains an intrinsic part of our being. Unfortunately, pathetic West-apers that we have become, we seem to be enthusiastically buying - into their hard-selling spirituality to us in the form of a fashion thing; a with-it and uber-cool solution to all worldly problems that blitzes our sense of peace and contentment. Its sold – and bought – (like in the West) as a quick-fix, a fevicol for the battered soul, imagine! But then, at the end of the day I guess it makes sense to remember that we live in an age of Vigyapan not Vigyan, brother… So just about anything goes!”


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