In search of a ‘good’ Sadhu in Haridwar
There are around half a million sadhus in the country. A majority of them survive on alms; only a handful of ‘Sadhus’, aggressive, hateful and patronized by political parties seem busy fanning hatred
I visited Haridwar on December 28, 2021 to assess how widespread is the hubris of hatred. I left home at 5:30 am, took a bus from ISBT and reached Haridwar at Noon.
I went to Juna Akhada and told the two Sadhus there, "I have come from Delhi and I wish to talk to you about the recently held Dharam Sansad (where a call for eliminating Muslims was given). One of them agreed ‘it was not good’ while the other one said, ‘our akhada did not participate in the Dharam Sansad. But they were disinclined to engage in a discussion.
At Har ki Paudhi, I looked around for Sadhus. But people pointed at poor mendicants. When I asked a receptionist at a hotel, the laconic reply was there was hardly any ‘good Sadhu’ around.
At the Shringeri mutt, a Sadhu said he was too busy to talk. I then went to Rawatpura Sarkar ashram but again drew a blank.
I had visited Shanti Kunj, the ashram started by Sri Ram Sharma Acharya who, a Ph.D. student of mine had told me in 1991, was secular. This time there were fewer sadhus but they seemed appreciative of my concerns. A senior ‘Sadhu’ consoled me by saying, ‘evil and satanic people will rise for some time but then good and sane people will prevail as Rama prevailed over Ravana’.
At the Jagadguru Shankaracharya ashram, Jagadguru had just returned and was asleep, I was told. An elderly Sadhu however was indulgent. ‘This is all politics’, he quipped. Hindus were non-violent and would not heed calls for genocide, he asserted. He then asked if I had read the Quran. Didn’t the Quan call non-Muslims kafir, he pointedly asked.
I firmly said, no. Kabir had defined who is a Kafir as mentioned in the Quran with great clarity.
Kabira so nar peer hai jo jane par peer
Jo par peer na jane so kafir be-peer
A mahatma is one who feels the pain of others. The one who does not know the pain of others is a Kafir, cruel. He appreciated the clarification I offered. When I said I wanted to meet more Sadhus, the ashram’s driver suggested I visit the Shruti ashram.
While I was on my way to this ashram, the driver came running and told me that Swami Ji had asked me to be careful because ‘this ashram is pro-RSS’. But at Shruti ashram, nobody had time. At Anand Ashram, the Mahamandaleshwar was asleep. A junior Sadhu claimed the ashram was not part of the Dharam Sansad.
There are around half a million sadhus in the country. A majority of them survive on alms; only a handful of ‘Sadhus’, aggressive, hateful and patronized by political parties seem busy fanning hatred.
The hate speech keep fanatics in a state of euphoria and create religious divides to help BJP win.
(Former Professor of Physics at IIT, Delhi the writer at 73 continues to work for communal harmony)