The Spiritual Bazaar and Testosterone UGs
the spiritual economy
I don't think even the most ardent devotees of the Sai Baba would be surprised by the discovery of crores of rupees plus bullion and silver from his inner chamber. Religion in our secular nation operates pretty much on the principles of free market economy. So I don't quite fault the sage of Puthapurty or any other Baba, Mataji or Guru for amassing the wealth that gullible followers throw at their feet.
But, I am not sure if anyone has done an estimate of the size of this "spiritual bazaar" in monetory terms. Baba Ramdev claims that - if all the black money kept in Swiss and other foreign bank accounts was repatriated - then poverty would disappear from this country. I suspect that - if all the unaccounted wealth of our Godmen, women and religious trusts are brought to book - it would certainly lower the poverty index by a few basis points. It's another matter that, some of it would no doubt have found a way from the religious coffers to the pockets of politicians.
It's not that it's not happening even today. It was interesting to read sometime back how the Shiv Sena and the NCP cut a deal over the control of some major temple trust in Maharashtra. Apparently (if newspaper reports are to be believed), while NCP allowed the Sena the rights for the Siddhi Vinayak temple in Mumbai, the Sena llowed them to retain the franchise at the Sai Baba temple at Shirdi. It is common knowledge, how the ruling party in Andhra Pradesh exercise its influence at over the affairs of the Tirupati Devasthanam Trust.
In this regard, one can't help admire the practical foresight of Swami Vivekananda -considering he died so young (at 39). Knowing that money could easily be the undoing of the Sangha he was establishing - he laid down water tight rules of financial management at the Ramakrishna Math and Mission. It was mandated - a writ which runs even now without any dilution - that a not a single rupee received as donation or income, nor any monies spent - can go unaccounted. Therefore, you will note that even the monks of the order (as, indeed, the nums of Sarada Math) would issue a receipt alomost religiously - for the smallest donation.
testosterone fortified UGs
Among the Commercials seen on Bengali TV channels - the ones I find most offensive are those for male undergarments - featuring the stud brigade of Bollywood - Sunny Deol, Salman Khan, Sharukh Khan Akshay Kumar and now even the Chote Nawab (Saif). Last evening - an unforseen exigency made me go UG shopping in Durgapur. With some difficulty I found a hosiery shop in the local municipal market. And oh boy - did I have a choice? I was spoilt e - between Lux Cozi, Amul Macho, Dollar Club, Rupa Frontline and more. Brands which I never thought I'd ever touch. The tag line of one sounded like that of a popular cement brand "bahar se strong, andar se strong".
But, that made me think that, Bengalis may be suffering from a sudden crisis of libido. The other sleazy advertisements one sees are for some shady brands of deodorants (Click here to see video) and a highly suspect "Japani Tel" - which shows a snake charmer arousing a serpent, with obvious connotations.
Psychologists say - testosterone surge occurs in moments of elation and success - when there is an overwhleming sense of power. I am not sure if the converse would also true - in moments of despair and depression - when the spirit is willing and badly needs a boost but the proverbial flesh is weak.
This might sound as specious psychology - but could well be true for a race which can boast of only 2 testosterone heroes - Subhash Bose and Saurav Ganguly.