Friday, April 15, 2016

God as a partner in crime

Poppy Cultivation and Amoral Gods !!

Article first published in +Medium  (Click here to read)

Indian God’s have traditionally been indulgent towards criminals and the corrupt. There are enough stories of deities – whom Dacoits would routinely visit for blessings before going for a hunt. Equally, spiritual leaders and religious missions are not known to discriminate on the colour of money or the character of the donor.

Visited the temple of Sanwaliya-ji near Chittorgarh off the highway to Udaipur. The idol is a form of dark-complexioned Krishna – a favourite God in these parts of the country.
Poppy is the principal cash-crop of this rather affluent region of Rajasthan adjoining Neemuch and Mandsaur the main poppy cultivation belt of Madhya Pradesh. Though poppy farming a licensed – there are enough avenues to beat the system for a thriving contraband trade beyond the officially declared produce.

Poppy-traders treat Sanwariya-ji their protector and benefactor. It is an open secret – poppy traders make the Lord a divine “business partner” committing a certain percentage of their annual earning to Him. Hence, Sanwaliya ji is often referred to as Sanwariya Seth (as “owners” of a business).
This probably explains – at least to an extent – the rather pragmatic attitude Indians have towards corruption (if not crime, as well). It is seen simply as a means of “livelihood” – to be pursued in a dispassionate and detached manner.

Therefore, one sees this apparently contradictory phenomenon of persons leading a fiercely austere lifestyle and following religion to an extreme (vegetarian diet, teetotaller, puja, prayers, fasting, rituals, pilgrimage, visiting to temples and disciples of spiritual gurus) being corrupt to the core. They would engage in activities (adulterating food or unsafe constructions) that could potentially take human lives – yet consider themselves purer than those who eat meet of drink alcohol.

Whether this has its roots in our concept of Nishkam Karma - is a matter of debate. But, it can be argued – for a thief and a dacoit it becomes very much a part of his vocation or Dharma. One can, perhaps, extend the same logic for the Poppy cultivators – who are a product of an imperfect economic system and inequitable regulatory regime. But, I would draw a line – where people operate out of sheer greed to harm fellow human beings. And, I do believe no God will permit that.