For political power

Nargis Natarajan | 29 May 2024
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When civilisation began, the only way for the mystified Man to understand the natural phenomena was by ascribing power to it. Therefore all ancient empires worshipped nature for a simple reason. They saw the same Sun every morning, the same Moon every night and felt the same Wind. 

Without further conviction, they recognised the importance and the power of this guiding light, and force, and venerated it as God. That’s how Faith was born.

As we evolved from small tribes to large ethnic groups there was more travel, more explorations, and more discoveries. A more intelligent design needed to be outlined to encourage cooperation and tolerance among strangers. 

Our ancestors now needed a moral force to provide emotional comfort in difficult times, help people to bond with each other, give a sense of purpose and hope, offer meaning to life and make it easier for them to lead an organised existence. That’s how Religion was born.

But the responses were placed on a scale of ‘no belief’ to ‘complete faith’. Further guidance from one among the tribe was needed. A few people, who were naturally intuitive, spiritually strong and exceptionally inspired, became the ‘mouthpiece of God’. 

These special people passed on the message and guided the ordinary ones. That’s how Prophets were born. And then came along some clever organised groups, whose purpose was to dominate the gullible among them through psychological manipulation and pressure tactics. 

Theirs was a rigid hierarchical social system supported and represented by an exclusive ideology.

These groups were usually headed by a dynamic and charismatic leader, who isolated all his followers from the society, brought them under his sanctuary and convinced them with promises of acceptance and security. 

There was no tolerance for questions or critical inquiry. It was absolute authoritarianism without any meaningful accountability. Those who refused to be brainwashed were punished and penalised. That’s how a cult was born.

The controversial statements by Dr. SambitPatra about how Lord Jagannath was merely a ‘bhakt’ of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and by Amit Shah about how the Konark Sun Temple became world famous only after ‘divinity’ stepped in has hurt the pride and sentiments of all Odiyas. 

Although Dr. Patra’s pain and penance came only after a hue and cry was raised, anyone who knows Odia also knows he meant exactly what he said. The devotion and the fervour with which he said it, clearly indicates it was a part of a ‘tool kit’ and was very much a ‘tip of the slung’.

This isn’t the first time Dr. Patra has flung such irresponsible proclamations from the tip of his tongue. Earlier he had also called the PM as ‘deshkabaap’, thus taking away all the credit from the Mahatma, the Father of our Nation. 

Two years later he slung another statement about how “each candidate for the election all across India represented a miniature version of a Supreme leader”. From a Father, to a Supremo, to a Devotee! He said all this in English, in the Queen’s tongue where surprisingly no ‘slip’ was involved. This also isn’t the first time our Prime Minister has been ‘honoured’ with such devoutness from all his ‘leading’ devotees. 

The propaganda machinery has been in progress for some time, where photos with the ‘SheshNaag’ were posted from the official Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) handle terming him ‘an incarnation of Lord Vishnu’; or the one where he is leading Ram Lalla to the temple. 

Most of his ‘andhbhakts’ like Kangana feel he is not an ‘ordinary person’ but a symbol of grace and divine power, who was born to end the atmosphere of despair, created by Congress. Venkaiah Naidu and Radhamohan Singh both felt he was ‘God’s gift to India’.

n an article in ‘Saamna’ it was stated that with leaders issuing such statements, there is bound to be a temple, where ‘shlokas’ will be chanted in the name of this ‘new God’. The magazine wasn’t wrong because a shrine was actually constructed in Rajkot where an idol of our PM was placed. 

Thankfully, the ‘Lord’ sounded his displeasure and the District Collector demolished the illegal edifice. Is it a one-off performance of the BJP leaders who want their name and words to ring pleasantly in the ‘Lords’ ears; is it merely a reflection of the malaise of a competitive sycophancy; or is it just another masterstroke by a crafty leader to first take God’s help to come to power, then slowly morph into a demi-God, and finally regain a position much higher than mere dictatorship. 

One that is still within the scope of democracy, but where no ordinary mortal will have the audacity to question, criticise or challenge. In every interview now, the PM calls himself a messiah. He not only questions his biological origins, but is absolutely ‘convinced’ that his ‘oorja’ and the source of his power and energy comes not from the voter’s vote but from a ‘divyashakti’. There are some bold black lines that are defined in politics, religion and a cult. Every time you cross it, the line gets a little less distinct and a little less dark. 

When you realise you can keep crossing without any consequences, the line just keeps getting greyer and greyer. By calling ‘Jagannath’ as the ‘Bhakt’ of an ordinary mortal, Dr. Patra made that line vanish. And by introducing the idea of an ‘immaculate conception’ our Supreme leader is now confident there are no more hurdles to be crossed. 

Now it is up to us to decide what we want. Do we need someone we can place on a pedestal? Or do we need an ordinary mortal who is human- a leader who we can look up to and connect; one who is capable of solving our basic issues; who can look after the welfare of our country and lead us- not into the dark ages but into a bright future.

Nargis Natarajan is a writer, author and novelist residing in Bhubaneswar. Views expressed are the writer’s own.

This article was originally published on The Citizen.
Views in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect CGS policy