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Spiritual Meditations ( 14 Sept 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Why Priesthood Often Gets a Bad Name: An Analysis

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam

14 September 2022

 “Prostitution, Priesthood And Politics Are The Oldest Professions In The World. Barring The First One, I'm Not Very Sure about the Integrity of the Other Two. "

            H L Mencken, American journalist

The recent sexual exploitation of two minor girls at a hostel by the pontiff of a famous Mutt in Karnataka again gives birth to the same question: Why do we repeatedly fall into the trap of these so-called 'holy' men, whose carnal desires and perversions are often far stronger than those of common men? It's time to analyse this murky phenomenon of Lust & Liturgy going hand in hand. Agreed, the presumption of innocence applies here that implies every person accused of any crime is considered innocent until proven guilty. So, prudence entails that aspersions shouldn't be cast upon the pontiff as the case is sub judice. At the same time, we cannot generalize by stating that all these holy people are shady and priapic. There could be a few with a rather clean image. But the question remains as to why ' holy' people are often embroiled in such activities?

          Because of the perceived spiritual halo effect surrounding priesthood, the 'holy' men are often exempted from scrutiny. They enjoy some sort of immunity from ignominy and censure. The religio-scriptural protection provided to them accords a 'divine' status to priests and pontiffs. But are they different from godmen and godwomen India is replete with? Priests and godmen are the two sides of the same coin. The difference lies between the former getting the stamp of direct and sanctified religiosity and the latter calling themselves men of god. Both the categories often exploit people, esp. women, in the name of religion, ritual and faith.       

 An aura of inviolable invincibility around these 'holy' characters exonerates them of all wrong and questionable doings. Despite knowing that gurudom/priesthood is an outright vague and shady business, people willingly fall into the trap of these swindlers because humans, esp. Indians, look up to them as god incarnates or the earthly agents of god. In other words, we deify them. This Deification Syndrome acts as a cataract, nay a glaucoma, to our vision and we cannot discern the ' designs' of holy characters. Psychologists are of the view that when credulous followers invest complete religious faith in a person or object, that person's anomalous behaviour (read ' misdeeds ') is often overlooked and this constant overlooking by the gullible followers emboldens the godmen, priests and cult leaders. What do many Christian priests, esp. Catholic priests, do? They take undue advantage of their church-sanctified 'holy' status and indulge in all sorts of murky behaviour and carnal activities with impunity. Despite their flagrant and heinous deeds, their followers still worship them like gods and they still believe that these 'holy' people are innocent and as pure as a white lily! This blind faith is a catalyst to godmen and priests' unquestioning and hypnotizing spell on their followers.

      At the same time, our silly belief that all these ' people of god ' being free of physical desires and are eternal celibates also contributes to the charade of gurudom and priesthood. The Celibacy Syndrome, integral to all man-made faiths, exacerbates the whole issue. It entails as well as perpetuates a very wrong belief that sex is not meant for 'pious' people. Since these 'pious' people project themselves as paragons of chastity and divinity, they condemn sex in public but long for it in the privacy of four walls. In other words, they preach water but drink wine. What they condemn publicly, they covet privately.

  Our religio-psychological dependency and unwavering faith in these spurious people make the turbid business of organized faiths very productive. At the same time, all these priests and Pujaris have a proximity to politicians who protect them. So, such licentious gurus and priests thrive with a comforting sense of unmitigated freedom to enjoy the 'fruits of flesh in the garb of spirituality.'

As long as humans remain under the fear of religion and god, these awfully bad and impious characters shall continue to grow like water hyacinths and however hard you may try to extirpate them, they'll burgeon back to exploiting their timid and god-terrified followers sexually and emotionally. The brainless masses will also continue to be deceived by these lascivious sadhus, priests and godmen quite gleefully.


A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to world's premier publications in several languages including Persian.


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