Document date: March 27, 2004
By: P. Radhakrishnan
This paper looks at the interface of religion and globalisation. It
points out that the major religions of the world are being used as
purveyors of the globalisation agenda and this is often accompanied by
an unprecedented flow of funds into the third world. The major
consequences of globalisation have been: the transmogrification of
traditional religions and belief systems; the beginning of the
disintegration of the traditional social fabrics and shared norms by
consumerism, cyber-culture, newfangled religions and changing work
ethics and work rhythms; the fast spreading anomie forcing an ever
increasing number of individuals to fall back upon the easily accessible
pretentious religious banalities, and attributing to religion the
creation and acceleration of extremist, fundamentalist and terrorist
tendencies in the third world countries.
It may sound
apocryphal that no social phenomenon other than globalisation has ever
made the third world so captive to the master world. As individuals,
social groups and countries at large have of late begun to grapple with
its pernicious effects on them which are pervasive, it looks as though
the world would remain preoccupied till dooms day with debates,
discourses, demonstrations and ‘actions’ packed in related modes on how
best to resist, and if not, adjust and adapt to the stalking of this
In this context, this paper looks at the interface between one of the
main support systems of society, namely, religion, and globalisation,
and its nature in India. Its main arguments are the following:
(a) The interface
between religion and globalisation is contrary to conventional
sociological wisdom that as societies progress the traditional
significance of religions declines.
(b) For the success of globalisation, especially in the third world, its
dramatis personae have been using the major religions of the world as
purveyors of their globalisation agenda, with unprecedented flow of
funds for the purpose from the master world to the third world.
(c) The major consequences of globalisation have been
transmogrification of traditional religions and belief systems;
(2) the beginning of the disintegration of the traditional social
fabrics and shared norms by the invasion of consumerism, cyberculture,
newfangled religions, social fads, and changing work ethics and work
rhythms; (3) the fast spreading anomie (in the Durkhemian sense) forcing
an ever increasing number of individuals to fall back upon – for moral
and social support – the easily accessible pretentious religious
banalities; and (4) attributing to religion the creation and
acceleration of extremist, fundamentalist, and terrorist tendencies in
the third world countries, which are intended to destabilise them, and
strike at the root of
their civilisation, and multicultural and pluralist nature.
(d) Paradoxically, however, the resultant vicious nexus and vicious
circle make these countries look to the same monster and its creators
for their sustenance in a world in which they have become more
To place these
arguments in perspective, religion is looked at in social, global, and
globalisation contexts, and religion and globalisation are looked at in
Social and Global Contexts
The nature and functions of religion in
society have been
under speculation and discourse for several centuries; the approaches to
the understanding of religion – philosophical, theological,
anthropological, sociological – and the related
dimensions of religious ideas have been very old; and the nexus between
religion and society has been very close, with wide, complex, intricate
and elaborate ramifications: The role of religion in giving spiritual
and moral sustenance to individuals, the related regulation of social
life and moral order, creating and regulating cultural forms, and the
of society. One may go with the French sociologist Emile Durkheim’s
postulate (endorsed by, among others, the English anthropologist A R
Radcliffe-Brown) that “the main role (or “function”) of religion [is] to
celebrate and sustain the norms upon which the integration of society
[Geertz 1968: 402].
Among the major religions of the world Christianity accounts for
one-third (33 per cent), followed by Islam (22 per cent), Hinduism (16
per cent), Buddhism (6 per cent), and Confucianism (4 per cent). The web
site Ontario Consultants on Religious
Tolerance, has claimed the following:
Christianity has been largely abandoned in Britain and the rest
of Europe. It has partly faded in Canada, where only 10 per
cent of adults attend church regularly. In about the year 1990,
it started to fall in the US. The percentage of American adults
who identify themselves as Christians is dropping by about 10
percentage points per decade. If these trends hold, then sometime
during the 2020s, Christianity will become a minority religion
in the US. North America is rapidly becoming more religiously
diverse. But there may not be a strong enough foundation of
religious tolerance to support this future diversity without massive
Whether Christianity has been on the decline as a
belief system should not be a matter of serious concern. For one thing,
it is still the largest religion of the world, and church attendance is
not the real measure of religious identity in a world, which is
increasingly governed by power, pelf, and identity politics. More so,
when the percentage point mentioned is negligible. For another, what
Christianity has been losing in the wave is being
gained by it in the wind. The worldwide call by Pope John Paul II,
especially since his visit to India in November 1999, has not gone
unheard. Indeed, Arun Shourie, an erstwhile Indian journalist, and
present union minister of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National
Democratic Alliance (NDA) ruling at the centre and a communalist of the
Sangh parivar,(1) caricatured it as
Harvesting Our Souls in his
controversial book under the
It is important to know in the context of religion vis-à-vis globalisation that some of the religions especially founded religions
such as Christianity and Islam had gone global (in the sense of
spreading them across the world) centuries ago, often with violence and
warfare. Though Buddhism also tried to go global its influence was
mostly in Asian countries.
If religions had gone global, one might ask whether they really had any
‘globalising’ force. The answer is partly in the affirmative.
The spread of Christianity in the west is a clear case.
In fact, there have been apprehensions about the political and social
implications in the third world of a rising global Christianity,
especially in the context of the north-south relations.
These apprehensions have to be seen in the context of the apprehension
about the decline of Christianity in the US and the call for
‘harvesting’ by Pope John Paul II.
What is even more important is whether globalisation is a product of
Christianity, and whether Christianity could be related to imperialism
as a prelude to the emergence of globalisation as its new face. In other
words, it is relevant to ask whether there was any social process as
Christianity and imperialism, as we now have the social process religion
and globalisation. Answers to these have yet to be explored.
Religion and Globalisation
Globalisation of religions in the past in the sense of certain religions
going global is qualitatively different from what is understood as
globalisation today. James Kurth in The Templeton Lecture on Religion
and World Affairs observed:(2)
Globalisation is often described as a
process: steadily progressing over time, pervasively spreading over
space, and clearly inevitable in its development. But globalisation is
also a revolution, one of
the most profound revolutions the world has ever known. Indeed,
globalisation is the first truly world revolution.
All revolutions disrupt the traditions and customs of a people.
Indeed, they threaten a people’s very security, safety, and even
identity. The world revolution that is globalisation in some measure
threatens the security of every people on the globe (emphasis added).
The disruptive effects of globalisation on religion are particularly
worrisome. On globalisation as a global mantra and its effects, James
Petras and Henry Veltmeyer wrote:
Globalisation is at the centre of diverse intellectual and political
agendas, raising crucial questions about what is widely considered to be
the fundamental dynamic of our time – an epoch-defining set of changes
that is radically transforming social and economic relations and
institutions in the 21st century. (2001: 11)
Petras and Veltmeyer have dismissed the ‘inevitability bogey’ – embedded
in the surfeit of literature on globalisation, which
Major religions of the world
has conjured up a
seemingly fatalistic global agreement that it just happened and everyone
must adapt to it – as part of yet another sinister imperialist agenda.
At the same time, they have elaborated the very same bogey for better
understanding of its underlying chicanery:
As both a description of widespread, epoch-defining developments and a
prescription for action, it [globalisation] has achieved a virtual
hegemony and so is presented with an air of inevitability that disarms
the imagination and prevents thought of and action towards a systemic
alternative – towards another, more just social and economic order … The
“inevitability” of globalisation is a critical issue. But a more
critical issue, perhaps, is what the discourse on globalisation is
designed to hide and obfuscate: the form taken by imperialism in the
current, increasingly worldwide capitalist system for organising
economic production and society (pp 8, 13).
The “inevitability” of globalisation and the adjustment or submission of
peoples all over the world to free market capitalism depends on the
capacity of the dominant and ruling classes to bend people to their will
and convince people that their interests are the people’s interests,
make them see the interests of capital as their own. It also depends on
the capacity of these dominant classes and their ideologues to undermine
the growing resistance to the model of free market … (p 8)
The authors have also exposed the class project behind globalisation,
namely, “the attempt to obfuscate rather than accurately describe what
is going on worldwide”, and “the attempt
to throw an ideological veil over the economic interests of an emerging
class of transnational capitalists” (p 8):
In these interests, the existing world economic order is in the process
of being renovated so as to create optimal conditions for the free play
of greed, class interests and profit-making. In the same interests, this
New World Order is portrayed as both inevitable and necessary, the
driving force of the development process and harbinger of future
prosperity. It is presented as the only road available (p 8).
As Petras and Veltmeyer would have it, globalisation is little more than
imperialism in a new form, yet another phase in the long historical
process of imperialist expansion. Their reasoning is that globalisation
was created by deliberate policies put in place by powerful states under
the control of dominant classes to divert attention away from the
resurgence of imperialist powers, and it is not a structural part of the
capitalist system, it is instead an ideological smokescreen used to divert
attention away from
the resurgence of imperialist powers.
Another way of looking at globalisation is in terms of the
emergence of a global market. It involves assaults on local,
national and regional consumer habits and material products, and
political and cultural practices (including, of course, religion),
by powerfully packaged and marketed ideas, consumer and cultural
products and practices.
Globalisation is not merely an economic phenomenon. It has
multiple manifestations such as political, social, cultural, and
religious. These manifestations are ghastly and gruesome, especially
in the developing countries. The political dimension is
evident from the global “super-cop” stalking the world making
countries of lesser might live in insecurity. The other manifestations
have begun to unfold particularly in the developing
countries, where societies have begun to disintegrate under the
invasion of consumerism, culture, and social fads.
In the ultimate analysis globalisation is not global integration
by breaking the barriers across and among the nations through
a global compact for turning the world into a ‘global village’.
On the contrary, it is an insidious agenda for perpetrating the
hegemony of one country over the whole world, by force and fraud.
In an article, ‘Religion and Globalisation’, Jim Spickard
(University of Redlands)(3) made a number of observations on both
subjects. Some of these are relevant to note here:
– Popular images of “globalisation” stress its economic and
political character, especially the global reach of transnational
corporations that are shifting power away from states – and thus
from citizens – efforts to control their own fates. In these images,
religious organisations respond to globalisation, sometimes by
supporting anti-global movements (e g: anti-WTO protests, north/south economic justice efforts, neo-fundamentalisms, etc).
– A second commonly noted attribute of globalisation is increased
migration, which has also had religious consequences.
– Religions are at the forefront of the globalisation process.
– Globalisation fundamentally alters power relationships, both
religious and scholarly.
– Globalisation highlights “religious” processes that extend far
beyond church life. One can, for example, analyse human rights
in the light of the Durkheimian notion that religion gives us a
symbolic image of social life.
Though the growth and use of science is supposedly central
to globalisation, it is relevant to know whether science and
religion are irreconcilable. Albert Einstein had explained this
Does there truly exist an insuperable contradiction between religion
and science? Can religion be superseded by science? The
answers to these questions have, for centuries, given rise to
considerable dispute and, indeed, bitter fighting. Yet, in my own
mind there can be no doubt that in both cases a dispassionate
consideration can only lead to a negative answer. What complicates
the solution, however, is the fact that while most people readily agree on what is meant by ‘science’, they are likely to
differ on the meaning of ‘religion’. As to science, we may well
define it for our purpose as “methodical thinking directed toward
finding regulative connections between our sensual experiences.”
Science, in the immediate, produces knowledge and, indirectly,
means of action. It leads to methodical action if definite goals
are set up in advance. For the function of setting up goals and
passing statements of value transcends its domain. While it is true
that science, to the extent of its grasp of causative connections,
may reach important conclusions as to the compatibility and
incompatibility of goals and evaluations, the independent and fundamental definitions regarding goals and values
science’s reach. As regards religion, on the other hand, one is
generally agreed that it deals with goals and evaluations and, in general, with the emotional foundation of human thinking and
acting, as far as these are not predetermined by the inalterable
hereditary disposition of the human species. Religion is concerned
with man’s attitude toward nature at large, with the establishing
of ideals for the individual and communal life, and with mutual
human relationship. These ideals religion attempts to attain by
exerting an educational influence on tradition and through the development and promulgation of certain easily accessible thoughts
and narratives (epics and myths) which are apt to influence evaluation
and action along the lines of the accepted ideals.(4)
Globalisation is not science or a scientific project. It is a political
and imperialist project, which uses both science and religion in
an irreconcilable manner. In some sense the attack on the World
Trade Centre (WTC) on September 11, 2001 was a counter-blast
against globalisation. So also the so-called terrorist attacks in
different parts of the world. Here what have been used are not
the tenets of any particular religion or scriptural injunctions, but
versions of religion for drawing sustenance to take on the might
of the empire. So, it is wrong to conclude that sporadic counterblasts
are extremism, fanaticism, fundamentalism, and
terrorism,(5) and naively believe in the chicanery by the American
Presidents and their lackeys that much more lethal attacks,
devastations and destructions (including of religious and cultural
heritage) by the US have been in the interest of democracy and
world peace. Their hypocrisy and double-speak are in stark
contrast to what Noam Chomsky described as the golden rule
George Bush, characterised by many social critics as a ‘bornagain
Christian’, was not above his belief system when, following
Samuel Huntington’s misguided missile ‘clash of civilisations’,
he referred to the ‘retaliatory strikes’ (whatever that may mean
in the absence of any concrete evidence) against Afghanistan as
The Bush-Blair blitzkrieg in Iraq with utter impunity and scorn
to the UN and international opinion, the effect of which on Islam,
Islamic World, Islamic fundamentalism, and Islamic psyche has
yet to unfold, is one of the many crude, cruel, hideous, and
horrendous manifestations of this fast unfolding US “usurpation”
of the third world countries on the pretext of crushing (religionlinked)
terrorism. It is probably only a foretaste of what is in store for the other third world countries if they prove recalcitrant
and fail to kowtow to the diktats of the US establishment.
In the book Religion and Globalisation Peter Beyer asked: How
religion is important in a globalised society? What role does it
play in a highly interconnected world? Reviewing the book (as
reproduced in the publisher’s web site) Richard Roberts
summarised its theme thus: will systematic world religion prove
capable of generating the kind of “global civil religion” (albeit
diversified) that is much needed where functional differentiation
and cultural fragmentation have destroyed shared norms?
Destroying the shared norms has been precisely the work of
globalisation, which in turn has been systematically weakening
the religious fabric of the third world.
In an interview to the Indian Weekly, Outlook (January 3, 2000),
The consensus of the rich and powerful is that the weak and
defenceless should be subjected to market discipline, while the
rich and powerful should continue to shelter under the wings of
the nanny state … The global consensus is achieving its aims of enriching small sectors, dismantling social bonds
and social support
systems, and undermining democracy – one of the chief goals and
consequences, of liberalising capital flow … “disposable people are being removed from society, either left in deteriorating urban
slums and collapsing rural communities or sent to prison. Though
crime rates have been declining, incarceration has sharply increased,
targeting the poor and minorities by various devices,
primarily, a ‘drug war’ that’s recognised to be utterly fraudulent
by serous criminologists, a consequence of a deliberate social
policy designed to remove the superfluous population. Other
industrial societies are proceeding along similar paths, though in
While on religion and globalisation, it is important to know
whether globalisation unites or divides religions; results in
newfangled religions; and has a direct nexus with fundamentalism
and religion-linked terrorism.(6) It is also important to ascertain
whether for its new imperialist project globalisation has been
exploiting different religious forms; whether fundamentalism and
religion-inspired terrorism have increased since the advent of
globalisation; and whether religions, far from being belief systems
in their traditional sense, have spawned new dimensions
which are far removed from the ‘spiritual’ and ‘religious’ realms.
India, whose population accounts for about one-sixth (about
1.3 billion) of the world population, and is home to all the major
religions of the world – Hinduism (82 per cent), Islam (12.5 per
cent), Christianity (2.4 per cent), Sikhism (2 per cent), Buddhism (0.8 per cent), and Jainism (0.4 per cent) – may soon turn out
to be an accomplice, a villain, and a victim of globalisation,
through the manoeuvres of the Sangh parivar.
However, with Hindu gods and goddesses accounting for about
one-fourth (330 million) of India’s human population, the superabundance
of myths can be socially satiating and subliminal, as
for instance the belief that to gaze on the phallic emblem of Shiva
standing in his temple is as beneficial as a vision of every god and
goddess separately [Fuller 1992: 29]. Cultic religion comprising
several godheads believed to be living on earth in human form
(incarnations or ‘avatars’) as godmen and godwomen, – which
is presumably unique to India – and undoubtedly India’s bane
and shame – has been a booming industry in India and through
India in other countries, especially in the globalisation context.
To understand the impact of the presence and praxis of the
godheads on society, culture, polity, and economy, some understanding
of the way they have been perceived by social critics
is necessary. Among the various sources only three are cited here.
(1) India is a fertile breeding ground for self-styled godmen
ranging from international[ly] fame[d] Chandraswami, … Sai
Baba, Kalki, Premananda, and umpteen other swamis, big and
small. The whole band of these thugs(7) thrive on the faith of the
people in god, religion and their superstitious beliefs in the
efficacy of the magic powers of these frauds in gratifying their
needs and desires.(8)
(2) The number of babas, swamis, gurus, bapus, bhagats, and
their ilk in India is legion. They evoke fierce loyalties and attract
an expanding clientele for a while and then fade away. People
rank these sects according to the number of their adherents,
specially if among them are famous personalities and foreign
disciples. Some of these godmen have established empires in
foreign lands. They live in regal splendour and have radio and TV stations, planes and a fleet of expensive cars. All this adds
to the prestige of the godmen [Mehta1996].
Stating that a sizeable section of Indian society
today is still
living in ignorance and religious misconceptions of the medieval
era, a third source observed that over eight million fake sadhus
and swamis are flourishing on the alms offered by such people
in the name of religion.(9) As these fake swamis form a hierarchy
from the lowest to the highest, some observations on their nature
will also be in order. For this purpose, two lengthy reports are
(1) On August 10, 2002, the Times News Network reported
Hyderabad: The Market police arrested two fake swamis, who
decamped with valuables from the devotees visiting their ‘ashram’
to solve their problems. The arrested persons were identified as
Girish Joshi and Ranchot Lal, natives of Rajasthan.(http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/18606862.cms). According
to police, both the accused, along with two others – Chetan
Joshi and Navin Joshi – came to the city in June this year and
started ‘ashrams’ at Monda Market, Ministers’ Road in
Secunderabad, Kachiguda and Banjara Hills. They give advertisements
in the local dailies claiming that they have powers to cure
ailments and help people get out of distress and other psychological
disorders. A lady doctor, whose name was not disclosed by the
police, approached the fake swamis at their ashram in Market area
in July this year. The accused asked her to tell the age of her
husband, and on informing her husband’s age as 40, they asked
her to get 40 tolas of gold to perform it. She was also asked to
bring the gold in a packed box for conducting and [when returned]
told not to open [the box] until she reached home.
The swamis performed on the box for four days and returned it
to the doctor. But the doctor, on opening the box after returning
home, found the gold kept inside the box missing. She immediately
rushed back to the ashram, but the swamis had abandoned the
place. Likewise, an engineer from Khairatabad also lost 79 tolas
of gold and Rs l lakh cash, while another woman was cheated
of 15 tolas of jewellary.
In all, the thieves have taken away 130 tolas of gold and Rs 2
lakh cash before decamping from the city. On the complaint lodged
by the victims, North Zone DCP, A Ravishankar, formed a special
team to trace the accused. Based on inputs received from the
cellular phones of the accused, the Market police went to Ahmedabad
and nabbed two of the four accused persons. Efforts were on to
apprehend the remaining cheats, the police said.
(2) A Reuters report, ‘India opening its eyes to tricksters who
prey on blind faith’ dated October 3, 2002, by Jayashree Lengade:
Bombay – In tradition-bound India, if someone claims to be able
to exorcise ghosts, levitate or pull a gold chain out of thin air,
it does not take long for him to become known as a ‘godman’.
While many godmen are not confidence tricksters, there are
numerous ‘miracle babas’ who are just out to get rich by duping
as many people as quickly as they can. But Bombay police are
cracking down on the charlatans and have enlisted the help of a
group known as the All-India Committee to Eradicate Superstition
and Blind Faith to convince people that special power is more
often than not a sleight of hand or an illusion.
“The campaign is meant to be an eye-opener. We want to put a
complete stop to those posing as godmen. They are involved in
outright cheating and violent acts,” S S Vagal, joint commissioner
of police for crime in Bombay, said. Mr Vagal said the campaign,
which includes public meetings and television programmes, has
begun to show results. “Certainly, we have been able to make
an impact. Several people have voluntarily made complaints, and
we have nabbed at least 25 of the fake godmen,” he said.
Activists say the ‘miracle babas’ come to India’s commercial hub from poorer parts of the country and seek their
fortune by exploiting
people’s insecurities. “It’s easy money – without any
investment. As long as fear exists among people such godmen
will thrive,” said Narendra Bhabolkar, founder of the 20-year-old
committee that seeks to expose the tricksters. A committee worker
at a public gathering shows how a gold chain that looked as if
it had been plucked out of the air had actually been tucked up
a sleeve. “It’s simple. If you want people to bow down at you
then you perform a trick,” said magician Anand Tayade, who is
helping with the campaign against the fraud. “There’s no such
thing as performing miracles on this earth.
“These godmen are unlike learned saints who renounce worldly
life, give sermons and induce a feeling of positive energy. They
are out to cheat gullible people to make money,” Mr Tayade said.
In another demonstration, a man clad in saffron robes and a false
beard seems to sit suspended in mid-air without any support but
for a hand resting on a pole. A superstition-busting activist tells
the hushed crowd of more than 100 people that the long garment
actually hides a wooden seat fixed to the pole.
Many godmen call themselves ‘tantrics’ – followers of the esoteric
Hindu and Buddhist tradition of ritual and yoga. Some claim to
be able to perform miracles and solve just about any problem under
the sun – from helping jilted lovers and solving marriage problems,
to comforting those with job worries and healing the sick. “It’s
the environment one grows up in that’s usually responsible while
others are looking for avenues to overcome stress in adversity,”
said Shyam Manav, another activist trying to educate people about
The godmen charge anything from about 150 rupees ($ 5) up to
millions of rupees. And people seeking help from all walks of
life can fall prey to their tricks. While most godmen restrict
themselves to relatively harmless fraud, others get caught up in
much more sinister affairs, including human sacrifice to appease
In July, a nine-year-old boy was found dead on the outskirts of
Bombay. A man told police he killed the boy after a godman told
him doing so would save his troubled marriage. “We have intensified
patrolling day and night to arrest fake godmen. Another
human sacrifice cannot take place,” R D Jagtap, assistant police
While Bombay police say the fake godmen are becoming scarce
in the city, the activists campaigning against superstition are
travelling to towns and villages to spread their message. “We
understand that blind practices cannot be ended easily. It will take
generations. But our effort will continue,” committee member and
Bollywood actor Shreeram Lagoo said.
Some of the ‘high-profile’ religious tricksters such as Sai Baba,
Premananda, and Chandraswami with international following are
based in India, and some others such as goddess Narayani are
busy augmenting their wealth and following by peddling ‘bliss’
in the bliss-seeking west. The misdemeanours of these ‘superdupers’
can put to shame any discerning citizen. Sai Baba and
Kalki, like many other godmen, appropriated the title Bhagavan
(god) to put on the aura of divinity as godmen, and for greater
following. The upstart Ravi Shankar prefixed his name with Sri
Sri.(10) In its report of March 1996 Justice Milap Chand Jain
Commission, which probed into former Indian prime minister,
Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, wanted the government of India
to probe into Chandraswami’s role in the assassination.
That these religious tricksters are indeed dubious and dangerous
should be clear from the following report:(11)
Many of India’s high profile super godmen are closing down their
shops. Swami Sadachari, once spiritual advisor and tantric of many
top politicians including Indira Gandhi, former prime minister,
has been in jail for running a brothel, following his exposure by Indian rationalists. Gone with the wind is Swami Premananda,
again to jail, following sex scandals including rape charges.
Chandraswami, mastermind behind the ‘milk miracle’(12) who had
India’s top politicians including former prime minister Narasimha
Rao at his fingertip, faces charges of bribery and cheating. One
fine day all of them lose their divine magic and the golden aura
around them turns dirty grey. The rest is police business, court
procedure, media sneer and silence.
In the face of overwhelming proof, Sai Baba stands accused of
consistent child abuse and homosexual abuse of young disciples
in numerous cases. London’s Daily Telegraph, in a cover story,
has pieced together a shocking dossier of his crimes. In the centre
of the report stands the case of the now 20-year-old American
Sam Young, son of two ardent devotees of Sai Baba and frequent
visitors of his ashram over the last 20 years. Sam, 16 when he came to Puttaparthi for the first time, was picked up and granted
many private audiences with Sai Baba, during which the godman
regularly kissed and fondled him, tried to rape him and successfully
silenced him. He used to “produce” holy oil out of thin air and
to rub the boy’s genitals with that. And he produced watches,
golden rings and money to keep him silent. After four years, Sam
gathered courage to reveal his plight to his parents. Once Sai Baba
was publicly accused, the dam of silence broke and hundreds of
similar cases came to light. Devotees left Sai Baba centres abroad
in hundreds, some of the centres have already closed down.
The close nexus of the dubious godheads, especially of the
internationally sought after types, with politicians, their hangerson,
criminals, middlemen, and fixers is well known.
L K Advani, a Hindu communalist had a major role in assiduously
building up (and in the process ‘building himself up’ as
a politician) Hindu-Muslim communal hate through his infamous
‘rath yatra’ from Somnath to Ayodhya in 1990. The rath yatra
not only transformed just another opposition politician into the
ideological mascot of Hindutva, but also and more importantly,
through its political journey redefined the trajectories of Indian
politics. Advani himself described it as a movement of mass
awakening – one that catapulted the BJP on to the national centrestage,
and made Hindutva a core political issue. It culminated
in the demolition of Babri masjid on December 6, 1992.
Despite compelling evidence that the BJP, the dominant force
in India’s present coalition government, abetted the anti-Muslim
riots that convulsed the western state of Gujarat in February 2002,
as union home minister, Advani openly defended and unabashedly
gave a ‘clean chit’ to the Gujarat chief minister,
Advani was seen hobnobbing with Ravi Shankar apparently
with a religious mission. This was after the enactment of a
legislation by the government of Tamil Nadu prohibiting conversion
from Hinduism to other religions, when Ravi Shankar
– the man behind the money-spinner, The Art of Living Foundation
– was made to say that leaving the religion in which one
was born and embracing another religion is sin.(13)
In The Japan Times in 1999 Angela Jeffs reported at length
on Mata Amritanandamayi’s visit to Japan from May 28 to 31
May, a gist of which is given below.(14)
Amritanandamayi is acknowledged throughout India as a
saint (emphasis added). A hug from her is said to bring happiness
– something that many Japanese feel is in short supply as the
nation’s economic slide throws more people out of work and cuts
into their savings. She has been known to hug 20,000 people
in a single session.(15) In her homeland – and increasingly abroad
– she is known as the hugging saint. For the past three days,
thousands of Japanese have flocked to a hall in Tokyo for a loving
embrace from her on the Japan leg of her world hugging tour. Throughout this week people have been queuing
her carpeted room, breathing in the incense-filled air and listening
to strains of devotional songs. She has come up with a remedy
for Japan’s economic blues that has escaped even the most astute
politician – give everyone a hug (emphasis added).
So, here is a religious remedy to the economic ills caused by
globalisation, namely, get hugged, hugged, and hugged by a woman
who has been deified by the media as living saint, embracing saint,
hugging saint, god, global guru, spiritual leader, heavenly soul
and so on. But as one woman cannot hug the world’s desolate and
despondent millions, and there are not many women of Amritanandamayi’s
deified stature, it is pertinent to ask how to materialise
more Amritanandamayis with all the make-believe divine powers
and devotional trappings commensurate with the number required
to make the world a better place through ‘divine hugging’.
In this context it is worth considering, in keeping with the theme
of some of the Malayalam short stories, whether an illiterate
Amritanandamayi who in the traditional caste hierarchy would
have belonged to one of the bottom-most and disprivileged groups
has been really a wonder-woman or victim of a religious mafia
– the unscrupulous commercial ascetics from whose religious trap
she has no way of escape.(16)
The Week – published from a place not far from Amritanandamayi’s
ashram, had her for its cover feature of September
21, 2003. The feature, with its main title ‘Embracing the world’
and subtitle ‘Devotees worship her as god’, is an important
instance of the commercial exploitation of religion by the print
media. Amritanandamayi turned 50 on September 27, 2003,(17)
and her ashram at Kollam, Kerala, celebrated the occasion four
days from September 24, “in tune with”, as The Week wrote “her
exalted status as a spiritual leader”. Tended by some 12,000
volunteers, with a reported ten lakh people participating in her
“divine show” and many more watching it on the TV channels
– with thousands from the west who descended upon Kerala, –
some out of curiosity, some as tourists, some as pleasure seekers,
some as nowhere people, and probably some as devotees, hogging
the limelight – the cover feature was a real ‘cash crop’ to The
Week. The presence of these westerners and for that matter a
sprinkling of non-Hindus from India does not alter the essentially
Hindu character of the four-day ‘divine extravaganza’.
As The Week reported, Amritanandamayi (popularly known
as Amma, meaning mother) has grown from an illiterate child
with strange spiritual experiences to a global guru who presides
over an empire of charity; she is Kerala’s ‘hugging saint’ who
straddles the material and the spiritual worlds; her ashram figures
at the top of the list of charities receiving donations from abroad;
in 1998-99, for instance, the ashram is said to have received more
than Rs 50 crore.
Going by press reports on September 27, 2003 rituals were
performed at her ‘holy feet’ on her 50th birth anniversary after
dawn, after which ‘Amriteswari’, as she is worshipped (emphasis
added), addressed the sea of humanity which had gathered
since morning to hear the love incarnate (emphasis added).
That sea of humanity comprised people from 191 countries
who participated in the celebrations and charity activities,
including Indian president A P J Abdul Kalam, deputy prime
minister L K Advani, human resource development minister,
Murli Manohar Joshi, Karnataka chief minister S M Krishna,
former US senator Larry Pressler, Martin Luther King’s daughter
Yolanda King, and Hotmail founder Sabeer Bhatia.(18)Newspapers
showed Amritanandamayi hugging Advani and kissing his pate.
While Amritanandamayi’s ashram may be building houses for
the poor, hospitals, and educational institutions, and many other ashrams may be swindling the huge funds which they
receiving from abroad, the very idea of social service through the
conduit of religion, that too primarily the majoritarian Hindu religion,
in a secular and pluralist society, where religion is not expected
to play any role in the public sphere, raises at least two issues.
One, the failure of a democratic state to perform and deliver
thereby creating a deepening paradox of enabling various selfstyled
‘divinities’ and ‘god incarnates’ to use it to perform and
deliver through make-believe spiritualism through the state
though the state is expected to be secular and pluralist in letter
Two, the effect of this ‘divine delivery’ on the functioning of
a secular pluralist democracy and the role of globalisation in
creating spurious godheads who would not have had the kind
of weird spin doctors, networks and media savvy images but for
technocracy itself turning into spiritualism embedded in globalisation.
Whether such a democracy should draw legitimacy from selfmade
– and those forced into the spiritual trap dubious godheads,
or from people’s will is a challenge to the very notion of democracy.
Apart from the self-styled godheads, there are the
‘institutionalised’ ones – the Sankaracharyas. Dubious godheads,
and religious heads like Sankaracharyas dabbling into politics
of late has disastrous consequences for the secular and pluralist
nature of Indian democracy, for the diversity of Hinduism, and
for minority religions.
The main source of income for these godheads has been the
‘spiritually starving’ regions of Asia, say, Japan, and Europe and
America. By one estimate some of the godheads are worth
thousands of crores of rupees. Globalisation has certainly augmented
The most alarming development in Indian context, however,
has been the rise of rabid Hindutva for the creation of a Procrustean
Hindu rashtra or Hindu nation, which in some sense is a variant
of the globalisation monster. Godmen and godwomen are useful
to the Hindutva politics. While inaugurating the 50th birth anniversary
celebrations of Amritanandamayi (Amritavarsham-50)
on September 24, 2003, India’s deputy prime minister, L K Advani
asserted that the spiritual strength of a country was more important
than its advances in the fields of agriculture, industry
or knowledge, and went to the extent of drawing from Alvyn
Toffler’s Powershift that nations consider their strengths in
physical, economic and knowledge spheres as important aspects
of progress, but only spirituality elevates the society, and this
fact added to the relevance of personalities like ‘Amma’. But
coming as this does from a person who as a purveyor of communal
hate has deeply wounded the spirit of India, his very mention
of spirituality distorts this term. In any case, as the inauguration
was by none other than Advani, apart from turning spirituality
into another communal weapon, it could be as disastrous as his
1990 rath yatra, inasmuch as it has given a boost to his rabid
Hindutva(21) from Amritanandamayi’s blessing and its implicit
approbation of his style of divisive and destructive politics.
The four-day celebrations from September 24 to 27 could as
well turn out to be the Sangh parivar’s bliss and Kerala’s blight,
and undermine whatever the Leftist movements of over half a
century managed to gain as secular, pluralist and democratic
space, which made Kerala the ‘model state’ of India.(22)
As a result of the rise of rabid Hindutva, minority communities
of religions such as Islam and Christianity have been victims of
Nazi-type ethnic cleansing. The oppressed and exploited among
the Hindus at the bottom of the traditional caste hierarchy have
been trying to embrace other religions. However, they are being
prevented from doing so by the ‘dog-in-the-manger’ attitude of some of the states ruled by the BJP and brahmins
with the BJP
mindset, and their Hindu-biased actions, much against the mandate
of the Indian Constitution for a pluralist secular democracy.
The traditional Hindu culture has been a deepening paradox,
with the Sangh parivar trying to drag the country back to the
illusory Vedic age, and the younger generation dragging it in
different directions, many succumbing to the temptation of
consumerism – a fallout of the economic dimension of globalisation,
the aberrations and absurdities of the tinsel world, and
the temptation of migration to the US for making quick bucks.
Conventional religion has become computerised religion, as for
instance, many in far-flung Chennai or Delhi can have rituals
through the Internet in the far-flung US or UK temples and viceversa.
That the result of a search using Google on February 28,
2004 for Hindu worships through Internet was a mind-boggling
31,600 links clearly shows the magnitude of this aspect of religion
under globalisation. Globalisation has also given a new lease of
life through the Internet. Almost all websites which have some
bearing on India have astrology, numerology, palmistry, vaasthu,
Vedic predictions, and so on to cater to the needs of the gullible
millions;(23) and spiritualism through the TV channels or what has
been aptly termed ‘TV spirituality’.(24) All these have made god
a money-spinner through cyber-chicanery.
Meanwhile, the politics of religion has resulted in the mushrooming
of religious centres – not so much out of devotion or for
worship as for competitive communal politics in the public sphere.
In a context like this, if the third world has to be on its own,
it has to disable the US empire – which is more of a vampire
now – by whatever means, and its globalisation agenda. While
there has been no dearth of suggestions on the possible remedies,
three suggestions are mentioned below:
One, by Virginia Saldanha in the article mentioned earlier:
Religious people who struggle for a more inclusive and peaceful
world should return to the roots of our religions where we will find
the truth. Those of us who are Christians will remember the words
of Jesus spoken in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the poor
in Spirit … blessed are the peace makers, blessed are those who
work for justice.
Two, by Andre Mukenge:(25)
I am an African, and my God isn’t yours. I’m a Muslim. I can’t
live together with the Christians. The Asiatic trusting system isn’t
the same in Europe and in Africa. That is what we understand
everywhere in the street, in the conferences, in the seminaries,
when they are discussing. Men are so proud of themselves that
they make borders between one another in the name of God. Each
one has his God, here, the god had been given a name, there he
is worshipped as a man, and there again as a Spirit and so forth. These differences are so big that … conflicts appear and wars
occur. And yet, if we take it global, we are the sons and the girls
of one God – being him allah, yehowa, jesus, krishna, boudha
or other kind of lord, he is our father. In all kind of religion, God
is supreme, infinite. He is known as being love.
His attributes are justice, mercy, wisdom and goodness. The
Globalisation is in religion since the creation of the world. (emphasis
Nowadays the manner that people trust in God in Asia, in Europe
and in America is very well known: but let’s know if is it possible to
put together the African and the other system of religion in the world.
God is not African, Asian or European. God is Global. But how
do African people worship? They believe in a high God who is the creator and [ultimate] cause of all things. He
has a distinct
personality and is known by a personal name. In Comgolese system of belief, there are no priests, no intermediaries, no temples and
no special public worship is addressed to him. The names and
attributes assigned to his supreme divinity may vary greatly from
one ethnic group or subgroup to another.
Three, by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance:
You, and I, and everyone else have two options:
– Promote religious tolerance – the right of people to hold religious
beliefs that are strange to us, without hindrance or oppression.
– To continue living in a world saturated with religious intolerance.
We will then experience more religiously-based-wars, terrorism,
and civil disturbances, as we have seen recently in Afghanistan,
Bosnia, Cyprus, India, Kosovo, Israel, Macedonia,
Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Sri
Lanka, Sudan, etc. The ultimate cause of the 9/11 terrorist attacks
was religious hatred and intolerance.
It ‘s your decision to make. What kind of a world do you want
for yourself and your children?
While the meaning and message of the above quotes are only
too obvious, one important issue that needs special attention is
the nature and extent of democratic space available for articulation
of various forms of social demands, societal dynamics
and pressures, and social aspects, of which religion is only one.
When all is said, the 20th century has been characterised as
‘democracy’s century’. Have the countries, which became free
during this century from colonial rule and turned democratic,
really created the much-needed civil space for democratic articulation?
Religion is, obviously, an integral part of these countries,
irrespective of the effect of globalisation on them.
Address for correspondence:
[This is an extensively revised version of a paper
presented at the international
conference on ‘Religion and Globalisation’, held at Payap University,
from July 27 to August 2, 2003.]
1 Sangh parivar literally means an organisation’s family. Here the
is to the Bharatiya Janata Party, Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh, Vishwa
Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, and related organisations, all of which
been working for transforming India into a Hindu Rashtra or Hindu nation
through rabid Hindutva.
2 PRI Wire:
Religion and Globalisation, Vol 7, May 1999.
3 Published in the Newsletter of the American Sociological Association
Section on Religion, Fall 2001.
4 This was in a response to a greeting sent by the Liberal Ministers’
of New York City. Published in The Christian Register, June 1948.
Published in Ideas and Opinions, Crown Publishers, New York, 1954.
5 The views on fundamentalists and their acts vis-à-vis religion vary
For instance, Virginia Saldanha, in a write-up ‘Fundamentalists are not
rooted in the truth of their religions’, in the National Catholic
of April 23, 2003 observed: (1) “The extreme right wings of the world’s
four main religions (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Judaism) seem
to be on the rise and gaining strength. Furthermore, the rise is coupled
with the consolidation of political power by an elite class of
and business interests”. (2) “All fundamentalists have the same agenda,
namely, gaining political power to boost their economic power”.
(3) “Fundamentalists achieve their goal by using religion to gain
over the lives of people. Fundamentalists interpret religion to suit
own ends. They claim to speak and act in the name of God”.
6 In this context it is important to note the following observations (as
reported in the Indian English daily The New Indian Express on
September 17, 2003) by Indian prime minister, A B Vajpayee, at Ankara,
on September 16, 2003, during his three-day tour of Turkey:
Do not discredit Islam; it’s not a terror source.
terrorism as a ‘global monster’, Vajpayee flayed the ‘selective
and differing standards of some countries in combating the menace, and
dismissed the western belief that Islam is a source of terrorism. About
the tendency in the west to subscribe to the view that Islam is a source
of terrorism, he said: “We totally dismiss the proposition that any
is a source of terrorism. Such arguments seek to discredit one of the
religions of the world.” No religion, he said, prescribed violence
innocent people. “Our battle is against extremist elements who misuse
and misinterpret religion to justify terrorism and incite violence”.
Though the above observations might have gladdened the people of
Turkey, one might wonder if these were not disingenuous inasmuch as
Hindutva, an aberration of Hinduism, particularly under Vajpayee’s
dispensation as India’s prime minister, has indeed been a terror-source,
as evident from, among others, the communal carnage in Gujarat.
7 These ‘thugs’ rise to ‘divine’ status mainly through their
who indoctrinate the innocent masses. Many of these spin-doctors are
none other than pseudo-academics. A case in point is the ‘White Paper
on Kalki Bhagavan’ by Vasudha Narayanan. While admitting that there
have been controversial articles on ‘Kalki Bhagavan’ in the Indian
she ignored all of them and tendentiously based her report solely on
devotees’ experiences, knowing full well that there cannot be a better
way of indoctrinating the innocents than through such one track and
unverifiable rumour-mongering on devotees’ experiences.
A sample of Vasudha Narayanan’s report: “About 15 million people
around the world think of Kalki Bhagavan as the Supreme Being who
will usher in a new age. This golden age was inaugurated on September
25, 1995, and will be fully realised in the year 2012. The Vishnu Purana
and several other sacred texts consider Kalki to be the last incarnation
(avatar) of Lord Vishnu.” From the cache of
http://www.montclair.edu/risa/d-kalki.html (September 29, 2002).
It is not that these pseudo-academics and money-chasers through
cannot be critical. The fact is that they do not want to be,
as there is more money in spinning myths and superstitions than in spreading reason and scientific temper. Vasudha
Narayanan’s another feat
was propagating through attractive visuals India’s ‘sacralisation’ of
US using deities of Brahminic Hinduism, especially Vishnu, who is
supposed to be dominating the whole universe, for which temples have
been built in the US.
8 ‘Beware of Godmen’,
The Modern Rationalist, September 1997.
9 ‘Mass Education from religious platform’, Vol 36, web site.
10 ‘Sri’, derived from Sanskrit, is a salutation. It is also an
One does not confer it on oneself. It is only used for addressing
So the use of ‘Sri Sri’ is an appropriation by Ravi Shankar to add an
aura of respect and auspiciousness to his name and person.
11 Sanal Idamaruku. ‘Now It Is Sai Baba’s Turn!’
Bulletin No 53, October 29, 2000.
12 The reference is to the reports that the idol of Ganesha drank milk
September 21, 1995 in different parts of the world. See for details,
Idol Drinks Milk!’ Hinduism Today, Issue 95-11, 1995. This hoax should
be seen as yet another aspect of the cyber chicanery under globalisation.
13 On November 12, 2003,
The New Indian Express carried a lengthy
interview with Ravi Shankar, by addressing him as ‘His Holiness Sri Sri
Ravi Shankar’ and thus trying to add to his make-believe aura. Though
surveys found that many Hindus do not care what is built in Ayodhya
as reported by the Indian Express, Ravi Shankar betrayed his true RSS
and Sangh parivar mindset in his response to a question that “you cannot
ignore the sentiments of the rural people who can see Ram only in an
idol or in a place of worship”.
From the web site
15 During Amritanandamayi’s visit in July 2003 to Japan the Indian
daily Herald Tribune carried a front-page report that “if there were a
world record for hugs, it would surely go to Mata Amritanandamayi”.
16 A case in point is the recent Malayalam film ‘Yuvaturky’ about a godman,
with Gunasekaran becoming godman Somendraji. The film brings out
luridly the politics of communalism, and the politics-godmen nexus.
17 The day was also deified as ‘Amritavarsham’, literally meaning the
of Amritanandamayi or the showering of nectar.
18 The report did not say how the presence of
these personalities singled
out for special mention added to the religiosity and divinity of the
godhead, and of those whom she hugged and kissed, and whether the
celebration was religious or secular.
19 In this context, the religious import of Kerala chief minister, A K
observation during the Amritavarsam-50 celebrations that the government
alone cannot change a society; we need institutions like the
(Amritanandamayi) Math to execute projects in a symbiotic manner,
should not go unnoticed.
20 On October 19, 2003 the Indian English tabloid
The Milli Gazette
American funding of Hindu hate organisations exposed
“Spread of sectarian hate in India can be halted if the money flowing
from the US to the anti-Muslim, anti-Christian Sangh Parivar (RSS
family) organisations involved in this nefarious design stops,” said
Biju Mathew, professor, Rider University, New Jersey, US, at a press
conference here on November 20.
The press conference was organised to expose huge funding of Hindu
hate organisations through US-based charities. A campaign to halt the
funding for spreading hate in India has been formally launched with
the publication at the press conference of a comprehensive report about
Called ‘The Foreign Exchange of Hate’, this 91-page report is now
available on the Internet at
The press conference was organised by “The Campaign to Stop Funding
Hate” (CSFH), a US-based NGO to release its report which has been
painstakingly compiled using published and unpublished sources about
this funding which is routing to the hate outfits through ‘cultural’ and
‘educational’ front organisations floated by them in various parts of
CSFH is an organisation of people from all walks of life sharing a
common concern that sectarian hatred in India was being fuelled by
money flowing in from the US.
“Not only India, the US has also become a nation of hateful Hinduism,
thanks to the RSS and the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF),
a US-based ‘charity’ which has been providing millions of dollars to
organisations connected with the Sangh parivar,” said Biju Mathew,
a core member of CSFH.
The report, based on detailed analysis by a team of dedicated
of the US and India, is a testimony to the misuse of fund by the IDRF
which it obtains from leading companies in the US in the name of
‘secular activities’ in India.
According to the report, the IDRF submitted an application for tax
exemption certificates to the Internal Revenue Service of the US. The
Form 1023 filed by the IDRF in 1989 identifies nine representative
organisations like Vikas Bharati (Bihar), Swami Vivekananda Rural
Development Society (Tamil Nadu), Sewa Bharati (Delhi), Jana Seva
Vidya Kendra (Karnataka), Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (Madhya Pradesh),
Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (Gujarat), Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (Nagar
Haveli), Girivasi Vanvasi Sewa Prakalp (Uttar Pradesh) and G Deshpande
Vanvasi Vastigrah (Maharashtra), that the IDRF sought to support
Surprisingly, all the nine organisations mentioned by the IDRF belong
to the RSS family. According to the Sangh literature, the origins and
growth of Vikas Bharati is described as the one ‘which originated in
the fountainhead called Sangh’. Swami Vivekananda Rural Development
Society (SVRDS) is a sister organisation of the VHP in Tamil Nadu.
While, Sewa Bharati is the most commonly RSS identified service
Besides these nine organisations, there are other organisations which
play an active role in IDRF activities. Ekal Vidyalays (One Teacher
Schools) is a VHP project aimed at the indoctrination of students in
remote, tribal villages. Vikasan Foundation strives to promote Indian
culture in India and abroad. Bharat Vikas Parishad aims to involve
entrepreneurs and well-off sections in its activities. Sewa
is IDRF affiliate in India and oversees its Indian operations.
Highlighting the main points, the report details disbursement of about
$4 million between 1994 and 2000 to dozens of Sangh organisations
by the IDRF mostly used for persecuting Muslims and Christians. In
2000 alone, using US government tax exemption status for charities,
it collected $1.7 million.
The distribution of IDRF funds by ideology is as follows — 83 per
cent to the RSS, VHP and other RSS family organisations, 8 per cent
to other Hindu and Jain religious organisations, 2 per cent to secular
organisations and 7 per cent to unknown ideology. That means most
of the funds went in for anti-Muslim, anti-Christian programmes in
Similarly, 69 per cent of the funds were directly
provided for the
Hinduisation efforts, reconversion to Hinduism and on education to
tribals and Hindus living in rural areas on fascist lines. Only 15 per
cent of the rest was spent on relief, 8 per cent on welfare and health
and 4 per cent on ‘development’. Share of religious activities other
than Hindu was only 2 per cent. However, most of the ‘development’ was
in terms of building Hindu temples and other such sectarian activities.
According to the report, “The IDRF participated in fundraising efforts
with the Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh (HSS) in the US to raise money
for Bangladesh Hindu victims of communal violence. Similarly, it also
raised money for Kashmiri Hindus victimised by militants in Kashmir.
More recently, it announced a donation of $25,000 towards relief efforts
following the World Trade Centre collapse. In all three cases, the
responsible for perpetrating the disaster were Muslims, and the victims
largely non-Muslim, the IDRF felt. However, in contrast, to date, the
IDRF has not announced any relief for the victims of communal riots
in Gujarat in February and March 2002.”
The campaign activists are of the view that the IDRF was not only
encouraging communal hatred in India, but in the US also. Because of
its partisan role, Hinduism in the US is becoming a less respected
They said that funds coming from abroad for the minority-run
organisations in India reach them only after a thorough investigation
by the authorities, while the same procedures are not always applied
to the RSS family organisations. Blaming the central government, they
said since the major party of this coalition government (BJP) is the
political wing of the RSS family, so the strict procedures are not
followed in their case.
The activists were disappointed with the ill treatment meted out to the
minorities in India by states and the Centre. They said that such misuse
of donations had been harming the Indo-American community, and
if it were not stopped, the funds for genuine relief work and other
developmental programmes would be reduced to the minimum.
They also announced the launch of ‘Project Saffron Dollar’ to bring
to an end the collection and transfer of funds from the US to
spreading sectarian hatred in India. The campaign filed a petition on
November 19 in the US seeking immediate cessation of the transfer
of funds to IDRF. It has also dispatched its report to ten leading US
corporations to prevent IDRF from using their facilities for fund
21 It is not clear whether Amritanandamayi herself is aware of this
or whether she is working in tandem with the Advanis and Malkanis for
the further spread of rabid Hindutva.
22 The Amritavarshm-50 also saw the launch of Amrita TV channel by union
minister of state for information, Ravi Shankar Prasad, who hoped that
the channel would help inculcate spiritual awareness among the public.
23 Astrology in traditional south India in the context of the
was the caste-based task of a section of the brahmins called Panchangam
(Calendar) brahmins. They could have hardly earned a living from this
occupation. But they are in great demand in this cyber age, which is
a contribution of globalisation.
24 In this context, an article in the
Outlook dated October 20, 2003,
Button’ by Harsh Kabra, makes fascinating reading. Its opening paragraph
runs thus: “Preaching was never so lucrative. With salvation outsourced,
the boob tube now wants to be your drawing-room deliverer, promising
armchair enlightenment and remote-controlled emancipation.”
25 Andre Mukenge, ‘Religion and Globalisation’, South Corporation
Journalism (Online), pp 1-2.
Beyer, F Peter (1994): Religion and Globalisation, Sage Publications,
Fuller, C J (1992): The Camphor Flame: Popular Hinduism and Society in
India, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.
Geertz, Clifford (1965): ‘Religion: Anthropological Study’ in David L
(ed) International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences,
Huntington, Samuel P (1993): ‘The Clash of Civilisations’, (Summer),
Mehta, Uday (1996): Modern Godmen in India, Popular Prakashan, Mumbai.
Petras, James and Veltmeyer Henry (2001): Globalisation Unmasked:
Imperialism in the 21st Century, Zed Books, London.
Shourie, Arun (2000): Harvesting Our Souls: Missionaries, Their Design,
Their Claims, ASA, Delhi.
Toffler, Alvin (1990): Powershift: Knowledge, Wealth, and Violence at
Edge of the 21st Century, Bantam Books, New York.