As I drove past a busy junction in the city of Mumbai, I noticed a hoarding. There was a man with a blissful smile, portrayed there. A trademark long beard, abundant use of Saffron and a glory circle around his face, emphasized that he is someone who can show me the golden path to success, to be happy, to be healthy, to be everything I want to be. The message was well delivered.
There would be many on the streets of Mumbai who would drive past such hoardings. There would be many who would march past, many who would see them as they stand, drenched in their own, or maybe someone else’s sweat in the local trains of Mumbai or read something similar in the newspapers.
Who doesn’t want to be successful, happy, healthy and rich? I can almost sense someone arguing that how about people who are already successful, happy, healthy and rich? The answer is that nature of these achievements is subjective. Do you know anyone who has enough money? Enough success? Enough happiness? “Yeh Dil Mange More” is the funda of today. So is the booming market for trailblazers of success, happiness and money.
Once upon a time, when my grandmother was alive, she would recite religions scripts, regurgitate the Om. As a child, I queried her many times, why did she do that every day? I found it pretty humdrum to sit at one place and go through that routine with her. Those were seemingly her spiritual practices. She found her happiness in doing those. But who the hell has got the time in today’s world for being spiritual?
We somehow want to be happy. Our culture has engraved on our minds with all the might, that spirituality is the pathway of happiness. So we seek spirituality. But we don’t have time that the age old methods of pursuing spirituality demand. So what do we do? We outsource spirituality.
Why not? In this world of globalization, India is booming because of outsourcing. The so called middle class is getting fatter and fatter every day, in terms of their numbers, money and weight as well. Time is the scarcest commodity. If I can buy spirituality by spending some of my money, why not? And so is the booming market for spiritual Gurus and Babas.
Sometimes I feel that these institutions called Spiritual Gurus and Babas are nothing but management consultants. They tell us something that we already know, and expect hefty donations in return. They have a corporate lifestyle and I don’t blame them. In fact, they are the smart people. They know where the business opportunity lies and they are able to encash that opportunity.
I am not against people spending money if they gain happiness or even a simulation of happiness out of these barren exercises. What worries me is that this is an attempt to cure the symptom, not the cause. Have we really thought why we are not happy?
Is it because we are too busy? Is it because we know we have money that can buy everything? Or maybe it is because we “think” that money can buy everything, but in reality it cannot buy the most sought after pleasures of life.
Could money buy a smile? Could money buy a tear? Could money buy a beautiful voice? Could money buy creativity? Could money buy the vista of sunset that you see with your loved one? Could money buy you the pleasure that one would get climbing Mount Everest?
But money is a great enabler. How can I undermine its importance? Should I become a money making machine?
To be or not to be, that is the question.