The Cult – Jainee Gandhi

I am still in that trance zone and unsure of what I saw. Still can’t believe that this was or is the life of many. Still trying to figure out what was that.

I came to know about Osho ashram when I was about 18 yrs old and my first cousin got married. Then when I moved to Pune at the age of 27 for few months, Osho ashram road was a place where there was German bakery and we could buy mat chappals. Never imagined that it had such a legacy built out of crimes.

It raises only one question in my mind. Why do people follow/become part of a cult?

It’s not just about Osho, we see cults everyday. Religious cults, professionals cults, personal agenda vindictive cults. Everyone in this world looks for belonging, for acceptance. Everyone at sometime in their life, at whatever age, is searching a higher power in whatever form they can… to sustain themselves.

When I moved to Singapore two years back, I met this amazing lady and she is such a devotee of Maa Kali. She is an Australian and her faith for Maa Kali is based on what she has read about her, she had based her belief that Maa Kali’s strengths are something that she can resonate with. Another friend I know calls himself a reborn Christian.

I am a Jain by religion and by faith so all these concepts are quiet unfamiliar territory for me. For me religion or faith is like your parents, you get it by birth and you should accept it with closed eyes. In fact when Vaibhav (my husband) was part of a community, I just could not understand why would he practice some other faith. Why would he not do the right things that is expected as a Jain and do things that another cult wanted. Am wiser now and when I think back, his community / cult made him this amazing thinker and writer that he is. Not taking away anything from his parents or upbringing or his own talents… but that community gave this 16/18 year old boy a rope to hang on to in those early adulthood years.

I was discussing all this with a Caucasian friend to understand how the other part of the world thinks. She said people are in this constant hunt to find faith because we have no strong faith ingrained in us. On days that you fall apart or on days that you need someone the most or on days that life is at a standstill, people are looking for support either within family, friends or looking for an external power.

Do people who follow cults, lonely? Are they looking for acceptance and validation?

Reflecting on my life as an image consultant, it is a type of cult as well. In this whole wide world there must be at the max 10,000 Image consultants, not more. And yet I feel so strongly and passionately for it because in my dark days when I was hunting for my identity, being an image consultant gave me that validation.

Anyways back to wild wild country. Maa Anand Sheela, a name many of us will even hear for the first time was a girl who at a young age of 16 fell in love with the idea of Rajneesh. I say idea because I don’t think she was in love with him, she was attracted to him but was in love with the idea of him and his philosophy. Such a young tiny fragile girl turned women, had the courage and the power to do the unthinkable and pick up a fight with not any sect or town, but with the US government. All that she did, all that she intended… was for her love, mad passion and belief in building a community that Rajneesh preached.

Rajneesh or Osho was a coward. He hid behind the mask, amassed wealth, used people and threw them when their need was over. The Rajneeshes (his followers) had such faith in him. Was it blind faith? Was it that they only saw what they wanted to see and ignored the painful parts? Osho practiced and preached two different things. What he preached was so amazing, the thoughts, the learning… I have very limited knowledge but whatever little I have read of what he preached – seems extraordinary.

Is it okay to practice and preach two different thing? I used to love one book on entrepreneurship and was excited to meet the author at a networking event. But 2 minutes in the conversation with her and after that I have never read her book again. For me she was not what she had written… such a mismatch.

Salman Khan is a cult right now. Many celebrities and people follow him and are rooting for him to go scot free. If someone sells paan gutka for a living and than makes a cancer research / treatment hospital… will you forgive everything that they have done? Forget that they are one of the reason why people are suffering?

Cults…. are all cults bad? I think a community becomes a cult because of its follower’s unflinching love… it becomes a cult when it’s followers decide to ignore the wrong doings and just follow it without any questions asked… it becomes a cult when it’s followers stop thinking rationally.

I don’t know if cults are good or bad. Cults also give hope, cults help you find who you are, cults give you friends who share your philosophy, cults make you who you are…

Religious cults on the other hand are disastrous across the world and yet I think that everyone should have a religion / faith / belief in that higher superior power. When people have something to hold on to, and people will require that gleam of hope in their darkest of hours, this belief in a religion or faith is what will keep them in right track. Or people will go finding that external validation in form of cults 🙂

– Jainee Gandhi (08 April 2018)


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