The news about the suicide of ‘spiritual guru’ Bhaiyyu Maharaj was shocking not only to thousands of his followers but everyone who knew him. He stood differently from the rest of the ‘god-men’ in many respects. From very young age this handsome engineer became popular as a spiritual guide. He enjoyed love and respect from his numerous followers, acquired wealth and had influence on many political leaders from different parties. Many celebrities and important political leaders were his followers.
Bhaiyyu Maharaj promoted spirituality and kept away from traditional religious rituals. He rarely visited temples and refused to travel abroad. He was doing a lot of social work programs in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Because of his connection with leaders of different political parties and involvement in solving conflicts and differences among them he was known also as ‘political guru’. Since social concern and nation building was his priorities he was called ‘rashtra sant’ by many of his followers. Ecological preservation and organic farming were dear to his heart.
Bhaiyyu Maharaj always dressed well, enjoyed good things of life, used expensive accessories and drove high-end cars. This god-man occasionally would show up in jeans and T-shirt. He reached out to thousands of people with affection and friendship. Several people were eager to meet him and listen to his advice.
Everyone who knew him was wonder struck to hear that this spiritual guru shot himself in the temple with a licensed revolver on June 12. The suicide note revealed that he was in “stress” and “fed up” with life. A spiritual guru who was guiding thousands of people could not manage his stress and strain due to trouble in the family. The suicide note and the observations of the people who were close to him revealed that the god-man took the extreme step of killing himself because he was fed up with life.
Today suicide is common among all sections of the society. Young people, adults, farmers and housewives commit suicide when they are not able to face failure and overcome stress. Film stars, political leaders, wealthy business people and many other celebrities had ended their lives not able to manage stress. Rarely do we hear about the spiritual gurus taking the extreme step of killing themselves not able to manage their stress.
In all religions, we have ‘spiritual gurus’ who preach about peace and conduct various discourses and retreats to live happily. People hold them in high esteem and make them gods. Some of them proclaim themselves as sant, maharaj, acharya, baba and swami. They exploit people who are disturbed with the worries of life with various tricks and eloquence. Gradually they establish their religious empire.
The tragic death of Bhaiyyu Maharaj reveals the vulnerability and hypocrisy of many god-men and preachers. These preachers and motivational speakers who preach about peace and happiness to millions carry a volcano within themselves. They struggle to cover their shallow and vulnerable original self with false ego and hypocrisy. While experienced hard core god-men and preachers succeed to fool common people and maintain their empire, the less experienced ones breakdown in the process.
While reflecting about the suicide of spiritual guru Bhaiyyu Maharaj due to his failure to handle stress and problems my thoughts went to another political saint – Mahatma Gandhi, who was shot dead because of his stand for peace, non-violence and reconciliation. He dedicated his whole life for peace and reconciliation. He preached by his life example. He gave a module of peace and happiness: You be the change. In other words, Gandhiji wanted everyone to practice first and then work for changing the world.
Universal Solidarity Movement of Value Education for Peace has adopted this module in its program. “First transform the self, then work to change the world” is its motto. This is the basis on which the Movement promotes its programs among the youth and people of all walks of life. The members believe that the lasting peace and happiness will be possible only by ensuring personal transformation. The Movement provides some practical modules for everyone to follow.
1. Daily review of life: The members are urged to review their daily living. All of them learn from the book of life, draw insights and apply them in to their life and work. Anyone who sincerely practices it is able to correct the mistakes promptly and avoid conflicts and stress.
2. Make contemplation a way of life: Contemplating on the innumerable blessings and opportunities will urge persons to make use of them in the best way for the good of the society. Contemplation on the gifts of God will make every one humble and trust in God’s power and providence.
3. Contemplation will give a realization that everyone is destined to achieve excellence. It is possible when we realize the Divine within us, actualise and maximize the Divine, God, within us. God, the source of all power, creativity and goodness is fully present in every human being. Hence we believe in ‘aham brahmasmi’. The belief that “I can do everything in God who strengthens me” chases away all the stress and negative thoughts.
4. Genuine spiritual people live daily with the conviction, “if God is with me who can be against me”. They trust that God does not test them beyond their strength.
5. All who are part of USM movement are urged to introspect themselves to keep their focus and realize their vision. They ask the following questions during their contemplation :
- What am I doing with my life: my time, energy, talents?
- Is this what should I be doing?
- Isn’t there a better way of living my life, using my time and talents?
- Am I faithful to my personal vision of life, goals, policies and priorities?
- Am I faithful in keeping the promises I made to God and to people?
- What are the habits and practices which I need to abandon?
- What more can I do to be fully alive and contribute to make this world better?
- If I die today for what people SHOULD remember me? (What is the focus of my life?)
- How many people SHOULD remember me? (focus the target group of my service )
- How long people SHOULD remember me? (Meditate on the lasting legacy I need to leave behind me).
- Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter?
Routine practice of unproductive rituals, company of thousands of friends and fans, money, power and popularity cannot substitute contemplation, the communion with God, the source of all peace and happiness. Make contemplation the way of life.(Published on 18th June 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 25)