Shishya tradition in India has long history, which is still propagated in Bharatvarsh. Be it the Mahabharata or the Ramayana, Guru Drona and Vishvamitra both directed their disciples to be victorious over demon. This tradition is followed in India since more than 8,000 years. This was followed by Ashoka, who created Bharatvarh by the help of his tutor ‘the great Chanakya.’ This same path was accepted by most of the Indian freedom fighters, who worked under the direction of Mahatma Gandhi in the liberation of mother India. Here it is significant to mention that the concept of Hinduism is purely based on this tradition, which makes it more diverse than other concepts of the world. In Indian tradition, Guru assume the third sacred position after the parents. On the one hand, parents nurture their child with their physical diligence, on the other hand, a teacher nurtures his/her disciples mentally and make him/her equipped with all the knowledge to survive in this materialistic world.
Religion, since almost the pre-Vedic period, has exercised tremendous influence on Indian society. Religious influence is evident in practically all aspects ranging from art, dance, music, theatre, sculpture and painting to the all important events of Hindu life such as birth, marriage, death, and even to other social, political as well as economic spheres of Indian society. If it was true of traditional Indian society, in modern Indian society, the impact of religion in some form or the other hardly needs elaboration.
However, it is unfortunate that under the influence of western and particularly established branch of American sociology, with its exclusive focus on the structural-functional approach for a long time, historical and analytical studies have almost withered away from Indian sociology. The writer has written that he is doing a humble attempt in this direction to revive this earlier thrust of enquiry in sociological appraisals. This book consists of eight essays. The first four essays deal with the role of Hinduism in modern Indian society and syncretism in the Indian context. The other two are on role of gurus in India.
This book also carries some essays on self-proclaimed godmen like Asharam Bapu, Morari Bapu and Rajnees. Writing on Asharam, the writer tries to point out that Asharam’s original name was Asumal . He was called Bapu to indicate proximity. One cannot be sure whether or not the earlier police file on Asumal as reported would be safe under the present regime, but his present-day activities are no less controversial. Writer writes that at Chhindwara Ashram of Asharam, according to Vasudev Sharma, CITU Secretary, there were no rule regulation there.
This book ‘Religion and Gurus in Tradional and Modern India’ written by Uday Mehata is consolidation of a chain of essays which has been written on Indian social changes, self -roclaimed godmen and babas. This book has some facts which seem rhetoric. However it carries some interested stories on some of India’s controversial self-proclaimed spiritual leaders.
By Ravi Mishra