(By Harini Rana)
The epicenter of Morari Bapu’s spiritual quest of over 59 years has always been for the people, of the people and by the people. His 9 day recitations are a reflection of uniting communities, countries, societies and people of different faiths across various socio-economic strata. It’s been about gracefully building a bridge of communal harmony, world peace and creating healthy and positive environment for constructive dialogue.
Recently, on last Friday, while speaking to the media at his hometown Talgajarda, in the Bhavnagar District was just another reflection of his spiritual journey when he stated, ‘I am capable of doing both- asking for forgiveness and forgiving others’.
This came just a day after Former BJP MLA, Pabubha Manek was seen charging towards Morari Bapu when he was invited to visit the Dwarkadesh temple. After realizing that an old video from his discourse in 2017 has not only hurt the sentiments of Hindu people (Yadav, Ahir community) but was also creating disharmony, Bapu had publically apologized four times and expressed his pain in details.
Even though, the attack was averted as the individual was pushed just inches away from Morari Bapu. But this sight of an attack in our temple premises on an Indian sadhu is not just another incident, it’s an attack on Sanatan Dharam, an attack against the belief of Truth, Love, Compassion and yet another attempt of creating disharmony. It’s also a sad reflection of a skewed mindset that is aggressive and violent which is ready to physically attack an Indian spiritual leader who has always stood for a healthy conversation, non-violence & unity.
There has been a lead up to this incident. Since last 100 days when the world and especially India is going through one of the most challenging times due to COVID-19, there has been a large group of people working overtime to stoke communal disharmony by targeting and spreading fake news through social media about him.
There is a concerted effort being made to deliberately misinterpret facts by quoting Bapu’s discourse out of context. A 12 year old discourse where 180 minutes of the day’s content was converted into a 15 second video highlighting only one religion (Islam) and deliberately leaving out the other mentioned religions which were part of the satsang conducted by him.
In another instance of spreading misinformation, Morari Bapu’s interpretation of Lord Krishna’s last 26 years that was shared three years ago in a discourse, a short video has been edited from over 200 minutes of the day’s content. All of this and many such videos have been tampered & misconstrued for convenience and shared now in the year 2020 during COVID-19 to create and spread a false narrative. The usage of bots & influencers to make baseless rumours, innuendo and mindless hate viral on social media is all seemingly appearing to be a part of a smear campaign against Bapu.
In fact, just a few hours after the Dwarka incident on Thursday, I took to my verified Twitter account to mention the facts of the attack on Morari Bapu. While there was no discussion about the incident, I have been trolled and subjected to hate, third grade Hindi abuses, called out names, to the extent of comments over my character.
We all know, fake news is not a recent phenomenon, but this attempt to build a fake narrative is not only spreading communal divide but also questioning the intent of a Hindu Sanatani spiritual leader who has tirelessly fostered communal harmony, be it by inviting people from all faiths to his discourses or sharing dais with leaders of all faiths. Morari Bapu’s Ram Katha is a culmination of multi-religious ideology where all religions (Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism) have been equally respected. He has always been a man of dialogue and unity. Arguments, controversy, debate and dispute are not his nature. He has never divided the society or discriminated on the basis of religion.
Look around and you will struggle to find someone who has popularized the famous Indian scripture “Ram Charit Manas”, often called as “Ramayan” globally like the way Bapu has. During the course of his journey, not only has he transformed lives, but he has simplified spirituality and his efforts have made Indian youth across the world gravitate towards their own forgotten roots.
Over the years, through his journey across the length and breadth of this globe, he has reached out to the remotest of villages and houses where even roads, electricity or basic amenities are yet to reach. This is a testimony of his desire to reach out to the communities which are ignored by us as a society.
While he has always been a vocal supporter of initiatives undertaken to benefit the masses of our country, he has always maintained his own innateness. He has unsettled the norm and challenged morality at times. Be it by replacing the idol of Lord Ram in a temple of his hometown Talgajarda with no weapons or reaching out to the sex workers by visiting red light area of Kamathipura in Mumbai, inviting them to Lord Ram’s birthplace Ayodhya for a recitation or reaching out to the transgender community across India. His discourses have taken place across the world including at places of spiritual relevance like Vatican City (as a homage to Jesus Christ), Athens (in the memory of Greek philosopher Socrates), Kyoto-Japan (to elaborately discuss Japanese Zen philosophy), Hiroshima-Japan (in the memory of lives lost due to nuclear bombing), Abu Dhabi (UAE), Wadi Rum among others.
While, his knowledge is deeply rooted not only from the Indian scriptures, but also from the scriptures of different faiths across the world, what makes his style unique and popular is his ability to breakdown this knowledge and present it in a never heard before interpretation and a novel point of view which is refreshing, easy to comprehend and relatable to the youth. He communicates it with ease, honesty, simplicity and making it as practical as possible. He is the new age monk who thrives in spreading the message of Truth, Love, Compassion and welcoming any opportunity to foster communal harmony in every way possible- something we all need especially during the times when spreading hate and dividing society is so easy.
Even as the aggression continued with what was on display at the Dwarka temple, with an aim to fuel more fire in spreading fallacy towards one of India’s most revered Hindu spiritual leader. Morari Bapu has once again showed largesse to not just forgive the attacker but also end this controversy by apologizing not once, twice, thirce but four times for his statements which were made three years ago during a discourse which was based on Indian scripture Srimad Bhagwat. It’s time for all those groups to stop reciprocating Truth, Love and Compassion with Lies, Hate and Rage like the way it has all played out since last few months. And to all those people who have started believing in the agenda based narrative, I would remind you; ‘Life is the sum total of our experiences’, so please attend a Ram Katha of Bapu in its entirety, experience it, observe it and draw the conclusion yourself before making the fake narrative your reality.
(Harini Rana is Mumbai based news broadcaster and content strategist. She Can be followed on Twitter, Instagram: @harinirana)