Spiritual guru Nithyananda's confession to the CID of having slept with 15 women has not stopped his devotees from continuing to worship him. "It has been 30 years since I have been with Nithyananda and I still believe in him. The rest of it is just stories planted by those who want to show him in a bad light," says a devotee, M. Manakya.
Senguctuvan, a doctor, feels the same, "Nithyananda is a great person and has helped many people in trouble. I have known him for years and I am sure he is not the kind of a person who would indulge in such acts," he says. One would have thought that after the truth came out, the godman's followers would have deserted him, but nothing like that has happened. Sociologist Ganta Chakrapani reasons, "Once you become a devotee, the so-called baba extracts all your secrets from you. So, even if you realise later that the baba is at fault, you won't be able to muster the courage to go against him. Later on, you tend to compromise and your value systems get diluted. The ‘devotees' become more compromising and accommodating."
And the country is full of "babas" like Nithyananda waiting for a chance to take advantage of the vulnerable devotees. Chakrapani adds, "People who believe in these babas are the vulnerable lot. They play with the emotions of the devotees. There are no good or bad babas. All babas are fake. There is no need to consult a baba when you are in trouble. The moment you find a family member listening to the words of a guru and taking him seriously, you know it is time to intervene. One needs to consult a doctor and not a baba if you are facing a problem."
People who fall victims to these fake babas have one thing in common, they are all vulnerable inside and they do not share anything with their "in-group" or friends. Chakrapani says, "When they fail to build a rapport with others, they search outside and a baba comes in handy as they can pour out their troubles and misfortunes to him. This mostly happens in families where members do not share anything with each other." "The only answer to this is to increase the sharing tendency. This is more common in modern families, where everyone is in his or her own world and bonding and sharing take a beating," concludes the sociologist.