Tensions are running high in India following the conviction of a popular but controversial guru for rape. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who claims more than 60 million followers around the world, was sentenced to 20 years’ jail by an Indian court after he raped two women. The spiritual guide is also facing charges of murder, which he denies. Another 48 women have also apparently come forward with allegations of rape since the current case came to light 15 years ago.
A well-known figure in India, Ram Rahim Singh heads the Dera Sacha Sauda sect, a non-profit social welfare and spiritual organisation that runs more than 46 centres across the country and overseas.
The judge who sentenced Ram Rahim Singh has been reported by Indian newspapers as saying that his victims had placed the guru “on the pedestal of ‘god’ and revered him”, but “he did not even spare his own pious disciples and had acted like wild beast”.
Ram Rahim Singh’s sentencing last week had sparked riots in northern Haryana state, killing nearly 40 people. Thousands of his followers are still believed to be holding out in the guru’s 1,000-acre compound in Sirsa, Haryana, in a stand-off with government troops and police.
The case has raised questions about the influence of “godmen”, as gurus in India are called. In the Sanskrit language, “guru” generally refers to a teacher, guide, master, or an expert in a certain area. Why do these spiritual teachers or guides draw such a loyal following? Observers say they fill a gap left by political, social and religious leaders, prompting people in great need to turn to gurus for spiritual guidance and comfort. To be sure, many of these spiritual guides may have done good for the community and environment. In efforts that rival those of local governments, social organisations and companies, gurus have helped villagers to obtain regular supplies of drinking water, started rehabilitation for prisoners and drug addicts, and founded schools for poor families.
Yet the case of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and other spiritual and religious leaders around the world show that no matter how wise a leader can be, he is ultimately human—as we all are. There is much we can learn from good leaders and mentors, and be inspired by heroes and great men. Ultimately, however, they are all human, and subject to the same intrinsic flaws and weaknesses that we have. Even the greatest of heroes have fallen, at some point in their lives. No matter how wonderful, inspiring or wise they are, we may be disappointed and hurt one day to find that they are, well, just like us.
As we continue to search for guidance, answers, and wisdom in our daily lives, what does this mean for us? Perhaps we need to really think about whom we choose to respect and revere. If we are to follow someone with our mind, heart, and soul, then we would want to make sure that this person is truly and wholly good. If we are to place our loyalty and trust in a person, we would want this person to be someone who would never break this trust, and who would always have our interests at heart, and who would never change. The unfortunate truth is, it is hard for any human being to meet this requirement perfectly. Impossible, in fact. Romans 3:23 notes that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.
Only one person can lead us perfectly. Only one person can be fully trusted, will never change, and will never fall nor fail. Only one person deserves our worship. He is none other than our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul gives an amazing description of who Jesus Christ is:
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” —Colossians 1:15–20
Are we going to commit our lives to a flawed god-man, or to the perfect God-Man—Jesus Christ?
Take a look at these articles, and rediscover who Jesus Christ is and why He is the one we should follow: