God and sometimes the voice of God. He plays stress-buster, therapist, family and business advisor, and the man with all the answers: marketing, yoga, TM, world peace, FMCG goodies, miracle healing, salvation from existential dilemmas. He (it’s mostly a he) is also often the object of secret envy. Though claiming a touch of other-worldliness, he’s so blatantly of this world and totes all the toys that boys like—and in such abundance that it fits most common fantasies. And if there’s a whiff of cultic fanaticism at one end, at the other he also possesses that ultimate aphrodisiac: political clout. So, it’s always a TRP-booster when a bad boy of babadom bites the dust as a common criminal.
Viewers had their fill of exclamations and schadenfreude last week after the judicial gavel came down on a baba who looks straight out of a comic-strip but has deathly serious aspects to him: on his way to jail, he left a wake of corpses, injured followers, damaged property and a fistful of real heroes. Eyes remained glued to television and mobile screens as the ‘baba of bling’, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh ‘Insaan’, leader of Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS), was first convicted and then sentenced to 20 years, along with fines, for the rape of two of his former devotees. The anonymous letter that finally led to the conviction described the rape scene as out of a Bollywood B-film, with a pistol on the bed and a pornographic film playing on a TV screen.