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The epithet, carpetbagger, originally referred to an unwelcome stranger coming, with no more property than he could carry in a satchel (carpetbag), to exploit or dominate a region against the wishes of some or all of its inhabitants. The carpetbaggers were prominent in US during its reconstruction period following the American Civil War; they were the Northern politicians or financial adventurers who entered the South to use the newly enfranchised freedmen as a means of obtaining office or profit. Over the years their tribes dwindled as the benefit of democracy, knowledge and opportunities permeated to the common man. An era of creativity, entrepreneurship and managerial effervescence gradually overtook opportunistic and unholy exploits. The carpetbaggers found few takers.
We too gained our independence through a long and arduous struggle. What happened thereafter? A new breed took shape in the form of persons who, having tasted power and pelf ensured that their conscience is their concern and honesty, integrity et all are never good for themselves or those surrounding them. We all are too familiar with the ‘Desi Carpetbaggers’ who thrive and add by the day; Desi because they have perfected their art with native finesse and acumen with relentlessness and ferocity. They are prominently visible every where in various attire, they wear dhotis, pajamas, kurtas, shirts, waist coats suits, lungis and more recently saris and salwar kamiz. They are from us and try to be one of us. Some of us accept them with disdain but most in helpless silence.
The ‘Spiritual Carpetbaggers’ are a different breed altogether; these are those who promise you heavenly bliss in your present state and after your demise, in return of your hard earned worldly favors, while there are those who at the drop of the hat, forever, remind you of the dangers your religion and your beliefs have befallen to. The former have prospered over the years while the latter though latent in the past have recently gained momentum. The former are cult based, with a prominent personality presiding as a super human endowed with certain divinity and enlightenment. The message from them to their congregation is often is for peace, harmony, love, brotherhood and so on. The captive audience witnesses the ‘miracles’ and is enthralled; not realizing that these could be a conjurors well practiced act. Also not realizing that their scriptures exhort that the miracles ended with their Prophets, be it Ram, Krishna, Moses, Christ, Mohammad and Nanak, peace be upon them. Perhaps, the lack of confidence in themselves and their scriptures (which most do not read and if read do not understand) to meet the vagaries of life lead them to these soothsayers and cult figures, who through their imbibed knowledge and oratorarial skills apply the much needed balm on the confused and frightened minds. The ashrams and durgahs, are all testimonial to our lack of belief and faith in ourselves. However, the message and the healing touch do no harm to the society although the gullible followers part with their pecuniary possessions with very small compensations. Life of, course, takes its course as destined, no soothsayer or occult head can make any difference.
The more recent ‘Spiritual Carpetbaggers’ openly seek and pursue spiritual blackmail to achieve their goals for power and prominence. They remain dehumanized with sense and sensibilities on the back burner, with hate and venom as their combat arms. To them religion is a gift to mislead and divide humans and to kill their antagonists and destroy their property. Unlike most they seek from the almighty to give them greater strength to conjure and propagate their version of beliefs and dogmas, irrespective of the outcome resulting from their vitriolic and hideous words and actions. They leave no space for reason or differences of views and perceptions. These are the ones who have shamed the religions followed and practiced by millions all over in the false belief that they are the ones who are the true upholders.
Why do some of us get carried away and seek justification in their ghastly deeds? The reasons could be many. Primarily our religion and beliefs are so close and dear to us that, if smeared or challenged, our sentimentality overrides our rationality, the windows to our mind shut and we are overpowered with feelings violent and destructive, which normally we would have never exposed.
Let us ponder a while, we have just as much religion to make us hate, but alas not enough to make us love. The exploiters and their abettors are fully aware and they have a field day. They are also alive to the common truth that very few have really read and understood spirituality that they are born into and that people’s religious beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, who themselves have opinions that are often self serving and unworthy. The more they talk about religion, the more they are convinced that there is no one but they who are to be worshipped and benefit. They do evil so completely and cheerfully from their religious conviction. They preach hatred which encourages violence. We live in times when technology, biology and chemistry have created killing in large numbers. They justify the cruelty and killing through the distorted version of religion. “Most people would rather die than think; in fact, they do so.” – Bertrand Russell.
“Democracy is …… based on the right to choose your religion. [That is] against the rule of God” as per Taliban, an outrageous outfit who have rendered abundance of harm and misery and deluge of confusion and misinformation world over. But the world knows them and their agenda and reacts. But what do we do with prominent personalities who to gain sympathy and remain in the limelight use the religious platform? They too are the ‘Spiritual Carpetbaggers’; sympathizing and bemoaning the plight of their co-religious believers over issues that in effect would further lead to divisive and destructive effects. The establishment takes cognizance of their uttering at times and thereby they remain in the headlines and very visible through the electronic media. But their own community shuns and derides them. The reason? They are into a religion by birth only. They live, practice and perform that are totally forbidden and taboo in their religious scriptures. They present distorted and often misleading values of religious beliefs and practices. In effect they practice no religion and are the ‘liberated Taliban’. They forget that ‘religion is regarded by the common people as true and by the rulers as useful.’