Media shouldn't take extreme positions

Q: How do we make the media understand that they shouldn’t take extreme positions?

Sadhguru: When you say media, there may be a business element to it. There is commerce behind it, I am aware of that. But media needs to understand it cannot be 100% business. Media is an important factor in the making of a democracy. This is why certain privileges are given to them.  But they have certain duties and responsibilities too. Media should realise that it has tremendous power and privilege that acts like a fulcrum for democracy so that it doesn’t go to any extremes.

What would happen when the media itself takes extreme positions instead of a balanced route? The media should report facts so that people can make their own judgments, instead of being swayed by somebody’s opinions. But unfortunately today, it seems to be all opinions.

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Minority groups under siege?

Q: With Ghar Wapsi programmes and the recent attacks on churches, what are your views on many minority groups saying their feeling of vulnerability has increased or that they are under a siege in the last few months?

Sadhguru: Except a few fringe elements and a few instances here and there, we have remained a peaceful nation without much of law enforcement. This is because people here are peace loving. There have been some stray incidences but there were no religious inclinations to it.

You must not give a religious colour to it. That divides people. If a woman is raped, it is a gender issue. We shouldn’t project it as a majority vs. minority issue. The people who did this will be eventually picked up, evidences are there. They must have done it because they have been getting away with such misconducts in the past.

The minorities are not under siege. If you take a closer look at the damages to the churches, it is obvious that it has been done with personal vengeance and not out of any religious intolerance.

As such, there isn't much proper law enforcement in this country. In a remote village, it takes two hours for the police to reach there if you send them a distress call. Even otherwise, you can’t control one billion people with a bunch of policemen and their guns. The general ethos is usually peaceful and let’s keep it that way. Our country has to manage itself and it has always managed itself.

In this country religious enmity is visible only when communal incidents break out, which are mostly politically engineered. This whole minority-majority issue has been nurtured and fostered by those who have vested interests. Rarely have genuine issues flared up and become communal conflagrations. Now they are internationalizing the entire issue trying to isolate India as a horrible place where religious minorities are under siege.

They are definitely not under any siege; they have every right as any other citizen. The truth is that most Indians don’t identify with religion at all. What should be done is to see to is that every person who is at a disadvantage, irrespective of religion, caste or creed should be taken care of with free educational and health services and should also be assisted to gain jobs.

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On fraudulent Gurus

Q: In the current times when there is much criticism about religious/mystical cults being led by fraudulent gurus, as shown in movies like PK, how do you respond to a strand of thought that is critical of human beings claiming themselves as godmen?

Sadhguru: “Godmen” is a media-coined word. Nobody calls himself one. I have not seen the movie but I have heard people talk about it. Corruption in this world is aplenty. There is corruption in police, politics, and unfortunately even among religious leaders. The general level of integrity in the country has deteriorated. Right now, a guy driving a Mercedes might stop and think before jumping a red light, but a common man driving a moped wouldn’t stop at the red light. We are breeding corruption within our homes.

There are a whole lot of spiritual leaders doing phenomenal work. In this nation, during the decades, there have been long periods of non-performance due to drastic changes in administrations, but the people have been able to hold together with the support of these spiritual leaders. Please give some credit to them. There is a small percentage that exploits. Trust me, it is a small number but because of the trust that has been placed on them by people is being betrayed, it looks glaring. However, there should be a clean up. Legal actions should be enforced upon them.

Of Beef and Bans

Q: You recently said, “For me, food is food, there is nothing religious about it and that we can eat anything that our system can take in naturally.” Does that extend to beef too? If so, what do you think about the blanket ban on cow slaughter in Maharashtra and Haryana?

Sadhguru: You want to mix religion even into food? You can’t turn everything into a majority versus minority argument. This is like a game being played and it is unnecessary.

Beef ban is not against any religion. The first thing I would say is ban the ban. Banning is not the answer. Instead, educate the people - that is the answer. First of all, as food, beef is not good for the body. Every nation, every doctor in the planet is telling you to avoid red meat. In the West, people are giving up on meat and turning to vegetarianism. For thousands of years, most of the Indians have remained vegetarians. But now they are getting fonder and fonder of beef products.

Knowing the health hazard it can cause, do we have to go through all the problems that the west is undergoing? Do we have to spend billions on our health bills? The FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) is changing its rules. But we want to follow that way! It is definitely not a wise thing to do. If someone is eating beef, we should go forward and educate him about the harmful effects of eating it, but it’s not for the government or people like me to tell him not to.

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Now the traditional factor - In our country, we believe if there is an animal that can express its emotions, you must not consume it. A cow can love you and shed tears for you, just like humans. It is not just about the cow, can you kill your dog, cut it up and eat it? We had a pastoral culture where before industrialization happened, 90% of the people were involved in agriculture. The cow was not just an animal. It was part of the family. A cow was like a second mother in every home, she was given a name too, our children grew up seeing that. It is part of the culture. If there is a cow in the family, whether there is flood or famine, the children wouldn't go hungry. So if you kill such an animal and consume it, it is aesthetically not acceptable to the Indian mind.

Now India is exporting beef, which is turning into a major business. If you ignore about 80% of the country’s sentiments and kill millions of cows and export beef, that is not acceptable.

Democracy and secularism are not new to us. We are a land without religion. Each person can follow whatever faith he wants as long as he doesn’t rub it into anyone else. Our concern should be that 50 million people in this nation have no access to nutrition. In the name of my god and your god, we are destroying everything. Freedom has to become a living possibility. For those who don't have enough to have one full meal, what matters is what goes into a belly. Hunger is not a joke. Which heaven he will finally reach, is not of any consequence either.

On Self Promotion

Q: Why does such an avowedly spiritual movement like yours need such marketing slickness? You seem to have a well-oiled marketing machinery.

Sadhguru: For the first 20 years, we never printed a brochure as a matter of rule. People came to us through word of mouth. It is only after we started large ecological, education and health projects that needed enormous resources that we started promotion. At present, we have over 4000 volunteers working full time, almost 12 hours per day. Only in the last nine years have we tried to make our noise heard.

Is the thing well oiled? It’s not, in my opinion. My people are still in the mode of working without publicity. I tell them we need publicity to keep these projects going. To keep lakhs of children in school, to plant crores of trees without any government help, to treat lakhs of people every month, you don’t know what it takes. People freak out to maintain one family. It takes enormous efforts to keep these projects going. It needs massive amounts and there is no government support. We never sought it and they never offered. We are the largest ecological movement in Asia. The work we have done is immense. Now that you have mentioned it, yes, may be I should see to it that there are well planned projects to make sure our marketing is well-oiled. 

(isha.sadhguru.org)