The Age of Bhakti: A Prescription for Disaster!

The Age of Bhakti - Kartik Dayanand Boddapati
There’s one question on a lot of people’s minds these days:

"Is the colossal mismanagement of India’s Covid-19 crisis going to dent Narendra Modi’s image…will his blind followers finally open their eyes?"


The short answer is: NO.


The long answer is complicated.


I said in an earlier blogpost that there are only two kinds of people in this world – those who love Modi, and those who hate him; there’s no one in the middle.


Back then I spoke briefly about those who love him unconditionally despite his many failings. I didn’t shy away from calling them Bhakts. That was more in the context of their anger against the Congress party. There are many other reasons too, but in this post, I am going to focus on what I think is the single biggest subconscious reason why someone turns into a Bhakt.


And mind you, I am not using the word Bhakt in a frivolous manner. I am treating this matter with utmost seriousness. I am intrigued by their condition, and you’ll know why once you finish reading this post.


It all eventually boils down to one powerful equation – a kind of an inescapable trap.


I know what you are thinking already but hold your horses; there’s a twist in the tale.


But before we get to the twist, let’s start with the basics.

Matters of faith:


Human beings are creatures of great faith. It is a crucial link that holds our society together.


Be it a doctor, engineer, teacher, policeman, or any other entity we deal with - without enough faith in them and the systems that produce them we would never approach them. Same holds true for all brands and products we consume, and every relationship that we are a part of. Our world would collapse without this binding force.


However, there is one faith that is greater than all of them - our faith in the existence of a God.


We believe that whatever happens to us is all part of a larger plan by God, and that he’ll take care of us.

When someone is sick, we say - pray for them. We know it’s the doctors and science that will save a patient, but we look towards God for solace, for comfort, for a miracle, for a semblance of sense.

When all else fails, the only option we resort to is God.


It doesn’t matter which God one believes in or which religion one belongs to - faith is the underlying force that drives almost all of us. I’ll speak more about this as we go ahead.

Then to now:


In the distant past, God was the only way through which we could process our world. The sun, the moon, the stars, the seasons - for everything we connected things back to a supreme power or a God.


But as the world advanced, we started gaining a better understanding of how it functioned and our reliance on God reduced greatly. The world started looking for reasons rather than miracles.


That’s how we moved from believing in kings and godmen to believing in ourselves – by actively building institutions, and by coming up with concepts like democracy – relying more on the power of collective human intelligence.


The more the world continues to progress in science, technology, medicine, economy, etc. - the more meaningful jobs and lives people start having - the less our dependence on God!


Progress is God’s competitor!


If someone feels excluded, reaping no benefits of this progress, the only resort they have is to fall back on a God. Faith is the neutralising force that keeps us sane.


Hold that though for a moment.


Let’s look at another binding force now.

The power of community:


Politicians across the world and especially in India have always tapped into a primal feeling of human beings - about their sense of belonging to a community.


Caste-based politics and identity-based politics always took precedence over everything else. The general thinking is that as long as one’s identity is at threat, there is an urgent need to unite and defend it. Vote for the party that can protect that identity. That’s how political parties in India have made their fortunes over the years.


The Congress party had a solid edge over the others since it established its identity as the party that won us our freedom. A kind of a monopoly that worked very well to its advantage for many decades. In other words, we can say that they owned the word ‘Nationalism’ and this appeal cut across regions.


Those who could think beyond their identity voted for the party that they thought did the best work or was the lesser evil among the lot.


The caste and identity-based voters were limited mostly to their respective states alongside the national monopoly of the Congress. It was an obvious and relatively easy trend to spot. That’s what defined Indian politics and the voters for a long time. 

And then came Modi’s BJP:


Modi came to power because Congress became a sitting duck for the first generation of social media crusaders.


His first mission was to steal the crown of ‘Nationalism’ from Congress.


It was stolen swiftly by attacking the policies of Nehru, by pitting Sardar Patel and Bose against him; they didn’t even spare Mahatma Gandhi. They renamed roads named after Mughal emperors in the heart of Delhi; they similarly renamed cities, and the saga went on.


Nationalism eventually became the whole and sole property of the BJP. That aspect helped them to put the Congress in check. But their real trump card was something else.


Modi’s BJP went a step further from just caste or identity…it directly brought God into politics.


India is a massive country with a majority Hindu population whose vote matters most to those who seek power.


Most of them live very basic lives, often struggling to make ends meet. Many of them feel left out when they hear about things like GDP growth and other progressive indices which any government is usually measured by.


They cannot make sense of any of it. It means nothing for them.


Their allegiance lies more with their God; their default fallback method to deal with their situation.


Moment someone comes in and says to that majority that their God is under threat. It appeals instantly to them. Tell them that your God has been treated unfairly. Tell them that we will restore the lost glory of your God. Tell them that the party that was in power for 60 years did nothing for your God – we will fix all those wrongs - it clicks all the right (rather wrong) buttons.


Doesn’t matter how much progress was made as a society, all that matters is the suppression of God. Which kind of makes sense considering that progress competes with God. And we shouldn’t even be mixing politics and faith, but who cares.


Modi’s BJP is in a perpetual…’Make India and your God great again’ campaign!


It’s less about progress and more about veering the majority towards faith.


You will notice in every single speech of any BJP leader, their invocation of the divine. Every election campaign is about driving this single point agenda – be it a state election in Bengal or a Municipal election in Hyderabad – Jai Shri Ram, Bharat Mata Ki Jai and more such religious and nationalistic symbolism is their staple diet and people of every strata fall for it.


The minority communities don’t really matter much because their vote bank is considerably less.

The Twisted Equation:


Now here comes the real problem.


Governments are supposed to be elected based on their performance. But by bringing in God into the equation everything goes for a toss.


Equation 1: Let’s assume BJP is doing fantastic on all counts of economic and other indicators of progress. (The promised acche din)


More progress in society = More people happy.


Good chances of getting voted to power again.


Advantage BJP.


Equation 2: Let’s assume BJP is messing up on all fronts - jobs, inflation, national security, fair governance, etc. (Our current reality)


No progress in society = More people are unhappy.


People have no other option but to rely on God to feel happy.


Who owns God in the country now = BJP


Advantage BJP.


This is the vicious twisted equation most Indians are stuck with right now. It’s like…heads you win, and tails I lose - a huge psychological trap that turns them all blind.


If the focus was only on progressive indicators, the BJP would be in the dock by now. But with the element of God, they are now invincible.


The only way this will end is by either people losing faith in God, or by understanding the above equation and seeing the insane stupidity of mixing God and Politics.


But this is what’s most likely to happen:


Just the way social media sites copy product features from each other, every other political party will now make God a part of their agenda. We are already seeing some parties going that way, and the others will follow soon; they have no other choice.


And therefore, my friends, I call this a prescription for disaster.


Welcome to the Age of Bhakti!

In conclusion:


Faith is a beautiful thing. It nourishes the soul and the spirit.


Jai Shri Ram. Allah Hu Akbar, Hallelujah – whatever you wish to say, don’t mess it up by mixing it with politics and progress.


Hold your governments accountable for the progress they make, not for the Gods they claim to protect.


Question Modi and his government for the failures under his nose. Forget everything else he’s done so far and just talk about Covid-19 for now. He can’t escape by passing the blame onto someone else or by pretending as if everything is ok. The buck must stop with him.


For everything else, question your God.


If you think Modi is your God, then question that God too.


If you don’t question, then God save us all.



Kartik Dayanand Boddapati


See you in the comments. And yes, don’t forget to share this post with your friends.

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  1. Do you think the same is happening in Telangana?? Your insights on TRS government and KCR??

    1. TRS came to power in the old tradition of identity politics - riding on the Telangana sentiment. They'll find it tough to counter BJP's push in the future.

  2. Well described hope so called bhakts atleast few who have brains will change

  3. Well described hope so called bhakts atleast few who have brains will change

  4. I just accept the questioning part in the conclusion... Everything else doesn't relate to me.. I supported Modi not because of any of the reasons stated above... You are right in saying Question every one... But how can you praise congress when they looted India through many scams... He may win again just because their is no strong enough opposition to him... There is no good alternative to him..THERE MUST BE STRONG OPPOSITION IN THE DEMOCRACY but unfortunately because of hereditary politics we couldn't find one in congress...

    1. Thanks! Wondering from where you got the impression that I praised Congress. All I am saying is hold the person in power accountable and don't let god come in the way of that.

      Opposition parties are weak at the center, but that won't be the case for too long - the regional parties are coming to prominence now and their wins in the state elections will translate to Lok Sabha seats soon, I hope.


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