This may surprise Christians who believe that God took on a human form only once, in the person of Jesus: many millions of people around the world consider that Gods in Human Form (GIHF) live today, in the person of various gurus.
(Sexism lives on in religious circles, whether in India or elsewhere.)
One such guru is Gurinder Singh Dhillon, the leader of Radha Soami Satsang Beas, which has its headquarters in the Punjab.
Back in November I wrote a short blog post about the unknown reason for Gurinder Singh's cancellation of visits to the RSSB headquarters. The reason turned out to be that the guru has "throat cancer," likely lymphoma. A surgical operation to treat it was performed in Singapore.
Reading the 87 comments to date on that post provides a fascinating look into the contrast between secular and religious worldviews.
Much of the terminology in those comments won't make sense to people unfamiliar with the Sant Mat belief system. But the gist of what is being discussed will.
When I heard that the guru had to be treated for cancer, my reaction was "That's too bad. I hope the treatment is successful." This is how I feel when I hear that anyone has cancer. All diseases are crappy; cancer can be especially so.
I never feel any inclination to pray for someone who has cancer. I don't believe that prayer has any supernatural effect, though it gives some satisfaction to both the person who prays and the prayee (if he or she knows about the praying being done for them).
In this case, though, the person who has cancer is a guru who is believed by devotees to be God in Human Form. So this raises some interesting theological questions. Such as...
If God is perfect, all-powerful and all-knowing, why would a Godly being allow himself to suffer from a disease?
When a guru performs a purported miracle, he is touted as being able to rise above the laws of nature. But when he gets sick, devotees say that God in Human Form does not like to break the laws of nature by curing himself. Does this make any sense?
Is there a Jesus-like meaning to the cancer? Could the guru be taking on the karmas or sins of his disciples?
These questions come up in the comments, with secular and religious commenters having very different views. Naturally I fall on the common-sense side. Everybody gets sick. Everybody has health problems. When we get ill and the illness can be treated, it makes sense to do so.
To me, there isn't much else to say about the guru's cancer/lymphoma. However, I'm glad that so many people did have lots to say. Made for interesting reading.