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March 22, 2024


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Charan Singh's visit to the 1980 Kumbh Mela:

Up to this point, much of the content has been Charan's laments of how busy he is. This leads me to wonder just why Charan is so busy. Charan writes of his schedule as though he was in the employ of some Dera authority who was crushing him with an insufferable workload. But given that Charan was "maharaji," how could this be? Surely Charan was choosing each thing to do or not do, each minute of his day, of his own free will. As well as choosing to complain about it.

Yet despite his active schedule, Charan says he took time off for a "photographic enterprise to Ujjain to attend the Kumbh Fair." Perhaps this excursion was dictated by Sawan's Mauj or "the universe," but it seems more likely to me that Charan was a creature of will just like the rest of us. Like us, he bitched about working a lot, patted himself on the back for his industry, and justified time off from that work for trivial pursuits.

Trivial pursuits. Have Charan's Kumbha photos ever been published? Was there really a point to his traveling 1000km to Ujjain to photograph sadhus?

Well, of course, the universe made Charan do it. But more precisely, Charan's journey seems to have been motivated by contempt for the Kumbh's participants. "It was to be seen to believe how people are exploited in the name of religion--that even in the twentieth-century people are living in such superstitions and ignorance, and just ritual and ceremony is the be-all and end-all of their God-realization. Anyway, from the photographic point of view, it was a paradise to see thousands of men and women taking bath in dirty water and moving about practically naked--especially men rubbing ashes on their bodies and getting obeisance from the masses."

This sounds like Billy Graham at Woodstock. But to be fair, Charan may have a strong point about empty rituals and financial exploitation in the name of religion (which leads to an intriguing question: is the course of religious innovation powered more by avarice than anything else? Were all rituals created as material products for sale?) There may be a strong case for that. Pundits of India created thousands of sects, each with its special powers rituals that required regular financial donations.

Be that as it may or may not, would there had been a different entry in TBM, one about Charan Singh, the Perfect Living Master of the Age, journeying to the Kumbh Mela to deliver the supreme gospel of Sant Mat to the benighted Hindus. But instead, we get Charan gloating about snapping pictures of the foolish.

But most assuredly it doesn't really matter anyway, since the universe caused it to happen.

"Billy Graham at Woodstock."



Isn't it obvious? Photography was only cover. MCS went to give secret darshan!
Of course he wouldn't declare it, that goes against the code!

swami umami: "Drag a magnet through dirt and iron filings will attach."

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