Before I say, it is an honor to be called a Modi Bhakt let me explain how powerful a construct this two word combo has become in Indian Politics and political debates. I am sure such powerful expressions travel very fast across the globe at the speed of light on the internet which runs on optical fiber. Since now the Great Britain which even many Brits feel is no more Great has a brown man of Indian DNA (Shree Rishi Sunak) and a devout Hindu as their Prime Minister who has occupied the hallowed 10 downing street (not 10 Janpath) a new word may find a place in the British political lexicon- Rishi-Bhakt.
He is the leader of the Conservative Party, also known colloquially as the Tories (not Tinda Tori). All Tories- could be called Rishi Bhakts to start with. I feel Rishi rhymes better with bhakti and technically is more suitable for the purpose than Sunak. He has been appointed to save the sinking ship called English Land, in short England from serious economic, military, energy and food crisis and political problem. Hope he can satisfy the English Rishi Bhakts- a tall order as it appears to be.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also seen as a man leading the Bharat Renaissance from the front- like the charge of the light brigade. Renaissance is a French word meaning “rebirth.” It refers to a period in European civilization that was marked by a revival of Classical learning and wisdom. The Renaissance saw many contributions to different fields, including new scientific laws, new forms of art and architecture, and new religious and political ideas. Yes you got it right. He is breaking the code bit by bit, in fact decoding the 5000 year old civilization and putting pieces very intelligently together in their deserved slots. Not an easy task though but very much required.
Let us give the devil his due. A journalist par excellence- sometimes he withers though- may be at the spur of the moment coined this word in response to Modi admirers. Shree Rajdeep Sardesai created a history of sorts in the lexicon-ology. I am sure he may not have given a detailed thought to its meaning (which I am doing on his behalf) now. But let us agree that such brilliant nuances and creative sparks erupt in human brains god knows from where but they stick, may be forever. He never, I am sure created this word in a negative way, or had an intention of making it a derogatory or a slanderous expression but it has unfortunately taken a turn in that direction. Thanks to the grand popularity of Shree Modi. Though Rajdeep must be given its full credit.
If I am allowed to delve a little deeper, the word ‘Bhakt’ has a very profound meaning. Collins dictionary defines it as:-A devout believer in something, and supports it very strongly and enthusiastically! And I have to refer to an English dictionary to interpret or define a Hindi Word! That is what is required to change through Bharat renaissance.
In Sanatam Dharma a bhakt is a devotee, or person who revers something or someone. He is a ‘pujari’… ‘jo poojta hai’.
So if Modi Bhakts are Modi Pujari’s, it automatically elevates Mr. Modi to the level of being a deity, a demi god- I am sure this thought may not have crossed the mind of Sir Sardesai.
For example Meera Bai, was a 16th-century Hindu devotee of Krishna. She is a celebrated Bhakti saint, particularly in the North Indian Hindu tradition. She was born in a royal family and had Ravi Dass, as her teacher. She had renounced her comfort and fortune for the love of the almighty. Both these saints and many more stood as a challenge to the existing ills of the country and awakened the self-esteem of the masses through their life and work. Bhakti movement brought about a spiritual enlightenment across the country, first in the South and then in the North.
Today almost 400 years later the society is going through the same pain and problems and Modi ji is doing something similar- awakening the conscience of a nation. Connecting India with its roots and that could be one undercurrent which is making him more popular and acceptable- It is the Astha which is deep rooted in each one of us.
People who are opposing this have given this word ‘Bhakt’ a propaganda-ish tinge giving it a form of a slur or even worse an abuse.
‘Saffronization’ is yet another word they are using as pejoratively as possible. The saffron brigade, the saffronisation of India are silly expressions being used in political slugfest every day without giving it a second thought. They want to propagate saffron as some kind of an evil thing.
Though, Saffron is a pious color. ‘Bursts of gold on lavender melting into saffron. It’s the time of day when the sky looks like it has been spray-painted by a graffiti artist.’Mia Kirshner
Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism associate saffron with the pious renunciation of material life.
Bhagwa colour flag, used by Hindus, or flag of the Sikh religion, the Nishan Sahib. Theravada monks in Thailand all are proud of saffron color. It is also color representing Basant panchami
How can you forget the song ‘Mera rang de Basanti chola, mera rang de’ composed by Ram Prasad Bismil in 1927 often linked with hanging of Bhagat Singh on 31st March 1931? So much popularized by Bollywood in recent years.
Do not forget that Saffron color is the top band on our National flag representing the strength and courage of our nation. Saffronization of India happened way back before Independence when the flag was designed.
When Rajdeep tossed out this word ‘Modi bhakt’ he possibly had ‘Chamcha’ (Boot licker) in mind but..but he erred big time, as at the spur of the moment there is no equivalent of Chamcha in English that he could have found- it is so unique and I bet you also can’t find one. It reminds me of a quote by Mark Twain that ‘The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightening and a lightning bug!’
It would have been a highly inappropriate for Nehru supporters as Jawaharlal Nehru was educated in England—at Harrow School and Trinity College. Rajiv Gandhi donned a Blazer of Doon school an elitist English kind of a label. For them either a chamcha or a devotee would have been appropriate- Chamcha stuck.
By the way the human brain might be capable of executing as many as 100 billion operations per second, and that’s what must have happened with the creator of the ‘modi bhakt’ expression- too fast and too furious!
Modi bhakt instead of a lightening bug has become a lightning. And frightening for the entire left.
Why there are so many Modi Bhakts?
Not only in India but abroad also the diaspora revers him.
I think in the history of our independent India, no leader on top has ever been worshipped like Narendra Modi and that is why the word Modi Bhakt was coined though inadvertently. There were tall and respected leaders like Lal Bahadur Shastri, Nehru, Indira Gandhi and MK Gandhi, but there were no Gandhi or Nehru Bhakts!
People say he is a marketing guru, he uses photo ops and never misses an opportunity, and he changes several times and wears expensive stylish clothes. Let me say as a management teacher- you cannot sell a bad product through marketing- never. This is a cardinal principle of marketing.
Second, expensive dress also doesn’t matter. It depends who is wearing it. Remember Amitabh Bachchan in ‘Deewar’ wearing a khaki trouser and an oversized blue shirt which had to be knotted at the bottom for him to fit in and a trademark white rope- He looked deadly-so let us leave it at that. A gunk will look a gunk whatever you give him to wear- it doesn’t matter.
Narendra Modi has made himself Omni present. He travels at the speed of the jet (on the jet) and has earned his respect not inherited it.
There is a great saying about faith- ‘When reason fails faith begins’. Something like this happened to most of the 1.4 billion Indians. They had given up hope as they found being dumped by the political class for close to seven decades. “Aisa hai, or aisa he chalega beta”. ‘Do roti khao prabhu ke gun gao’ was the consolation prize. ‘Kuch nahi ho sakta iss desh ka!’ was a thought in our minds- we all have experienced it firsthand. No? Rich or the poor everyone had given up. Till things changed- Government offices started working on time (which itself was a miracle- unbelievable for us), our respect in our own eyes was going northwards. Major seemingly impossible things happened, like article 370 was struck down. Digital revolution and our economy moving forward when entire world was in deep trouble- 80 crore people given rations to survive during covid; 1.5 crore plus covid vaccinations administered were visible things. Poorest of the poor got a bank account. The list is long. Whatever the opposition did against Modi, never got down well with the people- rich or poor. Of course some people will fall on the wrong side of a policy because policies cannot be made to please all. And the status quoers were upset. Today Indian stuff stick with the west too. Even multi Nationals making toothpaste are adding salt and coal to it to sell. Using neem and Haldi has become suddenly fashionable and not to miss the organic revolution!
In the end some smart fellows started calling ‘Modi Bhakts’ as ‘Andhdh Bhakts’ or ‘Blind followers’.
Great. Faith is blind- no one has seen god but people have faith in god. No wonder Rishi Bhakts have faith in him that he would take the ship to shore with propeller, hull and the rudder intact- land ahoy.
So when a Modi bhakt asks OK, I revere modi ji but whom do you revere? The debate stops.
“I’m a Believer” is a song written by Neil Diamond and recorded by the Monkees in 1966 with the lead vocals by Micky Dolenz. I want to hum that song in the end-“Then I saw her face, now I’m a believer, not a trace of doubt in my mind.”