As I write this, my favorite channel CNN-IBN is having a discussion on “Business of Spirituality”. And that made me write something that I have been reflecting about for the last three years. My mind goes back to Raiganj. The teachers teaching in the schools of catholic Diocese of Raiganj are getting paid about 1200 rupees (30 dollars) a month! The domestic workers who work from morning 6.00 a.m to evening 8.00 p.m are getting paid between 30 – 35 dollars a month. And the church is building a huge Cathedral, worth over 80 million rupees. Most people have estimated that it would hit about 100 million rupees by the time it is completed.
We have spiritual pedagogues and demagogues controlling religion and the religion is getting capsulated in the arms of a few. There is a move from worshipping God of the Poor and respecting the Poor of the Lord (Anawim of Yahweh) to a vulgar worship of wealth.
I read in a poster written by the Dravida Kazhagam party in the southern temple city of Madurai about five years back in the week of celebrating the marriage of Goddess Meenakshi. It said, “We have girls who cannot afford marriage once, why do we need marriage to a goddess every year?” That is it. Why do we need huge temples for a God who lives among the poor who cannot afford brick walls that can withstand simple storms that destroyed 90,000 houses and killed 45 in just 30 minutes by throwing down their mud houses just couple of months ago? Before I moved to Kolkata I had written to the Bishop of Raiganj requesting him to increase the salary of teachers to 40 dollars a month (Rupees 1500) and the salary of domestic workers working in the children’s hostels and presbyteries to rupees 1800 (45 dollars). Well, understandably, I got no reply. Long live Mammon!