Sunday, February 26, 2012

Dhongi Baba?

Last weekend, while I was out for my morning stroll, I overheard a group of elderly uncles talking about a supposedly gifted man, in a village called jhajjar, who can cure virtually all diseases and disorders with simple pressing of nerves. In a country like India, it is not uncommon for these miracle men to pop up in far-flung places. But what got me going was the fact that the people I saw talking come from a well- educated, financially sound section of the society. So the rest of the week was spent in gathering more information.
My findings: A man of around 50, he does something similar to accue pressure with a plier-like instrument. He talks of being blessed by a ‘guru’ two years back when he used to go for ‘sewa’ near rishikesh. The blessings, he claims, have empowered him to cure all ailments. From diabetes, to blood pressure, to simple coughs and colds, you name it and he knows which nerve to press. His patients range from an ordinary villager to people rich enough to own flashy cars. He cures all…from the illiterate to the over-literate (I just coined that term).
My basic question is; what makes educated people go to him? Why this blind faith in someone? The case under question is just an example…there are tons of similar examples. When doctors advise diabetic patients with sugar levels as high as 400 (PP) to get admitted in the hospital, why do these patients come knocking at his door? Why do they risk so much? How can they just stop taking there medicines on the word of someone who is, technically, not even a doctor?
I talked to nearly a dozen people and not one of them was able to supply me an answer. All of them are on strict diet control and exercise regularly (They are regulars at my park). I got answers ranging from “he is a gifted man” to “I wanted to get rid of my medicines.” So did all of them just play a huge gamble with their life at stake? Mind you…I am not questioning their wisdom.
I have always known India as a land of superstitions. We don’t walk forth if a cat crosses our path. We still believe that a ‘mangali’ girl will bring catastrophe on her family, if married to a ‘non mangalik’ boy. Many communities do not practice birth control measures simply because they consider children to be God’s gift. While in other places, the girl child is killed wantonly. Why are we such a people?
In this particular case, it might be because the allopathic world has no permanent cure for a specific disease. You become medicine-slaves. Or people might not trust the medicines being prescribed by doctors who often burn a hole in their pockets. Word of mouth and common gossip might be another reason. The last reason being simple desperation, the desperation to get a better life without much effort. After all, it does seem appealing to visit him once a week and get rid of all our medicines. The last one is the strongest bait. Who doesn’t like to be fit? And when something like this turns up, the general attitude of ‘try kar lete hain’ prevails. But ‘trying’ with such high risks…I wonder if it is feasible…
Another reason might be the positive publicity they get. If he cures even five out of ten people, those five will get him twenty more patients. The other unlucky half, doesn’t say much. They are afraid of being taken as ‘literate fools’. All in all, there is no negative publicity. Slowly and steadily, the followers grow in number. This phenomenon can almost be a subject for effective business marketing strategies. Imagine a business model with guaranteed expansion with no expenditure on publicity. Seems utopian. But it is happening now and here, in the real living world.
I know I have put up a lot of questions with barely any answers. The explanations for such irresponsible human behavior will never be enough. In the past week, I’ve thought of a thousand different reasons and systematically shot them down. It might be because I haven’t experienced it yet. But trust me, I don’t even want to be a part of it. Rather I’d like to keep myself apart from it.
I just want to appeal to your common sense... can someone really do what medicines can’t? maybe…in singular cases. The dictionary calls them ‘miracles’. But folks…miracles don’t happen everyday.
Dhongi baba or not…is for you to decide…