Godmen in Fiction, Nonfiction and Spiritual Discourse

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M. Dhanalakshmi, M.A., M.Phil.


The increase in the number of godmen is due to the support they received from people, the devotees and followers, in the society. Naturally, godmen as a theme attracted writers and scholars, leading to the increasing number of fiction and non-fiction. In addition, the godmen themselves showed great interest in promoting a saintly image themselves through media. The present project attempts to study these different modes of representations of godmen - Nonfiction, Fiction, and in the Spiritual Discourse – which form a good corpus of Indian writing.  The introduction talks about the increase in the emergence of god men, the devotion to godmen, a trend that can be linked to the increasing need for spiritual guidance. This chapter tries to read “The Grand Inquisitor”, a section of the novel, The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Doestoevsky and use it as a method of approaching the function of these different modes of godmen in Indian Writing. Chapter II analyses two nonfiction works, namely Richard Dawkins' God Delusion and Khushwant Singh’s Gods and Godmen of India to highlight the nonfictional mode which allows a direct and critical depictions wherein the writers could afford to completely denounce religion and godmen. Richard Dawkins goes to an extent of debunking the very basis of devotion and Faith. Khushwant Singh confronts issues related to religion, faith, blind faith and the rise of new cults in India. Chapter III focuses on the fictions of R.K. Narayan and G. V. Desani, who while condemning godmen, implicitly discuss the faith of the devotees and their continuous support. R. K Narayan adopts a passive approach to highlight the blind faith of devotees despite the controversies. Desani brilliantly posits his attack in an indirect manner and takes a jab at the spiritual gurus. Chapter IV discusses godmen’s self-representation through their spiritual discourse and the impact it creates on the devotees. A focus on the performative nature of these discourses reveals the godmen’s conscious creation of their self-image.  The Conclusion sums up the arguments of the previous chapters.  It will also show how Dostoevsky’s “Grand Inquisitor” acts as a cornerstone to understand the rampant rise in the number of godmen in the Indian society. It also shows how the modes of representation decide the image of godmen in fiction, non-fiction and in spiritual discourse.

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