A Bit Of Whimsy – 4. The God Business

The Invocation At The Doorway
The Invocation At The Doorway

I took the above picture when I was at Chandni Chowk last year. This is an invocation to the Hindu God, Ram. In India, religion pervades every aspect of our lives. It’s everywhere you go – in homes, on the street, in regular temples, on TV, and even on the lips of politicians and God-men who schmooze and kiss each other!


Many years back, I went to two famous temples in India – Tirupati and the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai.  For those interested, I am attaching two Google maps at the end of this post, showing the location of these places. Anyhow, when we were in Tirupati, we paid to stand in the ‘premium’ line. This gave us quicker access to the main shrine than those poor souls who could not afford this. The lines were separated by caged dividers, so once in the line, you were stuck there. Looking back, I wonder how I ever got through the six hour wait in the line without needing a pee break. The poor souls in the lowly line were waiting for that one second audience with the deity for about 12 or 15 hours. So, the more you pay, the  quicker you get to God!

They give their money, which is collected in huge vats.

They sacrifice their hair, which then finds it’s way to hairdressers across the world.

This is a huge business. Now, I have gone through a few religious ceremonies recently, and I got to thinking about the God Business. Business people don’t start a business without an invocation to the Gods. Films are launched when God-Men are consulted. They schmooze, as I said, with politicians. They find their way on TV channels, spouting religious stuff

I even saw a couple of them floating around at the World Economic Forum in India two years ago. My friend looked at me. I looked at him, and we laughed and said – “Hey man, we are following / adopting the wrong business model. We need to grow our hair, wear a beard, wear beads and a saffron cloak. That will get us the girls!” Of course, we need to wear a saintly smile!

The messages are other-worldly, but their business empires are fully temporal and of this world.

The business model of God is truly a great one, and one that actually shields you from a lot of criticism because no one wants to mess with God’s messenger! So, in order to book our seats in the heavens, we give and give and give. Something comes over us at these ceremonies. Our normally strong minds become weak, and all our conditioning comes to the fore. And, we give.

The God Business has, through the ages, sought proximity with temporal powers. It has sought proximity to the kings, and the rich men. The messengers of God preach poverty, but the successful purveyors of God’s word dress in the most luxurious clothing and live in huge palaces. Indeed, some of them in India even own islands. Osho Rajneesh, it seems, owned 95 or 96 Rolls Royce cars at the time of his death.

Business literature must now turn its attention to The God Business”!!


  1. Wandered over here from Kenneth “The Culture Monk” Justice’s blog.

    Very interesting– here, in the U.S., it’s different, of course. You may have read from the other comments at Kenneth’s blog that our churches can be business-like, but, generally speaking, our business world is highly secular.

    Perhaps in comparison, maybe that says more about people, generally, then it does about what is commonly recognized as religion. We have people who do not believe in any gods, yet they can be as zealous and discriminating much as those who do.

    1. Thanks. You have a very interesting blog. India is a strange country. We have many organisations that are quite secular. Our constitution makes us a secular country, but religion does pervade us

  2. Intriguing and thought-provoking post Rajiv. I think it’s the same all over the world. A village can have a church or temple with grand and rich treasures. Astonishing they waited 12 or so hours. True devotion!

  3. Really interesting post. I had no idea people sacrifice their hair. I am going to India this year and hope I get to see some of this!

    1. Oh.. They do sacrifice hair in Tirupati.. I am travelling in Rishikesh these days. The place is full of Westerners, who come here to study yoga and, presumably find spiritual peace on the banks of the river, and in the various ashrams. You should visit this town as well

  4. I have been to Tirupati once, more than 20 years back. With a friend who was perhaps a little more religious, at least that’s what I thought. There were these two lines you describe. But, what is probably not well known is there is an “unadvertised” line. My friend seemed to know about it. With the help of greased palms, he managed to get us into the sanctum sanctorum and out again within two hours, bypassing both the lines. If we only recognise politics and religion as businesses we will become a much more transparent society.

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