Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Witch Doctors: Why Indo-Fijians seem “gullible” to their deceit?



A meeting by Concerned Community Group was held at Mt Roskill Village, Auckland on 1 August, 2015, to further the crusade against fake witch doctors from India. The meeting was well attended by representatives of the community and a good contingent of main stream media hardly seen in any ethnic issues. These included TV 3, Newstalk ZB (Mediaworks), Fairfax (Stuff) and NZME which owns NZ Herald. The only Indian media which cared to attend was Radio Tarana.

When the local media gave "oxygen" to fraud perpetuated by  con-men Gurus from India. Indian Newslink seemed to have most advertisement from these so-called Astrologers, giving the name of deities to their fraud.. In this advertisement, the centre is advertised as "Bhadra Kalimatha." It even claims to  give lucky lotto numbers.
Thakur Ranjit Singh who is also a Trustee and Secretary of Fiji Girmit Foundation of New Zealand, and a principal of the Fifth Estate blog, FIJI PUNDIT, explained the phenomenon of Indo Fijian ‘gullibility’. He gave an overview on the claims that Indo-Fijians appear to be ‘gullible” and easy prey to those posing as Priests, Sages, Witch Doctors and Gurus.

The reason lies in our upbringing which is deeply rooted in history. Indo-Fijians in Fiji are people of Indian origin, but very distinct from Indians from the mainland India. We have one common distinct language and have a culture and tradition somewhat different for the better, in many respects because of a century apart. Torn away from India over 136 years ago as Indentures labourers, and disowned by Bharat Mata (Mother India) to some extent, the indentured labourers suffered terribly at the hands of the colonist who ran an axis of evil comprising Britain, Australia and Colonial Sugar Refining Company (CSR). You can get an insight into this through Rajendra Prasad’s book on sacrifices and suffering of Indians in indenture, “Tears in Paradise” They are a distinct breed of people, molded from people from all sections of India when we were thrown into the same pot of Indenture or Girmit.

One needs to understand and appreciate that these simple village illiterate folks went through baptism of fire in very difficult Fiji Girmit environment. They sought salvage in the religious scriptures, mostly Ramayan. Hence the successive generations of Indo-Fijians were brought up, heavily influenced by religious teaching and tradition, with deep belief in God and miracles. One very important aspect of this was the version of Ramayan, which amply promoted caste system, male chauvinism and superiority of Brahmins to a state that it infringes with human rights policies of modern India today.
The Indentured Laborer from India suffered a great deal under the British and Australians and sought salvage in religion, and hence successive generations had great belief in God and messengers of God manifested by Gurus and Sages. In turn, such fox in lamb's clothing betrayed their people 
But that aside, Tulsidas’s Ramayan’s teachings always gave great deal of importance and reverence to Pundits, Rishis, Swamis and Gurus, who always happened to be Brahmins. When growing up, it was hammered in our minds that any disrespect for a Brahmin/sage/pundit is equivalent to worst of crimes - “gau hatya” –killing of a cow. It was preached that never mind how lowly educated, lacking in character or evil a Brahmin was, he was worthy of worship or Poojniaye. At the same time, a person of lower caste, despite the best of human qualities was never considered worthy of surpassing the worst of Brahmins. That was the level of reverence paid to Brahmins/Sage/Gurus. We grew up singing “sadhu sant koh bandgi, Brahmin koh parnaam.” It means Saadhus, sages and saints were worthy of worship, and salutation to Brahmins. It is silent on how the other mortals of lower caste are to be treated. Hence our reverence to anything remotely resembling Brahmins, more so those from India. And the one, accidentally born in Ayodha or Mathura/Vrindaban - birth place of Lord Ram and Krishn respectively, were revered more than others, almost a Godman.

It has also been a common practice in Fiji to have many so-called Mandirs, (temples) where some people could claim to have shadows of Gods, especially Mata or female deity on them and used powers to “heal” people. Such temples thrived in Ba, an area I come from, and I have personally being a victim of this trickery and false belief. There were also small time witchdoctors fooling the people and benefiting from ignorance of people and their gullibility, rooted in belief in miracles. But not much money changed hands in Fiji, while there were small gains, like karia murga and daru (black rooster and whisky).

Our heritage in Fiji is based on the teachings of Ramayan which strengthened the belief of people in the sainthood of Brahmins who were considered  worthy of worship. Such teaching made our people gullible as they trusted people of God, who in turn looted them.

Some Indo Fijians even prayed to souls or spirit of indigenous Fijians, known as “Taukei” and claim to foretell things by means that included looking in grog basin or tanoa. That is where I joked why not any such witch doctor could locate the missing MH370 in a grog basin. These things and belief in supernatural powers were practised openly in Fiji and has been cause of great deal of enmity between feuding families, and continues now –in Fiji and overseas. My own family and village has numerous tales like these, and I am sure many others have tales to tell about such deceit and trickery. Such practices seemed to have become part of our culture, and tradition.

They say, old habits die hard, and hence we Indo-Fijians have been in quicksand of tunt ghunt (loosely translated as hogwash and bullshit) for generations. My loose way of expressing truth has created tension with some Brahmins and friends. This was when I posted on Facebook that even if a dog shits in shape of a snake, some people will run to it to pray the Snake God. Our belief in anything that remotely resembles any miracle or deity were considered holy, whether a cow with three eyes, a person claiming to be Hanuman (Monkey God) , a mushroom growing in shape of a snake, or other accidents of biology. And this was through our upbringing and teaching of Hinduism that God resides in all His creation, hence our praying of idols. This was covered in my earlier posting of Lord Shiv statue in Auckland, and explains the rationale of praying to statues.

Activities of Witch doctors from India rose to such an extent that complaints could no longer go unheeded, when a community leader Pratima Nand (right) took a crusade to fight this fraud. A meeting was held in Auckland, assisted by Thakur Ranjit Singh (left). A Facebook page, titled 'Guru Busters" has been opened and people with complaints are urged to name and shame those indulging in fraudulent activities in robbing innocent people.
When these people migrate to First World Developed countries like Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand, they do not discard this excess luggage of these crude village habits at the airport. They bring it to their adopted countries and always seek opportunities to revive them. In some cases, special trips are arranged for such ‘Ojhas’ or witchdoctors from Fiji for free overseas holidays to “see and solve” the problems of their devotees.

With this also goes the notion of “Gurumukh” or having a mentor or teacher, which was more relevant when we did not have modern teaching facilities in India during time of Ram and Krishna. It has been preached that one cannot find salvation without a Guru, and no offerings or “daan” are acceptable without having a Guru. And this has become a lucrative business for some “professional” Gurus from India roaming Canada, USA, New Zealand and Australia for “fat lambs” especially from vulnerable Indo-Fijian Hindus, brainwashed in this ancient requirement. I am told about cases in USA and even in New Zealand where some Gurus have special recruiting agents to “seek” lucrative Indo-Fijians as their chela or disciples, as these people from India know our weakness and vulnerability in having undying faith in Pundits and Gurus from the land of Ram and Krishna. But they forget that my children and theirs have learnt and will learn from their parents, universities, and there is Guru Google Baba – no need for those from India for next generation of Indo-Fijians.

Fiji Girmitiyas: ordinary people who did extraordinary things in extraordinary times. They suffered a great deal and all people from many parts of India blended into one Indo-Fijian culture, steeped in religious beliefs based on Ramayan. It is such religious upbringing that led to their belief in miracles, extra-ordinary powers and reverence for Brahmans and people of God represented by Gurus, sages and saints.

Now to Auckland Gurus/witchdoctors, who know the art of fooling, luring and “seducing” Indo- Fijians. They give their evil deed the name of Hindu deities: Ram, Bhadra Kali, Durga, Sai, Hanuman etc astrology/palm reading etc. And most Indian media give “oxygen” to these fraud through misleading advertisements.

And lo and behold, Indo-Fijians bite the hook, line and sinker. Jai bolo beimaan ki.. hail the swindlers. And that is the reasons why such Gurus and con men have Indo-Fijians as their major “clients”- we are indeed very vulnerable.

It is the way we are –being gullible and seemingly simpleton is our heritage.

[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a community leader based in Auckland, who runs his blog site FIJI PUNDIT that tells the tales that other media fails to tell].