Sonia temple

Modi Chalisa : height of sycophancy?

Yesterday, an MLA and a Cabinet Minister in Uttarakhand launched ‘Modi Chalisa’/’Modi Arti’, a poem in praise of Modi. Written by a person rather lacking in poetic talent, the tasteless piece is modeled on Hanuman Arti, a poem recited daily by millions of pious Hindus. Evidently, it seeks to raise our honourable Prime Minister to the pedestal of Gods. Have a look at this cringe inducing video:-

Modi Arti launched by MLA Ganesh Joshi and Minister Dhan Singh Rawat

This is not the first attempt at deifying a living person in India. ‘Spiritual’ babas have done it for decades. Deification of actors like Rajanikant, Rajkumar, Amitabh Bacchan etc. is very well known. There are temples for them where they are apparently worshipped with complete rituals. Politicians are not far behind. Despite his directive against hero worship, deification of Dr Ambedkar is now an established fact. Not only is he referred to as Bhagwan Ambedkar, but there are now rituals and specific terms associated with his veneration. There are temples dedicated to Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Sonia Gandhi, Karunanidhi, Jayalalita and Mr. Modi himself.

Like Modi Chalisa/arti, temple dedicated to Sonia is also there.
Murti in Sonia Gandhi Temple, Telangana. Bhakts are not exclusive to Modiji.

Modi Chalisa/arti is not the first Chalisa either. There have been such sycophantic attempts at Atal Chalisa and Sonia Chalisa too. There is an even earlier Modi Chalisa from 2016. Evidently, Mr.  Modi is not the only politician having bhakts! It is pertinent to note here that poets in ancient and medieval times composed poems in praise of rulers and frequently compared them to Gods. But they were never made Gods, or had separate temples and aartis. Secondly, these poets had great talent and their works were masterpieces in allegory, and are studied even today. The chalisas of Atal, Sonia and Modi are eminently forgettable.

What could be the purpose of such fawning displays of sycophancy? Apart from hope of a better political future, this is often a cheap publicity stunt for the poet/author. It is bound to make some news and her name is bound to get out there. The spiritual bankruptcy among sections of population is another reason.  However, it is my hope that not only be the book consigned to oblivion, but the promoters of such cheap literature are also taken to task by the party and the people.

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  • A version of this article was first published in ToI Blogs

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