Saint dons new role to reform youth

Lyrics and music are directed against drugs, corruption, prostitution and a host of social evils.

If music is therapeutic, this one wins hands down. Travel across parts of Haryana and Punjab and it’s not difficult to figure out why. People across a cross-section will narrate endless tales of youth giving up liquor and drugs with just a overdose of music that is played out like every morning prayer in myriad homes all over.

 The enigma has the ability to perplex, but the effects are for real. One preacher, two years, six “non-film” albums and world-record sales have changed a lot for the good.Head of popular sect Dera Sacha Sauda Saint Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s new avatar is that of a rock star, but with a difference. He sings for a cause that is benevolent, which is why his latest album “Highway Love Charger” sold more than a record 3 million copies in just the first 3 days of its release.

 The lyrics and music are directed against drugs, corruption, prostitution, female foeticide, immorality and a host of social evils. Universal Music, the company associated with the feat, says the saint’s albums so far have collectively achieved 10 million unit sales worldwide, making him “the highest selling solo artiste in the history of the Indian music industry”. 

The preacher, an engineer by qualification and now a rock musician, just completed a century of rock shows. It’s these shows that beget surplus for charity that supports the sects over 100 humanitarian campaigns that are underway. 

For many in the hinterland, the music has beco­me an everyday ritual that is helping them cope with the varied social ills that they encounter.    Renowned ophthalmologist and Dera’s chief spokesperson Aditya Insan told Deccan Herald that the music album is soulful Sufi, Mumbaiya beats, fusion rock, new age hip hop, gutsy folk and regional melodies, all admixed in a single volume.

“Recently the 100th and the 101st spiritual concerts were held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and Ramlila Maidan, which practically were the largest concerts in the national capital in recent times. For every concert, the saint coins newer lyrics and compositions of a diversity of genres celebrating the social message of the programmes for social welfare of the Dera Sacha Sauda.” Top politicians attended the concert in New Delhi. 

Pawan Insan, a follower of the sect’s ideology, claims there are a large number of people who gave up drugs and liquor listening regularly to the lyrics and the voice in all these albums. Unlike many Bollywood albums, these have little promos or big marketing campaigns, but they still sell like hot cakes. Better still, they leave a positive impact, he said.

Punjab and Haryana are ill-famed for drugs and liquor consumption. Youth particularly have been grappling with this menace which is spiraling fast out of control. The State Disaster Management Plan states that some 73.5 per cent of the state’s youth aged between 16 and 35 years are affected by drugs. The Dera says this is one way to wean away youth from the clutches of such social evils.

Saint Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh said this music is focused solely on the furtherance of human­itarian welfare. “My fervent attempts have always been to keep the world in peace and harmony. The youth constitute over 70 per cent of the membership of our sect and there is no better medium than music to guide them to the right direction in a format that they best understand. It proves that popular music, even if not from films, can work as a catalyst for social good,” he says.

The showman’s concerts are in aid of several special programmes like de-addiction, rehabilitation and marriage of prostitutes, abolition of female foeticide, marriages of widows, building homes for the poor, tree plantation etc. The sect ideology has worked wonders, like in the case of marriages of sex workers. Over 1,700 eligible bachelors are lined up to marry sex workers willing to give up the life they lead. So far, 17 such marriages have been solemnised.

The video of his new song “Love ” from his new album is live on the popular international video platforms and is available to view across 77 countries that the Universal Music Group is present in. The sect head is acclaimed as a spiritual healer, yet when he comes on stage, he dons the role of a rock star wearing flashy sleeveless jackets and head gears that appeal to many. 

The sect has a huge following essentially in the northern states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan and some southern states. This philanthropic sect in the Khap-dominated Haryana has carved a niche for itself chronicling as many as 14 feats in the Guinness Book of World Records, all with a social message. Its Guinness Records include the largest blood donation ever covering close to 44,000 volunteers in just eight hours, the largest number of saplings--a whopping 67 lakh-- to have been planted in one daylight, etc,. 

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