The State We're In, 24 December 2011. A man frustrated in his search for spiritual answers decides to become a guru. His message, don’t fall for fake gurus; become your own. An African American who lives in Holland wonders if the Dutch holiday tradition of Zwarte Piet is not only zany good fun, but also deeply racist. And a man in Afghanistan believes poetry not only gives us wisdom and beauty, but hope – and he should know. He turned to poetry when his son got kidnapped. Comment on the show.
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Vikram Gandhi has always been frustrated with fake spiritual leaders, so he decided to become one: Kumaré.
He set up shop in Phoenix, Arizona and quickly attracted a group of devotees who believed deeply in what he told them.
Then he actually started believing what his own alter-ego preached.
Vikram tells host Jonathan Groubert about the day he revealed his true identity to his followers – and why he believes that posing as a guru named Kumaré was actually a good thing.
The tradition is increasingly criticized as being racist.
Yet its defenders are digging in.
African American presenter at Radio Netherlands Worldwide, Davion Ford, has his own take on the tradition in this essay.
Wazir Gul Anis in Afghanistan is a civic leader who has a deep love for classical Persian poetry.
It's helped him cope with the Soviet invasion, the Taliban's takeover, and getting warring clans to reconcile.
A poem even got him through the darkest hours of his own life when his own son got kidnapped.