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Why tell all these Lies in the first place?

July 14, 2012

In the previous post, the following question was posed and left for people to ponder over:

Why is it even important to tell anyone about Ravishankar’s educational qualifications in the first place, other than to try to impress them?

A number of comments were left in direct response to this question, and one comment even elaborated further on possible reasons as to many of the other lies which have been circulating around Art of Living over the years.


Prakash, Submitted on 2012/07/13 at 4:58 am

### Why is it even important to tell anyone about Ravishankar’s educational qualifications in the first place, other than to try to impress them? ###

I have a benign explanation for this.

When SSRS started all this he did not imagine that his business would one day grow this big. He needed to start small – to attract stray followers and most importantly foreigners who could provide instant credibility to his business. He was with MMY and had first hand experience of the credibility that is imparted to eastern mysticism by western disciples. Look, “People from US and UK and Canada are following him! So he must be teaching something great!!”

An undergrad college degree in India means nothing. There are legions of unemployed degree holders in India. In contrast, in the US or UK, a college degree is not meaningless. And when it is not just any degree but “an advanced degree” in “modern physics” and “vedic literature” and that too “at the age of 17″ it all adds to the mystique – esp for someone from the western world for whom this BS was primarily intended.

In his opinion it must have been a minor embellishment on his resume that all of us are guilty to some extent. Just like his “yoga shiromani by President of India” which was hyped in the initial days of the movement as something big but later played down since it really meant nothing. Thus his “double promotions” and “advanced degree in modern physics and vedic literature at the age of 17″ were simply compulsions of a start up business to distinguish himself from teeming crowd of babas and swamis – most of them illiterate.

Had SSRS been only mildly successful (which he must have imagined at the start up), then his “minor embellishments of resume” would have hardly mattered. But then he grew too big – bigger even for Jesus and Krishna’s shoes; his devotees claimed he was Jesus and Krishna rolled into one – and then naturally people started expecting the same level of ethical standards from him. Something which was “excusable” for a start up businessman came haunting when he was elevated to the level of God.


Anonymous, Submitted on 2012/07/13 at 6:45 am
[…]
A nice explanation by @Prakash.

Without these tall claims educated people would not have joined him.

To attract highly qualified people, who will never despise him because of his lower qualifications.

This is an approach to score over other not so academically educated gurus of his time.

This is to show people that he is not in the guru business because he failed to achieve academic excellence. Passing graduate degree in second attempt with a third class was/is considered a failure, in India.

Western people respect degrees more than in India where degrees are very common, easy and highly cheaper to get.

Claim of 17 years is to show that he is an extraordinary and brilliant student.

There was no risk of getting caught because things like internet and blogging was unheard of, 25 years back.


by Bloggisatwa

My My…..We do have a situation don’t we ?

We lied to the public for almost 3 decades and now we are caught with our pants (dhoti !) down.

Still online on his personal website…….NO CHANGES yet…..

http://srisriravishankar.org/biography/timeline

And its not s site maintained by a nondescript volunteer….. Click contact us and see the official registered addresses

http://srisriravishankar.org/contact

No on this website they claim the below……

  • 1956, May 13: Born in Papanasam, Tamil Nadu, India
  • 1960, age 4: Recites Bhagavad Gita, which he has never heard before
  • 1962, age 6: Begins study of Vedas under his first teacher, Pandit Sudhakar Chaturvedi, a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi’s
  • 1966, age 10: Declares to friends and family, “All over the world people are waiting for me. One day, I will visit them.”
  • 1973, age 17: Completes his traditional studies in Vedic literature and a degree in modern science

etc. etc. etc.

Even assuming his mother fell sick and even assuming that YOU ARE DEEMED to graduate at the time when YOU THINK you have finished the course. I mean, do you finish the course before you pass the exam….. Lets give complete benefit of DOUBT……April 1974 is when he supposedly finished the course. He is still 18 years at that time. Now we can debate whether is was April 1st (Fools day…….like he assumes we all are) or whether it was April 30th. If April 30th then only 2 weeks from his 18th Birthday. So how come its still 17 ?

But for most rational human beings…..unless we are in the ONE UPMANSHIP game….why bother with such tales at all ? Your certificate says you graduated in 7th Dec 1975 (That is 19 years and 7 months…almost….its a pretty far removed from 17). Why deny it or provide a story around it ….and importantly why make you mother sick to explain all of the above. Its getting sillier and sillier.

From the SriSri.org timeline —— 1977 – 1982: Gives discourses, travels widely and also interacted closely with renowned spiritual teachers such as Anandamayi Maa, Tiruchi Swami, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Traveled widely and interacted (not apprentice, not served…..)….simple…nothing can be verified here…..ONE grey blob of a 5 year period. He graduated in 1975, looked for jobs in banks in 1976….was not successful with a 3rd class certificate. Materilasm the tradional way was not for him. Hence the above.

Allow me the benefit of doubt here….what is SriSri wanted to also do a ONE UPMANSHIP on Mahesh Yogi… So, the case for Advance physics and Vedic sciences came from claims come from……and also the Bhagawad Gita recital …..Maybe just maybe……

Look at Mahesh Yogi’s Bio on Wiki

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maharishi_Mahesh_Yogi

Below are some simple extracts from Mahesh Yogi’s bio…. stuff that would appeal to me if I need to effect a ONE UPMANSHIP on Mahesh.

a. “Mahesh studied physics at Allahabad University and earned a degree in 1942”

Aha…..If Mahesh had a Physics degree, I can have an advanced Physics degree.

b. “He was trusted to take care of the bulk of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati’s correspondence without direction, and was also sent out to give public speeches on Vedic (scriptural) themes.”

While in AOL, we heard similar storis about SriSri floating around in AOL. Except you replace Swami Bramhananda Saraswati with Mahesh Yogi and Mahesh with Ravi.

c. “According to J. Lynwood King, in his dissertation Fundamentals of Maharishi Vedic Science, the feedback Brahmachari Mahesh received from the diverse population that learned his technique suggested to him that it could be of wide benefit.”

“Maharishi Vedic Science, or MVS, is based on Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s interpretation of the ancient Vedic texts. MVS includes two aspects, the practical aspect of the Transcendental Meditation technique and the TM-Sidhi programme, as well as the theoretical aspect of how MVS is applied to day to day living. According to educator James Grant, a former Maharishi University of Management Associate Professor of Education and the former Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Maharishi brought out a “full revival of the Vedic tradition of knowledge from India” and demonstrated its relevance in many areas including education, business, medicine and government.”

Now do we see where the graduation in Vedic Sciences comes from….even before he interned OR interacted with Mahesh Yogi ???

d. “In 1968, the Maharishi announced that he would stop his “public activities” and instead begin the training of TM teachers at his new global headquarters in Seelisberg, Switzerland.”

Why was IAHV founded in Switzerland ?….hmmmm something to think about. Copy cat. Or familiarity with system. Knew the benefits. Maybe even some of the older Mahesh crowd helped him in the formation of the company ?

e. Other facets…pl go through Mahesh Yogi’s bio in detail …..Look at all the traveling, The focus on Universities, Creating teachers and centres…..Ravi just fudged the ideas. Its clear that a lot of copying has happened from the TM movement. The Sahaj meditation, even the Kriya…..the rhythms are similar to what you experience when you do the famous TM hopping / levitation.

f. “In later years, the Maharishi directed the purchase of properties in locations such as islands and land at the geographic centre of the continental United States and other countries”.

Sounds familiar ?….Properties, Land…..acquisitions

g. “Following an earthquake in Armenia, the Maharishi trained Russian TM teachers and set up a Maharishi Ayurveda training center in the Urals region.”

Hmmmmm…..Ayurveda for AOL was setup pretty early in Germany…..early 2000s I would imagine.

h. “The Maharishi inaugurated the Natural Law Party (NLP) as a means for achieving a “natural government” to enact his plans. His adherents, led by Maharishi University of Management president Bevan Morris, founded the NLP in 1992. John Hagelin, the NLP’s three-time candidate for U.S. president, denied any formal connection between the Maharishi and the party.”

Wow…this looks pretty much like WAYE and AOL.

i. “In 2000, the Maharishi founded the Global Country of World Peace (GCWP) “to create global world peace by unifying all nations in happiness, prosperity, invincibility and perfect health, while supporting the rich diversity of our world family”.

Where do you think the Vasudeva Kudambakam idea came from ?

j. “And in the final days of 1962, in the silent surroundings of Lake Arrowhead, California, Maharishi brought out yet another gift for the world–The Science of Being and Art of Living–a treasury of pure knowledge to guide mankind in its evolution to perfection.”

Science of Being and Art of Living

The Maharishi audiotaped the text of the book Science of Being and Art of Living, which was later transcribed and published in fifteen languages in 1963.The book is described by its author as “the summation of both the practical wisdom” of “Vedic Rishis” and the “scientific thinking” of the “Western world”.The book is divided into 4 sections: “Science of Being”, “Life”, “Art of Living” and “Fulfillment”.

THIS IS A KILLER. Even the name “Art of Living” is fudged.

k. “In his 1967 publication, Bhagavad-Gita: A New Translation and Commentary, the Maharishi describes the Bhagavad Gita as “the Scripture of Yoga”. He says that “its purpose is to explain in theory and practice all that is needed to raise the consciousness of man to the highest possible level.”

What a better case for ONE UPMANSHIP if I could simply recite the whole thing (without any formal learning) at the age of 4.

Lets put the above in perspective…..

read from here….

http://aolfree.wordpress.com/the-prosecutor/

“Charge: Why did Maharishi Mahesh Yogi called Ravishankar a sugar coated poison?

Brief Details:

He was thrown out for starting his own ashram in Bangalore, basically. He even sent a letter with one of the first Pundits from the Bangalore Ashram to Maharishi. (The Pundit told me himself). This was a long time ago. According to the pundit, Maharishi gave his reply of “I have nothing to say to him”. And SSRS was crushed, I was told. His “ashram” was first some pundit boys collected from surrounding villages by Pitaji. MMY said they would have to go to Noida. Pitaji said they could not go, but had to stay near their villages in the south (at the ‘city’ ashram, then). MMY became angry with SSRS and wouldn’t speak to him. I don’t know if, in the years that have passed since the 90s, if MMY has indeed met or spoken with SSRS. I have no knowledge of that.
Once, when I asked SSRS why he dressed the way he did, talked the way he did, was he trying to act like Maharishi or something, etc., he looked at me, stunned, and said “I AM Maharishi. What did you think?” Meaning, MMY had fully occupied him, in his mind at least.

This is his belief. I saw a man who loved his guru, and his guru had rejected him. That’s all. It made him seem innocent. I do realize that he is a thief, and not very innocent after all. He is worse than his family, actually, because I feel he knows better, but refuses to act better.”

My take : He was spurned by his own teacher. This to me establishes the case/motive for ONE UPMANSHIP.

It is this need / desire that lead to the falsification and the twisted tall claims that have followed over the years….”I graduated at the age of 17 in Advanced Physics and Vedic Sciences !!!!!!” on BBC television.

Today after writing this piece….I feel sad…..yes that’s true…..quite sad…..A new recognition of all that WHICH has been wasted along this path is hitting me….I still a little stunned on what I am seeing now.


These are some very interesting perspectives indeed, especially the last post by Bloggisatwa, since they all offer some very good explanations as to why all these lies are told in the first place.

For several decades now Art of Living have been getting away with telling these and many other lies to their devotees. However, now that so many ex-devotees have come forward on these blogs and exposed a great many of these lies for what they are, it has put RS and AoL in an extremely difficult position.

They must realize now that it has become very difficult to perpetuate these lies going forwards, and in fact it is equally difficult to look back over all the lies that have ever been told and admit to them. Especially as so many of these lies are things which many current devotees have been led to believe since they first became part of Art of Living.

The biggest example of these lies is of course the topic which started this recent series of posts: Ravishankar’s educational qualifications. Now that Art of Living have come forward and effectively stated that everything that has been said about his education to date has been a lie, how will this affect the many current devotees and teachers? Many sadly will probably accept this, as they have been conditioned to accept to accept any lies concerning AoL, especially those about RS. However, at least a small handful must feel somewhat let down by this, by the fact that they have been deceived in this manner, and must be thinking to themselves, what else have I been told that is a lie?

In time, hopefully this small handful will begin to wake up and realize that they have been deceived about a great many things in Art of Living. And hopefully they will in turn spur others around them to begin questioning these same lies so that they too will eventually wake up.

We can only hope.

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51 Comments
  1. stupidseeker permalink
    July 14, 2012 1:08 pm

    Looking at the this video one can easily that HHSSRS even modeled his presentation and demeanor on the very successful Maharishi model.

  2. stupidseeker permalink
    July 14, 2012 1:15 pm

    HHSSRS’s bandwagon really took of on the early nineties when the economy was being liberalised and more and more indians were coming by more and more wealth. He successfully captured the indian market, something the maharishi was apparently interested in doing.
    I have attempted to capture the fascinating multifaceted persona of HHSSRS in this earlier post:
    http://aolfree.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/the-many-faces-of-sri-sri-ravi-shankar/

    • July 14, 2012 6:13 pm

      Nice post SS, and bang on the money. Yes, the organization does have many different masks depending on who they are aiming at recruiting. They’ve probably learned some basic marketing skills and realized that even though they try to push a one-size fits all approach once with the various techniques they teach, they do still need to be able to communicate to different people of all sorts of different backgrounds in their own domain in order to keep them in the organization.

      One thing that got me is that they even manage to talk to people who are of a scientific background about spirituality from a scientific perspective, usually doing it through the tried and tested spiel lifted from a lot of New Age groups: “Hey, did you know that Quantum Physics explains spirituality?” Which of course it doesn’t, but boy do they try to spin it as if it does. I remember one time they actually tried to claim that scientists had recently discovered dark matter, and that this dark matter (AoL claimed) was actually consciousness aka God.

      And the other thing which you mention which is really worth highlighting is portraying their teachings as being spiritual versus being religious. Which I think most people by now realize is complete and utter BS. If there really is such a thing as spirituality which is distinct from religion – and I am not entirely convinced there is – then Art of Living are completely clueless as to what it is because in every possible way they clearly are a religious organization, or as some prefer to call it, a religious cult.

  3. VSS permalink
    July 14, 2012 3:13 pm

    Ronin had pointed out several such instances as well in Skywalker’s blog. After reading this post and internalizing the weight of it all — one thing is getting reinforced in my mind over and over again — and this was pointed out by someone else earlier — at no point did Mr. Ravi Shankar imagine that there would be something called “the internet” — and people would have “blogs” on it — and there would be something called “wikipedia” which would tell us everything we need to know about MMY — and there would be something called “You tube” which would have videos of MMY too. Everything can be easily accessed and referenced.

    The “internet” is proving to be a colossal challenge for Mr. Ravi Shankar and AoL. They tried to control bloggers but failed. Interestingly, they have no way of knowing how many hits are because of current AoL members and how many because of former AoL members and how many because of those who are researching AoL before enrolling for a course. So, while technology is making information available easily through these blogs, it’s not giving them information about who is reading. It’s also not giving them information about who is posting anonymously. Mr. Ravi Shankar and other key people in AoL must be perplexed out of their wits right now. And, the hits on Skywalker’s blog are continuing to increase at a steady pace as well — freezing it has really not had much of an impact. Those who are interested in past posts are still accessing Skywalker’s blog. Those who want to know where the discussion is right now are reading this one.

    Nothing has actually changed — except that they lost a lot of money and lost the case as well. And, you’re doing much more than hoping, Obi-Wan. Please don’t even begin to doubt the impact of your contribution. Today is day 24, if I remember correctly, and I’m looking at 13,270 hits. In the last few days — possibly 4 or 5 days — the average hits per day have gone up from over 450 to over 550. Each and every person who is reading what has been posted here is benefiting from your blog. We all register what we read — though we may not be able to process what we’re reading instantly. Processing time is impacted by several factors — not just content and how it is presented. In terms of content and how it’s been presented, you’re doing an outstanding job.

  4. prairie princess permalink
    July 14, 2012 3:25 pm

    Perhaps they should change the name of the organization to “The Art of Lying”. They seem to have that concept well in hand.

    • VSS permalink
      July 14, 2012 3:46 pm

      I agree — that is the only “concept” they’re doing justice to.

  5. VSS permalink
    July 14, 2012 3:43 pm

    After reading all of this — I think what they were trying to do or are trying to do — is to prevent people from reading these blogs — they’re going back to their good old brainwashing tactics — and saying that the effect of “sadhana” will get diluted if people read these blogs — which is complete nonsense. No matter what we read — intentionally or unintentionally — the purpose of “sadhana” is to keep us focused on what’s good for us and what’s not good for us. “Sadhana” is something that makes a sincere devotee more resilient not weak.

    I think that they may have copied this strategy of trying to make people paranoid about what they read — especially on the internet — from Scientology. If I recall correctly, I think you had provided this insight in an earlier post. This is the best that they can do to address the challenge that the internet is proving to be for them. I think they simply did not anticipate the fact that there would be another live blog in place so soon. They really did think that the momentum that Skywalker’s blog had would be lost. Since that didn’t happen, they are trying all kinds of tricks to prevent people from reading these blogs.

    Now, you’ll see, they’ll go silent for a while — they’ll pretend that these blogs don’t exist. So far, they’re doing complete justice to their reputation — they try “damage control”, then they fail, and then they go silent — except that when they go silent about these blogs — some other mess up happens — either they say something ridiculously pompous about an event and get exposed or Mr. Ravi Shankar says something ridiculously pompous that gets covered in the media.

    Over time, they make things worse and worse and worse for themselves. They never recover what they lose — how can they when they lie so blatantly and keep getting caught?

  6. VSS permalink
    July 14, 2012 4:02 pm

    A must read:

    http://artoflivingsblog.wordpress.com/

    Please especially read the 13th July post.

    Check out the source of content — see for yourself if it’s original or copied.

    • July 14, 2012 6:03 pm

      You know VSS, this July 13th post highlights another fascinating aspect of the Art of Living brainwashing machinery, and that is that devotees themselves brainwash each other. Essentially, everything in this post is leading up to the following paragraph:

      Finally Neo realizes the Truth, or reaches self-realization. He is now able to do things nobody even thought possible – he is able to bend, or even break, the rules of The Matrix. It reminds me of the amazing things a fully enlightened Guru, like His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar does. The Sudarshan Kriya taught in The Art of Living Course is like the red pill that has already unplugged millions of people – and that without the pain, slime and nasty plug points all along the spine!

      How on earth can anyone draw a comparison between Sudarshan Kriya – a hyperventilation-based breathing technique – and what the red pill in the Matrix represents? I don’t see it now and I never saw it when I was in Art of Living. Oh yeah, I already heard this analogy a while back now, and even back then I thought they were over-selling its benefits somewhat. Yes, SK may relax you, but to say that it frees one from the illusion of maya or brings one even remotely close to self-realization is beyond ludicrous.

      In fact, I would argue that Art of Living is more like the blue pill in the Matrix, it is just cunningly disguised as a red pill. How many in Art of Living are truly free in any sense of the word? Ok, that was a trick question. Because if they really were free in any way, they wouldn’t be in Art of Living.

      • VSS permalink
        July 14, 2012 7:35 pm

        You’re right, Obi-Wan. Your observations are precise. It is the resonance of cognitive dissonance that can be evidenced in that post and in the comments on that post.

        You had mentioned cognitive dissonance in an earlier post and I researched it further and even spoke to a few subject matter experts. They said that devotees validate each other within the cult to feel they’re not in a cult but in some kind of gathering of exclusive people — the select few. I remember when I was about to relocate to the Bangalore Ashram (before I found Skywalker’s blog) — I was falsely elated as well.

        What seems to be happening is that in order to counter these blogs, they are creating higher boundary walls between the real world and the Art of Living — because the Art of Living is most definitely a cult.

        You might also find the following post insightful:

        http://aolfree.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/the-truth-hurts/

        If you scroll down to the last few comments, you’ll find comments in which Sadhana mentions “kundalini awakening”.

        They’re manipulating devotees by creating delusions of grandeur — making them feel like the chosen ones — connecting them to epic movies and concepts — it seems “Inception” will be covered next in the same way.

        They will attempt to plant viruses in the minds of all devotees — to make them believe more strongly in the delusions they have planted previously. They are using contemporary symbols — such as movies — so that it’s all very “cool” and “happening”.

        I could also sense from the number and content of comments on that post that most of those who had posted comments were new to blogging and were posting comments just for the sake of posting comments. There’s really no discussion or conversation happening through those comments.

        That blog is like an extension of Facebook.

        This, of course, is yet another mistake in their rather large collection of mistakes. The more they make boundary walls between the real world and the Art of Living higher, the more delusional people will become — the more delusional people become — the more disillusioned they will be when they discover anything that doesn’t match their delusions.

        It’s human psychology — the more we are lied to about something — the more shocked we are when we discover the truth about it. The more shocked we are — the more difficult it is for us to ignore our shock.

        Frankly, I’m very relieved to see their blog and the hopeless content on it. It’s so hopeless that it makes me very hopeful about seeing the end of the Art of Living.

        We all just need to keep this blog going — the rest will happen on its own — ultimately, we’ll be able to free all those people who are writing and commenting on those blogs — that’s what this blog war is leading to.

        We all know that we won’t be going to the Art of Living — therefore — the only thing that can happen is people leaving it.

        I can see it all clearly now.

        I can’t predict when it’ll happen — but I can tell that it will.

        I can also see that the court case has played a very significant and instrumental role.

        They have not taken their defeat sportingly at all — just goes to show that there’s nothing even remotely spiritual or religious about them.

        I feel like asking them to display some “greatness” — just for a change — they’re very boring and predictable because they’re always just so petty — and I mean the inner circle not the devotees.

        My heart goes out to devotees — I wish I could rescue all of them right now — and end this phase of cult abuse in their lives.

      • VSS permalink
        July 15, 2012 9:57 am

        Two more insightful links on the subject of “self-realization”:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychedelic_experience

        http://artoflivingsblog.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/part-of-living/

        Please notice the following text:

        “We were asked to describe our experience doing our first Kriya. Then when it was my turn to talk, I was like, “experience? What experience? I don’t have a single thought in my mind, and the fact is that this is the only thought in my mind!” My answer was “I don’t know. I can’t think.” I was absolutely dazed. Transfixed. Mesmerised. Stupefied. Bedazzled. And, lastly, worried, wondering if ‘these people’ put a spell on me. Trying hard to get my senses back. I was spell-bound. Little did I know, then, that all the elderly course participants were striving for that. Little did I know, then, that the everyone was striving for that, craving for that. And it was so easy for me, …and I was worried about that! Silly me! (mark my attitude)”

        In addition to the unnerving similarities between the experience described above and a “psychedelic” or drug-induced experience as detailed in the Wikipedia link above, what does this say about the author’s attitude towards “all the elderly course participants”?

        Please also notice that a former atheist is referring to conversion into a non-atheist as “reformation”.

        “Reformation:

        What? You may ask.

        For one, ‘I used to be an ATHEIST’.”

        The principle of celebrating diversity is simply not practiced or preached in the Art of Living. In fact, “atheism” is referred to in a judgmental way.

        I am a believer but I have no problems whatsoever with atheists — their worldview is as valid as mine. Many astonishing achievements can be credited to many atheists. It’s ridiculous to suggest that a believer is — in any way — superior to an atheist.

        Religion is a resilience-builder not a divisive force. Those who use it like a divisive force know nothing about religion and / or spirituality.

        Can someone from the Art of Living who is reading please explain why the Art of Living has a judgmental view of atheists ?

        No true Hindu would have a problem with atheists. Please refer to the concept of a “karma yogi”. A karma yogi’s sadhana is good karma. It does not have to include anything else.

        All evidence suggests that the Art of Living is propounding a twisted and contorted perception of Hinduism.

        If you have evidence to the contrary, then please provide it.

        It would be good to find that the Art of Living does not have a prejudicial view of atheists.

        True Hindus definitely don’t.

      • July 15, 2012 4:35 pm

        @VSS,

        While I agree with a lot of what you’ve written, there is one thing I need to raise at this point for the benefit of yourself and anyone else reading. It concerns the following comment:

        My heart goes out to devotees — I wish I could rescue all of them right now — and end this phase of cult abuse in their lives.

        As far as this blog is concerned, my philosophy is not to try in any way to save people from Art of Living. In fact, I would go so far as to say anyone who believes they are saving someone from a cult or other religious organization is both deluding themselves and is very arrogant.

        I have already elaborated on the purpose of this blog in an earlier post, and at no point did I ever claim that I wanted to save people. What I want to do is to simply allow people to present their points of view, and then let others decide for themselves what to make of them. I don’t want to force people to accept anything – even the facts, as we’ve already seen many simply won’t accept them in spite of all evidence to support them – simply because that doesn’t help them and it doesn’t help us.

        To anyone in Art of Living who genuinely needs saving, if they find these blogs and take the time to read through them, they may eventually open their eyes and see the truth for themselves. As such, whilst these blogs may act as a catalyst, we or the blogs are not saving anyone. It is those who are ready and willing who will ultimately save themselves. But they have to want that and no one can force them in this respect or tell them that they need to be saved.

      • The Revolver permalink
        July 15, 2012 8:51 pm

        Talking about link with Yoga Vasishta and Matrix;
        and
        Obi-Wan’s comment “devotees themselves brainwash each other”, it makes me wonder how true this is and how the AOL matrix program would look like if designed. With so much of brainwashing applied in many-to-many ways, it would suffer with multiple mirroring (recursive) and finally crash 🙂

        (please take my comment with pinch of salt…just for humour, if it comes out unscathed by Obi-Wan’s lightsaber :D).

  7. July 15, 2012 12:40 pm

    vss

    You say that the Art of Living is going down because people are waking up to the truth about it. I wish it was that simple. I think this and the other blogs damage AOL and give pause to many who would think of taking AOL courses, but I don’t think it is going to destroy AOL. I was once in the Transcendental Meditation movement (TM) and they have had several websites that were critical of TM since the internet started. TM told far more outrageous lies and hold even more bizarre beliefs then AOL, but despite all this it is going strong. They are having a bit of a resurgence with the David Lynch Foundation and its work teaching TM in US Schools. Also, just this past year, TM was featured on Oprah.

    Please understand, though, that these blogs are essential. They help many leave AOL and others avoid getting involved with it in the first place. I am very great for to Obi-wan for continuing the tradition of critical thinking in reference to AOL.. I just don’t think it (these blogs) will take AOL down.

    • July 15, 2012 3:30 pm

      @DW,

      I would have to agree with you on this. Whilst I think these blogs are doing a great job in helping people to see the dark side of AoL and provide them with a more balanced perspective, I am under no illusion whatsoever that they will ever bring AoL down. In fact, of the various reasons why these blogs exist, bringing AoL down isn’t one of them, and it certainly isn’t why I started this blog. I appreciate there are people who want this to happen, but they are few and far between. The majority are just happy to have a place where they can discuss and share their experiences with others so that everyone can benefit somehow.

    • The Revolver permalink
      July 15, 2012 4:16 pm

      No one can predict the future (remember Nithya’s scam?). So, let us rejoice present moment (as Ravi says).

      Having said that these blogs should exist to give a balanced information to a new comer (ex: negative effects of SK as experienced by followers and ex-teachers). And also as a healing forum for the people who were let down by the foundation after having spent time and money on it (like me). As Peter said in one of the pro-blog, I used to get hurt 2 years ago by going through these forums (cos I couldn’t digest the truth), now I don’t. Thanks to all of you. I can happily go through all the AOL and beyond AOL blogs with an impartial mind…

      I’ve been observing the hits on Skywalker’s blog. It is getting hundreds of hits everyday :). Great going…

  8. The Revolver permalink
    July 15, 2012 1:03 pm

    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ravi_Shankar_(spiritual_leader):
    ****
    Ravi Shankar was born to Smt. Vishalakshi Ratnam and R. S. Venkat Ratnam, who was then active in the automobile business. He was named “Ravi” (a common Indian name meaning “sun”) because his birth was on a Sunday and “Shankar” after the 8th century Hindu saint Adi Shankara, with whom he shares the birthday. He completed his studies for Bachelor in Science at the age of 21 at St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore University, culminating into the degree which he received on 7th December 1974 (at the age of 22) from Bangalore University.[4]
    ****

    Why are they so confused? They say he was born in 1956 and in 1974, how can he be 22? That is too much of a buffer from initial 17 years!

    • The Revolver permalink
      July 16, 2012 6:41 pm

      Sure they are reading this blog…I see that the twiki is changed now (see my above post) :). Oh, they forgot to add that he passed in Third Class. That would be complete, wouldn’t it?

      ****
      He completed his studies for Bachelor in Science at the age of 17 at St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore University, culminating into the degree which he received on 7th December 1974 (at the age of 18) from Bangalore University.[4]
      ****

  9. VSS permalink
    July 15, 2012 3:55 pm

    Dear DW and Obi-Wan,

    I would have to humbly disagree with you — my perspective is that of someone whose loved one is trapped in AoL as we speak — someone who is as precious as family — someone who has had an excruciating life and is suffering. I can’t watch in silence or predict doom for the person. We all have the right to hope for the best for our loved ones and so I hope. In any case, no one can truly predict the future. My speculation is based on my training as a historian. Time could prove me wrong. However, it is early days yet.

    Regards,

    VSS

    • The Revolver permalink
      July 15, 2012 4:24 pm

      VSS, I am no one to suggest you but I will speak for myself. I was exactly in the same situation as you. I tried to educate that person, but in vain. This person whom I loved the most was caught by Yes+ in teen age; and with my observations these people become die-hard fans of AOL and it is impossible (at least for me) to get them out of AOL and their partners (if they are non AOL) are bound to suffer.

      So after much thought, I let go off that person. Thanks to Nithyapragya he opened my eyes in one of the talks 6 months ago when I was suffering the pain of losing this person.

      “You should be able to let go off anything and everything at your will”. That’s it. I let go off AOL and this person at my will. And then life is as beautiful as it should be :). There is a lot beyond AOL. I realised it very soon.

      Of course, I can’t understand your pain by sitting in front of my laptop. Hope it helps.

      • VSS permalink
        July 15, 2012 5:42 pm

        @ The Revolver [July 15, 2012 4:24 pm]

        You cannot possibly be in exactly the same position that I am or was in. There is no way for you to know what happened to me or what’s happening to me or to the person I am referring to. I would humbly request you to not assume anything about others. I don’t assume anything about anyone who is posting here as I don’t know anyone who posts here personally. There is absolutely no point in assuming the details of anyone’s story / life. I have no idea about your story / life. And, I do believe that a comment on a blog can possibly do justice to something as serious as a home or those who made it that. I also think that no two human relationships can be compared. Further, I own my free will — I would not discard, abandon or isolate anyone who is equivalent to family to me as long as I am alive no matter who told me to — that is my free will. Family is family. There’s no room for compromise when it comes to family.

      • The Revolver permalink
        July 17, 2012 7:28 am

        VSS, Please ignore my post if it doesn’t help you. I respect your free will. So, I would never attempt again to give such an advice/suggestion to you.

        >> I would humbly request you to not assume anything about others.

        Your request shall be considered 🙂

    • July 15, 2012 4:41 pm

      @VSS,

      I hear what you are saying and it’s absolutely ok to hope for whatever you like.

      But I think the reality is that these blogs will not bring about the downfall of AoL, at least not directly, if it ever happens. What I believe will bring about the downfall of AoL is AoL itself. In fact, they are the very reason why these blogs even exist. All the blogs are doing in a nutshell is to highlight all the faults in the organization. That’s really all there is to it. But it is the faults in the organization and the people responsible for these faults which will ultimately bring its downfall – if it ever happens. None of us can force it to happen.

      • VSS permalink
        July 15, 2012 4:58 pm

        @ Obi-Wan [July 15, 2012 4:41 pm],

        This is precisely my perspective — you’ve articulated it perfectly. It is the act of “highlighting the faults” that is causing a change — and it is causing a change — else AoL’s lawyers would not have spoken about a loss in business.

        I don’t know how it is getting communicated that an individual will cause it. Without these blogs, the instances of abuse were not coming to the fore. Lies were not being exposed.

        People have suffered. I have suffered. The Art of Living is unable to silence those who have suffered. The downfall will be caused by the suffering that is inflicted — not by people who are expressing the pain caused by that suffering that has been inflicted — or — by those who arrive at how those injuries have been inflicted.

        If no suffering was inflicted by the Art of Living, there would be no blogs. There would, therefore, also not be any counter blogs that would attempt to spread more lies.

        I hope I have been able to state my perspective now and there is no confusion about where I stand. I apologize profusely for my choice of words — English is my third language.

      • stupidseeker permalink
        July 15, 2012 6:00 pm

        @obi-wan,

        I agree. More than a device to wean people away from AOL or to prevent people from joining it, this blog is all about providing informed consent to those considering joining AOL the courtesy of which AOL most likely won’t extend to them, and a diverse perspective to those in AOL.
        And didn’t Bawa and HHSSRS themselves say that this blog is performing the important function of separating the wheat from the chaff .

      • Anonymous permalink
        July 16, 2012 5:32 am

        After scrapping the TTC Phase 1 and 2 they made TTC in to a single phase of 21 days. But now they reverted back to the previous style. Albeit the Phase 1 is now called Pre TTC. Pre TTC is for screening the partcipants else all and sundry is becoming a teacher in a single shot. This blog can be used for screening the candidates prior to Pre TTC.

  10. VSS permalink
    July 15, 2012 5:31 pm

    @ Obi-Wan [July 15, 2012 4:35 pm]

    Again — I must explain my perspective very clearly — I am someone who was saved by these blogs before I joined AoL.

    I didn’t want to be saved. I was simply looking for more information about AoL and SK — to prepare better before relocating to the Bangalore Ashram. I was initially simply interested in knowing what all I should carry with me as part of my luggage.

    I deployed Google and landed up on Skywalker’s blog.

    Information has great power. There was nothing on AoL’s site about the side effects of SK. I simply didn’t know that SK could have any side effects.

    I did not know anything about Mr. Ravi Shankar — I was shocked to find out that he had given himself the titles that he has now — at different points in time.

    I was not skeptical about AoL at all. I was very willing to surrender my mind and my life to AoL. The information that is there on Skywalker’s blog is simply not there on any AoL related blog or web site.

    When I read several posts, I realized the degree and intensity of brainwashing that is going on. I came across several instances where the word “zombie” was used. People described themselves as “zombies”. People said that for years they were unable to think. Their minds were completely controlled by AoL.

    Different people mentioned different things that triggered their return to thinking normally. Some people mentioned instances of abuse, some people mentioned the lies that were told to them, some people mentioned Mr. Ravi Shankar’s terrible behavior, and some people mentioned discovering these blogs.

    Sometimes, we simply don’t know — at least consciously — what’s out there. And, we are not skeptical. We don’t start from a place of doubt. Almost accidentally, we stumble upon information that changes our perspective. And, I am referring to the conscious mind. As per those who have researched cult abuse, doubts at the subconscious level are born as soon as a person joins a cult. I have posted this research. I’ll locate it again and link you to it.

    According to that research that I am talking about, everyone who is in a cult already doubts it — subconsciously. That subconscious doubt becomes a conscious doubt — then a person finds evidence — then that person looks for people who can validate that evidence — and then a person takes a decision.

    So, my perspective is that all those who are in Art of Living already have a doubt at a subconscious level. Yes, I wish them well. Yes, I wish that they leave before being subjected to multiple manifestations of cult abuse. Yes, I wish that their subconscious doubt makes the journey to becoming a conscious doubt and then towards finding evidence and then finding validation of that evidence. Yes, I wish for all of this. But, this is not from a position of arrogance. Absolutely not. I have been humbled by the suffering that has been inflicted on me and the suffering that has been inflicted on others. Everyone who has ever been abused is humbled by a realization of their own smallness. No arrogance can reside in them.

    I am grateful to these blogs for rescuing me — and that’s a fact — and my experience. And, I just wished for the same. I wished in that moment when I wrote the sentence you quoted that I was Skywalker. There was nothing else to it. It was just my way of expressing how bad I feel about the inner circle manipulating devotees. I truly feel this. It’s a perfectly natural feeling. Several others have expressed it. Yet again, I profusely apologize for my choice of words. But please don’t think that anyone who has been abused can possibly be arrogant — abuse is an infinitely humbling experience. My home broke. I feel humbled by the fact that I could do nothing about it each and every day. I didn’t even get to know when AoL entered my universe and destroyed it. I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone.

    Further, please don’t let my comments get posted without moderation. If I see that a comment has not been posted in more than 24 hours, I’ll email you from the email ID I use for posting comments and you can let me know the problem with my choice of words and we can resolve edits on email. I’m sorry for all the inconvenience that I have caused. I truly regret it.

  11. Mangal permalink
    July 16, 2012 12:10 am

    Why lie in the first place? It could be the work of his proud father who had a compulsive need to praise his son

    Pitaji in the below video claims “at the age of FOURTEEN he got a PhD in science and veda” !!!

    Watch the monologue from 12 to 14 minutes

    At 17:40 minutes, he tells us Art of Living was initially supposed to be Art of Loving but they chnged it because Love is misunderstood as Sex

    • Anonymous permalink
      July 16, 2012 5:26 am

      Which university gave PhD in Veda and Science to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at age 14 as claimed by Pitaji. Hope Bawa does a quick recce in Bhanumathi’s house to dish out the relevant certificates.

      • Anonymous permalink
        July 18, 2012 3:25 pm

        LOL!!! Now I’ve heard it all – PhD in Veda and Science at 14. These people just never stop do they? Time itself and all these obvious discrepencies from the family itself will take down Ravi Shankar and Art of Lying.

    • anon permalink
      July 16, 2012 6:00 am

      Obi-wan

      Can you keep a copy of this you tube video (before it is taken off) of SSRS father claiming (at 12.45) that at the age of 14 he (SSRS) completed phd in science and veda.

      Thanks to Mangal.

      • July 16, 2012 6:30 am

        Anyone can do it, if you go to:

        http://keepvid.com

        and enter the youtube url, you then have the option to save it in a variety of formats and resolutions.

      • Anonymous permalink
        July 16, 2012 7:26 am

        Already downloaded. Will repost if it’s taken down.

      • Anonymous permalink
        July 16, 2012 7:30 am

        If you are using firefox, any video can be downloaded with a single click by installing a small plugin called “Downloadhelper”

    • Anonymous permalink
      July 16, 2012 7:28 am

      Obi-Wan

      This video deserves to be a post and not hidden as a comment.

    • Bloggisatwa permalink
      July 16, 2012 8:02 am

      Video already taken out

    • stupidseeker permalink
      July 16, 2012 2:55 pm

      @Mangal,

      grt find mangal. It seems the list of obfuscations, red herrings and outright lies in AOL is never ending.

  12. Anonymous permalink
    July 16, 2012 1:59 am

    Something unrelated…
    When I was doing SK – one day after many years of practice something struck me – I wondered if I was being hypnotized! During hypnosis we are instructed by the therapist and gradually go into our subconscious. In SK the sound of ‘So Ham’ in the voice of RS – the rhythmic sound – was it hypnosis ! i wondered !! The sweet voice and the bliss that follows can easily trick us from a subconscious level to fall in love with the voice and the person behind it. Later all the hype and adoration that follows further binds you to him
    sometimes to a level of fanaticism. It is the deadly attachment that detaches us from the self and divert all the energy to him and hence creates a void within us.
    I felt the void while in the org.

    just a thought !

    • July 16, 2012 6:26 am

      It’s a very interesting thought and I’ve wondered something similar myself. There are definitely many other anchors in Art of Living between feeling good and RS, so that people come to attribute any good feeling they have in their lives with their association with RS and Art of Living. I would imagine the same with SK too.

    • Anonymous permalink
      July 16, 2012 7:41 am

      Anyone can experience that sweet bliss without joining any spiritual organization. Search for “Spiritual Science & Past Life Regression Rebirthing Breathwork” on you tube and watch the four part video. The entire creation is in all of us and all of us have the ability to reach our inner self. A true guru hastens this process. Unfortunately, most of today’s self proclaimed gurus are nothing but money making machines.

  13. Hari permalink
    July 16, 2012 4:19 am

    Off topic here… excerpts from B and D’s blog… their response to someone who questioned Rs.5250 is way too much for a cooking course… what is interesting is that, they posted someone who “questioned” why it was so high… however, the answer is not something unexpected…

    “Venkatesh R says:
    July 12, 2012 at 3:33 pm
    Rs 5250……day light robbery

    all these items on the menu can be googled and recipes are available for free.

    Great idea to make money however!
    bawa and dinesh super business idea!

    Reply
    admin says:
    July 13, 2012 at 7:19 pm
    They need not be googled, a lot of them are on my on blog
    That’s the price, if you don’t like it, don’t come.”

    However, I would like to know onething though… with all the “Sathwik food” and its association with “high prana” etc., is it okay for B&D to indulge in eat-outs in expensive restaurants? that too in some places that also serves “non-vegetarian” food… these two guys go on to post “proudful” reviews on their experience in these eat outs… for AOL’s sake, we are looking at these two kids as the “next-in-command” after HHSSRS… JEEZZZZ

    • Hari permalink
      July 16, 2012 4:25 am

      More here – http://bawandinesh.name/category/eating-out

      The Big Chill is a restaurant that also serves non-veg fare

      The Little Italy – although Veggie-Italian serves “not so sathwik” food… I guess, B&D are afterall human and they need indulgence once in a while… “sathwik fare” is only for devotees…

      More on The Big Chill restaurant in Delhi – http://timescity.com/delhi/saket/italian_restaurant_big_chill_the/53900

    • Anonymous permalink
      July 18, 2012 3:29 pm

      LOL!!! I’m really getting tickled by this blog today! Thanks to all posting. The idea of B&D (neither of whom I know — I left before they were a ‘thing’) being cooking gurus really gives me a good laugh. Maybe Ravi Shankar has finally produced something useful: two disciples who can cook and teach others to cook well? I don’t know that they cook well, but it’s possible, no? LOL! At least something useful and maybe good has come from AOL — cooking classes.

    • Anonymous permalink
      July 18, 2012 3:30 pm

      Kids? They look like old middle aged queens to me, Hari. 🙂

      From the Moderator’s desk ” Kids—-to Middle age queens ?…Kindly do elaborate a little more. Thank you. To me the comment is not revealing to be self evident.

      • Anonymous permalink
        July 26, 2012 12:26 pm

        Oh come on! B&D look like a male couple, look middle aged, in the lingo, look like “old queens”. Sorry — I thought most people had heard that term. I suppose they could just be friends, but it doesn’t appear that way. It’s meant not to critize their possible sexual choice, but more to joke about thinking about these two guys as ‘kids’. They look like they are in their 40s. Do they just look old? Are they actually kids? I don’t know them. But their blog is a characature of “the lifestyle”.

  14. Hari permalink
    July 16, 2012 5:10 am

    http://ru.artofliving.org/%D0%B9%D0%BE%D0%B3%D0%B0-%D0%B8-%D0%BF%D0%B8%D1%89%D0%B0 on Satvik food and http://bawandinesh.name/the-big-chill/ on B&D’s binge night at the Big Chill… the last time I checked, Hummus contains garlic, which is not so Satvik… and Cheese Cake isn’t so Satvik either…
    and one of my AOLite friend strictly avoids Caffeine (tea and coffee) as well as Chocolate, as she has been instructed so, that, having these would “undo” the effects of “sadhana and SK”… looks like a Mississipi Mud Pie that our beloved Shavina had must have undone their life time gains from Sadhana and Kriyas… oh ho ho…

  15. Anonymous permalink
    July 16, 2012 10:41 am

    it is very interesting to note that after all the hoopla and hype about seva, SSRVM runs just TWO “free schools” – http://ssrvm.org/
    and the most interesting tab on the SSRVM website is the franchisee section, where they deliberate on profit making
    “Q. How much money will I make?

    A.
    Profitability varies depending upon a number of factors, including location, occupancy and operating costs and the ability of the franchisee to manage and control the business. Questions related to profit and loss are discussed during a later stage of the selection process.”

    Have anybody been to the SSRVM “free school” and have an idea of what it looks like?

    • Dayalu permalink
      July 16, 2012 5:36 pm

      To be fair, AOL does not officially publicizes SSRVM as service schools. Their tall claims of educating the poor are centered around the tribal schools they run. However, since the data on the number of these schools are not published anywhere in a transparent way, even the teachers cannot distinguish between the two. Probably the only such school that has stood the test of times is the one they have near the Bangalore Ashram. The pamphlets on ‘the dollar a day’ program always provided murky data to confuse the donors.

  16. Anonymous permalink
    July 18, 2012 3:32 pm

    Dayalu, yet the original gift of the land on which the ashram now sits was from the government for the purpose of building and running a school for the poor village children in the area. Not much of that land is actually used for the purpose of that education. I guess the government doesn’t care. Or that they’ve been paid to look the other way? Why hasn’t anything been done about this?

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