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It was Meant to be this Way

July 16, 2012

by Bloggisatwa

WOW….I was thinking about this and it hit me this morning…..much of the lies (especially starting with his educational qualfications) were spawned decades ago. Now at that time while it was happening…..his immediate family including his parents, grandparents, sister, BIL and others would have been closely aware of such fabricated FACTS.

The so called stirctly ethical and moral Hindu family.

Now this is very interesting……from that time onwards they let it be. They deliberately chose not to correct the wayward child. Or maybe they felt they cannot correct him and that he will only do what he will do.

I have heard many versions and accounts of the young Ravishankar and they come nowhere close to the official propoganda. The adjectives I heard were words like wasted / lack of direction / bunks class / not academic / just hangs around doing nothing …..but none of them anywhere close to the official version.

What if he was a problematic child, not really responsible or focussed on his own schooling and turned out to be a habitual liar / fabricator….

Where do children learn this ? Where did the young Ravishankar pick it up. ??? Invariably from their parents. And then there are these stories floating around Ravi’s father’s checkered quite dubious past.

So, in all likelihood they never expected him to do anything great in his life. But he went on to prove them wrong. Importantly, the AOL empire was built on a bunch of false data and stories. However, they were all a part of the empire that gave them immense wealth, influence, power…..hence they were all hooked.

And as it was mentioned before, what is making such things comeout into the open after 3 decades is the Internet (the advent of technology) and the social networking as is happening on this BLOG which was not in their vision of things…..hence could not plan for it in advance. You have by then already left a large number of un-auditable. un-traceable trail of facts and lie that today reveal the true nature of your scam. It all catches up over time.

Hence they have ALL practices and cultivated the active propagation of lies for many decades. The 1st time its probably difficult. But over a period of time, especially when none really questions you or challenges you…..you get away with everything samll and big. They felt secure in their own bigness and power. The arrogance started to build and they let their guard down.

Clearly much of the lies and its implementation needed planning in the family. You have to be consistent about what you say and do. In the early days there were not even cell phones remember. And with him being such a fabricator it becomes important that they all repeat the same fabrication the same way. Is that why Bhanu has always been so feverish to be around him ? To be current on the latest version of the fabricated and “to be made popular lie”.

This always bothered me. I remember, when I was part of any community service project, it always took a great amount of intensity, focus, energy to keep all the volunteers and the project together. An amazing amount of dedication is needed. I always used to think “how small I am” compared to Krishna in his Shakti Kutir and later on other Kutirs…..where he was generating the energy and intensity to bringing about world peace. If I find it so engaging to do just one small project, wow just imagine what would it mean to adopt 30,000 villages ? Think of all the courses and crisis interventions abroad…..wow…so HUGE. I wanted to be a a part of THAT bigger project. I wanted to be innmer circle. And yet, whenever I had a physical audience with him and the so called inner coterie that was always hanging a around him in my days as a teacher (Namely Banu, Sad Swami, Dr Manikandan, Prassana Prabhu, the nephew, ….) the discussions that were initiated were almost always trivial. It was mostly silly gossip and nothing of any great meaning. Teachers petty administrative issues were at times some of the most important issues I can remember being discussed. I always used to wonder at the colossal waste of my CEO’s time…..why cant WE volunteers and teachers get our act together and use HIS time more effectively ?. I was blaming myself for the wastage. Also, once in a blue moon some serious challenging issue did turn up, I was pretty shocked at the lack ot depth and any contribution from any of the inner circle except for echoing SriSri and saying wah wah and bursting into peels of laughter when on cue. I sometimes even thought, the my Master’s message to me was I need to learn to chill and bring my intensity down. Become less passionate about things…..which was contrary to the real me.

Interestingly, during those times, B&D, Bharat, Vidhyadhar, Nitin, Vinod and a few others I knew never did much hanging around…they seemed to keep their cool distance and had other private audiences maybe !!!

…..this is very interesting……the ones that did not hang around were quite strong teachers by their own rights….they would have done well anywhere.

This is also the reason, why the 1st FAMILY…. no matter what they do….no matter how much they abuse core values that makes many of us buy into AOL in the 1st place……they will get away scot free. As who is to take action ? But their own conscience ? They are the owners of the business and what they have collectively created. Their conscience was compramised many decades ago. Now its a juggernaut that cannot be turned around.

This inner circle would have developed its inner circle….so that layers and walls can be created and you do need a channel for spreading rumours that turn into further milking businesses and making money from devotees. Watch closely, those who are close to Banu, who spend an inordinate amount of time hanging around with her are able to get away with some great benefits during major AOL events. But she too is very calculative. She will extract her pound of gold / flesh form you. You want to be seen close to the Master, she will make that happen for you…..but at a significant cost. She only travels business class you see. She also has (had ?) a significant penchant for silk sarees and ornaments. If they were really such a deeply spiritual family and if SriSri would (could ?) not even kick a football when he was young…..he was that non-violent……did they not know the pain a silkworm goes through before the silk yarn is extracted?

For those of us that are unaware, we can learn. See link below.

http://www.weanimals.org/blog.php?entry=151

Finally……this story that it all started with a good intention……Its the organisation that is unwieldy now…it cannot be managed…its too big…..SriSri is not to blame……these are all excuses…..

It clearly looks like, it was meant to be this way……

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85 Comments
  1. free at last permalink
    July 16, 2012 6:08 pm

    very very well written……

  2. Prakash permalink
    July 17, 2012 6:16 am

    “The so called stirctly ethical and moral Hindu family.”

    Why this sectarian sarcasm? Don’t tell me you don’t have such people in a christian or a muslim or a buddhist family.

    • VSS permalink
      July 17, 2012 9:20 am

      I agree. Lying has got nothing to do with Hinduism or any other religion for that matter. Some people lie and some people don’t lie. The lies and deception in the Art of Living are NOT a reflection on Hinduism. There are dangerous religious cults that claim to be offshoots of various religions — that does not mean that the cults are a reflection on those religions. In fact, they are not. Dangerous cults use a religion — rather abuse a religion — for their own ulterior motives. If anything, they are irreligious and non-spiritual. I request all to not berate Hinduism or any other religion — intentionally or unintentionally.

    • someone permalink
      November 14, 2012 9:51 am

      prakash, maybe coz they paddle themselves overtly as ethical, moral, spiritual Hindu family??? if they paddled them as any other family with any other religion the author would have used that name?

  3. stupidseeker permalink
    July 17, 2012 7:06 am

    @Prakash,

    you can very well substitute the word hindu with Muslim, christian or any other religiius denomination. Generally people use religioiusness as presumed morality which ofcourse is a non sequitor.

    • VSS permalink
      July 17, 2012 10:17 am

      @ SS,

      I don’t agree. Please let’s not bring any religion into this. No religious cult represents a religion — a religion is very vast in its scope and reach.

      If you recall IO’s post about the number of people who return to AoL, you’ll recall that it’s 2 out of 20 on an average. In over 30 years, AoL has not reached a place where it can proudly say that all Hindus all over the world are members of AoL. Nor can it make the same claim about Hindus in India. Why is it so? Why do majority of Hindus NOT identify with AoL?

      I am a true Hindu. I don’t feel a connection with AoL. I neither feel the kind of connection I am likely to feel with another true Hindu, nor do I feel the kind of connection I would feel with a true believer of any other religion, nor do I feel the kind of connection I would feel with another human being — believer or non-believer — who may be pursuing excellence in humanitarianism or the arts or the sciences or sports or education.

      In fact, one of the things about AoL that I figured out after reading several posts on Skywalker’s blog was that AoL does not represent the pursuit of excellence in anything — not religion — not spirituality — not the arts — not the sciences — not sports — not education — and — not humanitarianism.

      The only thing that it pursues excellence in — is recruitment to AoL. Devotees are encouraged to deploy any means to recruit new people — with a zeal and passion that is proactively validated, rewarded, and celebrated in AoL.

      That’s why some people have said that being in AoL was excellent sales training. I recall reading a comment — I think it was by OA — that said something to the effect that if you can sell breath to people, you can sell anything.

      Further, the pursuit of this excellence is not a part of Hinduism at all. The practice of true Hinduism does not involve “recruitment to Hinduism”. My ancestors served as “Rajgurus” (Royal Teachers / Priests) in the court of three royal families in India (in different states), and nowhere does any documentation or information about true Hinduism refer to “recruitment to Hinduism” as being an element of the practice of true Hinduism.

      @ anyone who is reading,

      If my observation about the pursuit of excellence in AoL — being only in the area of recruitment to AoL — is incorrect — please feel free to correct me. I’m interested in knowing the truth.

      • stupidseeker permalink
        July 17, 2012 2:31 pm

        @VSS,

        It is true that many people use religion to present themselves as holier than thou and as a facade to fool society into thinking that they are better and moralistic than they really are. I don’t see any sectarianism in pointing out this obvious fact.

        Secondly having just joined the atheist/naturalist/humanist community after several years as a theist, I follow their ethos i.e human beings deserve respect but ideas deserve scrutiny. Following this, no religion, true or otherwise is above critical scrutiny. To quote Hitchens:

        “”Religion now comes to us in this smiling-face, ingratiating way, because it’s had to give so much ground, and because we know so much more. But you’ve no right to forget the way it behaved when it was strong, and when it really did believe that it had God on its side.””

        The above is true of all religions. Lets not avoid discussion of religion as and when the occasion may arise just because our sentiments are identified with this or that religion. As someone said ‘All religions cannot be simultaneously true but all can be simultaneously false.

        many tenets of the Hindu religion forbid doubting the guru. if this tenet is “true” then the people at AOL are really the true hindus, or are they not ??

      • Anoop permalink
        July 17, 2012 3:14 pm

        But Hinduism had (?) other issues, right ? say caste discrimination..

        Rajgurus and co, did nothing to abolish it but took advantage of this class discrimination.

        Let religion also get criticized. It will make us better human beings and may bring reforms in religion and its practices also.

        Other parts of the world and religions also had issues like slavery or some other kind of form of discriminations…

      • VSS permalink
        July 17, 2012 4:11 pm

        @ SS [July 17, 2012 2:31 pm]

        Bloggisatwa has explained the context of his comment and I’m fine with that. The reason why Mr. Ravi Shankar used Hinduism for “positioning” is because the majority of people who mention being believers are authentic people and NOT people who lie or deceive others. True believers of Hinduism have respect for Goddess Saraswati and will not lie about any matter relating to education. It’s just not done.

        Mr. Ravi Shankar’s case is a case of abusing Hinduism and using it for deception.

        Now if you think that those true Hindus are in a minority, then I have nothing else to add. We should simply agree to disagree. However, if you think they are in a majority, then this is what I have to say:

        To begin with, I’ll give you an example. Most of us have friends because most of us feel it’s nice to have friends. If one friend turns out to be a mean person who lies and deceives and manipulates, it doesn’t mean there is a problem with the concept of friendship.

        I don’t have a problem with atheism. Many close friends of mine are atheists. They don’t have a problem with me. As far as I’m concerned, I can connect with anyone who is interested in the pursuit of excellence in humanitarianism. The pursuit of excellence in another field — such as the field of the arts or the sciences etc. is a bonus.

        As far as your second point is concerned, during the Later Vedic Age and even after that, unscrupulous elements added content to scriptures to subliminally as well as overtly force and reinforce the caste system. Some Brahmins wanted a place in society that could not be challenged. Hence they added content with ulterior motives. These were certain individuals who were using the scriptures for caste politics, not the true scholars.

        Now you may ask how an individual can distinguish between content added with ulterior motives and content which has no ulterior motives. The answer is simple but by no means simplistic — not just in Hinduism — in the case of all religions — what lies at the core is humanitarianism.

        No true believer of any religion will be anything but pro humanitarianism. So, any content which is not pro-humanitarianism is to be discarded — or to be treated as an insight into the minds of those who were indulging in caste politics.

        You may further ask about the purpose of religion — religion enables and empowers people to be better at pursuing excellence in humanitarianism.

        Some people like religion and feel the need for it in their lives. Some don’t. Ultimately, everyone wants to co exist peacefully with everyone else. No one wants anyone to be deceived / conned / abused by anyone. Believing or not believing in any religion is a preference issue. Some people think blue is the best colour in the world — and it makes them very confident to wear the colour blue each day. Others don’t. That’s all there is to it.

        On the face of it, this may appear to be simple — but it’s actually a very profound realization if you think about it. It’s about accepting people’s preferences. Everyone is free to choose to believe or not to believe in any religion. No religion is better than another. Additionally, the worldview of atheists is not superior / inferior to the world view of believers. All human beings are equals.

        Additionally, those who want to excel, find ways to excel. They do what’s best for them. They choose their sources of inspiration. Some people are inspired by what Mahatma Gandhi said and some people are inspired more by what Lord Krishna said in the Gita. Some are inspired by both. We are free to do what works best for us.

        The problem with AoL is that it promises people that it’ll work for them. It engages in deception and lies to sell itself. Then, when people find out and raise an objection or demand justice in the form of reforms, it tries to silence them. This is fascist behaviour. Fascism is not a part of Hinduism. Nor is “recruitment” — which seems to be at the core of all AoL activities. There is no humanity in wanting to silence people. They failed to silence Skywalker — but it’s not because they didn’t want to. They cannot tolerate any criticism so they removed the video featuring Mr. Ravi Shankar’s father. Hiding the video doesn’t change the fact that his father said what he said. They just continue to be deceptive all the time. Deception is not a part of Hinduism.

        Those true Hindus who are in AoL and think that it is a Hindu organization simply don’t realize that they have been deceived — unless they realize that they have been deceived but have to be in AoL because they — along with their families — are financially dependent on it and feel that they cannot survive outside AoL because it’s not possible for them to get employment in the real world — which is an existential issue — not a religious one.

  4. Bloggisatwa permalink
    July 17, 2012 11:58 am

    Before we all jump to conclusions its important to detail the “context”….(My context)….in terms of how I so strongly remember certain positioning statements.

    I remember reading in many places and seeing the following positioning in several videos…..’SriSri was born into a pious south Indian Hindu family”…and then many nice things are said about the family all pointing to a a very strict moral unbringing. My take is on their own positioning…..using certain terminology/branding commonly understood and linked to certain characteristics….

    South Indian (Hard working, truthful, risk averse………these are commonsly associated cultural assumptions with this etrm).

    Pious Hindu Family (Righteous, strong moral grounding etc)….

    Middle Class (Not materially ambitious, conservative value systems)

    Its an expose and dig on the positioning I had heard many 100s of times in my tenure as a AOL sevak and which I also used well to sell the founder of the organisation.

    My point was to showcase just that ….Nothing is what it seems it is.

    My apologies if I needled any secular feelings as far as this goes. Not intended. Understanding the words in the context is important. I promise to be more elaborate and careful in future. Sorry to those whose feelings are hurt….repeat…not intended.

    Meanwhile the Wiki entry has now changed….but still deliberately grey and misleading.

    “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 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]”

    ?????
    What does it Imply ??? : Others may complete the studies but may not necessarily culminate in a 3rd class degree ? The certificate is also posted online.

    After graduation, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ****traveled with***** Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and was *********invited by Maharishi*********** to give talks on Vedic science, arrange conferences on the Vedas and science, and set up Ayurveda centers.[5] He was with the Maharishi at the inauguration of the first of the Golden Domes at Maharishi International University.[6] He was earlier addressed as “Pandit Ravi Shankar” (or “Punditji”) but in the early 1990s changed his name to “Sri Sri Ravi Shankar” (literally “Mister Mister Ravi Shankar”) after the **********renowned sitarist Ravi Shankar objected ********* that the guru was using the name he had made famous.

    Very interesting …Traveled with ?….hmmmm on invitation…..you see it was Mahesh who sought me out.

    And……Invited by Maharishi ?

    Hmmmm…poor Maharishi was starved for Vedic knowledge, Ayurvedic centres…so he invited young Ravishankar so he could personally become more popular and rich using Mr Ravi as the front man. Me thinks wherever it is….Mahesh’s spirit just did a few somersaults reading this stuff.

    Then there is comparison with Pandit Ravishankar the Sitarist to explain the name SriSri. It is SriSri himself who taught me that when there is ego when there is comparison. Its he who taught me…its okay to say “I am good”. But if you say “I am better than him”…I need to watch out …for where there is comparison and there is ego.

    Well, I like 2 Sris in my name. That is my right. Why bother explaining. What purpose does it serve ?….other than building your own image by association with another ?

    I remember somebody pointed this out on the earlier blog. Apparently he compared AOL courses to western management training such as those offered by the Dale Carnegie Foundation and their motivational books revered by many cultures all over the world for their application in their lives. In this context, he has even published false information. He states that the author (Dale Carnegie) of the book “How to make friends and Influence People” committed suicide. Please lay your hands on the Rishimukh International magazine sole by Art of Living March 2009 edition, page 6. By now, they may have removed that page. So you may need to get a hard copy.

    Meanwhile, this is how Dale Carnegie actually died….

    “Carnegie died at his home in Forest Hills, New York.[9] He was buried in the Belton, Cass County, Missouri, cemetery. The official biography from Dale Carnegie & Associates, Inc. states that he died of Hodgkin’s disease, complicated with uremia, on November 1, 1955.[10]”

    http://www.life123.com/career-money/…/Dale-Carnegie-Obituary

    http://www.ask.com/questions-about/Dale-Carnegie's-Obituary

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

    I find this very interesting. Dale died on November 1 1955. SriSri was born in May 1956. And yet he is so sure that Dale committed suicide that he even published it in his own magazine.

    And try this for size, ….they even have “SriSri Institute for Media Studies” whose primary aim is to promote and train students on ‘ETHICAL JOURNALISM”. ……Really ????

    • stupidseeker permalink
      July 17, 2012 2:40 pm

      @Bloggisatwa,

      What are you apologising for ?? For calling a spade a spade ?? No need to do that

    • Kitapati permalink
      July 18, 2012 9:10 am

      I have heard this ‘Dale carnegie commited suicide’ liner from Ravishanakr live in the early 90s. Those were the pre internet and pre wikipedia dates. This statement again was a copy from Osho discourses where he had said the same thing about dale carnegie and his suicide. Ravi used to rely heavily on Osho’s books and works. It is obvious if you listen to Ashtavakra discourses.

      • Bloggisatwa permalink
        July 18, 2012 5:58 pm

        Hmmmmm he has said this for more than 15 years and no one challenged him on this ? That is sad.

      • Dayalu permalink
        July 18, 2012 6:27 pm

        Factual errors and stupidities are the norm in Sri Sri speak. I remember he used to refer to the happiness index list and state that Bangladesh was the happiest country in the world and cite it as proof that happiness is not related to wealth. But the fact is that Bangladesh has never made it to the top half of the happiest countries list.

        In 2004 after the surprise loss of NDA in the national elections in India, Sri Sri was pissed off by the fact that the congress party came in to power. In a discourse at the ashram barely a month after, he was throwing up a number in the air as to the estimated daily financial loss that the new government was causing the nation. Any reasonably read person could tell that that was utter humbug, but for devotees any thing coming from his mouth, even if seemingly rubbish, carried deeper meaning and if there were any inconsistencies, it was all part of his ‘leela’.

      • Mangal permalink
        July 19, 2012 4:26 pm

        “Ravi used to rely heavily on Osho’s books and works. It is obvious if you listen to Ashtavakra discourses.”

        @Kitapati

        devotee question May 22 2011 “I have read a lot of your books and I have read books by Sathya Sai Baba and Osho. I found no difference in them,… ”

        http://www.artofliving.org/may-22-2011-qa2

  5. Anonymous permalink
    July 17, 2012 1:44 pm

    The word ‘so-called’ is used when you really doubt a person’s titles, labels or up-bringing. Like a so-called genius – where the doubt is on the person being a genius or not. Hence in the above article RS’s moral upbringing is under question and it in no way demeans Hinduism.

    @Bloggisatwa – a very well written article

  6. stupidseeker permalink
    July 17, 2012 3:01 pm

    @Obi-wan,

    A humble plea. that other than the inescapable sacrosanctness of human dignity that rational evidence based , non supernatural thought endows us with, I pray that nothing else be considered sacrosanct on this blog.

    http://norighttobelieve.wordpress.com/2011/02/26/the-party-will-go-on-without-you/

    Religion is fair game and whenever was it not ??

    • Prakash permalink
      July 18, 2012 7:47 am

      Your stand seems to be that all religions are bad. Fine. Nothing wrong in being an atheist. However, this blog was started with the aim of a discussing a very specific quasi religious organization called “Art of Living”. There are thousands of blogs that discuss religion in general from an atheist’s point of view. Is it really necessary to make it another one of them?

      • Anoop permalink
        July 18, 2012 8:04 am

        Many of the responses come from VSS’s statements that “true” Hindu cannot do anything bad.. So Ravi is not a Hindu etc. So was pointing out some bad things exists even today in Hinduism and other religions.

        And if you see many people post alternate past life regression techniques in this blog and the previous skywalker ones.. People are critical about how AOL screwed everyone’s life and then moving towards other “fraud” people/techniques and money making organisations..

        Its important to criticize those…

        VSS has a habit of replying to every comment in this blog. That will take the discussion deeper into unrelated subjects. Otherwise most of the unrelated topics will end in one comment.

      • someone permalink
        November 14, 2012 10:09 am

        I think the fact that ravi and family paddles them as a true blue Hindu is why at times people hurt and decieved by them tend to attack their Hindu belief as well. A lot of the devotees are not well aware of Hindu customs and faith system and necessarily draw conclusion from the only example they see.

        my opinion is its entirely erronous to call anything or anyone as true Hindu. Hinduism as a way of life comprises of a large array of philosophy ranging from atheism to polytheism to agnostism. There is no one fixed way to determine who and what practise is true Hindu.

  7. stupidseeker permalink
    July 17, 2012 3:51 pm

    @VSS,

    Watch what some of the “true believers” did, in the not so recent past, to uphold the honour of the so called, highest of the highest, the lord of the Hosts, the one true God, yeah the very one who begot jesus. what would you say to them : one true believer to another :

  8. VSS permalink
    July 17, 2012 4:26 pm

    @ Anoop [July 17, 2012 3:14 pm]

    My ancestors did not abuse the caste system. Please do not include them in your list of others who abused the caste system. I hope that is very clear to you and you will not use this forum for venting and near-abusive behaviour.

    @ SS [July 17, 2012 3:51 pm]

    I have already responded to the issues you raised in my previous comment. However, for your benefit, I shall reiterate that at the heart of no religion is cruelty of any kind. At the heart of all religions is humanitarianism.

    Let me also clarify that Humanitarianism is above every religion and this is proved by the fact that several atheists have made outstanding contributions in the realm of humanitarianism. Anyone who does good for humanity is respected in all religions whether or not that person is a believer.

    Anyone who indulges in cruelty is not a true believer. I hope this is clear to you now.

    • Anoop permalink
      July 17, 2012 4:56 pm

      My comment was general in nature

      Majority of brahmins/priests/upper castes did took advantage of this hierarchy in caste system.

      Religions need to get criticised for the bad things it has done to man kind.

      • VSS permalink
        July 17, 2012 5:12 pm

        It was not the majority.

        However, I shall discuss Hinduism-related issues on this blog:

        http://www.writerscafe.org/atruehindu/

        Please check in 48 hours for the first post if you wish to discuss matters pertaining to Hinduism — topic by topic — including the caste system.

        I shall not discuss Hinduism on this blog. For me, this blog is for discussing “critical perspectives” relating to AoL and Mr. Ravi Shankar. AoL is a dangerous cult and Mr. Ravi Shankar is the cult leader. Initially I thought that AoL is a Hindu cult but when I researched the subject further, I found out that there is no similarity between AoL and Hinduism.

        I also found out that there are many other dangerous cults that pretend to be offshoots of one or the other religion but have no true similarity with the religion they are pretending to be offshoots of.

      • The Revolver permalink
        July 17, 2012 6:03 pm

        SS, Anoop, Bloggisatwa, I agree with you. IMO, Hinduism itself is a far bigger cult than AOL. Unfortunately it is very deep rooted in society and is nearly impossible to get rid of it (people are brainwashed to nth degree about their caste, different varnas in hinduism etc.).

        Again IMO, dividing people into four varnas based on their appearance is the biggest sin one can commit.

        I saw people getting converted to brahmins in AOL (with thread ceremony) and not the other way round (like Hindu to Muslim, Christian to Muslim etc.). I see a lot of hinduism shades in it whatever their claims are otherwise. Maybe if Ravi were a Christian we would’ve seen a different pattern.

        We all have different points of view and I understand we don’t have to agree. But let me thank Bloggisatwa for excellent post 🙂

      • Mangal permalink
        July 17, 2012 7:05 pm

        “However, I shall discuss Hinduism-related issues on this blog:
        http://www.writerscafe.org/atruehindu/

        @VSS, You go, girl! You seem to Goddess Saraswati incarnate. Show em!

      • The Revolver permalink
        July 18, 2012 12:37 pm

        I see that some of you have replied to my comment and some even went ahead and warned me! As far as my view goes, I have already expressed it and you are free not to agree. If you vent out your anger and / or abuse others rather than answering questions that are asked, that shows your tolerance limit and levels you with the abusers we had on SkyWalker’s blog. Ta!

    • stupidseeker permalink
      July 17, 2012 5:48 pm

      @VSS,

      What was it that constituted hinduism during the period before Vivekananda ?? what prompted Vivekananda to attempt to reform the Hindu society that he saw prevailing during his time ?? what skeleton did he adopt to reform the “hinduism” that he saw before him in the society that he was born into ?? And how did he transfer religious authority from the sanskrit learned brahmana to the guru and his whimsical personal experience ?? Much of the questions are attempted to be answered here:

      http://kelamuni.blogspot.in/search?updated-max=2008-02-26T14:42:00-08:00&max-results=1

      http://kelamuni.blogspot.in/

      Nothing that Anoop said constituted abuse. Please don’t accuse him of such crimes. Blasphemy is a victim less crime.

      Lets not forget that humanitarianisn was created by humans (Kant, wittgenstein) and not religion, for the benefit of humankind after years of having the human mind bow down to supernaturalism of all hues. India for the first time in 5000 yrs of her existence is one united whole and not because of hinduism, but despite it.

      For Hinduism generated the forces that kept India fractured along caste, religious and linguistic lines for almost all of her history to be rescued only by the forces of secularism and rational thought that were ushered in by the european rennaissance against the orthodoxy of the brutal catholic church.

      I respect your rights merely by virtue of you being a human like me, do you respect my humaneness by mere virtue of me being a human or being a creation of the “god” which created you ??

      “At the heart of all religions is humanitarianism.”

      I think one of my neurons just committed suicide. if at all they did, it was at the cost of enormous human suffering and bloodshed.

      • VSS permalink
        July 18, 2012 4:44 am

        @ stupidseeker [July 17, 2012 5:48 pm]

        Which part of what I said did you not understand?

        I said in simple words that I shall not discuss Hinduism on this blog. This blog is about critical perspectives related to AoL and Mr. Ravi Shankar.

        Please focus and be patient. Being an atheist doesn’t mean you can’t focus or be patient.

        @ The Revolver [July 17, 2012 6:03 pm]

        No part of your comment makes any sense at all. The “thread ceremony” does not cause “conversion to Hinduism”. If Mr. Ravi Shankar is doing that, well, he’s not a true hindu and is simply taking people for a ride.

        And, this is one more thing that proves that he and AoL are not truly “hindu”.

        The rest I shall discuss on my blog on Hinduism. This blog is meant for critical perspectives relating to AoL and Mr. Ravi Shankar.

      • The Revolver permalink
        July 18, 2012 12:48 pm

        @VSS Thanks for answering. (thro’ your new blog) I will be interested to know your view on “differentiating people based on appearance” as it is done in Hinduism. Do you support it? If you had the power to change it, would you change? In the current system, how would you treat people in lower rings (for ex: would you allow them access to deity room in the house?)? I am asking these questions because none of the so-called pious hindus I met were able to answer these questions. I will read your blog however I can’t engage into a lennnnnnnnnngthy conversation with you due to time constraints (I have life out of the blog world).

        Sorry Obi, this will be my last post on Hinduism topic. I agree that we have digressed and it isn’t helping :(.

        From the Moderator’s Desk :

        I do believe that we are digressing from the main issue of this blog. We do have other forums as perhaps suggested by VSS for Hinduism centric learning and debate. While AOL does have a Hinduism bias, dissecting core Hinduism to bits will dilute the effort of this blog. Hinduism is way too big a subject. And we have a specific focus and bias (AOL). While I will post this comment, I kindly request that we have no more such requests or dialogues on this blog. Pl lets focus here on attempting a more complete and 360 deg outlook on the AOL story in as coherent a fashion and manner as we all can. I am unlikely to post future comments that deliberate purely on Hunduism with limited relevance to AOL.

        We should please be sensitive as a lot of visitors may not have any background on Hinduism, and neither would they be interested on the finer details on this blog.

        Thank you all for your understanding.

      • VSS permalink
        July 19, 2012 4:32 am

        @ The Revolver [July 18, 2012 12:48 pm]

        After reading this comment from you, I would suggest that you don’t read my blog. Seriously. No humane human being discriminates against anyone based on physical appearance — irrespective of which religion the person is from and irrespective of whether the person is a believer or not. That is such a preposterous question. Yesterday, there was a piece of news that said that three children were branded in a school because they are poor. This happened in Bangalore. Does that mean all residents of Bangalore are anti-poor people? If you’ve seen any discrimination happening in AoL, doesn’t automatically mean it’s happening everywhere. If anyone is practicing some archaic and regressing version of something they think is religious, doesn’t mean that it’s the norm. Take the case of AoL — all who post have said that there are some really nasty senior teachers but ALL are not nasty. There are some truly wonderful, genuine, authentic and sincere people in AoL. Most people who write in these blogs were at one point in AoL, were they not? So, the next time you have to make a preposterous observation or ask a preposterous question, kindly don’t address it to me. It’s a humble request.

      • someone permalink
        November 14, 2012 10:20 am

        WOW!! SS if you are still reading thanks for the blog link.
        I have read works of Swami Vivekananda thoroughly and consider him some sort of personal idol and this blog was a great help for me.
        Side note: I think you are a bit too harsh on Hinduism ( donno about other religions). Its not that bad as you make out. Lots of social practises are made out to be religion which they are not. The fundamental philosophies are quite simple and true. From my understanding I can be agnostic or atheist and yet be Hindu.

  9. July 17, 2012 4:38 pm

    @All,

    Just to make you aware, I won’t necessarily be checking the blog every day going forwards as it can be very time-consuming. Every few days should be fine, and we’re not really in any rush to do anything here.

    So if you post something and it doesn’t appear Live, just be patient, it will eventually be posted.

    Thanks for your understanding,

    Obi

  10. Hari permalink
    July 18, 2012 3:15 am

    @ The Revolver, if you have opinions about Hinduism or any other religion, if it may be a cult or not, it does not belong to this blog. Here we are to discuss about only AOL. If you want to digress on Hinduism, I suggest you to take it elsewhere, coz., you know NOTHING about Hinduism

  11. Hari permalink
    July 18, 2012 3:30 am

    @ The Revolver, if Hinduism is a cult, every damn religion out there is also a cult, far worse than Hinduism. If you want to talk about atheism, take your discussion elsewhere and I warn you to stick only to AOL related discussions on this blog.

    • stupidseeker permalink
      July 18, 2012 3:52 pm

      @Hari,
      It’s bad etiquette to plead for special believers privileges on an anonymous blog. Isn’t the SKY a part of Hindu yoga btw ?? How much do you think it has to with HHSSRS ??

  12. VSS permalink
    July 18, 2012 7:54 am

    @ Mangal [July 17, 2012 7:05 pm]

    I am a mere mortal and shall always be a mere mortal. But I do appreciate your sentiments. I am deeply offended by religion-bashing. I respect atheists — but only as long as they don’t engage in religion-bashing. Just as people have the right to believe in atheism, people have a right to believe in a religion. No one is inferior / superior. All mortals are equals with the same human rights. I don’t indulge in atheism-bashing. And, I am not going to avoid any discussion on any topic pertaining to Hinduism and that’s why I started a blog. I have no problem with addressing issues relating to issue-based criticism but I shall not tolerate indiscriminate Hinduism-bashing or indiscriminate religion-bashing. I shall not be silenced by fascist behaviour from any source. I believe in human rights including the right to believe in the religion of one’s choice. I’ll post the first post on my blog by tomorrow night. I’m already working on it. Thanks again for the encouragement.

  13. zhoro permalink
    July 18, 2012 1:31 pm

    While AOL naively (and in opposition to their own teachings) kept active attention on and reacted to these blogs in various ways that we might generally refer to as harshalism, the blogs kept their momentum and focus. In the relative absence of such stimuli, the need to assert one’s position seeks other avenues and discord ensues.

  14. Anonymous permalink
    July 18, 2012 3:10 pm

    @Blogisattva, Well written and well thought out article. Thanks for that. I have to disagree on one point, and that is that it was all planned by the family. The family, as I understand it from elders who knew the father very well, was just trying to get by. They were poor. Then they had a little money (not posting about how, as it would maybe get me sued — ask around Jayanagar and you’ll find out soon enough), then the father got a government grant for land out on kanakapura road, given for the espress purpose of educating poor village children. We all know what happened to that ‘project’ — it got turned into an ashram instead, with a little corner for the villagers, and begrudingly at that, as far as I can tell. I believe the whole process of lies evolved over time as opportunity arose to lie and get something out of people (fame, money, power, etc.). I agree that the family is dishonest and greedy. But I don’t think they were ever smart enough or organized enough to plan what has happened. I don’t think they ever dreamed how rich they would become, how easy it would be to call themselves a charity and travel first class on others’ money, intended for the poor. They just ‘lucked out’. I don’t even believe that Ravi Shankar planned it. I believe that he started out sincerely, wanting to teach Truth. And he fell to the charms of modern living, wealth, adoration. It’s a common problem with yogis. I truly believe he wanted to be a good man, a great yogi. But he is weak, and fell. That’s what my opinion is about this matter.

    • Bloggisatwa permalink
      July 19, 2012 9:09 am

      @ Anon

      Yours is a valid perspective. Yup, there was no real planning. Probably no clear direction as well in the beginning. I also understand that if you shared more, your privacy may be compromised. Meanwhile, as regards the following

      “I believe that he started out sincerely, wanting to teach Truth.”

      To me…..the following are really interesting and worthwhile knowing

      1. Is the assumption that the world needed to be taught the truth and that everything was false ?
      2. Truth about what ?
      3. And how were the family (including SriSri) qualified to teach the truth ?
      4. What was the motivation ? Was teaching truth a good business ? If that is the case, the trail they have left really does not showcase such an intent.
      5. Would you not have to be a persistent truth seeker prior to embarking such a journey.
      6. Traveling with a few saints, reading some texts….would that qualify to be Truth Teacher ?

      And at what point in time did the original intent wear off ? After 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, 5 years ? Until what time was it pure ?. And then when did it become poor ? What triggered it off ? It all sounds severely murky and vague to me. Its important to have more beef and meat to this line of thinking….

      I too do not think that there was any malicious intent. However, I cannot feel any great altruistic intent either. I feel it was a combination of copy cat and kicked out (TM movement). And then a somewhat planned attempt to duplicate/copy the TM movement. In the process of copying, they probably realised that some qualifiers were missing (Such as education, public endorsement…and so on….)…hence with that in mind they went about their scheming on.

      Now building all these tall stories on advanced degrees, enlightenment…… Guru Grace….

      WHEN DID the fabrication start ? Meaning…..which and where did these early stories arise.

      Do we have any ex-TMers that were with Mahesh and Sri Sri in the late 70s early 80s….please share this info if you are privy to it.

      • Anonymous permalink
        July 19, 2012 12:55 pm

        @Bloggisattva, All extremely good and important questions. The answers, what I would know of them, are in my mind, but I never expressed them (for no real reason, except omission in the other post). Many of my ‘answers’ would be opinions, really.

        I believe, from my own experience, that Ravi Shankar actually believed, truly and completely, that he was an enlightened master. (so did I for a couple years) For all I know, he did have some knowledge. Which truth? A truth that would be spoken of in scriptures, of enlightenment, if one believes in such things. I happen to. When did it all go south, so to speak? When did he get crooked? From the old TMers I’ve spoken to who were with him early on, and from my own talks with him, he was crushed and shocked by Maharishi’s rejection. He really believed that Maharishi had enlightened him, and that he was his successor, and that Maharishi was ‘just saying’ things like sugar coated poison to test his resolve and dispassion. He even said that this was part of a master’s test. (What a great excuse! But it did seem extremely sincere at the time — you had to witness this, I think, to judge it) He thought that Maharishi had entered him, had enlightened him, and that he, Ravi Shankar, would take over the TM organization when Maharishi died! He believed that he would be willed certain properties, and bragged about it with some old TMers. He even said to TM people that he had come to guide them in Maharishi’s place, because they could not get close to M, and that this was M’s wish. He believed these things. But he had other problems — money problems for his family, organizational problems (needed someone to run the Banaglore ashram from it’s outset, so he chose his brother-in-law and sister.) As the only son, he had a responsibility to care for his parents. His brother in law had a petty government post that didn’t pay very much. Donations from foreigners, as the ashram came up (dollar a day, money from courses etc.) were a much larger source of income. So the brother in law was told to quit his job and work there instead. Exactly when did he become totaly corrupted? Hard to say. I believe it was a gradual process as he became more and more tempted by various things like money, power, fame and other things. There are some aspects of his person that he only should divulge, in my opinion, as they are very personal. I believe that one of those aspects is a direct cause of his downfall, as he had to hide it in order to remain popular with most Indians. Having been restricted all of his life for social reasons, he found himself freed by money and power and could pretty much ask people to do whatever he wanted at some point. So maybe by the early or mid or late 90s he was corrupted and couldn’t turn back, having tasted things he didn’t like to then give up? It’s hard to say which thing(s) pointed him in his current Godless direction. Yes, it is murky, even to me, and I knew him very very well personally. Perhaps as some of us left (and lots of us left one after the next, having found out that he was lying about too many things, and refused to stop or ‘come clean’) he just gave up and went ahead to just get as big and powerful and rich as he could. It seemed to disappoint and shock him when a teacher he trusted, who had trusted him, lost that trust because of his actions, and left him.

        I have heard from old TMers that they knew him in the 80s in Noida, when he was a kind of runner for Maharishi. At a large international course, according to those people, he was responsible for going to the airport to greet the foreigners arriving for the course. He said that he was in charge of building up the Noida ashram for Maharishi. I have seen a photo of him with Maharishi, which looks to have been taken in India, perhaps in the 80s.

        Why Ravi Shankar doesn’t credit his guru, whom he so obviously loved intensely, is a mystery to me. Maybe he was angry that he didn’t get to be the successor? Maybe his love was temporary? I don’t know. But it was obvious from the way he spoke about him in the 90s that he loved his master deeply, and believed that certain people around Maharishi were keeping him from taking his calls, and that Maharishi was “testing” him somehow. The hurt really shown in his eyes. Seeing the guruparampara alterted to exclude Maharishi is just weird to me. I have no idea why that was done. He told me that he only dressed in white, the way he does, to feel close to Maharishi, that he was Maharishi inside! These types of statements made me doubt his sanity, quite frankly, but also made me see a great love he had that bordered on obsession for his master.

        There is no true way to know the motivations of an individual. One can only extrapolate from incidents occuring while in that person’s presence, from deeds committed, sentences spoken, facial expressions at the time. But who can know? I certainly cannot. I can only guess from my own experience of this man, who I still believe started out as a sincere seeker of Truth (and I’m talking about the desire to know Brahman, as spoken of in the scriptures), thought he had found it with Maharishi, and then felt that he should pass this along to others. For me, he is simply a fallen yogi. It’s not that uncommon. He failed the ultimate test by the universe to give without falling prey to name, fame, power, lust. All advancing souls, ordinary men and women, are tested. Some fail. He failed.

      • benson permalink
        July 26, 2012 3:17 pm

        @Anonymous July 19, 2012 12:55 pm
        Wow, fabulous story,
        Please tell us more about your experience with SSRS, I’m from Argentina and only after two years I am open to all this im

  15. stupidseeker permalink
    July 18, 2012 3:50 pm

    @VSS,
    Don’t only accuse atheists of “religion bashing” seeing as how the different categories of believers have bashed each other up in the most ingenious ways over the centuries.

    You don’t want to critique Hinduism, which amply allows for personal experience as validation of one’s religious experience more than any other religion, yet you berate AOLites for “blindly” following their Guru, and want to “rescue” then from the clutches of the dhongi baba. The atheist goes one step further and asks “Is there such a thing as enlightenment or an enlightened being anyway”? Does that come across as “bashing” to you?? The internet is full of the misdemeanours of this or that guru or baba or Amma. Almost all of them have had slurs cast at them. If you regard one of them as “enlightened”, then your reaction to any slur on the same, will be on exactly the same lines as that of an AOLites to slurs on HHSSRS.

    Just fyi, HHSSRS has been elected as convenor of the confederation of the most popular gurus of present time. The chairperson is the pontiff of a very important south Indian Hindu mutt who traces his religious lineage right up to Adi Shankaracharya, that most luminous amongst Hindus. http://spiritualgateway.org/officebearers.html

    From this I wish to ask, how much more does HHSSRS have to do before you declare him a “true hindu”?? And more importantly as a “true Hindu” yourself, why not publish the observations to be made while deciding who is a true Guru or not??

    • VSS permalink
      July 18, 2012 4:08 pm

      @ stupidseeker [July 18, 2012 3:50 pm]

      I won’t avoid any question and I shall address all issue-based criticism. I wouldn’t have started a blog if I had any intention of AVOIDING any AUTHENTIC ISSUE — whether it’s to do with the caste system or gurus or enlightenment.

      I request for your patience … you can expect the first post in about 28 hours. Thanks.

      • stupidseeker permalink
        July 18, 2012 5:02 pm

        @VSS,

        Why do I get the feeling that a new scripture is going to be born in the next 28 hrs following which the author might make a name for themselves in the religious arena. Well if shankaracharya or vivekananda could do so, why not you ?? Personal experience after all is accepted currency in Hinduism, isn’t it ??

      • VSS permalink
        July 18, 2012 5:51 pm

        @ stupidseeker [July 18, 2012 5:02 pm]

        I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry at this comment. How can I possibly know why you’re imagining things that have absolutely no likelihood whatsoever of coming true?

    • Mangal permalink
      July 18, 2012 4:37 pm

      @stupidseeker

      what a shame you are an atheist. given your prodigious knowledge you could beat all those Gurus in metaphysical arguments and become a bigger guru yourself.

      think about it… there are millions all over the world waiting for YOU

      • stupidseeker permalink
        July 18, 2012 4:55 pm

        @Mangal,

        What kind of a guru do you think would I have made if I went around telling people that chances are there is nothing more to dying than just dying. Do you think people are going to pay me to hear such a thing.

  16. stupidseeker permalink
    July 18, 2012 6:40 pm

    @Obi-Wan,

    Thanking you for allowing me to post on your blog. It has been a privilege to be doing so and i hope to continue posting with your permission. This will be my last post on this thread and I hope that you allow it go through.

    When we critique the hold that HHSSRS has over his devotees, we actually critique the Guru-Shishya parampara, which has sacrosanct legitimacy in Hinduism, wherein the Shishya must have unquestioning faith in the spiritual abilities of the guru whilst the Guru is held as nothing less than God. Anything contrary to this constitutes Guru – Aparadha.

    When we critique the effectiveness of the SKY, we question the ability of yoga, regarded as infallible by believers, to take you to the state of blissful union with the ultimate reality (brahman) referred to as samadhi.

    When we submit that HHSSRS is a charlatan, we are really questioning that is there such a state called “enlightenment” and “enlightened beings”. The goal of every Hindu is release or moksha and one who is released from the Karmic bondage and hence from rebirth while still embodied is called a mukta = “enlightened being”. Hence with just one question, i.e can there be such a thing as “enlightenment”, the whole concept of karma and reincarnation is cast into doubt.

    If we have questioned the legitimacy of the guru-shishya parampara, if we have questioned the effectiveness of yoga, if we have questioned the concept of “mukti” and thereby the concepts of karma and reincarnation then I’m afraid Hinduism is indeed being critiqued on this blog notwithstanding the fact that the critiquing has been done in the context of AOL.

    • Dayalu permalink
      July 18, 2012 7:15 pm

      I would disagree with you, SS. There are people posting here who critique SSRS and AOL, but still respect the Yogic and Ayurvedic traditions and Advaita concepts (non-dualism). Infact my biggest problem with AOL is that they are bringing disrepute to these age old and time tested traditions.

      • Doubt permalink
        July 19, 2012 12:31 pm

        I agree with you, Dayalu.

        @Stupidseeker, You can be an atheist and still be a hindu. Hinduism is an ocean, where all opinions can exist, except when you lie and not true to your purported beliefs and even your so called atheism will also lead you to Moksha. There are very few tenets in Hinduism such as ‘Satyamev Jayate” and all paths leads to truth, no one path is superior or inferior as long as you truthfully stick to it.

      • stupidseeker permalink
        July 24, 2012 6:59 pm

        @Dayalu,

        I cannot imagine a situation where one believes in Advaita and yet is prepared to believe that the oneness experience of RS is incorrect. At best such a person can trust his own oneness experience or trust the experience of a guru other than RS, but how can that prove RS’s oneness experience as false ?
        The phenomenon of enlightenment is associated with the complete negation of karma, good or bad. Such an individual, can be referred to as triguna rahitham, or rid of the triple qualities of nature. The will of such an individual is now aligned with that of cosmic will and hence no fruits will accrue to the actions of such an individual. As Krishna says in the BG, such an individual does not really kill when he kills, because the act is volition-less as a consequence of the extinguishing of the individual ego into the universal ego. Thus we see that enlightenment is not a moral event, but only a spiritual event. Thus RS’s lack of morals cannot be taken as a basis for negating his self declared enlightenment, since if he is enlightened then none of his actions will be ego inspired and who can tell what the wish of the cosmos really is ????

        So also you claim that the yoga taught by AOL will not lead to enlightenment, when there is evidence to show that all of this yoga is drawn from ancient yogic traditions,eg the Jyotishpeetha, which claims that yoga can lead you to enlightenment.

        So unless and until one does not question the existentialism of the concepts of enlightenment and that yoga can get one to it, then one may merely end up exchanging one RS for another and one yogic technique for another, and then another.

        Can you truthfully say that all the stories spun around all of hinduism’s greatest seers are all true. When Pitaji fibbs about RS’s childhood and his degrees, everyone agrees that he is fibbing. Can one say that the even greater fantastic stories spun around Shankara, MMY or Yogananda, or ramakrishana or ramana or vivekananda are truer than those spun around RS ??

    • VSS permalink
      July 19, 2012 5:15 am

      @ stupidseeker [July 18, 2012 6:40 pm]

      Who has told you that the “Guru-shishya parampara” has “sacrosanct legitimacy in Hinduism” ?

      Whoever has told you, has taken you for a ride.

      The concept of a “dhongi” or “fraudulent person” has been around since forever.

      Mr. Ravi Shankar is a “dhongi”.

      Further, let me tell you that the majority of Hindus live in rural areas of India.

      Most can’t read and write — let alone read the Vedas and interpret the Vedas. They don’t care about the concepts you’ve tossed around — such as “enlightenment” and “moksha”.

      Most are NOT into chasing “enlightenment” or “moksha”.

      Try this activity. Go to a village. Ask people if they are interested in “moksha”. Some will say no. Some will say “yes” just to humour you and then go back to work — which is mainly an agriculture-related activity — extremely time consuming and extremely exacting physically.

      Then, go to an urban area. What did AoL do? It went to urban areas in India. What happened? 2 out of 20 people were found to be somewhat interested. What does that tell you? That should tell you that 18 out of 20 are NOT INTERESTED in Mr. Ravi Shankar’s TWISTED AND CONTORTED PERCEPTION OF HINDUISM.

      As for Ayurveda and Yoga — I don’t know who has told you that these are necessary. Do you think that majority of Hindus who live in villages do yoga? You’ve got to be kidding! They work in the fields — which is what all those involved in agriculture do. If they have a hospital in the village, they go to the hospital. If the Government has been slow and not done its job and there are no hospitals, then they have no option but to lean on Ayurveda.

      So, whoever has told you that being a true Hindu involves chasing “enlightenment”, chasing gurus without figuring out if they are “dhongis” or chasing “gurus” to begin with, and that “yoga” and “ayurveda” are necessary — has taken you for a royal ride.

      In the context of “gurus”, let me add another bit that I think is significant. In the case of Eklavya and Dronacharya, where Dronacharya demanded “Eklavya’s” thumb as “guru dakshina”, you will find no true Hindu defending what Dronacharya did — not in a village and not in an urban area.

      Please also read all instances where teachers in regular schools are exploiting children and abusing them in various ways. Do you find any right-thinking individual from any religion defending torture? Do you find anyone saying blindly that a teacher torturing a student is correct or ethical or moral or religious?

      There’s a social change happening — especially in India. People, no matter whether they’re rich or poor — no matter whether they’re believers or not — no matter which region they are from — are learning what constitutes abuse — and are taking teachers to task and the Government is arresting them and punishing them.

      This atmosphere is bound to lead to all these “dhongis” like Mr. Ravi Shankar getting exposed. Please add to the momentum of social transformation in any way that you can. The need of the hour is to educate people about what constitutes “abuse”.

      • Anonymous permalink
        July 19, 2012 12:22 pm

        @VSS Thank you for this — very well said. If Ravi Shankar had done any of the social work he claims to be collecting money for, some of those poor people might actually have some small interest in moksha now. But as it stands, they first need to fill their stomachs at great cost to their physical body, by daily labor of one sort or the other, as you rightly said. He should be building housing with water sources for them. He should be using that money to teach them hygiene. He should be building the villages that he just talks about. He’s made so much money and so little to show for this! There should be, by now, thousands of houses built, millions of people receiving stipends in old-age, hundreds or thousands of orphans being served by Art of Living. Not happening. Disgusting waste of money.

      • Dayalu permalink
        July 24, 2012 7:52 pm

        @SS,

        “I cannot imagine a situation where one believes in Advaita and yet is prepared to believe that the oneness experience of RS is incorrect”

        You may be surprised then to learn that most people leave AOL not because they are against the principles that AOL ostensibly stands for, but because they realize that AOL and RS are pretentious. Pooh -Pooh-ing RS’ knowledge tapes is not because we’re opposed to principles of non-dualism or yoga, but because we believe RS is not qualified to preach and teach these. We advise people not to practice SK, not because we’re opposed to Yoga, but because we don’t consider SK a yogic practice at all. And overall we belive that RS and AOL folks do not have the moral and ethical rectitude to talk about spirituality and service.

        There is absolutely no dichotomy in opposing AOL and at the same time standing up for Sanathana Dharma, yoga and such other great traditions.

    • July 24, 2012 1:43 am

      @SS,

      I have absolutely no objection whatsoever to your critiquing Hinduism – provided you show its relevance to AoL.

      The problem I have here is that your logic is completely off.

      For example: “When we critique the hold that HHSSRS has over his devotees, we actually critique the Guru-Shishya parampara … ” – no we aren’t, we are simply critiquing the hold RS has over his devotees. Whilst this may have its roots in the Guru-Shishya Parampara, the relationship does not necessarily follow the same, and there are an additional number of factors which come into play here.

      Likewise, “When we critique the effectiveness of the SKY, we question the ability of yoga, regarded as infallible by believers, to take you to the state of blissful union with the ultimate reality (brahman) referred to as samadhi.” – this is a complete non-sequitur. All we are doing is questioning the effectiveness of SK, which I don’t think anyone actually considers to be a part of yoga. If it is, it is a tiny part, so you cannot logically claim that if we are questioning a component of something much larger then the whole of that something much larger is flawed. This just makes no sense.

      And as for “When we submit that HHSSRS is a charlatan, we are really questioning that is there such a state called “enlightenment” and “enlightened beings”. – while it is true we have questioned the behaviour of RS, and have questioned enlightenment itself, we cannot conclude that because RS behaves in ways which we would not expect an enlightened being to behave in that there is no such thing as enlightenment. This again is not a logical statement, but rather something which is borne out of a desire to show that enlightenment, yoga, and Hinduism are somehow all wrong because of the flaws of one individual, his practices and his organization.

      So please, keep it on topic but above all if you’re going to try to use logic, then keep it logical!

      • stupidseeker permalink
        July 24, 2012 6:08 am

        @Obi wan,

        Don’t take my word that AOL is a Hindu organization. But please note that the pontiff of a very prestigious Hindu mutt in southern India has testified to RS’s Hinduness and RS enjoys support of the traditional Hindu nationalist organizations such as the BJP & RSS. I will take their word over yours regarding whether or not RS and his AOL is a Hindu organization or not. Apropos, RS’s own enlightenment experience is that of Advaita or the dissolution of duality, regarded as heretical by the Abrahamics, the concept of which was expounded upon by Adi Shankaracharya and is the subject matter of very significant Hindu scriptures such as the Upanishads.

        The tradition of the infallible guru being the preceptor of the spiritual novice is very much a part of Hinduism. Swami Vivekananda and Adi Shankaracharya testify to this.

        I’m hoping that my logic, illogic according to you, may make sense to someone else who may be reading this blog, since, obviously, we all are posting not for individuals, but for a larger audience.

        My research leads me to believe that AOL is a Hindu organisation, its leader RS is the archetypal hindu guru, his enlightenment experience of samadhi is a typical Hindu experience of enlightenment, he teaches yoga in the tradition of ancient hindu masters, his authority over his disciples by virtue of his personal experience is condoned by Hinduism, and finally hinduism just like other religions makes a very large number of unfalsifiable claims. Like it or not , its questioning those very claims, in the context of AOL, that led many to becoming AOLites.

        The thoughts of “The Doctor” on this very subject can be seen here :

        http://aolfree.wordpress.com/2011/07/16/deconstructing-religion-a-memetic-perspective/

      • stupidseeker permalink
        July 24, 2012 6:30 am

        “””All we are doing is questioning the effectiveness of SK, which I don’t think anyone actually considers to be a part of yoga. If it is, it is a tiny part, so you cannot logically claim that if we are questioning a component of something much larger then the whole of that something much larger is flawed. This just makes no sense.”””

        @Obi wan

        These researchers consider SKY to be “full blown” yoga. Now it’s your word against theirs.

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=sudarshan%20kriya

        The Hatha yoga pradipika, a treatise on hatha yoga, has an entire chapter devoted to Samadhi that comes as a result of yoga. Read also the stress on following the “true” guru. Almost all of pranayama and asana has its offshoots in this five century old text.

        http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/hyp/hyp06.htm

        Now Samadhi aside, yoga can and does bring about better physical and mental health. That does not mean it is free from adverse effects. Others have written exhaustively on the same.

        http://dangersofyoga.blogspot.in/
        http://www.suggestibility.org/surprise.php

        So all the criticism of SKY which in one or the other is linked to the Hindu yogic tradition, unless one believes in RS’s claim of having cognized it, is actually criticism of the yogic tradition which claims infallibility.

      • Anonymous permalink
        July 24, 2012 7:22 am

        Dear SS, if you are keen about dragging/digressing the AOL critiques detailed into critiquing Hinduism on a whole, we could very well start critiquing other religions too. Why coz., there are countless no. of “non-Hindus” (read Christians) who are in AOL as well and consider HHSSRS as a “Jesus-incarnate”. While Christians believe that anyone who rejects Jesus as the sole savior of men, then you cannot be saved and will go the eternal Lake of Fire. What happened to erstwhile “Christians” now? How do you like that for digressing from the AOL related discussions now?

      • Prakash permalink
        July 24, 2012 7:36 am

        “Apropos, RS’s own enlightenment experience is that of Advaita or the dissolution of duality, regarded as heretical by the Abrahamics…”

        Not just by Abrahamics!

        Ask any Vishishtadvaitin or a Dvaitin and he will also tell you that Advaitic enlightenment is a sham. In fact both these schools have much stronger objections against Advaita than anything you can come up on your own. Yet both of them are Hindus.

        “My research leads me to believe that AOL is a Hindu organisation, its leader RS is the archetypal hindu guru, his enlightenment experience of samadhi is a typical Hindu experience of enlightenment..”

        Then, your research is superficial.

        For everything that you have said there is another Hindu school that directly contradicts it.

      • stupidseeker permalink
        July 24, 2012 9:38 am

        @prakash,

        You are absolutely correct in your stating that Hinduism contains within itself a large collection of religious philosophies, many of which contradict each other over the question of what constitutes the correct religious experience and the true nature of divinity. To this end, Madhavacharya even accused Shankaracharya of not being able to count beyond zero. Each claim of non dualism or dualism is unfalsifiable. How each party managed to falsify the other is truly mystifying.
        But what does that prove or disprove?? That HHSSRS is not a Hindu and AOL is not a Hindu organization that does not enjoy patronage of established Hindu organizations?? Does it disprove that the source of HHSSRS’s authority, his personal experience of advaita, is not sanctioned by Hindu scriptures?? Does it disprove that the source of his yoga is not traditional yoga?? Does it disprove that a large body of Hindu scripture stresses the necessity of a Guru. Your assertion regarding the enormity and variety of Hindu theology is not sufficient grounds to excommunicate HHSSRS from the ambit of Hinduism or its alter ego, sanatana dharma.

      • stupidseeker permalink
        July 24, 2012 10:09 am

        “””This again is not a logical statement, but rather something which is borne out of a desire to show that enlightenment, yoga, and Hinduism are somehow all wrong because of the flaws of one individual, his practices and his organization. “””

        I submit that Hinduism like other religions puts forth a large number of philosophies regarding the true nature of the self, God and other metaphysical theories such as Samadhi and self realization that are unfalsifiable. Them being unfalsifiable, I have never knowingly tried to falsify them in any way. Can you please point out when I have attempted to do so?? And surely you would concur that if they are unfalsifiable; it does not mean that one cannot question them??

      • Guru-Ouch permalink
        July 24, 2012 10:42 am

        Dear SS “But what does that prove or disprove?? That HHSSRS is not a Hindu and AOL is not a Hindu organization that does not enjoy patronage of established Hindu organizations?? Does it disprove that the source of HHSSRS’s authority, his personal experience of advaita, is not sanctioned by Hindu scriptures??”
        Hinduism or Hindus do not have any problem in AOL calling itself as a Hindu organization. Neither Hindus nor Hinduism would have any problem if you SS start an organization called “Art of SS’ Living” and align yourself with your code of principles, that you may think was “based” on core values of Hinduism, yet preach Christianity or Buddhism or Atheism or Whatsoeverism or Whatsoeverianity. You may even sell Bible under the cover of Rig Veda and yet Hinduism shall not have any trouble with it. Why coz., Hinduism is something that dates back eons before rest of the religions in the world came to exist. It would not be easy for any person in any number of lives to understand and assimilate this religion or its rituals. Everyone is open to any interpretation as one wants. Organizations like AOL are mushrooms that think that it belongs to the likes of a Banyan tree called “Hinduism”. If AOL wants to, do you think the people who wrote the vedas and upanishads should sue them or what? Also, coz., you cannot create one single identity for this religion and term it as “Hinduism”, unlike other religions (read Christianity or Buddhism or Islam or any other religion). However, it looks like your sole intention here is to drag and digress AOL topics into demeaning Hinduism. If your thoughts on Hinduism are so profound, go make a Max Muller out of yourself than wasting your digressional discussions here on this blog.
        I feel that this blog should be restricted only to critiquing AOL, its business ventures and if it succeeds in stopping a person or two from getting lured into this cult, THERE meets this blog’s purpose.

  17. July 18, 2012 10:46 pm

    “Become less passionate about things” be dispassionate and still do 100% 😉

    • Dayalu permalink
      July 26, 2012 1:55 pm

      @SS

      “RS’s Hinduness and RS enjoys support of the traditional Hindu nationalist organizations such as the BJP & RSS”

      The AOL course and RS had received endorsement also from many christian organizations, Muslim imams, CPM party of Kerala (although they later retracted).
      If you’ve not noticed, RS changes color wherever he goes. He can be a staunch hindu in front of Hindu pontiffs and truly secular in front of others. And what made you think that Hindu Nationalist parties represent Hindus or Hinduism?

      “Apropos, RS’s own enlightenment experience is that of Advaita”

      Firstly where have you heard RS talking about his enlightenment experience. To most, that is a black box that he never refers to. In his talks RS, makes a Jalebi (jilebi in south India) out of advaita, dvaita, new age, common sense wisdom and whatever other ingredients he can mix up. His series on Ashtavakra Gita is essentially Advaita. But he has also commented on Bhakti Sutras, which is dvaita. But after listening to these talks, which are based on distinct schools of thought, it is not possible to make out that difference because he makes a kichdi out of these.

      “The tradition of the infallible guru being the preceptor of the spiritual novice is very much a part of Hinduism. Swami Vivekananda and Adi Shankaracharya testify to this”

      Vivekananda was always a proponent of questioning everything and he indeed questioned his guru right at the beginning. Adi shankara was never under his guru’s shadow. He soon outgrew his guru and set out on his own. In Indian traditions the guru has his place, but the guru is not infallible, no guru sits on a throne like RS and no guru demands loyalty like RS does, the guru is not the overpowering influence in every aspect of your life like RS is to AOL folks. Most gurus you come across in Hindu Mythology are ascetics and in most cases the only thing they ask for is a one time guru-dakshina, not life long loyalty. Guru is the guide and shows the path, he does not arm twist you to stick to the path he shows.

      The guru concept in AOL is more like the prophet concept in Abrahamic religions, where you are not supposed to question anything, but just listen and comply lest you be declared a ‘heretic’. That tradition was never the norm in India.

  18. stupidseeker permalink
    July 19, 2012 1:35 pm

    http://www.writerscafe.org/atruehindu

    @VSS

    A question . Pray tell how one can comment on your subject matter ??

    • Anonymous permalink
      July 19, 2012 1:44 pm

      stupidseeker – As of now there is no subject matter on her blog. Just instructions about how the comment makers should behave and how they would be dealt with if they do not fall in line with her thinking.

      Wish that Obi-wan learns something from this and starts some moderation here so that the purpose of this blog is not defeated.

      • Dayalu permalink
        July 19, 2012 4:54 pm

        @Anonymous permalink July 19, 2012 1:44 pm

        I agree. This blog should not be relegated to a forum for emotional outbursts. AOL folks could allege that the comments here are just juvenile cribbings.

      • anonymous permalink
        July 20, 2012 1:43 am

        How does everyone know VSS is a woman? As for conversions to Hinduism, Mikey Fischman was recently converted by RS to hinduism via a thread ceremony. I saw his photos in a dhoti with the thread and everything, and people were commenting “congrats brahmin boy etc”. so obviously that’s what it was. a conversion. what idiots he is making out of people.

    • Mangal permalink
      July 19, 2012 4:31 pm

      @stupidseeker, to respond, you must click on the “flag writer” option on the right

      @VSS please move to wordpress or blogspot where the setting is more interactive

      • VSS permalink
        July 19, 2012 5:44 pm

        @ Mangal,

        There are several reasons why I wanted my blog to be in a community. I can’t share all of them at this time but the most important one is that I wanted people who might be vulnerable to being conned by fraud Hindu gurus to have access to information if they wish. Besides, this blog is already there on wordpress. (Blogspot is still blocked by my ISP.)

        @ SS,

        I’ve posted the first post. You’ll see instructions on what you need to do to comment when you read the post. (Posts can be read by anyone.) It won’t be as convenient as it is to post a comment on this blog. Sorry about that. I do have reasons for choosing that particular site — all of which I can’t share at this time.

  19. VSS permalink
    July 20, 2012 11:41 am

    Dear SS,

    I’m afraid there is no way that a conversation can continue on my blog. I have closed it.

    You are imposing your ideas on me. I had said no names but you still posted names and then when I deleted your comment, you are saying that I shouldn’t have deleted your comment. I had said that I won’t let any anti-peace or anti-humanity comment stay. Still, you posted a comment with an inappropriate tone (even questioning my right to have a blog) and then posted another comment to say that I should have let the comment remain. If my pre-conditions were not acceptable to you, you should not have commented.

    So, here’s my suggestion to you — please start a blog which does justice to your perception of how a blog should subject ideas in Hinduism to rigorous scrutiny and let me know the link and the rules for commenting and I shall respect them.

    Thanks and regards,

    VSS

    • bloggisatwa permalink
      July 20, 2012 5:31 pm

      VSS and SS,

      A kind request to the both of you.

      This discussion is off track. Its not helpful for the majority. Please refrain from this specific discussion thread…..its not really adding any value to the original discussion ….it only manages to highlight 2 different views from the two of you.

      Thank you for your understanding

  20. stupidseeker permalink
    July 20, 2012 12:54 pm

    @VSS,

    Blasphemy is a victimless crime. First show me the victim and then prosecute me for it.

    • VSS permalink
      July 20, 2012 1:54 pm

      @ SS,

      I don’t know what you’re talking about. I didn’t say a word about blasphemy. Please don’t imagine things. Even before I wrote a word on my blog, you posted this:

      “Why do I get the feeling that a new scripture is going to be born in the next 28 hrs following which the author might make a name for themselves in the religious arena. Well if shankaracharya or vivekananda could do so, why not you ?? Personal experience after all is accepted currency in Hinduism, isn’t it ??”

      I don’t know where your imagination takes you.

      Anyway, as of now, I have closed my blog because of your complaints. I am honouring your feedback. I really don’t understand your perception of a blog, moderation on a blog, or of how Hinduism should be scrutinized. I have zero IQ and / or EQ in this regard.

      So, please start a blog which does justice to your perception of how a blog should subject ideas in Hinduism to rigorous scrutiny and let me know the link and the rules for commenting and I shall respect them.

      Thanks and regards,

      VSS

      • Meditator permalink
        July 20, 2012 3:25 pm

        VSS – I and many others do not care and are not at all interested in knowing why you started or closed your blog. It was your decision period. We respect your decision/s.

        As you had mentioned in your blog you now have SS mail id had had written to him. Can you please take up your private conversations privately and stop your rantings here (unless it’s connected to what this blog is for).

        You have mentioned on July 20, 2012 11:41 am – “….let me know the link and the rules for commenting and I shall respect them. “.

        Well here are the reasons and rules for this blog –

        http://aolfree.wordpress.com/2010/10/02/the-purpose-of-these-blogs/

        I seriously do not care whether you or anyone else is a true hindu/christian/parsi/muslim/any other religion. If someone is an idiot, religion does not matter and there are idiots as well as great people in all religions.

        BTW, I’m Hindu by birth. Just happened to be born to parents who followed this religion. My personality would still have been the same had my parents belonged to some other religion.

  21. VSS permalink
    July 20, 2012 5:46 pm

    @ Obi-Wan / Moderator,

    I agree with the observations here.

    Could you please delete all my comments on this thread that are irrelevant at the earliest? I just got dragged into something that I completely regret. All my comments that are irrelevant — please delete them. People will be reading this thread in the future too. I don’t wish to be a contributor of nonsense. I never did. And then, please delete this comment too.

    Frankly, please delete all other comments that are nonsense too. Please use your magic scissors to clean up this thread. It’s looking like a junkyard right now and I’m really sorry for my part in making it that. I’ll be very grateful to you.

    Thank you.

    VSS

  22. Anonymous permalink
    July 24, 2012 5:55 pm

    @Guru-ouch

    I agree with you about SS’s comment diverting from the purpose of this blog. Moderator should not allow such comments to be posted.

  23. stupidseeker permalink
    July 26, 2012 4:56 pm

    Having been on the fringes of AOL for most part, this video in which Rishi Nityapragya can be seen issuing instructions to participants of the TTC, provided a glimpse to the psychological manipulation employed upon soon-to-be teachers, by senior AOL people to further expand the family of AOL.

    The participants are instructed (commanded??) by Nityapragya (spiritual senior??) to take up tasks such as organising intro talks, arranging courses and raising 50K USD since this will be useful and necessary for their further spiritual? growth. @ 4.11 Nityapragya claims that everything he is asking the participants to do, he has done at least 500 times.

    Most of the ex-teachers on this blog of course will be familiar with such sessions where spiritual growth is linked to the quantum of courses organised, never mind the enormous effort, resources and pain that is involved and the supposed spiritual benefits as hazy as the masters’ infallible enlightenment.

    This however might be an important resource for newbie’s to AOL, as it will tell them, from the horse’s mouth so to speak, of the requirements to be fulfilled, before they qualify as spiritual in AOL.

    • Mangal permalink
      July 26, 2012 5:35 pm

      thank you stupidseeker. i am overwhelmed. rarely do we see such a sparkling personality conveying ironclad requirements in avuncular dulcet tones. i feel like going back into aol right now and working my ass off.

      did he really cry at 9 minutes ?

      • July 28, 2012 3:06 pm

        Boy you should see the emotion pouring out of this man when he cries. I don’t know if he’s trained himself to do it – if so, he’s an amazing actor – or if he genuinely believes that he is doing God’s work and whenever he thinks of RS he gets this emotional. Either way, those who witness generally fall for it and they too become all emotional and think wow, we’ve got to do God’s work, look at Rishiji crying, isn’t it amazing?

      • The Revolver permalink
        July 28, 2012 6:16 pm

        video is very touching and powerful in conveying the message! Good spot!

  24. Dayalu permalink
    July 29, 2012 3:41 am

    This kind of teary eyed performance is a recent, but pretty effective tactic in AOL.

    There is a video that was shot in the 90’s which has RS talking about Bhakti – the unconditional love between Krishna and the gopis and how Krishna himself yearns for that tears of longing. He then breaks down in to tears implying that he as present day Krishna is going through the same. They started showing this video in recent years at teachers’ events and blessing courses and all. Some of the senior teachers started taking a cue from RS in this video and started their own sobbing drama. I remember, in one of the recent Sri Sri advanced courses, on the last day two super senior female teachers broke down while asking for more donations. Wow! I am sure they collected loads of money that day. Drama, drama……

  25. Anonymous permalink
    July 31, 2012 12:02 pm

    LOL!! At the idea of Ravi Shankar being Krishna, some man/God with a bunch of women/gopis he entertains. Sure, he may encourage the women around him to long for him, but that’s all. You won’t be seeing any traditional Ras Lila taking place with this guy. LOL!!! People are either blind or stupid or totally misinformed, or simply don’t want to admit the truth. His close disciples know the truth about him. The reality is soooooo the opposite of Krishna and his female gopis. Why can’t people see the terribly obvious?

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