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Exposing the AoL Brainwashing Machinery – Part 9

March 2, 2013

In Part 8 of this series we took a look at the power of Authority and how it is used to persuade and manipulate those who are in some way associated with Art of Living. In this part we will look at the last of Cialdini’s Weapon’s of Influence, Scarcity.


The sixth and final of Cialdini’s Weapons of Influence is the Scarcity Principle, which states that the more limited the availability of any given thing, the more we desire it and hence the more influence it can exert over us.

An important variation of this principle occurs when something which is currently available becomes considerably less available, we value it significantly more than if it was already scarce. Another variation of this principle occurs when something is not only scarce, but when additional social demand comes into effect, in other words when we feel that others desire an already scarce resource, then its perceived value increases even more than if there was no competition.

In Art of Living, this principle is used almost exclusively to manipulate existing devotees, as the ways in which it is used cannot readily be applied to those who are effectively outsiders to AoL.

Probably the most innocuous way in which the Scarcity Principle is used in AoL is to try to convince devotees to attend a specific (usually more advanced) course by claiming that is a special course which is rarely taught, or is being taught by a teacher whom “we are very blessed to have with us” since they rarely visit this area and hence we should be grateful. Often a claim is made that “we don’t know when they’ll teach this course again because it’s so rare and special, so you should really attend this time whilst you have the chance”. Whilst in some cases this may be true, more often than not the course is actually taught a lot more regularly than those applying this tactic make out.

Along similar lines, whenever a prominent individual from within the AoL hierarchy visits a particular region, much of the feverishness and fuss which ensues stems from the attitudes of many staunch devotees that this again is an extremely rare opportunity as Swami x or Rishi y is so busy, and rarely has time to visit this area. The last time he was here was many years ago, and we don’t know the next time he will visit. Again, we should feel really blessed by his deciding to honor us with his presence.

Tied in with many of these visits is the idea that Swami x or Rishi y is actually in possession of some “special knowledge” which Guruji himself has instructed him to reveal to us, and which he didn’t feel the world was ready for until now. This tactic was certainly employed by two subsequent visits of a certain well-known AoL “celebrity” in my local area – and both times he gave exactly the same discourses and revealed no special or otherwise secret knowledge.

This overall idea of an organization or individual being in possession of some secret or special knowledge exclusive to them is itself another exploitation of the Scarcity principle. It is used very effectively in AoL, especially as one becomes more deeply involved with the organization. Many promises of secret knowledge being revealed are made to devotees throughout their time with the organization, and it is nearly always done to make them take steps towards going deeper into the organization, taking more advanced courses, and of course sitting TTC.

Even certain talks and courses, especially those with prominent AoL figures, are only open to those who have achieved a certain status within AoL, such as becoming teachers or volunteers. For those who are neither a teacher nor a volunteer, hearing about these talks can give them a good incentive to consider become either a volunteer or a teacher. Especially when they are further told that during these talks “extra special” or secret information will be revealed which can only be revealed to teachers and devotees as they are perceived to be more spiritually evolved and hence ready for this knowledge.

Having attended a number of these closed talks myself, I can reveal that nothing of import is every mentioned in them. In fact, the sole purpose of these talks is to allow those giving the talks to use a level of brainwashing which they could not do so for a wider audience because they don’t already have the foundational levels of brainwashing that teachers and volunteers do. Many things are discussed in these talks which rely on a certain belief system to already exist in those attending, otherwise it simply won’t make any sense.

But the Scarcity principle is also applied to products which AoL sells. More than any other DVD produced by AoL, the Ashtavakra DVD set is promoted and sold using the scarcity principle. In the first place, it is considered to be something which should only be watched by those considering becoming teachers, thus limiting the remit of who should and who should not watch it. Secondly, it is deemed by those who have seen it to contain major life-changing knowledge not to be found anywhere else. Thirdly, its price in the West is astronomical, especially compared to other AoL knowledge DVDs. Pricing something in this manner is actually another means of making devotees value something considerably more than they otherwise would. But the most interesting thing about the Ashtavakra DVDs is the way so many teachers seem to both be highly protective of it, regarding is as something incredibly sacred, and generally reluctant to share their copy with anybody, especially those who they deem to be “unfit” for watching it.

All of these factors combine together to create a mysterious aura around the Ashtavakra DVDs, which increases demand for it and also instills the desire in those devotees to become teachers. These same devotees are usually enticed to attend group sessions where an episode of the DVDs is played followed by a group discussion of what they saw.

Another interesting exploitation of the Scarcity Principle is in limiting the availability of certain key individuals in AoL. At the most basic level this is seen during the Advanced Courses, where Advanced Course teachers are generally made out to be extremely rare individuals who have been specially chosen by RS, singled out from all the masses, to teach this special course. Access to these teachers is usually a lot more limited than access to normal teachers, and this is evident even in trivial matters such as the way these teachers are instructed (this is actually in the teacher’s handbook it would seem) to eat their lunch separately from everyone attending.

As we have already discussed, being singled out by RS or by a senior teacher in AoL usually makes that individual feel very special within the organization. But because it is perceived as such a rare thing, it makes others also believe that this person is someone special, someone who should be respected and even looked up to as an authority.

The availability of RS himself is believed to be extremely limited, so of course many people vie for his attention and covet time with him. And whenever he gives it, they feel they have received something of incredible value.

In Part 10, we will wind down this present series by summarising everything written thus far.

  1. John Galt permalink
    March 2, 2013 3:43 pm

    Best discourse on Ashtavakar Geeta is by Osho. More than 100 Hours of talks in MP3 format are available fo Rs 700- only. It is much more exhaustive and original.

  2. March 2, 2013 4:34 pm

    Great article. Another example of the scarcity principle is the whole concept of the guru’s grace. The idea that the guru’s grace is something very rare and millions and millions of people are not worthy enough or evolved enough to recognize it let alone receive it. Special grace is only received by those who are faithful enough or serve enough. When I was in AOL, it was often said or hinted at that RS is such a rare being that someone like him only appears on earth every few thousand years. To be in his presence is such a rare thing and to have his attention and blessings is even more rare. This belief that he is so special and rare was one of the more compelling beliefs for me. It made him so special that I overlooked some obvious flaws, inconsistencies and weaknesses. I totally missed that he is just a human guy.

    • Dayalu permalink
      March 3, 2013 4:19 am

      Very true DW. I can relate to what you said. In the initial courses and satsangs they create this false aura around him that your mind forms that elevated picture and then once you meet him, all his words and actions appear to be special. Although red flags are evident right from the beginning, you tend to ignore those or give the benefit of doubt to him based on the image that has been carefully crafted in your mind.

  3. Prakash permalink
    March 4, 2013 11:10 am

    I remember an event from 1997 when SSRS was not so famous. He was travelling to some place via Mumbai. I was told by my teacher that SSRS did not want any crowd at the airport, so his itinerary was being kept confidential and only 20-25 people knew about it. Anyway, when I reached there, about 100-150 people were there. Apparently, all were told that they were among the chosen 20-25 who were given this information.

  4. Sri Sri Ravishankar permalink
    March 4, 2013 3:42 pm

    $$R$ is number one FRAUD

  5. someone permalink
    March 5, 2013 7:50 am

    considering how the actual spiritual knowledge in the world, be it the Gita, or the Upanishad or the Bible or Quran are mostly available for free, and these are the knowledge one needs for self realisation, it seriously makes one think, are people so gullible about all this hickory dickory about special knowledge?

  6. March 8, 2013 4:04 pm

    I would like to see a series of posts like this dedicated to the so called social work aol guys do.

  7. John Galt permalink
    March 8, 2013 5:37 pm

    Recently AOL uploaded a video on Youtube. “Published on 7 Mar 2013
    It was 2004. A saint visited Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Rishikesh and expressed a desire to share his knowledge on the human body. There is a very important person in the episode that followed: a sincere doctor who accompanied the saint, an ardent devotee and almost mute observer. In this hilarious video, there are many things to look out for. We’ll leave you to discover them. Hint: The not-so-subtle gestures and expressions of an ardently devoted doctor.
    Caution: If you enjoy the video, must share. Remember joy shared is joy doubled.
    Non-profits & Activism
    Standard YouTube Licence”.
    This is very nice short presentation on lifestyle by great yoga master Swami Dev Murti ji. AOL has not named him and preferred to write that ” A saint visited Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Rishikesh and expressed a desire to share his knowledge on the human body.”
    Instead of appreciating the great yoga master’s ideas the only thing that impressed AOL is the hilarious style of the speaker.
    I doubt weather swamy ji came to RS or he called him. The great swami left this world 3 years ago.

    • anon permalink
      March 9, 2013 10:39 am

      John Galt – can you please give the exact link for the Youtube video?

  8. John Galt permalink
    March 8, 2013 5:54 pm

    The name of video mentioned in the earlier post is “A hilarious tale of many expressions”

  9. Anonymous permalink
    March 9, 2013 6:58 am

    actually, knowing ravi for who he is, he would have called for the saint precisely for this- the way he talks. it’s having a laugh at the saint’s expense, kind of like making fun of the saint. ravi doesn’t let age get in the way for having a few laughs. he make fun of the elderly all the time. no respect for anyone or anything. ravi is an asura- isn’t an asura egocentric? wants people to pray to him? an asura has no regard for anything except quenching his insatiable need for power- and ravi does just that.

  10. Anonymous permalink
    March 23, 2013 6:58 am

    Any information related to Shakti Kriya that happened on March 13th and 14th?
    Anyone who has done the Shakti Kriya course, please share your experience.

  11. Sri Sri Ravishankar permalink
    March 25, 2013 8:51 am

    Regarding Sakthi Kriya AOL and ravi made good money and participants fooled.. that will the results, since Ravi does not hold any spiritual power, nothing other than fantacy works and no Facts.

  12. anon permalink
    March 25, 2013 10:24 am

    Good observation by anup

  13. Anonymous permalink
    March 28, 2013 1:25 pm

    As little bit different comment : I will not make any concepts. Is Sri Sri enlightened ? Let anyone answers themselves and fight if they wish…Nothing can be proved, either saying yes or no. Either saying negative or positive about him, you cannot prove it ! As a matter of fact only by becoming enlightened, can you recognised enlightened one…So stop making attempts, wasting of time and energy ! Either Aol fanatics or haters, two sides of same coin.
    If I reffer to Patanjali YOG sUTRAS..: EITHER craving, attraction or aversion, both keep you in mind, but You want to be free from mind isnt it ? All I can say is, as much as I know : I am interested in Enlightement in totall blossom. All else is bull… Did my life become better after doing Aol course many years ago and doing sadhana every single day for many many years, thinking abou God most of the time, qoustening myself “Who am I ?, chanting all types of vedic mantras, day in day out…No, I have so little money all this years, I depend on women for living, I dont have a car, I dont have money to take care of my bod properly, I dont have money for good Q food, I cannto afford expensive Aol coursess…etc…But I do have one “aversion” actually…seeing how Aol is becoming big business,” we are the one of greates humanitarian org”…etc…Bull ! I am interested in devotion to God, merging with the Divine, Divine Love, and not in helping promoting big organization behind the mask of “doing Seva”, thats just Bull, not spirituality ! and again…wil not make concept about Sri Sri enlightement —this you know only if you are One.
    Love to all : Fanatics, sevaks and haters,,, and few awakened Ones !
    Spiritual Seeker

    • prairie princess permalink
      March 29, 2013 5:28 am

      When you have even a glimmer of enlightenment you leave AOL. That is truly enlightened behavior.

  14. Starfish permalink
    March 29, 2013 7:29 pm

    Hi. I have been reading this blog since couple of months now… I got associated with aol in year 2006-2007. I did the yes+ and then the yes + advance cars too within 45 days as instructed or else the advance crs magic does not work as told by some young teachers assisting the yes+ crs. I then became an active volunteer where I even volunteered in a part1 course. In the follow up course which was arranged on a Sunday, the teacher assisting the crs left things on me to book the said venue and things. I of course got help of a senior teacher residing in that area and he managed to speak to the venue officials. I was the one to pay the rent money out of my own pocket. The course teacher did not even brief me abt all this. I did all dis arrangement a day before – Saturday. It was even decided that i wud carry my own photo of Guruji for the follow up session. All the certificates to be handed over to participants were written by me in that course. One day before the course, on Saturday nite I met with a minor accident where i scraped my hands and knee very badly. i still went next day and continueed doing what i was supposed to do. no ne knew i was injured nor did i tell anyone so. After 02 days or so, i called my teacher and updated her on my accident. she didnot even let me finish what i had to say and ended up stating that she was missing me since two days as there was no one to do the computer data work of hers. ( I had not gone to her place for two days). i used to help this teacher in computer work by going at her residence which was around 2 hours travel by road. That day was the end to this aol thing. I was deeply hurt by their selfish deeds and behaviours. There is too ,ugh of jealousy amongst the teachers / volunteers. They bitch a lot about ppl. Use ppl emotionally. I am not saying this out of hurt, I saw so much in less time hence stating so. With regards to the hall money it was a minor amount, but it was not about money. I blv a organisation has to be very clear about its accounts n things. I was given some passes to sell for an upcoming event. I actually managed to sell few of them, and I adjusted my money against the passes money and returned back remaining stuff. Later I came to know that the teacher was very angry on me for adjusting the money. According to her accounts for such things had to b crisp clear. That was bye bye to the teacher. I still share a good rapport with some aolites. I do go for navratri puja and satsangs. But I go with a mind to enjoy the bliss and return back to my normal life. I again did a aol crs 2 yrs back. Part 1 it was. Yes this time it was even better. Course was conducted by two teachers. Both teachers used to argue with each other both spoke different languages. In end I again landed up being in confused state of mind. I wish I had found this blog earlier. May be wouldn’t have been hurt and confused … However I thank god for making me go through this in early days of aol. I got out with less damage. I believe some ppl in there are there for the importance power money and limelight. Also one more thing would like to mention. With me in yes+ there was this participant who was to go to the USA for robotic engineering, all admission n things were done.. One assisting aol young teacher told him – don’t waste your life, leave all this and come into aol. Tried to brainwash him. This boy’s father with great pain had made arranged for his child to go abroad. Luckily the boy did not get carried away with these ppl.
    After reading this blog I realise that my thought were absolutely right , I had somewhere buried them deep down in the heart n brain. Thank you very much for this blog.
    Survived ex aol

    • April 16, 2013 7:27 pm

      Whenever I read the account of AOL teachers in India I can’t help but think that the American AOL teachers are quite different. I think this difference must account for peoples vastly different experience in AOL to some extent. It seems like several, some, many, I don’t know, Indian teachers can have a degree of arrogance if these reports are to believed. I don’t really see this in the American teachers. Maybe its because many of the American teachers are former TM teachers and worked-out all their “arrogant leader” karma prior to their involvement in AOL. As I’ve posted in this blog before, I’ve had very good experiences with AOL and the courses I’ve been on. But I’ve never had a cult-like relationship to AOL. Many people that post here seem to have a cult-like relationship and then swung hard to the other side, so to speak and are just as critical of AOL as they once were passionately supportive of it.

      • sadhana permalink
        April 29, 2013 7:27 pm

        He drpeterstuphen! am marvelled you are still posting here..ya..As you have said some teachers around seem to have attitude problem here in India.But if you have faith on Guru n Sadhana,it does not become an obstruction to your spiritual progress. One does not need actual physical presence of Guru. Most of the people posting here do not know or have not actually experienced spiritual potential of SK or even Sri Sri.

        For a sincere seeker,AOL courses,SK can give knowledge n experiences at a very different level,something totally unimaginable.

        What I had written before or have said above is with personal experience.All the organizations have some or other problems. AOL has its own,. Why waste time just pointing mistakes ?

    • sadhana permalink
      April 29, 2013 7:40 pm

      Starfish.happen to read your seem to be young person.AOL is much much beyond these teachers n volunteers. Have faith in Sri Sri and do your SK regularly. Use your intelligence and discretion. One day u will really thank the person who guided you to Part 1 course.
      Believe me I exactly know what you are writing here. I have seen it too. But I also know to certain extent what SK can do n what Guruji can do.

      • anon permalink
        May 2, 2013 9:23 am

        Forgive me for asking this personal question. Are you married? Do you know the pain of losing your loved ones to some group to the extent that the loved one shirks totally his/her responsiblity towards the family? All because the so called `guru’ tells him/her that family bondage is not important. Marriage is not important. Do you have any idea what happens to the family devoid of emotional, physical, psychological and financial support? $$$$ is happy because he gets unpaid servant. And the misled youth thinks there is enlightenment at the end of the road. And you talk about the benefits of SK? Why yoga was never practised before $$$$ came out with his SK?? Do you mean to say $$$$ blessings is the only way to deliver us to attain moksha? Why prior to $$$$’s existence nobody has got salvation??

        We victims cannot do anything about this state of affairs in our country. Because our powerful politicians,media barons and top business houses are all hand in glove with this so called spiritual racket. Be it corruption/rape/land grabbing/child molestation etc the common man in India gets no justice and has to suffer in silence.

      • Dayalu permalink
        May 2, 2013 10:01 pm

        “Use your intelligence and discretion. One day u will really thank the person who guided you to Part 1 course”


        If your use your intelligence and discretion, you will easily see through Sri Sri and the farce that is named Art of Living. Just wake up and open your eyes and stop them from fooling you anymore. I have been there and know exactly how you feel. So much evidence right in front of you, just stop ignoring these obvious red flags. At least for once step out of the shoes of a devotee and look at the organization and it ‘Guru’ objectively. You will never want to go back, I gaurantee you.

        Good luck and hope you get liberation from the illusory world of AOL.

  15. Comrade permalink
    April 1, 2013 7:27 am

    Hello All

    Someone is writing a manuscript (online) titled “Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and the Art of Living: Spiritualism or Cult Abuse ?” All kinds of inputs are welcome. Here’s the link to the manuscript:

    • sadhana permalink
      May 8, 2013 3:05 am

      He Anon,I do understand what you must have gone through. But as far as what I have read n listened Sri Sri never says or said marriage is not important. Many of AOL senior teachers are married. Love,compassion,taking responsibilities is part of AOL and it of course applies to family if someone follows what is taught in AOL courses n by Sri Sri, one’s family life should blossom. In fact in my contacts responsible people who became full time teachers were asked to first take permission from family.

      I know what you have described has happened to many families. I personally feel people misunderstand knowledge and use it as per their convenience. so situations like this arise.
      Yes,I can understand pain.But I also know that such pain can lead n progress you on spiritual path.

      ‘Yoga’ has been practiced in India for ages. Even Sri Sri never claims he is only one. We will never know who got ‘Moksha’ n when. Such things are not publicized. Sri Sri’s blessings will only show n help you walk on this path. Ultimately it’s your ‘karma’ that will decide further course of life.

  16. someone permalink
    April 2, 2013 6:51 am

    Please delete my previous comments, somehow could not post them together. Here is what I want to write in details.
    I met a few known people, they have become totally embroiled AOL it seems. I was planning a holiday, and they were busy doing the xxxx course. They got new friends, whose first question is, have you done this course? You have so and so problem, have you done basic course, do kriya, all problems solved. The old aol teacher who was there was a nice lady who never imposed, she has been completely side tracked by the new teacher couple who came few yrs back and is vigorously recruiting. And everyone thinks the previous teacher is useless, since she could not recruit at all. Infact she listens to people’s request , while the new ones, they will either force people to take courses or will cut all ties with them. They use friendship to blackmail people into doing courses.
    I also met the teacher couple, who teach sahaj and yes+, other courses ie. They are full timers I think. And they display all the signs posted here. Aggressively trying to assert anyone who hasn’t done AOL courses are not happy. I had an argument with them but both side was polite for the sake of the company. I shudder to think how they would behave if I was left alone with them. There were quite a few new people there, xx, yy, zz , who are new to these courses, people who argue every little thing. The teachers did not really have much answer to them. Once again I realized, they use age old teachings of hindu principles, package them with modern stuff, like mixing dance beats and musical lyrics for the teachings, attractive videos and sell it as this is IT. People gobble it up. When someone asks them, this is already there, someone else already said it, with exact reference they have no answer. Even I pointed out, I read it on teachings of some other Indian guru, much much before their time, they just avoided the issue saying what matters is what they are teaching and if I agree with them or not. It’s impossible to debate with those teachers. Because they will always twist it and when they see 2-3 people questioning instead of gobbling their propaganda up, they will just agree with us. The people are bowled over by the concept of seva, people doing work, helping each other together, and think of it as Seva. Helping each other is good, but the way its been marketed, to attract those using the friendship and group work net is not healthy. All of them coming together and preparing food, it seems to be more entertaining, group of young people together, having fun. The whole concept of spirituality is wasted. Also , most of the people in the group, those who are getting deeply involved have something in common, they are mostly lonely or are suffering from some other issues in personal life. Some new, so called in group people, put up a façade of smile and all and throw tantrum at the least provocation, just when things do not go their way.
    I feel sorry for those fulltime teachers. They are very young, they would be in early thirties, and they have been with aol for more than a decade now. As you guys say in your blogs, someday they would wake up, and find they have wasted prime of their youth for a pittance, living out of suitcases, broken health and no useful skill to survive in the real world. And all the time smiling or trying to act happy and aggressively saying yes we are aol so we are happy. I have a few friends in that group, people I really care for and I hope they have a balance in their life, take only the good and do not get too much involved in it, despite the pressure they face.

  17. krishnasarma permalink
    April 4, 2013 10:21 am

    rticle s good to read and think and act. But unfortunately highly educated people and even state heads follow RS and
    surrender to.him.Recent example of Patri case.
    Now it is high time for the senior well knowledge people to explain.their action towards RS withot any fear and favouvr
    and false vocabulary. This will understand these selfmade Gurus.

  18. someone permalink
    April 4, 2013 1:20 pm

    Forgot to add, they increasinly target young demographics now, so its not spirituality, its more capturing youth force. They freely say, yes it was here before but only old people, now much more new people are here and it is very interesting. There are so many young people now, you feel youthful and fun. While young age is always the best time to start anything, even spirituality, doing AOL, because it is fun and loads of other young people are there seems very flimsy reason for spiritual seeking, or self empowerment or whatever they are trying to market it as.
    Also if more than one Indian AOL guy is there and discussion veers towards politics, they start to sing praises of a particular political party. There is nothing wrong with having a political affiliation but imo, politics and spirituality do not particularly match. The active seeking of power is a good motivation for any job and that’s the reason in India, lots of God men God women or religious leaders mingle freely with political leaders. But it sounds a bit hypocritical when you are accusing your rival party of doing something like that and then yourself proceed to do it. For that matter, I personally support some of the ideologies of the said party and their leader, but to paint that they are the solution to all that is wrong and the only way we can change anything is to bring them to power sounds more like political campaigning and over simplifications. They are not saints either.
    The sane people in the group, even those involved in AOL usually give reasons, sometimes even say based on current events, they might not come to power, the more blind ones are the ones who do not even bother with reason. The point is, in a spiritual gathering, people are supposed to talk spiritual stuff, good things and not criticize and discuss politics and actively try to propagate one particular political ideal.

  19. Anonymous permalink
    April 6, 2013 5:33 am

    You are only good if you do seva.
    You are only advanced if you have bring a lot of new people.
    You are only admired if you dont question but gratefully do seva.
    If you ask about enlightenment –you are answered –do more seva.
    If you feel bad –do seva.
    If you feel good –do even more seva.
    I am sad that aol sees the path to enlightenment nothing but Physical work !
    This is rajas (desire, activity), not satva (purity, peace, bliss).
    Aol as I see is becoming more and more rajas and less and less satvic,
    This makes me sad and frustrated.

  20. anon permalink
    April 12, 2013 7:36 am

    Great expose by Anup and sensible comment by Serah. Please follow the link

    • sarma permalink
      April 13, 2013 2:09 pm

      dear sir,whatever principle  u derive to explain the exploitation of the Guruji,onething is that unless  change comes  at the top to educate people  and to get self goals under the influence of Guruji nothing will change and Gurujis develop thanks…sarma

  21. Comrade permalink
    April 24, 2013 3:12 am

    Hello All,

    I would like to thank you for your support on behalf of my friend, Invisible Indian. We would appreciate it very much if you could take a look at the list of topics we have covered (posted on Invisible Indian’s profile) and let us know if you’d like any specific topic to be covered. You can email us through the site where we post.

    At our end, we will be re-visiting all topics covered in Skywalker’s blog and this blog in a simple way–so that people who are not proficient in English can also grasp the issues raised by Skywalker’s blog and this blog. Thanks again.


    • anon permalink
      May 2, 2013 8:45 am

      we will appreciate if you could post your topics in this blog too. Unable to post comments on Invisible Indian’s profile. Moreover the links provided do not easily open the pages. Posting your views on this page would open up wider viewership.

  22. April 28, 2013 6:05 pm

    Hi, I have noticed some kind soul sharing my posts on Ravi Shankar here. As I delve into this organisation’s activities and the fake spirituality of the guru, I can’t help but take this beyond my blog and onto facebook. I understand a lot of people in India will be very very reluctant (they arent really known for critical thinking; superstitions is their forte) to delve deep into this and support this cause “Expose the charlatans at The Art of Living” . Request you to OK my post and request all the well meaning people to support this cause. The AoLfree, artoflivingfree and this blog have been a resource mine of the undesirable activities by AoL and I am indebted to you all.

  23. Anonymous permalink
    April 30, 2013 10:56 pm

    The cult that is AOL keeps growing, and I got victimized when “Guruji” blessed my wife that she divorce me. Are there others like me, and can we form a class-action lawsuit against this cult, which is breaking families and taking our wives away?

  24. Anonymous permalink
    May 3, 2013 10:01 am

    This is a mail being circulated among art of living teachers and volunteer.
    Apparently two AOL teachers are standing in Karnataka Assembly elections to be held on 5th May.

    Dear One,

    It gives immense pleasure to share that two of our Art of Living Faculty,
    Sri. Ravi Kumar Gowda, Sri. Srinivasan Patapat have got the
    opportunity to contest as BJP Candidates
    from Channapatna and Mulbagal Constituencies respectively in the
    Karnataka Elections 2013. The elections
    is scheduled on May 5th 2013.

    Let us all extend our support and wishes to them physically by being a part
    of the Campaigning starting from tomorrow 26th April 2013. I request
    each Follow-up center to arrange at least 4 cars and start campaigning
    with 20-25 people each.
    We have to leave Bangalore in such a way that we reach Chennapatna or
    Mulbagal by 9:00am start campaigning by 9:30am till 9:00pm. Visit as
    many villages as possible.
    We need to visit every house and do door to door campaigning. We have
    time for campaigning till 2nd May 2013 only.

    We have planned a Mega Campaign on 28-Apr, Sunday, for the whole day in
    Channapatna and Mulbagal. Our motto for this day is to reach out
    maximum number of
    villages and speak of Sri. Ravi Kumar Gowda in Chennapatna and Sri.
    Srinivasan Patapat in Mulbagal to each and very house, and talk for
    minute or so. And to execute this we need huge number of people.


    Date: 28-Apr-2013

    Campaigning Time: 9:30am to 9:00pm, going house to house and talking for
    about a minute.

    Logistics: Leave Bangalore at 6:30am, reach respective constituencies at
    9:00am, campaign from 9:30am to 9:00pm, leave Channapatna or Mulbagal
    by 9:15pm and
    reach back Bangalore.

    Place and distance: Channapatna is 70 kms from Bangalore and Mulbagal
    is 100 kms.

    Task: We will go house to house, and talk 1 minute asking to vote for
    these candidates.

    Your presence for this campaigning will make a difference!
    Let us all join together and put 2 our People in Vidhan Saudha!!! 🙂

    An interesting piece of information is that one of the candidates/ AOL faculty Sri. Ravi Kumar Gowda was previously secretary to SSRS. He swindled crores of rupees from SSRS and is now running his own business. Many devotees and fellow teachers know this story . But the teachers and devotees think that RS is a great and generous master and he has forgiven Ravi Gowda.
    But the real story is SSRS could nothing about it because Ravi Gowda being his secretary probably knew more than he is supposed to about SSRS. Hence SSRS is forced to maintain silence. Obviously the money is unaccounted for and SSRS can do nothing about it .

    The other candidate Sri. Srinivasan Patapat does all the land dealings for SSRS. Land dealings and real estate… We know how clean SSRS is with respect to land dealings.
    We think most of the politicians standing for the elections are corrupt.
    AOLites think that one of their own is contesting this election. But he is as corrupt as any other. So what is so special about an AOLite contesting an election. Nothing …..
    Other politicians spend money to hire people to canvas for them in the elections.
    But AOL and AOLites…. why bother when so much free labour is available…. some brainwashing… few guru stories and its all set. As usual motivate poor , unsuspecting volunteers to waste their petrol and money, of course in the name of seva.

    If a candidate is from a spiritual organization does not mean they are necessarily fit to contest elections.

  25. Comrade permalink
    May 3, 2013 12:27 pm

    Here’s the link to “Contents”:

    Please copy and email to yourself and every link will open. Or, please select the url and choose “go to” and you’ll be able to read.

    It was only one day that there was a problem with opening links to comments because of a glitch. Agree that the site doesn’t pop up links to recent comments like WordPress.

    This is not true. My friend Invisible Indian posts in an international community of bloggers where there are several people who have not been trapped by AoL yet while this blog is in a corner of the internet and accessed mainly by those who have been in AoL at some point.

    It’s very easy to comment on any of the posts. All you need to do is to open an account using an existing email address.

    Because of Judge Koh’s order, your anonymity is not at stake. Request you to transcend your fears.

  26. Ingrid Sojit permalink
    May 4, 2013 1:49 pm

    Thank you. I have two family members in Argentina who have been swept into this organization for well over a decade now. I have no contact with whom I had thought of as wonderful people. This information has helped me understand what I had already suspected.

  27. Sri Sri Ravishankar permalink
    May 8, 2013 11:04 am

    Dear AOL teachers and organizers,

    As you should be well informed about Art of Living programs, there are two things you need to know about Shakti Kriya course.

    Firstly, participants need to be in good health to participate in Shakti Kriya, so before the course starts we need to know if physical and mental health of participants is fine, specifically: blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, asthma, bronchitis, arms and legs (knee, feet) problems, cancer, back problems and any other major illness in the past 6 months requiring surgery and/or hospitalization.

    And the second message concerns female participants only: pregnant and menstruating women are not allowed to participate in Shakti Kriya.

    Nutshell- The course is ment for fit people and rich people only.. so basically useless for humanity in any postive manner!

    • Anonymous permalink
      May 12, 2013 2:00 am

      In regards to Shakti Kryia – it’s very physical. People who have high blood pressure could possibly collapse during the process. It’s really intense.

      • vishal permalink
        May 12, 2013 9:41 am

        just like sudarshan kriya not every one is this suitable.

  28. Sri Sri Ravishankar permalink
    May 14, 2013 10:18 am

    @ AAnonymous- regarding your comment above on May 12th 2013 regarding Shakthi Kriya.
    Does this means that the so called AOL memebers who practice Sudharsan Kriya for more than a year and after doing +++ Advanc course, thay become more worst ?… to do Shakthi Kriya… .
    No wonder how rigid and stupid the so called $$R$ and his team become day by day with Guru grace 🙂

  29. Joe Shmoe permalink
    May 16, 2013 11:38 pm

    I think you first have to ask, why label something as a “cult”. We label things as a means to transmit an idea of many words in a single word. The key reasons for labeling a group a cult is to quickly transmit a sense of danger to anyone considering joining that group. The dangers being the group will ask you to:

    1) Cause violence to yourself or others.
    2) Give all your worldly possessions to the group.
    3) End current relationships with friends and family.

    There are many other “ideas” we may transmit or receive when using the “cult” label, but many of those could be applied to most religious and spiritual groups so I don’t think their presence alone necessitates the use of that label .. for instance:

    1) Belief in a leader that has achieved a higher level of spirituality or closeness
    to god.
    2) Requesting money from adherents and using that money to acquire worldy goods e.g. land and buildings.

    As you can see, the second group could be applied to most organized religions e.g.
    Christianity (and yes some people would label that as a cult as well), but they
    don’t really pose a potential danger to someone joining, so it isn’t helpful to
    label it as such. Also, Eastern religions are often about taking a spiritual
    leader aka “guru”, so the fact that SSRS passes himself off as a guru doesn’t in
    and of itself make AOL dangerous or a “cult”.

    So based on that logic, I think that labeling AOL as a cult is not an appropriate
    use of the label. Although they do display some “cult-like” attributes, those all
    seem to fall in the second group of attributes noted above, rather than the first
    and so I think it is a disservice to those who may get some value out of AOL to
    label it as a cult, in essence to try to scare them away from joining.

    As far as my experience of AOL, I did the level 1 Art of Living course several
    times, the level 2 Art of Silence course once, the meditation course once and the
    advanced DSN course once. I am pretty strong willed and I made it clear in all the
    courses that I already have my own belief system. I never felt any pressure to
    conform in any of the lower level courses, but in the advanced DSN course there was
    definitely a group think vibe (group pressure to see SSRS a certain way and to
    partake of group activities primarily benefiting AOL) going on which I found pretty
    uncomfortable, so I wouldn’t ever do that course again.

    I think that the breathwork and yoga you learn in the lower levels, while not
    individually unique, are packaged in a way that they are useful practices when done
    daily. I also found the Art of Silence course to be one of the most profound self
    growth workshops I’ve done, even though it was taught by a teacher, Michael
    Fishman, who I felt talked the talk but definitely did not walk the walk .. That
    should give you a sense of how good the workshop itself is if I had such a strong
    negative reaction to the teacher and yet found the workshop itself to be profound.
    I would do the Silence course again although not with Michael Fishman.

    As far as SSRS himself, while he seems to be articulate and have a good sense of
    humour, I can’t make out half of what he says (he has a pretty heavy accent) and
    the half I do hear clearly I found to be an incoherent, illogical mixture of other
    spiritual belief systems, so I chose to not accept him as a guru or source of
    wisdom. My experience was that you can participate in most AOL course/activities
    without believing in SSRS and the cost of most courses are in line with any other
    workshop you might take in the US or cheaper.

    So what would I recommend to someone considering doing AOL:

    1) If you are susceptible to strong teachings and are fearful that you would lose
    yourself in such a group as AOL, then by all means avoid it.

    2) If you are looking for ways to enhance your spirituality and to learn some new
    techniques which would be beneficial in your daily life, but aren’t looking for a
    new ideology, then do the L1 Art of Living and the L2 Art of Silence course but
    avoid the DSN course.

    3) If you are looking for a new belief system and don’t mind giving up some of
    yourself in the process, then AOL may be right for you. There are better groups and
    there are worse.

    You will be able to tell if AOL is right for you just by taking the L1 Art of
    Living course and you can walk away after that easily. If you’re intrigued and
    want to go a little deeper, then try the Art of Silence course. You can still walk
    away from AOL easily. You can also go back and do both course as many times as you
    want without having to immerse yourself in the philosphy. Avoid DSN unless you
    really like the group and are willing to take SSRS as your guru.

    • May 19, 2013 3:01 pm

      Whether or not it’s a “cult” doesn’t really matter, but what does matter is that it has harmed many people physically and mentally, so it is dangerous. Sudarshan Kriya is definitely not safe for everyone. Many of us who have practiced it for a long period of time have gone through some very serious health problems. It’s fine to state that there are positives in AOL, as I think most of us would agree with you. However, you don’t seem to realize the potential dangers of the practices they teach. This is why blogs like this are so important. You can’t find these warning signs anywhere else on the internet. AOL continues to edit and manipulate open sources like Wikipedia to show the organization as only positive. I don’t wish to write out why so many believe it’s a cult (including myself). You can read all about that on Skywalker and KLIM’s blog, where it has already been discussed very well.

  30. COMRADE permalink
    May 21, 2013 2:14 pm

    Dear All,

    This is to inform you that we now have a real time translator (widget) on all pages of our blog ( This translator can translate all pages into over 30 languages including Russian.

    We also want to request Obi-Wan to embed an identical translator from or embed any other similiar translator available freely in cyber space. This would help readers translate the contents of this blog in real time.




  1. Summary of Criticisms Against Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Art of Living | Further Beyond the Art of Living
  2. Exposing the AoL Brainwashing Machinery – Part 10 | Further Beyond the Art of Living

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