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Summary of Criticisms Against Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Art of Living

December 10, 2013

NOTICE: As of 22nd February 2014, this blog is closed for commenting. Thank you to everyone for their support over the years.

Finally, the time has come to do what I threatened to do some two or so posts ago, and put this blog to rest once and for all. I’m going to keep the comments section open for a little while longer in case anyone wants to leave feedback about this post itself, in particular if there are any mistakes or omissions which anyone feels need to be included. After some time has past, possibly in the next month or two, the blog will be completely frozen in time and space and there’ll be no way to unfreeze it!

So I want to wrap up by providing a summary of the various issues which have been raised over the years in criticism of many activities of “Sri Sri” Ravi Shankar and his Art of Living organization.

More than anything else, this post is intended to provide an overview as well as an index to the majority of articles which have been published across this and two other blogs which have been started and contributed to by ex-AoL followers over the years.

The three blogs in question are:

These three blogs are by no means the only blogs containing material critical of RS and AoL, and as such I have made note of other sites below where you can find any further information.

Read this First!

Before diving into any of the main posts below, it is of paramount importance that you understand exactly why these blogs have been created, who they have been created by, and most importantly who these blogs are intended for. The first two points are answered in the posts under the “Overview of these Blogs” below. The third and final point is the most crucial as there is a great deal contained in these blogs which really is not intended for everybody, and as such you really need to determine whether or not you should even be reading these blogs.

So to help you determine whether or not it is a good idea for you to even be reading this blogs, please consider the following:

If you are someone who has never had any dealings with Art of Living but who is carrying out research for example to see if taking an AoL course is for you, or if you are simply curious about AoL, then I would recommend reading at least the first few posts in the “Overview of these Blogs” section, together with the “Personal Experiences” section.

If you are someone who has been with Art of Living for any length of time, are generally happy with your experiences thus far, have never experienced anything too out of place, then I would honestly say to you, proceed no further! Really, these blogs are most likely not for you, and if you read even a little of what is written here, it will most likely make you very upset and may even cause you to become angry. This has certainly been the case with most people in this situation who have visited these blogs historically, so if don’t heed this warning, don’t say I didn’t tell you.

If you are someone who has been with Art of Living for any length of time and have had both positive as well as negative experiences, have seen things which don’t altogether add up and which have made you think deeply about your association with AoL, have found yourself being sucked into becoming a teacher more quickly than you are comfortable with, or have found that AoL is eating away at your time and your life when you don’t want it to, then I would definitely recommend reading at least some of the articles referenced below. Begin with the “Overview of these Blogs” and “Personal Experiences” sections, and if there is anything specific you want to find out more about, scroll down to the other sections to see if your issue has been addressed further down.

If you are someone who has left AoL because you were unhappy with some aspect or other of the organization, and you want to find out more about something in particular or to get an overall understanding of much of what goes on in AoL which isn’t immediately obvious, then hopefully at least one if not more of the articles below may help you in this respect.

If you do end up reading any of the articles on this blog, I would strongly recommend the following to you. When you start reading what is written here, you can very easily get sucked into these blogs and spend a great deal of time here. This in fact is exactly what happened to me. I initially started out with Klim’s blog and spent a great deal of time and energy reading through every post and every comment, and then did the same with Skywalker’s blog. The truth is, I got sucked into reading these, and looking back there I probably didn’t need to spend anywhere near as much time as I eventually did reading these blogs.

What I would say to then is simply when you start reading these blogs, have a very clear purpose in mind as to what exactly it is you want to get out of them. If there is something very specific you want to find out about, then hopefully this post will help you pinpoint it. Whatever it is, once you have achieved that, take what you need to take, and then please move on.

One more time I really need to emphasize this: if you have a good experience with Art of Living so far, these blogs really are not for you. If your situation should ever change in the future and things become disagreeable for you, then and only then should you consider revisiting these blogs.


Overview of these Blogs

The following set of posts provide an overview of the blogs themselves.

The Purpose of These Blogs
The Big Picture: An Overview of the Core Issues in Art of Living
A New Hope
The Prosecutor
What are You Doing Here?


A Special Note About Klim’s Blog

If you visit Klim’s blog you will find a section on the right-hand side labeled “Labels”, which are effectively classifications of different articles on Klim’s blog. Klim was particularly diligent in putting together his blog to make it as easy as possible to find anything specific you might be looking for, a lot more so than either of his successors.


Personal Experiences

A selection of posts relating to personal experiences by various ex-devotees who at one time or other realized that something was amiss in Art of Living:

Klim’s Introduction
The AOL Trance Is Broken
One World Family: Choosing the AoL family over ones own family
I Belong to You: Belongingness Limited to In-Group
Can We Help To Save The Art of Living? (“The Doctor” Introduction)
Is The Art of Living Org. Worth Saving? (Response to Doctor Introdution)
Independent of AOL (Peaceful Warrior)
Blog has been a tipping point for my decision making
Third Day in a Row
Stand Up For Yourself -Or End Up Falling [by freeagaiin]
An ex- AOL teacher shares [by Sincere Seeker]
From A Confused and Sincere AoL Teacher
The Duality is Gone! [by the Observer]
They Told Me Guruji Knows, Guruji Will Fix It – He Didn’t
Reasons Why I Stayed in Art of Living
Why I left Art of Living
Reflections After Leaving Art of Living
Confused – Please Help
Living in Denial in the Comfort of the Cult
Concerned Boyfriend – Please Help
Art of Living: A very UN-spiritual organization
A Deeply Disturbing Story


Brainwashing & Cult Culture

One of the most recurring themes throughout all blogs critical of AoL is that it is an organization which shares many features with what many people refer to as cults, and that it employs what many refer to as brainwashing. A great many articles have been written across all the blogs which go into detail in these areas.

Exposing the AoL Brainwashing Machinery Series

This series of articles goes into great detail about the various brainwashing techniques which are employed in AoL,
Exposing the AoL Brainwashing Machinery – Part 1
Exposing the AoL Brainwashing Machinery – Part 2
Exposing the AoL Brainwashing Machinery – Part 3
Exposing the AoL Brainwashing Machinery – Part4
Exposing the AoL Brainwashing Machinery – Part 5
Exposing the AoL Brainwashing Machinery – Part 6
Exposing the AoL Brainwashing Machinery – Part 7
Exposing the AoL Brainwashing Machinery – Part 8
Exposing the AoL Brainwashing Machinery – Part 9
Exposing the AoL Brainwashing Machinery – Part 10


Double-Edged Sword Series

A series of articles looking at how those things which are seemingly of benefit to AoL devotees are also used against them.
Double-Edged Sword – Part 1
Double-Edged Sword – Part 2
Double-Edged Sword – Part 3


Other Key Brainwashing and Cult Culture Articles

Brainwashing Articles on Klim’s Blog
Know Thy Enemy
Your Faith (refusal to think) is important to me
Original Sin in AOL & the final Salvation!
Hypocrisy, Brainwashing and Blind Following
No knowledge is worth your freedom!
Your bondage to SriSri saves you, so says SriSri!
STAGES OF CULTS- Which Stage is AOL at?
Drugs are Friday Nights, Cults are 24/7
Is AOL A Cult? The vaccine is right here!
Where does a guru get his power from?
10 Spiritually Transmitted Diseases
Some see AOL as a cult straightaway…
The game of specialness in AOL
Mind Share gives you Mind Control
Putting Art of Living in the ‘Hot Seat’
Steps of Evolution(?) in AOL
The Black Box of Religion, Spirituality and Faith
It’s not only a cult, it’s a dangerous cult
Siddhis are NOT Real
Karma Chameleon
Reincarnation or De-incarnation?
How To Recognize a Cult – Video
Deconstructing Religion: A Memetic Perspective
How Can You Recognize a True Guru?
The False Guru Test
The Main Characteristics of a Cult
How can my mind be controlled by AoL like this?
A Disturbing AoL Brainwashing Video
Art of Living: Breeding Intolerance and Crushing Individuality
Questioning “Enlightenment”
An Interesting Perspective on SSRS and Enlightenment
How AoL Brainwashes Its Teachers and Volunteers
Control Strategies Employed By The Master

Manipulation through “Secret Knowledge”

Secret AOL Knowledge Revealed
The End is Near!
AOL is not the ONLY way, like you are lead to believe.
What is Enlightenment?
How Sri Sri Uses Knowledge to Enslave Devotees
The Price of “The Knowledge”?
Manipulation Through “Knowledge”

Abuse

Abuse Posts on KLIM’s blog
It Is Okay for Victims to feel Victimized
Abused And Discarded
Victims of Rape in Art of Living: We are all Guilty
Triumph of Evil?
How Art of Living gets away with abuse
An Experience For Life: Art Of Living [details of sexual abuse]
How Art of Living Abuses the Vulnerable

Healing

How to Heal the Trauma
Hi! I’d like to talk about Healing
There’s no one way to heal
What IS Spiritual Abuse?


Sudarshan Kriya

Commentaries on the Sudarshan Kriya Notes

Sudarshan Kriya Notes – Part 1
Sudarshan Kriya Notes – Part 2
Sudarshan Kriya Notes – Part 3
So Ham, So Fake

Kriya Tape

Long Kriya – Home Version

Alleged Benefits

Does Kriya Cure AIDS? The Art of Health Orientation TTC
Refuting “Scientific Research” on Sudarshan Kriya

Health and Safety issues concerning the practice of SK

Is Sudarshan Kriya Safe?
Heart Problems Caused By Sudarshan Kriya
Further Evidence of The Dangers of Sudarshan Kriya
An objective participant reasons that Sudarshan Kriya is Hyperventilation
A Better and Safer Alternative to Sudarshan Kriya
How Can a Divine Revelation Be Defective?
Why Teachers are Unqualified to Teach Sudarshan Kriya
Questions Sudarshan Kriya Practitioners Should Ask Themselves
Sudarshan Kriya and Bipolar Disorder
Would You Put Your Life in the Hands of People Like This?


Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

General Propaganda and Deception

His Holiness penchant for lying and deceiving-Part 1
His Holiness penchant for lying and deceiving-Part 2
Now I Realize That He Only Wants Money
How do I see Ravi Shankar as Unethical?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to head “Supreme Spiritual Council”?
Excellent Response to “Spiritual Council” Post
How can his techniques help in Pakistan, if they can’t help his own devotees?
Bringer of light or Desperate for limelight ?
SriSri’s Petty Deception and Lies…Why every devotee should always question what he says !!!
Psycho
Ravi Shankar: Satguru, or businessman?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Betrayal of Anna Hazare and India
The Many Faces of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
He Just Lies, and Devotees Innocently Perpetuate His Lies
True History of Sudharsan Kriya

SSRS History

God Moves in Mysterious Ways
A brief account of Sri Sri Ravishankar and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi by Sudarshan

Guru’s Grace

The many claimed AOL miracles – Do they really happen ?
Debunking “Guruji’s Grace” – Part 1
Debunking “Guruji’s Grace” – Part 2
Debunking “Guruji’s Grace” – Part 3

SSRS Educational Qualifications

Sri Sri’s Graduation Certificate: What does it prove?
Why tell all these Lies in the first place?

SSRS and Nobel Peace Prize

A series of articles on how RS himself was behind the initial campaign and every subsequent campaign to persuade the Nobel Committee that he should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Ravi Shankar’s Hankering for the Nobel Peace Price, Part 1
Ravi Shankar’s Hankering for the Nobel Peace Price, Part 2
Ravi Shankar’s Hankering for the Nobel Peace Price, Part 3
Ravi Shankar’s Hankering for the Nobel Peace Price, Part 4
Who Gets the Nobel Peace Prize?

Sri Sri Shooting Incident

Concerning an alleged a “shooting incident” which took place near the Art of Living ashram in Bangalore. According to Art of Living propaganda, Ravi Shankar himself was the alleged target of the what they touted as a an “assassination attempt” on his life. It later turned out to be a farmer firing a warning shot to scare off a dog.

Liar, liar, pants on fire!
Sri Sri Shot At

Legal and other Action Against RS/AoL

PIL filed against Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s ashram for building on tank land
Parents demand Sri Sri’s apology

Various titles and lineage

Detailing how “His Holiness Sri Sri” Ravi Shankar actually gave himself all his titles to boost his public image, as well as invent his own place in an existing Guru lineage which he isn’t actually a part of.
His Holiness titles & Lineage
The Story of Satguru-hood

Biography changing over time, Editing of Wikipedia

Concerning the fact that RS’ biography seems to be continuously changing over time, with “facts” constantly being re-written, both on Art of Living-controlled websites as well as Wikipedia. The latter is being constantly edited and any attempt at adding a “Criticism” section is quickly removed by an AoL devotee monitoring Wikipedia.

See Prosecutor Charge 20
Quick, Read This!
Wikipedia Revisited -1984?
The Beginnings of the Many Fabrications
It was Meant to be this Way
Where are all the relatives ?


AoL Organization

God is Indian, More Precisely Hindu
Art of Living using the Anna movement for its own shameless self-promotion


World Culture Festival

Concerning the World Culture Festival, an event organized by AoL in Berlin’s National Olympic Stadium which took place in 2011. The event was touted by AoL as being of significant importance to the organization, devotees being told that their presence there would in and of itself contribute to world peace. AoL had tried to convince their devotees that the event would be a resounding success, that the 70,000-capacity stadium would be filled. However, the event was attended by a significantly smaller number, with tens of thousands of seats remaining empty as could be seen on footage of the event.

His Holiness Grand Delusions
World Cult-torture Festival
World Culture Festival – Not so good for AoL
World Culture Festival Review


Financial Matters and AoL Controlled Companies

Concerning allegations of financial misappropriation related both to AoL and to any businesses which have been started off the back of AoL. It is a known fact that RS and his family are in control of a number of for-profit businesses including Sumeru Realty, Sumeru Solutions, Inwinex Pharmaceuticals, Sri Sri Ayurveda to name but a few. Many questions have been raised as to where the money to finance these companies came from if not from money raised by AoL allegedly in the name of charity. Similar questions have been raised about where the money came from to pay for the education of RS’ nephews in the states, as well as any properties they own there and elsewhere.

Also included are discussions about the questionable connection between AoL and its “sister” organization, IAHV – the International Association of Human Values.

Sick Money
AOL illegal financial practices
An AOL Old-Timer Speaks: “The magnitude of fraud today amazes me!”
Art of Living – Call it a Corporation not a Foundation
Because Bill Clinton Stayed There Once!
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Guess!
Art of Living is a business – So what’s the big deal?
Business Lessons from the Master
Lies, Damned Lies, and even more Lies
Scammed by Sumeru Realty
Characteristics of a Spiritual Business
It’s About Time
The story of a far(ce)ma-sue-tical business
Money Matters !! Inwinex Pharma and AOL. What is the connection ?
AOL and IAHV. What is the use of having 2 companies ?
How AOL screws around with their devotee’s trust


AoL Courses

Concerning the various AoL courses including Sahaj Samadhi Mediation, Yes!+, DSN and TTC.

Sahaj Samadhi Meditation

Sahaj Samadhi Meditation – guru mantra or guru scam?
“All You Need Is Bills”
The latest Con scheme of SriSri (Sahaj Samadhi TTC)

DSN & TTC

Courses Posts on Klim’s blog
DSN & TTC Posts on KLIM’s Blog
TTC -Ending Up Soulless
Slavery agreement with Ravi Shankar – I shall be a good slave!
My TTC1 Experience
Begging in Bali- A TTC experience

SSY – Sri Sri Yoga

The Choice was between gross and grosser – SSYTTC
SSY- Never Too Late to Earn Money


Lawsuit Against Bloggers

In January 2011, a number of bloggers received notice from Google and Automattic that those companies had been subpoenaed by attorneys in the United States acting on behalf of Art of Living to reveal information about those bloggers which would allow AoL to identify them.

18 months later, with the help of attorney Joshua Koltun, AoL lost the case and were forced to drop all charges. In return, Skywalker agreed to freeze his blog (KLIM had already frozen his in 2010.) AoL were also obliged to pay the attorney fees for the defense, which amounted to $250,000 – again from alleged charity money.

Google Subpoenaed to Reveal Bloggers
The BAoL 10: They’ve done so much for us. Let’s stand by them! URGENT!
I’m being sued by a religious cult.
Time to Fight Back
Blogger Flicks Copyright Claim From Art of Living
Update from Skywalker on the Lawsuit
The Lawsuit is Over … and We Won! (copy on this blog)
The Lawsuit is Over … and We Won! (original)
The Elephant and the Fly – a Final Note (copy on this blog)
The Elephant and the Fly – a Final Note(original)
Joint Statement of AOL vs. Does
The truth cannot be hidden anymore…An Open message to all current AOL teachers
Lawsuit Cost Art of Living at least $250,000


Argentina Incident

Art of Living under Investigation – Alleged Tax Evasion in Argentina
Testimony of journalist Paul Duggan, ex-AOL Volunteer
Argentinians See Right Through RS and AoL’s BS
Ravi is considered a Major Fraud by the Argentinian Public. His character is being used to promote condoms.
The REEL truth behind the Argentina Visit – A Shameless AOL version
Argentenian TV Spoofs on Sri Sri/AOL – Ave-”raging” 25000+ views per day


Feedback from AoL Devotees & Counter-Blogs

Counter Blogs

A number of counter blogs were created by various Art of Living devotees, including at least one senior individual, in response to these blogs critical of SSRS and AoL. However, for the most part these counter-blogs seem to have either died a quick death, or have been very slow in being updated.

Of particular note is the blog entitled “Art of Living Life Stories” which is essentially a “testimonial blog” containing accounts by mostly AoL teachers and also a small handful of volunteers of how AoL and SSRS have changed their lives. What is of interest here is that whilst so much AoL propaganda has claimed that AoL has a presence in 150-160 countries, and around 30 million people have taken the Part 1 course, in the space of 3 years only 61 people have actually provided any testimonials, a surprising figure given theses claims.

Links to counter-blogs:
Art of Living Life Stories
Exposing the Guruholic (Last Update: March 2011)
Art of Living Values (Last Update: September 2010)

Posts about Counter-Blogs

Posts on these blogs in response to the counter-blogs. You might call them counter-counter-posts?

Oh Yes, Time Will Tell
High Overhead or Low Overhead, SriSri and his men can’t agree!
Offer my life to the service of humanity. Really?

Feedback from pro-AoLers

Some feedback from mostly senior persons in the AoL organization.

Disgruntled Swami
SriSri’s PR man on our blog every bit as deceitful as his Master!!
AOL USA president plugging for his book and his master!

A Letter of Concern (by Ann Godwin) and corresponding responses

A letter which was sent to Skywalker by a long-time AoL teacher Ann Godwin criticizing the blogs, which was posted on Skywalker’s blog together with his response. Two subsequent responses are also included.

Original Letter by Ann Godwin
An Ex-Teacher’s Reply to Ann
More Ex-Teachers Reply to Ann
NOTE: After her original letter, we never heard from Ann ever again.

Other Attempts by AoL To Put a Stop to the Blogs

Besides the Lawsuit mentioned above, AoL have tried other tactics to try to put a stop to these blogs, as detailed in the following articles:

JGD, someone is peeing in his pants
Someone Wants to Put a Stop to Us
DISGRUNTLED SWAMIJI speaks up for his Master, again! [Swami Sadyojatha]

The following were written by contributors to these blogs in response to the above attempts by AoL:

Notify the NPP Commission
Let The Freedom Of Speech Roll
Blog Under Three Pronged Attack
Disgruntled President Speaks up for his CEO [Ewald Poeran – Netherlands]

Eng-An

In one email (reproduced and discussed here) circulated by Swami Sadyojatha to a large number of AoL teachers and devotees, he outright named an individual – Eng An – whom he alleged was behind one of the blogs critical of AoL. He also went on to make a great many allegations about her personal life, including revealing details of various medical conditions she allegedly has. The following posts are in response to this email.

Engan, the Person They Named
In Defence of Engan
In Further Defence of Eng An


Posts Addressed to AoL Followers

The following posts contributed to these blogs are addressed directly to AoL followers, and mostly concern promoting critical thinking amongst AoL devotees.

Promoting Increased Critical Reasoning among AOL Followers
General Response to AoL Extremists on This Blog
An Open letter to the AOL Inner Circle who visit this blog
A Message to the Common AOLer: Wake up and Make a Change
Your Blog hurts innocent devotees
Support for “Art of Living Illegally” article and a challenge to AoL devotees
Your Choice: Coercive Persuasion or Critical Thinking
Why the need to proselytize at all?
Questions AOLites should ask themselves
To those who ask for proof
Revealing Questions about Art of Living and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
The Truth Hurts – Part 1
The Truth Hurts – Part 2


Positive Changes in AoL?

AoL Teachers Finally Waking Up and Asking Questions


Foreign Language Blogs and Articles

French

L’Après Art de Vivre

Spanish

A Summary of Art of Living’s Questionable Activities – in Spanish


External Critiques of SSRS and AoL

Articles which have been written by authors who are not associated with any of these blogs, but who nonetheless have had good reason to express their opinions based on dealings they have had with AoL and SSRS.

NZ Herald Journalist sees through Mr Rev Ravi Shankar!
IIT alumni question Ravi Shankar’s credentials
CBI turns the heat on Sri Sri’s medical college in Bangalore
Student who felt cheated after taking Art of Living Course
An Experience For Life: Art Of Living
Critical Article on AoL in the New York Times


Odds and Ends

Miscellaneous articles and links, some of which are quite amusing.

Be Blessed Online!
Marketing, AOL Way!
Sorry, Uma
The Origins and Truth Behind AoL Knowledge and Practices
Be Blessed By SMS!
Amusing Video
A Word About the Tone on This Blog


Other Critical Blogs

Writings by “Invisible Indian”, the latest critic of AoL(see Also links in this post)
Endless, Nameless
Expose The Art of Living (Facebook Group)
The Art of Leaving

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4 Comments
  1. Comrade permalink
    December 31, 2013 4:19 am

    Hi Everyone,

    We’ve added some videos to our youtube channel. Here are the links…

    We do intend to add more videos in the future.

    Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and do have a happy new year !

    Regards,

    Comrade

  2. January 19, 2014 11:57 am

    Similar to SSRS, my family was caught in the web of Ganapati Sachchidananda for 20 years, during which we lost a lot of time and most of our money. Our family is in the worst possible condition, and yet they insist on going to the ‘Guru’. Please come forward and share your bad experiences with Ganapati Sachchidananda, so that such conmen can be stopped. He is a liar and a total fraud, dealing in crores of black money and top politicians and police officers under his control. Like SSRS, his relatives have also gotten richer and are extremely arrogant.

  3. Comrade permalink
    January 31, 2014 10:42 am

    Dear All,

    We are in the process of uploading several videos (with audio too as we have someone to take care of the voiceover) to our youtube channel which is located at…

    http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdFcIEv2kpDIrgMVErN8jZw

    We have already uploaded 15 videos with audio that include extracts from Skywalker’s blog. We intend to revisit all posts on Skywalker’s blog in a similar manner. Following that, we intend to revisit all posts on Obi-wan’s blog in a similar manner. And finally, we will revisit all posts on our blog in the same way.

    The critics of Scientology have done so and have succeeded. So, we’re very hopeful about succeeding in generating awareness.

    If you wish to spread awareness about the Art of Living Foundation, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and the harmful side-effects of a cult, please view the videos as frequently as possible. This will help generate more traffic.

    Thank you and take care,

    Comrade, Invisible Indian and HH$$Anon

  4. February 22, 2014 9:53 am

    Dear All,

    As has been declared on more than one occasion now, at exactly 128,000 hits, comments are now closed across the blog.

    Thank you to everyone for your support over the time from this blog’s inception until now. A part of me really misses doing this but alas life must go on and other adventures must be had for all.

    Carpe diem!

    O

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