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A brief account of Sri Sri Ravishankar and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi by Sudarshan

October 9, 2010

On reading the blog www.churumuri.wordpress.com I came across a comment by Sudarshan.  This is what he had written over there.

Sudarshan Says:

“Sri Sri” Ravi Shankar, for the information of all posting here, was a “close” (according to him) disciple of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He never publically gives that credit to his only guru, however. Privately, to some, he does. In fact, he has been known to say “I AM Maharishi…” and swish away with the same giggle as MMY.

He was born in Tamil Nadu, he said, in a village or small town (can’t remember which) that was wiped out by floods. His family moved to Bangalore when he and his sister were small. He was raised there. He dropped out of school at 17 years old to join Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and was brought to Switzerland to chant Sanskrit there. He helped to build MMY’s ashram in Noida, outside of Delhi, and became extremely ill there. His father says that he had to go there and bring him home, and that Ravi nearly died. After this, SSRS was told by MMY to gather 200-300 students of Veda and teach them to chant. SSRS’s father went around Karnataka and gathered students from poor villages (only Brahmins). There was a property purchased in 5th block and used for the purpose of housing all of these boys (over 150, I was told) — how? who knows. It’s a three-story, smallish house. But SSRS says they chanted there, and lived there. Then MMY called them all to be moved to Noida. The story from here is that SSRS’s father had promised the parents of these boys that they would never be far from home, and Noida was too far away. So SSRS started his own school for Vedic Pundits right then and there. MMY was extremely displeased and angry with SSRS. One of the first pundits was sent with a missive (this story from that man himself, thank you) to MMY. This pundit claims that MMY was angry and said basically that he would have nothing further to do with SSRS, and sent him back to Bangalore. It is widely known among close early followers, that SSRS used to try to call Maharishi in Holland and would be repeated told he would not speak to him. He was devastated, and used to keep a picture of MMY next to his bed. It is a very sad story, actually.

SSRS’s father went to the local government and acquired the land on Kanakapura Road by using the method of land being donated if someone promised (at that time) to build a rural school to benefit the local villages. A “school” was built (don’t know if it still ‘exists’) in the form of thatched roof huts, where students did cram in to “learn”. This was all a front, of course, to start the Art of Living Ashram. Since the police and local government are mostly bought off by the empire of AOL at this point, the organization, in spite of failing early audits, enjoys not-for-profit status.

SSRS’s mother, God Rest Her Soul, was heard to brag: “My son is a millionaire! He has his own account and has more than a million US dollars in it!” She was very proud of this. This was in the early 90s, when SSRS was already beginning to ramp up the collections from the US and Europe and Canada.

SSRS, btw, never got any degree, and used to publically proclaim the same — that he never finished school. Somehow, in some places (Wikipedia for a while), it is wrongly stated that he earned a degree in Physics, other places says Engineering, etc. It’s false. He has no earned degree in anything, and stopped his schooling at 17 years old.

Obviously, the many pundits dwindled to a small number over time.

It is unknown by this author whether SSRS was ever able to meet with MMY again before he died a few days back.

I personally feel sorry for SSRS. There are many personal things about him that I will not report here, because this is about his organization, not about the man. But the ‘man’ is a sad case indeed.

The organization is totally corrupt, and he tolerates no advice on conducting matters in an above board and honest way.

His followers are indeed, as pointed out by several on this post, like robots.

Many have lost their lives to him, giving up good careers, ruining their health. I heard at least two say “there is nothing else I could do at this point — where would I go? At least he pays our tickets and feeds us….” They laughed but it was a thinly disguised sadness that the laughter covered. They were trapped.

I’m certain that many if not all of his full time teachers are in that situation. Have pity on them. They are brainwashed and sad people with no lives of their own anymore. He has stolen everything from them.

God Bless every one of them, and show them an exit strategy that will give them solace and real Peace of mind, not the fake peace that can be had for a moment scrambling for an audience with SSRS.

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16 Comments
  1. goneagain permalink
    October 9, 2010 4:13 am

    “there is nothing else I could do at this point — where would I go? At least he pays our tickets and feeds us….”

    That is sad indeed, many full timers may not have any option but to stay there for their own survival. They lost their real jobs/careers/skills that they had when took FT teacher job. Problem is if they can’t get out now it may be even harder when they become older and chances of getting real job outside will be much more harder if not impossible.

    • deepak permalink
      October 9, 2010 6:49 am

      I have heard that now Sri Sri has announced a pension scheme for FTs. Of course it is not known whether it will happen or it is like an election time promise by a politician.

  2. John permalink
    October 9, 2010 5:22 am

    A question for people who have been close to RS-
    does he hold regular ‘business’ meetings with people in his inner circle where they discuss pure business – earnings, growth strategy, performance of different markets, etc.

  3. Sincere Seeker permalink
    October 9, 2010 6:08 am

    This is pretty close to the stories heard from Mikey, Phillip, and others. It excludes the whole revealing of Sudarshan Kriya and him starting to teach in S. India and the AoL story that MMY told SSRS to leave to teach this technique which can’t grow as much if he stayed within the TM movement.

    As for the full time teachers, yes, they are trapped. Some close of mine have privately told me that their lives are ruined and can’t leave. It would be good if we, on this blog, offer some alternatives for them. I think they would make good teachers in schools, colleges, and also in the training depts. of several companies. There are also many other yoga institutes out there that may hire them.

    Yes AoL is totally corrupt and if SSRS is such a control freak and micro manager that he will not allow any reforms from within. If senior people could bring reform we could save the org. The only other option is that someone from within the org. with access to the financial books, records, transactions, or email and verbal communications, capture this and anonymously disclose this to the public. It will save a lot of lives and a lot of time.

    Some of my close friends are still functioning like robots, programmed controlled and brain dead. Some don’t read this blog some do and rebel. I think there are some very interesting facts here.
    The Prosecutor link is good – it would be good to compile a version that lists hard facts and witness accounts for the media people to click on and see. It should be clear what is illegal and immoral immediately.

    I also wish that SSRS would take out the fast cycle from the SK.

    http://artoflivingfree.blogspot.com/2009/12/sudarshan-kriya-is-it-freeing-or-frying.html

    Just want to emphasize the Navaratri Homas/Yagyas happening all over India and the world right now. Anyone know what is the Sankalpa amount this year in Bangalore and elsewhere. In LA I believe it’s from $350 to $1008. This makes it so commercial and destroys the purity. There are so many authentic Hindu orgs. doing these yagyas with the same purity, sincerity, devotion and not charging a penny (maintaining the purity).

    In AoL there is so much pressure to give, give, give, and do, do, do. People are constantly watching how much you do, give and making you feel guilty and the competition on who’s doing more – since the Guru and the org. rewards those who do.
    If you notice SSRS has a very good/positive public image, excellent knowledge, etc. and it flips on the private side and his character completely changes and I have seen many negative things. I have not seen that happen to Dalai Lama or other saints like Swami Chinmayananda, or my family guru and many others. They are the same all the time.

  4. deepak permalink
    October 9, 2010 6:45 am

    I always wished someone could come out with facts about the lost years of Sri Sri i.e from 1981 to 1991. There are many accounts. Of course the official versions are heavily fictionalised. This post has brought out many stratleling facts. I also doubted if Sri sri had completed his degree. At seventeen in India the maximum that you can do is PUC / +2 or 12th class. There was one guy who did it. Of course he became nationally well known, as this is something unusual. His name I believe is Tathagata. If Sri sri had done graduation at 17 it definitely would hav made national headlines. SAme he himself has betrayed his own Guru. But all manipulative tactics in AOL are meant to see that people do not leave AOL even though it may mean much loss to them at their individual level.

    WE need more facts about waht exactly happened to SRi sri in those lost years – NOt only about lost years but also about earlier and later years.

  5. Abhilash Shastry permalink
    October 9, 2010 8:08 am

    My TM teacher knew Sri Sri Ravi Shankar since he was a mere Ravi Shankar. Ravi – as he was known then was never very close to MMY. He was just one of the boys. His only qualification was that he was a school dropout with some knowledge of Sanskrit and was unable to get a living in the competitive world. However he was a Brahmin by caste and this meant a lot to MMY. MMY himself was not a Brahmin (He was a Kayastha) and as far as his India operations were concerned he felt constrained by his caste. MMY’s appeal among traditional Hindus was practically nil. He used to say that Hindus are able to empathize with an open mind any philosophy from any culture, but when push comes to shove they would accept religious practice only from a Brahmin. Rightly or wrongly, MMY believed that his non- Brahmin caste was the reason for his limited appeal in India. He operated from Rishikesh, which is home to numerous ashrams and spiritual retreats of all varieties. But despite his immense popularity in the west, in the traditional circles of Rishikesh, MMY did not have any legitimacy. To compensate his handicap, MMY promoted Brahmins in his organization. So at this point MMY needed Ravi to build his legitimacy and Ravi needed MMY for a living.

    When Ravi tried to start his own spiritual shop, MMY was incensed. He wanted Ravi (and other Brahmin boys) to increase his own acceptance among traditional Hindus. He needed lieutenants for his business, not competitors. The moment he recognized Ravi’s ambitions, he kicked Ravi out unceremoniously. At that time Ravi had no other life. He was a drop out from school and had no other future. So he tried hard to mend his relationship with his master. But MMY was not pleased. Once he was out of favor of his master, other TM-ers dropped him like hot potato. They all thought that Ravi’s career was finished.

    Ravi himself had not imagined his future meteoric rise in the guru business. So his resume from those times reads modest. Many of the things from his earlier resume like “yoga shiromani” from President of India’, which were earlier advertised prominently, have now practically been dropped from AOL sites. Such non-existent titles are good for small time babas looking for some legitimacy, however super gurus don’t need them. His “degrees at the age of 17″ has however become an embarassment to him also. In India such degrees are a dime a dozen and no body really cares for it. However, to his western followers in his initial days, it seemed like a big achievement and they publicized it big time to the discomfort of SSRS, such that today he can neither deny it nor confirm it.

    The entire AOL culture including the name of the organization, name of the trust (VVM), the course structures (unending series of part 1, 2, 3 s etc.), TTC, patenting of technique etc. have been lifted straight from TM. Till MMY was alive, SSRS dared not speak a word about MMY. Though in his private meetings he often grumbled about MMY and boasted how he had made AOL bigger than TM, yet in public he kept mum. The first time he publicly spoke about MMY was after his death so that there was no risk of him being contradicted by MMY. His obituary on MMY can be read here:

    http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/feb/11guest.htm

  6. deepak permalink
    October 9, 2010 8:20 am

    Another interesting fact I found among comments at churumuri is about the copying of Gurupuja Mantras. The mantras and format is at this link: http://www.paulmason.info/gurudev/TMpuja.htm . (And one has to spend a whooping Rs 15,000/- to learn these slokas during the Gurupuja course)Slowly we are getting into the sources from where AOL techniques and knowledge have originated. Till now I suspect that SK has been inspired from OSHO’s Dynamic Meditation and Goenka’s Vipassana. Or there may be an exact source from where it has been copied. I have heard that some tecqunique by the name Sudarsan Kriya existed during Adi Sankaracharya’s time. Or may be Sri Sri might have stolen it from some little known mustic saint from Himalayas. Who knows? Nothing in AOL seems to be original. A fake Guru, fake teachers, robots, pshycos and what not. Of course the only original advise for AOL inner circle people is “Fake it. It does not matter whether you make it or not. However, all is well as long as you fill AOL coffers.”

  7. WhistleBlower permalink
    October 9, 2010 8:30 am

    From: Michael Fischman
    Sent: Thursday, February 14, 2008 4:06 PM
    Subject: Honoring Maharishi

    Maharishi ji’s last rites and cremation took place on Monday, February 11, the day of Vasant Panchami, when India invokes the deity of knowledge. Guruji organized for Maharishi ji’s funeral to be accorded the State honor. This is the first time that a spiritual leader has received this honor. Guruji attended the ceremony and was received with warmth by Maharishi ji’s organization and was seated in the front row, along with the Shankaracharya.

    A piece of sandalwood and pot of ghee was offered by Guruji as a last respect for Maharishi. The sandalwood was placed on Maharishi’s forehead and the ghee was poured first on the funeral pyre. The atmosphere was serene.

    Commenting on Maharishi, Guruji said that Maharishi ji was a unique combination of emperor and ascetic, perfect disciple and Jagadguru, modern scientist and deep traditionalist. He respected all sadhus alike. In the body he was Brahmastha, now he is Brahmaleen.

    Yesterday, Guruji called to say that it would be good for those had a connection with Maharishi and his organization to honor him with Shraddhanjali, a traditional way of offering respect seven days after the body has been cremated. Guruji said that on Monday, February 18, we should have a Satsang and chant Guru Puja. During the ceremony we should dip a cloth in ghee, place it in a vessel (a pot or an aluminum tray) light the cloth as though it were a wick. Everyone attending can add to the fire by dipping a small wick or a twig in ghee and then tossing it in the fire.

    Jai Guru Dev
    Michael

  8. Shivam permalink
    October 9, 2010 8:33 am

    I know of many full time teachers in India who are struggling to make ends meet. Some of them went against the wishes of their families and so chose to become ‘travelling teachers’ living out of suitcases year after year living at houses of ‘devotees’ and undoubtedly having a tough time. I’m also for helping the ones who want to make an exit with jobs but its not just a question of them having lost working years or skill sets. The people I know have become so out of sync with the outside world,having spent years looking upon it disapprovingly and building walls around themselves that its going to be a very painful transition. I think this is more of a reason for full timers to not be able to take the plunge to get back to mainstream life as they no longer relate to it and unable to figure out how they’d fit in.
    I hope the full timers who are unhappy and wish to leave take that leap of faith and reclaim their lives.

  9. WhistleBlower permalink
    October 9, 2010 8:36 am

    Sent: Saturday, 1 March 2008 5:07 a.m.
    Subject: Gurudev on Maharishi

    Gurudev on Maharishi :
    Maharishi Mahesh Yogi left his body on 5 Feb. Next day, we were in
    Ashram and Guruji spoke about this sage with whom he spent time
    during his youth. He said, “Maharishi made the meditation acceptable
    in the West by asking the scientists to perform some 700 experiments
    on meditation and then people in the West started believing in it.”

    Then there was silence for several moments and as it was after a
    satsang, there was vibrant energy in the atmosphere. It was not a
    mournful silence and the energy and presence could be easily felt
    in the Vishalakshi Mandap. The Stage had some distinct decoration
    with colored clothes having varied design of red and brown, floating
    from the ceiling behind, possibly in the Transcendental Meditation
    style.

    Someone asked some question and Guruji replied, “Can you not just
    stop asking these questions and just be. Be here right now, and
    experience the silence – you will enjoy more. See you ask a
    question, then I answer, and in your mind there is a Yes, and it
    feels good. You stay in that state for some time and another
    question comes up, and again you listen to answer and a Yes comes
    in the mind.” He smiled and asked, “Is there a Yes in your mind
    right now!?!”

    He took on silence for some more time….

    Then he said, “You know, there have been many saints and Gurus in
    this country and they had many different ways to quieten the minds
    of disciples, bring up their students. There was a Guru who would
    tell his students to move chairs from here to there. And then after
    some time, He himself would ask, ‘Why did you move the chair?’ And
    shout on the person who moved! Now being a disciple he couldn’t
    answer back, but if he said, ‘You only told me to move it’, Guru
    would reply saying, ‘No, I didn’t tell you!’ This is even more
    puzzling! And finally the disciple would have to shift it saying
    sorry and he would have to just do what Guru says! The disciple
    can’t get angry on Guru, and if he is able to restrain his anger
    in front of Guru, he will restrain it everywhere! So in a very
    subtle way, the Guru makes the difference in lives of students.”

    Maharishi also had his own ways. Once he decided to organize a
    training for 10,000 youth! All publicity happened, people didn’t
    understand the publicity material, and finally about 100 came.
    Then Maharishi said, “ohh, 1 in hundreds have come!” And in
    organizing such a task which is never done before, the students
    would learn a lot in a very subtle way. Immediately after finishing
    the training of those 100, Maharishi decided to organize a training
    for 20,000 youth, forgetting that just now we haven’t managed to
    get 10,000!! :)

    “In Maharishi’s Ashram, there used to be just meditation and talks.
    You need to drop all your identities – you are Madrasi, North
    Indian, European or from any place – you have to sit there as
    nobody, eat what is available. Of course, good food would be
    available, but you can’t demand what you wish. But the whole point
    of the exercises was to shun your identities and become one — with
    everyone around. Sometimes you won’t understand the talks at all!
    You may get bored, thoroughly bored! And the talks would even
    continue for 6 hours! It would test your patience.” Guruji said,
    “Then in those talks, he would see how long he can sit in padmasana!
    Today he would sit for two hours without coming out of padmasana,
    tomorrow two hours 15 min, next day two hours and 30 min… and it
    was kind of interesting! That too — Guruji had to be on stage with
    Maharishi and with all floodlights and on camera, as the sessions
    were recorded!”

    Once, Maharishi told Guruji, send all these 150 pandits to lay down
    the foundation stones for Meditation centers – and that has to be
    done before Akshay Trutiya, and this was told on Saturday, when
    Akshay Trutiya was on Monday! But where is the land, where to go…
    there were no lands available in hand!! — So what to do! But one
    can’t say NO to Maharshi, so one has to do it! [If you say No to
    anything, you would be asked to just Go out!] And it becomes a very
    good exercise to the mind of the students – not complaining at all.
    And that brings the mind so much in the present moment!

    So, continuing the ‘Foundation Stones’ story, Guruji said —
    “So people needed to be sent all over the world, and in all the
    places in India. That time there were not many flights, and people
    hadn’t even seen the Airplanes, not even the airports… and it
    would be costly..! So after collecting money from all the pockets,
    Guruji booked tickets for all the people in different planes,
    railways and sent them all in the different directions! So the work
    that he started, continued for hours and late night, and next
    morning when Guruji were just about to lie down on his bed, the last
    person whom he left in the airport knocks on the door! He returned
    because he saw Police there — at the security gates, he got scared
    and didn’t go past the police!!!”

    So… Guruji said – just go find and empty land somewhere, and do
    the puja of the earth…! Somewhere — somehow, the work had to be
    accomplished! ! :)

    Such are the actions of the sages… they flow from an unfathomable
    depth of intuition — beyond the intellect. And it becomes
    difficult to understand; hence, how it works; however following
    their words, a transformation happens in life.

    Their presence is much beyond the physical appearance, their reach
    is much beyond where they physically reach, and their influence is
    on much unknown, unexplored levels of existence! They transcend
    time.

    (Thanx to Ashwin Belagodu for producing this talk of Gurudev. Usual
    disclaimers are applicable – its not verbatim)
    Jai Gurudev!

  10. WhistleBlower permalink
    October 9, 2010 8:40 am

    Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2008 10:42:11 +0000
    Subject: An remarkable man, and a true yogi – plus a picture of conscious dying
    From: craig@heaven-on-earth-music.co.uk
    To: craig@heaven-on-earth-music.co.uk

    In celebration of a great life! – Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living, who spent many of his
    formative years with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, has described Maharishi as a “great soul” whose contribution to the world would be remembered forever.

    “Maharishi was truly great. He was highly skilled in managing world affairs and was equally dispassionate at the same time,” Sri Sri said, recalling the time he spent with Maharishi in his early days. “Maharshi laid the foundation for a new world based on the knowledge of the Vedas and spirituality. There was none like him and none shall ever be again. He remains unparalleled”.

    Enclosed is a beautiful picture of his passing.

    True yogis die in a way that is “conscious dying” – fully awake and leaving the body. Deep meditation (samadhi) merging with the greater universe in meditation (mahasamadhi). Note the complete innocence in the picture. A beautiful lesson of completely “letting go”.

    My years knowing and working for Maharishi were completely transformative.
    He was responsible for my study and immersion into Indian classical music (ancient Gandharva-Veda knowledge), and years of good health and vitality,clarity, enthusiasm and a deeper understanding into life. Without writing a long story here, it is sufficient to remember the huge impact he had on other renown musicians around the world – Donovan, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, The Beach Boys, Andre Previn, Leonard Bernstein, to name a few, besides the incredible fact of inspiring over 6 million people around the globe to learn to meditate — and the effect this has had on the collective consciousness of humanity. (google: “Maharishi Effect”)

    With love and light,

    Craig

  11. WhistleBlower permalink
    October 9, 2010 8:43 am

    M a h a r i s h i

    Dear friends

    Carl Petersen just now received this information
    Maharishi left His body – Tuesday, 5. February 2008,
    19.00 local time Central Europe.
    The traditional vedic fire funeral will take place in India.

    Jai Guru Dev.
    Werner

  12. WhistleBlower permalink
    October 9, 2010 8:44 am

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Maharshi was a great saint : Sri Sri

    BELGAUM, JANUARY 6, 2008: Renowned spiritual leader His Holiness Sri
    Sri Ravi Shankar said Maharshi’s contribution to the world will be remembered forever.

    Recalling fondly the time he had spent with the Maharshi in his early days, Sri
    Sri said, “Maharshi was a great saint. He was highly skilled in managing world affairs and at equally dispassionate at the same time.”

    “Maharshi laid the foundation for a new world based on the knowledge
    of Vedas and spirituality,” Sri Sri said.

    “There was none like him and none shall ever be again,” Sri Sri added.
    “He remains unparalleled.”

    For Media Queries:
    Niharika Peri, Bangalore: 9342582375

  13. WhistleBlower permalink
    October 9, 2010 8:49 am

    Anuradha SenGupta: I read that you were a disciple of Maharishi Mahayogi at that time.

    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I have traveled with him, stayed there conducting the Veda science programmes and he was doing at that time. It was beautiful to be traveling there with him.

    Being Sri Sri Ravi Shankar…
    Anuradha SenGupta / CNN-IBN
    Anuradha SenGupta: I know we are doing a longer interview, but on the eve of the Silver Jubilee celebrations, the three days, all the world leaders, 2.5 million people, to what purpose?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What purpose? To reinstate the faith in human values and to dedicate our self to doing good in the society.
    Anuradha SenGupta:You have explained why people need a Guru and why they need to look up to somebody, to the philosophy. How do you keep the philosophy going when the charisma and the personality of the Guru have passed?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You should go beyond the personality and charisma and go deep within to the silent corner of your heart, that’s the main purpose.
    Anuradha SenGupta:Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, this is such a wonderful week to be meeting you. 25 years of the Art of Living foundation, everything, the entire philosophy that you have given to so many people all over the world, how are you feeling right now?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Before I used to feel very shy when people used to compliment me and adore me but now I don’t, that’s the only difference.
    Anuradha SenGupta:Sir people like me, when we celebrate bithdays, anniversaries, 25 years, 50 years, there is a sense of it being a personal land mark or a milestone?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, not for me, not at all. It doesn’t mean any thing to me, be it 25 years or 30 years at all. But just an occassion for every one to come together, people are looking for some excuse to celebrate.
    Anuradha SenGupta:And you are giving it to them this week. For me it would be a chance to take stock, to introspect and to plan for the future?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Every day we introspect, one need not wait for 25 years to reflect what one should do in the next 25 years also.
    Anuradha SenGupta: May not be this week, but this year, you also turn 50, am I right?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I feel I am still five.
    Anuradha SenGupta:That’s a very diplomatic way of evading my question.
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Correct, you’re right, I am turning 50 no doubt.
    Anuradha SenGupta:So, is that another landmark which doesn’t again mean anything?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Correct, I feel the same, I have refused to grow up at all.
    Anuradha SenGupta:: Is the man we know today as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, is he still there an individual or is he sort of completely subsumed or consumed by the Guruji?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No Guruji is a relationship that others have. For me, it doesn’t have any sense. I am just what I am. Like the tree, the stones, the nature is there, like that I am here. To me, I am not playing a role all the time or any time. Are you understanding what I am saying?
    Anuradha SenGupta: I think so.
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is very difficult to put in words and make you understand. It is like you know you have a pain in your leg and you can’t tell others what the pain is. You can’t make them understand what the pain is, so it is very personal. Knowledge, that’s why I say the knowledge takes you from being some body to being nobody, and from being nobody to being every body.
    Anuradha SenGupta: In this week, Bangalore has a sense of celebration whis is emanating from this place all through the city, you get into the Airport and you have people there to receive International delegates coming in. Why do you think that close to 25 million people are making their way here? What is it that has captured the people’s imagination?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know it’s the work that has happening by all the teachers and the volunteers. And the benefit that the people have found in their lives, doing their practices, meditation, sudarshan kriya and involving themselves in Seva (service) activities. And this is one opportunity for everyone to contribute together, meditate together, sing together and know each other.
    Anuradha SenGupta: It was in 1982-83, when you had been on 10 days of silence and meditation. And after that you shared Sudarshan Kriya with the world. Do you want to do a flashback?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know before that also I was teaching meditation, Yoga and everything. But I think that there is something taht is lacking. Though I think that people do their spiritual practices, there life is in a sort of a compartment.
    They do their puja (prayer), they do their meditation, they do their spiritual practices, but when they come out in life, they are very different people. So, I was thinking how we can bridge this gap – between inner silence and outer expression of life, social life and activities. And after the silence, it was like an inspiration, I thought.
    And then came Sudarshan Kriya, it was like a gift. So, I didn’t sit and think and manipulate, do something. But when I came out of the silence, I started speaking to people and teaching whatever I knew and they all had a great experience. And then they said that to their friends. And by the word of mouth, it spread to many places. For nearly a decade, we did not print any materials. All by word of mouth.
    Anuradha SenGupta: I read that you were a disciple of Maharishi Mahayogi at that time.
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I have traveled with him, stayed there conducting the Veda science programmes and he was doing at that time. It was beautiful to be traveling there with him.
    Anuradha SenGupta: When you gave us the sudarshan kriya, did you come into your own as a spiritual leader or do this things not cross your mind at all? Because my questions are there where I am.
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I didn’t intend to become a leader or to do something. I just let the nature take its course. I never had any ambition that I had to make organisation or build something. Not at all. Everything just simply kept happening. Thats quite satisfied and fulfilled in myself.
    Anuradha SenGupta: You have said that relegion is like the skin of the bannana, spirituality is like the banana and we all left holding the skin. Why does that happen, why do we get so caught in the trappings of customs, rituals and symbols?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Its a good question that every one should ponder on. The very pondering on these questions can make us lift our eyes to the truth. The quest for truth is very individual. It cannot be a mass quest. Like there is nothing called mass hunger. Hunger is an individual phenomenon.
    Anuradha SenGupta: It is like that ache in the leg?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Correct. When the quest arises, the journey begins.
    Anuradha SenGupta: As human beings, we seem to be, it is like a manufacturing defect.
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I don’t think that it is a manufacturing defect. The nature has manufactured us perfectly. I think the maintainence department needs to take care.
    Anuradha SenGupta: There is this conflict of not being able to grasp what you have said – the values that all the religions preach are the same. And yet we do not seem to grasp this and civilisations seem to an end?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, there are many people who do understand this. The thing is that they are very passive and the few who do not understand are very aggressive. That’s how it all appears that the entire mass is not understanding and they are all fighting, everybody is in conflict. I don’t see it that way. You speak to anybody from any religious background and they are all peace-loving, wonderful, good people. But it is just that there are fringe elements in every religion.
    Anuradha SenGupta: I feel that what you have just said is very interesting – the mass is silent. So, do you think that the mass is sort of shirking it’s responsibility?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It needs to be a little more proactive. The so-called ‘good people’. I don’t think that there are any bad people. I think that everybody is good. But the so called pious or good people need to be more dynamic. They are, there are people who are doing good work in the society, but they need to be more involved in bringing people together, bringing communities together.
    And the basic problem is stress and the lack of spirituality. It is because of the stress and the lack of spirituality that even the families are breaking up. Tension between husband and wife, tension between brothers; in a household if there are so many problems and court cases, what do you talk about communities who don’t meet and keep themselves so apart. I feel that it is quite natural.
    Anuradha SenGupta: You have studied Christianity deeply. Today, if you pick up any newspaper, you can’t miss the fact that there is all this factual information as well as analysis and this great debate about – If and is Islam on a collision course with the rest of the world i.e the Western world. What are your thoughts on this?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: India can stand as an example. In India, we have lived with many religious traditions for centuries in peace.
    Anuradha SenGupta: But not without moments of tumult?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is very minimal when you compare it to the conflicts that the world has faced. We have always lived together and this the world needs to understand. In the rest of the world there is this conflict – only I will go top heaven and the rest of us will go to hell. Only my way is the correct way and if you believe in this set of principles, only then will you go to heaven, otherwise you will go to hell.
    This sort of philosophy or indoctrinisation has caused intolerance in the world. And they always think that when I am good, then there must be somebody who is evil. In India we say – tat tu samanvayat – coordinate them all. Find the common thread in between different philosophy, different ways of thinking, practices. That is why we have so many sampradayas. Hinduism is also not one religion. It is an amalgamation of many philosophies, many schools of thoughts and yet it is moving.
    It is the same with Buddhism, Jainism. It is the tolerance, I would say, the harmony in diversity that India can teach the rest of the world. And that can happen only when we find a common thread, which I would say is spirituality. Spirituality gives you an experience first, there are mainly two streams of thought in the world.
    First you believe and then you will experience and come to know the truth, this is the ‘oxidental’ way of thinking. The ‘orient’ is the other way around – first you experience and then comes the belief system. The second, orient type is very akin to science. Science also says, let me first know it, experience it and then I will believe it.
    So, that is why science and spirituality were never in conflict in the East. Their modes and methodology have been the same all the time. The yoga, the meditation and breathing is a step further, beyond the rituals. There it can unite. Not only that, your understanding of the religion that you are following becomes deeper and better.
    Anuradha SenGupta: There is a science conference coming up later in a couple of months. You have always stressed on giving spirituality a rational basis, isn’t it?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That has been our path of the vedanta, of the ancient darshanas. They were always rational and they always went step by step. Whether your knowledge is erroneous or correct, there is a whole shashtra about it. You see the sun setting, but is it really setting or not? Is your eye deceiving you? Is it an optical illusion or is it a reality? What is real? What is unreal?
    This whole thing is dealt in our scriptures, in our vedanta. So, it is free from dogma, it is a scientific, logical understanding of what truth is. And that scientific temper or enquiry must be encouraged. Unfortunately, that is not done as much as it should in our country. When they make movies like Matrix, based on the same principle of yoga vashishtha, people are watching them.
    But they need to know that all this knowledge is present in the ancient books. One of the most amazing books is yoga vashistha and people read that book and understand it with a certain silence, withmeditation. That broad avenue of understanding will open rightaway.
    Anuradha SenGupta: You have said that we need not be afraid of death because sleep and death are very similar. Like sleep energises you, invigourates you and gives you another day that starts again, death does the same thing. So, do you believe and accept rebirth?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is not just me, today it is proved beyond doubt and almost all psychiatrists use regression as a therapy. Past life regression is used all over the world. I think that time has gone when people used to wonder whether it is true or not, whether it is there or not there? For West it is a new discovery, but in the East it has always been there.
    Anuradha SenGupta: While you do believe in this, you do not subscribe to the fact that you do poonya (good deeds) in this life, in the next life, you evolve to a higher caste. That is notconnected to the way you see the concept of rebirth?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No. Rebirth simply depends on the strongest impression on the mind. Even here, in the aashram, there is a boy who is just eight years old and he speaks four languages. He has never gone to school. He is a boy of a farmer. He speaks Sanskrit, Hindi, Oriya and English. He just closes his eyes and he starts talking. He talks deep knowledge and philosophy. I myself had this experience. I know Gita from when I was very young.
    Anuradha SenGupta: And you graduated in Physics?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yeah. Physics is very fascinating. In our Vashishta Priyadarshana, it said, Padarthanand moksha. Even if you know one particle thoroughly in the creation, you are liberated. The wealth we have is amazing.
    But unfortunately, we have ignored it and nobody knows it, nobody studies that. They are more interested in following the ritual without even understanding the ritual properly. But understanding them makes your life so much richer.
    Anuradha SenGupta: I was reading what you have said, there are different points. Some of the things that you say are so lucid and yet they are like motherhoods, they are like axioms, they are like home truths. Why is it that we need to find a Guru before we can understand any of this?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Why do you want the answer for this question? You want the answer, right? When you want the answer, whoever gives the answer and you accept it, they become a Guru. If there is no need, then the question does not arise at all.
    Anuradha SenGupta: I was talking to a few people who have had an opportunity to hear you and all of them say that when you speak, then they feel that you are speaking only to them, no matter how large the audience. So, you are a master communicator, isn’t it? Isn’t that the key skill? I want the key skill to propound your philosophy.
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I don’t know whether it is a skill, I think that it is just my nature. I can’t do any othe way.
    Anuradha SenGupta: You are just being very modest.
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No. I think that I am just myself. I’ll never do anything that is not in my nature.
    Anuradha SenGupta: When you hold discourses, is it completely free
    flowing like water?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Absolutely, I never prepare my speech. I don’t prepare at all and I don’t read at all. I just sit and sometimes I feel that there is nothing big in talking of what you have read and known. To talk something that you don’t know is really beautiful. If you are talking from that intutive level of yourself, your speak own mind. Speaking from your memories is one thing, but when you speak from that nowhereness, it is where you are.
    Anuradha SenGupta: So, you are saying that acquired knowledge is
    nowhere close to where experience is?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This is a secondary thing. But that which comes from your soul, from your heart, you also learn. It is spontaneous and it is invigourating.
    Anuradha SenGupta: When I came here, I saw all the preparations, I have been hearing about all the variety of people who are going to be there over the next few days. I asked one of yuor volunteers that it must be very stressful, isn’t the Guruji stressful? And he started laughing and he could not relate to it at all. How could you not be stressed?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yeah, I understand that it is difficult to understand the situation. When you know that the power behind all that is happening in the world and you know that it is taking care of everything, there is no stress.
    Anuradha SenGupta: Stress of all these interviews, all the people,
    of the organisation, of time?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Nothing stays.
    Anuradha SenGupta: I mentioned that when I came into Bangalore, at the airport, I saw delegates waiting. You reminded me that it is at the train stations, at the bus stops. Why is it that the Art of Living is only for the elite or the upper strata?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I think that it is a wrong perception. If there are 25 lakh people, who were only the rich and famous in this country, the shape of this country would have been very different. It is not so. We have so much more in villages, in every nook and corner, in tribal areas. It is a perception of
    the media.
    Perhaps they think that only celebrities come here. In fact, media follows celebrities. Of all the funds that we have received, we have not taken any donation from any industries. It is all coming from the grass root levels. All our finances are taken care of by the local chapters. I think when we kindle the spirit in them, the true spirit in them, the people are able to take responsibility for their own lives and they make things
    work.
    Anuradha SenGupta: I have heard from people who have been to the courses say that sudarshan kriya has changed my life. What I cannot connect with is the satsangs, bowing to the portrait of Guruji. Do you see this as your thoughts getting corrupted by people as it gets disseminated?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Everywhere in the world, hero worship is a common thing. However, you tell them that you don’t have to do that. In fact, you simply have to go deep into your meditation. It is a big problem for me when I go somewhere and everyone wants to come and touch the feet and bow down. People who are behind them cannot see them and then they fall and it becomes to manage.
    But this reverence to elders, for the Gurus has been in our tradition. Whether it is a veena Guru or a violin Guru, this tradition has its value and beauty. I remember I used to touch the feet of my mother everyday. Sometimes I used to fight with her, argue with her, then also I used to do pranam and run to schoool.
    So, there is a sense of connection, same they do for any other religious leader anywhere else in the world. But unfortunately, our journalists only question only when it is done to Indian teachers or Indian Gurus. Because, you call Indian Gurus as godman and you put a tag and look at them as something fishy.
    In every area, there are some who are not genuine and there are some who are authentically working and who are people have great reverance for their work. But this prejudice against India spirituality has become much less now. Ten, twenty years ago, there was a lot of prejudice about Indian spirituality around the world.
    Anuradha SenGupta: Even with the Indian middle class, isn’t it?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The only so called educated people.
    Anuradha SenGupta: You have changed that?
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I hope so. The lack of spirituality brings two extreme types of problems. One is domestic and societal violence, other side is the suicidal tendencies. Anyone who has a Guru, there is no way they can get into suicidal tendencies. That shift happens. That is why they say – Guru bina gati nahin hai. (There is no speed without the Guru) That is a common saying throughout India. More so in the North – Punjab, Haryana – than in the South.
    Anuradha SenGupta: I think we are going to let ypu go into the satsang, just one second. In the week of the 25th anniversary, I want you to leave us with something really special.
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Know that you are very special and be a very ordinary person.

  14. coward permalink
    October 9, 2010 4:51 pm

    Aol is one more artificial banana ..only wise can sort it out . Most of Journalists are themselves ignorant of real banana.

  15. Abhishek permalink
    May 25, 2012 6:02 pm

    Can be just compassionate towards the author and say “Get well soon” in Munna bhai’s style :) :) :)

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