His Holiness titles & Lineage
His name in his passport is stated as Venkatratnam Ravishankar Ramanayakanpet (Place of birth: Papanasam – Tamilnadu).
Whether this is same name as the one in his birth certificate, I do not know. But a quick glance to his passport name, verifies that he did indeed picked “Ravishankar” bit to tap into the fame of the already well-known musician Ravi Shankar. The genuine Pandit Ravi Shankar has been described as the most well known contemporary Indian musician. He has worldwide fame & is receiver of three Grammy awards (please note the actual receiver, and not three times nominee like our Ravi with NPP!)
So our Ravi, a genius in marketing (or deceiving/conning, whichever way you prefer to look at it!) , chose Ravi Shankar as his name to tap into the fame associated with this already world famous & loved musician. In the beginning our Ravi was even using this musician’s title, i.e. Pandit.
Not content with stealing Pandit Ravi Shankar’s name, he has been deriding him ever since. Without any shame, our Ravi, tells everyone , in a deriding manner, that Pandit Ravi Shankar (the real one, that is) wasn’t happy with our Ravi using his name (our Ravi even accused the famous musician of jealousy), so he dropped Pandit and started calling himself Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. So just in case any of you wondered where the title “Sri Sri” came from, yes, our Ravi bestowed it on himself!
So for few short years that title “Sri Sri” satisfied our Ravi’s ego. Indeed he would repeat with much glee how he gave this title to himself (very pleased with himself indeed!) & when asked why two “Sri”s, instead of just one, he would reply because he thought 108 would be too many. So much humility in this godman!!
But as those of us who know Ravi closely, his ego doesn’t know any bounds. Soon he was jealous of Dalai Lama and his title of “His Holiness”. He was also greatly jealous that Dalai Lama had received a Nobel Peace Prize & coveted that badly. So while he started his team of lackeys on getting him a NPP & started his highly dubious “peace making/conflict resolution” activities to make himself eligible (I will write another post on that one!), he couldn’t wait that long for “His Holiness” title. So he simply added this title to his name. Just like that. From then on, all AOL teachers were instructed to use His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (HHSSRS) when referring to our Ravi, esp in dealing with media.
I remember the huge sense of embarrassment when a journalist asked me in year 2000 where the title of “His Holiness” came from. I went speechless as I simply didn’t know. The journalist tried to help me, by saying: “you know for example Dalai Lama is His Holiness , carrying on the Tibetan Lama tradition as 14th Lama or Pope having this title, where does Sri Sri’s title come from?”. I felt even more embarrassed & as hard as I scratched my head I couldn’t come up with an answer. I decided to reply that I didn’t know, instead of saying the truth, i.e. he gave that title to himself! It was the first time I had realised the wrongness & egotistical attitude of SriSri for bestowing these titles on himself. The journalist still went ahead & referred to him with the full title I had given her. Looking back I wished she had respected her own journalistic instincts & skills.
I have to admit until that day, as a brain-washed teacher, I had not even given any thought to why Sri Sri had suddenly started to call himself “His Holiness”, just the same way that I had not previously given any thought about him using a famous musician’s name, nor when he dropped Pandit & started using Sri Sri. In fact I had laughed alongside others when he would tell us how he added “Sri Sri” to his name in a deriding tone to real Pandit Ravi Shankar, accusing him of jealousy, childishness & being attached to his name/title.
The story of our Ravi’s Spiritual lineage is just as flimsy as his titles. Indeed one can ask which Lineage? He doesn’t have one!!
He couldn’t claim his lineage through Maharishi (TM) as Maharishi had called him a “sugar coated poison” & thrown him out of his organisation. Our Ravi would tell us different things about his break up with Maharishi at different times, anything from
–Maharishi was jealous of him… to
–Maharishi wouldn’t let him to share Kriya with the world & was forcing him to keep it to himself , so he had to leave … to
–Maharishi had recognized SriSri as his Guru …to
–that Maharishi’s organisation was going crazy with “flying” meditations, so he didn’t feel comfortable with that.., etc, etc.
I don’t wish to focus on Ravi’s relationship with Maharishi & TM here, it can be focus of another post as it certainly is a fascinating account on its own.
But in short, for the purpose of this post, SriSri could not use Maharishi to provide some credibility or lineage for himself, so what to do?
Well, same thing that SriSri did with his name & titles, i.e. create one!! Yes, you heard it right; don’t have a lineage? no problem, let’s create one!!
And because there was no live guru or even a dead guru anywhere that our Ravi could attach himself to & get a lineage sorted for himself, he came up with a “story” for his lineage & attached himself to Gurudev of Rishikesh which was Maharishi’s guru. And because he himself had never studied with this Gurudev. He started this story that a lady who had served Gurudev for many years & apparently the only lady that Gurudev would allow to serve him, recognized Ravi as the reincarnation of Gurudev on meeting him for the first time. How do we know she recognized our Ravi as Gurudev? Did she say so? No, but he offered Ravi the same food that she used to offer to Gurudev!
Bingo, problem solved. Now our Ravi got his lineage sorted. so he is next in line to this Gurudev. Those of you who have seen a picture of series of enlightened Masters next to a flowing river in main meditation hall in AOL Ashrams, know that Gurudev was the last master depicted in that picture. The same picture is used in TM, showing Maharishi as the guru next in line to Gurudev, carrying on that tradition.
In early years Ravi was just happy to use this picture (minus Maharishi) & say that it was the tradition he came from!
But in recent years his ego took another leap & caused him to add his photo to the same picture, depicting himself as the last guru in that tradition.
Of course those of you who have attended Guru Puja course have been told by SriSri’s sweet sister, Bhanu Didi, that it took years for her & other senior teachers to finally get permission from him to add his photo to that picture!! A framed photo of this picture, plus another one of a full length photo of SriSri standing in front of this picture is given to those who attend GuruPuja course, plus of course nice stories of how SriSri is reincarnation of Gurudev!
Indeed the whole idea of Gurupuja course is creating a lineage for SriSri & brainwashing the participants to accepting this made-up lineage! And SriSri is so cunning (or shall I say genius in marketing/creating money) that he even charges AOL members extravagant fees to brainwash them to a made-up-lineage for himself!
As to his biological lineage, there is very little known. Take for example SriSri’s father, R.S.Venkat Ratnam. You would be hard pressed to find anything about his job & profession before AOL.
In AOL publications & in SriSri’s bio, if he is mentioned at all, he is referred to as “well versed in Sanskrit, Tamil and English “ or “a scholar of languages and now does charitable work.” Which charitable work? Well, they are referring to some AOL money that was donated by AOL members & was used to buy some sewing machines for few underprivileged ladies so that they can create an image of a social worker for SriSri’s father post AOL.
Otherwise those who knew Mr. Ratnam prior to AOL do not remember him as being a social worker & rather talk about his various dubious business schemes, cheating the public of millions of rupees. Is it a case of like father, like son?