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His Holiness titles & Lineage

June 2, 2010

By Whistleblower

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?

  1. Krish permalink
    June 2, 2010 8:21 pm

    This is hilarious!
    Did they send AOL wide email to say –
    from now on, guruji should be called SSRS.
    from now on, guruji should be called HHSSRS.
    I have also seen some people sprinkle words like Poojya in between somewhere.
    There’s no doubt that someone in AOL is a marketing genius. Whether it’s RS himself or it’s someone in his inner circle, I’m not sure.

  2. WhistleBlower permalink
    June 2, 2010 9:24 pm

    Nothing in AOL, esp. egotistical manifestations like this, happens without SriSri’s own approval. Even if someone else had come up with the idea, RS could have said no!
    And no, there wasn’t a circular as such saying from now on call him HHSSRS, but suddenly all the mail from his own office & his lackeys & senior teachers would refer to him by His Holiness title.
    Same happened when suddenly we heard Gurudev being used instead of Guruji. Suddenly Guruji wasn’t enough for RS, he wanted to be referred to as Gurudev to show he is not just an ordinary guru, but a Divine incarnation! How about we start referring to him as “Shot at Guru” or SAG in short?

  3. Krish permalink
    June 2, 2010 10:11 pm

    On an unrelated note, does anyone know how much AOL paid for the old church building they bought in Los Angeles?

  4. CBI Raid permalink
    June 2, 2010 11:36 pm

    LA center and a building next to it cost 6 million
    They made close to 2.5 million in a week with the inaugration,donation and upanishads course.
    They made all the donations as taxfree and thereby screwing the American public. AOL has shafted America with 501C Non profit scam of all the tax $$$ for a longtime. It is time for FBI raid to act.

  5. WhistleBlower permalink
    June 2, 2010 11:58 pm

    US$5.3 million , but no problem, devotees will be blessed to pay yet another fat Gurudakshina for it! See the email below from AOL dark princess Rajshree patel, now a blessing course teacher. See how RS is not shy when it comes for the amount of Gurudakshina!

    From: Rajshree Patel Feb 2010
    Subject: Upanishad Course – Come and sit close to the PRESENCE
    I am writing to personally invite you to the Upanishads Course in Los Angeles, and to share with you how this course came to be, and how great the opportunity is for you to be a part of it. At the last TRM, Gurudev was asked for knowledge. Perhaps that was the beginning. I have noticed that this request comes again and again. Now he has said yes. It is your prayer he is answering. You must come.

    When we were sitting in Los Angeles thinking of how to receive Guruji in our new center, somehow the idea came to offer a commentary on the Upanishads, a commentary with no distractions, no entertainment, just Guru and Disciple. It was presented to him, and the answer was yes, five sessions, two hours each. This is amazing.

    When we discussed the donation for the course, because it truly is a donation, not a course fee, again we were sitting together and the ideas came, $500, $50, so many different amounts. When the answer to that question came from Gurudev, the dakshina he told us was $1,100.00 – 1,100 people. There were gasps – so much money, who can afford it, what about public programs, so much coming from the mind. And then all those thoughts dissolved. This is our Guru Dakshina, it is an opportunity for us to give back to this beautiful path, and to participate in one of the highest spiritual practices. Giving is a circle. We give and we receive. It is not a fee, because what is being offered to us cannot be bought. What price could we put on this gift?

    All of us who are his teachers have received – more and more. We have been given his presence, his trust, his teachings, his love. Now he is giving us a chance not only to receive, but to give. Our gift to him for this knowledge, our dakshina, creates a space inside of us that can be filled with even more. If you have watched the Ashtavakra Commentaries, you know.

    Come to Los Angeles for the Upanishads. Sit close to the PRESENCE.

    Jai Guru Dev,

    Rajshree Patel

  6. Rain permalink
    June 3, 2010 1:11 am

    Oh, that email Whistleblower posted is just gross. It is not a fee, just a chance to give? Could you get any more obvious?! HE is giving us a *chance* to give? Wow, we should be so grateful. He is coming to speak because he’s answered our prayers? Get over yourself, man! It sounds just a little bit, oops, I mean a lot narcissistic. He’s the one who’s receiving, oh yeah–a lot of $$$$$$. Mucho cash. Vomit.

  7. ex aol teacher from india permalink
    June 3, 2010 4:43 am

    even the sri sri title added to his name is stolen from sri sri parmahansa yoganand ji. btw sri sri title was also used by sex swami nithyananda

  8. Rational permalink
    June 3, 2010 5:19 am

    Since 2009, SSRS has instructed categorically that he wants a minimum of $100 from each person per day for any advance course where he makes even a token presence of one hour a day.

    This $100 per day per participant is just for SSRS and the local centre still has to pay for the costs and make its own profit which also anyway washed to Bhanu & Co via ashram/divine shop.

  9. Vasudeva permalink
    June 3, 2010 9:02 am

    Sri Sri is a common name among swamis in Karnataka especially the caste based swamis. Balagangadhara and Murgurajendra or Suttur Mutt swami’s are all prefixed with Sri Sri. They are powerful religious leaders of the caste groups they represent (Gowdas, Vokkaligas, Kurubas, Brahmins etc). Ravishankar picked the title of Sri Sri from here.
    Incidentally there is no regulation for titles like Swami,Sri Sri, Paramahamsa, Rishi, Guru, Gurudev, baghwan in hinduism/India. Some organizations do have regulations or standards within themselves as to when one can be called a swami or paramahamsa. In Ramakrishna Matt or Chinmaya Mission for example you can get to be a swami only after being a Brahmachari for ten years. They have a their own high qualifying criteria. On the other hand you can attend a Osho meditation camp of three days and take sanyas with a new name like Swami XXX. All in three days.
    But there are gurus and traditions aplenty. And you can always self proclaim yourself as whatever suits you. And if you can get a sizeable number of people as followers who can repeat the title then you are that title. These titles are not like Bishop, Archbishop or cardinal and does not come with all the privileges the catholic church provides these titleholders.

    U G Krishnamurthi used to tell that there are two kinds of people who always keep changing their names – Conmen and Godmen. Godmen change it more often than the conmen. Or rather with gurus like Ravishankar and Nithyananda they are all the same.

    There is a popular story in Kannada where there is guru who is a Jagadguru (World Guru) something. This Jagadguru has only one disciple which is his dog. So he names the dog as ‘Jagat’ (world).

  10. June 3, 2010 10:23 am

    Oops thats a lot of money 🙂 tempting !!! would like to start a gurudom of my own one day 🙂
    JGD 😉

  11. Hari permalink
    June 3, 2010 6:30 pm

    I have been following the posts here regularly and I thought I could chip in. I lost one of my best friends (had been one since 1994) because of his recent falling into this clan of AOL. I had been questioning in him on a few things about what goes on in AOL and that created a rift that slowly and steadily has widened and not for the past 6 months, we have completely ceased to talk.
    First of all, I hate God-men… not just Sri Sri… I just hate every single one of them.
    I asked him a few questions on AOL
    1. Why is there a hierarchial set up in who teaches a certain course and where it is made available and why is it so expensive? He would come up with an answer – you pay tuition to go to university, why not do this for some “spiritual education”.
    2. Why is his name always preceded by some suffixes like Sri Sri or His Holiness etc.? He said – he is enlightened, so the prefix. It was Tagore who gave the Mahatma title to MK Gandhi and Gandhi did not name himself.
    3. I felt that he has been faking happiness and laughs off the troubling situations. I dont know if it was good or bad, but, i felt it was weird. During chat, if he is ending an unpleasant comment or remark which he assumes might offend people, he would always end it with a smilie icon. and sometimes if he has to give a negative comment or remark during unavoidable situations – he wd just smile… I feel all this suppressing normal human feelings are going to well up and burst open sometime.

    I don’t know what else to write. But, I sincerely feel that he is in a cult and will be too late before realizing what AOL has done to him. But, I have lost a good friend after all these years, because, I questioned the basis on which this organization runs as I had serious issues.

  12. Krish permalink
    June 3, 2010 8:05 pm


    Sorry to hear about your friend. Hopefully he’ll realize the truth some day.
    One of the first things AOL teaches in basic course is to ignore other people’s opinions. They say you should not be a football of other people’s opinions. I believe they might have started teaching this to stop people from listening to their family and friends who might discourage them from continuing with AOL. AOL might have observed early on that students don’t continue with AOL courses after they discuss their experience with family and friends. Now they train their students to not listen to family/friends. You see, seemingly innocuous ‘knowledge’ might not be so innocuous after all.

  13. Rain permalink
    June 3, 2010 9:08 pm

    Hari–Me too. I lost a friend to AoL who started acting weird. One thing I noticed is the supression of natural feelings to make everything happy. But, it’s not so real. Wonder where that comes from? Does anyone know? Are they told to “act” happy? I know this is a traditional cult thing we can see on some funny TV shows like Simpsons about members faking happiness but don’t get their reasoning behind it. I thought the opposite of spirituality–to be ourselves–be present.

    Krish, Very interesting what you say about them being taught about ignoring others’ opinions. One thing I noticed is that AoL has some good spiritual knowledge but it gets twisted just enough to be irrational or misguided. There is some knowledge in not listening to other’s opinions but that can also work against a person. Like, them not listening when someone says “you’re in a cult”. I’m curious how far they will go in saying not to listen to people’s opinions?

  14. KLIM permalink
    June 3, 2010 11:04 pm

    Guys, I am very tempted to add “Sri Sri” before my Klim, and maybe a “His Holiness” before the “Sri Sri” that could go before my Klim …. what do you say? 😉 Whistleblower, maybe you should tell the story of how Pitaji was in a relationship with a woman in Europe, who gave him money to buy house, etc. and that Bhanu and RS made sure everyone thought she was a “blue star” everywhere just to undermine her claims that she and Pitaji were in love and were going to get married?

    • June 4, 2010 6:38 am

      Spreading the rumour that Pitaji’s european lover was a blue star (crazy, spaced out person) would be rather like shooting one’s own foot for RS, since said woman is actually an AOL advanced course and sahaj teacher. Having met her, though, I must say she does come across as extremely flaky.

  15. WhistleBlower permalink
    June 4, 2010 12:33 am

    Hi Klim,
    Well, I think you are more deserving of HH & SriSri title than this megalomaniac. You have actually helped many of RS’ victims by your blog, not to mention those who are now safe from RS’ trap.
    Re RS’ father’s relationship with a European lady, I have read in few places, but since don’t know the story personally, can’t comment about it. You or anyone else who may know about the story, please feel free to write as a post or comment. I believe it is highly relevant to RS’ lineage.
    I saw the below comments in your blog & Guruphiliac’s:

    In Guruphiliac blog under Saturday, June 10, 2006 post
    Kids, Throw That E Away, Kriya Will Save The Day!

    At 3/02/2009 8:39 AM, Anonymous said…
    Someone I know well knew Ravishankar from his childhood as well as his parents Ratnam and Vishalakshi. He was highly effeminate from his childhood and failed to complete even basic college. There was one Bala Sai Baba who was popular that time who visited Ravishankar’s place. Ravishankar and his parents promoted him big time then. Ravishankar would go behind closed doors with Bala Sai and before long half of Bangalore was talking about the gay relationship between Bala Sai Baba and Ravishankar. I don’t remember too well what exactly happened (it was probably a fraud case that was exposed), but a whole lot of devotees turned against Bala Sai Baba who was arrested for a while and then went absconding. Ratnam and friends decided it was not safe for Ravishankar whose association (or whatever more) with Bala Sai Baba had raised many eyebrows as well as earned the ire of Bala Sai’s victims and packed him off to Mumbai. And then began his short term association with Mahesh Yogi’s group. The talk of Ravishankar being gay (remember, it was several decades ago and homosexuality was a big big taboo then) was doing rounds all over the city and one fine day, Ravishankar’s family announced that he had attained enlightenment at Sholingur, close to Madras. For some reason, this place was later changed to Bhadravati in Shimoga district of Karnataka. Nothing wrong that he is gay, but a real saint would probably acknowledge his own truth rather than run from it.

    In your blog: under Haiti – not for commercial use, Saturday, January 16, 2010,
    Anonymous said…
    That article is what is called an advertisement. Life Positive is an indian spiritual, healing magazine which is not known for objective analytical real news reporting and is not their intention as well. Apart from the articles on spirituality, the primary aim of this magazine is to promote the many different Gurus, theraphies and workshops. That’s where they get their revenue. The write up on AOL in Life positive is a straight copy from the AOL website. If you look at the writeup of all the Gurus in this magazine you will begin to wonder with so many do gooders around why there is so much poverty in India. SriSri is well known for cultivating the media even the mainstream ones. A great deal of the charity donations goes to it. But for those of us who have seen the seva activities, there is not much to boast off. Regarding Pitaji Acharyaji Ratnanadaji the less said the better. He is the grandmaster in the game. In the early year he conned an european couple into donating a huge deal of their wealth to veda vigyan mahavidyapeeth. The rich husband was suffering a degenerative disease and Ratnam alias acharya ratnananda ripped them in their hope of curing it through yoga and ayurveda. The husband ultimately died. Mata Vishalakshi also suffered because of her old husband’s fondness for the European lady. They even had to get their son god to intervene and prevent a family squabble.
    JANUARY 20, 2010 4:47 AM

    And under the post,Quick glance of the LA center, Saturday, January 23, 2010
    Anonymous said…
    Pitaji father of Ravi had created a ponzi chit fund scheme in Bangalore and Chennai in the 70s. He had cheated the public millions of rupees. He was on the verge of bankruptcy when he was caught and asked to pay up. Thereafter he realized that holy business is far more safer and lucrative. He associated with Mahesh Yogi and used to be in the group which used to arrange for his meetings, stay and travel in south India. That’s how Ravi inherited his association with his guru. It was pitaji who realized the potential his son had and he created the breakaway vedic school with 20 poor brahmin children. He was able to bribe and get huge land from the government for lease,the place where the current ashram is. The vedic school was just the first con job of Ravi & Pitaji and Ravi further perfected this over the years. Pitaji was a terror and tyrant in the school if you ask some of the school children who spent typically 3- 5 years in this school. The school children had nicknamed him Pishachi(demon).
    Pitaji’s fondness for white women was well known in the early ashram days when he still had his juices flowing. He was close to a rich Belgian couple who had followed Ravi to bangalore. Pitaji treated or rather suggested various ayurvedic treatments to the ill husband and his condition only worsened. This couple were squeezed high and dry. What was troubling the ashram was Pitaji’s fondness to the Belgian lady. Vishakshi had to suffer for all this and finally Ravi himself had a confrontation with his dad on his mother’s behalf.
    Ravi is again highly indebted to his father and in satsangs Pitaji is given an equal seating with his son. Ravi has mentioned several times that his father is enlightened and hence this treatment. His mother whom Ravi really loved also is/was enlightened according to Ravi and hence the huge building in her name. Sis is also on the path of enlightenment and one of the few teachers of the hallowed sahaj meditation and guru puja. Brother in law was an engineer in Indian Telephone Industries. But since the holy business started booming hequithis job some twenty years ago and ever since runs the ashram and undertakes other mundane tasks. He has also been spotted in the annual Osho mediation camp conducted by swami anand swabhav in bangalore. Maybe he wanted a break and see how other gurus operate.
    January 24, 2010 2:58 AM

    • UnEnlightened one permalink
      June 5, 2010 8:01 am

      A small correction: his brother in law – Narasimhan was an architect and not an engineer – he quit his job to design the structures around the bangalore ashram

  16. WhistleBlower permalink
    June 4, 2010 8:56 am

    The very first time I heard the name “blue star” was from SriSri himself. I had recommended someone for a project. His reply to me was as long as she is not a “blue star”! Not knowing its meaning, I replied “blue star”? His sister & few of his inner circle present there, laughed at my ignorance. Obviously that was an “inner joke” among themselves. SriSri made a gesture of a crazy person with his hand, pointing to his head.
    I assured him, no that person is not crazy. Inwardly I was quite shocked how a guru can refer to anyone like that.
    I wonder if he cares if anyone is a “blue star” before he happily takes fee for part1 & part2 , etc from them!

  17. Voila permalink
    June 4, 2010 12:43 pm

    Wow. A bit overwhelming all that side information. It should be posted in an article rather than a comment! Were we that that deceived???? Scary thought. The woman who claimed was marrying Pitaji was a German lady to whom RS owed a lot since her mother was one of the first to support him in Europe when he was a “kid”. The German lady, an advanced course and Sahaj teacher, packed and moved to India for a long time. I even heard she sold everything and bought a house where they would both live. Obviously, Pitaji kept the property, bc Bhanu and RS made sure the lady got “fixed”. People report seeing them walking hand in hand everywhere. According to her, they were in love and would get married. Something about being the reincarnations of who knows what. Bhanu and RS then spoke ill about her. Everywhere they went in Europe, esp. the ashram, they’d made sure they’d tell people what a blue star this woman was. In fact, they’d say she was damaged by all those TM practices – according to them, it made a lot of TMers loose it (I wonder if that is what we will say about people practicing too much SK!). I even remember Bhanu’s face saying, “My father would never do that to my mother. She is making it up. She is nice but she is a blue star. How do you think my father would be with a woman like her?” Hearing RS repeat the same words and expressions later, I remember it being scary. Somehow, even then, one wondered whether it was an arranged script or if they actually felt that way. Poor lady was scrutinized and returned to Europe. She is a lady though and moved out of the scandal quickly, while everyone else had this misconception that she was a nut-so. Those are just some of the very mean things that happen in the AoL! I understand she is no longer teaching for AoL and that the last time RS called her to go back, she prolonged her distance from them just because he had insisted. If that is the case, good for her. She got married and moved to another country. Who knows what Pitaji is doing but yes, quite a pathetic man.

  18. ex aol teacher from india permalink
    June 5, 2010 6:15 am

    skywalker i wish you will not close your blog

  19. Jagadish C N permalink
    June 14, 2010 9:20 am

    I have come across many comments about the titles and lineage, questions like – how can you ask about SSRS’s lineage when great masters like Ramana and Ramakrishna had no lineage traceable to an order of teachers?

    Neither Ramakrishna nor Ramana claimed anything for themselves. Neither were great scholars, nor did they claim to be. Ramana sat meditating with no concern for his physical well being nor his food, for many years. His sheer presence and aura of bliss attracted people to him. In fact, he often had to move to more remote locations to escape from the throngs of people and sit immersed in his meditation. He never taught structured courses or asked for money. Even till today, donations to his Ashram keep it going, and it is strictly voluntary.

    Neither of them created a big mystique about their lineage or background. Their past was an open book for anyone to see. People flocked to them for who they were, not who they knew.

    There are so many so-called swamis creating great tales – past predictions about their arrivals, extreme spiritual or religious achievements at a young age, completing their education and graduating in their teens and so on.

    How many have tried to verify SSRS claim of an “advanced degree in science at the age of 17”? Nithyananda claims to have completed his engineering degree also in his mid teens, and to have been taught by some of the great yogis of south India. Why claim all this if they fly in the face of the truth?

  20. Durga Chincholi permalink
    June 14, 2010 11:18 am

    One Should also Ask about the scandles that happen with Arvind Varcaswi Narsiman(Gurujis Nephew), The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree 😀

    Let me know if anyone is intrested in hearing this

    • Anonymous permalink
      June 14, 2010 4:26 pm

      durga please share information about Arvind Varcaswi Narsiman

  21. Laxmi993699 permalink
    June 14, 2010 1:12 pm

    So much of this blog is truthful, especially the heartfelt hurt feelings expressed by KLIM and others who had similar experiences. It’s true that AOL, through it’s clumsiness, greediness, and protection of certain reputations harmed others on it’s way “up” (if you want to call it that – up). However, there is much in many of these comments that is only partially true, or based, possibly on “I heard from so and so who told so and so…” etc. The gist is right, but the whole thing is not right. Because it’s important that people in AOL who have been there long and who still remain, be able to possibly know that those posting are truly informed (have first hand information and are relating it), I would suggest that all posters please stick to what they themselves experienced, or were told by the people themselves or saw themselves. That would make this site more useful, and completely accurate. Again, the gist is right — those at the ‘top’ (if you want to call it that – top) do say and do anything against anyone they perceive as possibly damaging the reputation of the guru or relatives to the guru. Much of what is posted is common knowledge in Bangalore city (history), as to the early behaviors leading to the ashram, etc. Some of it is slightly inaccurate here. The Chitti scheme, the land for school scheme, the Pandit’s school for TM, etc. is all correct. But some of the details/flavor are not: SSRS was truly, totally, overwhelmingly devoted to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Where he went astray (inside) who knows? But his devotion to MMY cannot be questioned. Also, in spite of his later ugly name-calling of disciples who displeased him, he was not always this way. He was once an innocent, lovely, powerful (energy-wise), caring man who really believed he was continuing the TM mission in India. What he started truly came from his heart. What happened to his heart? Who knows.

    As to name-calling, calling Rajshree Patel “the dark princess” is just as nasty as Bhanu, etal calling our German friend “blue star”. Anyone seeing Rajshree after 20 years of service to SSRS will be shocked in you-tube videos to see a disheveled looking woman draped in white, looking very much like a clone of the “master” SSRS. This was a talented, vibrant, high spirited woman who prided herself on her appearance while still being on a serious spiritual search. Although looks don’t really matter, grooming does, imo. And the ‘old Rajshree’ would have been very upset to see herself today. Then, if you knew her, look at her eyes, her face. She’s just not really there much any more — she looks defeated, sometimes even frightened as she looks around a room in the clips. This shocked me and saddened me.

    Please, state your own good or bad experiences, but name-calling is really lacking compassion here. And I think that is the chief complaint against AOL: Somewhere along the line, people made a decision of Power over Compassion and Kindness. No need to follow that poor example that was set by some.

    Has it occurred to anyone that even SSRS may have “lost his soul” and is “occupied”? The paranoia would say it’s possible. Who knows? He once frankly said that he “occupied more than 200 people in the world” and that they were “functioning with less than 25% of their own personality”. This was said with pride, as if saying something that was a wonderful accomplishment. Horrifying.

    Basically, KLIM is right — none of what AOL is doing really matters any more than anything else on this earth — it’s more WORLD, and after many years of not thinking about any of them at all, I found this site because old friends called me to report the “assassination attempt on Guruji’s life”. Of course that is not what happened in the final analysis.

    Pray for Peace. Pray that All Seekers Find the Truth. Pray That Anyone Who Has Been Misguided In Any Way Take the Good and Leave the Bad and Move On. Pray that the World Finds a Better Way.

    • Sincere Seeker permalink
      June 15, 2010 8:43 am

      Occupying people – boy that is way too scary for me. Guruji spirit is occupying other people’s bodies!!!
      It’s like Exorcist or some Tantric or some super natural stuff.
      And yes he himself may be “occupied” by other spirits, and channeling them. Gosh!
      Is he a Tantric? Is he like becoming more powerful with “occupying” more and more people and others surrendering their powers to him.
      Way too super natural and scary for me to imagine what all this is and I would not advise anyone to go anywhere near this stuff!
      I have also heard from few people that when you do the Sudarshan Kriya you are actually allowing Guruji’s grace to enter – or rather for him to take control of your nervous system!
      And I heard one person say I don’t want him controlling my nervous system so I don’t do the Kriya.
      I know I once heard a piece of conversation between an insider and his nephew that Pitaji has surrendered his powers to him (his son).
      I have also heard Guruji say on numerous occasions that he is an Extra Terrestrial (when asked if they exist). He’s been talking more and more about angels and devi-devatas as well…
      And of course he’s preparing us for 2010.
      Looks like we have enough to start a Sci-fi channel.

  22. Dr Quentin Jones permalink
    June 14, 2010 3:38 pm

    Spill the beans Durga, very keen to know more about Arvind

  23. Svetana permalink
    June 15, 2010 3:41 am

    Dear Laxmi993699

    “But some of the details/flavor are not: SSRS was truly, totally, overwhelmingly devoted to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Where he went astray (inside) who knows? But his devotion to MMY cannot be questioned.”

    You write that RS devotion to his guru Mahesh Yogi cannot be questioned, then, why would his guru, whom RS was so much devoted to, call him “sugar coated poison”?

    “He was once an innocent, lovely, powerful (energy-wise), caring man who really believed he was continuing the TM mission in India. What he started truly came from his heart. What happened to his heart? Who knows.”

    How can anything coming from the purity of one’s heart start with a theft? I mean that Transcendental Meditation is identical to Sahaj Samadhi Meditation. I can confirm it, because I took both course and saw practically no difference. The only real difference was that mantras given to me were different.

    “He once frankly said that he “occupied more than 200 people in the world” and that they were “functioning with less than 25% of their own personality”. This was said with pride, as if saying something that was a wonderful accomplishment. Horrifying.”

    “Pray that the World Finds a Better Way”

    Here I am totally with you.

    • Laxmi993699 permalink
      June 17, 2010 4:58 pm


      I guess when I said “devotion”, I meant “love”. He did, in fact, steal TM and call it Sahaj Samadhi. You are right. This is a man I pitied as I watched him desparately calling Holland, trying to get them to put Maharishi on the phone, then when they would not, would hang up, look defeated, and say “he’s just so busy”.

      He was thrown out for starting his own ashram in Bangalore, basically. He even sent a letter with one of the first Pandits from the Bangalore Ashram to Maharishi. (The Pandit told me himself). This was a long time ago. According to the pandit, Maharishi gave his reply of “I have nothing to say to him”. And SSRS was crushed, I was told. His “ashram” was first some pandit boys collected from surrounding villages by Pitaji. MMY said they would have to go to Noida. Pitaji said they could not go, but had to stay near their villages in the south (at the ‘city’ ashram, then). MMY became angry with SSRS and wouldn’t speak to him. I don’t know if, in the years that have passed since the 90s, if MMY has indeed met or spoken with SSRS. I have no knowledge of that.

      Once, when I asked SSRS why he dressed the way he did, talked the way he did, was he trying to act like Maharishi or something, etc., he looked at me, stunned, and said “I AM Maharishi. What did you think?” Meaning, MMY had fully occupied him, in his mind at least.

      This is his belief. I saw a man who loved his guru, and his guru had rejected him. That’s all. It made him seem innocent. I do realize that he is a thief, and not very innocent after all. He is worse than his family, actually, because I feel he knows better, but refuses to act better.

      Pray for Peace and a Better Way.

  24. Sincere Seeker permalink
    June 15, 2010 8:19 am

    Commercializing Puja!
    I feel sick to the stomach thinking about how Guru Puja (prayer ritual) has been commercialized by AoL.
    This is a sacred ceremony done from the heart and is similar to any prayer ritual in other traditions of the world.

    If you look at the Guru Purnima website for 2010:
    you will see that the course fee total for Guru Puja 1 + 2 = approx $1400 plus housing is extra.

    It has been commercialized to the max. part 1 you learn just the chanting and everything else is fluff. part 2 you learn how to perform the ceremony. I can go and learn the entire thing from any other institution/priest for free ok. And no one can perform the puja unless they have done these 2 courses!!!

    The puja is available online:

    Like millions/billions of people who have do puja to God, from ancient times, and have learnt it (for free) from parents or priests or books this puja to your Guru should also be taught for free, as in many other organizations. Let the devotee give the Dakshina – the sacred gratitude for receiving this – on their own.
    Puja is one of the most beautiful forms of expressing devotion – please don’t make people spend $2000 on learning this.
    Let’s keep the sacredness of our world’s ancient traditions – please don’t destroy with money, greed, commercialization.

    I pray to you Guruji – please don’t rob me of my devotion, or weigh it with wealth, or deny me the chance to express it, or drain it with greed. If you are my Sat Guru then money will not come between us.

    • VSS permalink
      May 13, 2012 6:56 pm

      So true. This hurts more than anything else. Reciting sanskrit shlokas was the highlight of my childhood — my education in phonetics started with that recitation. I have very fond memories of going to the temple that my ancestors built in their village. Every child in the village would be happy to participate — rich and poor — so called upper cast and so called lower caste — sanskrit shlokas were like tongue twisters — we had to get the pronunciation right — that’s probably where our pursuit of excellence began. There was such a pristine joy attached to puja. If someone had told me that years later, a man called Mr. Ravi Shankar would vitiate those memories with this sort of devotion to materialism by “selling puja”, I wouldn’t have believed them. I would’ve have said this cannot happen. Hinduism cannot be twisted in this manner. But alas — I was wrong. Still, in my brainwashed state, I saw no wrong in any of this. This materialism was sold to me and I bought it. I understand the sentiments of those who buy it — they intend to buy a meaningful existence — a substantial opportunity to do charity work — and the significant elements of spiritualism — only to realize later that it’s all a sham — and nothing but a pretext for Mr. Ravi Shankar to indulge in extortion.

  25. WhistleBlower permalink
    June 16, 2010 7:53 am

    Someone passed me the following comment anonymously. If you are the author of this could you please collaborate a bit more. For example when (at least the year) this conversation happened & who was present? Does Sri Sri’s family know about his sexuality? Has SriSri been active sexually at anytime or has he always been celibate as he claims?
    Can anyone who knew SriSri from TM times, or even before that, shed any light on his personality/life prior to AOL?
    Has anyone in AOL been sexually approached by SriSri, whether consensually or not?

    Anyway, here is the anon. comment as it was received:

    “”If their idea is to stop people from coming to me, and if people do stop coming just by reading these blogs, then I really thank them; it is good for me, “…


    It was suggested once to SSRS that he give up wearing white, pretending to be celibate, pull his hair back, wear blue jeans, and admit to the world (or even no one, just stop pretending) that he was gay or bi. His response was:

    “But then all the Indian people would run away! I am doing what Maharishi couldn’t do — getting the Indian public….”

    It was further argued to him that: “Then the only people remaining would be here just for your message, not your personality or preferences, and you would be free of this pretending!”

    He persisted in his belief that the Indian public would condemn him, and it was his mission to ‘get’ them. Nothing should get in the way of it.”

    • VSS permalink
      May 13, 2012 11:16 am

      India has changed a lot since then — so has the world. Some of my favourite writers, musicians, and designers are gay. If he is gay, then maybe his salvation lies in coming out of the closet, fighting for gay rights, and working in the realm of AIDS awareness. That would not only be a noble cause but would also be a noble cause that urgently needs as many voices as it can get.

  26. Chrisinuae permalink
    June 30, 2010 6:16 am

    what a bunch of hoopla! ARe you people on drugs? Seems to me the jealousy comes from the writers on this forum. As a member of AOL, I’m certainly not brainwashed into anything. I just enjoy the different programs and have a lot of respect for what guruji is doing..I think that’s more than enought! jai guru dev

  27. WhistleBlower permalink
    September 5, 2010 11:56 pm
    The Beginning
    Born in 1956 in Southern India, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was a gifted child. By the age of four, he was able to recite parts of the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Sanskrit scripture and was often found in meditation. His first teacher was Sudhakar Chaturvedi, who had had a long cooperation with Mahatma Gandhi. By the age of seventeen, in 1973, he had graduated with degrees in, both, Vedic literature and physics.

    The above is from his latest bio from the new AOL website. No mention of Maharishi as his teacher or Guru, but a picture of him with Maharishi is displayed on the home page!

    Notice the story regarding him reading BG is now downgraded to him reciting parts of BG; while previously it was the entire BG!

    And the claim re his education has now been changed to a “degrees in, both, Vedic literature and physics.”, still at the age of 17! Didn’t AOL people recently changed this to 21 in Wiki?
    And please note no longer it is “Advanced degree in Modern physics”.

    From his previous official Bio from his office:

    Born in 1956 in Papanasam, India, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar studied with many renowned spiritual masters and became a scholar of Vedic Literature. By the age of seventeen, he obtained an Advanced Degree in Modern Physics, and later received an Honorary Doctorate from Kuvempu University, Karnataka, India.

    • Abhilash Shastry permalink
      September 19, 2010 3:19 am

      It is very strange that despite all the hype about the Master, they are not able/willing to give any concrete information about his pre-AOL life. Let us revisit his ‘NEW and UPDATED!’ bio:

      >>Born in 1956 in Southern India, …

      Probably, the only verifiable part of his biography.

      >>…Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was a gifted child…

      Who identified him a ‘gifted’ child and how? Did his school or his teachers identified him so? Or should we accept the ‘gifted’ bit because some people on his payroll claim so?

      >>By the age of four, he was able to recite parts of the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Sanskrit scripture …

      So now it is “reciting” and that too “parts of”.

      I was taught to recite “karmanye vaadhikaaraste…” from BG for as far back as I can remember. And I am not alone. Most of the Hindu kids (esp. from Brahmin community) learn a few shlokas in their childhood- just as kids from other religions might do from their holy books.

      So, should we start calling ourselves as ‘gifted’?

      >>…and was often found in meditation.

      Another, unverifiable statement.

      Now for the arguments sake let us assume that many people saw him meditating at the age of four. Can anyone educate me on how did they find out if the child was indeed meditating?

      >>His first teacher was Sudhakar Chaturvedi, who had had a long cooperation with Mahatma Gandhi.

      I hate to drag the name of Mr. Chaturvedi in this discussion as he has nothing to do with AOL. However, since his name is there in the official biography, some clarification would not be out of place.

      Sudhakar Chaturvedi is an old nice gentleman living in the bylanes of Bangalore. With due regards to him, I must point out that his “long cooperation with Mahatma Gandhi” is stretching the truth a bit far. In his youth Mr. Chaturvedi was impressed with Mahatma Gandhi and his ideals. He clearly remembers meeting Gandhi once. He might have met him couple of times more, but he does not remember clearly.

      I am not saying it as any disrespect to Mr. Chaturvedi esp. since he has himself never claimed “long cooperation with Mahatma Gandhi” and is a very sincere and humble man who still practices Gandhian ideals. It is the spin doctors of AOL who have pulled out “long cooperation with Mahatma Gandhi” to glorify the lineage of their own master.

      >> By the age of seventeen, in 1973, he had graduated with degrees in, both, Vedic literature and physics.

      There are several interesting bits here.

      There is no university in India that offers undergraduate or graduate degrees in Vedic literature. In undergrad/ grad level, Vedic literature is part of general curriculum of Sanskrit literature. It is only for a Ph.D. course where one can get a degree in Vedic literature. So if one is claiming a degree in Vedic literature, it can only be an “advanced degree”. However, AOL biographers have themselves now dropped the “advanced” term. So what can we say? At the same time, I am sure SSRS does not have a Ph.D. degree in any subject. If he had, his PR masters would have blown it over the skies.

      Now let us come to the “degree in physics”. For undergrad course, unlike subjects like law or medicine or engineering, physics is not a stand alone subject for degree. In India, one has to take two more subjects (one of them usually mathematics) to get a degree. What were the other two subjects? If someone is publicizing his undergrad degree as high academic achievement, there is no reason for him to be silent about other subjects.

      More usually, “degree in physics” means masters education since it is only in M.Sc. that one takes physics as a stand alone subject. But here again we are faced with the same issue. Masters is an “advanced degree” but since AOL spin doctors have dropped the term “advanced”, there must be a good reason for it.

      Now coming to the age factor. In India, one has to be 14 years of age to take 10th grade exam. There have been a few exceptions but they are rare and a special permission needs to be obtained to take the 10th exam before 14. So, it makes minimum 18/19 years to get an undergrad. Therore if SSRS completed even his undergrad by 17, he must have obtained a special permission for underage examination. But as we have seen that there is no undergrad degree in vedic literature or even in just physics, so it must have been an advanced degree. But due to some unknown reasons, official biography has now dropped the term “advanced”. And what do we make of his degrees from St. Johns at the age of 21? Was it another degree after his initial ones at 17?

      God, indeed moves in mysterious ways!

      • September 19, 2010 4:45 am

        Abhilash, that’s perfect investigation.
        I don’t know about Vedic study but, I always doubted how he gets Advanced Degree in physics at the age of 17. Normally, a person pass his 12th standard (Higher secondary) at this age and gets admission to 3 year B.Sc. (Bachelor of Science) course.
        I think RS has given exam of 12th standard and passed only in Physics. That’s only possibility at the age of 17.

      • VSS permalink
        May 13, 2012 9:42 am

        I agree. That’s indeed perfect investigation. What I don’t understand is this need to indulge in this level of fabrication. It’s so unbecoming of anyone who claims any kind of “enlightenment”. Whether it is granting oneself titles or fabricating educational qualifications — these are details that those who are not brainwashed can see through easily. I couldn’t when I was brainwashed but I can now. I hope that those who can’t see through Mr. Ravi Shankar yet — allocate some time for studying this fabrication and do themselves the favour of seeing through it.

  28. WhistleBlower permalink
    September 18, 2010 9:32 am

    A good post to read

  29. Shallow waters permalink
    September 19, 2010 8:12 am

    I guess, this info could bring some clarity to interprete Sri Sri age of graduation.
    Matriculation in India

    In India, “matriculation” (sometimes called “matric”) is a term commonly used to refer to the final year of high school, which ends at tenth standard (tenth grade) and the qualification received on finishing the tenth standard (tenth grade) of high school and passing the national board exams or the state board exams, commonly called “matriculation exams”. Most students who pass out of matriculation, or class 10, are 15-16 years old. Once the Matric year and exam have been passed, students are said to have “matriculated”. Upon successfully passing, a student may continue onto junior college. The 11th and 12th standards (grades) are usually referred to as “first year junior college” and “second year junior college”. Most students who pass out of class 12 are 17-18 years old.


    The most common meaning of Matriculation, however, refers to the formal process of entering a university

    It could be possible that in 80s, 11th and 12th grades were not present! I am not sure about it. And that the person could directly enter university after Matriculation!

    But for sure the info that Sri Sri finished his BSc in Physics at 21 is in conflict with the info on his timeline mentined on, which states at 19 he was travelling with Maharish all over india.

    PhDs are now a days offered by many Universities to people in honor of having contributed in that area. It is not necessary that one has to study to get PhD.

    And sure during 70s the BSc was considered advanced education in India. so it is not wrong either that his biography mentiones him having done Advanced degree in Physics.

    Moreover it is correct that one can specialize only in one out of Physics, Chemistry or Math in BSc.

    • Abhilash Shastry permalink
      September 19, 2010 2:49 pm

      >> It could be possible that in 80s, 11th and 12th grades were not present! I am not sure about it. And that the person could directly enter university after Matriculation!

      Not true. I did my 12th grade in 1984. My father did in 50s.

    • Anonymous permalink
      September 19, 2010 3:26 pm

      Honorary Ph.D’s are not valid – as in you cannot put it on your resume etc. It is just something universities do to bestow honor.

  30. Bling Bling permalink
    September 19, 2010 2:09 pm

    >>…Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was a gifted child…

    They should just release His(!) exam grades.

    >> His first teacher was Sudhakar Chaturvedi, who had had a long cooperation with Mahatma Gandhi.

    The statement about Chaturvedi is probably true. Web search says he was a postman for Ghandi.


    >> But for sure the info that Sri Sri finished his BSc in Physics at 21 is in conflict with the info on his timeline mentined on, which states at 19 he was travelling with Maharish all over india.

    Why can’t they just ask “HIM” and resolve the question once and for all? Is it really so preposterous to ask GOD about his educational background? They could St Joseph’s College to release the transcripts so we know the exact degree once and for all. He is listed over under “Distinguished Alumni” unless there is some fraud going on here.

    They may be exaggerating his education (gulp – advanced degree in physics ) to attract people who may otherwise hesitate if he had no degree.

  31. VSS permalink
    May 13, 2012 8:40 am

    This is an extremely “enlightening” post. I had read it earlier too. For me, this post (the main post on this page) is about the following issues:

    1. Validating stealing

    Why could Mr. Ravi Shankar not come up with a name other than “Pandit Ravi Shankar” when he has a (passport) name that offers many options?

    2. Validating megalomania

    Why did he replace Pandit with “Sri Sri” ? Why didn’t he simply go with Ravi ?

    3. Validating super megalomania

    Why did he add “HH” ?

    He has axed his own foot. People in AoL right now must be going through sheer agony thinking that HHSSRS was not able to prove a simple copyright. Instead of that, if they could think that Ravi could not prove a simple copyright, they would experience less agony.

    4. Validating hyper megalomania

    How does it even matter if someone who is truly wise can trace his wisdom to someone else? Cooking up vague and ambiguous stories about his “lineage” only makes him look more dubious.

    5. The colossal power of brainwashing

    Those who underestimate the power of brainwashing should really reflect. If they think — and I did too — that someone with a massive ego who spins all kinds of tales to force his greatness down everyone’s gullet with multiple titles and a fake background is even remotely qualified to be a “guru” — it’s time to face oneself — and recognize one’s own potential. It’s preposterous to think that he is anything but a con.

    Someone very wise once said “You can either be a con or a man, you can’t be both.”

    Those who justify everything he does for the mere sake of justifying everything he does have lost it — I had lost it too. I hadn’t even met him and I thought he must be God’s gift to mankind — turned out he’s anything but God’s gift to mankind. All of us are very troubled — due to various reasons — life is full of stresses — it’s a nice feeling to lean on someone.

    But does that mean that we’ll pay in cash and kind for the rest of our lives for that “nice feeling”?

    I entertained that “nice feeling”. And, I regret every moment of it. It would have been better if I had spent my time and mind on appreciating butterflies and their natural beauty and perfection. They inspire me far more than some con who gives himself titles of all kinds.

    All those who think that his titles are very “cool” should try granting themselves titles and see the reactions of friends and family members. If people around them don’t get shocked and startled and astonished and ask if all’s well on the sanity front, then by all means they should continue with their titles and continue to believe in someone who grants himself titles.

    When I look back, I am shocked at the extent of how brainwashed I was — so brainwashed was I that I did not think that someone who grants himself titles is a raving lunatic. Not only that, since he’s making millions all over the world respect those titles, he’s a raving lunatic who also happens to be a prime time con.

    And, dear overreactors of AoL, please don’t think for a moment that you are super bad or super dumb or super insane or super weak. I was in exactly the same place that you are in not too long ago — brainwashed to my bone marrow — ready to believe anything that a raving lunatic who is also an accomplished con had to say about God, Hinduism and Spirituality. It could happen to anyone — anywhere in the world. And yes, different people remain in denial for different spans of time. Take your time. Don’t be in a rush. But when you do find out that you were brainwashed, respect your freedom, and never again surrender it to a megalomaniac.

  32. Anonymous permalink
    May 13, 2012 7:46 pm

    Also, who gave him the title of Pandit which he was using earlier.

    • prairie princess permalink
      May 13, 2012 9:24 pm

      It may have come from his time with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in TM.

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