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The latest Con scheme of SriSri

August 10, 2010

By  Ronin

The Art of Living Cooperation launches a new product.

On July 25th 2010 AOL launched its latest product. In just five days one could become a Sahaj teacher.

See link: http://teamcentral.artofliving.org/ttc
not sure how long this will be accessible.

This would be the crowning moment for those who are truly special and consider themselves the “Chosen ones” they can add another notch on their belt, and say “see I am a Sahaj teacher not just a part one teacher”.

The requirements to be considered for this elite new program, not just any requirements, but those that actually benefited the AOL Corporation are:

Have you completed Guru Puja phase 1? Course Date_________________  Yes  No
Have you completed Guru Puja phase 2? Course Date_________________  Yes  No
Have you completed at least 3 Art of Silence (Part 2) courses?  Yes  No
Have you taken one Art of Silence Course with Sri Sri?  Yes  No

If we add all these course fees the AOL cooperation would have made a substantial profit under the pretext of creating a better person and humanity. At least 3 Art of Silence (Part 2) courses, I wonder if that was also cognized by the Guru. Makes a lot of business sense though.

It has already been mentioned that the Sahaj meditation is a copy of Transcendental Meditation with a small twist. I can vouch for this since I have done both. Central to the initiation is the Guru Puja. The Guru Puja was created by Maharishi out of various parts (see posts on the website). The TM movement considers the Guru Puja as very sacred and only accessible to the teachers of TM. Consider it as being in total control.

The AOL Cooperation saw a great opportunity to create revenue by creating a need with their devotees and thus developed the Guru Puja Course phase 1 and Phase 2. breaking it into parts to be able to charge more. Very wise business decision, create a need deliver the product and charge the maximum.

The Sahaj TTC course fee is USD 2.000,- for the 5 days instructions. But there is another requirement:

“I also understand that I MUST have successfully completed Guru Puja Phase 1 and Guru Puja Phase 2 in order to be eligible to apply for the course. I must pass a Puja pronunciation and performance review on the first day of class in order to continue with the Sahaj training. “

Based on the recent teachers that are being created (drone robots really) I wonder if they will really enforce this, and if they do and one does not pass they will probably say the GURU does not think you are ready yet and keep your USD 2.000,-

To me the most appalling aspect of this new product is that in just 5 days the AOL cooperation is creating teachers who will teach mediation based on god knows what formula, to choose the mantra’s for people. Again Sahaj is copied from TM and choosing a devotee’s mantra in TM is not based on the persona of the devotee (or initiate) yet simply based on their age (see post on the website).

In the TM movement the teacher traning course (TTC) takes at least 3 months (lots of training and meditating) at a hefty price of (around) USD 14.000,-. The AOL cooperation has made a strategic business decision to shorten the time frame and lower the fee. The goal then will be to increase volume, not quality. The mission will be to create as many teachers, Sahaj TTC will become the new flagship.

The AOL cooperation has once again copied something and watered it down. Even the part one course can now be taken in JUST three days. So now you need to sign them up, process them through the course and get them out, and on the second day of the course get them to commit to bringing their friends and family. The excuse used is that 3 days format makes it easier for people to commit (time wise). From a business perspective it is a brilliant strategy, because you can easily focus on larger volumes, and increase your revenue and do this over and over.

Excuse me the above paragraph was a side angle. 

What scares me is that these teachers will go out and teach without having the adequate training (just 5 days). Not knowing how much damage they will do to innocent people and at worse not being able to handle volatile situations. While believing their Guru’s grace will be with them at all times. I wonder how he will do this when he is flying around first class and staying in 5 star hotels.

In the end it is obvious that the Guru is not nor has never been a spiritual master, but is actually a hardcore CEO of a very profitable company. I am sure that when he came out of his 10 days of silence he did not cognize the Kriya but actually finished his Maters in Business Administration (M.B.A) and created the AOL foundation, ooops sorry incorporated the AOL company.

The little giant has awakened.

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42 Comments
  1. WhistleBlower permalink
    August 10, 2010 10:10 pm

    Excellent Post Ronin. Keep them coming. I love your signature quote: “The little giant has awakened.” So true, we are all little giants and together we can expose the shameless big fraud giant SriSri and his deceitful empire.
    The reason for the AOL Guru Puja courses, apart from raking in more money for SriSri and Bhanu Didi, is to establish a lineage for SriSri and connect him to tradition of Masters. This is done by Bhanu Didi saying childish, unsubstantiated stories glorifying his brother, continually hinting to his divinity and creating a huge aura and mythology around him. These stories are then propagated by those who have done Gurupuja course, see more in the post “His Holiness titles & Lineage”.

    Rest of GuruPuja TTC phase 1 course is sitting in groups and learning Gurupuja by rote (like little kids) and whether you learn to pronounce it properly or not you will be able to do Gurupuja TTC phase2 and learn the associated ceremony.

    Making Gurupuja course pre-requisite to Sahaj TTC ensures that only those brainwashed to accepting SriSri as Divine-incarnate will become Sahaj teachers.

    My recommendation to anyone who wants to become Sahaj teacher is to save themselves big money by learning different mantras given to people based on their age and sex from internet!

    The truth of the matter is that you are not going to become any expert on meditation. A certificate from Bhanu Didi to teach meditation only shows how gullible you have been to think giving few thousand dollars to her would make you a teacher of meditation! Most of SriSri’s teachers don’t know how to meditate themselves, let alone to teach it to others!! After paying few thousand dollars to Bhanu to become a Sahaj teacher, then you will become agents to deceive others and rake in more $$$ for Sri Sri, Bhanu and family. What a pathetic way of giving one’s life away to finance a charlatan and his family!

  2. WhistleBlower permalink
    August 10, 2010 11:10 pm

    And yes, what a joke re 3-day part1 course. Remember how SriSri phased out the 4-day part 1 course in favor of the 6-day course, saying 6-day course is more beneficial for students, gives them more time to learn and practice home Kriya and get established in it. Then last couple of years when the interest in part1 courses dropped, he permitted his teachers to conduct three day courses but charging more money for it. His reasoning was that those who don’t have time for the 6 day courses are busy, rich people, so if they want shorter courses they need to pay more. Then in TRMs last year he suddenly instructed all teachers to teach three day courses. His reasoning this time was we should teach students just enough to pick their interest and then allure them to do part2 if they want to learn more. He thought we are teaching them too much in part1 and not enough people are doing part2! He also mentioned that this way we (teachers) can conduct more and more courses (bringing more and more money for him!)

    In time-honored tradition of Skywalker in busting AOL SECRET KNOWLEDGE, I have put the 3 day format on our blog. Also to save people from wasting their money for DSN, I have put PadmaSadhna instruction on our blog. Padma Sadhna is the only useful thing in DSN, the rest is brainwashing people to AOL cult and make them recruiting agents for SriSri. And it goes without saying that PadmaSadhna is not creation of SriSri either and he has stolen that too. Padma Sadhna has been taught by many schools of yoga and spiritual paths including TM (where SriSri stole it from).
    PS. Just like Sahaj TTC is SriSri’s latest Con Scheme, the Pakistan floods is his latest charity fraud scheme. As soon as there is any disaster, AOL collects donation for that cause, except that all the money ends up in SriSri and family’s personal accounts and never reaches intended victims. So if you want to give money for Pakistan or any other disaster use a respectable, honorable charity organization such as Oxfam, etc.

    • Manju permalink
      August 11, 2010 6:01 am

      even Red Cross. Our company donates to this wonderful organization.

      • ardhanarishwara permalink
        August 11, 2010 6:20 am

        I saw first hand how AOL gobbled up the money collected for the floods in north karnataka. It went straight to ravi’s coffers. I agree red cross and oxfam are doing a great job. but i would rather help someone whom i know and gets tangibly benefitted right in front of our eyes. give money to your acquaintances and people whom you know and are suffering rather than these gigantic organizations.

  3. August 11, 2010 12:22 am

    I just want to point out that the 3 day course was the original course schedule. In the late 80’s and early 90’s all basic courses were 3 days long. Then it was lengthened to 4 days for several years and then it became a 6 day long course. At the time, I groaned at the 6 day course. I thought it was just too long.

    I must say I am disheartened at the length of study it takes to become a sahaj teacher. I had come to AOL through the TM organization. I certainly have my gripes with TM and its cultish way, but one thing they knew how to do was to teach meditation. I never learned sahaj because I was very happy with how I was meditating and its benefits (a mixture of TM, observing the breath and observing my thoughts). I have always heard mixed reviews about sahaj meditation. Many people new to meditation found sahaj instruction to be very vague and not very satisfying. I was never a meditation teacher, but I found myself helping people out with the basics ‘how-to’ of meditation. I think making teachers who only have 5 days of training are not going to help people develop the ‘knack’ of meditation. I just hope they don’t turn people off of meditating because of faulty or inadequate instruction.

  4. anon permalink
    August 11, 2010 12:42 am

    no fear of karma, no fear of god, no conscience, no definition of “right” or “wrong”….sad!!

    • Prairie Princess permalink
      August 12, 2010 1:48 pm

      Yes,AoL should be afraid..very afraid of God, karma, and the retribution of the Universe. Spiritual knowledge should not be sold like shoes in the marketplace. Or debased.. and by the AoL type of selling that is what they do. It is the dark side not a place of light, even though they dress themselves up as the light. A dog in a dress is still a dog.

  5. News from US permalink
    August 11, 2010 5:09 am

    Another campaign of recruiting people and turning them into brainless slaves for bringing more cash to the “enlightened” master was recently launched in New England:

    “Dear all,

    During his recent visit to Boston and Nashua Guruji not only gave us blessings but he also gave a new direction to work as a dynamic team. With our new state coordinators’ able guidance we are all set to take Guruji’s “One world one family” initiative further. The first step towards the big goal is to build a strong and closely knit volunteer team. A team that can take on any challenge and can perform any given task – from videography to organizing/ giving public talks.

    To take our team to the next level, for the first time in MA and NH we are organizing a volunteer training session. Regardless of your background and experience you will be trained in skills like public intro talks, photography for events, event management, Public relations and writing for various media including radio, TV and magazines. We are taking all the necessary efforts to make our media and outreach department up to date with latest equipments and technology. We are also planning a lot more free and paid public events other than AOL courses to support the outreach team, for example, Nashua meditates- a free meditation and yoga training program, a Yogathon at MIT, an Ayurvedic snack taste-off event at MIT. If you find this exciting and want to be a part of the core organizing team then please contact us. If you wish to volunteer and serve the community then this is your opportunity. The skills taught in the program can be very much beneficial to your personal and professional growth as well.

    This event can be compared to a pre-TTC and so it is strictly by invitation only. To receive your invitation please write to dkulkarni@artofliving.org.
    1. Please write about yourself briefly
    2. mention the number of hours that you can devote to the training and volunteering. It’s fine even if it is 1 hour a week.
    3. Your full name
    4. Phone number
    5. email

    6. address and areas that you can easily travel to within the MA, NH area

    7. skills like writing, designing, organizing etc. It is fine if you haven’t organized any event yet.

    Please send the email by 7pm, Thursday, August 12th, 2010. You will receive your invitation to attend the training session via email.

    Please forward this email to anyone who is not on this list. We are very excited to see you all.

    Jai Gurudev!

    Art of Living teachers,
    MA and NH”

    • WhistleBlower permalink
      August 11, 2010 9:06 am

      Yes, the number of AOL courses and enrolments in USA has been falling quite rapidly in the last two years as more and more people are waking up to the fact that SriSri is a fraud. Even lowering the fees and offering part1 courses for less than half price didn’t make any difference!
      So SriSri is putting more pressure on existing office holders to bring more people in. Two more circulars are below. They are even offering a full-time paid position! How unusual. SriSri usually likes everyone slave for him for free!
      In the meantime, to increase the fallen revenues, SriSri is milking the existing members to pick up the slack. Hence Sahaj TTC , Blessing course, etc for existing members. As more and more members leave, the ones left behind have to pay more and more to keep SriSri’s appetite for $$$ satiated!

      )))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))
      From: CRM Support
      Subject: [USVolunteers] Full-time Paid Opportunity with Art of Living IT Team
      To: “usvolunteers”
      Date: Monday, August 2, 2010, 4:39 PM
      Dear all,

      A full-time paid opportunity has just become available with the AOL IT team for the CRM (Contact Relationship Management) project to handle training and customer support. Please send resumes to it@artofliving.org, being sure to include the following information in the body of your email:
      • full name and contact info
      • city and state of residence
      • employment/visa status
      • how many years you have been with AOL
      • list any AOL seva projects you have been involved in
      • list two AOL teachers who know you well (with their contact info)
      Responsibilities
      • train volunteers and teachers in how to use the AOL CRM system (via webinars or in-person group sessions as needed)
      • answer customer support queries via email (and by phone when required)
      • occasional travel required to kickstart CRM system adoption in new centers
      Qualifications
      • 2+ years work experience
      • experience conducting training classes preferred
      • excellent interpersonal and communication skills
      • very comfortable with web-based systems
      • quick learner
      Jai guru dev.

      AOL CRM Team

      )))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))
      From: Art of Living Outreach Support
      Subject: [USTeachers] Online Outreach and PR Breakout Session at TRM
      To: “Teachers USA”
      Date: Wednesday, July 14, 2010, 10:16 PM
      Dear Ones,

      Do you know that YouTube has 2 billion hits per day and Facebook has 400 million users, 50% of them log on and spend 55 min every day? Do you know that on an average a reporter gets pitched 50 stories a day and doesn’t even look at the press releases that lie in their email box?

      During the TRM, Outreach Support team will lead a break out session to train interested teachers about online outreach & public relations. We will cover
      • Using Facebook, Twitter, email marketing, blogs to get increase participants to Mind & Meditation intro talks, and to build a relationship with course graduates
      • Effective ways in which you can reach out to the media to tell your story, including online press releases
      In order to make the most of this session:
      • Please familiarize yourself with Facebook & Twitter. If you don’t have an account, sign up, if you have an account, log in!
      • Get familiar with some key local newspapers and magazines, read the papers…identify areas where we could possibly have AOL coverage
      Additionally, Outreach Support team will run a pilot program to help implement the above initiatives at ~5 centers in the US in the coming months. To help us understand the general pattern of online outreach and to select these 5 centers for pilot, please fill a brief 5-10 min online survey http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/330633/OnlineOutreachAnd-PR-Survey

      We are excited to meet you all at the TRM!

      Jai Gurudev,
      Outreach Support Team,
      Art of Living Foundation, USA

  6. Da Richard permalink
    August 11, 2010 6:50 am

    I saw da Guru and was impressed

    Sooooo there’s corruption at the holy digs. What else is new?

    My take is that the bad thieves (His Holiness and his conning entourage) can turn it around from being bad thieves and become good thieves.

    HH should share da wealth with those who sweat and toil as volunteer teachers.

    The bad thieves should also look at the records of all former teachers and write them a check for their services and ask if some would like to return as teachers.

    The main point is the thieves’ intention has been good—providing services to students worldwide where they benefit from the spiritual practice.

    I would ask to see a list of the monies given to charities worldwide. I would visit some of the charities to verify they have received $$ from da thieves.

    From reviewing the various comments, I gathered the thieves are really good at thievery. I ask they not be soooo greedy and share da wealth.

    We are for turning bad thieves into good thieves. Viva Robin Hood,

    What’s wrong can be fixed.

    Da Richard

    • Prairie Princess permalink
      August 12, 2010 1:52 pm

      Da Richard..the guy is not Da Robin Hood..just robbin’ in the name of God and good. You were impressed?? Get out more.

  7. exaolfan permalink
    August 11, 2010 7:18 am

    My first AOL course part 1 was only 2 days-a one weekend 🙂 2001.

  8. WhistleBlower permalink
    August 11, 2010 9:18 am

    Isn’t it interesting that all US coordinators are of Indian origin? Indeed in any country with some Indian population, it seems officeholders will soon become all Indian. It seems that AOL is rapidly becoming an overtly racist organisation confined to a group of ex-pats.
    It would be good if our readers write and tell us how things are in their respective countries.

    From: President -Art of Living-USA
    Date: Fri, May 21, 2010 at 2:03 PM
    Subject: [USVolunteers] New State Coordinators
    To: Volunteers/Teachers- USA USA

    New State Coordinators

    May 21, 2010

    Dear Teachers and Volunteers:

    During the Spring Tour, Gurudev gave some guidance to help us become more efficient and organized in way we share this beautiful knowledge. He suggested that we create State Coordinators so that we have more structure and have better communication throughout the country.

    The roll of the State Coordinators will be very similar to the roll of the existing Regional Bodies we have in some areas of the country (which in most areas will not be changed) and very similar to the APEX bodies that exist in India.

    Some of the key roles of the State Coordinators will be:
    1) Expansion of AOL activities in the state.
    2) Oversee the growth of new centers in the state.
    3) Ensure effective functioning and sustenance of all the centers in the state.
    4) Coordinate Gurudev’s visit to the state, when applicable.
    5) Schedule/Organize graduate programs (Silence course, Sahaj, DSN, etc) in the state.
    6) Work with the Regional Program Coordinators in implementing the programs/projects.
    7) Work with the fund-raising team, when applicable.
    8) Interface with the US TTC desk for the TTC applicants.
    9) Coordinate Volunteer Training and development.

    Gurudev suggested that the State Coordinators should preferably be a rich mix of volunteer who are non-AOL teachers that have a professional experience in senior leadership positions in corporations and non-profit organizations. These individuals will be able to contribute greatly in bringing structure and efficiency to the state activities.

    These new State Coordinators will be meeting Gurudev at Guru Purnima, so we need to complete this process by the beginning of July. All candidates will be required to fill out an application form for this position and that will be reviewed by the National Programing Committee and The Regional Program Coordinators (RPCs)

    The RPCs for your area will be contacting you to help identify eligible candidates.
    East Coast – Amit Haryani. Madhuri Karode, Preeti Bhat
    West Coast – Anoop Iyer, Krishna Ramadas, Tulasi Perry
    Central – Deepika Desai, Medha Garud
    National Coordinator – Shalin Desai / Divya Kanchibhotla

    We appreciate your support in the process. Please fell free to share any suggestions you have.

    Jai Gurudev
    Michael
    Michael Fischman, President
    Art of Living Foundation
    president@us.artofliving.org

    • Kitapati permalink
      August 11, 2010 8:08 pm

      It is quite obvious that most Indian gurus have majority of indian followers. For example Supreme Master Suma Ching Hai has predominantly chinese and vietnamese followers in America. Except for the oddball westerners majority in AOL are indians. The indian diaspora around the world is very big and distributed and also quite wealthy. The gurus fill the identity crisis vaccum of the rich immigrants. It is not the hippie times now where westerners used to sit at every possible indian guru with a beard. times have changed. Even within indians their appeal is confined to different caste and linguistic groups. Ravishnakr usually limits his appeal to the indian yuppies in USA which is predominantly upper caste brahmin-marwari-sindhi. Nithyananda had a reach to the tamilian non brahmin crowd. The tamil diaspora is again spread out across the world. Ramdev has a strong north indian following.
      It is all about identifying your market segment and then live up to their values and expectations. Also ravishankar reinforces the existinng values of these communities.

      • JAN permalink
        August 11, 2010 9:30 pm

        I agree with Kitapati, I’d add that some of the participants in India are lured by the claims of health benefits, I know some docs who recommend patients with breathing problems like bronchitis to practice SK(well, with good intentions though) but I haven’t seen them continuing the kriya or following the organization ardently-mainly coz of the money problems,, for a daily wager or a low-salaried man in India the course fee and the fee to attend satsangs are pretty high. Main followers of any guru in India are the wealthy,socially high positioned families, have you ever seen any poor or under-privileged in the company of SSRS in any pics or in real 🙂
        “Also ravishankar reinforces the existing values of these communities.” -The pooja havan etc is a part of the caste system in India, as far as I understand the priests-brahmins only can do these rituals. Non-brahmins usually don’t learn manthras or vedas for that matter.
        SSRS racist? LOL may be he is trying to recruit more loyalist groups 😉 than being a racist; doesn’t he know that it would add to his credibility if he could present more westerners in his group pics 😉

    • August 12, 2010 11:25 am

      In the early days it was mostly non-Indians running the organization. Even in India, western teachers got everything going. The conversion to Indian leaders started in the late 90’s and early 00’s. I don’t think it is a racist thing on SS part. I think that as he became more popular in India, the Indian diaspora got more involved in AOL. In the early days in the US, most satsangs were all westerns, now many of them are mostly Indian. This, I know causes some worry among AOL leaders in the US. As AOL becomes more Indian in the the US, the westerns become more alienated and thus they leave AOL. When a western comes to their first satsang and finds it is all Indian, it becomes a big cultural barrier for them to connect to the group and feel like they belong. If you look around at large gatherings of AOL in the US, the western people you see there tend to have been with the organization for a long time. Very few new people who are non-Indians will be there. This cultural difference makes it even more difficult for AOL to promote itself to non-Indians.

      I see that the Indian wave in AOL recruitment is dying down in the US. Non-Indians recruits have greatly dwindles in the last 5-6 years. That leaves no community to be rah rah for the course and AOL. I wonder were the next wave of recruits will come from. I know they are focusing on the youth, maybe AOL will become a youth movement next. In any case, they have to feed their organization with new recruits who are enthusiastic or else the organization will get stale and begin to shrink. I don’t know if AOL will shrink or not, but I bet the leaders and SS are very concerned about it, thus the constant pressure to “spread the knowledge.”

  9. goneagain permalink
    August 11, 2010 4:02 pm

    As per latest wiki edits – Sri Sri received Science degree at age of 21 not 17 as claimed by AOL?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ravi_Shankar_(spiritual_leader)

    “Born to Venkat Ratnam, director of a rural women’s empowerment NGO and a scholar of Indian languages, and Vishalakshi Ratnam,[2] he was given the name Ravi because he was born on a Sunday (Ravi, a common name, means sun) and Shankar after the 8th century CE Hindu saint, Adi Shankara, whose birthday he shares.[1][3] He received a bachelor in science degree at 21 from St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore University.”

    • aolwhistleblower permalink
      August 11, 2010 7:55 pm

      Wow, it took two blogs and so many people questioning this lie, to change it from 17 to 21.
      Any apology SriSri in deceiving people? Why were you insisting that you got an adv degree in Science at the age of 17th?
      How about reciting BG at the age 4? Do we have to take your word for it too and for the rest of your claims in your official bio released by your office:

      1960, age 4: Recites Bhagavad Gita, which he has never heard before
      1962, age 6: Begins study of Vedas under his first teacher, Pandit Sudhakar Chaturvedi, a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi’s
      1966, age 10: Declares to friends and family, “All over the world people are waiting for me. One day, I will visit them.”
      1973, age 17: Completes his traditional studies in Vedic literature and a degree in modern science
      1977 – 1982: Gives discourses, travels widely and also interacted closely with renowned spiritual teachers such as Anandamayi Maa, Tiruchi Swami, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
      1981, age 24: Starts the first rural school on the outskirts of Bangalore, India
      1982, age 25: Cognizes Sudarshan Kriya during a period of silence, formulates Art of Living course, establishes the Art of Living Foundation in Bangalore, India

      Now you are claiming you got your degree at the age of 21. Can we see your diploma?
      Haven’t you been telling us for years that at the age of 17th Maharishi picked you up from a yoga conference and got permission from your parents to take you with him? Didn’t you tell us that from the age of 17 you were teaching meditation on Maharishi’s behalf and that you were travelling with him?
      Now, have you changed your story? Are you now telling us you were still studying at St.Joseph college at the age of 21? So when did you go to Maharishi/TM?

      Also didn’t you tell us before that your Dad was a businessman when you were born? He had no history of any social work or community work prior to AOL. Even after AOL, from members donation some sewing machines were purchased and somehow credit went to your Dad. I saw that cramped sewing office on Ashram premises, which was closed shortly afterwards. What happened to those 5-6 sewing machines?

      Now suddenly you are claiming you were “Born to Venkat Ratnam, director of a rural women’s empowerment NGO and a scholar of Indian languages”?
      Why are you so ashamed of your Dad’s past? What are you hiding?
      Why do you lie so much about your education and your own history?

    • grateful_reader permalink
      August 11, 2010 9:23 pm

      Grr there should be a ‘controversy’ section on sri sri’s wiki page like there is on Sathya Sai’s
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sathya_Sai_Baba#Criticism_and_controversy

      • goneagain permalink
        August 12, 2010 3:36 am

        Well go down and look previous versions under view history – you will see that RS lackeys keep removing any Criticism on RS/AOL. Good luck with updating it – in no time the lackeys will pile on and remove it from wiki.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ravi_Shankar_%28spiritual_leader%29&action=historysubmit&diff=374559690&oldid=370783404

      • goneagain permalink
        August 14, 2010 10:44 am

        http://www.fluther.com/85309/is-art-of-living-a-cult-and-is-it-a-con/

        “Criticisms on the internet (particularly on Wikipedia) tend to get removed very quickly by devout followers. This is one of those things where people are encouraged to pay a fee to join a group session where they will learn these secret meditation techniques which they must keep to themselves. Alcohol and smoking are not permitted. I think they engage in retreats also.

        Is anybody here a member of this group?”

        Seems like many noticed propaganda by AOL lackeys.

      • grateful_reader permalink
        August 16, 2010 3:55 am

        I posted this on that fluther question:

        Hi folks,
        I’m pretty familiar w/ the organization. I have friends and family involved and have myself been involved in the past.

        I would say Art of Living does fit the label ‘cult’ if one understands the organization well. On the surface it seems like a great well-meaning organization that simply wants to help people with their stress and make the world a better place. However there are many serious flaws with the organization as detailed in blogs like these started by former teachers who were deeply involved in the org:
        http://artoflivingfree.blogspot.com/
        https://aolfree.wordpress.com/

        The tricky thing w/ AOL is that it is very very good at PR and essentially brainwashing. It attracts wealthy and educated members who over time spend thousands giving money to learn yoga and breathing exercises. Followers are told all money to courses goes to non-profit causes but many individuals who used to be in the org’s inner circle suggest the money is mostly making Sri Sri wealthy and is not being used to help the disadvantaged.

        As current followers will tell you, the organization has helped people and does attract many sincere, well-meaning devotees. But deeper inspection into where money goes in the organization, insidious brainwashing of the followers, and suppression of independent thought throughout AOL qualifies the organization as a cult. It should be noted that my assertions here are quite mild when compared to the deeply troubling allegations made in the blogs mentioned below.

  10. Eindran permalink
    August 11, 2010 7:28 pm

    Cost per Sahaj teacher

    Guru Puja phase 1 – $800.00
    Guru Puja phase 2 – $800.00
    2 Art of Silence (Part 2) – $900.00 (2 * 450.00)
    Art of Silence Course with Sri Sri? – $800.00 + accommodation
    Basic course -$350.00

    Total pre-req course fees earned by AOLF = $3650.00

    Course fees for sahaj TTC earned by AOLF =$2000.00 + accommodation

    Total earnings = $5650.00 per person.

  11. WhistleBlower permalink
    August 11, 2010 11:12 pm

    Thanks Kitapati and JAN for your illuminating replies. My main focus was Western countries. Take for example US scene. If you would have looked at AOL course participants, say 10 years ago, the majority were non-Indians, same with majority of teachers, volunteers and office holders.

    Now, however, it seems most of the Westerners have left AOL and increasingly the majority of volunteers, Office holders and active teachers are Indians. Is it because the majority of Westerners have woken up to AOL/SriSri’s fraud or is it because AOL organization has increasingly become a racist organization favouring Indians to non-Indians or is it because SriSri can rely on loyalty of his Indian devotees more ?

    And this situation is not limited to USA. It seems same situation is repeating world over in any country where there are enough Indian diaspora present to push out the natives of the country. The natives were required to get things going and get AOL established in the country, but once that is done it seems Indians take charge and kick out non-Indians from any important position. Non-Indians are still used as front face to bring in enrolments and open doors for AOL and for propaganda, but not much else!

    If you live in a Western country please write us and tell us how things are in your country.

    • Kitapati permalink
      August 12, 2010 6:31 am

      There is also another aspect to Indian gurus. They need trophy white people. Osho in 1981 brought in hordes of homeless americans to his notorious oregon ranch. This was to increase his following and show strength. Nithyananda got in many poor white vagabonds in 2006 to his bidadi ashram to build his show of international following.
      In India if an Indian guru has white disciples it adds to the Guru’s values. White folks in satsangs prostrating before the guru gives the natives a vicarious enjoyment of reverse imperialism. It adds to the indian fantasy of being the super-guru country of the world. I knew in bangalore both in sai baba and ravishankar’s VVM in the early 90s there were many financially broke western people. In many cases Ravi wanted them in his troupe while touring around India. It increased his brand value. I knew one american lady a kind of hippie who stayed in Ravi’s ashram for seven years. She used to sleep around with two people in bangalore whom I know, a rich architect and one businessman just to make her ends meet. Finally in 95 she was thrown out of the ashram as she was found to be useless to Ravi and he was getting other well off indian people from US and Europe. She had served her purpose and no longer needed.
      Post the economic liberalization of the 90s the gurus found a new market in the growing indian middle and rich class both in India and outside. Ramdev for example does not court the westerners at all. He has his eyes set on the indian rich and middle class.
      Incidentally it was the european indologists of the 17th – 18th century who built up this aura of the mystical east versus the rational west. The gurus since the theosophical society days are adding and building up on this stereotype. Vietnam war, psychedelic drugs and the hippies furthered it. Mahesh yogi capitalized on this hype in a big way. In reality india is as much spiritual or materialistic as any other country. As a matter of fact the modern day indian gurus are intellectually too constipated to produce any original knowledge or philosophy. They just live up to the old stereotype of the colonial indologists and build up the mystical eastern land of miracles.

      • WhistleBlower permalink
        August 12, 2010 7:21 am

        Thanks Kitapati, most Interesting. Well, I can confirm the truth of what you say about SriSri. For example, he used to display John Osborne as such trophy, taking him to lead satsangs in India. Now if you heard John’s singing in the latest Gurupurnima video, you would know that his voice is not exactly his forte!! And Surely SriSri could have used some of his old time Indian devotees as lead singers if he wanted too; some had quite good voices. And yes, whenever possible, he would make sure there are some Westerners travelling with him in India and then would ensure they are either on stage or close to stage so they could be displayed prominently. And the innocent Westerner were oblivious to how he was using them and they thought they were special to the guru!

        And yes, just few years back, SriSri did another big cleanout of the Bangalore Ashram of all the Westerners who were no longer of any use to him. The handful who he kept were bringing him good money. Since then he has got rid of few of these too (not enough revenue perhaps or too old!)

        And I so agree with your assessment re India being as much spiritual or materialistic as any other country and that the false stereotype is serving false gurus like SriSri to the teeth.

      • anonymous permalink
        August 13, 2010 12:51 pm

        Kitapati,

        Just curious where your information comes from? Is it from rumors or first-hand? For example, some “hippie lady” lived continuously at the ashram for 7 years and slept with two of your friends, and she was from another country you said. Since nobody lived at the ashram on Kanakapura road until 1991 (although there was a course in the late 80s) and you claimed that lady had been given the boot in 1995, where are the seven years? Your story sounds like the “foreign beggars” line and litany given by Bhanu “didi”, who hates foreigners, but likes their money. Also, foreigners had to exit India regularly, visas were not as long and easy as they are now for them, and they had to show their return ticket, etc. You are basically saying what Bhanu “didi” said about all the western women then — hippies who slept around. In one case, a young Canadian woman did sleep with the younger of the two main pandits at the ashram, and was told to leave for it. Of course, it was said she was sleeping with this or that person, and the fact that the two of them (she and the pandit) were ready to marry was kept strictly secret (Brahmin with a foreigner? Horrors!) There were many Indian women who came to the ashram in the 1990s after it was opened to the public for courses, and in one case, one of the very poor (destitute) pretty Indian women, secured a Canadian husband and left with him. In another case, another Indian woman got between a European couple, causing their marriage to fail. She also slept with several others.

        There are always all types of people at places like AOL ashrams. Good people, bad people, loose people, tight people, straight people, crooked people. One thing that seemed clear back then at that place was that the Indians were taking advantage of foreigners’ money, and then badmouthing them. All the foreigners I saw there had at least a small source of their own income, and none were prostitutes like you (and Bhanu “didi”) seem to be saying.

        People who went to Art of Living did so willingly. You go to an ashram, you know what to expect. The Indians who lived there usually had zero income, as their families had rejected them. Did you know that in the mid 90s, for example, Ravi Ravi started giving the Indian teachers and managers at the Kanakapura road ashram a monthly stipend? They did not work for free. They were not expected to. Foreigners were expected to both give money to stay there, and work for free.

        You sound like a slandering shill for AOL to me, trying to sound sympathetic in your posts a bit to gain credibility. Since you are a local, you perfectly well know what those ugly minded people (Ravi and family and friends) say in Kannada about all foreigners. It was disgusting and no self-respecting Indian person could have stayed or followed him, hearing what he and his said. I saw very sincere seekers coming from far away places, giving their own money, only to be made fun of. It was sickening. But none of them, acted as slimy as the Indian girls I saw there,(including Bhanu “didi” who often did not act like a sister at all) nor ever spoke about Indians the way the locals did about them.

      • Peaceful Warrior permalink
        August 14, 2010 1:30 am

        oh come on Kitapati…enough with racial stereotypes. You seem to think that westerners are sincere and dumb and indians are conniving. You almost make it sound like a crime for a guru to have western devotees. For all his faults, this kind of petty thinking is not one of RS’s faults (megalomania is more his forte).

        There is more to the truth than you say – Ashram is a place for retreat and learning. But, some people in the west have the misconception that ashram life is some kind of shangri-la. It’s not – it has it’s own problems – having very little income is one of them. To become dependent on the organization for one’s livelihood is not the aim of spiritual education – it’s meant to make you strong in the world. If indeed such was the case with the western lady – then indeed RS did well to ask her to leave.

        On the other hand, if you decide to become a renunciate – material poverty is a way of life, and one has to accept that.

        Whistleblower – coming to your original point – all the years I was in AOL they were really trying hard to western people, but most courses ended up being full of indians. I think it’s just that a lot more indians take the course, compared to westerners, hence the number of indians in the committee are also larger. Plus among hindus, following a guru is actually considered good, but it is seen as a taboo among mainstream americans – so it’s no surprise.

    • exaolfan permalink
      August 12, 2010 12:44 pm

      I live in West Europa. In Germany. The AOL coordinators are europeans-germans, english, french. No indians.

      • Anonymous permalink
        August 13, 2010 5:50 pm

        Yeah, all those who have to give their roll calls to Urmila devi!! Yet another Indian!!

  12. Uncle Scooby permalink
    August 12, 2010 7:19 am

    Back on the subject of timelines, if SriSri cognized SK in 1982 and then founded AoL, how is it that the Silver Jubilee Celebrations were held in 2006 and not 2007, the real 25th anniversary?

    Small thing, I know, but this has actually bugged me for some time now and thought this would be a good place to bring it up.

    • WhistleBlower permalink
      August 12, 2010 7:32 am

      Nobel Peace Prize is the answer. He wanted NPP badly and SJ was supposed to imprint on NP committee his magnificence and worthiness for NPP.
      NPP was such an obsession and urgent issue for him.

  13. Kitapati permalink
    August 12, 2010 7:29 am

    There are several other factors which are responsible for the declining number of westerners following Indian gurus. One factor among other things is the increasing number of western spiritual teachers who have cannibalized the spiritual market from Indian gurus. We have western teachers like Echkart Tolle, byron katie, andrew cohen, ken wilber, adyashanti and many others. These gurus are able to culturally relate to the westerners much better than any indian teacher and they have stripped out many eastern cultural symbols and can deliver knowledge in a much more profound manner. Ken Wilber is far more profound in his understanding of eastern and western philosophy than any modern indian guru. The modern indian gurus in contrast are cliched and quite stereotypical. Their insistance on blind devotion and guru bhakti has killed all aspects of creativity in themselves and their followers. Vivekananda, Aurobindo, J Krishnamurthi and Osho were the last of the free thinkers among indian gurus.
    Pattabhi Jois the famed yoga master himself admitted in mysore a few years before his death that among his disciples the westerners are better practitioners of yoga than his indian disciples. They are more conditioned physically to get into hatha yoga with many being former ballet dancers and gymnasts. Although many indians deride these gymnasts and ballet dancers they can be as or even more creative and spiritual than many of these arm chaired critics.
    It is a joke that Deepak chopra has written a book on Kamasutra. A david deida is far more original because he has the openess to talk about his tantric lovemaking with his girl friend and his other experiments. Deepak chopra looks like an indianized victorian prude in front of him. He is no inheritor of the legacy of Vatsyayana. You would anyday learn kamasutra better from western pornstars and sexologists than a fame mongering deepak chopra.
    Gurus like Ravishankar and Nithyanada always talk about the several billion dollar yoga market and how it is dominated by westerners wheras we being indians from the land of the origination of yoga does not have good market share. This is a wrong premise because western yoga is highly creative, adaptable and experimentative than the modern indian yoga. It seems to me that the old indian yogis were like the orginators than the indian gurus. They were more open, experimentative and free flowing. It was these free and independent people who brought in Yoga, Tantra and other indian disciplines. It was the westerners like werner erhard, wilhelm reic, dr rolfe (rebirthing which is sudarshan kriya’s grandfather) who brought in new concepts in human potential development and group theraphy. The teachers of so called indian traditional knowledge as in Ravi’s AOL should be more indebted to these people than their imagined rishi culture.

    • WhistleBlower permalink
      August 12, 2010 7:58 am

      Wow, most fascinating. I really enjoy reading your informative comments. What a refreshing and open outlook you have on these issues, more than I can say about fanatic and dogmatic and close-minded reaction of Pissed Princess and his anonymous friend in response to my mere mentioning of a western website on breathing practices ( http://eiriu-eolas.org/about) in my post “No knowledge is worth your freedom!” With their feverish reaction I had no choice but to believe they were AOL brainwashed people, whose bottons get easily pushed by any suggestion that AOL practices are not the only breathing practices and even them has been taken from other teachers/organizations.
      They would sound even more ridiculous if they would show the same reaction if anyone would mention a western Yoga institute or teacher!

      By the way, I thought Leonard Orr was the father of rebirthing?!

      • Prairie Princess permalink
        August 12, 2010 2:04 pm

        There are spiritual practices around the world. Do First Nation peoples own the right to sweat lodges? Thought that was world wide. And as far as I’m aware everyone who is living is breathing. Rhythmic breath..again world wide. Everybody stretches and everybody moves around the world. When someone or some culture thinks they own the light or spiritual practice, there is a problem. And the problem usually is something starting in the ego. Pissed princess is just another like AoL-ite writing for the guru and pretending to know something.

      • Kitapati permalink
        August 12, 2010 4:59 pm

        Whistle Blower
        ” I thought Leonard Orr was the father of rebirthing?!”
        Yes. That was a typo in my comment.

    • Ronin permalink
      August 12, 2010 1:40 pm

      Hi Kitapati

      Thanks for the posts. They are wonderful and very insightful. It is true that the western teachers are far out pacing there Indian counterparts. The teachers you mention have one thing in common at least from my understanding and readings. They are based in Advaita vedanta, Nonduality. This teaching goes to the core of the Self. No spiritual hooks no dependency, just the TRUTH. In the end Awakening a impersonal happening. But the likes of Ravi Shankar would have us believe that without HIM it can not happen, and if it does we do not know what to do. His mantra or company slogan fake it till you make it, should tip anyone to the way his organization (cooperation) works and what he stands for.

      The Spiritual path is not an easy one it takes time dedication and an honest look at one’s self. The great Advaita teachers Ramana Maharishi and Nisargadatta did not sit in silence for 10 days and come out with a miracle technique it took them a considerable amount of time and effort. then again they did not have a whole empire (courses, tape and book sales) to run either. They did not run after people to join them. But those who did come got to hear the TRUTH whether they liked it or not.

      The little giant has awakened.

      • WhistleBlower permalink
        August 12, 2010 10:34 pm

        Good points Ronin. One thing me and other ex-teachers quite often discuss is how we felt our spiritual growth was stymied while we were with AOL. The emphasize was on bringing new people to SriSri (read bringing in more $$$$), we were discouraged to read anything apart from SriSri’s books and quite frankly we hardly even had time to do even that as SriSri loves to run his slaves to exhaustion with the workload he gives them!

        There was no spiritual growth whatsoever in AOL. We were the lucky, special, blessed one to have SriSri as our Guru and to show our gratitude we had to bring others to AOL and give our lives to serve SriSri and his family! In private gatherings with SriSri there was no spiritual discussion, rather he (SriSri) was more interested in our work performance (number of people, amount of $$$, publicity, number of VIPs we have contacted and so on).

        The race inside was who can get closer to SriSri. It was all about glorifying him and giving your power away to him. Spiritual growth was not even an item on the table!! Doing adv courses (dishing regular $$$ to SriSri) was all that people needed to do to keep in top spiritual shape!!

        Sri Sri is not a spiritual person, he has no heart. He is a very sick, megalomaniac, narcissistic individual who is prepared to use anyone to gather more fame, power base for himself. It is obvious that no spiritual growth is possible with him as your guru/role model/mentor! I will soon write more in details about lack of spiritual growth in AOL.

    • Jags permalink
      August 16, 2010 6:55 am

      Don’t compare Adyashanti or Eckhart Tolle with AOL. With Adya and Tolle, what you see is what you get. There’s no secret, no mystical ancient tradition mumbo jumbo, no sacrificing your life and money to them just to “get their grace”, and most importantly no cult-like tendencies.

      I’ve watched Adya’s videos and read Tolle’s books. They talk about reality, not hyped-up spirituality. They talk about doing and practising, not about blind belief and chasing your master.

      During my practice of meditation, Adya’s insights have helped shed light during some confusing moments and experiences – if you can get through an hour of his talk, there are always two or three gems of wisdom that directly relate to your experience and help you go past your conditioning.

      With Byron Katie, Tolle, and Adya, it’s about shattering all your conditioning and beliefs, sharpening your intelligence and awareness and having the courage to truly question *everything*, including your faith in these teachers.

  14. WhistleBlower permalink
    August 12, 2010 9:48 pm

    Well said Prairie Princess. The way SriSri and his brainwashed zombies act/talk, you would think they have exclusive rights to everyone’s breath!!
    The funny thing is that SriSri hasn’t got anything original to offer and every practice he teaches is stolen from somewhere/someone.

    I used to do these “stretches” on my own when I was a kid. When I did my first yoga course, I realized I have been doing yoga ever since a kid!! Samething with meditation, I used to do this technique between my study sessions, where I totally relaxed and just observed my mind and my tiredness, sleepiness. Afterwards, I would feel extremely refreshed, as if I had a good sleep and quite often I would suddenly know the answer to a study question.

    So no one can tell me yoga or meditation belongs to their particular country or particular organization. And same with my breath and whatever I choose to do with it.

    Only SriSri and his brainwashed Zombies are so arrogant and of course so greedy to want to claim exclusive rights to breath, yoga, meditation, etc. I guess if they could they would have trademarked/patented the right to do connected breathing or Pranayamas, etc.

    .

  15. Svetana permalink
    August 16, 2010 5:39 pm

    @ Jags
    “Don’t compare Adyashanti or Eckhart Tolle with AOL…With Byron Katie, Tolle, and Adya, it’s about shattering all your conditioning and beliefs, sharpening your intelligence and awareness and having the courage to truly question *everything*, including your faith in these teachers.”

    Why not compare? These people are very much after money, like RS. Go and check E. Tolle’s web site: http://www.eckharttolle.com/home/. He sells a lot of stuff: books, CDs, DVDs and his Presence. You can buy a ticket for Tolle’s talk in New York, advertised as “conscious presence of Eckhart Tolle himself”, for $160 if you wish to sit closer to HIM and for $90 to sit in the back. This guy is above everybody, just like Shankar. And he wants big bucks to allow you to observe HIM.

    There is also an interesting discussion about Katie Byron on Jody’s blog: http://guruphiliac.blogspot.com/

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