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God Moves in Mysterious Ways

October 1, 2010

By Abilash Shastry

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!

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50 Comments
  1. WhistleBlower permalink
    October 1, 2010 10:19 pm

    The comment section for this article now works. Please repost your comments, if you had problem before.

  2. Yoga permalink
    October 1, 2010 11:01 pm

    This article is a poorly written one by Mr. Shastry. If finding fault is the sole purpose of this blog then it is a waste of time to visit this blog. If good intention is not there then the whole purpose will be defeated. Who said it is not possible to get a degree in Physics? Can you please take a minute and research? The only purpose this article seems to be finding fault but your article has too many holes

    Who said you can get your Physics degree only when you do your masters? There are colleges that offer degrees in Sanskrit. Reciting Gita at age four in Tamil Nadu even among Brahmin families is not a common thing. SSRS grew up in a small village. Given those circumstances, if he did indeed do it…it is an accomplishment. I recommend that this article be removed. Come up with something better.

    • Abhilash Shastry permalink
      October 2, 2010 4:47 am

      “Who said it is not possible to get a degree in Physics? Can you please take a minute and research? The only purpose this article seems to be finding fault but your article has too many holes. Who said you can get your Physics degree only when you do your masters?”

      @Yoga:

      OK. I did not do my research.

      Now all you have to do to shut my mouth forever is to tell us from which university/ college SSRS obtained which degrees in vedic literature/ physics in which year.

      We will take it from there.

      • Yoga permalink
        October 2, 2010 12:17 pm

        Why not you research first then write one with facts. Once I see researched facts on your article then we will discuss.

      • Abhilash Shastry permalink
        October 3, 2010 1:14 am

        @Yoga: You seem to be new here. So I am again putting these links from two AOL sites for your benefit.

        1) SSRS graduated by the age of 17 in both vedic literature and physics (Read second paragraph on this page)

        http://www.artofliving.org/in-en/founder-biography

        2) SSRS obtained Bachelor of Science at the age of 21 (Read “Life” on this page)

        http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sri-Sri-Ravi-Shankar/112875255390831

        So, when did he graduate?

      • Yoga permalink
        October 3, 2010 1:41 am

        Mr AS,

        My post was never about SSRS getting a degree at 17 vs. 21. UR also relying on Wiki which anyone can update.

        My question was specifically on your poorly researched/written article. First correct all the mistakes then we will talk.

        Thanks.

      • Yoga permalink
        October 4, 2010 3:10 am

        Looks like the mistakes in this article were never corrected!!!

    • Truth permalink
      October 2, 2010 8:31 am

      I agree, to be honest a lot of AOL articles and information is weird sounding or off because 90% of the people don’t speak English as a first language and mess it up.. Also it’s normally written by people who have zero writing skills and therefore generally has numerous holes. A big issue with AOL is a lot of the people are doing this as seva and aren’t really qualified to do it.. Get some seriously hard facts and contact the AOL for some answers, right now this is all conjecture. You have valid questions so go contact them for some answers and see what happens? Why not create a master list of questions for them, and see what comes back..

  3. Anonymous permalink
    October 2, 2010 1:02 am

    I really don’t care too much about the bio. and no one I know has ever done the course impressed with Sri Sri’s bio.

    I wanted to write about something I found about the so called service projects and adopted villages. Yes there is the 1-2 model villages here and there over the country where real work is taking place.

    In a particular state I spoke to the AoL head of that State about arranging a high profile meeting .
    In order to prepare for the meeting and for me to quote AoL work to these top officials I went to the IAHV/5H website and looked up all the service projects and all the villages listed for this state. When I spoke to the AoL head for this state I quoted all the figures I had seen online, x number of villages and all the write-ups online on the service projects happening, with personal quotes from youth leaders etc. He told me disappointedly , ‘no no we are not doing any significant work in the state, we have gone to villages to do free workshops (Nav chetna shibirs) and talk to the villagers, but not to say we adopted the villages. Right now we really don’t have any service work of any significant proportion to quote to officials as it can’t be verified.’
    Then I said, ok so why is it that we want to talk to these officials. He said that we would like government money to fund our programs, we want to gain government influence and teach these courses to government employees and officials. Ok so I thought we want to get government money, hmm… what about all the money in the AoL treasury that is supposed to go to projects, he said no no we don’t usually use the org. money, we do our own fund raising.
    Interesting…so we want governement money, meet top officials to gain power and influence, and when it comes to service it really token work we do at no cost to get something on paper but that can’t be verified. I quickly dropped out because I did not want to be the face of AoL to important people and risk my own reputation by doing so.
    This is my first hand experience about what is happening at the grass roots in a particular state – related to service, money, etc. So where is the money going?

    BTW I hope you all have read the post by the ex-AoL trustee who wrote personal experience of witnessing how to evade taxes discussed in Trust meeting – blessed by SSRS.

  4. Abhilash Shastry permalink
    October 2, 2010 1:38 am

    “BTW I hope you all have read the post by the ex-AoL trustee who wrote personal experience of witnessing how to evade taxes discussed in Trust meeting – blessed by SSRS.”

    Evading tax is an official policy of AOL.

    I remember a very innovative reply given by Mr. Bawa about the tax concerns. His stand was that government collects tax to plough it back to the society. However, bureaucracy in India is so corrupt that only a very small part of money collected by the government reaches the intended beneficiary. On the other hand any money available with AOL goes directly to the service of the society. So, if AOL evades some taxes where it should actually pay, it is ultimately for the benefit of the society.

  5. Abhilash Shastry permalink
    October 2, 2010 2:25 am

    >>I really don’t care too much about the bio.

    @Anon:

    Neither do I.

    All I wanted to say is that this fellow SSRS is a pathological liar. He lies even where there is no need to lie. After all who cares if Ramana, or Ramakrisna or Vivekananda was a graduate or not?

    • vedagama permalink
      October 2, 2010 3:52 am

      i donot really care about sri sri’sbio and mr bawa is right about the corrupt bureaucracy in india look how much of the tax payers money went into lining the pockets of kalmadi and the cwg comittee more than 90,000 cr i mean if a few 1000’s crs are lining srisri’s pockets so what atleast he a respected person by many indians … i have been chanting sholks and and mantras since i was 12 and by the time i was 17 i received a cerst from the org i was with then for indept understanding of the vedic lit… its not a degree just a cert… and i did find the meditation of aol quite redfreshing not that im involved in the org as some aspecats are unethical… otherwise most of the aolers i know are very helpful, genuinely nice and helpful maybe the inners of sri sri function differently… and i feel closer to nanak, vivekananda and ramana maharishi than to sri sri…. a guru is just a guide a teacher but unfortunately some disciples have elevated sri sri to the level of GOD…i find that disgusting ..

      • goneagain permalink
        October 2, 2010 5:13 am

        “unfortunately some disciples have elevated sri sri to the level of GOD…i find that disgusting ..”

        It is not just some devotees made him god, it is him and his lackeys planted all the stories and miracles of RaviRavi to indoctrinate the gullible so that his ego can be satisfied with power, fame and $$$$s.

        In an interview when asked about why “sri sri” he arrogantly said because 108 “sri sri” will be too long, he decided to stop with just 2.

        It is understandable that many AOLers still try to blame everything goes bad in AOL on devotees or inner circle, this is due to long term brain washing as many still believe RaviRavi is just innocent, he is not the reason if anything is wrong within AOL. If you sit and think with open mind you can see through all those and understand RaviRavi is in center of the scam not on the edges.

      • Abhilash Shastry permalink
        October 2, 2010 6:51 am

        “It is not just some devotees made him god, it is him and his lackeys planted all the stories and miracles of RaviRavi to indoctrinate the gullible so that his ego can be satisfied with power, fame and $$$$s.”

        There is one interesting ‘miracle’ story I remember from around year 1997-98. During one of the Navratri ceremony, Guruji invoked Goddess Durga in his mantras. And lo and behold! Goddess Durga appeared there in flesh and blood!! She prophesied that in the coming future Bangalore Ashram would become a great pilgrimage site. Conveniently, only Bawa and his father Yezdi were present when this miracle occurred. Jai Guru Dev!

    • goneagain permalink
      October 2, 2010 5:29 am

      Agree, It is absolutely no relevance whether he has a college degree or just school drop out, But what is important is whether he is honest person or not. If he had to cook up stories to get where he is and lied to get there using these deceitfully practices (make up story of getting advanced degree at age 17, reciting gita ,etc.,) then it becomes important, if he lied with all his bio why would anyone believe anything else he says.

      It is not about his bio but his honesty and integrity as a person.

  6. Anonymous permalink
    October 2, 2010 4:07 am

    I just saw this discussion thread below and I can’t helping laughing. AOL JGD people are panic since even Google is helping us to expose this AOL cult and SSRS fraud. 🙂

    Since there are so many people search for ‘Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Fraud’ these days (credit goes to this blog and KLIM’s blog), Google will automatically add ‘fraud’ to the drop down suggestion whenenver people search for ‘Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’ or ‘Art of Living’

    http://marketingasolicitor.com/?p=385

    To make this blog more visible and to expose AOL cult and SSRS fraud faster to the whole world, let’s we do this great seva everyday. Let’s all search ‘Art of Living Cult’ and ‘Sri Sri Ravi Shanker Fraud’ and let Google drop down suggestions to help more people awaken sooner and bring justice to the world. The more people search such text in Google, the longer it will stay there.

    • The Doctor permalink
      October 2, 2010 11:29 am

      I have to say I disagree strongly with doing this, simply because it is the exact sort of thing we’ve seen AoL do across several posts, most recently this one:

      Wikipedia Revisited -1984?

      If we start trying to manipulate the internet in this manner, then it makes us look like complete hypocrites by doing the exact things we are criticizing AoL for. This is also the sort of thing that pro-AoLers can criticize us for and, and rightly so. It makes us look petty and just detracts from our mission here.

      These blogs speak volumes on their own without us having to resort to tactics like this, so let’s focus on all the seva we are already doing here.

      • Anonymous permalink
        October 3, 2010 11:44 pm

        I agree completely with you. It makes no sense to do the same mistakes we are trying to reveal. We have to act in a mature and still loving way to show that our intentions want something positive. You cannot make things better by doing the same.

  7. Smiling Monkey permalink
    October 2, 2010 5:22 am

    To all those who said here that they don’t care about Sri Sri’s bio, you see, that is exactly what makes this blog even more interesting. Usually, people lie about their educational qualifications when they want to impress someone or get something tangible through their lies.

    However, nobody goes to a “spiritual guru” for his educational background. It simply doesn’t make a difference whether he got his graduation at the age of 19 or 22 or 17 or 25 or didn’t get it at all. Yet, there are those who seem propagate lies about something that isn’t even relevant to most “devotees/potential devotees”.

    Question is why?

    Answer is simple. They are pathological liars. It is akin to kleptomania. You don’t need to steal, but you still steal.

    And AOL folks are not the only ones doing it. Most cult leaders are known to have fabricated their own unspectacular past to make it look like they were special right from the birth. Usually, the leaders themselves keep mum and their followers are the ones spreading the stories and rumours. This is an oft-used technique in cults because the leader can bail himself out whenever he wants to and the follower has the license to be wrong. The next step (after fabricating one’s own past) is to make stories about past lives – something that is totally unverifiable – and usually the leaders call themselves the second coming of Jesus/Buddha/Alexander/Muhammad and on some occasions, all of them.

    • goneagain permalink
      October 2, 2010 5:46 am

      Following are the lies of (buddy buddy of RaviRavi) Nithy, somehow these guys seem to think and do exact same things (look at bio one complete advanced degree in Physics at 17 and other guy complete his mechanical eng diploma at 12).

      http://nithyananda-cult.blogspot.com/2009/10/paramahamsa-nithyananda-fails.html

      If anyone claims (like Harshal) Nithy and RaviRavi are not buddies – here is some proof for them.

      http://www.dhyanapeetam.org/web/RavishankarVisit_Aug2009.asp

    • Kitapati permalink
      October 2, 2010 6:24 am

      Similing Monkey

      I do agree with the pathological lying aspect.

      Yet there is also a method in this madness. On the queston why Ravi Ravi claimed to be a graduate in advanced physics. When AOL was started in 89 (it was in 89 it was started, the 82 is again false propoganda), Maharishi Mahesh was touting about Universal cosmic law, a law which will explain everything or some such bullshit. He was even advertising about some psuedo scientific physical and mathematical equations etc. With the quantum physicists talking about the ‘Observer’ effect and ‘Tao of Physics’ very much in the air, maharishi had proclaimed that physics will find out all about the vedic truths about conciousness. Obviously Ravi Ravi who was intently observing every move of maharishi brought this story. Thats when he decided to call himself a graduate in advanced physics and vedas.

  8. Kitapati permalink
    October 2, 2010 5:46 am

    Abhilash you have very correctly nailed the AOL appropriation of Sudhakar Chaturvediji.
    I am originally from Jaynagar 4th T block in Bangalore. My childhood house is very close to where Ravi Ravi’s house is located, very close to Rishi Prabhakar’s, Sudhakar Chaturvedi’s and Naryan Murthy’s house. All within the range of around 200-400 meters as it is all in the same locality.
    I am about eight years younger to Ravi Ravi and in my childhood as most Brahmin kids in our area did, I attended Sudhakar Chaturvedi’s veda patha classes. He is a venerable old gentlemen, our neighbourhood thatha (grandfather). He used to teach us recitation of the shanti mantras, the vedic sukthas, mantra pushpam etc. Apart from that he used to share his knowledge on nature cure, fasting and other such gandhian stuff. There used to be around 10-20 people in these classes. I never saw ravi ravi in any of these classes and Sudhakar chaturvedi did not have any formal disciples or anything. It is quite likely he would have attended some of his classes earlier.
    I was closely involved with ravi ravi and AOL from 89 to 95 and during all these times there was never ever any mention of Sudhakar Chaturvedi by ravishankar. Ravi ravi was always this maharshi mahesh yogi’s estranged disciple who discovered this breathing technique through prophetic revelation. It was only in 2005 this story of Ravi Ravi’s association with Chaturveda was started. This was mainly for the Nobel peace prize propoganda. Ravi Ravi wanted some gandhian association as that evokes the qualities associated with the nobel peace prize. It was just a propoganda ploy just like all else in his life. The fake it till you make it strategy has boomeranged back on him as the world is increasingly viewing him as a fake.

  9. WarriorOfDharma permalink
    October 2, 2010 6:50 am

    Can some one go through this?

    http://www.artofliving.org/in-en/revolution-education

    It says AOL runs 115 free schools in tribal areas, benefiting 12639 kids. If this is correct, I really see it as a good service from AOL.

    • The Doctor permalink
      October 2, 2010 9:35 am

      @WarriorOfDharma,

      No one here is denying that AoL is doing good in the world, least of all me. I have received tremendous benefits from my association with them, as have a great many people I know.

      But one of the biggest questions we are asking on these blogs is: are AoL doing any harm in the world, and if so how much harm, and what is the nature of this harm? We don’t hear about these things anywhere else on the internet, as the majority of sites which have anything to say about AoL are owned and controlled by AoL and for obvious reasons won’t mention any of the negative things that AoL have done! We also never heard about these things during our time with AoL, and if anything was ever raised, it was usually rationalized in one way or another. So in order to provide a more balanced view, we have this place to discuss these issues.

      Comments like this one you posted do not actually add to the discussions, in fact I would go as far as to say they are working against AoL. Why? Because instead of answering the main topic of the post and any criticisms that have been raised as a result, they look like a blatant attempt to deflect from these things and turn people’s focus onto something else, hoping that they will forget the main purpose of the thread as well as the overall purpose of this blog.

      It is like saying, and I am using an extreme case here, it is ok for a person to lie/rob/steal/murder etc. etc. if they are doing some good in the world too. There are so many comments from pro-AoLers of this nature, and in fact the entire Art of Living Life Stories blog is entirely about this exact thing.

      To me the message is clear: Guruji is doing so much good in the world, please turn a blind eye to all these bad things if you are exposed to them, please ignore them as if you had never seen them. Don’t focus on these negative things, focus only on the good things.

      This to me is actually nothing short of brainwashing, albeit a very mild yet subtle form. I will reiterate what Rishiji said over and over again about the fact that we should see both sides of the coin, consider all the good qualities and all the bad qualities of anything, looking at these side by side and thus having a more complete, balanced view. Seeing only one side of AoL, the side that AoL wants us to see, leads to complete ignorance and in fact is the direct reason why these blogs exist: so that we can share our own experiences of all the bad things we experienced in AoL. These bad things will never go away, no matter how many good things there are about AoL.

      So please, if you can, focus on commenting on the posts at hand.

      • WarriorOfDharma permalink
        October 2, 2010 9:58 am

        Doc, I Agree with you.

        I’ve raised my own concerns earlier, else where in this blog. Including my concerns about financial irregularities and doubtful authority of Guruji’s kith and kin.

    • Bling Bling permalink
      October 2, 2010 3:00 pm

      http://www.artofliving.org/in-en/revolution-education

      It says AOL runs 115 free schools in tribal areas, benefiting 12639 kids. If this is correct, I really see it as a good service from AOL.

      @Warrior of Dharma

      Good, but can someone add details to that website for each school

      a) exact address of school
      b) contact person (telephone, email, skype, etc.) in case media wants to verify
      c) how long is it operational
      d) how much funds does AOL HQ provide per annum (money raised by local devotees chapter doesn’t count!)
      e) sample photo of school building
      f) how many children enrolled
      g) certification of school

      Many Ex-AOL teachers can’t understand where their money was going. Such facts could mute some of the criticism you see on this blog.

      • WarriorOfDharma permalink
        October 3, 2010 7:37 am

        Check this out. I also don’t have any way to validate this. http://www.artofliving.org/list-our-schools

      • Cynic permalink
        October 5, 2010 5:29 am

        WarriorOfDharma:

        I tried to validate the one listed at Sr. No. 80. The area is very close to the place I live. So I decided to give it a try yesterday.

        I had great difficulty locating this school, mainly because there is no fixed place for the school and it keeps shifting from one tenement to the other. It was a Monday and I expected to see some good activity. Unfortunately, there was not a single teacher or kid there. To be fair, I came to know that this was not always so. The school was quite active for about a year. But since last six months or so, it is dormant. A few volunteers still come to teach there, but they are not regular. I think I cannot blame the volunteers. After all they are giving their time and effort for free – even if erratically.

        Sometime back, someone on this forum posted a calculation about cost of running these schools. I cannot say anything about others but as far this school is concerned, here is the breakup of expenses:

        Rent: Zero. School is run in the open space or a tenement provided by a patron.

        Salary: Zero. Teachers are volunteers.

        School supplies: Zero.

        Unfortunately, this pattern is not unfamiliar to those of us who have been involved with AOL . Many seemingly good initiatives are started with great fanfare. However AOL’s involvement as an organization lasts only till the cameraman is there. After that, it is left to the individual enthusiasts without any commitment from the organization. However, that does not stop the organization from claiming the credit of the work on their website.

      • freethinker permalink
        October 5, 2010 2:49 pm

        @WarriorOfDharma
        Another one of AOL lies busted, so much so for good work done by AOL. I was going to add up those numbers to see at least whether it adds up and found one that is very interesting. No. 36 Rural Kaggalipura with large number of students (2057) – is this ashram school? For these many students I am pretty sure they have to have a permanent structures, anyone can shut more light on this?

      • WhistleBlower permalink
        October 6, 2010 5:06 am

        The latest contributor to AOLLifeStories, Rajita Kulkarni Bagga, another AOL teacher and board member says:

        I have also had the honour of working with one of the largest free schools that the foundation runs on the outskirts of Bangalore. One of the over 100 free schools that it runs in India, this school in the past two and half decades has brought free education to more than 25,000 children. 80 % of these children have been first generation literates in their families and are today employed in government jobs etc. This is a lasting contribution towards building a strong future for our nation.

        What I love about AOL PR people is that when they lie, they lie so big that they easily give the show away!

        PS. That aollifestories blog is still struggling and only well-paid AOL teachers/board members/beneficiaries are coming forward.

      • anonymous permalink
        October 6, 2010 5:52 am

        @Cynic

        “However AOL’s involvement as an organization lasts only till the cameraman is there”

        Agree with this statement.

        Recently in Bangalore, there was a huge initiative by Art of Living group to plant trees all around. It was inaugurated on Guruji’s Birthday with Posters, Banners, flowers and planting couple of trees. Pictures were taken. It was supposed to be the inauguration only. But never heard about the project after that. The plan was to plant “Lakshmi Tharu” , which had to be bought from somewhere.

        Nevertheless to say, the volunteers who wanted to plant these trees had to pay Rs. 15/- per sapling from their pocket or through raising local funds.

        Most of the Art of Living Service Projects are run by Enthusiastic volunteers
        by putting in their good heart, time , effort, money and some one even their lives. I know so many very serene souls who have dedicated their lives to Art of Living

  10. The Doctor permalink
    October 2, 2010 11:32 am

    @ Kitapi,

    When AOL was started in 89 (it was in 89 it was started, the 82 is again false propoganda)

    This is really fascinating and completely new information as far as these blogs are concerned. Is there anyway at all you can help to verify this information, or at least elaborate a bit more on it?

    • Abhilash Shastry permalink
      October 2, 2010 1:23 pm

      “This is really fascinating and completely new information as far as these blogs are concerned. Is there anyway at all you can help to verify this information, or at least elaborate a bit more on it?”

      @Doctor: I am also skeptical of ‘1982’ claim. I started with AOL sometime in 1996 and at that time it was relatively unknown even in India. Before 1995 I had not heard or read about AOL even once.

      Now, what could anyone gain by lying about AOL’s year of origin? Nothing.

      After all, does it matter to a new recruit whether AOL was founded in 1982 or 1989? Not really.

      The only plausible explanation is that HHSSRS is a pathological liar. He lies even when there is no need to.

    • Yoga permalink
      October 3, 2010 1:52 am

      Nothing fascinating about it or exciting. It was just a typo. I know guys who have been associated with AOL from the early 80s. Of course it was very small then.

  11. Trying-to-Understand permalink
    October 2, 2010 1:59 pm

    I have met people who took a course with SSRS in the early 1980s. It could be that he started teaching in one year and a formal organization was created in another year.

    Doctor, can you please outline the harm that you think he has done? I am trying to follow the conversation but I have lost the main point. What is the harm that he is being accused of?

    • Independent Observer permalink
      October 2, 2010 5:22 pm

      Silver Jubilee year was 2006. – 25…thats 1981 guys…another number bites the dust

    • The Doctor permalink
      October 2, 2010 9:09 pm

      @ Trying-to-Understand,

      Doctor, can you please outline the harm that you think he has done? I am trying to follow the conversation but I have lost the main point. What is the harm that he is being accused of?

      As it happens, yes I can

      https://aolfree.wordpress.com/2010/10/02/the-purpose-of-these-blogs/

      🙂

  12. anon1 permalink
    October 2, 2010 4:57 pm

    what blatant sensationalism from the cult, anything to prove to the faithful that the sun doesnt shine from the skies but from the gurus shining backside.

    my ex guru prem rawat does the same. if you believed that pompous prick you’d think he was running the whole universe by his holy farts.

    at the moment he’s suddenly on a humanitarian mission after doing zilch and filling his own coffers for the past 50 years.
    if you believe his own publicity, he’s the new messiah out to feed and clothe the whole world…

    but only after stuffing his own fat jowls first though!

  13. Maths permalink
    October 2, 2010 5:33 pm

    12639 kids x 300 Rs tution per month x 12 months = Rs 4.55 crore = $1 Million per year approx cost

  14. Eternity process permalink
    October 2, 2010 6:05 pm

    Can some AOL teacher, ex-teacher comment on the AOL eternity process and your personal experiences
    Thank You

  15. Attendance percentage permalink
    October 2, 2010 10:09 pm

    There was a Sri Sri event that happened in my town. They rented a huge auditorium for his speech. The auditorium was less than half full for the event. The event was conducted successfully and every one was happy. After the event AOL prints a brochure saying the event was SOLD OUT. Its a very minor thing. But it shows how AOL organiation has no respect for truth and pumps up numbers and inflates facts to make them self look better than they really are.

    I honestly think AOL has a lot of good people associated with it. Some people at the top are examples of how leaders should not be ( never doing any hands on vounteer work, just talking concepts, lacking basic politeness and people skills). I know a few senior and a few regular AOL teachers. Senior AOL teachers (especially ones full time with AOL) make up Guru stories like crazy. They became very good at manipulating people and pulling them into courses are trying to get them do seva projects. I fully agree that AOL never does any positive work in the communities of USA where they collect money (Other than prison courses where the instructors mostly self finance any expenses).

    Good stress relief techniques , respectable founder, very very bad organization at the top and in parts of the core. Decent organization on the outsides. this has been my experience.

    AOL organization doesn’t have leaders. I know many senior teachers who actively dislike one another. It has clueless, some times selfish, unpolished volunteer work force with some of the more aggressive ones having very high level of commitment ( to detrimental effects).

    Use AOL for what it can give you. Don’t feel guilty fo saying NO to any of their Seva projects. Don’t believe their made up Guru stories. Most senior AOL teachers are very smart people who forgot their basic decency in the name of blind guru seva.

    When dealing with AOL senior teachers, make sure you are not being carried away by their manipulation.

    • goneagain permalink
      October 3, 2010 12:30 am

      “Use AOL for what it can give you. Don’t feel guilty fo saying NO to any of their Seva projects. Don’t believe their made up Guru stories. Most senior AOL teachers are very smart people who forgot their basic decency in the name of blind guru seva.”

      – It’s very good advice for those people who wants to stay with AOL. Basic courses may be useful to many, just learn techniques such as learn yoga/mediation and move on with your life. It is not worth to waste your life time on AOL as it is not worthy cause. Unless you want to be a blind slave forever it is probably not worth moving up and doing all those course (and paying $$$$ for those courses) to become PT/FT teachers to make money for AOL company.
      – If you really want to do service (seva) to community then find a reputable organization of your choice and volunteer there. Slaving for Guru/AOL is not seva as they made you believe.

    • Yoga permalink
      October 3, 2010 2:01 am

      “I fully agree that AOL never does any positive work in the communities of USA where they collect money (Other than prison courses where the instructors mostly self finance any expenses). ”

      I personally know that they did several courses for Bhutanese refugees at free of cost in several towns/several times. They did a lot of work in Katrina affected areas. Recently many volunteers went to work in Haiti. I think most of us don’t have enough information to criticize AOL regarding how much positive work they do in US. I also agree that AOL could do more but volunteers’ work is also limited by how much they can do away from their work and family time. It is not as easy as you think.

      • Attendance percentage permalink
        October 3, 2010 6:28 pm

        @YOGA:
        How much did AOL organization spend to provide free course to Bhutanees refugees ? Most part time teachers who taught the courses would have spent their own time / money or got small sponsorships. Only in cases where AOL flew full time teachers for the free courses the course offering would have costed AOL nominal amount of money. What fraction is this compared to what AOL collects from communities in terms of course fees ?

        I also hear AOL stipends for full time teachers are $400 – $1000 per month. I didn’t ask any full time teacher and verify this. But this just shows you that the cost incurred by AOL is minimal.

        To give you a perspective of costs for AOL. Lets take their Haiti project.

        See the details from the below link about Haiti project. It cost AOL $23.16 to teach each course per participant. (54,000 cost / 2332 graduates). The question is what fraction of the money is being ploughed back into communities where it is collected … very very minimal if any. AOL only could spend 33% (see below)of the collected money for Haiti Project and want to spend the rest on other stuff ? AOL charges for every thing , so why can’t they spend the Haiti money on Haiti in a time of great need ? You can also clearly see that none of the other course collections went towards Haiti project.
        ————————————————————————–
        http://artoflivingvalues.blogspot.com/

        Making good use of Donations – Haiti Project

        ——————————————————————————————
        Haiti Project:
        * Donations collected to date: $165,000
        * Donations spent to date: $54,000
        * Remaining donation $ to be spent on TTC and operating expenses (mostly in-country)
        * 96% of donations go directly into the service work and training of the youth leaders. (This is actually a conservative estimate)
        * Number of team members giving 50% or more of their time to this project: 23
        * Number of full-time (40+ hours/week) team members paid stipends: 3 (Stipend amount: $1000-$2000/month

        Successes to date (since January 12 earthquake)2,332 AoL course graduates

      • goneagain permalink
        October 3, 2010 6:58 pm

        AOL seva/service projects are usually tokenism, simple propaganda/photo-op stuff to show something is given back to the community. Even those given back to community are in the form of ‘Basic courses” interestingly.

      • Yoga permalink
        October 4, 2010 3:16 am

        AP, only think I know is that literally 100s of them did courses in cities that I know. I have no idea about $ figure. I only gave additional details on other projects that they did.

      • Sundresh permalink
        October 4, 2010 4:47 am

        During the north karnataka floods last year AOL collected donations and supplies and they just as swallowed it all up. I am from North karnataka near belgaum and know for a fact that they have not done anything here. Natural calamities are great fund raising oppurtunities for aol.

  16. Gretchen permalink
    October 8, 2010 9:46 pm

    I have been with art of living for 8 years, spending a lot of money and time on it. Sometimes I do feel like stepford’s wives, the perfect ones with plastic smiles, whose souls have been robbed by one person and caged. I feel so because I have changed so much in course of these years. I got a lot of help from their courses. It well suited me, answered my spiritual queries too but yeah marketing, advertising and money are the things that even I cannot understand and obvious morons in the family that have graduated as young teachers. But then I think, I do not know the whole picture to be able to decide or judge them. Actually, I feel this organization has created a good platform to do something and no one is robbing anyone here. If you do not feel like, do not follow them. They do not insist or pressurize as far as I know. I was planning to become a teacher, but all these concerns and doubts have kept me from it. No matter who is my guru and what teachings I receive, I feel it is very important to be able to have complete faith in either your master or his technique. These courses might have saved me and many people from trips to the psychologists, mental hospitals or even suicide. I ask myself- why do we look for something outside, if we have everything inside? I know that courses, guru and knowledge help you to some extent, but there is no miracle. Without your own effort, even Guru fails, the courses fail. No matter how much money or time you invest, one must learn to listen to their inner guide and voice for discretion and wisdom and take from others (includes Guru, people and the world) only what you can digest. Sometimes people expect miracles or blindly follow someone, leave everything, decide in haste and then repent at leisure for following a Guru. Such people try to give a bad name to many Gurus. See Guru is on the earth for other people. We are as oblivious about him as we are about ourselves. Rather than trying to know or understand others (including your Guru), dive deep to find yourself and one conclusion I have come up with is that there is so much diversity in the manifested universe that almost anyone can be proven God or Devil at the same time.But if we sharpen our inner voice and hone our intuition, we will know the difference and we will be eternally guided. Many of the people are teachers there just because of the divine fervor or the desparate need to salvage themselves of the agony that life has presented. The questioner in them died because it could not decide whether this question is genuine or whether it is a doubt. When in doubt, we should not act in any direction at all until clarity comes. Confusion comes out of indecision. So everyone, who are sincere seeker, please look within and sharpen your inner voice, listen to it. Apply viveka and then blindly follow someone. If you have taken this commitment of being a teacher, then please visit all those schools, institutions and validate if the money is put up to use or not. If not then, where is it going? If you are a genuine spiritual seeker, you would look within, instead of looking outside and you will keep preparing yourself and in time, a live or heavenly master will come and pour grace on you for free, just because you have purified your temple so much that Gods would want to live. Until then really believe in teachings they impart, believe in techniques. See even if they are cheating you, they are doing so because you are not following their teachings properly. The only thing I am sure about Sri Sri is that his commentaries on various things made sense to me, the kriya gives benefit and of course the sahaj samadhi meditation worked best. If you look carefully and read swami Vivekananda, Swami Rama or even Osho, the proof of right teachings and knowledge will come. They all say the same thing in different ways. I have decided to follow that for a while before taking a plunge. I feel I should start some organization of my own that bears total transparency in terms of money and has paid volunteers and not random people doing random seva. This is a huge problem with NGOs, with Governmental organizations. I would not mention names but my father used to inspect these small organizations in rural areas. Almost all have the same problem. This problem is also multi-pronged and not just of organization or teachers, it is also of people who are at the receiving end and their social infrastructure. Finally, I also believe that being spiritual sitting in a cave is easy but being spiritual and dealing with the world is a double edged sword. Renunciation is also not the answer because it is them who often end up doing sexual crimes etc. Being in the world, as a celibate or married and serving people becomes a huge daunting task in today’s ego driven advertisement savvy world. It almost is like there is little or no difference between good or bad here. There seems to be no rule. Look at all the rich people who keep getting richer, sucking people’s money, taxes and torturing the poor and weak. But sometimes I think, who gives them this power- THE WEAK. So spirituality is a very personal and individual quest and salvation cannot be home delivered or quick ordered on phone. Since when we spend a lot of money on these courses, we feel so that miracles happen or courses are the cure for all fallacies of mind, thus we fail, feel defeated eventually when the placebo effect is reduced or we become immune to the knowledge and practices and the enigmatic “who am I” is still not found. I would say, before getting involved over a limit or committing yourself to anything (not just Art of Living) ask this question, choose viveka, listen to inner voice during confusion and above all stand up for yourself. If you can smile and do seva for free and be nice in not so nice arrangement of courses, just because you think Sri Sri is God, then same can be applied in real world where you face problems. Think of all people as Gods and smile through your hardships, work hard, do not look ways to sneak out- even if it is into a spiritual retreat for instant nirvana. Running away to even Guru is not a solution because ultimately after purifying you to an extent, even the best Guru drops out and asks you to cross the final realm yourself. SO better learn sooner than later. Peace to everyone here. Hope clarity comes in future.

  17. Gretchen permalink
    October 8, 2010 10:18 pm

    Also, wanted to add that not just AOL, all the big new age spiritual groups, like Deepak Chopra, TM courses, and not to mention the alternative healers- Body talk people, Reiki people, Energy healing etc are earning fat checks from those who want to use their facility. The real people who really got some powers and are realized never come to light. The people who serve for free are also plenty but they do not get any attention- whether positive or negative. Ultimately, it is a question of choice- as to what is important for you. Art of Living sure gives you a platform to launch yourself as a good sales person, business person etc. All in good faith and on positive note. There is a lot to learn from this organization on being social entrepreneurs. You do boost your morale and your eyes really shine from energy. The two-way channel post made me curious about the concept that student can give their power to the guru after a point. But in all of this, I do feel that there is a higher power and there is something called grace that is needed and I feel it depends on your own purity, readiness and past karmas as to how much of that shall be bestowed on you and also on your aspirations.
    Now even if a real free of cost, free of conflict Guru comes to people, where are the able students who would aspire to follow the path of spirituality. The material world always confuses. Good thing about Art of Living is that they are trying to integrate the ego-the materialistic world of challenges- well with the spiritual learning, spiritual world and knowledge. Because sometimes I even have thought that what if I become totally enlightened today? Anyway, I would have to live this life. Having reached would also be boring if there was nothing to do. I believe all the masters come with a specific purpose. Some like Mahavatar Babaji remain enigmatic, hidden but many come out of the caves to impart knowledge in their own ways to the people. Someone said “Sri Sri” also came out of a cave. It was not true…he just went into silence at the banks of a river…for ten days and you know this technique seems to be his genuine inspiration as it combines Sri Vidya, Kriya yoga etc in a most beautiful way. It is a daunting task to cleanse people of emotional and pyschosomatic disorders in today’s changing world. I know that when I came to AOL my worries were only materialistic but I had deeper spiritual questions and the conflict in my nature and life was due to those queries that were not finding a solution in the world. I ran from one thing to the other, ultimately to AOL, then got pissed off, then again came back as something in me was still weak. I would not say that any miracle happened, but I can say that my life changed completely…to the point that now I only have spiritual questions. It is a tendency of human mind to take positive things for granted. Though I am against blind faith, so I remain with my questions, taking one step at a time. But AOL surely does cure conflicts by Sudarshan Kriya.
    But after this kind of cleansing, for the advanced spiritual quest or moving with more commitment or dedication towards the path even I need to know- all about Sri Sri and his real guru. He cannot say that children are his ideal for an answer. If he is an avatar, he must show that to people even when he doesn’t believe in miracles. If not, then this mystic yogi and his sister (who cannot even properly tell about sages in highly charged Guru puja courses, mandan mishra story she got all wrong. The course can be beautifully made with real description, but all that happens is you are charged for a dinner and are given a lollypop. I am not saying that there is authenticity in those details because of conflicting views and reports, like any other history or vedic literature but at least she can clearly mention who is Guru ji’s master) can very transparently tell about WHO THEY ARE? WHERE IS THE MONEY? ARE THEY LEADING THE INNOCENT OR JUST MISLEADING THEM?

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