Skip to content

Sorry, Uma

October 25, 2010

Dear Uma,
none of the comments following my last post has convinced me of the validity of the original Haiti post. So as promised, I have deleted the original post, as well as the last one, and also all comments containing your full name.

Good luck with your project. My apologies for any inconvenience the post may have caused.


  1. Observer permalink
    October 25, 2010 7:46 pm

    Deleting the post does not alter the fact that lots of money donated for Haiti, makes its way back AoL under different guises…

  2. zhoro permalink
    October 25, 2010 8:51 pm

    Skywalker, I think it is fine to do what you have done here. I know Uma and have always liked her as a person and if this helps her perform some real service, so be it.

    However, we, former insiders, know very well that from AoL’s perspective, the ultimate meaning of “service” is getting one under AoL’s wing where the Divine itself has laid its garden. All the other talk of worldly projects is for show and recruitment purposes, and to not reveal AoL as a religious organization straight away. Instead, the guise of humanitarian work is used to gently usher the willing souls into cult indoctrination. In reality, AoL views worldly pursuits as mundane, the real care is for the soul. So it is quite ridiculous to watch how much effort they put into presenting themselves as a humanitarian organization, placing emphasis exactly on the areas of existence that in insider reality they teach to despise – bodily needs. Just another example of the deep dissonance that is a condition for operating in this cult.

  3. Ronin permalink
    October 25, 2010 9:03 pm

    It was interesting to see how the project was going to use Dharma Mittra Yoga as their Yoga TTC.

    Why not SSY.

    I wish we had Dharma Mittra Yoga teachers instructing us on our SSY TTC he is a very gifted teacher and creates very qualified instructors.

    Hope the project is truly what they say it is, cause there are a lot of people suffering in Haiti.

    And most of all I hope that when they do go through TTC to become AOL teachers that they will not be subjected to the mental games like sleep deprivation and many others which are used in general and surely to break those with with a keen sense of intellect. Inorder to create the standard AOL teacher devoid of common sense.

    Not to mention that they should skip the Buddha process in one of the most poorest countries in the western hemisphere.

    They have suffered enough not only recently but for generations.

  4. goneagain permalink
    October 26, 2010 1:08 am


    There were many great comments posted in those posts by PW and many others. Some of them not related to the topic itself and more in general about AOL. See if you can post them here or other places.

    • The Doctor permalink
      October 29, 2010 10:32 am

      For sure goneagain, all comments are still intact and I took a backup of the page as well. I’ll go through them when I get the chance and salvage things appropriately.

  5. October 26, 2010 4:11 am

    Its good that you have removed the post.
    Please don’t act on rumors.
    If you have proofs of any money misuse, definitely publish it.

    • Observer permalink
      October 26, 2010 7:10 am

      Money misuse is clear. A lot of the money donated for Haiti gets paid back AoL for TTC, other courses. Nobody (like Uma) has stated that AoL gives its courses for free in Haiti. So, assuming that it does not, this means that money donated for charity goes to AoL (to pay for courses, ttc what not). This is what is being called a misuse. Where is the rumor here?

      • Yoga permalink
        October 29, 2010 5:56 pm

        Please publish the proof.

      • Observer permalink
        October 30, 2010 6:12 am

        @Yoga: Proof for what, something which Uma has already stated clearly? I am taking her words as factual; if you do not believe her, you have to ask her for proof, not me.

      • Yoga permalink
        October 30, 2010 3:01 pm

        @observer – you are assuming things here. You do not have all the facts. How can u assume that in Haiti they are charging for the courses? It is not even a realistic assumption. Are you 100% sure that AOL is charging fees in Haiti. If Okay…Uma did not mention it…did you ask her if they are charging fees. It is okay to have enthusiasm to expose things that are not correct with AOL. But in that process, do not accuse anyone until you are 100% sure.

      • Observer permalink
        October 30, 2010 6:17 pm

        How can u assume that in Haiti they are charging for the courses? It is not even a realistic assumption.
        I would be very interested to know y u think that it’s not even realistic, my experiences force me to suspect otherwise.

      • Yoga permalink
        November 1, 2010 3:28 am

        @Observer – My simple request to you is that you cannot accuse someone unless you are 100% sure. In this case, it is clear to me that what you posted is based on your experience from the past which need not be true in Haiti. So you still have not shown me any proof

  6. harshal permalink
    October 26, 2010 8:14 am

    @skywalker: Thanks for removing the post,I appreciate your integrity here.

    I will not be posting on this blog any further. I have three requests though

    1) you can keep critiquing AOL , however I suggest that the blog does not allow use of overtly foul language against the concerned person of reverence. You may not respect the person, you should definitely respect the feelings of the people associated with the person. In India, Guru is regarded as someone even more close than a mother, and guru-sishya relationship is the ultimate relationship. Hence I request you to respect this and disallow overtly slanderous comments against any guru.
    For example:(

    2) I suggest that the blog does not allow defamatory comments against Gurus who have passed on. It is a common practice in India, and many countries I have lived- to not to talk bad about deceased people, no matter who they are or what they have done .(For example:Maharishi)

    3) senior art of living teachers, I have known, have dedicated their entire life to AOL for the sake of spiritual well-being of people around them and to serve the masses. Trust me ,this is an extremely difficult to do ,requires a huge heart, and they deserve some respect. So it will be nice if their personal lives are not touched.(For example: someone popping pills)

    Thanks for allowing me to post freely on the blog, without any moderation.

    • Peaceful Warrior permalink
      October 26, 2010 3:38 pm

      “1. You can keep critiquing AOL , however I suggest that the blog does not allow use of overtly foul language against the concerned person of reverence.”

      Thanks for giving us permission to critique RS ;). Unfortunately, There is no way one can criticize RS, without causing pain to people who revere him. I hope the ardent followers can ignore the pain, and see RS for the false guru he is. It’s better that way – otherwise you are trapped in a cult.

      “2. I suggest that the blog does not allow defamatory comments against Gurus who have passed on.”

      You are wrong to take refuge of tradition and insist that false gurus are not criticized in india. MMY created his legacy, and history judges him. He did not care of what people thought about him – so I guess we have freedom to think what we want.

      ” 3. senior art of living teachers, I have known, have dedicated their entire life to AOL for the sake of spiritual well-being of people around them and to serve the masses. ”

      Sorry to say but they are not that great. For most of them, being an Art of Living teacher is a lifestyle choice. They are not doing it to serve the masses – they do it to serve their guru, because they like to preach, and because the real world is unbearable for them. That is the bitter truth.

      Moreover, it is okay to expose hypocrisy – if one preaches one thing, and practices another, one better expose them.

      People do deserve respect – unless of course they abuse their position as teachers of spirituality , or if they are imposters who are not qualified to teach spirituality. Again, many art of living teachers do not have spiritual depth, and act in a manner that is unbecoming of a teacher of spirituality (for there is a rishi, well known for sleeping around) – they deserve the brickbats they are getting.

  7. Abhilash Shastry permalink
    October 26, 2010 11:21 am

    ###you can keep critiquing AOL , however I suggest that the blog does not allow use of overtly foul language…###

    This from someone who has been consistently using overtly foul language against those who do not agree with him 🙂

    ###Hence I request you to respect this and disallow overtly slanderous comments against any guru…###

    Because you are offended?

    As the great Stephen Fry once said “You are offended, you are offended? Well, so f***ing what?”

    ###Senior art of living teachers, I have known, have dedicated their entire life to AOL for the sake of spiritual well-being of people around them and to serve the masses. Trust me ,this is an extremely difficult to do ,requires a huge heart, and they deserve some respect. So it will be nice if their personal lives are not touched.(For example: someone popping pills)..###

    Of course they deserve respect.

    The only people who don’t deserve respect are those who have left AOL. So as far as people who have left AOL are concerned, you can freely publish their medical history, their polarity/bipolarity, their personal lives and their parent’s personal lives on the web. You can invent couple of bogus boyfriends of theirs and make all sorts of outrageous allegations. That’s fine. They do not deserve respect anyway. But talking about AOL teachers is a different matter altogether. You know what I mean?

    • Prakash permalink
      October 27, 2010 8:40 am



  8. Think permalink
    October 26, 2010 12:48 pm

    @Skywalker: I think you did the right thing by removing Uma’s stuff. We are all human. We try to help one an other and do some good. Some times it gets taken to extremes in the name of Guru Seva by ignorant people who don’t have clarity about their values.

    In the end, we have to stand up for what is right and appreciate and enable the good happening in the world around us.

    Better be kind and compassionate than be mean , harsh and Judgemental.

    • Observer permalink
      October 26, 2010 3:36 pm

      Yes, and sometimes such ignorant people get encouraged tacitly by “Guru” himself. What to do, we are all human and have faults, INCLUDING “Guru”. That is what is important to remember.

  9. Bling Bling permalink
    October 26, 2010 4:08 pm


    You said “Hence I request you to respect this and disallow overtly slanderous comments against any guru.”

    Haven’t you done your TTC yet, where they train you to be immune to criticism ?
    Not enough money to do the course (wink) ?

    There are millions of people on the planet who will NEVER feel any reverence to SSRS.
    What are you going to do? Lash out at them the way you have done here ?
    Isn’t that fanaticism?

    You guys should seriously get some wisdom from SSRS on how to respond to attacks.

  10. BrightFaith permalink
    October 26, 2010 4:22 pm

    It’s great that Uma spoke up about her project and took the criticism gracefully. She is one of the few people from AoL other than Ann Goodwin who has offered any open dialog and showed a willingness to be transparent. I respect her for that. Others have just become defensive, calling people on here whiners, complainers, bi-polar, disgruntled or judgmental, even crazy, instead of listening.

    It’s amazing what a little open and real, honest discussion can do to clarify things and create an atmosphere of working together for a better world rather than Us (ex-Aolers) against Them (pro-AoLers). Uma, I appreciate you stepping up and offering some facts about your project. Best of luck with your work!

    I continue to think better charity work is accomplished through providing food, shelter and schools to people rather than spreading a belief system. I’m sure there are AoLers out there, like Uma and Johann, who do real charity work, but it’s concerning that many are raising all their own $ and live like paupers while RS and AoL take all the credit. Also concerning is the many vulnerable young people in particular being indoctrinated into what many people think to be a cult and the religious zeal of Aolers spreading their message.

  11. CharityScam permalink
    October 26, 2010 4:41 pm

    @Aditya Patil

    “If you have proofs of any money misuse, definitely publish it.”

    What more proof do you need than the following email from Uma, which clearly mentions where the money is ending up. This is a classic case of AOL’s deception to fill its coffers.

    “We are selecting 20 of our strongest youth leaders to be trained as fullycertified AoL, yoga, and Permaculture teachers in January. To support their training and 1 year of full-time service, we must raise$200,000 by December 31… “

  12. Question permalink
    October 26, 2010 7:31 pm

    Do people become Art of Living teachers to

    a. Serve the Guru
    b. Get spiritually enlightened
    C. Help other people on the path to enlightenment
    D. To get social respect in their social circles
    E. To preach and pontificate and boss over ( a way to display their aggressiveness) ?

  13. Peaceful Warrior permalink
    October 26, 2010 8:05 pm

    you should add:

    f. help people by giving them spiritual knowledge which puts an end to suffering

    which is the only good reason to preach – and of which there is little chance when the path leads you to become an AOL fanatic or sycophantic devotee. “Enlightenment” is an airy fairy concept – it’s good to motivate beginners, but it’s just like any other desire and can really cause you damage if you spend your life chasing it to the exclusion of living life(followers of MMY may have an experience of this). Spiritual illumination, oneness are better terms to use.

  14. The Doctor permalink
    October 27, 2010 8:40 am

    In India, Guru is regarded as someone even more close than a mother, and guru-sishya relationship is the ultimate relationship.

    I completely respect this, however is there any proof that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is really a Guru, other than his word and the word of his devotees? It seems to me that anyone can don a white robe, grow long hair and a beard, study the scriptures, and then start preaching this knowledge to others who are seeking spiritual guidance. Is this all one needs to become a Guru, or is there some sort of process or initiation that one has to undertake in order to do so? If so, has Sri Sri undertaken this?

    I suggest that the blog does not allow defamatory comments against Gurus who have passed on.

    I suggest that the blog does not allow defamatory comments period. And so far so good we haven’t. The purpose of this blog has never been to defame, it has been to critique and to expose. Defamation involves false accusations, whereas here we are only interested in exposing the truth. So for example if someone has committed atrocities during their lifetime, if that person dies it should never indemnify them from these wrong doings.

    So it will be nice if their personal lives are not touched.(For example: someone popping pills)

    This specific case is key to illustrate that Art of Living preaches one thing, namely that practicing Kriya regularly is all anyone needs in order to lead a healthy and balanced life and that in doing so there is no need to take any medication, whereas in reality, people who do practice regulary, and especially senior teachers who for the most part have been practicing a lot longer than everyone else, still suffer from the same ailments as everyone else. It is not meant as a personal attack on any specific teacher, but merely to illustrate that the practices themselves do not give anywhere near the benefits that are advertised by Art of Living.

    • Yoga permalink
      October 29, 2010 6:01 pm

      Kriya does lead to a healthier living. This is what I have experienced. It does minimize problems (probably postpones some problems). That does not mean that you are free of problems. It is a good idea to practice to Kriya along with Yoga and other exercises to lead a healthier life

  15. Trans permalink
    October 27, 2010 4:40 pm

    @ The doctor

    AOL doesn’t always mention that there is no need to take medications.
    I don’t think senior teachers are ‘practicing a lot longer’ than others.
    ‘someone popping pills’ was to expose the ‘blessers’ who are not free of ailments which they profess to remove.

  16. Kitapati permalink
    October 27, 2010 4:55 pm

    This is a candidate for a new post. This is a new insightful post on Ravishankar by a group of IIT students in India:

    PanIIT, a conglomeration of alumni of the seven Indian Institutes of Technology, is to hold its 2010 conclave from October 29-31 in New Delhi. The focal theme of the three-day meet is “Sustainable Transformation: Our New India“.

    “Participants would have the unique opportunity to tap into the experience of globally recognised thought leaders, to learn from peers in a collaborative learning environment…,” reads the mission statement.

    Among the globally recognised thought leaders providing gyan at the gab-fest are the likes of economist Jeffrey Sachs, technologist Nandan Nilekani and columnist Thomas L. Friedman.

    And “India’s future Nobel laureate“, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

    In session “S20″, on the concluding day of the conclave, “Mr Shankar” is expected to throw kindly light between 10.45 and 11.30 am. Not all IITians are enthused by the thought. Below is the full text of a press release issued by “PanIIT Ravi Shankar Protest Committee”:


    The mantra of PanIIT conclave for this year is “Sustainable Transformation: our new India”.

    Will Ravi Shankar be able to help us in being a role model in achieving this objective? Even a cursory glance at his achievement sans all the spin by the media will show how IIT alumni will be totally misled and get the wrong message.

    PanIIT conclave is an opportunity to send strong messages by inviting those leaders who have been successful in projecting good values. Ravi Shankar has certainly been a superb salesman in marketing sudarshan kriya. His Art of Living foundation has been successful in earning huge profits while being a charitable organization.

    Unfortunately, the values represented by his activities are not the ones for us to emulate. Especially when corruption is the top agenda item in India preventing the proper development of India, should we invite some one like Ravi Shankar?

    Would we invite Ambani brothers despite their enormous wealth to give a talk on values and sustainability?

    In one of the satsangs, when he was asked about global warming and climate change, Ravi Shankar seriously compared it to the Y2K problem, and how Y2K was not a problem and so also global warming. Either he was not aware of the enormous efforts by the world to avoid Y2K or he gave a wrong analogy.

    When he was asked how to solve Kashmir problem, his “insightful” comment was that youth should get involved. Was it supposed to be a joke?

    While the web sites of AOL give all the information about how to enroll for basic and advanced courses, how he has been involved in solving all the world problems like Iraq, Kashmir, Kosovo, Sri Lanka, there is no information on what happens to millions it has earned or the assets it has accumulated over the years.

    It is true AOL does help the poor, educate the needy and supports worth causes. So do many of our corrupt political leaders and unethical businessmen. Do such acts of goodwill wash their sins?

    Any charitable organisation seeking donation is expected to be transparent and publish its accounts. Why has AOL not published them? Has it paid any income taxes on its earnings as any business activity would? What kind of values it transmits when there is no transparency?

    It is possible to give a long list of reasons why inviting Ravi Shankar was a wrong decision. But the above short explanation should be more than adequate. Some of us protestors, even at the risk of being rude to an invited guest (we do feel guilty), wanted to send a message to organisers to be more vigilant in inviting the right kind of people for future conclaves. We also invite attendees even at this late stage to show our disappointment by not attending the event where Ravi Shankar would be speaking.

    Suresh Adina, Convener, PanIIT Ravi Shankar Protest Committee

  17. zhoro permalink
    October 28, 2010 1:47 am

    I had my second back surgery today in less than three years. Before my problems started, I practiced padma sadhana, kriya and meditation daily without miss. Apparently, the panacea for the world’s problems did not work in my case. Perhaps I got hurt due to my impurity, my doubts? Surely it couldn’t have been the practices! Or perhaps ‘the divine’ foresaw my defection and gave me what I deserved. AOL karma experts: any idea what went on here? Are my back problems Sri Sri’s gift to me? 🙂

  18. zhoro permalink
    October 28, 2010 2:09 am

    @harshal: How cavalier of you to allow people to critique AOL! Did you finally figure out that you were doing more damage to your org with your previous stance than anybody else posting here? Or did someone senior in the cult figure that one out for you?

    Anyway, if it were the distortion of Indian traditions that really hurt your feelings, then its really AOL you should take that up with. Although not Indian, I do know that Guru is closer than mother and father according to Indian tradition. That is because in that tradition Guru is your own Self and nothing can be closer than that. So I find it strange that you don’t mind Ravi Shankar having itserted himself as an intermediary there and convincing people that he is the Guru. Certainly, according to Indian tradition, he is not separate from the Guru either,as the Guru is all there ever is, but that’s not how RS plays the game, is it? So, perhaps he is for it from you once you realize he is the one bastardizing your tradition. RS will really learn what foul language is then, I suppose.

  19. backinaol permalink
    October 28, 2010 7:09 am

    Skywalker ,
    Really You will have to regret about what you are doing ,You really know who’s Guruji ,what are you achieving from you baseless comments , U r only showing out your frustration for not achieving somethin……

    • Peaceful Warrior permalink
      October 28, 2010 1:43 pm

      How do you know I/we have not achieved something. For that matter how does criticizing AOL make be a loser. Do you mean to say the people in the Pan-IIT who criticize RS are also losers ????

      We do really know who RS is – question is do you ?

  20. belle permalink
    October 28, 2010 11:36 am

    so do you actually beleive that aol is a charity now?
    otherwise why delete your post

    • The Doctor permalink
      October 29, 2010 10:31 am

      Not a chance in hell.

      Although the post was taken down, the issue is very much still open and isn’t going to go away. It will definitely be looked at again, and sooner rather than later.

  21. The Doctor permalink
    October 31, 2010 3:31 am

    @observer – you are assuming things here. You do not have all the facts. How can u assume that in Haiti they are charging for the courses? It is not even a realistic assumption. Are you 100% sure that AOL is charging fees in Haiti. If Okay…Uma did not mention it…did you ask her if they are charging fees.


    Two very important things which should convince anybody 100% that charity money raised by IAHV for Haiti is being paid to AoL:

    1) Here is what Uma herself said on her original email:

    We are selecting 20 of our strongest youth leaders to be trained as fully certified AoL, yoga, and Permaculture teachers in January. To support their training and 1 year of full-time service, we must raise $200,000 by December 31…

    Now assuming Uma is telling the truth, this means that at least some of the money raised is going to Art of Living for training fees.

    2) When Uma eventually responded on the blog, she made the following comment:

    iii. Our 3-month Teacher Training Course (which includes AoL TTC, the Dharma Mitra Yoga TTC, and the Permaculture TTC) will cost $90,000, and covers:
    – housing rental, food and transportation costs for 20 Youth Corps members and 5 staff and trainers for 3 months
    – monthly stipends for 20 Youth Corps members (set at market rate for similar jobs in Haiti)
    – agricultural material (including gardening tools, seeds, soil), and administrative materials (including laptops for youth leader teams, printers, copier for training site)
    – travel and stipends for permaculture trainers and yoga teacher trainers
    – travel for Art of Living teachers trainer, Advanced course and Sahaj teacher (no stipend)
    – the salary of a Haitian Country Director, a house manager, cook and my salary as program director

    At no point does Uma mention the training is free. If it was free, it would have been the first thing she said, because that would have disproven the original allegation being made, that money from IAHV goes to Art of Living.

    No one is making any assumptions here whatsoever. The above clearly shows that money from IAHV is being paid to Art of Living, which was the whole point of the original post.

    • Yoga permalink
      November 1, 2010 3:35 am

      “No one is making any assumptions here whatsoever” – just read Observer’s post. He is making an assumption. You are also making an assumption thinking AOL collect fees from Haitians who cannot even get one meal. Get the facts first. you may be right or AOL may be right…but get the facts first. My point to you is don’t accuse anyone without getting the facts. It is better to ask Uma for an explanation.

  22. The Doctor permalink
    November 1, 2010 8:33 am


    “No one is making any assumptions here whatsoever” – just read Observer’s post. He is making an assumption.

    I did read Observer’s psot, where he says:

    @Yoga: Proof for what, something which Uma has already stated clearly? I am taking her words as factual; if you do not believe her, you have to ask her for proof, not me.

    Observer is clearly not making any assumptions here, he/she is merely going on what we have already been told by Uma.


    You are also making an assumption thinking AOL collect fees from Haitians who cannot even get one meal.

    I said no such thing! You are completely twisting my words here, as at no point have I even hinted at this nor have I left any room for ambiguity in my post. What I have clearly stated is “that money from IAHV goes to Art of Living. .” Not once is there any mention that “AOL collect fees from Haitians”.

    We already have the facts straight, from an explanation which Uma has already given us, both in her original email and in her follow up response on this blog, which I have quoted above. All we have done is to reiterate what she has stated, and as such what we have said is based neither on speculation nor on hearsay. The only assumption we have made is that Uma is telling the truth, and I find no reason to believe she isn’t.

    So to reiterate once more, based on what Uma has told us, money collected as charity by IAHV is being paid to Art of Living. Please do not try to twist my words again, and please stop asking us to prove something which has already clearly been proven.

  23. Alpana Sadya permalink
    November 1, 2010 9:04 am

    I think it is Mr. Yoga who is making assumptions here. What makes these lackeys assume that AOL is doing FREE courses in Haiti?

    It is a known fact that AOL is a greedy organization and Mr. Ravi Shankar never leaves an opportunity if there is money in it. If due to any reason Mr. Ravi Shankar is not able to extract money for any of his ventures his PR doctors leave no stone unturned to blow it from rooftops as the greatest charity ever done to mankind. So, if AOL is indeed doing FREE course in Haiti, I expect to see a full front page advertisement in Times of India about how great this guru is.

    People like Ravi Shankar who sell spirituality to build their personal empire do not deserve legal niceties. Such people are worse than petty criminals. They should be treated guilty as charged unless proved otherwise. If they are indeed doing any charity in Haiti, onus is on him and his lackeys like Mr. Yoga to prove it, not the other way round.

    • Original Anon - Sincere Confused Seeker permalink
      November 1, 2010 11:08 am

      @Alpana … Both the possibilities are assumptions.. the fact is that we do not know whether the courses are free or government sponsored or charged.. I do not think they would be charging fees out there in Haiti.. as in prisons, VIP and police courses usually one doesn’t charge fees… It would be nice if Uma(or anybody else in Haiti) could clarify the same..

      @ All….. Also I was wondering It would be nice to find out Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s level of involvement in the Art of Living as I once heard in a small close devotee session somebody asked him if he had made any mistakes in life and he said that he had made only one mistake in his life and that was starting this organization(AoL)….. Maybe the organization has become so big that to support itself it needs money … so He is starting out on organizing new courses such as the GP, and also starting out with Sumeru and Sri Sri University… I do know for a fact that sometimes honorariums for courses to teachers are delayed by almost an year.. and the auditing is very slow .. .. slow alright but does it have integrity? It would be so nice if AoL came out with the balance sheets to set things right… is it possible that things are so slow that it would take quite some amount of work to bring out … Whatever the case the fact is that people are questioning and the answers need to be quantitative(for all countries, not just US) and definite … how much received? and how much spent where? and how much in salaries etc.. simple questions .. and simple answers needed…..

      Another thing I was wondering.. is that other reputed social organizations and corporations also do not publish their balance sheets on their website… i was wondering if this is the case is it right to push AoL to publish the info? For one the AoLites are also so pushy so it doesn’t matter but then we should look from all perspectives rather than jump to conclusions…

  24. Peaceful Warrior permalink
    November 1, 2010 3:35 pm

    This is not the first or the only time the organization has been asked to come clean. They have never done so. Indeed, incompetence does not imply corruption – but it indeed does make you wonder – how come they are slow with being transparent, but not at all slow when it comes to selling courses, or starting Sumeru Realty, Sumeru Software, Iniwex Pharma – or for that matter staying in presidential suite of waldorf astoria (where heads of states usually stay).

    You may wonder where the money for the capital investments, and pursuit of luxury and status symbols comes from (and wonder you will, because AOL/VVM is never transparent). Ultimately, it is worth pondering whether this sort of spirituality which seeks luxury, and needs status symbols to affirm itself is real spirituality.

    Are these questions coming from low-prana/stressed mind or someone who has not tasted AOL ?
    People believe in Ravi Shankar because they want to believe in a savior, and that knowledge is pure, so teacher has to be pure. Ravi Shankar exploits these needs – he talks big, but does not walk the talk – better to judge him by actions, not words.

  25. 2bit permalink
    November 1, 2010 8:37 pm

    >>Real Spirituality?
    Generally 5% hog 30% of resources thus pushing rest into stress due to lack of resources, while they themselves suffer stress in order to maintain their prime pouncing positions. Spirituality is a force that tips the balance towards a fairer redistribution of resources causing a greater harmony between haves and have nots. Can AOL be seen as such an instrument to channel resources from “haves” to “have nots”? If yes, then the talk about luxury suites etc is dwelling in trivialities. Where else are you going to meet those who may be having more than fair share of the pie? What’s wrong in trying to influence stress at the source?

    The real issue to me is…does AOL cause any trickle down at all? If it does, then it still is a spiritual force…you may not like its extent and the methods, but still it might a working machine. There’re many nobler sounding notions (such as communism), that don’t translate into any real greater good. What would be better is to compare AOL to another organization in terms of the “better” trickle effect if at all.

    • Dayalu permalink
      November 2, 2010 12:38 am

      But 2bit is no AOL insider. Just doing homework before taking the AOL course. Wow!

      • goneagain permalink
        November 2, 2010 1:38 am

        Good one Dayalu.

    • Mahesh permalink
      November 2, 2010 4:28 am


      “Spirituality is a force that tips the balance towards a fairer redistribution of resources causing a greater harmony between haves and have nots….”

      Beware when you have to keep changing definitions of spirituality just to cope up with the shifting sand below your feet.

      • 2bit permalink
        November 2, 2010 2:37 pm

        …spirit is greater field of existence, and an action that embraces “more”
        instead of “few” is spirituality to me…is it based on some dressing code? or where/how one sits?
        where one stays? I would like to hear your notions.

      • Hah permalink
        November 2, 2010 3:26 pm

        where one stays? I would like to hear your notions.
        And I would like to hear your “notions” of why you lied before that you are ‘just doing homework, but never been in AoL’. Or are you still going to maintain that farce?

      • November 3, 2010 2:08 am

        My thoughts about your thought that AOL is spiritual since it’s impacting rich people and making them virtuous and hence contributing to society.

        We don’t know what constitutes the greater field of existence, until it reveals itself through evolution. We can look at the history and say that as people evolve, organizations centered around the personality cult fall away. People discover their inner guru and will find it hard to accept anybody else their guru. So, in that sense, AOL can be said to less spiritual than other personal developmental organizations where distribution of responsibility and powers is more equitable. (for eg modern IT corporate vs a factory being run in a third world country. a western democracy vs an african monarchy).

        About resources being redistributed, that’s economy for you. As long as there exists an economy, resources will keep getting redistributed and AOL is contributing only upto the extent of increasing the business/economy just like anyother business (for eg a business selling wedding/vacation/lifestyle packages to the rich). However, it’s organizational behaviour is not the one to emulate since it’s ancient and less mature.

  26. Peaceful Warrior permalink
    November 2, 2010 12:15 am


    Did you ever see mother teresa or gandhi engage in such shenanigans ? It is quite possible to do great amount of charity and good work without engaging in such pomp. It might actually be counterproductive. Do you really think the CEO of United Way indulges in such displays.

    Indeed the sophistication of a saint lies in his simplicity. He may be surrounded by princes – but his needs will be very little.

    Indeed, the only other saint who used to do so it is MMY. Pride is the vice of the virtuous and often forms the gateway to hell. The whole thing about being a king is the image RS wants to have and project. RS needs these status symbols to boost his ego and feel that he is following in his guru’s footsteps. That’s about it. It does not serve any other purpose.

    This is okay in the real world. People have egos and they indulge themselves in it with their own money. For a saint to demand being revered by being put up on a high altar is a sign of his smallness. On it’s own, it may be a small thing one can ignore – but when you see that it fits a pattern of self-aggrandizement and need for luxury, one is only left to wonder how this is spiritual at all.

    The purpose of Art of Living is not to serve society – rather it is to serve the leader and family by spreading his business.

  27. 2bit permalink
    November 2, 2010 2:32 am

    Mother Teresa was great soul, and United way do good work, we need them.
    But I doubt that kind of work can transform vanity, greed and violence perpetuated by those few who are lurking in those luxury suites. And Gandhi was a PR genius. Those french journalist that followed him made countless documentaries that routinely put British greed to shame. And they made sure he was always in news. 🙂

    You seem to have a script for “how a saint should be” Rather, I would like to understand if the person is trying to address the prime stress inducing instincts in any society. If that’s the case then he/she is doing something important. Saint or not…who cares?

    • Peaceful Warrior permalink
      November 2, 2010 4:50 am

      So, you think Art of Living is bringing about social transformation while gandhi was merely doing “good work” ? What brand of Kool-Aid have you been drinking ?

      Yes I do have some minimum expectations of how a saint should be. Why should I not ? Is there anything wrong in demanding high standards of excellence and virtue from a person claiming to be a spiritual master.

      One can be a transformative figure without being a guru (many statesmen for example)- but for someone claiming to be a master, saintly – or sattvic qualities are expected. Someone who propagates virtues has to have those virtues.

      Do you really think a guru needs to emulate the lifestyle of the rich and famous to connect with them ? Isn’t that an endorsement of their lifestyle rather than a transformation ?

      A society’s spirituality is the bedrock on which all it’s values and hence it’s prosperity rests. A guru is a heavyweight in the area of spirituality. The growth of a society thus depends on few key individuals who are the source of those values. (Guess why gandhi is called father of the nation) Much is expected from a guru – much more than someone who weans rich kids away from drugs and fast-lifestyle.

      Worse Ravi-Shankar postures himself to be such a figure – and that attracts both donations and volunteering from public spirited people. But he is a pretender – not the real thing. The reason i point out his conduct is because it betrays the real nature which lurks behind the mask. AOL is a business and just like a business it’s motive is profit and not much else. Every business does some good but to claim that it is spirituality – or even highest knowledge is quite far from the truth.

    • Observer permalink
      November 2, 2010 5:52 am

      You seem to have a prescription for all of society’s problems – “cure stress”. Apparently, anyway to do that is ok, even if you turn people into hyperventilated zombies as a result of trying to “cure”.
      Sorry, sometimes the means are as important as the ends.
      And, fyi, the so-called 3-5% who hog 30% or more of all resources in society – many of them also cause a lot of “trickle down”, who cares if they are saint or not??

    • Bling Bling permalink
      November 2, 2010 12:56 pm

      >>> And Gandhi was a PR genius.


      And SSRS is not ?

    • anonymous permalink
      November 2, 2010 4:05 pm

      Please reread some of “Klim’s” blog which contains first hand stories of ugly behavior and very very very unsaintly behavior on the part of Ravi Shankar, as well as the beginnings of the greed and corruption which has morphed into a monster today as AOL. How can you even wonder if he is doing “good work”? Anyone who can act the way he has acted, under many and various circumstances, when threat of exposure as to who and what he really is presents itself, could never be anything good for society. Sorry 2-bit. If you are actually researching whether to do the basic course, just don’t do it. AOL and Ravi Shankar are “sugar coated poison” to quote the man’s own master, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He may be a fallen yogi, but fallen he has. There may be good people on the fringes of AOL who are just trying to do good. But your money is better spent giving to the poor directly, not to AOL and Ravi Shankar. If you have something to spend, spend it wisely. Help those who need help if you can. Ravi Shankar is the most confused, most deceitful, most elaborate liar of any human being I’ve ever met.

    • righton permalink
      November 3, 2010 12:26 am

      Of course, you are right on 2bit, there is no comparison between mortals like Mother Teresa or Gandhi and God Incarnate your beloved Guruji. JGD

  28. 2bit permalink
    November 2, 2010 2:31 pm

    >>while gandhi was merely doing “good work” ?
    How did you interprete that from my post is mystery to me…You read first sentence and 3rd and skipped the middle? Kool-Aid huh? Gandhi is my hero, and he didn’t shy away from PR is what I wanted to imply. Good PR is a very important aspect of any movement. Looking forward to you misinterpretation of that….

    If you “know” how to be a “great” guru, demonstrate that…do something concrete…do you have enough love and courage for that?

    • November 3, 2010 11:54 am

      @2bit, a great guru just like miracle ash producing sai baba. It needs conviction more than love and courage. ( a lot of sane and ethical people will not have the conviction for it)

  29. Peaceful Warrior permalink
    November 2, 2010 3:14 pm

    Yes gandhi knew was a smart man and skilled in generating buzz – but he was not a spin machine like RS. Read his autobiography – he details everything he did in his life – even intimate details like spending a night with naked women to see if he had control over his impulses.

    Whatever you may say about his philosophy on dietetics and sex – you gotta admire his courage to be himself in front of the world just the way he was. Satyagraha was so powerful because it was based on truth, and gandhi was a man of great integrity and character – which is why people rallied around him, and why people revere him to this day. He would never have let the finances of his organization be opaque.

    By contrast Ravi Shankar gives elusive answers to even simple questions like – why do you charge fees ? or what was your association with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi ? Or Why did you publish a book on islam which was by your own admission, full of mistakes ?

    “If you “know” how to be a “great” guru, demonstrate that…do something concrete…do you have enough love and courage for that?”

    You speak like a bad movie producer who blames the critic for trashing his film – asking him to make his own film instead. Do you really think one has to be a guru himself to point out a false guru ? And what makes you think I don’t do concrete things on my own.

    The reason I was part of Art of Living for a short while was that because i felt that by being a part of an organization of like minded people the impact of my work would be much more. But I came to realize later that the guru had fooled all the good people – he was not interested in service, only self-aggrandizement and $$ for himself and his family. AOL service is really a facade for something more sinister. Ravi Shankar is a false guru – and sooner or later people will realize it. This ship is gonna sink.

    • 2bit permalink
      November 13, 2010 2:24 am

      I dont’ know if AOL is fake or not? I tend to give them benefit of doubt, and many like Uma seem to do a lot more concrete work than I am doing. I respect that. They seem to be inspired by AOL, and I think that is something concrete to AOL’s credit…perhaps you are doing lot more than that to come up with these notions, benchmarks and expectations…but I have to give you the benefit of doubt too… and not revealing your name must be convenient to make such claims.

      I agree with the last part of your post, if they are a facade they will go down, that’s the way it should be…and if you really know something you should come out with it, like fearless Gandhi you so rever…and not like some fake profile names…that has no courage or credibility.

      Happy Diwali to all!

      • Abhilash Shastry permalink
        November 13, 2010 9:10 am

        Yes PW. You should be fearless like “2bit” about your identity.


        BTW, is your name “2” and family name “bit” or you write your name “bit” before your family name “2”?

  30. belle permalink
    November 3, 2010 12:40 pm

    Well said PW! 2bit’s responses are like that of any true cult follower. i get such ppl like that in my own cult. every cult has a few totally sincere but sadly deluded individuals who just refuse to see the truth of the cult theyre in.

    they will in time though, because no false guru is going to turn out to be true, no matter how hard the guru and devotees try to make it!

  31. Original Anon - Sincere Confused Seeker permalink
    November 3, 2010 1:52 pm

    @ PW… Regarding Guru’s who amass wealth, Osho also was known to flaunt his Rolls Royce and Rolex Diamond watches…..

    @Blog Owner & Top Contributors…. Hi all.. reading this blog does give me an alternative perspective and many a times gives me comfort too…

    Off late even while being in Art of Living I suddenly noticed that I do not really like anyone out here.. neither do I like the Swamis/Rishis/ Most of the teachers / Volunteers/Singers etc etc… with Guruji its like a love hate thing… In my 9 years I never felt any belonging to any of the teachers

    Honestly right now I am facing a barrier in the path of Yoga and in life… and worst of all I cannot trust any of the one’s in AoL to talk to….

    Sometimes I feel that this blog goes too much into mud slinging and reacting both against and for AoL.

    This blog takes away a spiritual support even if it is fake… and leaves one empty…. Now I neither can organize AoL courses because I feel I may be doing something morally wrong nor am I able to fully detach myself from AoL as the practices do feel meditative and beneficial… Honestly suddenly I have noticed an aversion to Sri Sri’s growing popularity and power which was always there but I never expressed it because I thought it was my negative tendency… It could still be jealosy.. I dunno .. even now I suddenly feel a surge of love towards Guruji.. even now when I read Sri Sri as I know Him .. tears well up in my eyes… If AoL does indeed is fake it will be a big relief for me.. because that self blame for not enough registrations to the courses and not being able to organize big courses will go… One often feels bad about oneself because one is not able to organize big courses.. people who organize big courses are considered superior and glorified more than people who are unable to do so…

    Do big courses and the ability to enroll participants help oneself in one’s growth?

    Anand Rajendran and Mahesh giri can often energize the crowd?….

    My request to the blog owners and to the key contributors is let this blog while it takes away spiritual support also provide guidance to alternate spiritual dimensions and paths (genuine one’s) so that one doesn’t be so empty.. Just because AoL is fake(if it really is fake) doesn’t mean that all paths are fake…. Spirituality, Meditation, Prayer, Vedic Rituals still hold value and power…..

    Some of you don’t feel the need to be on a spiritual path… but some of us do feel the need to meditate and be on a path.. be in the company of seekers(genuine ones) …. And do need answers…..

    Honestly as of now I need some opinions on Yogada Satsang Society of India, I feel it is pretty genuine.. I want somebody’s opinion on the practice of Kriya Yoga.. how is it…

    Even after 9 years of practice of Sudarshan Kriya and Sahaj … I feel like a loser and have very little control over my senses.. There is very little increase in will power.. Is it because of the practices or is there some problem in me… I find heavy breathing can actually imbalance the Vata and also the Pitta…

    Is the experience of other teachers also or is it only my experience….

    Are there any practices in YSS that can help the mind go inward and not hanker for outward things…

    Are there any other seekers that have abandoned ship on AoL and have gone elsewhere?

    I don’t want to abandon my search for Self Realization… And also need to get rid of the conflict in the mind

  32. Peaceful Warrior permalink
    November 3, 2010 3:13 pm

    @Original Anon – Why bring other gurus into this ? Osho’s thing about rolls royces is questionable too – he did have quite a personal income from royalties, but I doubt it was that much. On the other hand Osho did everything openly – the donors knew what they were getting into – he never claimed that he was doing charity unlike sri sri who uses it as a guise to earn personal wealth.

    Your other concerns are very touching. I also felt the same thing – the energy of satsang is quite amazing – to be around like minded people and celebrate and serve together is quite awesome.

    Maybe it is not as simple as just joining an organization. Maybe one has to work towards it every moment. Myself, I have continued meditating, reading scriptures, and striving to live each moment in accordance with my highest values, and making the bridge to the divine ever stronger.

    The bliss, leaves you for a while, but it comes back because that is the nature of consciousness that you are.

  33. belle permalink
    November 3, 2010 5:03 pm

    @Original Anon – Sincere Confused Seeker
    “This blog takes away a spiritual support even if it is fake… and leaves one empty…. ”

    i too empathise with your concerns, but then the truth is a very bitter pill to swallow but it doesnt leave you empty.
    there are people out there, spiritual predators who are there to prey on your most sincerest longings, its best to be cautious and not play pretend that they dont exist.

    as for your question on kriya yoga, good luck to you. i dont know much about the teacher you mention, he may be genuine, atleast i hope he is. i do know of prem rawat and he is on a similar branch i think, and he’s as fake as they come.

    again PW has said it better then i ever could when he said “The bliss, leaves you for a while, but it comes back because that is the nature of consciousness that you are.”

  34. wassup permalink
    November 3, 2010 10:05 pm

    Man this post really sucks. It just goes to show that Skywalker is a complete pussy. Apparently he got so scared from the threats from the art of living that he felt he had to apologizes and remove all traces of incorrect thought. By sacrificing the original poster, he believes he can pacify the monster of aol. What a looser! Apparently he have not yet understood the Art of Living cult and what it has done to him.
    I have never ever seen a project in the aol which was actually humanitarian. It was all scams through and through. And all the fulltimers I know have seen the same. So if aol wants to repudiate this they just have to make public the funds collected and where they go it is that simple. Now this is not in any way an outrageous. request. Aol is, in all the countries they work and all there marketing materials they make, claiming humanitarian status. They are getting tax liberties and social liberties, spending the cultural capital put in the bank by hardworking real humanitarian organizations, in order to rake in money and power to its cultish head. It is a general practice used more and more by fringe cults, political organisations etc. and it is tearing down the civil society and there by undermining our civilisation. It is pretty close to be a crime against humanity in my eyes.

    And what is there answer, that they are incorporated in Swisserland so they dont have to pay tax, and that they will only disclose information to the biggest contributors. Now that is as close to a straight out confession as you can get. I am to tired of this monstorous organisation, to start explaining why these staments are not only criminal but also against every single value of civilized societies. Like with everything else these people are just human trash.

    And to Skywalker whole thesis about there being good and innocent people in aol. Not true. We might have blinded our selves to the reality, but we where all guilty, and all the people now in the aol is guilty sad as it is.

    So now this whole sad story of skywalker once freedom fighter now the gatekeeper of statements about the aol that are proper and those that needs to be deleted and excused.

    Sky-once rebel now aol apologist-walker grow some balls, and stop giving sri sri head he has lots of sevak who is allready doing the job.

    And erase the Satre quote to your signature, because you are really not worthy of it!

    • November 4, 2010 7:21 pm

      “…whole thesis about there being good and innocent people in aol. Not true.”
      I was there. So were a lot of my friends. All of us were good people, and innocent. We left to remain that way, when we realized that we had been duped. Today, a lot of people are going through that same proces, and it takes time to recondition your mind and see the guru for what he really is: a fake. That takes courage, and support from people who have been through the same hell of disillusionment and fear.
      You, my friend, are probably not helping these people by judging them so harshly. But hey, if it makes you feel good and righteous, go ahead, knock yourself out.

  35. belle permalink
    November 5, 2010 12:59 pm

    i agree with skywalker, i think you are judging people too harshly.
    maybe for you, looking from the outside in, you can see it as a cult.
    but for the people who are trapped within a cult, its not so easy.

    its not as easy thing to do, if you have spent the better part of your life in a cult, to just “snap out of it”, which seems to be what you are saying.

    like with anything else traumatic in your life that happens people need time to heal and put themselves back together again.

    your response of just snapping out of it is almost as bad as my ex guru who tells us to “just walk”. its trite at best.

    it doesnt help.

    • anonymous permalink
      November 5, 2010 1:26 pm


      You would be right if all those “trapped” were there because they really believed! But my direct experience is having senior teachers tell me that RS “doesn’t even know anything, and doesn’t know what you are thinking. Just say ‘yes’ to him all the time and get along….” and “where else would I go? I’ve given up my career and can’t now go back to it after so many years….” I’m not making this up. These things and many more were said to me by several senior teachers in AOL. Of course I left. That and my own increasingly negative personal experience with RS made me know that it is a cult, filled with deceptive people and headed by a man who has his own agenda which is not for others, but for himself and his family. I just wasn’t interested in this. Now, since leaving I’ve told people about my experiences and those of others. But they just refuse to listen. They stay anyway. For what reasons? Because they don’t care what happens to people as long as it isn’t happening to them. They like the rush feeling they get around RS and that’s all they care for. If he hurts others it doesn’t make a difference to them as long as they are getting the “high” feeling of energy. Never mind that it goes away, is not permanent, doesn’t last. They just go back for more. It’s an illness, like drug addiction.

  36. belle permalink
    November 5, 2010 1:13 pm

    and also you are calling skywalker alot of names but it isnt easy to stand up to the entire might of a huge organisation that is powerful and rich you know.

    cults have a lot of money to spend on lawyers etc etc and use their power to shut critical sites down you know.

    i see the same behaviour in my own ex cult (prem rawat).
    the number of times they tried to shut our websites down by whatever loop in the law they could find even shocked me and i may be young but i aint naive!!!

    cults try to take away your right to free speech if they dont like it.

    its not easy to stand up to them you know!


  1. From A Confused and Sincere AoL Teacher « Beyond The Art of Living
  2. From A Confused and Sincere AoL Teacher « Beyond The Art of Living

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: