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General Response to AoL Extremists on This Blog

May 3, 2011

It seems that over time a number of individuals have surfaced on this blog who I can only term “Art of Living Extremists” since they appear to be trying desperately hard to prevent us from achieving what we have set out to do in this blog, in many cases employing extreme and unpleasant behaviour to achieve this end.

Rather than waste time responding to individual comments, and since the same questions and comments keep coming up over and over again, I thought I’d save us all a great deal of time and effort and collate the various responses which would have been posted to the individual comments here. Many of these things have been covered adequately elsewhere, but it seems that these people are determined to overlook them and choose to see only what they wish to see.

Although a lot of the comments posted by these individuals actually help to support this blog, some comments are just outright spam and don’t serve any purpose whatsoever. As such, from now on anything which falls into this category will simply be deleted.

The Purpose of This Blog
Firstly, to expose the lies, deceit, fraud, corruption, hypocrisy, unethical practices and the various physical, psychological and spiritual abuses in Art of Living.

Secondly, to all those who have been part of Art of Living and who have since left, or to those who are having doubts and who are thinking about leaving, to offer support, encouragement and a place of healing from their experiences.

For a more detailed overview, see: The Purpose of These Blogs

Posting Anonymously
We post anonymously for the following reasons:

  1. We are genuinely concerned about what Art of Living can do to us if they discover our identities. Swami Sadyojatha’s letter in which he outright names and disgraces an ex-teacher combined with the lawsuit which Art of Living foundation is trying to bring against a number of key bloggers is enough reason for this precaution.
  2. We do not wish our names to be associated with what we have every reason to believe is a dangerous religious cult.

Calling us Cowards
In response to those of you who call us cowards for posting anonymously, you are actually admitting that if we were to come forward with our real identities then there is indeed something to be afraid of. Think about it.

Criticism versus Negativity/Hatred
Many of you seem to think that we are just pouring out negativity and hatred towards Art of Living, but nothing could be further from the truth. The majority of us have already talked about our positive experiences, and continue to point these things out in spite of your accusations.

Rishiji Nitya Pragya elaborates on the idea of looking at both sides of the coin during his talks, and that is exactly what we are doing in these blogs: considering both the positive and the negative aspects of Art of Living side by side. You can deny theses things to yourselves as long as you like, but deep down inside I suspect that the reason you even visit these blogs in the first place is because you know that they are true yet you are trying desperately hard to convince yourselves otherwise.

Lies and Defamation
Many of you have called us liars and claim that we are defaming SSRS, although as yet you have been unable to point to anything specific that you believe is a lie. Let me tell you right now, the reason this blog carries so much weight and is seen as a such a threat to Art of Living is for the simple reason that it contains so much truth that Art of Living is very scared of its existence and is trying to do everything to silence us.

If we resorted to lies or defamation, we would be exposed soon enough and this would damage the reputation of this blog. However, because of the various truths printed in its pages, and because of the personal experiences which resonate with so many readers, this blog has actually gone from strength to strength and will continue to do so far into the future.

Sudarshan Kriya Download and Notes
To those who have criticized us for posting links to the Sudarshan Kriya download and notes, doing this actually serves the purpose of this blog in the following ways:

  1. It exposes one of the most fundamental lies told by Art of Living to anyone who has ever taken the Basic Course, and that is that the tape does not work without a teacher present. It also exposes the biggest lie told to those who are about to undertake TTC, that “Guruji’s Grace” is responsible for the positive effects of Kriya. Those who have downloaded the MP3 have verified for themselves that these things are simply not true.
  2. It then follows that those who still wish to practice Long Kriya can do so without having to travel to and from their local Art of Living center, further freeing them from any bonds they otherwise had to Art of Living, and in some cases saving them costs they would have otherwise incurred in going to a Long Kriya session.
  3. Although Sudarshan Kriya may have some benefits, too many individuals have reported unpleasant side effects, especially after prolonged practice over a period of several years. The Sudarshan Kriya notes actually contain a number of dangers and precautions when it comes to practicing Kriya, and as such we strongly feel that those who wish to practice Kriya, or those who are considering learning it, need to be informed of these dangers and precautions.

To date, not one person has been able to provide any explanation whatsoever as to why the Kriya tape works with no teacher present.

To date, not one person has been able to explain why Art of Living inform teachers that Guruji’s Grace is responsible for the positive effects of the Kriya, and not the breathing itself, when clearly this has been proven to be a lie.

To date, not one person has been able to provide a satisfactory explanation as to why Art of Living tells participants that the Sudarshan Kriya has only positive effects and no side effects whatsoever, even though a) the SK notes clearly mention the various precautions, and b) Art of Living teachers tell particpants that any negative effects experienced are actually the body “cleansing toxins” and are to be expected.

Money Issues
One of the biggest criticisms on this blog is that whilst course participants are told that after expenses, all money collected from courses goes to charitable projects, SSRS and family control a number of for-profit organizations including Sumeru Realty, Sumeru Solutions and Inwinex pharmaceuticals.

The question that is asked over and over again is simply: where did the money to start these companies come from, if not from the charity money collected from AoL courses, given that the family had no money prior to Art of Living? This question still remains unanswered, and has been completely ignored by anyone associated with Art of Living.

Along similar lines is the question, where did the money for SSRS’s nephews’ education in the US come from?

Both these questions, and any other similar questions relating to money, remain completely unanswered.

Money Collected for Charitable Projects
A common complaint from Art of Living supporters on this blog is that we are criticizing AoL for charging a large sum of money for courses, however since this money is purportedly going to charitable projects we shouldn’t complain.

A large number of accounts on these blogs, including comments made by those who are still associated with AoL, has revealed that in truth many charitable projects are funded directly by one or more individuals as seva, and with no financial help whatsoever from AoL. And in all cases, Art of Living ends up taking the credit for these things, in spite of not providing any support whatsoever.

One of the biggest questions raised on this blog and which is as yet unanswered is: how much money collected from AoL course fees actually goes towards charitable projects?

We know that at least the following expenses are incurred: cost of upkeep of all ashrams , cost of paying full-time teachers (yes, they do get paid contrary to what AoL publicize, that they are volunteers), cost of Sri Sri and family travel (business class on planes, five star hotel accomodation). The underlying issue is that once the money is paid for courses (which indicidentally is done as a “donation”), the donors have no idea where specifically their money goes.

Another question which needs to be asked is: how many charitable projects are actually supported by AoL, and can anyone provide a list? How much money has AoL contributed to these projects, and how much money was raised in the name of charity in the first place?

We have also heard accounts of money which was raised to support a number of full-time teachers but which was never given to them, and as such they had to fend for themselves, often in appalling conditions.

So another question this raises is: AoL claims it teaches free courses, especially in poor parts of India. How many of these courses are actually financed by AoL, and how many are supported from funds raised directly by the teacher and with no support from AoL?

Of the free courses which are taught, how many actually include Sudarshan Kriya?

These are all legitimate questions about facts which charities in general make publicly available. Why doesn’t Art of Living?

Behaviour of AoL Extremists on This Blog
Many of you have been highly abusive, angry, full of hatred, hypocritical, deceitful, fanatical about the organization you are trying to defend, and in short anything but spiritual. This sort of behaviour has led many to believe that Art of Living is full of people like you, and although this reinforces much of what is said in the blog about Art of Living and its followers, it is also completely unfair on all the well-meaning individuals who are actually practicing the knowledge and trying to do good in the world. In short, you are ruining it for all of them and will end up driving them out.

If you wish to live in denial, in complete ignorance of these issues, that is entirely up to you. However, please don’t come here and try to cover up the wrong-doings in Art of Living and to pull the wool over peoples’ eyes. You and everyone else before you who has tried to do this has so far failed, and will continue to do so. In fact, up until now not one person in Art of Living has successfully challenged any of what is written in these blogs, and as such nothing as yet has been refuted.

All the issues in this post and in many other posts throughout this blog still need addressing. I strongly recommend you ask Sri Sri about the things written here, especially the lies we have already exposed about Sudarshan Kriya and the questions pertaining to the money issues mentioned above. When you have answers to these questions, please come back here and post them on this blog, as many of us will be interested to hear what Art of Living has to say about these issues.

But whatever you decide to do, know that it is our duty to expose all the wrong doings in Art of Living and that if you don’t like what you’re reading here, please feel free to leave. No one invited you here and believe me no one will miss you if you do eventually go.

That you choose to come on this blog and abuse people who in some cases have been traumatized by their experiences, and even sexually abused, is beyond reproach. It is indicative of the sickness that seems to stem from the core of the organization and we will do everything we can to expose you and expose those at the core who are responsible for this.

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50 Comments
  1. meditator permalink
    May 3, 2011 7:59 pm

    I ‘m with you sir. Lets just expose the hypocrites.

  2. Observer Jr. permalink
    May 3, 2011 8:04 pm

    Excellent post.

    I agree, it’s probably come time to delete the Harshal and his clones spam Nothing wrong with challenging people on here, but the silly name-calling and threats are getting old. Funny how so much spam came here right after I declared how nice this blog was without them.

  3. Peaceful Warrior permalink
    May 3, 2011 8:26 pm

    Good job – but it won’t stop them from coming here to take a piss. If they were the kind to actually read and think about what’s written, then we would not have had the problem in the first place.

  4. May 4, 2011 2:51 am

    Great Post. I have a small disagreement with you though. I don’t think Harshal and his ilk should be deleted from the blog. Dissent, even stupid, obnoxious dissent serves a purpose. I find it helpful. Some times when I read this blog I think that it is too one sided and that there is more nuance involved than what is being present. When I read an opposing opinions and people’s rebuttal of the opposing opinions, I get even more clear with why AOL is not for me. The nuances come out and I see that yes there are two sides to every argument and I happen to agree mostly with this blog. Harshal serves his purpose by giving us an opportunity to even be clearer about what is not right about AOL.

    • Observer permalink
      May 4, 2011 6:03 am

      Yes, i think so too. Deleting posts should be avoided as much as possible. Let the people here not behave like a typical AoL forum by deleting anything we don’t like the sound of.

      • Believer permalink
        May 4, 2011 7:09 am

        I agree with Observer and Prakash. Do not delete any of the postings; maybe in extreme cases where the blogger is using bad language and abusing people. Since we all hate what happens in pro-AOL blogs, we shouldn’t be doing what those blogs do. Just my 2 cents.

        love to all

  5. Prakash permalink
    May 4, 2011 5:43 am

    I second DW’s opinion. There is no point in deleting any comments esp. Harshal’s. Apart from the comic relief they provide, they actually help this blog by showcasing the ill effects of prolonged Sudarshan Kriya on people’s mental faculties.

  6. May 4, 2011 10:19 am

    I am totally behind deleting anything explicitly abusive or that degrades into harassment– but I think we owe it to ourselves and others to represent a democratic ideal which tolerates even inane descent. Victory of nuance over totalism; our field is vast, immeasurable– so Harshal and his ilk can hiss and spit and piss in a corner of it if they choose.

  7. The Doctor permalink
    May 4, 2011 10:51 am

    Ok people,

    Let me clarify this. There are hundreds of posts by pro-AoL extremists who are simply venting their frustrations, being abusive and generally downright crass and vulgar. We already have enough of these on the blog to serve their purpose and we don’t really need any more as it’s just getting boring and time consuming for a lot of us to respond to the pointless, childish, immature drivel that these people are posting.

    On the other hand, there are also a large number of posts by pro-AoLers which challenge the things written on this blog, for example from the likes of Doreen and the long-departed BeaconOfReason. These are things that we need more of in order to maintain a healthy debate here. Even those extremists occasionally post something which falls under this category, and those comments won’t be deleted.

    • Observer Jr. permalink
      May 4, 2011 6:21 pm

      I can see both sides. It gets irritating and old to see the same “piss” comments. It was nice around here for those few days when no one spammed – like being outside on a clear, sunny day with no storms.

      But if we do preach freedom of speech, then we should probably do what we say and allow the horrible comments. As much as we dislike people like the Westboro Baptist Church (who protest funerals of dead people), we should give them the freedom to do so and just accept them as they are. And the negative comments do save people from AOL.

      So, whatever you guys decide is fine. It won’t please everyone on this blog, but that’s life.

      • harshal permalink
        May 4, 2011 7:11 pm

        “It won’t please everyone on this blog, but that’s life”

        Yes. So why cant you move on if AOL doesnt please you? Why do you have the desire to keep doing this whimsical anti-aol blogging? Such silly people you are, you dont have anything to discuss, so you are discussing if I should be allowed to post here!

        You want to dictate how a huge world-wide non-profit should work, however, you cant even make a blog work coherently?shame on you.

      • The Doctor permalink
        May 4, 2011 8:07 pm

        “Why do you have the desire to keep doing this whimsical anti-aol blogging?”

        I’ve lost count of how many times you’ve missed the purpose of this blog, which is why I’ve reiterated it in the above post. And yet you still choose to ignore it and assume we are “anti-aol”.

        This sort of comment is one of many which shows how AoL messes with devotees minds so that they can’t think clearly or see things which are right in front of them, as such it gets posted.

        Now, there are a lot of unanswered questions raised in this blog, some of which are in the above post. Do you have answers to them yet, or are you just going to throw your toys out of the pram (again), pretend (read: lie to yourself) that everything is ok with Art of Living, and be abusive against us (again) for printing the truth?

      • Peaceful Warrior permalink
        May 4, 2011 8:14 pm

        I’m all for freedom of speech. But when it becomes clear that people using it only to troll, and not to articulate a perspective, I think it’s time to start moderating comments.

        It’s just a thought for now – we’ll wait and watch – and exercise the option if the situation demands it.

      • Anonymous permalink
        May 4, 2011 8:54 pm

        Oh great… looks who’s back.

      • Observer permalink
        May 5, 2011 4:28 am

        So why cant you move on if AOL doesnt please you? Why do you have the desire to keep doing this whimsical anti-aol blogging?
        Because we really love “Guruji” and can’t get enough of AoL……. NOT.
        Really, people have moved on, but feel it is a duty to speak out and create awareness regarding what was experienced in Aol.
        Only way this blog makes sense for the likes of Harshal is to believe things like ‘people here were rejected by Aol’, cant move on, ‘full of negativity’ etc (which they have been force-fed by aol).

  8. Peaceful Warrior permalink
    May 4, 2011 8:41 pm

    “you dont have anything to discuss, so you are discussing if I should be allowed to post here!”

    It’s not about you – believe me you were not missed. I wonder why you felt the urge come and post here again ? Lacking some entertainment in life ? If so, maybe it’s you who needs to get a life.

  9. The Doctor permalink
    May 4, 2011 10:45 pm

    Something just struck me:

    Harshal, since you are the one person on this blog more than any other doing the most harm to Art of Living by your behaviour and by all the things you’ve said, then logically aren’t YOU really the one who is anti-AoL? Aren’t you the one who hates AoL? Because that’s certainly the impression you’re giving people around here.

  10. The Doctor permalink
    May 4, 2011 11:19 pm

    I just added a new section above, “Money Collected for Charitable Projects” to cover a number of related criticisms raised on this blog and the complaints by pro-AoLers pertaining to these.

  11. Doreen permalink
    May 5, 2011 2:04 am

    1. Most companies have outside investors. SSRS has so many contacts – isn’t it conceivable that he knows at least a few wealthy people interested in seeding or investing in companies he is associated with?

    2. Universities in the US are filled with graduate students from India. Almost all of the ones I know came on a fellowship, grant, or research assistantship which made their education possible. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same thing goes for SSRS’s nephew.

    • Prakash permalink
      May 5, 2011 4:38 am

      “Universities in the US are filled with graduate students from India. Almost all of the ones I know came on a fellowship, grant, or research assistantship which made their education possible. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same thing goes for SSRS’s nephew.”

      True. However a lifestyle supported by fellowships is just at the poverty line. Very few of them are able to support themselves without 20-hrs/week part time work permitted on I-10. And only the richest of the rich can afford to arrive in the US and outright buy a house in LA for their stay as Ajay did. Even as a student, whenever his uncle (Ravi) was in the US, Ajay would fly every weekend from LA to meet his uncle wherever he was and then return back. Certainly it was not a lifestyle supported on fellowships.

      • Doreen permalink
        May 5, 2011 1:51 pm

        You are mistaken. He did not buy a house in LA when he arrived. He stayed with an AOL devotee (this I know for a fact).

        He bought a home on the East Coast well after he graduated and had been working.

    • Peaceful Warrior permalink
      May 5, 2011 5:22 am

      @Doreen – His nephew was here for undergraduate studies – grad school came later. I don’t think that there are than many scholarships for undergraduate studies, that too from India. This is not the only extravagance.

      I doubt they’ve had private investors. Matters of faith aside, why would someone invest in a software company started by a guru (or to buy a pharmaceutical company), and that too without getting controlling stake ? Why would any rational investor invest in Sumeru software – the idea is old, and the team is not very good either. Mr. Sumeru has posted on this blog and would have stated it outright, if it were so. At best, sumeru is a cult company. A pastor/preacher/priest will usually use his authority as a religious teacher to start a business – but cults frequently do.

      Also, why are VVM finances, which is a supposedly public trust, so opaque. Who are the auditors ? On the ground, the charity work done by AOL is not commensurate with the $$ coming in.

      Fraud is more difficult to spot compared to crime because the manipulation is psychological and subtle. The scenarios you have suggested seem far-fetched – unless you are brainwashed and will believe anything RS says, or even bend over backward to come up with improbable scenarios, when reality is much more simple.

      • Doreen permalink
        May 5, 2011 2:07 pm

        The answer is obvious. There are many people who are devoted to SSRS. It’s not so far-fetched to conceive that there are wealthy devotees who would be interested in seeding any venture that SSRS undertakes.

      • Doreen permalink
        May 5, 2011 2:18 pm

        In the interest of sticking to the facts, let me point out that you are also mistaken about SSRS’s nephew coming to the US for his undergraduate degree. He came for grad school.
        He completed his undergraduate degree at Bangalore University in 2001, and came to the US to get his Masters in Computer Science at the University of Southern California.
        He has been working at the World Bank since 2004. He bought his house on the East Coast a few years ago – after he had been working full-time for several years.

      • Prakash permalink
        May 6, 2011 1:20 am

        @Doreen:

        Ajay joined World Bank in 2005 not as a full time worker but as a part time consultant. At least till 2009, he was not a full time worker there. He was earning part time salary from WB, which is typically in the range of $30/ hr for a fresh graduate. So don’t tell me that Ajay bought a house in Georgetown from savings from his part time salary. And don’t tell me that he got a housing loan. I have lived in the US as a grad student and know that they don’t offer internationals any housing loan unless they have been working full time for at least two years.

    • anonymous permalink
      May 5, 2011 5:41 pm

      @Doreen,

      Your suggestion that Ravi Shankar’s nephew may have received assistant in the form of a scholarship does not explain how that family went from being lower middle class on a government civil engineer’s salary (his brother-in-law) to very wealthy, flashing jewels etc, and able to afford the prerequisite Indian lower school education which is, btw, very expensive. His family was poor. Now they are rich. They were rich long before his nephews started companies. Where did that money come from? The sky? His brother in law was paid a way out of proportion salary to quit his job and go to work for Ravi. All of the money they now have is from donations collected from people who believed it was going either to poor school children in the village, or to other charitable endeavors. It’s nice to believe, but please believe in something you can support with some facts.

      • Peaceful Warrior permalink
        May 5, 2011 6:09 pm

        It’s not the fact that they got rich – it is how that money was earned. I can’t understand why the double talk ? Why make a claim that money goes to charity, but keep it for yourself. Why not just say, that you are entitled to a reasonable salary as CEO of Art of Living, and support your family with that. The only reason I think of, is that if people realize this, they might stop volunteering for free.

  12. Peaceful Warrior permalink
    May 5, 2011 3:09 pm

    I that case I stand corrected. Still, it is clear that he was living quite a lavish lifestyle – which is very atypical of a foreign grad student. No doubt it did not come from his grad student fellowship or TA (if he would have gotten it in the first place).

    Just because these ventures could have been funded by wealthy devotees, does not mean it was. Yes, there are proper ways of doing these things, but SSRS rarely does it that way. For example, if he really wanted a secure financial future for his family, royalties from books and tapes would have been more than enough. That’s what Barack Obama did, and that is smart.
    But no, they have to put all money from charity, (including that for care for children) in one big opaque trust controlled by his family – it is indicative of something don’t you think ? But I digress – there is no indication to support your hypothesis – it is more of the nature of wishful thinking.
    Had it been so, would they have not come out with much earlier ? Charities and NGO’s are asked for numbers all the time, and they usually respond by putting data out. Integrity is so important for an non-profit, and from time to time, they put out numbers to establish their cred. It is not something we should have to base on assumptions and wishful thinking – it is for an organization to establish by putting out facts that can be verified. AOL puts out PR propaganda. Pithy sayings like “Accounts are public” – but they have never ever told us who the auditor is, so we can verify.

    When a large and rich organization shows lack of integrity like that, it is an indicator of shady things going on. That it is a “spiritual organization” makes it worse. As a devotee you justify so much B.S that you lose your sense of what’s right and wrong. It is for him and his organization to answer critics by putting out facts.

    • Ronin permalink
      May 5, 2011 4:39 pm

      PW,

      You were right is stating that a crime is easier to detect then fraud. It takes a forensic auditing team with total access to the financial accounts of the organization.

      The AOL company has accounts set up in Switzerland a country known for their banking secrecy and most likely accounts in other offshore jurisdictions. Most money earned in Europe is transferred to accounts in Switzerland. These accounts are managed by a trust company. Strange bed fellows, a spiritual organization and a group of international tax consultants.

      And not to mention the course fees paid in cash.

    • Doreen permalink
      May 5, 2011 4:47 pm

      Most organizations, whether companies or non-profits, typically share financial info only when they have a business need for doing so.
      Most charities and NGOs publish their numbers because they can’t fundraise without doing so.
      Most spiritual organizations don’t publish their numbers.

      It may be clear to you but I haven’t seen or heard any evidence that Ajay lived a lavish lifestyle as a student. Since he was staying with a devotee he probably didn’t have to pay rent. Maybe you consider that lavish. Perhaps he travelled to see SSRS during his 3-4 yearly visits to the US. Maybe you consider that lavish (even though at least one visit was to California so it didn’t involve much travel). I have a feeling that even if Ajay lived in a tent by the side of the highway, you would say, “But the tent was from REI! That’s so lavish!”

      • Peaceful Warrior permalink
        May 5, 2011 5:03 pm

        Doreen,

        I’m not jealous of anyone living a good life. My objection is to charity money being used as personal wealth. You are right, maybe devotees did pay for his car, flight tickets, phone bills, etc. Maybe some eager devotee paid for his college tuition too. If that is indeed the case, I have no objections.

      • anonymous permalink
        May 5, 2011 5:43 pm

        Apartments in Georgetown are very expensive, Doreen. They range from $350,000 and upwards to millions. Check it out for yourself. Go online and find out. I’m too lazy to find out what the value of their apartment there is, but it can’t be cheap. Nothing in Georgetown is cheap. Nothing.

      • Chamiyaar permalink
        May 5, 2011 7:50 pm

        I don’t want to violate Ajay’s privacy but publicly available information suggests both his houses in Los Angeles and DC are valued upwards of a million dollars. Anyone care to prove otherwise?

      • Prakash permalink
        May 6, 2011 1:58 am

        @Doreen:

        “Most organizations, whether companies or non-profits, typically share financial info only when they have a business need for doing so.”

        Haven’t we heard about Ceaser’s wife? Here is an organization that is collecting money in the name of charity and is unwilling to share financial info with public because it doesn’t have a business need?

        The story doesn’t end here. Even if you have given your life to AOL, you are not supposed to ask where the money goes. Their board meetings and audits are a farce. I have seen one devotee who was a chartered accountant almost begging to Bhanu to become their auditor (of course, for free). Later this gentleman told the group that if Bhanu asked him to sign a blank paper, he would put his audited stamp and signature on it without asking what it was.

      • Doreen permalink
        May 6, 2011 2:10 pm

        Don’t you think it’s wise that a gentleman with so little sense of balance and proportion wasn’t made auditor?

      • anonymous permalink
        May 6, 2011 5:26 pm

        @Doreen,

        I think you are not very close to SSRS or his family from the way you write. Do you know them? Did you know them before they were wealthy? Do you know how they lived and how they got wealthy? I did know them. And I do know how they got wealthy. I watched it happening, and it was, over a period of a few years, clear what was happening. Please investigate this matter before you protest too loudly about the complaints made on this blog of stolen funds intended for chartiable uses. They really were not rich before. They really are rich now. And it was not originally earned by his nephews although they are now grown and earning. SSRS was skimming the funds collected for “charity” and “village schools” before his nephews were even out of grade school. They lived, at very very best, what you would call a quite modest existence. There were not huge diamonds on his sister. His mother even bragged about how her son was earning so much money and had “One million US dollars now in his personal bank account”. This was a long time ago. (Sorry to bring her up, God rest her soul.) The only source of income that family had for many years, before his nephews ‘went into business’ (with funds skimmed from donations, unless there was actually a wealthy benefactor who started them up) came from course fees, and money given to educate village children. I assume you are aware that the land grant from the State was given to SSRS’s father to build a school for poor village children. It had, at one time, a tiny section set aside for the education of those poor children, the roofs thatched, the buildings very shabby. The remainder and bulk of the land given for their education was being built up to house people coming originally from overseas, to pay large dollar fees to attend “courses” with SSRS. I have not seen the ashram in many years and don’t care to. But even the land was misused! It was not given to be ashram land. Then you might say “then how can they have gotten away with that?” If you say this, you clearly don’t understand the depth and nature of corruption in India. Any official can be purchased, for the most part. So please do some research before you go on and on about how honest you think these people are. Find out how they even ‘earned’ their home in the first place. Find out what his father really did for a living years ago (listed in the New York Times recently as an “auto executive”). Find out for yourself. You are only seeing a cleaned up version, nicely veneered through years of greed and monies collected through lies (charity). Please don’t take the sanitized version of AOL you have seen at face value. Eventually, someone will prove these things. Someone (because many people in Bangalore know the family history and laugh about it) will eventually do an expose on Art of Living and it’s founder and his family. But first they have to have deep pockets to pay off the right people. When even the owners of newspapers there are in his pocket, it’s not easy. But it will happen. You watch.

      • Doreen permalink
        May 6, 2011 8:42 pm

        There’s no doubt that Bhanu’s family is much better off financially than they were living off a government salary. And obviously, their financial prosperity, whatever it is, could only have come from something related to SSRS’s activities, either directly or indirectly. We don’t need to debate that – we’re in agreement.

        What I’m not convinced about is whether this constitutes fraud. Let’s explore this for a minute from a legal point of view:
        Scenario 1: SSRS has a lot of wealthy contacts around the world, and the power of his endorsement of a project or business opportunity is immeasurable. It’s conceivable that SSRS set Bhanu’s family up in a sweet spot so that they could benefit from a business that he set up or endorsed. Would that be nepotism? Absolutely. But fraud? I don’t think so.
        Scenario 2: Perhaps, as anonymous wrote, SSRS gave Bhanu a chunk of money to buy a nice house in Bangalore – which I’ve heard is often used for intimate AOL functions – and to send her kids to expensive schools. Maybe even a regular sizable paycheck. Perhaps that money came out of AOL funds. Legally it still may not be considered fraud, because Bhanu and her family play such a high profile in AOL that these things could be considered an organizational expense.

      • Naresh permalink
        May 10, 2011 4:17 am

        The problem is, that money is raised in the name of charity 🙂

  13. Observer Jr. permalink
    May 5, 2011 6:35 pm

    Lots of excellent discussion going on, and this response above is intense. I also worry about some of the senior teachers I know. They don’t look too healthy these days.

  14. harshal permalink
    May 6, 2011 5:41 pm

    “Do you have answers to them yet”

    I will answer depending on my mood. If I feel like I will or else I will just throw salt and watch you squirm in pain. Do you not remember that I come here only for entertainment?

    You guys come here for gossiping, healing yourself ,freeing yourself, asking who owns what property and commenting on other peoples lifestyle. Who needs a life? Reality check!

    Aren’t you frustrated that no mainstream AOL people give you any meat, and then you have to bite and fight for the pieces I throw? I see that you are not very different from street dogs…

    • Observer Jr. permalink
      May 6, 2011 6:23 pm

      Keep sticking around Harshhead. You’re well on your way to recovery from AOL 😉

      • harshal permalink
        May 6, 2011 9:12 pm

        i will recover or not, either way is ok, however, when are you going to recover from your idiosyncratic investments in your thoughts??

    • Anonymous permalink
      May 6, 2011 9:25 pm

      Harshal said: or else I will just throw salt and watch you squirm in pain. Do you not remember that I come here only for entertainment?

      This is proof that no serious seeker would ever want to follow Ravi Shankar. He produces sadists who take pleasure in truly weird ways and places (like their master). Like Master, like Disciple, Harshal. You are just like him. Congrats!

    • Adyut permalink
      May 8, 2011 4:38 pm

      @Harshal
      Mainstream aol response – eh?
      Mr Sumeru spent quite a bit of time here trying to be an independent observer.
      Sad swami lost his sleep over this blog and in his sleep ended up doing more damage to aol through his 2 long responses.
      Several AOL blogs were started to counter this blog.
      AOL execs are actually spending money on legal action against this blog. Imagine that. Must be pretty hard for them to spend money on non personal stuff.
      The general aol flock has been instructed to not visit ‘those negative blogs’.
      How much more mainstream can you get – do you want RS himself to come here and post?

  15. Peaceful Warrior permalink
    May 6, 2011 9:05 pm

    @Doreen,

    What constitutes fraud is to ask for money in name of charity, but instead of using it for intended purpose, use it as you see fit (read building ashrams, for-profit schools), or for personal expenses.

    or to ask people to take work for free (or tiny salary if you are full-time) in the name of public service, but keep a big chunk of money yourself, because clearly it is your organization, and nobody has the right to ask questions.

    Or to stash away money into swiss bank accounts.

    Or to inflate the number of charitable schools/students you teach to impress donors

    Or to promise donors that you are giving quality education to tribal/rural children, while in reality you are using the donor money to set up money making private schools, but not delivering the high quality education you promised.

    These are questions worth thinking about. People have been programmed not to ask these very relevant questions, just blindly trust SSRS, without judging his actions. Next time you go to India, check out some of these schools and talk to some of the children there – instead of just seeing a propaganda video, and assuming everything is great just because SSRS said so.

  16. harshal permalink
    May 6, 2011 9:13 pm

    What constitutes fraud is – throwing allegations without any concrete proofs.

    • Peaceful Warrior permalink
      May 6, 2011 10:16 pm

      you might want to check the dictionary on that one. why do you consider it is wrong to ask these questions ? I’m not saying anything anyone who has been around in has not seen or experienced. It’s just that people suppress their legitimate voice, and call it surrender.

    • Anonymous permalink
      May 9, 2011 1:02 pm

      Harshal,

      With all due respect, what if you are not willing to see the proofs even if it is there?

      For example, this is a clear evidence that AOL claims on Sudarshana Kriya is not conclusive

      https://aolfree.wordpress.com/2011/05/08/refuting-scientific-research-on-sudarshan-kriya/

      This is another evidence that Sri Sri’s kith and kin are investing money in parallel business

      http://money.sulekha.com/inwinex-pharmaceuticals_bse-announcements

      Can we a bit rational here? We are not saying that spirituality is nonsense or every one in AOL is doing fraud or something – We are just bringing up gaps as we see them, and the final choice is yours.

  17. Researcher permalink
    May 10, 2011 4:32 am

    Folks, our dear brainwashed friends including Mr Harshal will go on like this ad infinitum. Such people will never tolerate logic or reason, and as you have seen, will respond with ad hominem attacks on reason or on people.

    He just feels good getting a lot of attention here, that encourages him to post more. Maybe this life is more exciting for him than his real life.

    Just ignore these trolls, enjoy their posts for the entertainment value don’t respond, and they’ll slowly slither away back to their cults.

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