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Art of Living using the Anna movement for its own shameless self-promotion

September 3, 2011

Thanks to ABCD for sending us the following internal email.

from *****
to *****
date Fri, Sep 2, 2011
subject Anna Hazare

Dear friends of ABC & AOL,

As you know, the Anna Hazare movement against corruption, which recently happened in India, was an extraordinary movement, entirely non-violent and an example to the world.
What is less known is the intense,, behind the scenes involvement of the Art of Living movement and the essential role played by HH Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Guruji asked me to write an article on this role and gave me quite a few pointers.
It is important, for reasons that you may fathom, that this role be widely known around the world.

What you should do is adapt the attached article to the standards and outlook of your own country (for example in South Africa, a few added sentences on the inspiration of the Mahatma Gandhi on Anna Hazare), translate it if necessary and get it published in a mainstream newspaper and magazine.

It need not be publlished under my name, if you feel that yours or someone else would be a better passport and the fee for the article can be donated to your local AOL chapter.
You can forward the article to as many contacts within and without the AOL movement, who would be susceptible to get it published.

Please send scanned copies of published article to ABC central, Bangalore ashram (

Counting on all of you

François Gautier / Director Media ABC
40K View Download


Often, what we read in newspapers or see on television, represents only the
partial truth, or even sometimes a distortion of truth.

The recent Anna Hazare movement in India embodies one of the most
significant and extraordinary happenings in the history of the world: one
man, using only the tools of his own will power and without any violence
whatsoever, brought an entire government to its knees, forcing it to tackle the
cancer of corruption which is eating his country’s entrails. It is an example
for the world to follow.Yet, the whole truth has not been told: Anna Hazare
succeeded in part because he had the backing of well known spiritual leader
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and his entire Art of Living Foundation. Sri Sri Ravi
Shankar is one of the most popular figures in India and has a significant
following all around the world.

It all started on December 1st, 2010, in Delhi. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Anna

Hazare, and civil activists Arvind Kejriwal, Swami Agnivesh, Prashant Bushan
and Kiran Bedi,launched the India Against Corruption IAC) campaign. One
of the outcomes of this meeting was the first draft of the Jan Lokpal bill which
was signed by them and sent to the Prime Ministe of India. On the 5th of April,
2011, Anna Hazare began a fast unto death.

Before the movement, Anna Hazare’s support, was mostly in Maharashtra
(central India), his native state, but Sri Sri, as he is affectionately called, has
the backing of the largest middle class base in India – and he brought these
to the Anna Hazare movement, not only in New Delhi, the capital, but in all
the major cities of India, such as Bangalore, Kolkata, or Mumbai. Hazare’s
movement would not have caught fire as it did, without that all round support.
Another spiritual guru, Swami Ramdev, had also earlier canvassed support
for an anti corruption movement, logging nearly 100.000 kms in India, but
the police clamped down on his followers and he was forcibly removed. Sri
Sri Ravi Shankar, who benefits from a moderate and responsible image
with all political parties, including the one in power, went even further: he
personally travelled to more than 16 states across India to address hundreds
of thousands at Art of Living satsangs (public meetings) raising awareness
about the Jan Lokpal Bill and offering holistic solutions to tackle corruption.

The Art of Living Foundation, which is the second largest NGO in the world
(after the Red Cross), in terms of volunteers, many of them youngsters, also
brought to the Anna Hazare movement a badly needed structure: Sri Sri’s
volunteers quietly handled the security system in Delhi’s vast Ramilla grounds
where Anna Hazare conducted his hunger strike; some of Sri Sri’s key
lieutenants informally advised the Hazare core team and his singers provided
round the clock entertainment, singing patriotic songs to the crowds. This
came to the attention of the Media, which began to give extensive coverage to
the movement.

It is also to be noted that Sri Sri Ravi’s Shankar’s support to Anna Hazare
was right from the beginning, whereas many of India’s celebrities rallied in
the end, when they saw how the movement had caught the imagination of
India’s youth and middle class. Meanwhile, the Art of Living which has 10,000
teachers in urban areas and about 50,000 yuvacharyas (rural volunteers)
in villages of India, each of them with thousands of students, continued
spreading awareness about corruption and its solutions and exhorted
people not to take or give bribes. Stickers saying “I don’t take a bribe’ were
distributed and enthusiastically pasted by Government employees all over

At a gathering in Bangalore recently, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar pointed out that
corruption exists at many levels, the first being in the minds of the
general public. “We tell God: if you do my work, then I will offer you this or
that. Let alone our bosses we don’t even spare God!” The next levels of
corruption, he pointed out, were at the official level and ministerial levels,
which the Lokpal Bill seeks to address. He asked people to develop a strong
resolve not to pay bribes, no matter how much discomfort it causes them
and bureaucrats not to take bribe. Hundreds and thousands attended these
gatherings and they all pledged to fight against corruption.

Finally and most importantly, Sri Sri saved the movement when it was on
the brink of disaster. Its back to the wall, as the Government was thinking of
forcibly hospitalizing Anna Hazare. It is then that he went personally to meet
the leaders of the BJP, who were originally hostile to the left-leaning aides of
Hazare, and convinced them to press for the acceptance of draft favorable to
Anna Hazare’s demands in India’s parliament. Mr Advani then met then the
Prime Minister, a draft was agreed upon. The outcome of Anna Hazare’s fast
was thus the passing of a 3 point resolution by both houses of the parliament.

The Art of Living continues to fully support Anna Hazare’s fight for a strong
and independent Anti-corruption authority, as the Government is seen
sometimes as backpedalling. Thus, the right hand man of Anna Hazare,
Arvind Kejriwal, publically thanked Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and his Art of Living
volunteers who united for this noble cause.


The author, correspondent in India for Le Figaro, France’s largest
circulation newspaper, for ten years, is the author of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s
biography, “The Guru of Joy”, which sold 100.000 copies worldwide

  1. freeagaiin permalink
    September 3, 2011 9:02 am

    For Shame!! Shame on you Francois for sending out that email – what unethical standards you have. Shame on the AOL foundation for detracting from someone elses fight! Shame on you.
    If anything there should be a tiny shred of integrity and dignity within these spiritual seekers within AOL – can you not find a rod to hold up your spine and walk away, or speak up and make a change!
    For shame the Sangeeta Jani’s, the Atika Dhandia’s, the Bawa and Dinesh’s who are our peers and are indulging in this lunacy!
    If it smells like fraud, if it stinks like fraud it must be fraud. I am so glad tbat even though i became a teacher , that i did not stay to have my brains and my sense of right and wrong taken over by such a lunatic fringe.

  2. stupidseeker permalink
    September 3, 2011 10:19 am

    In an earlier post i had commented that the constant playing second fiddle to ramdev first and then hazare would be a source of chagrin to ravi shankar.Seems i was right.
    If this above email is to be believed seems ravi shankar is taking some steps to get for himself what he thinks is due to him. How far he is going to be successful is another question altogether.
    He doesnt have the guts to cock a snook at the government in the way that ramdev and hazare did, he plays the game at both ends and then wants to be counted as numero uno. Seems he himself doesn’t believe in the theory of karma.Poor kid. Seems his 10,000 crores and the adulation of his millions of devotees aren’t giving him sufficient happiness.Always on the lookout for more and then some more.

  3. September 3, 2011 3:04 pm

    Ford Foundation-Anna Link: More Damning Evidences starts surfacing

    ”If every beneficiary of the Ford Foundation fund was furthering a US interest, then IIM Bangalore dean Trilochan Shastri who started Association for Democratic Reforms with IIM alumni too must be doing that.”

    This was Arvind Kejriwal, key aide of Anna Hazare in a recent interview to Business Standard. Make no mistake. Shastry may not grab the headlines as the likes of Kejriwal do these days. Shastry additionally may not be a Magsaysay awardee but in terms of sheer
    value of assets that the US has in this country to “further their interests”, then Kejriwal perhaps cannot hold a candle to Shastry. This is why while the US leaves Kejriwal to rabble rouse the streets, it confers the honour of a Breton Woods Committee membership on Shastry.

    • stupidseeker permalink
      September 4, 2011 11:47 am

      @ Rajan Alexander

      Interestingly, Arundhati Roy in this IBN interview, echoes your own views about Kejriwal et. al, and their IAC movement being bankrolled by the Ford Foundation and the World Bank.
      Its also interesting to note that the Jan Lokpal bill put forth by Team Anna very conspicuously leaves out the corporates and NGO’s from the ambit of prosecution by the Lokpal.
      Anyways whether one loves or loves to hate Ms. Roy is one thing, but one can’t deny that she is indeed entitled to her opinions about this IAC movement.

      • stupidseeker permalink
        September 4, 2011 11:55 am

        @ Rajan Alexander

        To add to my post above, we know that AOL by their own admission is the second largest NGO in the world and the largest in India. We also know that kejriwal runs another NGO called Kabir which has received large sums of money from the Ford Foundation.
        That being the case the motive to keep NGOS’s out of the purview of their Jan Lokpal bill is definitely there.Any surprises then for the whole hearted support rendered by ravi shankr for this movement. You get to be seen as a crusader against corruption and you get to keep your NGO status out of purview at the same time.
        At the end of the day the people of India will get only the kind of leaders that they truly deserve. Nothing more nothing less.

    • Anonymous permalink
      September 3, 2011 4:43 pm

      author is Imran Khan from Tehelka. Not a really reliable source.

      • yasin permalink
        September 4, 2011 12:24 am

        its show your ignorance

      • Anonymous permalink
        September 4, 2011 12:56 pm

        Classic AOL Cultie reaction. Shoot the messenger.

      • Anonymous permalink
        September 4, 2011 4:26 pm

        🙂 .. Well I am not shooting him. You seem to be shooting me out here 🙂 .
        I am just saying he might not be very reliable. He could be right but then there are chances that he could be wrong. Now I don’t see that as shooting. Imran Khan I think has close proximity to Zakir Naik another big time cult leader. And I could be wrong. But then I also could be right. So hence I won’t be forming any judgements based on the above article.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    September 3, 2011 4:14 pm

    The email, which is in perfect accord with their usual modus operandi and language, highlights once more AOL’s/RS’s method of using/pimping/abusing anything and everything in their path like a whore for their own self-interest/pleasure/benefit. Basically anything is fair game to them and becomes reduced to something to be used including the much lauded rank and file devotees.

  5. stupidseeker permalink
    September 4, 2011 7:29 am

    @ Anonymous

    if you remember last year the shooting incident won ravi shankar his media limelight. Following that it was hazare’s fast unto death that put him in the media again. Then it was his turn to broker ramdev’s fast, then it was the world culture festival and now hazare’s second fast.Anything and everything to be in the spotlight.
    Media attention is the oxygen on which people like ravi shankr thrive on. All of this in return for teaching people how to hyperventilate.Gawd, the power of hyperventilation.

  6. September 4, 2011 6:52 pm

    “Guruji asked me to write an article on this role and gave me quite a few pointers.”

    This is irrefutable proof that Guruji is an Avatar.
    Krishna was the Prema Avatar and Guruji is the Avatar of Marketing. He has given us Pradarshan Kriya (marketing method) as the method suitable for this age.

  7. September 5, 2011 1:08 pm

    There was AOL volunteers presence at Anna Fast place. Arvind Kejariwal made speech before breaking fast, where he mentioned few persons who helped during this period. He mentioned AOL. So, they can claim some credit for Seva.
    But, considering the mail, it looks like that AOL has 90% share in whatever achieved by Anna.

  8. Nandan G permalink
    September 6, 2011 10:56 pm


    Sagarika Ghose: What about the role of Art of Living and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar many have said that this entire movement was managed by Ravi Shankar and the Art of Living. They were the unseen force behind it.

    Kiran Bedi: Art of the Living is neither the sponsor nor the patron; they are big supporters like many others. They were supporting in organizing it through volunteers. But there were hundreds of other volunteers.

  9. stupidseeker permalink
    September 7, 2011 5:45 am

    Bawa’s Take on Democracy in India
    Bawa in his blog has written a piece, explaining how the democratically elected government sitting in parliament is illegitimate while Anna Hazare an unelected leader is really the true representative of the Indian people.
    Read it here:
    Bawa’s reasoning for the illegitimacy of the democratically elected government goes thus:

    “”We are the representatives of the people of India”
    “People have elected us to this post, and it has to be respected
    I kept hearing statements of this kind by various politicians. And then I started to think a bit…
    The highest voter turn out so far for the Lok Sabha elections has been 61.97% of the population of India.
    Let’s assume that there are at least three major contenders for each of the 543 seats. Then out of the 62ish% of people who are voting, the votes will go approximately three ways and the winner normally wins by a fairly narrow margin.
    Meaning that to win, an MP would need a little more than one third of the votes that have been cast. Let’s be generous and say that to win a seat, one would need around 25% of the 62% of the votes. This means that only around 16% or so of the total number of people in India actually WANT that person as their representative in the parliament. This is whats called a “majority”… and that person now becomes a “representative of the people”.
    In reality, more than 80% of the people of India DON’T want him there.
    Possibly that’s one of the big reasons that Anna Hazare has to fast to get a law passed which quite simply wants to see to it that corrupt people are punished. Of course the government will not actually listen to the HUGE number of people supporting Anna, saying they too want the law against corruption. After all, all these people (80%+ of the population) DIDN’T vote this government in, so why should the government bother to listen to them?!
    I will leave other conclusions to your imagination…””

    Ok let me take Bawa’s advice and apply my imagination.
    Firstly if an Indian citizen wishes to vote a minimum age of 21 years is required, even though the census will account for all citizens irrespective of their age.
    Thus following the rest of his argument upto the point when he concludes that 80% people actually donot wants that candidate Bawa is really saying that there was no one below the age of 21 when the voter turnout was 61.97%.
    But anyway even if for arguments sake I accept his reasoning that the elected government is practically speaking illegitimate, then what of the governments elected under the auspices of the Indian constitution in disputed areas such as the Kashmir Valley, in the secession areas of north east India and in the naxal hit areas of central India where typically voter turnouts are next to zilch.
    Applying Bawa’s reasoning to the elected governments in these regions…..leave the rest to your imagination. Thus in these places, applying Bawa’s contention about the illegitimacy of the elected government, the separatist unelected movements are more legitimate in exactly the same way as unelected Anna’s movement is. And to think there were people who more than willing to charge Arundhati Roy with charges of sedition.
    So for all those who feel that the ballot isn’t a good legitimate way to bring into power, governments, there is always the model of communist China where you are likely to get shot (oooh what a lovely prospect) even if you utter the word election or even that of North Korea where the “dear leader”, unelected of course, 16% majority or otherwise, regularly sends out imagery to the outside world on how well loved he is and how prosperous his people.

    • Peaceful Warrior permalink
      September 7, 2011 10:37 pm

      “After all, all these people (80%+ of the population) DIDN’T vote this government in, so why should the government bother to listen to them?! ”

      So called spiritual teacher, speaking the voice of anarchy. And people follow crazy people like him.

    • stupidseeker permalink
      September 8, 2011 3:43 am

      The closest anyone came to bawa’s line of reasoning about the legitimacy or otherwise of elected governments, was ironically Ayn Rand of the “Atlas Shrugged” fame who incidentally was an avowed atheist and believes the majority can’t really be trusted to know whats good for them, and must be led by those who know better.
      As opposed to bawa’s choice of Anna hazare, her choice were the industrialists.Otherwise this an instance wherein a spiritualist and an atheist/rationalist have come to the same conclusion atleast on matters of governance.

    • stupidseeker permalink
      November 24, 2011 4:25 am

      The link in my post above, on Bawa’s take on democracy, has been taken down. Wonder why Bawa did that.

  10. stupidseeker permalink
    September 7, 2011 5:53 am

    I wonder if in 2014 lets say Shri Narendra Modi is elected PM of India will Bawa apply the same kind of reasoning to Modiji’s government.

    • anonymous permalink
      September 20, 2011 4:52 pm

      I wonder if Modi becomes PM, will he be the first Indian PM to not be able to get a visa to the US because of his human rights violations in Gujarat? Then Bawa could say “see everything western is against Hinduism”? Hmmmmmm…..


  1. Support for “Art of Living Illegally” article and a challenge to AoL devotees « Beyond The Art of Living

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