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The Many Faces of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

September 19, 2011

by stupidseeker

I came across this interview IANS had with ravi shankar. In this interview ravi shankar candidly admits that the Jan Lokpal Bill is incapable of rooting out corruption. This line is in contradiction with that of the other members of Team Anna, who drummed up massive support by proclaiming the bill to be the end of corruption of India.

Its anyone’s guess why ravi shankar revealed his lack of faith in the bill, even as he proclaimed himself one of the prime drivers of the IAC movement.My own take is that he didn’t want to be seen as being too anti establishment either.

But to continue, when he was further asked why then did he support the bill, his open ended and succint two word answer was “common sense”.While the rest of the agitators were supposedly motivated by patriotism, this individual states common sense as the reason for his support of the Lokpal bill, even as he reveals his lack of faith in the same to eradicate corruption.Maybe it was common sense to support a bill that hamstrung the government but kept NGO’s (AOL is second largest NGO in india) like his completely out of it’s purview.

Read the interview here:

Spirituality and enlightenment apart, common sense we know, is a virtue ravi shankar prizes.
Thus it was common sense to then sport a beard, wear white garb, flash a million dollar smile and put out stories of, advanced science degrees at age 17, of having mastered the Gita at age 4, of being an enlightened being,to a society that was economically ascendent and and on the lookout for relief from the stresses and insecurities of material life.

Thus the economic ascendency ensured the competency of society to pay for his courses while at the same time the increasing materialism with its usual side effects of mental unease, ensured that he would remain in business, what with his SKY being touted as a cure all and he himself an incarnation of krishna and jesus all rolled into one.

Thus it also was common sense to portray himself and his teachings and his kriyas, as being spiritual as opposed to being religious, as being beyond religion, as being scientific even, when he toured the west and then cosying up to the hindu right when back in his home country to let them know that he was actually in their camp and was willing to act as a softer alternative/conduit for their brand of Hindutva especially in the west. Thus his “scientific” spirituality wins him devotees in the west while his religiosity and indulgence in Hindu rituals, and the validation of the hindu scriptures through his own enlightenment, wins him devotees back home even as his supposed charitable works gets his organisation an NGO status and his books and magazines where he tells the world how similar Islam and Christianity are to Hinduism, keeps his secular credentials intact. An whats more, by giving each one in the organisation the unique identity of being an AOL member, he ensured that his identity is kept unique and distinct from other similar organisations and spiritual leaders in society.After all this it was surely common sense to proclaim than the concepts of ownership of wealth and creation of wealth were not anathema to spiritual growth and that wealth creation walked hand in hand with spirituality.So that put to rest any unease, a by now besotted devotee may have had over the widely proclaimed inverse relationship between wealth and spirituality. Thus wealth was not bad as long as you gave charity to the point that it hurt. And who better to give it to, than an NGO who was engaged in creating a divine society.

Thus by merely applying his commonsense ravi shankar made sure that it appeared, that he had something to could give to everyone in society i.e the stressed in search of relief, the seekers looking for spiritual growth, the dispossessed and oppressed in need for material succour, the militant rightwingers seeking support for their religious identity,the orthodox seeking validation of their scriptures,the sceptics looking for truths beyond the material world etc. etc. etc. etc. You name the pie and be sure ravi Shankars got his fingers in it.

If anything the whole AOL structure and the whole business of these new age gurus by extension is nothing but a validation of how far applying common sense can take you.Thus we now have a multifaceted individual who is spiritual,scientific, religious, compassionate, knowledgeable, all inclusive and yet does not shy away from materialism, orthodoxy and traditionalism.

Sounds too good to be true??? Its delicious to think about the Nobel Peace Prize Committee asking themselves this question, and then applying their common sense and answering, “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably isn’t” and then summarily trashing his nomination.Common sense cuts both ways, and a man like ravi shankar who has so much of it, should know that best.

  1. stupidseeker permalink
    September 20, 2011 3:30 pm

    AOL represents the perfection of faith based business models, with zero production costs, zero tax liabilities, where the attainment of divinity and undying bliss is on sale, where the personal truth of the devotee advertises the enlightened one’s divinity and arranges for his pedestal, where the divesting of the “I-ness” of the devotee hands all authority over to the “evolved” one.
    Through his efforts ravi shankar today strides Indian society like a modern day Vamana avatar. With one step he makes the surrounding villagers and villages feel his unlimited power, with another he conquers the heart, mind and body of the seeker and with yet another conquers the political scenario of the country.
    It’s unsurprising then that he has managed to retain for himself an identity unique from the religion, whose tenets and activities he so freely utilizes for propagating his organization, by merely drawing a line between spirituality and religion. Thus he refuses to absorb into the very ocean from which he draws the pearls, which he calls his own and then sells to make his living.
    It only remains for AOL to codify his teachings and a new scripture, nay, a new religion may take birth, a religion that may be taught in business schools in due time, after all why shouldn’t the chela exceed the deeds of his guru. No Guru yet has made it to the syllabus of business schools yet, and maybe ravi shankar may yet make good that deficiency.
    Ladies and gentlemen we see before our very eyes the stuff for future mythology being created. All hail the new age Guru.

  2. Sunietha permalink
    September 20, 2011 5:08 pm

    hmm okie nice nice but sri sri has always maintained that he has beenn born hindu and his philosophy and teachings stem frm hindu roots i know many amny aol ppl who put in their own funds and do good work what about the ayurvedic charity hospital they run and ppl getting cured of certain diseases and everything? the few 1000 schoolchridren in each of their schools and revival of vedic farming in india thanks to ssrs?? and also he has changed his tune a bit i guess aol is changing for the better… and i know frm experiences of non aolers that his ayurvedic drs are good and not commercial doctors unlike others…yes ssrs know how to market hindutva to the west better than mmy or swami vivekananda so what the christian missionaries use the same techniques to convert innocent ppl in the east… big deal today even a small temple publicises its functions and stuff to earn money … but ppl ahve 2 be moderate…

  3. stupidseeker permalink
    September 23, 2011 3:18 pm


    Many thanks for your reply. I’m glad that you have been upfront about putting the religious context of Ravi Shankar and AOL in the correct perspective. I believe that everyone on earth has the right to preach and propagate their philosophies, as long they stick to informed consent, and allow space for dissenting voices and critical opinions.

    It may be true that AOL may have done some service for the economic upliftment of rural people. I’m not in a position to comment on this, but what is beyond reasonable doubt is that Ravi Shankar has used AOL funds to build for his relatives big businesses such as Sumeru Realty, Sumeru Travels, Sumeru Solutions etc. and also runs a number of “for profit” educational institutes which teach various disciplines from Ayurveda to Journalism. In the link below you will see how casually Bawa describes buying a new car that costs lakhs and lakhs after the old one was wrecked by his friends.

    While Bawa’s candid confessions may be appreciable to some, attitudes such as these don’t go too far in portraying philanthropy as being a primary concern with AOL, even as they project AOL as being more of corporation than a non-profit NGO. Moreover the rural development projects will only be as successful as volunteer driven projects can be.

    Speaking of the cures effected by AOL’s ayurvedic charity hospitals, one in general can’t argue about the efficacy of traditional medicines with those who believe in them. For instance traditional medicines such the ones in the link below have been used for centuries, in the far east to ameliorate any number of diseases, especially by those who live in the rural areas.

    Might i add that while the Indian government allows for many aurvedic products to be freely advertised on television, the same is not true for “allopathic” medicines. Now why would ayurvedic therapies be allowed to be advertised but not “allopathic” medicines ??The european union hasn’t taken a very benign view of ayurvedic medicines however, especially the liberal use of heavy metals in many preparations.
    In the face of modernization many herbal products are now being prepared by using modern technology adhering to GMP guidelines laid down by drug regulatory authorities. in such case the preparations are far more expensive than their “allopathic” counterparts.

    You now speak of Ravi Shankar of being more efficient than Vivekananda at spreading hindutva in the west. Well to each his/her own, but you will admit that Vivekananda’s English language skills were far better than Ravi Shankar’s.

    Did you know that once Adi Shankaracharya, a recognised “enlightened” being and a respected scholar, had like Vivekananda, advocated “personal experience” over scriptural scholarship ?? But Adi Shankaracharya immedietly saw the difficulty or rather the unethicalness, of projecting “personal experience” as “truth” in the sense that “personal experience” doesn’t have a “hook” in the objective real world. Thus in the end he declared the supremacy of scripture over “experience” since scripture definitely has a hook in the real objective world.
    Vivekananda upset the apple cart stressing “personal experience” over scholarship as well as successfully highlighting Vedanta as a science in the West. This proved advantageous for all those who followed vivekananda’s footsteps to the west armed as they were with their “personal experiences” and “innate understandng” which by a very happy coincidence happened to be the same as that described in the Hindu scriptures, though no matter their deficiency in scripture. Read it here in greater detail and form your own conclusions.

    So where does Ravi Shankar stand?? The best answer is to read Vikram Hazra’s (yes the one who charges personal donations to sing) blog where he responds to a questioner called shruti: To Quote:

    ” I would recommend that you go by your experience — proper Sadhana/ meditation of course helps a great deal — and don’t worry about your beliefs, which anyways can change over time with knowledge. ”

    However Ravi shankar, learning from his guru, played the part of enlightened one, to perfection, greater than vivekananda even, what with his greatest asset – his billion dollar smile and his acute sense of business made him much more richer than Vivekananda, the idealist, could ever have been.

    And finally, it’s interesting that you compare ravi shankar and his AOL to the christian missionaries. The missionaries promise paradise, after death, through faith in the Christ. Some converted out of genuine belief, many were forced to by military means, many to escape the brutalities of the caste system and many who were perhaps not so enticed by the beliefs per se needed other forms of persuasion such as monetary and educational benefits. On the other hand Ravi Shankar offers the possibility of paradise while still embodied, perhaps the reason why people pay him to get converted.Also perhaps why he goes after those who can afford to pay for their enlightened.


  4. stupidseeker permalink
    September 24, 2011 10:00 am

    The greatest Advaita philosopher of Our Age ?? A New face For ravi shankar ??

    Adi Shankaracharya is considered to be the greatest advaita philosopher ever, as well as the founder of the Dashnami monastic sect.Historians have placed him anywhere between 44 BC – 897 AD,a very wide period of time, and no one, not even the Kanchi kamakoti Peetham, gives a specific date of his birth.
    However we know that our favorite guru ravi shankar was born on 13 th May 1956, which according to the AOL people,is also the birthday of Adi Shankaracharya, which is why his parents named him shankar.Thus ravi shankar shares his birthday with that of Adi Shankaracharya himself.
    We also know that ravi shankar ejected MMY from the shankaracharya lineage and fixed himself there, and is worshipped by AOL folks as the current master of the shankaracharya lineage.
    We also know that ravi shankar preaches his “experience” of non dualism as. truth which happily enough coincides, with what advaita is all about.
    And we also know that the symbol of advaita vedanta is the Hamsa or the Swan. So where is ravi shankar’s swan ?? Well you can find it in the link below. It says the swan sought out guruji and bowed to him that it may be blessed.

    So now in compilation, ravi shankar’s birthday is the same as that of adi shankaracharya, his personal experience is that of non dualism, he is worshipped as the extant successor of the shankaracharya lineage, and what’s more he’s also found himself a swan. All other similarities apart, Ravi shankar sure is the richest advaita philosopher till date.No non dualism there anywhich ways.

  5. stupidseeker permalink
    September 24, 2011 12:44 pm

    Here is the video of the swan with gurudev on youtube. It is known that monks of the Dashnami sect are awarded the tite of “Paramhamsa” or supreme swan upon enlightenment, the swan having threefold significance to the Advaita folk. Thus we see the swan and not the ducks testifying to ravi shankars advaitic purity.Also an opportunity for chitra roy to showcase her singing talent.

    • anonymous permalink
      June 4, 2012 4:20 pm

      maybe the swam was just pecking at something on the bank…… so like the AOLites to make mental projections and associate it with SSRS

  6. stupidseeker permalink
    October 5, 2011 7:20 am

    In the context of Ravi Shankar being “felicitated” by the hamsa or swan, the following should also be additionally noted in trying to decipher the choice of species selected to do the felicitation:

    1)Repetition of the word “hamsa” yields “soham” or “I am that” which is the central construct for any advaitin.Also inhalation and exhalation supposedly create sounds approximately equal to “so” and “ham”, thus the hamsa also symbolises prana and pranayama.

    2)The hamsa can fly in the air, swim in the water and walk on land, signifying the ability to transcend creation.It can supposedly separate water from milk and it’s abode is Lake Mansarovar.It is the vehicle of goddess Saraswati and in the Upanishads it signifies knowledge of “brahman”

    3)In view of the spiritual attributes of the hamsa or swan, the title of “paramhamsa” or supreme swan is accorded to spiritual high performers.

    Thus hindu and buddhist scriptures attribute to the swan, purity, detachment, divine knowledge,cosmic breath and highest spiritual accomplishment.

    We know that ravi shankar once fed milk and vegetables to a feline after blowing on the same to cool it down, that it may not burn the feline’s tongue(guru of joy, francois gautier).AOL is yet to let us know whether the feline showed it’s gratitude for the food or not. We know that the ashram has cows and elephants and rabbits and AOL hasn’t yet told us of any feelings they might have demonstrated towards the guru.Thus so far it’s only the swan which has cosied up so intimately and so spontaneously to the spiritual master. And happily enough, according to the Hindu scriptures, the swan is the highest possible representation of spiritual purity

    Now we know that Ravi shankar uses the honorific “Sri Sri” before his name. We also know that the title “paramhamsa” cannot be assumed by oneself but must be conferred by a recognised authority such as a committee of spiritual leaders or another recognised swami.This implies the necessity of spiritual submission to another or a lineage of some sort.
    Thus in this case,we see the symbol/representation itself taking the decision to bow to the master and thereby signal the spiritual purity of the unanointed master.
    A kind of divine “rescue therapy” if you please, for those spiritual contenders who achieved “enlightenment” without a guru or a lineage in tow.

  7. Dev D permalink
    October 8, 2011 8:14 am

    Stupid seeker – You write very intresting things. But Ravi Ravi is not all that original to be compared with vivekananda. After Osho there were several Guru’s who sprung up who have plagiarized his tyle of teaching, narration and concepts. Ravi Ravi, jaggi, Paramahamsa (yes the great swan) Nithyananda are among those. These gurus talk of celebration, silence etc.. all of those popularized by osho. Actually all these gurus can be termed as part of the Osho lineage. Adi Shankarachrya is too arcane and the dashnami sect are best only in kumbh mela.

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