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A Word About the Tone on This Blog

April 25, 2012

To Everyone Posting here,

Of late, it can’t have escaped people’s notice that one or two posters are creating a great deal of tension and animosity where there really shouldn’t be any.

This blog was originally set up with the goal of providing alternative viewpoints about Art of Living to those which the organization itself presents to the world, to allow individuals to freely discuss any issues, reservations, doubts and anything else they feel they wish to contribute to any given discussion.

Although we encourage people to contribute here openly and freely, to express themselves in whatever manner they see fit, some individuals are becoming unnecessarily provocative and downright vindictive.

It has NEVER been the intention of this blog to create any us versus them dynamic, or to encourage any sort of pro- versus anti-AoL division. If there’s one thing the majority of people contributing on this blog will agree to, it is that they have got at least some good from their time in the organization and that AoL is doing at least some good in the world. I really don’t want this turning into a forum where people who have certain issues with AoL are trying to portray it as a purely evil organization, and SSRS to be some kind of demon. Those of us who were involved with AoL know that this is anything but true. Yes, it does have its many faults, and yes there are many individuals in AoL who are anything but perfect, but that is no reason to just lash out at everything and everyone connected with AoL.

Which brings me to a final point I want to make. One of the recurring themes in this blog is that AoL brainwashes its devotees. This is something I happen to strongly believe, and we have already produced a lot of evidence which supports this claim. However, if someone is brainwashed, it means they have been manipulated into thinking and acting the way they are. Lashing out at these individuals and calling them “brainwashed zombies” really isn’t going to help them or anyone else. Please show some sympathy and compassion towards these people, and don’t try to create animosity towards them because of their beliefs. If you have a point to make, make it without having to resort to flaming or name-calling or any other form of aggression. These things will just weaken any argument you have to make.

I really don’t want to start moderating comments, so please just bear these things in mind in future.

Thanks for your understanding.

  1. VSS permalink
    April 25, 2012 4:37 pm

    @ The Doctor

    Your note is extremely timely.

    Could you please tell me if you’re making a distinction between a good religious cult and a bad religious cult ?

    This distinction does not exist in the academic world as far as my knowledge goes. It’s very possible that I’ve missed something. I would appreciate it if you could direct me to a source of knowledge that makes this distinction.

    The question is not about being judgmental but about being discerning.

    What should the discerning person think ?

    The other issue is about the Divine Status of Mr. Ravi Shankar.

    If he is Divine, then there can be no argument about any issue pertaining to him, because then there are those who believe in his Divinity and those who don’t believe in his Divinity.

    If he is Divine, then AoL is not a cult – it’s just a group of people who believe in the Divinity of a particular individual ahead of all others in India and all over the world.

    If AoL is not a cult, then there’s no question of it being a good or bad religious cult because it’s not a cult.

    I would appreciate it very much if you could share your thoughts on the aforementioned issues.

    Thank you.

    • VSS permalink
      April 25, 2012 5:17 pm

      @ The Doctor

      I’d also request you to delete any past comment / post by me that goes against the spirit of this blog. My concerns / queries are listed in my comment above. I don’t mind if all my past comments and posts are deleted. I am not attached to anything that I’ve said. I’m simply interested in knowing the answers to the issues listed in the above comment. I don’t wish to be an unreasonable human and if I’ve been at fault, I apologize profusely, and request that appropriate remedial action be taken. In fact, I’d appreciate it very much if remedial action is taken. To err is human and I know that it’s very possible I’ve erred drastically. I recall a few instances and am truly sorry. I’m also truly sorry for the instances that I can’t recall right now.

      Thank you.

      • Rene permalink
        April 25, 2012 8:04 pm

        @VSS I sincerely recognize your writing style. it is nice read. every morning I open my google reader. I see VSS – I open yours first. having said that after reading your posts I get feeling that there is something amiss. gets me reminded of words which I read in a book – ‘be wary of too much knowledge’. Will Doctor’s prescription fix it! keeping myself crossed.

      • VSS permalink
        April 25, 2012 8:26 pm

        @ Rene [April 25, 2012 8:04 pm]

        I am just an ordinary human being. I make as many mistakes as any other human being. Please feel free to recommend any or all of my posts / comments for deletion. I’ll never object. I give you my word. Also, I don’t know why anyone would think that I have a lot of knowledge. I’m just one of the millions and millions and millions of graduates in India with an average job. I’m neither well-educated nor well-read. If you were to meet me in real life, you would find that there is absolutely nothing exceptional about me. I am an extremely plain person.

        I get very hurt when I am brutally abused on this blog. I try my best to not get affected but I sometimes I succumb. Recently, when I was asked why I am alive, I was in tears for days. I have suffered a lot because of AoL. I didn’t even get to know when I started being brainwashed by AoL’s philosophy in my own universe. I did not know that the person brainwashing me had already been brainwashed by AoL. I couldn’t do anything. I just saw my universe collapse. I wouldn’t want that to happen to anyone. I prayed and prayed and prayed. God rescued me. I didn’t go to anyone. I just read the Gita and meditated — tried to look for a real solution. I found it. I work seven days a week now, usually twelve hours a day, because I work for a start-up company. I love my job. To learn anything, I have to make a great effort. Knowledge is not my strong point at all. It never was. I am as ordinary as ordinary can be.

      • April 25, 2012 9:10 pm

        Thanks for your reply. I sure recognize your experience. Whatever one teaches be it all the religion or spiritual gurus. your experience is something which no one can teach. it is yours. that is all matters.

      • The Seer permalink
        April 25, 2012 9:31 pm


        Words once spoken and comments once posted can’t be taken back 😉

        I don’t think you’ve made much of bad comments any more than you’ve been abused. Even if you think you’ve made a mistake, let’s just forget and move on.

        I’ve been reading this blog for about 20 days now and your contributions in the posts of late is immense. You make some valid points, raise important questions, just at times, I feel you get a little too passionate. And that’s understandable, I’ve read your story from your comments.

        If posting here and responding to the abuses are getting a bit too heavy on you, take a break away from the blog for a couple of days, just to get a fresh perspective. Sleep well, meditate. Now, when I say meditation, I don’t mean some mysterious practice… just let go and breathe easy. Try this

        Or if it doesn’t work, try out an AoL course 😉 Just kidding, but even if you take a course, I don’t think you’ll be brainwashed or anything, your critical thinking will protect you.

        As Rene said, I like your writing style and the perspectives you provide. Please continue your contributions in this blog.

      • Jr. permalink
        April 26, 2012 2:45 am

        VSS – you really shouldn’t give any credit to Harshal’s posts. The guy is seriously ill, and I mean that in polite terms. Your own compassionate post to him was right on, so please don’t forget what you said about him. There’s no reason to believe anything he says, especially since almost everything he says is untrue. His goal is to make others suffer on here, because he is suffering. I’m not insulting here, this is the truth. Many people in life want others to suffer because they are suffering.

    • Harshal permalink
      April 25, 2012 6:42 pm

      lol..this is so funny…doctor please respond

    • The Doctor permalink
      April 25, 2012 7:14 pm


      In reality, there is no such thing as “good” and “bad”, at least in any objective sense of the words. At the best these are terms relative to any given observer, and even then their definition is fuzzy at best.

      So in response to:

      “Could you please tell me if you’re making a distinction between a good religious cult and a bad religious cult ?”

      AoL is neither. It simply is. Whatever experience each individual has with AoL is their own. It may on the whole be very pleasant, very unpleasant, or for most people people some combination of both. It has never been the objective of this blog to “measure” how “good” or “bad” AoL is in any respect. Rather, we have been challenging the majority of claims AoL has made to its devotees and to raise concerns about the way these claims have misled various people over the years. We have pointed out how a great many of these claims have brought harm to many of the people who have been associated with AoL, and many have come forward and shared their unpleasant experiences of the time they were with AoL. But as I said in the above post, the majority of us who were associated with AoL will tell you we also gained a lot from our time there and from the things we learnt. Simply put, it isn’t black and white and it never will be.

      As to whether or not it is a cult, whether SSRS is “Divine” or not makes no difference. “Cult” is a term which many definitions, however AoL seems to fit nearly every single definition in use today. That doesn’t mean one can necessarily go about labelling it is either a “good” cult or a “bad” cult. It simply is, that’s all there is to it.

      • VSS permalink
        April 25, 2012 8:07 pm

        @ The Doctor [April 25, 2012 7:14 pm]

        I hear you. I think my choice of words was incorrect. I apologize. English is my second language. When I discovered this blog, days before relocating to the Bangalore Ashram, I read it extensively. The impression that I got from 99% of what I read was that it’s a harmful cult. I read the stories of those who had been deceived, exploited, and, abused by it. These stories, as I’ve repeatedly mentioned, were, I believe, heartfelt and moving beyond measure. Also, 99% of the comments posted in response to these stories further substantiated that it’s a harmful cult. I don’t recall reading any post that suggested that AoL is a harmless cult. I read about the some of the following key issues:

        1. SSRS: The impression I got was that he harms people and can’t be trusted. He also engages actively in brainwashing people — taking away their freedom to think independently.

        2. SK: People are not given the complete picture about SK. As a result, some of them suffer immensely.

        3. Charity work: The number of real projects is very few — and for most of them — the volunteers raise funds themselves. The deception surrounding charity work is harmful.

        4. Teachers: The quality of teachers is not uniformly good. As a result, many people have been subjected to excessive humiliation leading to trauma.

        5. Course Curriculum: The curriculum of all courses is not uniformly good. As a result, many strange elements are there in them. Not all of them are harmless.

        6. Funds: One may raise funds but there is no guarantee that they will be deployed for the purpose they are being raised. They could be deployed for funding a luxurious lifestyle for the top people or companies they run for their families. This is a form of cheating and hence harmful.

        7. Conversion: The pressure to convert is intense and it is not harmless. It has made many people lie and deceive people into joining AoL and caused them severe stress owing to the pressure of meeting targets.

        8. Enlightenment: People are promised enlightenment and if there is a problem, there’s a lot of talking down that happens, and anyone raising an issue is accused of inadequacy at an individual level.

        I read and reached the conclusion that AoL is a harmful cult. I also read extensively about how happy people felt after leaving AoL. I neither regret my conclusion nor my decision. I would also never recommend AoL to anyone. In fact, I actively caution people about it. Further, I also wish that AoL does not harm new people in the future.

        Is this perspective (subject to an appropriate choice of words as mentioned in your note) — that AoL is a harmful cult — acceptable on this blog ?

        If it’s not acceptable, then, I think all my comments deserve to be deleted.

        Should you decide to delete them, please also delete the brutal abuse that I’ve received from Harshal on this blog. To me, as I’ve mentioned earlier as well, Harshal’s attitude and behaviour especially — is evidence of the harmful nature of AoL as all that abuse happens in the name of AoL. Additionally, please also delete other abusive posts by members of AoL as well as all posts / comments that express the perspective that AoL is a harmful cult.

        Please retain only those posts and comments that clearly present the perspective that AoL is a cult and don’t, in any way, directly or indirectly, imply that it’s a harmful cult which people should not join as there is a more than 50% chance of being brainwashed and exploited in the name of proximity to God.

        Thank you.

        P.S. I am not in any way suggesting that this is your perspective or the perspective of all who post on this blog. I need to know if this perspective is acceptable — if it can be expressed using an appropriate vocabulary. I also want to know that if this perspective can be expressed using an appropriate vocabulary, then, if it is brutally abused, will the abuse be deleted? In the past, even on posts that are written using an appropriate vocabulary, brutal abuse has been hurled. It wasn’t deleted. What will be the policy towards brutal abuse in the future?

      • The Doctor permalink
        April 26, 2012 9:23 pm


        “Is this perspective (subject to an appropriate choice of words as mentioned in your note) — that AoL is a harmful cult — acceptable on this blog ?”

        ANY perspective is acceptable on this blog. But it is just that – a PERSPECTIVE. It is not TRUTH in any universal, objective sense of the word. And I will guarantee you right now, no two people on this blog will share the same perspective. Every single person will have their own unique perspective based on their experiences with AoL.

        For you, it is a harmful cult. For others, it is salvation and their calling in life. For me, it was something that happened, which I drew some benefits from, and which I subsequently moved on from when I realized that there were things about it that I didn’t like.

        Who is right? No-one and everyone.

        Even if you try to find a common perspective running throughout this entire blog, you will fail. One doesn’t exist. Just a giant melting pot of points of view based on experiences.

        More than anything, I really want to get across that whilst each person has their own perspective, they shouldn’t really try to force it on any others. Each person should really make up their own mind when it comes to everything written here. And this is something which you yourself have stated many times in your comments so you also agree on this.

        Regarding Harshal’s abusive comments, just ignore them. Simple as that. It’s what the rest of us here have done. The thing about his comments, or anyone else’s comments, is that when people come to read them, they don’t need to be told “this person is such and such, this person is mentally unstable” and so on. They work these things out for themselves based on the comments. People who read Harshal’s comments already have a very good idea of what he is like and generally know to ignore him. You just need to do the same.

        I’m not going to delete any comments, unless they veer drastically off-topic.

      • stupidseeker permalink
        April 28, 2012 8:34 am

        @ The Doctor,
        I believe you have significantly erred in mentioning that only perspectives constitute the content of this blog. Just to jog your memory, I’d like to point out that this blog is also a repository of cold, hard facts that point to ravi shankar being a CEO of a faith based business empire which has earned him handsome profits at nearly zero input costs.
        Have we not evidence that his nephews,brother in law and other members of his coterie lke Bawa and his fatherhave been the recipients of his largesse in terms of real estate, pharmaceutical, software, herbal products and educational business. This when AOL says its a not for profit organisation ???
        Have we not seen the skullduggery ravi shankar resorts to to peddle his placebo i.e shakti drops ??
        Have we not seen vidoes such as the shakti drops one or the interview with shobha de where the master points out the unecessity of hospitals in india, go private shortly after they were posted?? Why did they go private if AOL had nothing to hide??
        Have we not seen how he kicked out his guru from the masters lineage and presented himself to be the successor of the shankaracharya lineage even a the guru pooja course rakes in the moolah for AOL ??
        Have we not seen how his course materials and teachings are drawn from so many different sources including TM, Siddha samadhi yoga and EST manuals, while he passes the whole thing of as his “inner realisation”?? have we not seen the teachers, who spread his knowledge far and wide after having given up their own careers, being given a pittance as stipend and struggle to eke out some kind of an existence ?? And we know what the Sad Swami had to say about one such who rebelled and refused to bow any more ??
        Have we not see what Bawa has to say to the people skeptical of ravi shankar and AOL??
        Have we not seen ravi shankar jump onto the Anna hazare bandwagon on one hand and the baba ramdev bandwagon on the other in the hopes of scoring some political points whuile not putting himself into the line of fire directly in either case??
        Have we not seen the Bangalore high court put in place a restrain order on his building the soudhamini plots on Kanakapura agricultural land??
        Have we seen even a shred of information from AOL people about the harmful effects of the SKY even as they peddle it as some “revelation” of the “chosen one” which can cure all ills from AIDS to cancer and can give you “enlightenment” and also help you climb Mount Everest to boot??
        Havent we seen him freely mix science with religion as show one for the other as and when the situation demanded ??
        Are all of the above mere “perspectives” or are they cold, hard, universal truths ??
        I could go on and on and on and on,but to conclude, at the end of thirty years of AOL ravi shankar’s enlightenment remains as mysterious as the massive amounts of philanthropy which AOL has supposedly engaged in.This last again is a hard truth as opposed to being a mere perspective.
        While your accomodationist attitude may present this blog in a softer light and make it more acceptable to all the fence sitters in AOL, it would erroneous to pass all information posted on this blog as being only perspectives, when as I have tried to show above, enough objective, falsifiable, evidence exists that shows ravi shankar to be a narcissistic, ambitious,unethical, unfeeling,cold and calculating, businesslike,ordinary individual.

      • The Doctor permalink
        April 28, 2012 10:38 am


        In every possible respect, you have COMPLETELY missed the point that I have been trying to get across here.

        I am not for one second saying that everything we have thrown up in this blog is just a perspective, it isn’t. I have no idea where you even came up with this, because I certainly didn’t write it anywhere and I haven’t even hinted at it. I really encourage you to go back and re-read everything I have written in this post, and let me know if I have even vaguely given any impression that these things you’ve mentioned and everything else we have uncovered are simply a perspective.

        In this particular comment you reponded to I was simply trying to get across the fact that AoL is neither “good”, “bad”, “right” or “wrong” in any OBJECTIVE sense of the word, and that this is entirely a matter of perspective.

        Perspectives stem from facts, but more precisely they stem from facts which individuals are PREPARED TO ACCEPT. This is absolutely key to this discussion.

        Many AoLers will simply deny various facts we have uncovered here because they directly challenge the positive perspectives they already have of AoL and RS, and they really don’t want to have their reality bubbles burst. We’ve have already seen this so many times here when extremists ask for evidence even though the blog is full of evidence.

        No matter what you or I or anyone else says about AoL, no matter how much evidence we uncover and no matter how convincingly we show them the facts, for many it simply won’t make any difference. They would much rather believe that AoL is faultless, and that we are the enemy, evil, disgruntled and so on.

        So I stand by what I said, the things I refer to are entirely a matter of perspective and this is something each individual is free to choose for themselves. We can’t and shouldn’t try to influence anyone’s perspective by forcing them to accept the facts we have uncovered here. But we should continue to make all the facts readily available, to give them a more balanced picture of AoL, so that at any point in the future should they feel so inclined, they themselves will begin to accept these things as facts and change their own perspective of AoL.

    • April 26, 2012 1:38 am

      I think to call AOL a cult or not a cult is grossly oversimplifying the situation. There are not that many spiritual organizations that come to my mind outside of the Unification Church and ISKCON that seem to actively employ “cult” tactics. Also, I would argue, that whether a spiritual organization is a “cult” or not has quite a bit to do with how a person relates to the organization. I have seen plenty of people in spiritual organization behave like cult fanatics and plenty of people in the same organization behave in quite a balanced, normal manner.

  2. April 25, 2012 5:30 pm

    @ Doctor
    Fabulous post!!! Agree with on this completely! We are lucky to see the truth others are not. That calls for compassion rather than bashing. I am so glad you came up with this post!
    I wish all of us don’t swing from one extreme reaction to the other.
    Respect your experiences at AOL, hold onto the learning from it, its YOUR OWN and move on!


    • Jr. permalink
      April 25, 2012 9:31 pm

      I agree. And the timing of Doctor’s post is good. I admit my own comments have carried a lot of sarcasm. After reading VSS’s responses to Harshal, I realized I should take that approach rather than sarcasm.

      It gets old that most of the responses from AOL members have been rubbish, but we’re finally starting to see legit responses from some people, which is great. We’re never all going to agree on everything about AOL, and that’s not the goal. But if we can have a healthy discussion on things, this blog will be much more beneficial to everyone.

      • Harshal permalink
        April 26, 2012 11:17 am

        “After reading VSS’s responses to Harshal, I realized I should take that approach rather than sarcasm”

        Please dont take ‘that’ approach..I will start pulling out my hairs…

  3. Tahir-ul-Qadri permalink
    April 25, 2012 7:52 pm

    @ Doctor

    A very beneficial post. Keep up this good work.

  4. Harshal permalink
    April 25, 2012 8:22 pm

    “I get feeling that there is something amiss”- .

    poor VSS. I have been telling you. Get some help. Dont feel too bad though, others on this blog suffer from milder versions of your ailments.

    I think VSS should be freely allowed to post on this blog. If not, she should start another blog condemning the cultish nature of this blog.

  5. April 26, 2012 1:26 am

    Doctor, thank you for this post. My posts in this blog, under many different names, have been quite positive regarding the AOL and SSRS because this has been my experience over the last 20 years with both. In fact, I just returned from the LA upanishad course and had a wonderful time on both the gross and subtle level, to say the least. I believe a more civil discourse on both “sides” can only be of benefit to everyones spiritual insight and growth. Polemics usually dominate internet posts and I certainly have been guilty of this at times in the past, but I will strive to avoid this.

    A further note. Doctor, you mention “brainwashing”. This is a term that was developed in the popular media in the 1950’s and has become a “buzz” word in popular culture. It actually has no meaning in clinical psychology (I’m a psychologist by the way). Probably “overvalued idea” would be a better term. I see an overvalued idea in any domain as a sign of an immature intellect that defensively invests in a conceptual position to the exclusion of contradictory experience. In psychoanalytic thought, when this is extreme, this is a full blown defensive mechanism called a “reaction formation.” People fanatically espouse one position to avoid any conscious awareness of doubt regarding this position. Perhaps this is a better description of the mechanics you see at work in some people in the AOL (and conversely many people “anti-AOL people”that post in this blog). For me, authentic spiritual growth can only occur through being open to all direct experiences that arise in pursuit of Realization. In my experience very few people seem to do this. They tend to cling to either an extreme positive or negative perspective desperately defending their conceptual position and denying any person’s experience contrary to it.

    So, to this end, let’s be like the ausuras and devas churning the cosmic ocean of consciousness producing the sweet nectar of soma! Who are the asuras and who are the devas will be left open for debate!

    • VSS permalink
      April 26, 2012 3:57 pm

      @ drpetersutphen [April 26, 2012 1:26 am]

      “I believe a more civil discourse on both “sides” can only be of benefit to everyones spiritual insight and growth.”

      I agree with you entirely. If uncivil posts can be done away with, they should be done away with. Irrespective of who they originate from, they vitiate the atmosphere. They do not allow for a completely civil discussion.

    • The Doctor permalink
      April 26, 2012 8:59 pm


      Good to hear from you again. I was actually aware that you’ve posted here under many different ids, but I never really saw any need to call you on it because for the most part you have been very civilized in your conduct and have never really been abusive at others. 🙂

      I really do prefer it when these discussions remain as discussions, with some level of maturity and decorum from everyone posting here whatever their point of view. Rather than degenerate into mindless arguments over who is right and who is wrong. And I suspect you and many others feel the same.

      I do agree with you regarding the term “brainwashing”. Like “cult”, it is very loosely defined at best and certainly has no universally agreed upon meaning even outside the scientific realm. I suppose a better term to use would really be “conditioning”, however that seems somewhat lacking. The gist of what many of us are trying to put across on this blog is that AoL uses deception and manipulation to instil various beliefs in its devotees. So I suppose conditioning which arises through deception and manipulation would be more apt.

      But like everything else here, this is just a perspective, a point of view. Those who wish to believe it or some variation of it can, those that don’t, don’t.

      Please do keep asking questions and challenge any of the things here as you see fit.

    • stupidseeker permalink
      April 28, 2012 8:43 am


      If you were to ask Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an “enlightened” being and another successor to the shankaracharya lineage like your guru,whether ravi shankar was a deva or an asura, what do you think he would say,given that ravi shankar has shamelessly plagiarised his mantra mediatation as well as his guru puja amongst other things and ejected him out of the shankaracharya lineage to boot ???
      Would you accuse him of fanaticism if he said ravi shankar was an asura ?? And how fair/unfair would it be if he accused you of fanaticism when you tried to defend your guru being called an asura ??

  6. Anonymous permalink
    April 26, 2012 1:51 am


    Thank you for a very wise and well balanced post. I felt at peace with myself and the world, after reading your post. The understanding only became clearer, that If I decided to move on from AOL, it was not just hurt but something beyond that …the wisdom that comes from ones experiences. Afterall, there are some good things that I learnt from my stay in AOL.

  7. Aditya permalink
    April 26, 2012 4:53 am


    Maybe it’s time to freeze this blog also like KLIM did earlier. Many of the recent posts are just diluting the value of this blog to new people who discover this blog.

    • Anonymous permalink
      April 27, 2012 2:31 pm

      Would Art of Living just LOVE that! Freeze the blog! LOL @ Aditya

  8. stupidseeker permalink
    April 26, 2012 7:38 am


    Why are you coming up with this post nearly two years into the lifetime of this blog, after so much has been said and done ?? If you wish certain individuals to stop posting here why don’t you just tell them upfront, rather than come up with some seemingly vague guidelines this late in the day.?? And haven’t the the various visiters and posters added to your own knowledge of religious cults and how they operate ??

    • The Doctor permalink
      April 26, 2012 9:33 pm


      None of those things have changed. Everything that has been contributed is still valid and I’m not throwing any of that out.

      In fact, I’m not even setting out rough guidelines two years into the lifetime of this blog. I’m actually re-iterating and reminding contributors of what Skywalker said in his seminal post here on this blog:


      I am thinking that it should be a space for debate and critical thinking. I still hope it can be done in a tone of mutual respect, though. And that goes for both parties: speak from the heart, be true. And please refrain from mud-slinging and baseless accusations. Otherwise, the word is all yours!

  9. Harshal permalink
    April 26, 2012 7:46 am

    @stupidseeker- there is a reason for why the blog owner is doing this. What the blog owners want is a systematic defamation of AOL. They have realized that your evangelical agenda and VSS’s psychobabble doesn’t help much in furthering the cause of this blog. Hence these guidelines.

    • stupidseeker permalink
      April 26, 2012 4:29 pm


      Your guru has such enormous influence in Indian society. He has the ability to dictate to people what they must think, how they should live their lives and what constitutes national identity and what doesn’t. He can count national level politicians as his friends who can pull strings on his behalf.
      The last thing he might need is a defender like you on an anonymous blog, moderated at that, and the last thing he need feel threatened about is a “pastor” with an “evangelical agenda”.

  10. VSS permalink
    April 26, 2012 8:31 am

    A humble submission from me to those who allege an “US Vs.THEM” attitude:

    First of all, I apologize for anything that I’ve said to encourage this — I have wondered aloud in a manner of speaking — never ever seriously.

    Having said that, I request you to base your perceptions on facts and facts alone.

    Here are the facts:

    1. The individuals who post on this blog do not know each other in real life.

    2. The individuals who post on this blog do not have a common spiritual guru.

    3. The individuals who post on this blog are not from the same religion either.

    4. The individuals who post on this blog do not have a common boss either.

    5. The individuals who post on this blog do not have identical views on AoL.

    6. It is AoL that took this blog to court and led to this false “US Vs.THEM” perception.

    7. As far as this blog is concerned, there is no “US”.

    Individuals post critiques of AoL on this blog. These individuals belong to different religions, work for different organizations, and, believe in different schools of thought. There is ample evidence of each person’s unique perspective on this blog. Therefore, I humbly request you to think calmly based on facts and facts alone. Please don’t entertain any perception based on anything but facts. It would be irrational to base a perception on anything but facts since they are absolutely obvious and irrefutable in the case of this blog.

    No one has ever come up with any proof / evidence that suggests that the individuals posting on this blog belong to a specific organization, NGO, or, cult, or, nation (for that matter).

    Let me also add that I am not attempting to blame you for your incorrect perception. I have constantly maintained that to err is human. There are several instances in which I have entertained an incorrect perception owing to the inability to factor in facts for some reason. It could happen to anyone.

    However, now that the facts are in front of you, right here and now, I hope that you will factor them in and base your perception on facts and facts alone. There exists no rational or valid evidence / proof to suggest that those individuals who post on this blog are anything but individuals who do not know each other, and do not have identical views or gurus or bosses or religious beliefs.

    There is no “US” as far as this blog is concerned. Kindly do not entertain this falsity.

    Thank you for your time.

  11. Anonymous permalink
    April 26, 2012 9:27 am

    Guys I startd fall in love with u all……………..

  12. VSS permalink
    April 26, 2012 11:53 am

    @ The Doctor

    I have a request. Please take a look at this thread. All kinds of opinions have been expressed in this thread. All sorts of feedback has been provided to people with different perspectives. However, these comments are vitiating the atmosphere:

    April 25, 2012 6:42 pm

    April 25, 2012 8:22 pm

    April 26, 2012 7:46 am

    If you were to delete these comments, the atmosphere on this thread would change. This change would be good for those who critique AoL as well as those who don’t critique AoL.

    Allowing abuse to continue is not helping the cause of this blog at all. All guidelines should apply to all — across the board — without any prejudice or bias.

    The only way to ensure that the quality of discussion does not degenerate is by communicating the minimum quality expected through constructive action to all.

    I am certain that once this constructive action happens, there’ll be a definite change in the quality of discussions initiated as well as sustained.

    Please think about it. It’s an earnest request. If you have the will, then this thread can be the beginning of a new chapter in the history of this blog. Initially, for a few weeks, we all might have to learn what the minimum quality expected is — sometimes by finding out when comments have been deleted — but eventually — the quality will be clear to one and all.

    I’m sure you would appreciate that those who are brutally attacked, though they might not be in the AoL trap, are human beings too. The same rules ought to be applied to all human beings.

    I have absolutely no objections to a low quality comment by me being deleted. I don’t even have an issue with all my previous comments and posts being deleted. I am willing to make a fresh start. I am sure most others are also willing to make a fresh start too. But I do believe that this fresh start needs to be facilitated initially. Therefore, please do think about it. Please take action when necessary for a few weeks. Actions speak louder than words.

    Thank you.

    • VSS permalink
      April 26, 2012 3:11 pm

      @ The Doctor

      Here’s another abusive comment that also vitiates the atmosphere:

      April 26, 2012 2:54 pm

      Until such abusive comments continue, the atmosphere on this blog won’t change. I do hope that you are seriously considering applying moderation to all across the board for a few weeks. It seems all who critique AoL and all who don’t — have absolutely no issues with your moderation skills.

      I don’t see the need for any abuse. It’s completely unwarranted and not at all pro-discussion. If this ugliness is avoidable, it should be avoided. Hope you’ll think about a fresh start for all of us.

      There’s no need for venom from anyone for anyone.

      Thank you.

  13. Anonymous permalink
    April 26, 2012 12:44 pm

    @Doctor, As someone who has had very intimate experience of Ravi Shankar and Art of Living, and who thankfully came away relatively unscathed (Grace of God), I am sad to think that this topic was possibly aimed at VSS and his/her many astute comments. If you need to criticize anyone, or moderate any comments, why haven’t you moderated this Harshal thing and other really terrible AOL people. I’m sorry if you view this as “us versus them” but face it — Ravi Shankar ordered his brainwashed zombies (and I can say this because I was one of them once and escaped the mess) to sue the owner of this blog and the “Klim” blog. How much more “us versus them” can it get? I have only ever posted here to point out the sickness and bad behavior in Art of Living and with Ravi Shankar. I don’t truly believe I got anything at all good from him or the organization except a really hard lesson in fake gurujis, matajis, babajis, swamijis and in the abuse that happens inside a religious cult. That really is what Art of Living is. Doctor, if you don’t know this, if your experience with AOL and RS was limited, go back for awhile and get really close. You’ll find out. If you need to moderate any comments here, you need to get rid of people coming in here who are not interested in the truth, but simply stirring up controversy. They are no doubt hired by Ravi Shankar to do this. Why else do you suppose they post? Exceptions might be someone like Proud Teacher who is at a stage that I was at once, before I finally got so disgusted with the sickness at the ashram and with Ravi Shankar, I stopped overlooking all the bad behavior from the senior teachers, and from the ‘master’ himself. The only hope is that this blog will help Proud Teacher leave gracefully, without too much harm to him/her, when finally seeing the truth of the organization and master he is serving. Actually, doctor, Ravi Shankar is evil. He wasn’t always so, but he has become so. He acts with great malice when it serves him. I’ve witnessed, as have my friends, all of whom left amazed that apparently two people could be in one body. If this blog is to extol all the wonderful things I got from Art of Living, then it’s a waste of time. If it’s to tell the truth about the cult, then it’s purposeful. I really get the feeling that many posting here don’t know Ravi Shankar very well.

    • The Doctor permalink
      April 26, 2012 9:48 pm


      Regarding moderating comments – I don’t need to, I don’t want to, and I’m not going to. End of story!

      I merely requested that people behave with a little more decorum and mutual respect towards each other on this blog.

      Some like Harshal never will, but I’m fairly sure many others will have no problem with this, especially as most of us already do anyway.

      I would especially like to see better treatment of people from AoL who visit this blog. If they have any doubts whatsoever and want to discuss them here, if they have any issues they want to get off their chests, or even if they want to challenge things, I’d like them to use this space to do so. Many are waking up, but at the same time feel some pull towards the organization. And just because someone defends AoL doesn’t make them a bad person and they don’t deserve to be abused.

      Regarding RS, this is your experience with him and your own personal truth. I cannot comment either way, but feel free to express yourself as you wish to, I’m not about to stop you or challenge you in any way.

    • Jr. permalink
      April 26, 2012 9:54 pm

      “Ravi Shankar ordered his brainwashed zombies (and I can say this because I was one of them once and escaped the mess) to sue the owner of this blog and the “Klim” blog. How much more “us versus them” can it get?”

      This is an interesting point, but I can’t say I agree entirely. It’s clear that AOL and the reps who post for them want this blog shut down, but this blog doesn’t want to shut AOL down. It rather wants to warn people that the organization is not all good. Many of the posts on here have been great suggestions for improving AOL. Also, I appreciate the rest of your posting, as it’s clear you do have more insider perspective than I do.

      Lastly, I would love to see Harshal’s comments removed, but if this blog is going to truly be “freedom of speech,” then one just has to ignore the negative comments or at least not get caught up in them too much. I feel his abusive comments towards VSS maybe should be removed, as they have nothing to do with the topic usually. But we know that every one of his abusive comments helps people show just how screwed up some people have been hurt by AOL. It’s the same as Fred Phelp’s Baptist Church protesting funerals – we’ve got to accept the good AND the negative with freedom. It’s just how it goes.

      • Original Anonymous permalink
        April 27, 2012 6:26 am

        I was in the ashram when this blog started and we were clearly instructed by most Swamijis, BnD and Sri Sri as to NOT visit this blog. We were instructed not to defend aol on this blog as this would only make the blog more popular. This is what aol wanted us to do. But fortunately curiosity got too much and I visited. And the result is that now I am an ex teacher who is rebuilding my life slowly but surely.

        The reason behind this was that there was truth in this blog, and people like Skywalker, Peaceful warrior, the prosecutor, and many others who used to speak from their experiences and make sure this blog was open to feedback both positive and negative.

        Now if somebody calls me or anyone else like me a paid agent of AoL or a brainwashed zombie when all I want to do is be fair, then that is truly very insulting and I really cannot do anything about it but shut up and leave this blog for the very same reason I left aol.

  14. Reji permalink
    April 26, 2012 1:15 pm

    @VSS my 10 cents
    my expectation on Harshal is less – did I say ‘his up bringing is different’. not yours. bar for you is different.

  15. Satya permalink
    April 26, 2012 2:54 pm

    @ Doctor

    A wonderful post…. completely apt and required….. and best of all, posted at the RIGHT time….

    Your message is absolutely clear and i see people for whom its meant have understood it but are not coming to terms with it maybe because they have understood a lot about themselves after reading your post and they are also now findng it a need to explain themselves for their behaviour by subtly diverting the cause of this post –
    1. By way of seeking sympathy through requesting you to delete their comments
    2. By asking to define the moderating capacity of their comments

    They must take the message of your post in the right perspective and should not cry fowl. I humbly request them not to feel self pity. My prayers are with them.

    Finally, You have earned a lot of respect for this…. and
    Kudos to you…..:-)

  16. Harshal permalink
    April 26, 2012 3:35 pm

    @doctor: Please delete all the comments which VSS has pointed out.

    I am very concerned that she can do some self-harm and if anything happens to her, this blog and the blog owners will be responsible for it.

  17. Dayalu permalink
    April 26, 2012 8:23 pm

    Just one thing folks, It helps to keep your comments brief, succinct and to the point. Recently there have been a lot of verbal explosions on the blog, mostly devoid of any value. Also it helps not to get too emotional. After all, this blog is about AOL and SSRS and not about anyone who posts here. So chill out and relax. We have dealt with Harshal and his kind in the past without having to write pages and pages. Short and sweet comments are great.

    Some of the recent comments remind me of SSRS’ knowledge tapes. Hours and hours of talk, but if you ask one of those avid listeners to summarize, they will just struggle because they are mostly ‘Jilebi talk’.

  18. VSS permalink
    April 27, 2012 6:31 am

    @ The Doctor [April 26, 2012 9:23 pm]

    I hear you. I think I shall make an earnest attempt to clarify in each comment that whatever I am saying is my perspective / my truth — not THE TRUTH / THE ONLY PERSPECTIVE. Not only have I said this, I believe this and practice this. Till date I have only cautioned people about AoL, never imposed a decision (no imposed decision has any value anyway), and, never done anything to stop AoL from expanding.

    In fact, it should be evident to all those who see comments from a specific person that whatever is being said are words by a specific person and can only be that person’s perspective / truth. It should also be clear that they are just words. Words do not pop out of computer screens and FORCE people to do things. However, I shall err on the side of caution, like I used to, and add that I have absolutely no objections to anyone joining AoL or staying in AoL or becoming a teacher, to ensure that there is no confusion.

    After that, if people FEEL FORCED BY MERE WORDS then I’ll know that it has nothing whatsoever to do with me.

    As far as Harshal, Satya et al are concerned, I don’t agree with you that the only thing one needs to do to not be off-topic is brutally abuse the author. I would, therefore, recommend that you take a good look at all his comments and see for yourself the large percentage of comments that contain nothing at all to do with the topic — except brutal abuse for the author. Further, my perspective on this is, that allowing people to just abuse does not help them either. Think about it. The abuse has only gotten worse. If you were to delete abusive comments, then the abuser would know that comments have to be non-abusive to be posted. Again, this is my perspective on tackling abuse, based on the fact that allowing it has not helped the abuser in the past two years. The abuser would actually be empowered to express his perspective better. He would get the chance to be heard and would not be dismissed on sight. Again, this is only my perspective. I am not imposing anything — merely expressing another point of view.

    Is dealing with abuse a pleasant experience? It’s not. Can it be ignored? Of course it can be ignored. What happens in AoL, for instance? Abuse is reported and AoL ignores the report — it chooses not to address the issue whether it is about abuse by an AoL teacher or abuse by an AoL recommendation (such as Kriya). What is the consequence? Reform does not take place.

    Many individuals have expressed on this blog that AoL could use this blog as a source of feedback that leads to reforms within AoL — making it a better place for all its members. I know I have wished that it was, at least, a better place. However, AoL simply does not pay any heed to feedback. As a result, it is degenerating.

    What applies to institutions applies to individuals as well. We can either do something or not do something. We can either take corrective action or not take corrective action. Yes, we can only request someone else to take corrective action. Depending on whether or not that person is receptive, the person will honour or dishonour the request.

    You requested all who post to take corrective action. I am going to take it. You didn’t impost your decision but expressed your perspective. I am going to incorporate your feedback and ensure that I clarify at all times that whatever I have said or will say is merely my perspective and my truth.

    I requested you for corrective action after reporting abuse including profanity. You asked me to ignore it. You chose not to take corrective action. I cannot and will not impose a decision. It’s your call entirely. Reforms cannot be imposed — neither on a country nor on an institution nor on an individual.

    In fact, this entire episode teaches me another thing — AoL is not alone in ignoring abuse once it has been reported and irrefutable evidence exists. Many do it. It’s probably a human tendency. Again, this is just my observation and just my perspective. I could be erring. I am also a human being. I try being receptive but don’t always succeed.

  19. VSS permalink
    April 27, 2012 7:39 am

    A note to no one in particular:

    (All that I have ever written and will write in the future too is my perspective and my perspective alone.)

    The term “brainwashed zombie” is a derogatory reference. The term “brainwashed” is not. Yesterday when BJD MLA Jina Hikaka was released by his Maoist kidnappers, BJD MP Jay Panda said that he has been in captivity for 33 days and is likely to be suffering from the “Stockholm Syndrome”.

    When people are kidnapped for long spans of time — in the case above it’s not a thought or a philosophy but actual kidnapping — then they suffer something referred to as the “Stockholm Syndrome”. Not all of them do but most do.

    When people have been “kidnapped” using tools and techniques of brainwashing, they suffer from the effect of brainwashing. To recover from brainwashing, the first step is to admit that it might have happened. Those who don’t can and are likely to remain in a state of denial — something that will not facilitate the recovery from spiritual abuse accomplished through powerful tools and techniques of brainwashing.

    The next step is to read up on what constitutes brainwashing and what the symptoms are — OBJECTIVELY — in a private space — with the help of someone who has not been through the same brainwashing and can be trusted and is accessible for a face-to-face discussion.

    Being in denial can be disastrous. It can delay the process of recovery. This applies to being in denial about anything.

    I was brainwashed by someone who had been brainwashed by AoL. It took me approximately two years to realize that the ideas that I had been indoctrinated with were ideas that could be traced to AoL. Of course, what helped me in tracing the source of ideas was the fact that the person who’d brainwashed me relentlessly for seven months — and this was in-person brainwashing — was now visible in AoL and had by now relocated to the Bangalore Ashram. What happened in the two years after that was long-distance brainwashing.

    Literally a few days before I relocated to the Bangalore Ashram, I found this blog. The process of recovery from in-person and long-distance brainwashing involved the following steps:

    1. Acknowledging that brainwashing had taken place.

    No one is too intelligent for brainwashing. It could happen to anyone at any time in any country and it could be accomplished by anyone who is accomplished in brainwashing.

    2. Studying the thesis of those who have detailed the symptoms of brainwashing.

    There are several scholars and academicians who have done so and their research material is easily available on the internet. What makes their arguments convincing is that they are not talking about AoL but about the prototype of cults.

    3. OBJECTIVELY identifying the symptoms of brainwashing and discussing them from someone who is not from AoL, can be trusted, and, is accessible for a face to face discussion.

    4. FACING each symptom at a micro level and at a macro level. Joining the dots in order to be able to identify the complete pattern of brainwashing including its specific ingredients.

    5. DEALING with each symptom by reversing the indoctrinated thought and validating the reverse thought through constructive action and constructive behaviour.

    6. LOOKING FOR A SOLUTION that involves a spiritual solution as well as a profession that is free of any kind of brainwashing.

    7. Last but not the least — expressing and sharing lessons learnt — with the objective of validating those in need of validation.

    Everything that I have said above applies only to those who are like me. This is my perspective on people like me. If you are not like me, and all that I have said does not apply to you, please ignore all that I have said. These are just words. They have any relevance only if you can relate them to a personal experience. If you can’t, then they’re just trash and ought to find their way to the recycle bin of your mind. Seriously. My perspective is just one perspective. Please don’t misunderstand what I’ve said and jump to all kinds of conclusions that do not exist. That is something that only a brainwashed person would do — jump to random conclusions about something they cannot relate to. I am an ordinary human being who was brainwashed by AoL. I was harmed badly. There is no part of my AoL experience that was anything but third degree psychological torture. If your AoL experience was good, then none of these words apply to you. So, chillaxe!

    Have a nice day!

    • April 27, 2012 9:03 am

      @ Doc

      This Blog exposes AOL. It forces people at all levels of AOL including the AOL founders and current chief / lead propagators to see and to consciously acknowledge AOL in its complete view.

      AOL ie …99%…or a very high figure of folks in AOL do not want to be exposed….at least not at this pace/speed.

      So, who are we kidding ?. We are exposing them and they do not want to be exposed.

      Hence it is US Vs THEM. The US with them will just not work. No matter what you do, Oil and water will not mix. Any emulsion is short term. It is forced using extra energy. It is just not natural.

      This BLOG helps expose AOL in it’s entirety with a definite anti-AOL-bias since there are numerous pro-AOL platforms in existence already. Our Blog just completes the picture. We all have a choice to accept things partially (and live in denial, for looking at the whole, will only automatically make you feel more responsible than before….and then we ask ourselves why do I need to fix a problem that I did not create i the 1st place?). However, once I have seen the full picture, I also realise that its a behemoth and cannot be beaten by one person.

      So you group together and chip away… chip at a time…

      Using incomplete truths and falsities, AOL created a powerful MLM system where followers were exploited for the benefit of a few. But it is a dual edged sword….the very same system is biting them back…… ….

      The pendulum swings……..there is nothing anyone can do……those reading this blog will develop a clear option where they can choose to stay out of the way of the swinging pendulum…..for soon its string will be cut too……for when the fall starts the swing ends….

      May the bouncing begin.

      • ElevenOneLouder permalink
        April 27, 2012 2:56 pm

        ‘for soon its string will be cut too…for when the fall starts the swing ends….
        HaHaHa ..keep dreaming. in a rainy day – put a shawl – sip hot chocolate – keep dreaming, my friend.

      • Anonymous permalink
        April 27, 2012 4:51 pm

        @IO I agree. Anyway, people in Art of Living overestimate it’s size and go by the fake numbers given. Here are some hard, cold facts: some American guy named Joel Osteen just announces he will talk about “God” and how God loves people, and he fills a 40,000-60,000 stadium, for big tickets! Much bigger than Art of Living. Yet I’m betting nobody on this blog even heard of the guy. He’s huge in the US and other countries where he travels. Of course he is also probably full of BS like Ravi Shankar, but the point is, there are just so many of these people and Ravi Shankar is quite small in comparison to most of them in India, and elsewhere. And yes, IO, it will all unravel and come apart. And nobody will really care except RS’s employees.

      • The Doctor permalink
        April 27, 2012 9:22 pm


        I would challenged this: “AOL ie …99%…or a very high figure of folks in AOL do not want to be exposed….at least not at this pace/speed.”

        I would say 99% of people in AoL are blissfully ignorant of the things we are exposing here. Yes many who suddenly become aware of this blog would rather deny it than accept what is written here, but as we have seen over time many are coming forwards with the very same doubts we have all had and are putting their support behind this blog. Apart from the small handful of extremists who are living in complete denial and won’t even acknowledge any of the evidence we have put forward here, I would say that there are many who would like to know about the very things that we have unearthed here given half the chance.

        The trouble is that a small group of people in AoL are trying to turn this whole thing into an Us Versus Them scenario, whereby there has to be enmity and in some cases animosity between “Us” and “Them”. In particular those in AoL who are behind this drive (senior teachers, Swamis, RS and his “inner circle”) are using this dynamic to give them huge leverage over their existing followers, simply by convincing them that we are negative, disgruntled, the enemy, evil, blackmailers and so on, and hence telling them to avoid this blog. And so many who do come here out of curiosity may accept AoL’s side of the story without even getting to the core of the issues if we don’t treat them with some respect and dignity.

        Now since we know from several sources that AoL has been warning its teachers about this blog, and that many of them have actually been raising doubts and concerns during TRMs about AoL, then it is only a matter of time when more and more teachers visit here and start to ask questions. As and when this happens, I want them to find any and all information which may help to address their doubts and give them a more complete overall picture of AoL than the one which AoL has given them.

        So all I am really asking is for people here to treat them with respect and dignity, and to do what they can to help them. Not to treat them with animosity, to call them “brainwashed zombies”, which will only strengthen the perspective of this blog which those at the core of AoL is trying to instil in their minds.

    • VSS permalink
      April 27, 2012 9:41 am


      The fact is that on previous occasions, I HAVE DIRECTLY CONFRONTED LESS THAN FIVE PEOPLE (if i recall accurately) WITH THE ASSERTION THAT THEY ARE “BRAINWASHED OR ATTEMPTING TO BRAINWASH”. I did so, as, from my perspective, they seemed utterly brainwashed to me to the extent that they were intentionally or unintentionally brainwashing others.


      As was the case in my case, a brainwashed person can be confronted only in a face to face conversation by a non AoL person, who they can trust, in the privacy of their own space.


      It would be futile to do so. I have learnt my lesson and learnt it well.

      If my words do not apply to you, please trash them. I am simply expressing my perspective and my truth. These words do not apply to anyone who has not experienced ONLY THE HARMFUL EFFECTS OF AOL. THOSE WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED ONE OR MORE BENEFICIAL EFFECTS OF AOL MAY KINDLY IGNORE THESE WORDS AS THEY SIMPLY DO NOT APPLY TO YOU.

      Please do not jump to any conclusions based on the notion that I am imposing my perspective or my truth on you. I am not. I never have and I won’t in the future either. These are just words. They don’t have wings. They won’t perch themselves on your window sill and sing my songs to you if you don’t want them to. Ignore them if you don’t identify with them. Take it easy! Please don’t be unnecessarily reactive. It won’t do you or anyone else any good.

      And, once again, have a nice day!

      • prairie princess permalink
        April 27, 2012 6:11 pm

        I appreciate your comments.

      • Original Anonymous permalink
        April 28, 2012 6:40 am

        By Anonymous April 26, 2012 12:44 pm

        Ravi Shankar ordered his brainwashed zombies (and I can say this because I was one of them once and escaped the mess) to sue the owner of this blog and the “Klim” blog.

        @VSS .. You are not the only one who comments on this blog .. and not every accusation is thrown at you .. this post is a general post which speaks about an attitude in general and does not attack or accuse any particular person ..

        So relax and enjoy the discussions ..

      • VSS permalink
        April 28, 2012 9:12 am

        @ Original Anonymous [April 28, 2012 6:40 am]

        You are not the only one who reads this blog.

        Further, kindly trash anything that I have ever said or will say at your earliest convenience. My words simply do not apply to you. I was terribly, terribly mistaken in the past when I thought that something that I have to say might be of relevance to you. It’s not.

        I appreciate your understanding in this regard. Thank you.

        Have a nice day!

      • d-seeker permalink
        April 29, 2012 7:03 am

        Dude VSS what was your AOL experience.Have u posted it somewhere.Give me the link.I presume you have seen really bad days in AOL.

      • VSS permalink
        April 29, 2012 10:09 am

        @ d-seeker [April 29, 2012 7:03 am]

        I have written about it in several posts. I was brainwashed by someone who was brainwashed by AoL. It was done using “knowledge” in the “knowledge sheets”. However, AoL was not mentioned for a long time. (It was done very slyly.) I figured it out when the person who did the in-person brainwashing for seven months (and long-distance brainwashing for over two years after that) became a resident of the Bangalore Ashram soon after those seven months. (I could also trace the “knowledge” to the “knowledge sheets”.)

        Further, the person is an employee of AoL as of now and has been since some time — possibly over a year. (He is completely brainwashed and has even become incoherent.) I discovered this blog just a few days (literally) before relocating to the Bangalore Ashram (some months ago). I was in touch with several members of AoL over the phone and via email. It’s primarily because of this blog and Klim’s blog that I changed my mind. I don’t regret my decision to not relocate to the Bangalore Ashram – I haven’t regretted my decision in the past and I won’t regret it in the future either.

        Here’s the link to a recent comment that might give you some insight into my AoL experience:

  20. Wanderer.. permalink
    April 27, 2012 7:10 pm

    i also think that AOL do brain wash people or may be i was wrong. i have spent enough time there, they don’t want people to improve. just chant guru-guru- and make participants bring more people, what they call SEWA. i am great full that somehow i got to realize that and came out of AOL.They create a different kind of god, who wants people to speak the same language. Although, i also got fer very good and genuine friends in AOL. last few months were terrible for me. sometimes i badly regret all this. i wasted my precious time, did nothing- and thought my god is taking care of me .i was giving this false hope that everything would be done if i keep on chanting his name and bring people to AOL, and there are many others who are like me. feel bad now. sometimes i worry about young people like me who are being given hope for a excellent tomorrow by AOL. .. its all about money and numbers in AOL, this is what is called ”Blessing” of guru. ..i saw teachers fighting, egoistic behavior, money issues, teachers behaving like ” Enlightened guru” , and giving false hopes to others. .. but i tell you there are many like me who have the same experience but they just don’t express …..
    may be it was a bad choice i made or it was destined or… don’t know how to accept it..
    thanks for this blog ….

    • VSS permalink
      April 28, 2012 5:14 am

      @ Wanderer.. [April 27, 2012 7:10 pm]

      “…but i tell you there are many like me who have the same experience but they just don’t express…”

      You are brave. It’s very good that you expressed yourself. If your AoL experience was painful, it doesn’t mean that it’s your fault at all. In fact, it’s not your fault at all. There a lot of people who had the same experience as you. Please don’t blame yourself. What happened to you could have happened to anyone.

  21. April 27, 2012 10:24 pm

    I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to fear exposing cults.
    I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to fear exposing gurus.
    I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to surrender myself to another, in that, give up on myself.
    I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to not take responsibility for myself, instead want a gur or god to take responsiblity for myself.
    I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to deceit others to make me rich and famous.
    I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to define me a devotee and define another as a guru.
    I forgive myself that I havea accepted and allowed myself to place myself as a slave to my guru and god.
    I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to place my trust in the hands of guru and god.
    I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to waste my life in surrending myself to my guru and god.
    I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to deceit others as myself to make me rich adn famous.
    I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to participate in this capitalistic money system that drives everyone crazy to the point of utter most ruthlessness and violence.
    I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to ruin this world in the name of power, fame and money.
    i forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to ignore myself, neglect myself, disregard myself, put down myself, suppress myself, so that I can serve my master better.
    I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to cheat, lie and deciet others so I can be rich and famous, while others die and perish.
    I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to separate myself from this very existence, from all others as me, from everythign in this physical reality.
    I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to place my life in the hands of others, instead of taking self-responsiblity for myself.
    I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to declare war against the abusers of life here, not realizing it is the world-money system that producers abusers/liers. instead of changing the system, I declar war against invidiual groups as if that is going to bring what is best for all.

    I commit myself to expose abuses of life, not for seeking revengage, but until they realize that all abuse is self-abuse.
    I commit myself to brnig what is best for all beings, humans, and animals, and nature.
    I commit myself to write out every accepted and allowed bullshit within me, and so i can release it with self-forgivenes and self-corrective statements. I realize, there is no forgiveness, only self-forgiveness.
    I realize for every abuse in this world, I am directly or indirectly responsible for it. So I commit myself to investigate/study/research for a system that is best for all beings/life earth.
    I realize this earth is our home, a home to us all, hence, I commit myself to investigate/study/research a system that is best for all.
    I commit myself to end this abusing dog-eat-dog winner-gets-all system forevermore.
    I commmit myself to stand as an example of LIFE here, breathing, self-forgiving and birthing myself as life here. In that, I commit myself to birth heaven on earth.

    Join us, in this jouney of self-birthing to life. You have been waiting for you.

  22. VSS permalink
    April 28, 2012 5:05 am

    @ The Doctor [April 27, 2012 9:22 pm]

    How I wish that you had posted all the insights that you have shared in this comment in the main post (above) on this thread. Now, everything is crystal clear.

    Based on this information that you have shared that I did not have access to, I have to request you for something:

    1. Please delete all my comments where I have confronted anyone with this word “brainwashed”. Although I make a clear distinction between “brainwashed” and “brainwashed zombie”, it is clear to me that this distinction is not being processed as it ought to be — and is instead being misconstrued to the extent of being inappropriately projected.

    2. Please also delete any other comment that has the potential to be misconstrued.

    (Also, there’s no rush. Since you’d need to scan posts, I am in no way suggesting that this be done in a day or two days. Please take your time based on the free time available to you.)

    I know in my heart that I have never written or will write anything with any sort of malice towards any individual — that is just not who I am. However, I also know that I might have written something that has the potential to be misconstrued without realizing it. I am, after all, just a human being, and as likely to err as anyone else.

    But I do trust your judgment. I shall try my best not to post anything that has the potential to be misconstrued, but if you find that I have failed, please delete whatever you think is potentially misconstrue-able. I shall learn from that. I am not attached to anything that I have said or will say.

    I sincerely hope that you’ll honour my requests. I assure you that they are earnest. In the light of what you’ve said, it’s important that anything potentially misconstrue-able should be deleted. I can’t, however, speak for others. But, I can definitely speak for myself and I am doing so.

    Thank you.

  23. VSS permalink
    April 28, 2012 6:35 am

    The following, as is the case with all that I have written and all that I shall ever write, is my perspective and my perspective alone. If you can’t identify with these words, I request you to trash them at your earliest convenience. There are different kinds of people who post on this blog. I belong to the category that was only harmed by AoL. If you don’t belong to this category, then please skip reading the rest of this post. Thank you. I appreciate your understanding in this regard.

    @ The Seer [April 25, 2012 9:31 pm]

    Well said. But that applies to the world before “deletion” was an option. Just kidding. I know what you mean and I hear you clearly. I do have a mental activity-physical activity combination that I follow and I won’t mention it because I don’t want to be ever seen to be promoting anything, not even accidentally. (I mentioned the Gita in my earlier comment because I can’t be accused of promoting the Gita — it is a text respected by several people across religions and cultures. I also mentioned meditation but I’ll never reveal more details about it.) My objection to AoL and its practices are on the grounds of certain issues, and I’ll try my best to keep it issue-based. I have erred in the past.

    After the last comment from “The Doctor”, it is abundantly clear to me that anything that can be misconstrued will be misconstrued in AoL and used against this blog to prevent people in AoL from reading it. I completely understand his perspective. I had no idea what was going on. Now I do. I have, therefore, requested for all potentially miscontrue-able comments from me to be deleted. I have no issues with that and won’t in the future either.

    I would have liked that the respect and dignity that members of AoL deserve was extended to me, but I know that we don’t live in a perfect world. In any case, what someone else does is none of my business. I am more concerned about not writing / posting anything that can be misconstrued in any manner whatsoever.

    I have no malice in my heart even as far as Mr. Ravi Shankar — the individual — is concerned. In fact, I feel that it is, in some way, a love for his sister, brother-in-law, nephews and other close friends, that is manifesting in an endless need to deploy individuals for the creation of private wealth. He must be insecure about their present and their future. If you look at him from his sister’s perspective, I am certain that you will find that he is an excellent brother. I have also read nothing and written nothing about how he might have been as a son and is as an uncle. I am certain that he would not have been unkind to his parents or to his nephews. I am also certain that he is very kind to his close friends — who he helps financially, emotionally, etc. etc.

    However, most biased and prejudiced people who are reading don’t understand this. They simply don’t understand that none of the critics comment on Mr. Ravi Shankar — the individual — they comment on Mr. Ravi Shankar — the public figure — the one who runs an outfit and the one who says certain things to a large number of people.

    I challenge anyone from AoL to find even one post on this blog that says anything about his personal life. Maybe there is one sentence here or there about something. Maybe.

    I do not recall reading anything on this blog that says he was unkind to his parents or mean to his sister or cruel when it came to his nephews. All the information on this blog is about him in the context of AoL. It’s not personal. Those who say it is are terribly mistaken and biased and prejudiced — whether intentionally or unintentionally.

    @ Jr. [April 26, 2012 2:45 am]

    I assure you that I have not forgotten anything and I won’t in the future either. I know precisely what you mean and I am absolutely not going to let my sensibilities degenerate. Thank you, all the same, for reminding me with your earnest and heartfelt words. Compassion always pays and it would do me a lot of good to remember that at all times — I am guilty of not remembering that at all times.

    @ Reji [April 26, 2012 1:15 pm]

    Your ten cents are more precious to me than a million bucks. I shall do my best to ensure that there is no drop in the standard of what I write in the future. This will be good for me — personally as well as professionally.

    @ prairie princess [April 27, 2012 6:11 pm]

    I appreciate your validation immensely.

    @ Anonymous [April 26, 2012 12:44 pm]

    I appreciate your kindness immensely.

    A note to all those who relate to my perspective in some way:

    Please do read the latest comment by “The Doctor”. It is extremely insightful. It explains why there is a need for all of us to be conscious of what we post as anything which is potentially misconstrue-able is being misconstrued in AoL. We must, therefore, do our very best, to err on the side of caution and try not to say anything that can be misconstrued and projected inappropriately. We must keep all that we say as issue-based as possible. We must critique our own posts from that perspective before posting. It will do us all a lot of good. (IMHO)

    • The Seer permalink
      April 28, 2012 3:35 pm


      One thing I want to say about deleting the comments. Just in case the Doctor accedes to your repeated requests to delete some of your comments and deletes them, he will be setting a bad precedent. He will open up the possibility for anyone who doesn’t like you to post all kinds of abusing comments about you, do all the damage, and the next day request the Doc to delete their comment so that they look clean and tidy ever afterwards. Just think about it.

      Requesting to delete your comment is to deny what you’ve said, it’s like living in denial. It’s akin to AoL taking out a video when they found that it could expose their sales tricks (see this post: )

      If you think you have made a bad comment, just accept your mistake, forgive yourself and move on (and btw, I don’t think any of your comments are extremely bad, I’ve participated in several internet forums and compared to those, this is a very civilized place.) In some of your previous comments I’ve seen that you admire Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi, in his autobiography, reveals openly about some of the worst mistakes he made and his weaknesses during his early years. He was a great man because he was able to be very honest in accepting his mistakes. Documenting his errors in his autobiography and sharing it with the world did not make him any lesser. But in case he chose to remain silent about his mistakes and write only about the good things he did, that would have made him lesser.

      Do the right things in the present. Don’t try to fix the past, that’s waste of time.

      • VSS permalink
        April 28, 2012 5:36 pm

        (The following is my humble opinion. Please don’t feel compelled to agree with it. Thank you.)

        @ The Seer [April 28, 2012 3:35 pm]

        I understand. I assure you that I wasn’t trying to hide my mistakes. I have learnt from them and am taking corrective action in the present and shall do so in the future too. (I have a copy of all my comments. I have received feedback on them from my co-workers as well.) I just do not want to harm this blog in any way. That alone is my concern. Yes, I respect the Mahatma immensely and I am aware of all that you’ve said and agree entirely. Thank you again for your heartfelt words. You are “The Seer” and you are “The Sincere” too. I can tell that you are perceptive, wise, and sensitive.

        P.S. I also thought it was possible that ‘Proud Teacher’ was not returning because of my comments. I am relieved to see the return of ‘Proud Teacher’. (I wish I could give “the doctor” an Oscar.) The rest is upto “the doctor”. After seeing his new display pic, I trust his judgment even more. (A picture speaks a thousand words.) Seriously. Not kidding. He is a genius! I think I’ll leave it to him to decide what is to be done. I have let go of what is to be done.

        (The above is my humble opinion. Please don’t feel compelled to agree with it. Thank you.)

      • Original Anonymous permalink
        April 28, 2012 6:31 pm

        No point in deleting any comments.. whatever has been said has been said.. It would really be immature to not let go of the past..


        [EDIT: The rest of your comment will be published soon as a separate post.]

      • VSS permalink
        April 29, 2012 5:25 am

        As I’ve already said in an earlier comment:

        > The rest is upto “the doctor”. After seeing his new display pic, I trust his judgment even more. (A picture speaks a thousand words.) Seriously. Not kidding. He is a genius! I think I’ll leave it to him to decide what is to be done. I have let go of what is to be done. <

        This means I have let go of what is to be done with past comments and "the doctor" is free to take any decision in the interests of this blog, and those future visitors from AoL who might make too much of "the tone" because of the way this blog is being spoke of in AoL.

        The option to delete exists because it is an option. No one who comments and none of their comments are bigger than the purpose of the blog as perceived by those who started it and even fought in court for it when AoL took them to court. They are free to delete whatever they wish to delete.

        If we start linking "not letting go of the past" with the "deletion option", no blog / blogger would be free to delete a previous post. Those who host blogs will simply not provide blogs / bloggers with a "deletion" option. That, to me, is an anti-freedom perspective. Every blog and blogger should be free to delete whatever they wish to delete. IMHO.

    • The Doctor permalink
      April 29, 2012 9:31 am

      @VSS – in response to your request to deleting any of your comments, it is really down to each and every individual posting here to request deletion of specific comments if they so wish it. We’ve done this in the past when people wrote things in the heat of the moment that they later regretted, but we haven’t had to do it that much.

      I would recommend leaving everything exactly as it is, as many others have also recommended, since I don’t feel you have written anything which actually warrants removing. But at the end of the day if you really want to have something removed, it’s your shout.

      • VSS permalink
        April 29, 2012 10:33 am

        @ The Doctor [April 29, 2012 9:31 am]

        I’ll go with your recommendation.

  24. Proudteacher permalink
    April 28, 2012 7:00 am

    Finally something positive in blog.. Lets be more informative rather than just opinion and lets respect the emotion and sentiment of others. Most of the question in last blog I have already answered but just to repeat:

    1. Is it divine revelation? Why not more revelation? Lets not discuss this point as there is no way to prove this.

    2. Is Guruji divine? He is just one way to divine. There are other Guru’s also.

    3. Dr Vinod Contact.

    4. Los Angeles Ashram: Dear all, there is two way to look into it. “Art of Living purchased neglected church (which is in US heritage list) at LA” or “AOL have lavish Ashram in US”.

    5. Fund of AOL: AOL is an NGO as per Govt of India and they don’t need to pay any tax. If AOL is not utilization its fund in NGO activity more than anyone in world, Govt of India (now rule by congress and congress sentiment towards AOL is not good) will come forward. Last year during Anna Hazare movement, CBI have raided AOL Ayurveda school and didn’t find anyone. So lets be clear there is no fund mismanagement of fund in AOL. But they need to be more transparent by considering the scale its operates and many donors it have.

    6. Teaching of AOL (excluding SKY): First I will say I am not brainwashed by AOL (just a example I am reading this blog). Till now I am not happy with three Guruji talk among all the talk I have listened. His teaching are true and practical. And AOL doesn’t believe in conversion and Hinduism don’t believe in Conversion.

    7. Hyperventilation: As per my understanding Hyperventilation means excessive breathing thus by causing the fall of CO2 level and causing the tingling sensation and fall in blood pressure. People feel the same tingling sensation during the SKY. But in hyperventilation, people feel blurred vision, muscle spam and feeling of unwellness. But the same doesn’t happen after kriya.

    8. Technique behind SKY: Please read Patanjali Yog Sutra for this. In that we find reference to the same. And not on AOL, there are other organization who follows similar technique (without using the name of SKY).

    9. Follow up: Ask Guruji for this. But I use this as an opportunity to be in touch with participant and to rectify if they are doing SKY wrongly and we need this. And tape cannot be given to participant as there is high risk of misuse (stopping in middle – as we do in guided meditation).

    10. Negative effect of kriya: For few people (not many people), SKY is not good and teachers are well informed and AOL except teacher to take care of same. If SKY is not good in general, doctors association throughout the world would have already complained and taken AOL to court. Instead there are many positive reports and research. People who have experience the negative impact of kriya, please volunteer and come forward (not only in blog but in real life).

    • VSS permalink
      April 28, 2012 11:18 am

      @ Proudteacher [April 28, 2012 7:00 am]

      First off, I’d like to offer you my sincerest apologies for confronting you on the issue of being “brainwashed” — I was terribly, terribly mistaken. Hope you will forgive me.

      Secondly, I do not see the need to email Dr. Vinod / Dr. Vinoda any more. I got the impression from what you said earlier that what Dr. Vinod / Dr. Vinoda said was the perspective of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. However, I now know that I misunderstood.

      I regret the inconvenience you had to go through.

      Thanks and have a nice day!

    • Dayalu permalink
      April 28, 2012 1:57 pm

      Vinod or Vinoda Kochupillai, same person and a she. Only she can testify what is her correct name. Earlier all her research papers had the name Vinoda, but these days I see it as Vinod. Anyways, here is a brief bio with a picture.!search/profile/person?personId=28200451&targetid=profile

      I have interacted with her many times about her research on SK.

      • VSS permalink
        April 28, 2012 5:52 pm

        @ Dayalu [April 28, 2012 1:57 pm]

        I happen to know some doctors in AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) who are into research. They said that the said doctor is currently not in AIIMS and that the said doctor’s word is not the position of AIIMS on SK. It turned out that they were right. The said doctor is currently not in AIIMS and AIIMS has no stated position on SK. SK has neither been incorporated in the academic curriculum of those who are studying medicine nor has it been incorporated in any specific treatment of any specific ailment.

        It seems that the said doctor was a part of AIIMs at some point and did some research on SK. I have read that research. However, I have not found any link that mentions any information on what feedback the said doctor gave to AoL, based on which, three versions of SK have been arrived at.

        If you recall any conversation with the said doctor about what she mentioned in her feedback that led to three versions of the SK tape, please do let readers (including me) know. If you don’t recall any such conversation, it’s okay. No big deal. “The Doctor” (of this blog) has already asked a question about two versions in a detailed comment.

        Thank you for your time.

    • The Seer permalink
      April 28, 2012 3:11 pm

      Hello Proudteacher, nice to have you back.

      Regarding the divine revelation thing, I have posted my questions here:

      And about follow-ups, I said all I wanted to say here:

      Please read and respond. There is one other comment I made that’s still in the moderation queue. I hope the Doc has good reasons to keep it on hold.

      There is one more thing I wanted to know. You said in a previous comment that you surrender to Guruji 100%. What does this mean? Does this mean Guruji will never make a mistake? Does this mean he is always right and you have to follow whatever he says without asking a question? I really want to know, please explain.

      • The Doctor permalink
        April 28, 2012 4:25 pm

        “I hope the Doc has good reasons to keep it on hold.”

        Yes I do – I want to post it as a separate post.

      • Dayalu permalink
        April 30, 2012 2:07 pm


        I have posted here earlier about the conversation I had had with Dr Vinoda Kochupillai, but for your benefit I am posting it again. It was during a TRM in 2003, those days when I was an ardent AOL teacher and believed that SK was the ultimate technique, a gift to mankind, … etc. Earlier, I had observed a few cases where people’s health declined after starting the practice. Initially it was assumed that they were doing something wrong, but after close observations by myself and other senior teachers, it was found that they were doing SK as prescribed. Since Dr Kochupillai had published papers on the benefits of SK, I took this up in a private conversation with her at the TRM and to my amazement, she concurred that she also had observed cases of hypertension in many subjects after the start of SK practice. However, she had not mentioned any of this in her research paper. She then asked me to take this matter in front of Guruji during the discussions. I tried to do this, but could not hold up much against the crowd and you all know SSRS’ expertise in dodging questions that he does not want to answer.

        Afterwards, I convinced myself that these cases were just abberations and not the norm and continued my teaching and practice for many more years, but always vary of initiating people with fragile health into the practice. But time and again such instanced popped up, where some people started complaining in a couple of months after starting SK. But unlike other teachers, I never encouraged them to continue the practice. Later I discovered cases where senior teachers, who had been doing SK for a decade or more, developed sever complications like heart problems. Of course it has not been clinically proven that the problems were caused by SK. But if you can attribute all the benefits to SK based on anecdotal evidence, you can also do the same for the ill effects.

      • VSS permalink
        April 30, 2012 3:24 pm

        @ Dayalu [April 30, 2012 2:07 pm]

        Thank you so much. I appreciate your effort.

        It seems to me that her feedback — which supposedly triggered two versions of the SK tapes (after version one) — has not been recorded / shared openly. I also feel she should have included all her findings in her research — including her findings about SK causing “hypertension”. The research paper should not have been biased. What a sad state of affairs.

      • Jr. permalink
        April 30, 2012 5:07 pm

        ” I took this up in a private conversation with her at the TRM and to my amazement, she concurred that she also had observed cases of hypertension in many subjects after the start of SK practice. However, she had not mentioned any of this in her research paper. She then asked me to take this matter in front of Guruji during the discussions. I tried to do this, but could not hold up much against the crowd and you all know SSRS’ expertise in dodging questions that he does not want to answer.”

        This is really disturbing. I don’t see how anyone can not question the ill intention of Art of Living after reading this. Also shows you just how ignorant and dangerous people become when they are in groups.

    • The Doctor permalink
      April 28, 2012 4:30 pm

      @Proud Teacher, whilst we’re all queuing up to get your feedback, I’m wondering if you’ve had a chance to read through this comment?

      I would really like to hear your feedback on this, because it’s something that has been bugging me for a long time and no one from AoL has been willing or able to comment.

    • Jr. permalink
      April 28, 2012 4:44 pm

      Proud Teacher –

      thank you for responding to some issues. I would like to address a few of my own concerns with certain parts of your comments.

      You said….

      ” People feel the same tingling sensation during the SKY. But in hyperventilation, people feel blurred vision, muscle spam and feeling of unwellness. But the same doesn’t happen after kriya.”

      I disagree. Some people do have all these sensations after practicing SK. I knew a guy who lost his vision during practice. Fortunately, he regained it a few hours later. Many people experience spasms and a feeling of unwellness or fatigue after practice.

      “For few people (not many people), SKY is not good and teachers are well informed and AOL except teacher to take care of same.”

      I don’t see where you’re getting this information from. There are endless people on this blog and other internet blogs that have reported that SK was not beneficial or harmful. I am also one of the people that it was seriously harming. Fortunately I realized this before it was too late. I’m not saying SK is bad for everyone, but it’s clear it’s more than just a few that have had bad experiences.

  25. D-Seeker permalink
    April 28, 2012 9:49 am

    Doctor Saheb ! you did a nice job of reminding all the folks here of maintaining decorum.I appreciate the effort.Discipline is really necessary if you have to move forward in any direction in life.With great power comes great responsibility(courtesy Uncle Ben).
    I do not mean to say that all those who post here are hungry for abusing AOL or Ex AoLers but a little decorum will keep this small movement in momentum, otherwise it will become a battle field for hurling abuses and remarks at others much like what happens in the rap battles where the opponents insult each other.
    We are here to show people the true face of AOL and SSRS.There are people whose lives have been devastated by AOL and this forum is a great opportunity for them to open other’s eyes before they fall into the honey trap AOL. We need to save so many gullible and innocent people from being cheated,abused from AOL and SSRS.It would not be wrong If I say we need to save the world from the AOL and SSRS. Imagine how many girls will be saved from getting abused from the sick AOL teachers. I was shaken when I read the truth on this blog.I could not believe what I read.I had an image of this guy SSRS which was larger than life in my mind.I always use to look at his picture and ask him “Guruji please dont ever change as I have surrendered to your knowledge”.I saw a video where in the end the narrator says that “Your Guru will find you” and I was confident that i have found my Guru or vice versa, because In Gita also, it is written that only a Guru can help you in the path of god/spirituality and without him it is almost impossible for you to tread this path alone.But I guess god had other plans,he did not want me to be a blind follower of a false self proclaimed guru, who is not even allowed to question or put forth his doubts.
    We shall not let this blog become a fight club for AOLers and Non AOLers(including Ex Aolers). We shall spread this movement and save all the seekers who are in illusion that the Guru grace is with them and they cannot question it because it will tantamount to questioning the divine will.So guys buckle up we have a lot of work to do.

  26. VSS permalink
    April 28, 2012 10:58 am

    The following, as is the case with all that I have written and all that I shall ever write, is my perspective and my perspective alone. If you can’t identify with these words, I request you to trash them at your earliest convenience. There are different kinds of people who post on this blog. I belong to the category that was only harmed by AoL. If you don’t belong to this category, then please skip reading the rest of this post. Thank you. I appreciate your understanding in this regard.

    @ stupidseeker [April 28, 2012 8:34 am]

    Your post is extremely insightful. All the facts that you have quoted are incontrovertible facts. However, it appears that they are not enough for all people to arrive at the conclusion that Mr. Ravi Shankar is “a narcissistic, ambitious,unethical, unfeeling,cold and calculating, businesslike,ordinary individual”. Many people need more evidence. They feel that the evidence that currently exists is not enough. It might be, that from their perspective, these facts are very few in number. Usually, people learn from a bad experience. Usually, it doesn’t matter to people that the person they believe to be “Divine” has abused, exploited, and, deceived others. We live in an extremely selfish world. Usually, people are only concerned about what happened to them in a given setting. It seems to me that AoL actively perpetuates this completely self-centered line of thought. If Mr. Ravi Shankar displaced villagers in Odisha, how does it matter to them as long as they didn’t get displaced? If he says less hospitals are needed, how does it matter to them as long as they get to go to a hospital when they need to? If the so-called Yuvacharyas taught villagers in Karnataka incorrect practices that are bound to create a situation in which water-borne diseases spread, how does it matter to them if they are not in that village?

    Gone are the days when people learnt from the experiences of others. Maybe those days will return. However, what can be said with absolute certainty is that information is not power in AoL. Information does not help. Why? It’s obvious. Seeking information is not encouraged in AoL. Why is it not encouraged? It’s not encouraged because if people start seeking information, then they will stumble upon the facts that you have so brilliantly listed. If they stumble upon the facts that you have so brilliantly listed, they might be compelled to think about whether or not what you have said right at the end of your comment can be derived from the facts you’ve mentioned in the rest of your comment. If they think, then, well, they could either arrive at the same conclusion that you did, or, they could dismiss the facts. However, thinking — in and of itself — is not encouraged in AoL. So, consider these factors — being self-centered, not seeking factual information, and, not thinking — what are they likely to lead to? They’ll lead to a state of being in denial about facts. When people are in this state of denial, if someone says “my perspective is more accurate than your perspective because my perspective is based on facts”, how will they react?

    They will say I have experienced something else. Then, they will list out facts that completely contradict the facts that you have so brilliantly listed. Why do they do this? They do this because they feel that their facts somehow nullify the facts that you have listed. If someone feels their facts about how something worked for them beautifully nullify the facts about the same thing harming several other people, don’t they deserve compassion? If someone feels that some people could be harmed by AoL but as long as they’re not included, it’s okay, don’t they deserve compassion? You are extremely perceptive. Don’t those who are not as perceptive as you deserve compassion? Of course they do. They deserve lots and lots and lots and lots of compassion. That’s the lesson to be learnt from the main post on this page. (IMHO)

    • April 28, 2012 11:18 am

      @ Proudteacher

      Pl check your facts.

      Sumeru Ayurveda is a Pvt limited company.
      Same with Sumeru Realty.
      The others such as Sri Sri Institute for Media Studies, Agri Univ, Ayurvedic hospital are all regular companies.

      Please research for yourself….which one is Not for Profit ?

      Also, There is no legal entity called AOL (Art of living) in India.

      I am sure that you would like to represent AOL in as truthful a manner as you can… need to verify your own facts before you talk to the outside world.

      Many of the business entities are run by trusts set up by SriSri. Suggest you find the most common denominator among all these trusts (ie who are the trustees). You will also find that the trustees draw many benefits (cars/homes) from their respective trusts.

      Pay attention to detail.

      Also follow the money….truly go in and look at the books if they will allow you.

      Here are some links that may interest you further­‐Meeting-­‐AGM-­‐EGM-­‐

      Read the Board resolution closely. Look who is going to be remunerated ???. Look at other board members who can get upto 2 Cr business annually through a board resolution (which in future can also be done by postal ballot) when the company’s revenue itself is in the Irs 40 Lakhs range and less for the last 10 years.

      Download the Annual Financial Report of Inwinex Pharma where Sumera Ayurveda is a majority stakeholder and share with us what you understand. URL below.

      Click to access FIN-AR-2009-10.pdf

      Ask yourself….who is funding this company……

      Start thinking for yourself

  27. Anonymous permalink
    April 28, 2012 1:52 pm

    @ Proudteacher

    If you have attended the satsangs in the ashram, you will realise that this question has been asked several times by confused and innocent devotees. Guruji simply ignores them and sometimes does not even let them complete the question.

    How can it be that in the last 30yrs, Guruji / AOL has not received any feedback about the negative effects of SK, especially when people consider him as an avtaar and seek his guidance/ answers for all the concerns in their lives?

    Is it because people are told that…. all the bad experiences are a result of past life karmas or clearing of toxins?

    If AOL / Guruji is really interested in feedback, why not come up with feedback forms where participants can share their feedback? The feedback forms can be given after the completion of the part-1 course and should also be made available at the Follow up centers so people pracising sk for a while can also share their experiences. CRF should be submitted along with feedback forms.

    And to be more Accountable, Why not add another link on the aol website where people can share their sk experiences (genuine ones) and clarify any doubts that they might have? Or share Any suggestions / warnings that the doctors might have given them wrt to SK.
    And, we can have Sr. teachers like Bawa, dinesh and the Swamy’s answer these questions.

    Since no negative experiences / critical questions were entertained in AOL in the last 30yrs, people come here to share their experiences. Have you seen any negative comment wrt to aol practises, REMAIN on bawa’s blog?

    A doctor, who was practising SK developed severe joint pains. In a personal darshan with Guruji she shared this with him, saying that the joint pains developed after practising SK. Guruji quietly asked her to Stop Practising SK.

    Now, why couldn’t HE caution others openly in the satsang ? or atleast ask his Sr. teachers to educate people, that if they develop some problems after SK sadhana, then its time they took a break from it. HAS ANYONE EVER HEARD ANY TEACHER WARN / EDUCATE PEOPLE OPENLY ABOUT THE POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS OF SK ?

    Until now, participants are only made to sign a form which says that – the participant takes all the responsibly for what ever happens to them in the part -1 course and that Aol is not responsible for them.

    When will AOL take responsibility then? Isn’t taking responsibility one of the course points that AOL teaches others?

    If you can access the online satsangs, Pls observe, and you will notice how smartly Guruji avoids questions. Some months ago a girl was questioning him about the lack of required resources in the ayurveda college and Guruji made a joke of her. People in the V.M burst out laughing??!! The girl still continued with her qtn and guruji ignored her completly.

    If I watch the online satsangs , it looks like every satsang is a selling session. “Do pranayama, SK, more advance courses” and the list goes on. He is all the time selling his courses.

    Who wants feedback, especially critical feedback when you know that SK is the fulcrum of the organization. The core of the part- 1 course that makes AOL a unique product in the market.

    • Wanderer.. permalink
      April 29, 2012 10:06 am

      that’s true. Guruji does not answer all question asked to him, most of time he cracks joke and laugh. i have seen it many times too. one thing which i noticed in last few month with all this corruption issue, that in his every session he gets one question in which someone say that he is very angry and wants to do something, and every time guruji answers that” if you have to be angry ,then be angry on big thing like corruption and then he continues … same thing every time…ask people to join him in this. i sometimes find this all very much politically motivated. even if you ask something different and about AOL … then most of time that question is not selected.
      About sudarshan kriya i can only say that different teachers have different answer, i have talked to few teacher about the right time, correct method. Few old volunteers have their own views. but i could not find any thing specific. i believe SK is like this, we can never do it correctly, number of breaths will definitely change , people sometimes do more then three rounds as they felt light while doing it and suggest others too. and perhaps guruji realizes this.. that’s why follow up session is there.
      All teachers talk in different languages, once a teacher told me that in order to reach divine or guru ji you have to first be with a teacher, once i was told by another teacher – if you go to other temples and god then things wont work out for you in life, just pray to guruji. i have many times seen teachers behaving like guru and distributing their own knowledge … telling people to do the same.
      A year ago, i started getting a bit of blood from my nose, when i asked basic course teacher about this – one said its due to whether, one said have faith- blessing are there for will be ok… then after some time i stopped doing it. .. the biggest issue i confronted that there were basic course teachers i met who do SK once or twice in weeks as they find it sufficient .. .. i sometimes unable to understand, that there are teachers who are in AOL for years and they still run around and chase guruji… they are the one always try to be with him, try to touch him, talk to him, follow him every where from airport to stages …i don’t know what kind of connection it is… in fact i have always questioned this. whenever in past i felt bad , i thought it is because i am not chasing him and running behind him ..
      i personally feel that most of people in AOL have almost same kind of experiences.. not very different. actually through different processes, experience are created in others ….

      • Original Anonymous permalink
        April 29, 2012 5:06 pm

        All teachers talk in different languages, once a teacher told me that in order to reach divine or guru ji you have to first be with a teacher,

        This is one of the biggest problems in aol. Many innocent volunteers and devotees get duped by such behavior. Manipulations is a habit of many teachers.. and its encouraged in some knowledge talks where it has been said that use your bad qualities for the divine.. you have been using your bad qualities to reach your selfish means now use them for the divine .. use these techniques to get people on the path . push people on to the path.. whomever you meet .. tell them about the course . so much stress in the world .. so much depression .. etc etc .. Sri Sri’s words in bits and pieces from an advance course …

        Now 5 possibilities exist

        – Intelligent & Shrewd businessman
        – Crazy but concerned humanitarian
        – Mix of above two
        – Or an enlightened master ( in which case there is no scope for further arguments at all .. who can guess the ways of the divine )
        – All of the above ( again the discussion goes out of the scope for discussion)

        But one thing I m pretty sure of .. is keep away from AoL as an organization .. especially for those looking to establish one’s footing in this world ..

        There are many ways to channelize one’s energy is this world and aol is not one of them .

  28. Anonymous permalink
    April 28, 2012 6:33 pm

    @The Seer

    You are right. Deleting comments is not a way of undoing them.

    By selective deleting of comments the integrity of the post is lost. There will not be any continuity and the reader can get confused. Imagine for example Proud Teacher’s comments getting deleted and the responses kept intact. A person reading responses will wonder why there were so many unrelated comments.

    A very effective way of diluting a comment is to express regret for what was wrongly said or to accept the mistake by a new comment.

    Comments already published are already history and deleting them will only distort history.

    • VSS permalink
      April 29, 2012 5:40 am

      @ Anonymous [April 28, 2012 6:33 pm]

      “A very effective way of diluting a comment is to express regret for what was wrongly said or to accept the mistake by a new comment.”

      This is a great suggestion. I can’t delete comments but I can definitely post an apology.

      I still feel that those who own this blog are free to delete whatever they wish to delete as is the case with all blogs and all bloggers. Their freedom should not be clipped. If comments are deleted in the future, then the apology can be deleted as well.

      P.S. I don’t think “Proud Teacher’s comments” were ever questioned. The problem was with the tone of those who critique AoL. Nevertheless, your suggestion is a great one. I thank you for it.

  29. VSS permalink
    April 29, 2012 6:33 pm

    @ Wanderer.. [April 29, 2012 10:06 am]

    “.. i sometimes unable to understand, that there are teachers who are in AOL for years and they still run around and chase guruji… they are the one always try to be with him, try to touch him, talk to him, follow him every where from airport to stages …i don’t know what kind of connection it is… in fact i have always questioned this. whenever in past i felt bad , i thought it is because i am not chasing him and running behind him ..”

    This is called behaving like a STAR (on the part of “Guruji”). How do people behave around stars? Just the way that you have described. Is it normal to behave like this? No, it’s not normal. Do normal people sometimes behave like this around their favourite star? Yes, they do. What happens to normal people to make them behave abnormally? Should the “Guru” encourage this kind of behaviour? No. Of course he shouldn’t. Why does he encourage it? Is it normal to encourage people to behave like this? What would a humble “Guru” do? A humble “Guru” would say something like:

    “Please don’t behave like this. I am an ordinary human being — just like you. I am not special. If you want to be a fan of something, don’t be a fan of a human being. Be a fan of a good behaviour. Be a fan of a good goal. Be a fan of a good dream.”

    But Mr. Ravi Shankar is not a humble “Guru”. What does he claim? He claims to know everything. Then, he sells it. He doesn’t sell it once. He sells it again and again. He sells one course, then another, and then another. He sells books. He sells CDs. He sells Ayurvedic products. What does he say when he is selling these things? He claims that the money is going to poor people. He says I have helped millions of villagers. I have helped millions of children. I have helped millions of prisoners etc. etc.

    What would a humble “Guru” say? A humble “Guru” would say something like:

    “I have not done anything. Whatever I have done is just a drop in the ocean. Until we wipe out poverty from the world, none of us can or should say that we have done enough. There are poor people all around you. There are unfortunate people all around you. Find them and help them. Don’t give me any money. Give them money. Don’t give me your time. Give them your time. Stop being obsessed with me. Stop calling me an avatar of God. Stop giving any money to my organization. I have made enough money in over 30 years. I have got everything I need. (My family members and friends have also got everything they need — including several companies.) The only way to help poor and unfortunate people is not through me. Be independent. Do it on your own. Help the people around you. Don’t depend on me and become weak. Become independent and strong.”

    What does Mr. Ravi Shankar do?

    He goes on praising himself. He goes on praising the work that AoL has done. He keeps on asking for more and more and more money. Do you know that AoL has come up with a credit card? When card holders use the card, AoL gets a commission?

    How do people justify it? People justify it by saying the commission is for poor people. Do those poor people know that they are being used like this? Do they know that Mr. Ravi Shankar has become a commission agent on their behalf? Did anyone ask them if they need an agent? If you ask any poor person — do you want direct help or do you want help through a middleman — what will the poor person say? Will the poor person say “I want help through a middleman who is known as “Guruji” who lives in 7-star hotels, travels by first class, and indulges in all sorts of luxuries?” Of course not. No poor person will say yes to this. Mr. Ravi Shankar is just using poor people. Do you think a humble “Guru” would use poor people like this? No, he would not.

    A “Guru” who is not humble would behave exactly in the way you have described. So, never doubt yourself. Mr. Ravi Shankar is not a humble “Guru”. He is the exact opposite of humble. I think a person who is not “humble” cannot be an effective “guru”. I think a person who claims to be a “guru” and uses poor people ruthlessly is not an effective role model. I think a person who tells people to lie to get in more course participants cannot be an effective “guru”.

    You must have noticed all of this yourself. He is the “guru” of lying about the number of followers he has, of using poor people, of selling God, of selling Ayurvedic products, of selling stress relief, and, even of selling world peace. He is the “guru” of selling anything to anybody. If anyone wants to learn the art of selling anything to anybody, they should go to him. However, if anyone wants to learn anything else, they should definitely not go to him. But this is just my perspective.

    People in AoL think it’s a sign of greatness to use poor people, to live in 7-star hotels, to travel by first class, to live in luxury, to encourage people to treat him like a star, to sell God, to sell stress relief, and, to sell world peace.

    This is Kalyuga. The definition of greatness has changed for some people. Greatness is about “moh-maaya” and not the absence of “moh-maaya”. Greatness is about almost demanding the nobel peace prize not about humility. He’s taking the Bhagvad Gita to nightclubs in 5-star hotels. This is also greatness. Young boys and girls are attracting people to AoL through flash mobs — using their jhatkas (jolt-like dance step) to give everyone a spiritual jhatka (jolt). In the next anniversary celebration of AoL, Katrina Kaif maybe doing “Shiela ki Jawaani” along with Yes Plus volunteers in Berlin. Last time it rained during the celebrations. If it rains again, everyone can do a rain dance. Why not? Anything karega for more enrollment. After all, it’s all for a good cause. And, why just Katrina? Why not Malaika too? What crime has she committed that she should be excluded? If Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev are still Mr. Ravi Shankar’s friends, they should also be invited to the dance party. After all, we are all one. What is the harm in everyone dancing with everyone? No problemo. It would be such a fantastic photo op — Mr. Ravi Shankar, B&D, Katrina, Malaika, Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev — all drenched and dancing with Yes Plus volunteers. I am sure “The Doctor” will post the video of this special event.

    @ The Doctor

    Please do check out Katrina and Malaika on you tube — you will see the future of Yes Plus.

    • Original Anonymous permalink
      April 30, 2012 5:44 pm

      Perhaps this explains why some of the aol top brass hav Krishnized Sri Sri Ravi Shankar .. coz thats the only way they can defend his methods..

      Aree baba he is Krishna .. how can krishna be humble .. coz he is Krishna naa.. he is supposed to lie no .. otherwise how will he be Krishna ..

      Interesting thing is that even devotees of Swami Nithyananda claimed that their Guru is an avataar of Krishna .. anybody who wants to be in the devotional business yet does not want to let go of material pleasures etc etc .. easy solution declare yourself as Krishna avataar ..

      They could have made him Ram but no ji then you cannot lie .. you cannot be rude .. you have to be honest … and worst of all you get only the 12 gunas of an avataar as compared to the 16 gunas of Sri Krishna ..

      • VSS permalink
        May 3, 2012 7:29 am

        @ Original Anonymous [April 30, 2012 5:44 pm]

        > anybody who wants to be in the devotional business yet does not want to let go of material pleasures etc etc .. easy solution declare yourself as Krishna avataar .. <

        That is a phenomenal insight. Even I have noticed how conveniently Hinduism is distorted / abused in AoL.

      • May 8, 2012 8:12 pm

        I think AOL is experienced by people quite differently in different countries. The teachers I know in the USA are all very good people. None of them are pretending to be happy nor do I see any competition. Are these “problem” teachers all from India? Are they adding their own spiritual “spin” on things? I’m not trying to point fingers at India or anything. Maybe there are more Indian poster here.

  30. Original Anonymous permalink
    May 9, 2012 5:36 am

    I think AOL is experienced by people quite differently in different countries.

    Agree fully ..

    The teachers I know in the USA are all very good people.

    Teachers in India are not really bad, just that they don’t think from their head and simply propogate whatever is propagated to them.. so if a bearded Rishi says that their Guru is Krishna, they will run around shouting Guruji is Krishna.

    I think the same thing I heard was tried in US by calling Sri Sri as Jesus but people out there are more practical and might not buy such stories. I can’t comment much about the US becoz I don’t live there.

    None of them are pretending to be happy nor do I see any competition.

    Competition is higher in India everywhere not just in AoL but also outside, i.e. jobs, businesses, etc etc. Regarding pretending to be happy is just a part of the competition thing.

    Are these “problem” teachers all from India?
    These problem teachers are Intl teachers, yes may be of Indian origin but now teaching all over the world. But most of these problem teachers are the top brass and by top brass I mean the initial few who have attached themselves with the Guru.

    I’m not trying to point fingers at India or anything

    Honestly .. I think you are ..

    • Anonymous (aka drpetersutphen) permalink
      May 9, 2012 11:55 am

      No , I’m not trying to say that there are more “problem ” teachers in India. It is just that when people have complained about teachers on this blog they are almost always Indian. I think this is because most of the people posting are Indian? Doctor, can you answer this?

  31. Anonymous permalink
    May 9, 2012 2:09 pm

    Peter, The teachers I happened to be thinking of are some of the most senior, American teachers. They are fake, out of control, sometimes throwing tantrums, and when I knew them, were always complaining, several of them saying they couldn’t leave because they had ‘no where else to go’ and had given up their careers for RS. They would be all smiles to groups of students, and behind the scenes, really ugly, totally competitive and what I would have to call “unspiritual” I know that several of them are still there, and can’t imagine that they changed that much. They were not nice people to begin with. They basically run the American outlet for AOL. So don’t kid yourself. I’m sure there must be some nice teachers, but many I knew have already left, out of disgust and frustration with the acting out of others.

    • Anonymous (aka drpetersutphen) permalink
      May 9, 2012 6:55 pm

      Really? I know Mikey and John Osborne quite well and I’ve never even remotely seen any of what you describe. I also know many other senior teachers in the USA and have never seen this behavior. Email and tell me who they are. I’m really curious ( Also, who cares about the behavior of teachers. There’s you and Guruji. That’s what really counts. The rest is just an organization.

    • VSS permalink
      May 10, 2012 11:29 am

      @ Anonymous [May 9, 2012 2:09 pm]

      Just wanted to caution you about divulging names.
      You could be dragged to court for doing that.
      Please be careful.

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