dinsdag 15 april 2008

The original article: How genuine is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar seems to be one of India's biggest export products these days. His popularity already being huge in India itself, many positive reports in several (above all American) media outlets make the guru hugely popular world wide. His popularity reminds us of other best seller gurus before him, like Maharishi or Osho. But these examples in turn remind us perhaps that we should be cautious when it comes to multi-millionaire gurus.

Osho (formerly Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh) of course tops the fraudulent and hypocritical gurus having 96 Rolls Royces while he told his sannyasins to renounce attachment to possession. It only takes a little research instead of blind reverence to find a lot of information about how neither him nor his ashrams were quite like he pretended. The whole 'free love' idea that gave him the name of 'guru of the vagina' didn't quite work out all the time, he probably was addicted to laughing gas for a certain while and his organization, while based in Oregon, was even linked to murder cases.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was less flamboyant, but is nevertheless put heavily under criticism, not in the least for the question who benefits from the million dollar industry surrounding his persona. The Maharishi got his incredible fame because of his association with the Beatles. Although the Beatles turned away from Maharishi, and in a rather controversial way, his popularity did not wane. One of his following pupils would be none other than Ravi Shankar. This Ravi Shankar would later give himself the honorific title of Sri ('revered' or 'holy') and double it to make a distinction between himself and the famous sitar player with the same name.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is nonetheless very silent about his own guru Maharishi. The Beatles guru is not mentioned on his personal official website or the website of his “Art of Living foundation” - although this is kind of a give away, since the book that introduced Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation to the world was entitled: “The Science of Being and The Art of Living”.

It is in itself questionable why a guru does not mention his own guru. It is only normal in Hindu spirituality to trace one's lineage of Guru's, like in the case of Paramahansa Yogananda, the founder of the Self-realization fellowship who was, besides Vivekananda, the first guru to bring modern Yoga and Indian spirituality to the United states.

Perhaps the rumors on the net are true and Shankar is very disappointed because Maharishi Mahesh Yogi strongly and publicly renounced him after his departure. Or perhaps Sri Sri Ravi Shankar doesn't mention his guru because of the controversies surrounding the Maharishi. Such a stain in the image does indeed not go well with the overall clean-ness and pure-ness his sites and publications want to attach to Shankar.

To retain that image of being impeccable, much of the history of the founder is clouded in pure mystery. Again and again one can only find the official story of how Sri Sri as a little boy of four already recited the Bhagavadgita, how he had a physics degree at seventeen, and how he discovered Sudarshan Kriya in 1982.

Sudarshan Kriya is supposed to be the thing that makes Shankar so different. Many disagree on this point. The website of Art of Living says “Sudarshan kriya is a completely natural process that was cognized by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar during divine meditation”. Others claim it is simply old Yoga techniques rolled into a new and more commercial package.

In any case Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had “Sudarshan Kriya” registered it as a trademark – though this move makes it more funny than different. When reading web pages about Sri Sri's spirituality, all of the sudden a copyright sign is seen every time Sudarshan Kriya is mentioned. It is strange for somebody who does not care for 'worldly matters'. He himself says he had to register the trademark, because otherwise others would have done it, and made profit on his expense. But perhaps he simply learned if from his own Guru once again, as it is again something the Maharishi has done before him when trademarking transcendental meditation.

Transcendental meditation is centered around the extremely old practice of chanting mantra's. Sudarshan Kriya is centered around the extremely old Yoga breath exercises. In both cases, although their respective promoter-gurus claim the opposite, there's nothing new under the sun.

The art of living foundation and Shankar of course say that you have to really try and do it before you can realize what is so different. But trying it would imply paying quite a lot of money for the courses offered at the Ashram or several centres around the world. Those who choose not to pay and to just observe it from a distance see no difference with other breathing exercises that are used in older Yoga forms, in rebirthing exercises or in some of the many Osho meditations one can try at the Osho resort.

Also in the claims of its effects the Art of Living foundation goes through great lengths to show what is so special about it, but for somebody with a bit of background into yoga or meditation in general, they absolutely fail in that effort. When they're programs promise reducing stress, reduction of depression, peace of mind and serenity, better health and well being, increased energy and stamina, making you more self-aware, harmonious relations at home and work, and so on, you can not help but wondering: in what way do they offer anything different than any other form of meditation?

Pupils from every guru and adepts of every form of meditation make the same claims as to how the encounter with the person or meditation changed their lives. From more self-confidence over energetic awarenesses to more health. And of course they claim so, as these things have exactly been the point of doing Yoga ever since its origin many many centuries ago. Sudarshan is no different in that respect.

Even the claim that it could help against cancer and aids has already been made by the other Indian export product in guruism: Ramdev. In the case of Ramdev the Indian Ministry of Health government of India stepped in to rebuke the claim. Ramdev replied that his idea was misrepresented. He believed that Yoga and Ayurveda together can alleviate the suffering from aids, not cure it. In order to escape from further legal consequences he distanced himself from some over the top claims made by some of his 'admirers'. It was nonetheless this kind of 'admiration' and the propaganda about the miraculous powers of the guru, his yoga and his products that proved to be the perfect marketing strategy to make his ayurvedic business very lucrative.

Unlike Ramdev, but just like Maharishi, Ravi Shankar loves to provide a huge amount of scientific research that backs up his claims about Sudarshan Kriya. On his website you can find many links to scientific articles that are supposed to proof the effectiveness of Sudarshan Kriya Yoga. The studies seem to indicate for example that it helps against depression, and that it brings better antioxidant status and lower blood lactate levels.

But, if one takes a close look, it actually does not seem to show what is so amazing about Sudarshan Kriya. Both lower lactate levels and better antioxidant status for example might simply be attributable to a better breathing pattern of the subjects and not so much to Sudarshan particularly. Depression on the other hand is something that exists in many possible forms and of which some as well are in general helped (not cured – as the articles also do not say the Yoga is a direct cure) by learning to control the mind, which again is a general outcome of any meditation.

On top of it, the research on the effect of Sudarshan on cancer does not say that Sudarshan helps against cancer because of some 'energetic effect', but simply because the breathing exercises seemed to help smokers to quit. “This result could mean that regular practice might reduce the incidence and progression of cancer” because of “a reduction in tobacco consumption.” The less people smoke, the less cancer they will have. Sounds logical. Nothing mysterious here. Meditation is not a miraculous healer. Learning to breath properly just helps people to leave of smoking. It should not surprise therefore that the same study researched both Sudarshan and Pranayama and concluded that they both helped just as much.

On top of it, when one turns from those research articles back to the normal web pages of the Art of Living, it is amazing to see how all the 'scientificness' has all of the sudden gone. On the Sudarshan Kriya page it says that “this unique breathing practice is a potent energizer. Every cell becomes fully oxygenated and flooded with new life. Negative emotions that have been stored as toxins in the body are easily uprooted and flushed out.” What might 'a potent energizer' be in scientific terms? Energy in scientific terms is not the prana of the Yoga terms. And how does a concept like 'new life' relate to oxygenation of blood? Oxygenation is simply a chemical term describing the amount of oxygen in the blood. And what on earth are 'the toxins' that store 'negative emotions' in the body? A proper scientific research proving the existence of those would surely be very hard to find.

The research the Art of Foundation mentions is therefore not at all linked to the concepts that the organization uses in advertising its products. The wording all of the sudden becomes an obvious case of pseudo-scientific language when they explain it in their own terms.

Thus, if Shankar's Sudarshan Kriya helps, it's because the control of breathing through Yoga helps. What is so wondrous about that? It has been known in India for thousands of years.

So what is the difference between Shankar and others. It is not the fact that he is a famous guru – many have been before him – it is not his message – because that as well sounds very similar to those before him – and it is not the technique – for many techniques do the same. Some critics claim it is the immensely good PR department behind him that helps him to (literally) sell his Sudarshan to the whole world. He's a better businessman than the others, they say.

Supporters of Ravi will reply time and again that those critics should stop attacking 'his holiness' without real arguments and should look at what he has done for the world. And indeed one of the difference with Shankar and the other gurus exported to the west seems to be his emphasis on development work.

But when one again has a deeper look at the types of development work Shankar and the Art of Living is engaged in, some questions can again be raised. His organization splits up in many branches of which one is the “International Association for Human Values” that was set up together with the Dalai Lama. The real structure behind all these organizations is not really comprehensible and it is very difficult to get a decent overview of the whole.

Not minding about the structure, one can just look at the immense variety of development work the whole of the organization is supposed to be involved in. Trauma relieve after the earthquake in Kashmir or the Tsunami in Tamil Nadu, women empowerment courses, rural development, prisoner rehabilitation, youth education, promoting ayurvedic medicine, and so on make up an impressive list of which one can not help but wonder how it is possible to all be set up by one man.

One thing makes it more comprehensible: in most of the different problems they simply bring the same 'solution': Sudarshan Kriya. Whether it is people having no homes after an earthquake, women that have to be empowered to face their suppression in male dominated societies, inmates in jails that need to refocus their lives or rural kids that need education, the art of living comes to teach them their meditation practices so that they can be relieved from their 'stress' and 'fears'.

What else the Art of Living does is a bit of a mystery when watching the promotional video's. Most of those consist of interviews with people like kids in Kashmir or inmates in South Africa, after a Sudarshan session who say they feel 'so much more relieved' now. Whether they are also materially and/or socially relieved from the situation that put them in their 'stressful' situation is not known.

Anyone a bit involved in development work knows how slow it goes, how much time and effort it takes. Anyone a bit experienced in the difficulty of thorough development initiatives that have a bit of a lasting effect knows that it is rather impossible to reach “30,000 villages through personal interactions, teachings and humanitarian initiatives and to reach out to an estimated 300 million people worldwide.” like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's personal website states.

Certainly when you consider that Shankar himself is not involved in really leading the development work. He himself is conducting classes, giving lectures and traveling all over the world.

Some of the other efforts of the Art of Living foundation therefore involve Ravi Shankar personally meeting with and talking to leaders of various religious and political groups. But the depth of these talks is also questionable as he invariably proposes those leaders the same message: more peace through more friendly dialog and breathing techniques. Nothing concrete but simply a good emphasis on “love, peace and understanding” that should do the trick apparently.

Armed with this advice, Shankar headed for Iraq, and somebody in America got the idea of sending Iraqis to Shankar's Ashram in Bangalore, India. Official reason: reduction of the trauma of the war and more empowerment of the women so that they can go back and lead their communities. To achieve this, once again, in the video news reports we could see how this translates in Shankar or his pupils teaching Sudarshan Kriya as a solution to the 'stress' and the 'problems' of the Iraqis. As if the post-war situation of Iraq is comparable to the problems of an American house wife who has difficult kids in their puberty.

This oversimplification was very apparent when Shankar was in Iraq and gave an interview to CNN. He said he wanted to bring non-violence like Mahatma Gandhi and that he wanted the several parties to simply talk to each other peacefully instead of drawing arms. But that exactly showed how little he knew really of Mahatma Gandhi. The Mahatma for one had understood that the parties 'not being able to talk' was exactly the problem. The Mahatma at certain points knew that proposing a 'peaceful dialog' was simply ludicrous. At those moments Gandhi would resort to non-violent civil disobedience.

Not with flower power peaceful words did the Mahatma try to win independence, but with strenuous action. Non-violent, but with action nonetheless, and not with words or meditation. Gandhi understood the 'stress' of the Indians not to be simply a spiritual problem but to be a material, social, political as well as a spiritual problem. If Gandhi had simply told people to meditate to get rid of their 'anger', he would not have gotten far in all likelihood, because it certainly was not only 'anger' they had to get rid of.

If Sri Sri Ravi Shankar therefore is proposed for the Nobel Peace Prize – a prize which the Mahatma never received although he was five times nominated – it makes one wonder where and how he exactly is creating peace.

His own guru, Maharishi, once went to Pinochet to propose to the dictator that if only he and others in his country would meditate twenty minutes in the morning and twenty minutes in the evening everybody would be better off and get closer to world peace. The future showed that perhaps Pinochet just didn't listen to well. But perhaps such an effort is also simply not very effective or comparable to the efforts of Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu or Nelson Mandela and as such not really worthy of being given a Nobel Peace Prize for it. In Maharishi's case nobody considered to do so.

In Maharishi's case, just like Osho's for example, public controversies made it of course obvious that he was a bit 'bogus' and 'dodgy'. In Shankar's case the critics do not often come up with anything concrete to pin on Ravi Shankar and unmask him as a fraud, except personal stories of individual encounters and experiences.

His very commercial New Age image is far from a crime and does not at all take away the possibility that he might be genuinely wishing well for his followers and the rest of the world.

But, as the previous analysis has shown, there is certainly enough grounds for reasonably doubt as well. So he might just as well be a man on search of money, fame and glory through Guruism. His blatant exaggerations and mystifications in presenting himself and Sudarshan Kriya certainly seem to point in that direction.

Or he might be a bit a fraud and a bit genuine. Again, he wouldn't be the first in that sense either.

In any case, the whole world should, by now, have enough memories of encounters with various guru's that are at least be a bit suspicious in certain cases. Certainly in cases like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's, because it involves many many millions of dollars of which nobody really seems to know where they're going to.

So to use a spiritual word that for once was not exported out of India, it remains to be seen and heavily investigated whether Ravi Shankar is 'kosher' enough to be given the Nobel Peace Prize or even the title of Sri, and certainly when using it in double.

Source: Yunus News – 01/09/07

34 opmerkingen:

Saveen zei

I find your article amusing. Intellectual, logical and twisted. I understand your basic problem with AoL is "commoditization" of meditation. Everything else is simply the result of that anger. You may have some hidden agenda but thats your business. Like Voltaire said, I may not agree with what you say but I will defend your right to say so.

However, in this world things are rarely (if ever) black and white. it is all in the grayscale. Gandhi the great nationalist could never be good (forget about great) father. Nehru made tactical blunder wrt to China and Kashmir. Swami Vivekanada has used twisted logic to prove his point at times. Even a good marksman misses. Even when Gods have incarnated as human, they have kept some human flaws Hindus beleive. Sri Ram's mistreatment of Sita, Holy Buddha's abandonment of his wife, misjudgment by Holy Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon Him) leading to his death, Jesus getting angry in a temple over its commercialization and so on and so forth. What are you trying to prove or look for my friend? Perfection?

On principal I agree with you on some things:
1. AoL is run like a corporate with SSRS as the CEO and SK as its main product
2. In some ways it has commoditized spirituality

In fact today SSRS has become a brand in himself and things are sold in His name.

However what I do not agree with is the doubt you cast on his intentions to help the world and society. That is a serious allegation. I, however, agree that AoL needs to bring in more transparency in its financial records. And as we speak, there is work going on the same. Art of Living understands that with its organic growth and prominence, it has to get the financial records right so as questions like you have raised do not come up.

My parents are full time Art of Living teachers. I have seen them working in villages and cities alike. Focus in cities is on SK, courses and fees. Not in villages. Yes, some simple mediations and breathing techniques are taught but they are NOT charged for it. It is FREE. I dont know if you know that. Once people come for meditation and get calmer, the next step is to focus on the problems of the village. The idea is to generate volunteers from the village and provide them with means to improve the life in the village sustainably (and so that we can move to next village and monitor activities once in a while). This is done by (1) Helping people give up tobacoo and alcohol (2) teacing people zero-budget organic farming (3) Help people build better houses and sanitation (4) teaching about human values and unity in diversity (5) starting self-employment ventures for women (like making bags, stitching) and helping them find market for the same. I am surprised why AoL does not do a PR around these activities...

It is due to these activities (and success in it) that the Government of Maharashtra invited Art of Living to help with farmer suicide problem. Please remember: we did not just teach farmers SK and said be happy. That was the beginning to give them hope and a clear mind (so that they dont kill themselves) and then taught them zero-budget farming, rain harvesting etc.

I have personally worked in some slums in Bangalore for Art of Living. I did not charge anybody anything. The aim is not doing charity but motivating people to help themselves and then playing a pivotal role in bringing in all the help (teaching to fish, not to beg for bread).

Some questions for you:

1. How do you think SSRS got nominated for Nobel Peace prize a couple of times but not Maharishi or Osho or Ramdev or umpteen other contemporary spiritual Gurus friom India?

2. Besides Indian awards, SSRS was given following awards:
* National Veterans Foundation Award, USA, 2007
* Doctor of Philosophy (Holistic Medicine) by Open International University for Complementary Medicine, Sri Lanka
* Order of the Pole Star 2006, highest state honour by the President of Mongolia
* Fervent Global Love of Life 2006 by the Cultural and Education Foundation of Human Life, Taiwan
* Peter the Great, First Grade Award, Russian Federation, 2006
* Mongolian Prime Minister's Award, 2006
* Global Humanitarian Award, Illinois, USA, 2005
* The Illustrious Visitors Award, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2004
* Phoenix Award, Atlanta, USA, 2002

I wonder how these Governments, educated/qualified people could not see SSRS as a fake like you see. There is something wrong with either your perception or their perception. If not, how do you reconcile this fact?

3. Art of Living is spread across the globe. The growth has been super-organic in the past 25 years on the back of SSRS charisma, a dedicated volunteer base and strength of SK. Of course some organizations and people are not happy with it. Face it: with all your round-about logic you cannot deny that few will achieve what he has. It is this strength that enabled him to gather 2.5 million people from around the globe (including representatives from all major religions and countries) on th 25 year celebration. None other that His excellency, the President of India also graced the occassion.

# http://spirituality.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1418946.cms
# http://www.hindu.com/2006/02/11/stories/2006021100580200.htm
# http://in.news.yahoo.com/060220/139/62lvc.html
# http://www.hindu.com/2006/02/16/stories/2006021622000300.htm
# http://www.newkerala.com/news2.php?action=fullnews&id=13089
# http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/feb112006/update65352006211.asp
# http://in.news.yahoo.com/060218/139/62kqh.html
# http://www.my-kannada.com/cgi-bin/n/viewnews.cgi?newsid1139973725,9233,
# http://www.dhyanapeetam.org/SriSri_06.asp
# http://www.indianexpress.com/res/web/pIe/full_story.php?content_id=88278

Your article is an insult to the volunteer base working tirelessly in slums, villages and conflict zones. You reckon that everywhere Art of Living simply teaches SK and leaves. You also imply that they charge money to everybody. Both are incorrect and misleading.

A company executes several man hours of projects but there is only one CEO wo guides the company with his vision. That is how Art of Living reached 30000 villages. SSRS was not personally visiting and affecting all of them, it was a huge volunteer base. And given the number of people working, 30000 is a small number.

Many other things. But this letter has already got too long. I dont think you will change your opinion overnight. I however hope that it changes at least something about your perception of work being done by AoL.

Yunus zei

Because of specific questions and the claim of certain claims i think i should answer small parts.

First off: There is no hidden agenda. I have very clearly stated my intentions (even on this blog), and you can find here.

1. One gets nominated for the nobel prize through the suggestion of academics or certain authoritative figures. The more you lobby with those people, the more chance you have of being nominated. But nomination in itself does not mean too much. Only that somebody somewhere proposed this person. There has been no inquiry on the person by the 'nobel team' prior to the nomination. It suffices to say that Hitler also was nominated for the peace prize.

2. I have known more people getting loads of awards and not really deserving it. Awards eventually prove little. Except the fact that the institutions awarding them indeed often do little research before awarding them. So i'm afraid that i indeed think that there is something wrong with their perceptions.

3. I'm very sorry that i gave the feeling of being misleading. So to correct: I didn't say that they ALWAYS ask money. I said that where they do it is often not used for humanitarian services as is claimed.
I'm fully aware that in some situations they give SK for free.
Like in 'villages' or 'traumatized areas'. And as you nicely state: the very first thing that AOL will do is teach SK.
I did of course say that
"in most of the different problems they simply bring the same 'solution'" But that is not to say that they 'just leave'.
Now, i do understand it might give that idea.
Yet, a bit in the article and certainly in my further discussions, which you can find on the summary page, i go deeper into the matter and make clear that even if they do more than teach SK, the numbers offered are not credible.
First of all, if you truly want to do what you say is being done ("(1) Helping people give up tobacoo and alcohol (2) teacing people zero-budget organic farming (3) Help people build better houses and sanitation (4) teaching about human values and unity in diversity (5) starting self-employment ventures for women (like making bags, stitching) and helping them find market for the same.") then, to my knowledge, it takes about 20 years to truly make the villagers adapted to the necessary change of attitude that has to go along with it. It takes an enormous patience to truly make all these things to work. And everybody who did development work in rural areas knows this.
The amount of volunteers also doesn't matter here because the amount does not make the proces go faster. It's not because you have ten volunteers instead of one for every village, that all of the sudden the farmers are 'educated' ten times faster. The point is that it takes time before the mentality, habits and technical capacities of the villagers have grown and changed enough to have some sustainable impact.
As AOL is just a bit more than 25 years, that would mean that irrespective of the amount of volunteers, they can't have set up such all encompassing programs in as much places as they clame.
You say 30 000 is not much, but i have done some calculations here and that would mean that the Association for Human Values (to which this number traces back) has been doing all the things you propose at a rate of about 7 villages per day since its existence.
Like i said, it simply doesn't seem credible for anybody who has been involved in NGO work. Certainly when you consider the poor transparency, which is something you'd expect from a solidly structured, good working NGO that obviously needs a whole lot of money to get all these programs going (of which, as you admit, it also isn't transparent where it all comes from).

Anoniem zei


Anoniem zei

Why are you so angry and scared? How has H.H. Sri Sri offended you? Have you taken the AOL part 1 course? How can you give an objective view? opinions are not facts. Open your mind.

Gurudev understands you and does not judge you, like you do to him.

Anoniem zei

ha ha ha!! he he he !! nice nice i am really impressed by u yunus,for taking potshots on SSRS!! tell me yunus how much u know about HINDUISM and HINDU ??How many times u have visited BHARAT?(INDIA)!! How much u know about guru parampara??? Yunus ur a muslim right!! i have seen ppl taking potshots against Hindu spiritual leaders!! but strange thing i have not seen anyoe of u taking potshots against ur own like dissecting ur own religion or ur own mulla or maulvi's works what say U-nus? are u scared of being killed by our muslim friends because they dont tolerate this? what pont i want to make is that in Hindu guru u'll see the peace and tranquility and that calmness and also these are seen in all the hindus around the country!!But a hindu guru is the one who is constantly calm 24/7!! how could a mud headed beef eating idiot like u can understand this?Tell me have u read the BAGHVAD GITA ?? if not read it ppl who are so called Business tycoons are using its principles for their day to day affairs!! how could u understand it?? and it was written by LORD krishna !! HE WAS A KING AND A GURU?? so stop farting my dear U-nus!!

Yunus zei

I am not a muslim, I have visited Bharat (India) many times, I have read Bhagavadgita several times and I don't eat beef. (Not that I'm a Hindu either, it's just all part of my personal history)

I thought this was all (except for the beef-thing) made clear in other parts of this blog. Please check the facts before you start cursing me.

The compassionate zei

I feel sorry for you buddy.I don't think you are just expressing your views but trying to catch some limelight.Do you think you can actually turn his image negative?You know I read it and I was rolling of laughter in my chair.It is really PATHETIC.I know how much pure,loving and,as you say,'genuine He is.
No offence.But,I feel real sorry for you.In this hatred you are missing out on such precious knowledge that aims on your 'Self Empowerment'.You may say that "Oh!my soul is powerful enough".
But it would be long before you will realize what have you lost...
Overall,this was real'childish' act.
So Grow Up Yunus!!!

Anoniem zei

If I summarize this article this is how it looks, My comments embedded:

1. Osho and Maharshi were fraud
So how does that make Sri Sri fraud

2. Why Sri Sri hides his Guru's name
How does that make him fraud ? If he would have taken his name you wouldd have said trying to encash his Guru's name and fame. So he does not want to make any hype about it even when his org was of 10 members.

3. There is nothing great about SK
If that is so why are millions people say it is great. If it is so average let the people who do testify it is a very average program. I have not heard all those millinos saying this. But it seems you know even without doing it. You are actually enlightened and know all kind of person I think.

4. Why a non worldy person has to patent and behave like worldly
Your definition of worldly might question why does he fly in plane, he should have just trasmitted himself to different countries if he is enlightened. People have weired concept of worldly thing. But there worldly things which needs to be done in worldy way. That does not make a person fraud.

5. Sk offers those things whihc any meditation can offer how is it special? SK is no different.
That shows how shallow your understanding about meditation is. What is being claimed on website is for a new person who has never done sk and meditation to give a glimpse of waht benefits it can give. But after doing the SK people realize how potent it is. So SK is not exagerrated but infact the actual benefits are far far more than what mentioned on site. That is why millions stick to it. They do not stick after seeing that CNN has said it is great, they stick, that is why CNN says it is great. We do not beleive in aggressive marketing so we hide the actual benefits. Perhaps you will see those once we start some aggressive marketing :)

6. Ramdev is bad -- Now how does that make Sri Sri bad, not that I agree ramdev is bad.

7. Scientifc prooves are shallow and does not show any greatness of SK. --- If that is so, I really pitty those thusand IITand IIms, Scientists and well educated peoples foolishness that they claim that it is great. I will request them to listen to a genuine person like you and do not get fooled by an average fraud like Sri Sri.

8. So he concludes : What has really made difference is not the SK , it is the PR skills of Ravi

Nice conclusion, My suggestion, this SK things has been there for 1000ds of years , why don't you recruti some 10 - 100 PR specialits pick some average technique like SK and teach the same SK with ur team and reach just a village or a city and transform people by your PR and ask them to do your version of SK. Even if 10 persons continue doing that for 10 years forget about 10 million people I will accept your point that it is just PR. I will accept this millions pepole who have been doing this for years are actually fools and they should take counsel from a know all person like you.

9. How can one man initiate so much of service project ? -- Means I can not do so if some one does he is fraud. I accept this point no counter argument.

10. Since the author knows it took some one to build 500 village in 30 years so it is not possble for sri sri to adopt thosands of village. --- May be they were doing differnt thing and Sri Sri is taking care of differnt aspect. Please see waht is being done before comparing it with something totally irrelevant.

11. Sri sri simply emphaisizes on love and peace --- How foolish of him, he should have done a PHD like you on gandhi to be able to speak on love and peace and non vilence. Why don't you go to Iraq and do better job than him and prove your point. After all I have seen your CV, it is more impressive than Sri Sri I think.

12. He knows nothing about mahatma gandhi -- Accepted, will ask everyone to learn from you. After all the term non violence is a patent of yours now.

13. Maharshi is bad. -- Again how does that prove that Sri Sri is bad.

14. Certainly tehre is a ground to doubt his genuineness --- Well inspite of all ur effort all I see that you say SK is not great but average? If that is the ground , then go ahead and doubt for rest of your life. Happy doubting !!!

15. He can be a man searching for money and fame -- can be ? Any one can be anything, did you quaoted anytihg whihc shows that he is in search of money and fame ..as if he has any dearth of that. It is your projection of your own cravings whihc you try to see in people around you.

Now stop being jelous of him and do some good for yourself and people. there are lots of terrorism and hatred out there, more dangerous than an average Sk, go and fix those before you have to fix Sri Sri and his SK.

Kumara zei

The answer of "Anoniem zei" is really interesting in the actual political context of our beautiful India. Enemies of SSRS are necessarily muslims (or christians also), I ve heard this so many times in the mouth of SSRS's followers and in the mouth of BJP and RSS's leaders ... Is that a coincidence ?
I just underline a question, I let you answer ...

Kumara, social observer and agnostic believer (I have much respect for the believers, little less for the institutions…)

Anoniem zei

hey Dude....i was searching for some other things, but your article catched my attention...i am in a rush right now...but still i cannot help saying that you are too negative in your approach about things....look at yourself before pointing your fingers on others on the basis of the things which you have just read somewhere/heard from any person...and have a positive outlook and a broader vision...
i pity you...may God bless you..

LoveBeing zei

hi there! :-)
I think your article was very good!
It is obvious that most or all of the people who commented are followers of Sri and the organization etc so they can't claim to see things objectively.

I don't think you were too negative or harsh, I really think you wrote the truth as you so it- that we really can't be sire of anything..

There should be more articles like yours! I just wrote you to encourage you, after I saw all these angry comments..

Keep up the good work! The TRUTH must be heard above all else! :-)
Since it will set us free! :-)

With Love,
Gil :-)

B R Shenoy zei

You are very right in your assessment of these guru's. They come up like mushrooms and a few get to become huge! Why? People forget their personal lives working and running behind money and then feel depressed and come across these mushroom gurus, pay a huge sum to learn 'breathing', get brainwashed and start preaching 'holy' things about their gurus.

I appreciate your view and commend the good work!

arun rajkumar zei

Dude! Doesn't really matter whether you are for SSRS or against him. Just relax... There have been Gurus in the past, there are Gurus in the present and there are more to come. They will continue to do their work whether you or I comment about them or not.

Anoniem zei
Deze reactie is verwijderd door een blogbeheerder.
Anoniem zei

@ Arun Rajkumar
That is kind of an impotent comment.

Anoniem zei

I agree with the view point of Gil (LoveBeing). The article did not appear negative/ biased to me, although it was a little short on substantiating the arguments.

I have learnt SK myself, and it does seem to have some benefits. Credit is due to SSRS for taking SK to the masses.

But AoL has developed a very commercial feel in the recent years.

I was also taken aback by some of the reactions: followers of SSRS seem to have taken the article very personally! Do they think AoL/ SSRS are beyond any sort of critical examination?

jessica zei

For what it's worth:

Most of the responders, esp Saveen zei, sound very defensive and angry, not to mention unjustifiably arrogant. That's probably why they accuse the author of being so.

And they make really silly attempts at condescension ("I find your article amusing"- yeah it's a real joyride, dude...you don't seem amused- you seem easily pissed off).

I don't know much about Sri Sri/"Sri Sri" Ravi Shankar or the Art of Living except for what one of my enthusiast friends has told me. I am rather an outsider looking in. But after reading the article and replies, I know who I would side with if I had to choose right now, and it wouldn't be all these hateful repliers.

And anyway, the best volunteer work takes place with the adept, not the institution.

Anoniem zei

the author has himself written so much about sudarshan kriya..... :)

i wud say...just experience it as u go for sme seminar.....n then read this article again.... :)


Amit Saraf zei

I am no expert and never had any direct interaction with AoL or SSRS, i have seen him so many times in media, i once saw his video on some festival celebration and with lot of loud music he took the stage and took forms and gestures as if he is sort of God or some super natural person. Those gestures and 'mudras' was enough for me to decide QUIT.

Peter Andrew zei

I found your analysis not only insightful but balanced and fair. Whether or not this fellow does good work or not I don't know, but it seems to me to be valuable to make people aware that God is not a businessman, that the closer one gets to true enlightenment, the more impossible it becomes to run an organization or even to care for oneself. Thank you for writing this.

Anoniem zei

come to indian villages and feel the work don't write just because you are literate..
if whatever u say assumed to be trure
whether your article serves any good objective..
if there are more than million people who feel improvement with what you feel is unscientific or psudo scientific...
you better rethink if you can really think...
god bless you!

ritesh zei

firstly it's good if you are concerned about others by finding loopholes in gurus.

secondly if you want to check authenticity you must follow them completely while keeping aside all the impression first & then if you come up with any discrimination in his talks & works then you should really come up with this statements.

thirdly sudarshan kriya or any xyz kriyas by any gurus works on the performance of disciple. ex. if I gift you a racing car & if you don't know how to run it & face accident, then whose mistake should be count? car or you? i.e. success of any kriya depends on both guru & disciple.

tell me what you think on my comment on 4all.ritesh@gmail.com

Upendra Kolte zei

I read article which is well written and unbiased. I know AOL very well as my wife and in laws are involved in it. I like to add few things to this article. It is good about doing social work etc .. but for that why you need to appraise Sri Sri when he is doing nothing and every thing is done by his disciples.Very true AOL people doing hard work in villages. But where does SSRS personally worked. He him self never done anything other than giving paid lectures.

Other point is why for doing good social work you need to spread superstitions things. Does spiritual means being superstitions?? I have heard so many times from AOL people if there is they have any problem, accident they say Guruji sab thik kardenge.

Remote healing was just unbelievable. I saw a AOL teacher got a call from some one who was sick in other city. AOL teacher started meditating. I just asked him after that what he is doing .. he said I can hill the person remotely.unbelievable... Where as I see that AOL teacher to be sick so many times himself. Always having headaches and gets angry easily. I said advice him to go to doctor if he is so sick.

One more example is one of my relative gots problems financially in his business. He was adviced to do SK and Guru puja and guruji will solve every thing.. and problems will get solved. I wonder how finances can be fixed by SK and Guru puja.

I have also heard from some AOL person that now we dont have to face End of World thing mentioned in Mayan Calendar as SSRS had done some mahaydnya or rudra puja. This is so ridiculous.

AOL people get up this is not the way to do social work spreading blind faith (Andhvishwas). Your Guruji is just a human dont make him God. If behaves like human and then do social work I will personally join giving my effort and money possible to do some good work. But cant go with some fake God SSRS who is not human and getting credits based on good work of other people while personally doing nothing.

Anoniem zei

i read the article. Well Balanced article. we do get carried away with rush, its like herd mentality going with flow. I myself have enough friends, who are deeply into AOL and Guruji. ON their insistence i did one course. What struck me was no accounting of the money. if spreading spiritual knowlege is all, why such exorbitant fee? same old stuff recycled by some AOL instructor, probably a person with high degree. I have seen people giving exact lectures for a fraction of the fee charged.

And yes branding of SK and other yoga is literally abuse of the open source system we hindus have had for ages. I have been practising yoga since childhood, I did not see any remarkable new stuff even in SK.

That said and done, we all have a choice. We can choose to have a Guru or not or whoever as Guru. End of the dayI respect people, their choices. Who am I to decree their faith in the teacher they chose as wrong. What i dislike is trying to shove your choice and your faith down my throat. I absolutely dislike it. Thats the main reason of the critique here, because of the overbearing nature of some AOL people who has to show me the way. You have your way, let me have mine.

Anoniem zei

I Found nothing but pure bluff.

Muslih Mohamed Ismail

Seenugaadu zei

Hi Yunus,

It may be bit late to react to your article. I tell you only one thing, untill and unless you know the reality.You can not understand the Guru or any other. Comparing is not the right for you to grow.

To get realised, first know what is you and what are your thoughts and your actions.

What ever may be your religion,Divine Love is common.
study your texts/scriptures and get the essence and then observe his actions.

Nothing will happen to Sri Sri if you say he is good man or man searching for money,pride,jealousy.he knows what he is.

To my Knowledge, Gurujis never force their discliples to do this or that. they asks disciples to listen to them and experience the reality. They just show you the path. Finally, it is you who has to take it or not. you have to follow your self to understand Guru or God.

i believe, you will not be in peace,love,joy mode always until and unless you are non-attached to objects in world.

Anushree Kulkarni zei

I Know i am late but cant stop myself after reading the above.get involved just once in aol activities and see the difference yourself rather than writing long blogs. Experience it once. If you feel the goodness continue it. If you dont, crib about it in another sad article of your blog. This time with proper Evidences.

Sumeet Prakaashh zei

Younus you haven't done the Aol course but are speaking about it as a result of deep study and research on almost all its operations, how can you judge as an outsider without knowing it, or going and verifying facts yourself, it raises serious doubts...!!!

Anoniem zei

The new stuff about AoL is just the business model. Actually is the best concept in the whole thing.

Another concepts in Aol techniches are pretty biased and messed. Fuzzy and with some lies... they should just be more transparent at the origin of their methods,,

Meditation and pranayamas older than humanity story and is no one property.

in other hand its fair to charge... people just want to pay, its a human way to feel committed

Eldose Mani zei

Anybody who practice yoga as a displine and reached the 5 the stage of prithyahara can easily under stand sri sri is a fake guru. Any body wwho knows pranayama can easily understand that hyperventilating gives only short term euphoria but cr ipples the health at later stage due subtile chemical reactions like martini effect. After all type of SK is forbidden in deep diaphragmatic breating mentioned in yoga sutras...

Naveen Kumar zei

Well...I did go through the blog line by line and fully agree to the point that SSRS has done many good things for the benefit of society and people associated with it..i some time really dont understand...from where did he get all the money ..few thousand crores?? Secondly why does he proclaims himself as God and wanting people to worship him..this is crazy...if you really need to help people ..do it in a right manner..like how Bill gates , warren does...this person is so crazy and hungry for Name and fame..probably the next generations will for sure make fun of us for entertaining such self proclaimed godman

Naveen Kumar zei

Well...I did go through the blog line by line and fully agree to the point that SSRS has done many good things for the benefit of society and people associated with it..i some time really dont understand...from where did he get all the money ..few thousand crores?? Secondly why does he proclaims himself as God and wanting people to worship him..this is crazy...if you really need to help people ..do it in a right manner..like how Bill gates , warren does...this person is so crazy and hungry for Name and fame..probably the next generations will for sure make fun of us for entertaining such self proclaimed godman

Anoniem zei

Dear Yunus Congrats. Your article is indeed a eye opener for the dumb hypnotized ones. Keep up the good work. Truth is truth...it cannot be changed. Your article is indeed true to the core. People should read with a open mind. If the mind is shut than the truth cannot be seen or heard...all the best. Great post

Progressive Hindu Nair zei

There are reports that Sri Sri Ravi Sankar was given the basics of a breathing technique by a wandering saint Shiva Prabhakara Siddha Yogi in early 1980s when he was at Bangalore. Sri Sri perfected it as Sudarshana Kriya. If somebody knows more about it please write more on it