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Monday, December 07, 2009

How genuine is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar?

This is hilarious, but raises some very thought provoking questions - this video is a must SEE.
The AOL guys have blinders on - drinking the coolaid.
The fallout is inevitable....

From here (see article below)
Well, here is my input about AOL.

Here is the question I had posed to Sri Sri in the summer of 2008 when he was visiting the bay area. He reads one of my questions. If you play the video, you will notice the question he read varies from what I had typed up, printed and handed over to his team. Sri Sri has conveniently skipped referencing the fact that I have not taken the Sudarshan kriya.

I am a earnest seeker…(I think)
If there is one thing I have learnt in my life, this is it, that my only goal is self – realization.
I think and read a lot about the SELF…I practice Meditation and Pranayama….but I am not making much progress? My mind still rules
What kind of transformation is needed for me to reach the self.
Is this as difficult a path as Gautam Buddha had to go through?
I read about enlightened masters, their teachings and I feel it is so attainable – and so near – but it is still so far for me.
If it is Sudarshan Kriya that I need – I am certainly going to go through the program.
My question to you - Do you think I will attain this single objective of my life?

I did end up taking the Sudharshan Kriya class last year. I do believe that the class goes around in a song and dance, whereas the focus being sudarshan kriya / pranayama, we should have cut to the chase. There is no discussion on how the technique works - or even a basic explanation of pranayama. The rigmarole revolves around how each of us go through pain and suffering and we are not unique - for me it was all rudimentary that did not merit sitting in class and having to endure the group discussions etc. Perhaps others got more from it.
Five days was a bit much and I decided to skip the last two days - after I had learn the technique. I felt guilty wasting my time to learn what I had learnt. All the discussion before and after during the class seemed like a big waste of time and didn't contribute an iota to my learning. The instructor also made a case of hyping up the whole technique and the dramatic effect it has had on people, and how "every individual has a different experience". It seemed to me that it was a psychologically ploy to implant the impact of the technique into people's mind. Some folks are naive or gullible - more receptive to the cult mentality and likely to buy into it.

Come to think of it, the technique is basic pranayama, that was a PH.D Thesis of Patanjali a couple thousand years ago. The class does not address how and why it works - the mentality is to follow the herd "It works - just do it" There are some folks who are looking for a straw as they are sinking and more receptive to the herd mentality and some others who don't - who can typically see through BS and call it that. Reminds me of the story of the Emperor's New Clothes, wearing the yarn made specially for him, and the little boy (with nothing to lose) calling out to the King, "Dude you are naked". Sri Sri is definitely charismatic and he has brought the massses over to his side, there is a fear element perhaps in going against an organization like AOL and calling it the way we see it.

Back in 2007, I had taken the stress reducting workshop organized by AOL (my question was asked on Guru Purnima day at this workshop). It was a huge scam I thought, as we did yoga and some simple breathing exercises. Sri Sri came for a few minutes every day, and some of the questions he was asked, he did not answer (perhaps he was tired, and didn't want to waste his energy on folks who would not understand anyway) conveniently referring to his books, DVD (with the thought that if we purchased his books and DVDs we would get the answer. Why is Sri Sri so keen to sell more and more of his books, CDs, and videos?). Someone asked the question "There have been gurus who have been teaching Pranayam. You are teaching pranayam. Ramdev Guru teaches pranayam. How different is it all/ Why should someone come to your class and spend $350 to take this class" and Sri Sri responded in a very abrasive manner almost insulting the dude to have the audacity to question him. Is that the mark of a guru? This gal I had gone to the workshop with was so annoyed with the whole charade that she aggressively went after the organizers and got her $$ back - You Go Girl! I was willing to give AOL a second chance, perhaps I missed out and don't understand the whole concept, and with that I enrolled into the Sudarshan Kriya class last year.

Now, the instructor at the SK class was resistant to questions being asked and even made it a point to treat these questions casually or belittle them to an extent. The class became a charade where he was protecting his turf as the teacher and making sure that anyone who questioned him was made fun off - in a relatively benign manner. Which is fine - because he was a person with his ego, working in a high tech and to certain extent similar backgrounds (not to be regarded as Guruji as some students were addressing him) and if he wants to ensure that he wields the baton, so be it. It was clear that he had a vicious ego - and he would lash out at the slightest bruise - was the sudarshan kriya helping him? Or perhaps he only taught it but never practiced it? But what was truly upsetting is his / AOLs Amway like technique in asking us students to go out and solicit new members for a 2 hour introductory session - in the name of seva. Why is seva involved with asking us to recruit members? Is there a different form of seva? We were asked to sit around in circles and brain-storm on how we could recruit new members and invite them to attend the two hour introductory class scheduled over the weekend - obviously free. But they were all targeted to eventually take the AOL course. It was nothing else but Amway-like technique and that was the last straw (see Manju's comments below). I was not thrilled by being told that each of us should get five of our friends and relatives/ contacts to sign up for that 2 hour introductory class- that is not the hallmark of a classy organization.

The technique itself is good - it is good pranayam breathing exercise and I do a variation of this, for health and a focused mind. I wish they can teach it in 2 hours instead of the charade that I went through. There is also no reason for them to charge $350 for a technique that was essentially researched and written by Patanjali and that which exists for two thousand years.
Where is all the $ pouring into AOL going into?


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 were told 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 seem at least 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


  1. Hope the moderator of this blog is a real devotee of Lord Shiva ! If he were to be a real devout of Lord Shiva he 'ld have known who's Sri Sri Ravishankar and would have not allowed such a mediocre article to be published on this blog...

    The whole article clearly shows that, one small mind trying to evaluate and analyze a big mind and above that pass on his individual opinion as a remark !!!

    If you believe in the statement of "Preach what you practice !!!"

    Then, as a first step do the "Sudharshan Kriya", do the basic course in AOL, meet Sri Sri once in your lifetime ( you need to be blessed for that !) and then you write an article - you'll naturally see that, you'd have grown up enough to accept that, this article was written in complete ignorance and with such poor taste !!!

    Grow buddy grow....
    ....... you're criticizing someone without knowing who you're at the first instance !!!

    ......Jai Gurudev !

  2. I love Bhagwan Rajeesnh-Osho. He exposed priests and politiciana in a way never done before. He was one man vs.all world governments. A really intelligent and rebellious enlightened master.

  3. Phani - Appreciate you checking in. Opinions are meant to be shared - surely you agree.

    I do think I am a devotee - not of any elevated status - but just simply a devotee of Shiva.

    About AOL - I have taken the course Sudharshan Kriya - and I have not personally met him, but had the chance to listen to Sri Sri.

    I am going to now update this article with my personal thoughts - which I had resisted.

  4. Hi,

    I don't know what to address you as now, since I don't know your name, on one end you reflect your name as 'Shiva Bhakta' and with one testing question, you're shying away saying that, You're not a devotee of Shiva either !

    U need not be a Shiva Bhakta of elevated status to post a blog, which is a limited collection of information about unlimited - Lord Shiva in various forms in various kshetras etc...

    at the same time I must appreciate the collection of Videos and info that is posted here, and that's why people like me also login into this blog !

    Since You're the moderator, you definitely hold the control atleast to either publish or not to publish on this blog!

    Just assume, if tomorrow a fanatic Vaishnavite writes an article totally against Lord Shiva, which U nicely allow it to be posted here and when questioned, will you again say that....

    "... i'm neither a Shiva Bhakta nor am I a devout of elevated status...bla..bla..bla.." is it correct on your part to shy away from ur responsibility as a moderator of this blog???

    But again, U hold a responsibility once people start posting articles on a blog.

    I look forward to the posting of your personal thoughts as u've promised...

    Jai Gurudev !


  5. Phani,
    Correction - I said, I do think I am (definitely am) a devotee of Shiva - hopefully it comes across clearly so in the blog postings.

    I hear your pain, it is likely so when someone we believe in completely is vilified. But there are many gurus in this world who developed a huge following and turned out to be major frauds. So fervor and intensity is good, but needs to be channeled properly. I think there are lots of folks who have that strong inclination to follow, have that urge to be spiritual or whatever, or perhaps have gone through pains that makes them compassionate, and looking for leadership hold onto any straw , as they follow the herd. But more on that later

  6. I have been quite closely associated with the Art of Living for the past five years. What I see of Guruji (met him several times) is a simple, compassionate and spiritual soul. If he brings a tear to a devotee's eyes, it's not because of mob frenzy but because his simplicity touches a chord somewhere deep inside.

    But I am not comfortable with the organization and its aggressive goals. I am more of a 'free bird' and like to visit any spiritual center that I vibe with- could be Ramakrishna ashram, a temple, a gurudwara, a church, a mosque.

    A guru comes in one's life go guide and help a spiritual seeker- He (or she) does not expect us to stay a follower- rather be grateful to him and move on, if need be.

    Guruji Sri Sri himself has said- that he wants to create leaders, not followers. In my case, I am not so much a leader but one who is walking like everyone else, on the spiritual path...

  7. I recently watched 'Antarnaad' a musical symphony of 2600 singers in Pune- it was organized by AOL. From what I saw, it was well organized and done in a grand scale.

    But I always wonder why AOl wants to go and do big, big big programs (when small is beautiful!). Then I think I understand.

    Enlightened Masters think BIG. Vivekananda traveled the 7 seas to discuss Hinduism with the west (it must have been so difficult at that time to even envision this!). So did Parmahansa Yogananda, whose books I adore. I suspect that people would throng Arunachala to meet Ramana Maharshi and he did not have to step out of his ashram. Srila Prabhupada started the ISKCON movement in his 70s, traveling all over the world. What a marvel! Each master has his (or her) method/s.

    The gap really comes when dreams of enlightened Masters need to get translated into action by the ordinary (or well, somewhat evolved) disciples. The methods they employ or suggest could be difficult or even questionable. The approach can or may not suit you. Such goals can be aggressive and unless you are totally hollow and empty you cannot execute them righteoously.

    Vivekananda was a great disciple so he followed his Master's voice so ethically. Can we all do this? I wonder...

    Personally, it's not for me...

    But then, these are just my thoughts.

  8. As the head honcho - we are all accountable for our actions and that of the groups. Osho had to pay the price. When we scale things up, we have to be cognizant of the ramifications of things going awry - as the impacts of it are many and felt by a lot of people. The true spiritual masters are (I think) aware of this and go to great pains to ensure a kosher organization - nad one way is to do it small.

    Ramana Maharishi did not step out of his ashram nor did he touch money ever after he was setup in his ashram - simple living that touched upon people deeply when they visited. There was no amway like fervor. Give you an example of the spiritual blessing that the ashram folks still revel in - I had put a link in my blog talking about Ramana along with a link to donate $ to the ashram in case they were interested. I was politely asked by the ashram folks to remove the donation reference. That is indeed a spiritual community that exists in Arunachala, so perceptible the moment we step inside.
    When an organization is all about recruiting, making $$ by packaging age old spiritual practices and techniques..that should get us all thinking.

    The true spiritual masters live quietly, execute upon their special mission and the world is left marveling for the next thousands of years. Ramana, Jesus, Adi Shankaracharya, Ramakrishna Parmahamsa were all in that vein. Folks meet them - there was automatic respect and adulation that arose.

  9. we have no right to comment a spiritual Guru
    stop this stupid
    i heard about guruji
    he has the divine power with him
    hes great

  10. I am amazed how someone didn't experience the joy in Sudarshan Kriya. He must be really bent on proving that SK doesn't have a positive effect and he succeeded in doing that for himself. My experience of SK is immense and beyond words. Going by my experience of meditating for 2-4 hours at a stretch, I am sure even if I did it my whole life, I would not have reached the state of SK. It reminds me of the story of Krishna. Shishupala rediculed Krishna and gained nothing. Arjuna as a dear friend and a qualified devotee got the supreme knowledge - Naresh Chalimeda

  11. http://artoflivingfree.blogspot.com/
    This has some very interesting articles on the pains that folks with blind faith for the AOL organization have gone through. It is eye opening to say the least

  12. SK begins with scientific and rational statements.
    but unofficially they start talking about miracles,which are not commented or endorsed by the Guruji.
    next you are compelled to become hookers for the AOL.
    gettting more customers.
    I was surprised when they suggested that I attend session conducted in upmarket area, as the center that I went was wasn't good for me.

  13. http://artoflivingfreefree.blogspot.com/

  14. http://aolfree.wordpress.com/

    Ex-AOL teachers/devotees give lot of insight into this cult organization. Take a look.

  15. grateful_reader9/17/2010 09:44:00 AM

    aolfree.wordpress.com is a another blog with a lot of revealing stories about AOl and Guruji. Shiva Bhakta, its impresive that you caught on to the AOl fraud early on. Most people including me who have posted on these blogs have had to endure a lot in the organization before seeing it for what it is.

  16. Looks like his nobel peace prize effort failed once again, this year, it was just awarded today to the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. Poor Ravi and his followers would be sad.

  17. Hi Shiva Bhakta,

    Your blog sounds very negative. I wonder why are you bent on proving how fraudulent AOL or Sri Sri Ravi Shankar or other spiritual gurus are? Listen to what Sri Sri says.. believe what concurs with your mind. Leave the rest. As millions of people find his teachings valuable, I promise you would too. This world has become complex. You wouldn't know what is going on inside somebody's mind or an organization like AOL until you are part of it. But who cares? I did sudarshan kriya, I felt incredible. So I believe it. I like Sri Sri's thoughts/vedic teachings, so I believe them. Sometimes, I dont like the way AOL has to everything big, okay I ignore it. If, as you said, self realization is your sole objective in this life, where are you heading my friend by proving how authentic the person or organization is! If self realization is your aim, you have to be just witness of everything and not the judge. If something looks good, witness it. If something looks bad, juzzzt witness it. and move on. Talking about Sudarshan kriya, its a kind of pranayam, no matter how/who invented it, who claims to own it, it has to make person feel good after doing it. Your blog/views sound totally against of it just for the sake of proving something wrong/unauthentic. Whatever name you give it, yoga-pranayam are always going to help you, me or everyone. So I would request you to be unbiased. Dont concentrate on proving who's wrong/right/fraud/genuine. Go with what your mind affirms but dont try to prove anything.
    I hope you would agree.

  18. How incredibly arrogant of you! You undertake a spiritual teaching by taking the basic course and then YOU decide to leave the last two days because it is irrelevant to you. You are such a fool. You wonder what you need to do to get enlightened. The first thing you have to do is to get that arrogant ego of yours under control. You want instant results on YOUR TERMS. Whaaaaa...baby want his bottle. Grow-up, man. Take a spiritual teaching seriously for several years, and then, perhaps you'll be in a position to judge its value for you.

  19. You are not a shiva bhakta, you are an arrogant fool. Hopefully one day a good Satguru will beat that foolishness out of you. What an idiot!

  20. Its easy to sit at the comfort of your chair and badmouth the divine... Before coming into the art of living, i had lots of reservations regarding His Holiness. but once i experienced his divine love, i have never looked back.. He has always been there for me whenever I need. It not his products or courses which captures the hearts pf billions, it is his grace and love which each one experiences..... I hope U experience that soon...

  21. @Lehmann108

    Thanks for accepting SSRS is neither good Satguru not he can beat the foolishness of people.

  22. looks like this blogger has lost it completely..

    Had "the shiva bhakta" been so "enlightened" to analyse a guru or any person's teaching, he would not have been blogging.....u would have been on himalayas or serving society....
    stop spreading negativity around
    - Suggestions from a Journalist

  23. I think the AOLer's are crossing the line. Let the guy speak his mind for what he say and interpreted. I agree to an extent about the enormous benefits of the breathing technique (significant overlap with Baba Ramdev's) and the organizations go go attitude to enriching themselves. 2 different things that should be analyzed separately. You can like one and dislike the other aspect, perfectly normal.
    Good luck with your journey.

  24. AOL Inc. is making a big hole in your wallet and bank balance... Run away from AOL... save your wealth

  25. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYUTZwdUuNc&feature=youtu.be

  26. I think it is a good article based on your analysis of SSRS and others. The one key thing that differentiates Hinduism from other religions is free questioning, analysis and evaluation of each path. Do not follow blindly any person or a path. Even in Gita, Arjuna did not follow Krishna blindly. He questioned Krishna for ever teaching and didnt feel satisfied till Krishna showed him his real image. So yes proof and transparency is very important for any seeker. And as mentioned in Gita,, Gyan (knowledge) Yoga is the top and best yoga. IN the end all yogas meet the same objective and when we follow one yoga all other also come along...

  27. AOL is a cult. People who are saying without knowing AOL how can we raise questions for big minds... I had been contact with AOL, but AOL only teaches to satisfy superficial mind of people like you. One doesn't ave to hefty amount for a knowledge which has been there for years with us. He just formed a package of breathing and yoga posture exercises. The experience, well if take few deep breaths I will feel relaxed. I have come in contact with wonderful saints who don't propagate or advertise so loudly as AOL does and don't charge for the wonderful knowledge. Secondly, why is ur guru such a coward to trademark everything, secondly, why des he has to have credit card opened in name of AOL? The teachers tat e as thrown in society, their lives in themselves are messed up, but they themselves have so much of egos. They read few books here and there and start bragging around with th catch words to attract attention Why will a guru try to run away from complaints and replying to questions, after all he is there to lead a path? Ask your guru a question from where did he steal the name of "art of living" in 1982 - 1984 timeframe? If you have anything to say or discuss I am open, but don't brag about AOL which is hollow. Advertising a bad product that's nowadays funda to attract quantity but nt quality. If you have questions I can provide you facts nd my contact info.... So AOL keep your mouth shut.


Welcome to the spirituality blog

This blog is an offshoot of a website that I had conceived as a result of the spiritual grace and resultant inspiration during Shivaratri Y2K (http://www.jyotirlinga.com) on the joy of Shiva Bhakti and my quest for spiritual progress. Not finding the time (yep, bad excuse!), this blog suits me fine in quickly adding content... my spiritual forays and thoughts - helps log them too. My spiritual journey started with Hinduism and it's simple stories/ teachings as far back as when I was a 2nd grader, with Lord Shiva and has now found convergence with Advaitism / Duality. The Advaitism gurus like Bhagwan Ramana Maharishi, Nisargadatta Maharaj; they have provided that spiritual boost of energy in many lagging moments and have tremendously influenced me ... little baby steps at a time... that will hopefully all lead upto a final crescendo. The merits of satsangh are many!

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