Friday, September 30, 2005

Hurricane Opportunity Attracts Sri Sri

File under: Back-Room Gurudom and The Siddhi of PR

Not one to pass up an opportunity to increase his name and fame, our favorite self-glorifying soothsayer, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, has landed in Texas to recruit devotees provide disaster relief for the survivors of the recent Gulf Coast hurricanes. His trauma relief mini tour is keeping him and his entourage mighty busy:
Over 20 trained trauma relief experts of the two organisations are providing relief workshops for over 500 people who survived the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina...in Houston, Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, Baton Rouge and Louisiana.
We wonder if these "workshops" involve learning how to breathe properly, and where to go to learn more about these important life-enhancing techniques.

Sri Sri seems to have quite a talent for making self-promotion and grandstanding look like disaster relief and peace-making. Not unlike the acts of the muscle-headed Sri Chinmoy or private jet-flying Prem Rawat. Even Ammachi makes an occasional appearance on this stage, although her $22 million-plus tsunami relief blockbuster and $1 million hurricane relief production make their combined acts look like a 3-year-old's basement puppet show.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Amma's Birthday Gift From The Press: Unintended Irony

File under: Amma All-Over-The-Planet

An Indian newspaper has provided some divinely inspired irony regarding Amma's 52nd birthday celebration. The headline says: Amma's birthday celebrated without pomp, while the second paragraph reads:
Close to 200,000 people arrived here at Amritapuri to celebrate the birthday of the spiritual leader popularly known as "amma" or mother.
There is not a single religious leader in the U.S. who could pull half as many as that. It's an elucidating reflection of Hindu spiritual culture and its seemingly insatiable appetite for godmen and women of all stripes and moral dispositions.

We believe a person could do a lot worse than Ammachi, yet it's not her divinity that's driving her popularity. The Indian public creates these "deities" out of the traditions of Hinduism. Amma was just in the right places at the right times with the right message, and most importantly, with the right stories of miracles circulating around her.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Amma Goes Low-Key For 52

File under: Amma All-Over-The-Planet

Surprisingly enough, Ammachi is going low-key this year for her 52nd birthday. This is in stark contrast to the excessive grandiosity on display at her 50th birthday, which has it own website and pulled about 100,000 people a day for the 3-day bash.

We weren't sure why Amma was scaling back so much, so we put the question to the Gal upstairs. She told us that She is sick and tired of Amma constantly trying to upstage Her, so She put a permanent governor on Amma's astral milk supply. The restricted flow is only sufficient to pull a couple thousand at best. Amma is on probation until Kali begins to receive the credit for the miracles Amma and her swamis have been attributing to Amma instead.

It would be a welcome improvement to hear her organization talking about God without invoking Amma's name every single time. Maybe her reduced milk quota will help Amma to catch a clue and persuade her to pay more than lip service to her own Creator and the whole reason she got into the guru business in the first place.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Camp Profit For Prem

File under: Gurus Clockin' Dollars

An upcoming Prem Rawat retreat in the state of Queensland, Australia is going to bring in the big bucks. The cost to camp out for the weekend: $675US for a single tent and sleeping bag up to about $2000US for the deluxe double bed with electric blanket. 2500 devotees are expected to attend.

While a spokesperson claimed Rawat will be giving the lecture for free, we're confident that at least some of the money will somehow find its way into his organization's reportedly cavernous coffers. After all, he's got a Gulfstream V private jet and a few Bell helicopters to fuel and maintain.

Rawat is still on a tear around the world rehabilitating his image. It seems people have forgotten his past abuses despite the best efforts of his well-organized former devotees. Prem's PR minions are doing an excellent job and appear to have a good grip on the public's perception of Rawat, the protestations of those he allegedly abused notwithstanding. It's kind of like the Bush administration vs. what's left of the political Left in America. A few tweaks on the public's perception and you can get away with pretty much anything.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Three-Faced Swami

File under: Wackadoo Gurus

Today we were directed to the website of Shri Datta Swami. You can add him to your list of psychotically grandiose gurus. Our first clue was the picture on the homepage that depicts the Swami as the founder of all the world's major religions. Then there are his claims of avatarhood, quite ordinary actually... for a loony tunes guru who happens to be Hindu:
The highest human incarnation of God, the Paripurna Avatara, means that the Lord who has come down in human form, dwells in that human body from its birth to its end and also expresses His inseparable characteristic of the True, Infinite, and Divine Knowledge.

The Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, together is called as 'Dattatreya' or Lord Datta. Lord Datta has now come down as a Pari Purna Avatara, to impart the Divine Knowledge to us. He stands before us as Shri Datta Swami. Swamiji's mission in the world is to establish a Universal Spirituality based on the Divine knowledge.
There isn't really much we can say about that. And yet it gets much better. Swami has "met" Kali. From the account of a "devotee":
I tried to follow their conversation but could not understand much since they were speaking Sanskrit. Swami was speaking in an authoritative tone, while the lady was speaking very politely and submissively. After some time the lady disappeared. After she left, Swami still sat there with closed eyes. I closed the window and went back to bed.

Next morning, I asked Swami, who the divine lady was. Swami told me that she was the Divine Mother Kali. Kali is the ferocious and terrifying form of the Divine Mother. I asked about what the conversation was about.

Swami replied, "She wanted to destroy humanity through the dreaded disease, AIDS. I prevented her form doing so saying that the time had not come for it. I assured her that I will change humanity through My Divine Knowledge and that she should wait for some more time."
It's one thing to say you are God Incarnate. But it's absolutely another to claim you have topped the Mistress of All Creation. This Swami is as ripe as any nut under a betel palm.

Anyone with a nanogram of sense knows Kali takes orders from no one. She's already bailed those hapless gods out a couple of times before. Poor Swami D. must have forgot that story when this vomitus came up out of his fractured imagination. Just another indication this guru is missing a couple of whole suits from his deck.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Inside The Wacky (Yet Hott) World Of The Raelians

File under: Wackadoo Gurus

ReligionNewsBlog has published the titillating account of a news reporter who recently infiltrated a Raelian "sensual seminar" in Barcelona, Spain. Among the revelations:
Rael is surrounded by his "angels," a "harem of 30 to 40 very pretty young women who have sworn in writing never to spurn his advances and to protect him, with their lives if necessary, from all kinds of aggression," according to "May," who asked to remain anonymous.

After lessons in the group philosophy, there follow a range of games where participants frolic around blindfolded, girls disguised as boys and vice-versa, in a series of erotic shows on a dance floor.

"During the day they get you to caress each other and to make love in the evening. Many are seduced by it all. The most bizarre thing is that almost all of them really believe in this stories of extra-terrestrials," she adds.
We believe Rael picked the wrong place to hold his seminar. Barcelona is one of the hippest cities in Europe. The geek and nerd quotient is certain to be much higher elsewhere, say in Los Alamos, New Mexico. We're sure he'd pull twice the number of dating losers there. The trick will be to get the Lab's scientists to believe the UFO nonsense. But we suspect if they're having regular sex with multiple partners who are actually attracted to them, they'll probably be ready to believe just about anything.

Update: Sally Kempton Not Sliced

File under: Corrections

We've just been informed by Sally Kempton herself that she has not had plastic surgery. Due to the persistent efforts of a friend of hers, we engaged in that thingy called responsible journalism and asked Sally directly:
Hi Sally.

Someone told me you have had plastic surgery. Is this true?

--jody.

[Sally replies:]
Of course not.
As to whether Gurumayi has faced the knife, the jury is still out, the protestations of her devotees notwithstanding. Not that there's anything wrong with having plastic surgery. It's the denial of such that flags the person as being somewhat less than completely honest about themselves. Not a good quality in a divine guru, if you asked us.

We apologize to Sally and her devotees for insinuating this to be the case for her as well.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Da's Descent

File under: Wackadoo Gurus

"The criticism of Da isn't that he falls short of perfection, but that he falls short even of basic human decency on so many occasions and to such a degree that he simply doesn't pass the ordinary human tests of trustworthiness and mutual respect we would look for in any relationship, much less a sacred one."

The words of former Adi Da devotee, Broken Yogi, over at the Daism Forum. We recommend doing an author search using his handle to read more of his unique insights, gathered while he was a witness to the self-destruction of Adi Da.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Prem Rawat's Big Splash

File under: Satscams and Gurus Clockin' Dollars

Prem Rawat, the guru formerly known as Guru Maharaji Ji, has come a long way since his disgrace and subsequent withdrawal from the satsang scene in the early 80s. He recently addressed the U.N. during its 60th anniversary (and produced his own movie about it), has spoke at various educational institutions and donated $75,000 to a Texas food bank for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. How do we know all this? By the hand of his organization's PR department, of course! This is one guru who really knows how to toot his own horn.

Accused of the usual abuses (including shielding a pedophile in his organization), he has a very strong and seemingly well-organized group of ex-devotees who protest at his engagements. One went so far as to rent a truck to batter his way in.

We find that large, active communities of ex-devotees mean one thing: satscam. Rawat's renaming his org and flooding the internets with positive press releases doesn't seem to have quelled their criticism much. They say that any PR is good PR, but not when you claim to be God. Bad PR sticks to gurus like tobacco smoke at a truck stop. Unfortunately for him (but perhaps fortunate for the guru-seeking masses), we don't see poor old Prem getting out of that anytime soon.

Update: A Google blog search using the term "Prem Rawat" turns up an impressive number of blogs with Rawat-inspired entries, most of them seemingly planted by devotees. We're starting to smell a large, organized and concerted effort to flood the internets with positive portrayals of this notorious satscammer. Stay tuned as we attempt to track this scheme (if there is one) as it unfolds.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Another Star Over The Side

File under: Satscams and Gurus to the Stars

Guy Ritchie has allegedly abandoned the S.S. Kabbalah Centre. Furious after his latest movie was savaged by critics, Mr. Madonna has apparently had enough:
He thinks his new gangster flick, Revolver has suffered as a result... Guy is devastated by the mauling the movie... he believes he should have spent more time on set... He also regrets following his wife’s advice and including references to the kooky clan in the film, because critics now view it as a shameless advert for the spiritual following.
We're really feeling for Guy right now. His faux-dom wife's grandiosity has been his undoing. He was once England's new cinematic hope, a Cockney Quentin Tarantino. Now he's seen as the lap dog of an aging pop princess and a shill for her wacky religion.

There's sure to be a mighty rumbling at their English country manor when they return from the Toronto Film Festival. Will Guy hold his ground and continue to can the Kabbalah, or will he coming padding back to his mistress for his leash and a belly rub.

Meanwhile, we hear the Kabbalah Centre PR machine is in super-duper-quadruple red-string alert mode. With K-Fed attempting to read Deepak Chopra; their Madonna-lite, Britney Spears, may not be long for their coffers. And with Guy jumping ship, they may be about to be the cause of the most spectacular celebrity divorce since Jen and Brad. There are interesting times ahead in the celebriverse, all courtesy of the Rabbis Berg and their satscam.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Fave Guru Stories

File under: Reference Library

We came upon Our Favorite Guru Stories today, a collection of ex-devotee accounts of their experiences with Sai Baba, Sri Chinmoy, Swami Muktananada, Swami Chetanananda [Ed.note: Definitely not the Swami Chetanananda of the Vedanta Society of St. Louis.] and Guru Maharaji, aka Prem Rawat, who has been on a bit of a tear trying to rehabilitate his image lately.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Peace... Or Profit Palaces?

File under: Gurus Clockin' Dollars

A Connecticut couple is searching the Danbury, CT area for a location for the "next" Maharishi "peace palace." Terry and Bernie Nevas are members of the Global Country of World Peace, the Maharishi's latest scheme to acquire more name, fame and political power. They are attempting to assist the TM™ leader with his Field of Dreamsesque vision to "to build 2,400 Peace Palaces in the United States and 3,000 palaces worldwide."
The idea is to have powerful, positive, peaceful vibes flow out of the Peace Palaces and into the surrounding communities, therefore making the world a more peaceful place.

"What we're offering is all kinds of peace-creating technologies. That means peace for the individual and peace for the environment. Transcendental meditation is the primary technique that we teach," Terry Nevas said.
"Peace-creating technologies." Sure, if you consider their tired and simplistic rehashing of a very old and extremely common Hindu meditation technique as "technology."

But does the 90-something year-old Maharishi, estimated to be worth between $3 billion upwards to $9 billion, have something else in mind? He does according to Rick Ross:
Rick Ross, a cult expert who runs the Rick Ross Institute in New Jersey and its associated website, said the Peace Palace effort is nothing more than a way for the Maharishi to make money on real estate.

"Many of these proposed Peace Palaces never come to fruition. Much of Maharishi's vast fortune is in real estate investments," Ross said.

"Frequently what he does is buy and hold properties. Eventually he'll dump it and make some money that way."
Ah so.

While we sympathize with the Nevas' sentiments, they're looking more like a couple of patsies than enlightened revolutionaries for peace. But we've got to give the Maharishi some props for all this. He's turned an old and worn-out new age-ism, the 100th monkey phenomenon, into a real estate profiteering scheme. He may be trashing whole countries in fits of psychotic grandiosity, but he's still got enough marbles rolling around in his head to keep clockin' those dollars.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Dahnhaked To Death In The Desert

File under: Satscams

A New York education professor recently baked to death on an Arizona mountain in an attempt at Dahnhak mastery. Julia Siverls was allegedly fed meals laced with marijuana and methadone and then made to carry a backpack full of rocks up Casner Mountain near Sedona, AZ. Lacking food, water and the benefit of any compassion on the part of her teachers, Julia collapsed halfway up and died of dehydration and heat exhaustion. Now her parents are suing for $84 million:
The suit says Dahnhak "lures" members with free yoga classes, then pressures them to attend pricey classes and retreats. Named as co-defendants are over a dozen allegedly related operations and Dahnhak's Korean leader, "Grand Master" Seung Huen Lee.
Looks like Dahnhak founder "Ilchi" Lee's stock as a psychotic cult leader is on the rise. But we find his recruitment techniques could use a little tweaking. Killing your aspiring teachers off isn't really that inspirational, and they can't bring in much money as corpses, either.