Friday, February 17, 2006

Sri Sri's Big Jubilee Blow Out

File under: The Siddhi of PR and Gurus Clockin' Dollars

We touch our head to the feet of the great Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The man is a public relations genius and a veritable god of self-promotion. Case in point: hundreds of thousands of people are invading Bangalore to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Sri Sri's Art of Living Foundation. It's putting Sri Sri over Ammachi, Sai Baba, Kalki Bhagavan and Swami Ramdev as India's most beloved guru.

As a service to our readers, we'd like to bring you the impressions of someone who was for a time close to Sri Sri:
Many people follow Ravi Shankar. They follow him blindly, knowing very little about him except the sometimes blissful feeling that can come in his presence. Where that comes from, who knows, and I frankly don't care. Once I privately questioned him how that feeling was any different from a drug, since it needed repeat contact over and over and over again with him. I told him that drugs do the same thing, often without doing nearly as much damage to one's life! (I had watched many successful people throw their careers away for him and become destitute, like drug addicts, and never gain anything except that poverty and lack of self-respect that comes from slavery to a "guru".) He was dumbfounded with my question. He sat helplessly and changed the subject. Questions like these often threw him.
Let's not forget about the time he failed to censure a genocidal politician using an excuse he forgot about when it came time to make another smart political move.

The magic of Sri Sri lies entirely with those people who believe in him. His seemingly many faults don't register because folks just don't want to see them. Instead, they want to see an omnipotent space daddy who can protect them and help them prosper. It's craven spiritual materialism. This is not so unusual any more in India with the advent of the tele-gurus like Sri Sri and Ramdev. They, the Babaster and the Kracki are dragging the whole of Hinduism away from self-realization and into income realization (to make for those generous donations.)

They do so by making themselves gods. It's such a clear ploy for name and fame, and yet nobody even blinks over it. The devotees want to ascribe their own altruistic feelings to these megagurus. It's what drives the whole enterprise. Throw around some platitudes about peace and oneness and watch those dollars clock.

Our hat is off to Sri Sri. He's managed to make a bit of yoga into a multinational corporation, with himself as the CEO. The man has ambition in gallons. We pray that it will one day translate into balls and a desire to live up to his image.


At 2/19/2006 10:10 AM, Blogger ontheotherhand said...

Sri Sri's "jubilee blow out" is just what he said he wanted to achieve when he spoke about his name and fame to me once in the 1990s: "One day you will see -- I will be bigger than Ammachi! They will come in lakhs (100s of thousands) to see me! You won't be able to have these private meetings with me anymore because I'll be so popular!" And ad nauseum. Shortly after that conversation, he even started giving out hugs at his satsang. He found out in a hurry that this required remarkable physical stamina that he lacked and that phase of his "darshan" faded away pretty much. He didn't like the idea of sitting for 24 hours at a time and hugging all those people of different castes. Poor guy.

I especially like the "25 years of service" motto behind his "jubilee". Funny, I thought it was "25 years of business". I suppose if you put the word "self" in front of the word "service" the motto would stand up to close scrutiny.

I didn't see any of his invasion as front page news in the on-line Deccan Herald (Bangalore's main newspaper). There was, however, a mention of the President of India's arrival in Bangalore, and which streets would be closed at which times. No mention of his visit to Sri Sri.

Jody, you can keep on praying that Sri Sri will ever live up to his reputation. You'll be on your knees for an awfully long time, imo. Whatever true goodness Sri Sri ever had has been wiped out by greed, corruption and scrambling for recognition. What would you expect from a guy who was always the skinny "guy" on the block, who flunked out of college (pre-college really), and was rejected by his guru? Lots of poor men in India rise up to become like him. He's just made it in a big way fairly quickly. I imagine that his decline will be at least as swift, and a "SHOCK" to all his followers, who you so properly point out, don't want to see what and who he really is. They do just want a big Space Daddy to give them happiness. Good luck to them. I would spend my time on prayers for them, not Sri Sri. He's a crook.

At 2/19/2006 12:24 PM, Blogger dontbullme said...

Sri Sri about Silver Jubilee:

"It is not just a celebration. Its the day world will change and embark on a new era.
Thousands of Gods and Goddesses will be there to bless eveyone present there and all the wishes will come true. There will be healing of diseases and relationships. Don't worry about money and about hurdles of coming as these days will look after liftetimes ahead. Its just not a celebraion of three days. It is a celebraion which will remain in your consciousness for liftetimes, for whoever will be physically present there. Nothing in the world is worth missing out Art of Living Silver Jubilee function."

Thousands of Gods and Goddesses? What happened to one god, one truth and one world?

At 2/19/2006 11:18 PM, Blogger dontbullme said...

Times of India on SJ:

"Day 2 of the mega event saw the teeming 2 lakh-odd people assembled at Jakkur Aerodrome diluting boundaries of caste, creed, social distinctions."

It seems Sri Sri missed his 2.5 million people target by just a zero.

At 2/20/2006 9:19 AM, Blogger CHUCK said...

I’ve read several things here about Sri Sri and understand why you don’t respect him but am wondering about the intensity of your feeling. Do you feel this strongly because he hurt your personally?

Having seen some photos of the guy, he looks like a true wimp.

At 2/20/2006 2:31 PM, Blogger dontbullme said...

Sri Sri on Rediff chat:

Q : can you transform osama bin laden to a good human being

A. If he comes to me, definitely, yes

Jody make a note. Another comment on an individual. This will nominate him for 2006 hypocritical guru of the year.

At 2/20/2006 2:33 PM, Blogger facedog said...

OK donotbullme,

I can now see the dark side of Sri Sri, but why are you so stuck on him? Why can't you just forget the guy and love again?

At 2/20/2006 4:52 PM, Blogger dontbullme said...

Love whom? You? :-)

ohh..BTW....u think i'm secretly working for kracki? who the f*** is that guy dude...i have no idea...why do u always make such wierd guesses??

At 2/20/2006 5:49 PM, Blogger facedog said...

Come on donotbullme,

I have already apologized for that crack about you and the kracki, and am sincerely interested in understanding why it is so hard to let go of the anger related to these teachers. OTOH seems to have been close enough to Sri Sri to feel the pain in a very personal way. I don't know if that is true of you or not. I have had my own battles with these issues. So tell me why you are so relentless a critic of Sri Sri, in the personal way you seem to be.


At 2/22/2006 3:15 PM, Blogger ontheotherhand said...


This blog is for the purpose of having a bit of fun with the shaky reputations of these supposedly "superior" and "otherwordly" folks who get labeled as gurus. Making fun of someone who wantonly harms others while making money on his organization is cathartic for me, personally. It's not that I can't love again, as you put it, but that I don't love Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. At all. Not a bit. Since the rest of the conscious spiritual world seems presently to be bowled over by the guy, and there is really no avenue to vent, I'm grateful to Jody for supplying this avenue to speak the truth. Maybe someone like you or your friends whom you say follow that person will take heed and not be mislead by him because of this fun. As Sri Sri just loves to say "God loves fun!"

If don'tbullme has been personally affected by Sri sri, consider this: perhaps he is Indian. Perhaps the kind of problems he has seen around Sri Sri are not the kind you can just talk about, let go of, and "love again". Maybe he is from a culture where some of the things that can happen around Sri Sri would be even more difficult to get beyond than here. Or maybe he just uses grammar poorly -- hehe. In any case, why deprive him of his fun of a little guru-bashing? Sri sri has plenty of fans. Let some people be his detractors, however few of us there might be at the moment. Hitler had the same kind of run.

I like the line of Gandhi's that whenever he despaired he would remember that there have always been tyrants and hatred, but in the end, love and truth always win. Always. I believe that too. But sometimes, for Love and Truth to win, something rather unpleasant sounding has to be heard.

You seem like a really nice person, btw. Smiles.

At 2/22/2006 3:37 PM, Blogger facedog said...

Dear dbm and otoh,

OK, I agree that Sri Sri looks like a 20 watt pussy, pretending to be a guru. He looks like "Dr." John Gray with a dress on. I do not support this crybaby in the least.


At 3/03/2006 11:13 AM, Blogger katyayanidevi said...

Dear Jody,

Did you live at the Bangalore ashram in 1995 (and around that time)? Your name sounds familiar.

I met Guruji (I just can't call him SriSri) in 1988 when he first left the Maharishi. I watched him become this megaguru and while I'm sure many in his organization would disagree, I find what he's become to be incredibly sad. He really was a sadguru to us -- in a real way -- not in the Bollywood flash way he is now. Obviously he got caught up in politics, money, and fame. And I can't for the life of me see why he felt the need to engrandize himself so much.

I would love to connect with old devotees who were around him in the days when the emphasis was on deep meditation and silence -- and knowledge. Those experiences should never be lost -- no matter what happens to the Guru.


At 3/03/2006 11:27 AM, Blogger jody said...

Did you live at the Bangalore ashram in 1995


At 3/04/2006 7:11 AM, Blogger ontheotherhand said...


I feel the same way that you do. I also watched as Ravi Shankar became memsmerized by power and fame and money, and began taking advantage of people for those things. It was the sorest disappointment of my life, I have to say. I never begrudged him or even his extended family, comforts, but he, and they, simply became greedy. A good example of power corrupting someone. I do see why he has the need to aggrandize himself. He has very low self esteem because of his size and some of his preferences and the attitudes of the society he grew up in. Also because of his flat out rejection by Maharishi after he left, in spite of repeated attempts he made by phone and in person to meet MMY. He even went so far as to send messages in person through one of his pundits to MMY, but that person said he was firmly rebuked by Maharishi's people that "he is not welcome here". He loves MMY very much and feels he has to prove to him that he can get more of the Indian community involved than MMY himself could. That is his main mission, as he told me: MMY never got a large enough Indian following and he, Ravi Shankar, would be the one to finish that job. He's doing well at it, I must say. R.S. even warned me not to "get in the way" of this effort. This was to be accomplished by making myself invisible or unimportant when groups of Indians would visit (I am not Indian). They (the Indian visitors) should not have felt that I was close to R.S. Bizarre, imo.

I also had some lovely experiences with some of the people, and still have contact with those who have left for various reasons of their own. I tried to go to your website by clicking on your name, but it didn't come up. Have you really formed some former art of living group?

For those I have spoken with, nothing has been lost, really. We chant together, get together for dinners, etc. All wounds heal, and through talking it out with each other, we all recovered. Only one person I know who left actually went to a "deprogrammer" as such. He was extremely disturbed by his experiences with R.S.

Good luck in your search for Truth. It comes to all sincere people.

At 3/14/2006 6:55 AM, Blogger Vishnu Shankar Bhagat said...

Let knowledge come from everywhere should be our objective.Because knowledge quenches our thirst, gives strength, satisfaction and happiness,Which Sri Sri gives in ample. Lets not measure it by price and effort.

Also a big thing about criticism is that it does not give you anything, rather takes away your positive attitude of mind.

People who criticis Guruji is because they have not known him. He has such a big heart even for those who hate him.

At 3/15/2006 6:48 AM, Blogger ontheotherhand said...

Vishnu Shankar Bhagat,

I can tell from your post that you are a sincere follower of Ravi Shankar. I don't know why you would even bother with this website which is dedicated to gossip about gurus. If you truly feel that Ravi Shankar has none of the faults posted here, then you have not known him as many have. I do know people who happen to hate him, but I am not among them. I dislike his dishonesty and misrepresentations of himself as something that he is not. It annoys me that someone knowing little about him, like Congressman Crowley, could nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize. It makes a joke of the prize. Ravi Shankar can be more than a little angry, he can be very hypocrital, and very damaging to people when he likes to be. Just because you have not had this experience does not make it go away for those who have suffered at his hand. And don't tell me it is for "their good". It is not.

The knowledge taught by Art of Living is very good, in my experience. It can be an eye-opener. The problem is that many, many, many in the Art of Living group do not live the knowledge even a little bit. Accepting people as they are? Ask your Guruji if he has done that. Ask him, since you seem to know him personally, if any of the things posted here are untrue. Watch his face. See what he says. Watch carefully. Because you are his disciple, you have a right to question him thoroughly. Find out the truth of him for yourself. Ask him if he has knowingly and willfully slandered people who did not hurt him. Ask him if some of those people have still kept their mouths shut to a large degree, out of fear of his group and of him. See what he says.

Each disciple gets the guru they deserve. Those who follow Ravi Shankar deserve him.

He does not love those who hate him. He fears them, and will do anything to protect himself from exposure of the truths about him, for fear he will lose his Indian following.

And you are quite wrong. I have known him very well.

At 3/16/2006 9:36 AM, Blogger jody said...

Also a big thing about criticism is that it does not give you anything

Except discrimination.

Go through the words of Swami Vivekananda. He was a consummate critic of many things social and spiritual. He knew the force for positive change that criticism can be.

At 8/28/2006 12:00 AM, Anonymous Shankar said...

I have spent some time on this blog, reading the various comments. I am not a follower of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar but I have done the Art of Living Basic Course. My opinion is accept the teachings and the techniques, because they are useful. Ok, you don't like the Guru. But studies show that your chances of paralysis after doing Sudarshan Kriya are zero. That's right, zero. There has been someone who has lived with HIV, and living a healthy life, thanks to doing SK, for 15 years. Actually, it could be worse. Thank God, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar isn't like Osho or the head of Aum Shinrikyo.

At 11/11/2006 2:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

people are so frustated, that they need to bring others down ,in order to feel that they r better off than others.Thats what most of these people who gossip about gurus are doing.
sri sri, is an embodiment of love, i was a very young naive person in 1993 when i first met him. his mere presence brought up many experiences in my life. i was afraid and bewildered at that moment, about what was happening to me due to my ignorance.I was before this person who all callled guruji, i was like a rebel,what guru,who guru,but at hte end of the course he had me bowled over without saying a word. slowly over the years after reading books ,and articles of different philosophies ,i found that the experiences i had were those that people long to have.earlier it was very hard for me to understand sri arvind or the geeta,almost impossibel,but sri sri has a very simple way of imparting the highest knowledgein a ligth manner that one can easily understand it. he has shown us a path where we stand a chance of liberation staying in this very world ,which many religions tell us to shun in order to be enlightened.By the grace of sri sri, and an open heart i am able to live life grace fully,with love and at peace in spite of the daily hurdles of life.I have seen people come out from depression and saved from attempts of sucide.
he doesnt want to promote himself, he wants the youth to awaken,
only those who want to get forward in life and have the willingness to move ahead can,those who want to find faults can find faults everywhere,there is no dearth of such minds.
i dont know what others found, but i have had a lot of glimpses of bliss .No ordinary person is capable of doing this.Poetry flows out in his presence. consiousness is elevated to higer levels.
and yes its not everyones cup to walk on the spiritual path, and it cannot be achieved in one life time. you may have to take several births.
have you ever wondered who you were, where you have come from , how many births have you taken before on this planet, ponder deep on these questions who am i , why am i here on this planet earth.
think a little, close your eyes relax and ponder on these questions.
to understand spirituality we have to expand our mind and consiousness.
which like any other thing takes years to cultivate.
but everyone wants instant gratification
take out a little time to nourish your souls, friends, wake up
a seeker
Baroda india

At 4/19/2008 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Instead of criticising and discussing which guru is doing what, let us spend our valuable time in following the teachings which help us handle our life better and enjoy it. The teachings may come from any guru it does not matter as long as you follow good teachings. Finally a guru is a medium to reach God he is not God Himself. Keep walking on the path of spirituality, you yourself can be your own sadguru.

At 4/19/2008 12:59 PM, Blogger jody said...

a guru is a medium to reach God he is not God Himself.

Tell that to Sri Sri, who through his organization encourages his devotees to consider him to be God Himself.

At 1/04/2010 9:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sri Sri have never encouraged any of his diciples to consider him as God...

Better ask yourself... What have I done for this Planet? What have I done for my country? What have I done to help others?... then have the guts to talk about spiritual leaders.


Post a Comment

<< Home