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.