Friday, December 15, 2006

Vishwananda's Low-Key Style Surprises

File under: Satsang Report

A few weeks back we went to see Swami Vishwananda, who some claim to be the reincarnation of Paramhamsa Yogananda. He's also alleged to be a former acolyte of Sai Baba and an up-and-coming space-daddy in the States. We expected this review to be like snagging trout in a puddle, but it turns out that the Swami is actually quite low-key. We even found him endearing at times. Who'da thunk that? It certainly caught us by surprise.

But there were still plenty of the elements – like miracle-mongering – to reveal the affair to be a space-daddy baby recruitment drive. (We were tipped off as soon as we saw that the ushers were wearing the white, loose-fitting clothing favored by space-daddy babies.)

The event was well-attended by Santa Fe's 40+ New Age™ consumer crowd, filling the medium-sized ex-Catholic chapel that's now a meeting hall adjacent to a museum. Missing were the younger yoga crowd, many of them Ammabots and not permeable to alternate space-parenting. After lots of singing, a short talk that was very soft on content, and then more singing, Swami Vishwananda began to receive people into his well-practiced, beneficent gaze.

We didn't wait for the darshan as it looked like it was going to be hours until they got to our row. One of the white-garbed ones, an attractive and seemingly sharp devotee from Los Angeles, offered to help us cut in line when we asked her about the swami's entourage (including band, he rolls about 30 deep), but we decided to take a pass and headed home.

All in all, not so horrible, yet not so great. We'll give Vishwananda two out of five turbans.

The Sweet: The kirtan band. With guitar and bass, they were sporting a shade of rock, but augmented by good traditional instrumentation and skilled South-Asian musicians (from the U.K.), with one of them being a dead-ringer for Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The lead singer tried to whip the crowd into a devotional fervor, at first with not much success. But then, things seemed to pick up of their own accord. We have to admit being swept up a little bit ourselves at times. And at one point, they were sounding like David Bowie's band playing "Memory of a Free Festival" from Space Oddity, the one record we'd take on a desert isle.

Also mostly good was the Swami himself. There were a number of things we liked about his self-presentation. Like when he walked into the room, it was with little fanfare. He just strode right up the middle of the room in a purple long-shirt and sat on the floor in front of the stage. This is certainly noteworthy, as most of the space-daddies like to place themselves on a dais of some kind, above the poor saps who've come to see them. This actually presented a problem for those of us in the back who wanted to gaze upon the man, but Swami Vishwananda seemed to care about people seeing him as a person as much as a God. We were quite impressed with this gesture.

Swami likes to sing, and did so in a slightly-off key but endearing way that even seemed to get through the tarry-inkiness of our heart. We don't normally go in for the kirtan thing, but the fact of the swami's singing combined with the expert accompaniment resulted in a pleasant experience for us.

The Sad: The Swami's speech. It pretty much blew. It could be somewhat due to ESL issues, but the content wasn't anything more than the pabulum-like platitudes that are a space-daddy's stock-in-trade. He tried to empathize the idea of "conquering the mind," but this only reveals his own ignorance of identity dynamics and any real understanding of what's going on in the shakti-lusting heads of the space-daddy babies around him. But the pretty smile obliterates any need to actually know anything, and so the Swami blunders on, lighting the way with his teeth.

Also not good was the organization of the darshan itself. Higher-ups and friends got preference, and they were taking hours. Us local shlubs had to wait, and it was going to be a long time before they got to the pews in the rear. The white-garbed folk were offering cuts to those who asked, but that's just extending their institutional selfishness rather than coming up with a better solution to the problem.

The Fugly: The Swami's MC. First he comes on and starts name-dropping for the V.I.P.s in the room, mostly just higher-ups in their org. Then, he starts selling the books, pictures and DVDs for sale in the foyer. But when the clown opens up on the crowd with some bald-faced miracle-mongering, we knew the psych-ops had begun and our opinion of the Swami began to drop precipitously. It was only his low-key presentation and the estimable musical entertainment he provided that saved him from a total trashing here.

11 Comments:

At 12/18/2006 7:52 AM, Blogger CHUCK said...

Can anybody tell me who this guy's dentist is? I could use him!

 
At 12/18/2006 8:45 AM, Anonymous .mistletoe. said...

Jody ! somehow you sound like a pseudo mahatma (great austere indian guru who never addresses himself as 'i' but always 'we' to indicate that he has transcended the ego)... Must blame it on your constant whistle blowing and guru watching eh?? It tends to rub off afterall !!!

And the mugshots you put up here of the holy ones can be as they are which still can be funny enough and you think you have to do all the photoshop gimmicks?
It only tells that you dont like to see things as they are but see it through some vulgar and distorted perception ?
I dont even bother to read if chuck or blade or some licka$$ reply this but it should be from you ! Cmon Jody! be a sport !

 
At 12/18/2006 9:02 AM, Blogger jody said...

Jody ! somehow you sound like a pseudo mahatma (great austere indian guru who never addresses himself as 'i' but always 'we' to indicate that he has transcended the ego)

It's called first-person plural and perfectly acceptable for blogging.

Must blame it on your constant whistle blowing and guru watching eh?? It tends to rub off afterall !!!

Actually, I'm just copying my favorite blog: Defamer.

And the mugshots you put up here of the holy ones can be as they are which still can be funny enough and you think you have to do all the photoshop gimmicks?

If you want unaltered images, find them yourself. I'm going for humorous effect. This is not reporting, it's send-ups and critical commentary.

It only tells that you dont like to see things as they are but see it through some vulgar and distorted perception ?

No, it tells that I'm trying to be funny and illustrate something I said in my comment.

I dont even bother to read if chuck or blade or some licka$$ reply this but it should be from you ! Cmon Jody! be a sport !

If you don't like the way I'm presenting my material, bugger off! There! How's that for a reply? ;)

 
At 12/18/2006 9:43 AM, Blogger CHUCK said...

.mistletoe. said...
"I dont even bother to read if chuck or blade or some licka$$ reply..."
................

Very nice of you to put me with my friend, the Blade, but I don't deserve it. The Blade is far above my humble self. Even you sir .mistletoe. are my superior. I say this knowing you will not read it. I am sure you are a good hearted guy or gal who truly wants to believe that everybody in a holy man outfit is a "holy one". No one knows more about how untrue this is than those of us who have knelt at the feet of "holy ones" and on close inspection found a lot of toe punk and foot rot to be evident there.

This does not mean that I don't believe there are true holy ones out there...but I think it is highly unlikely they will be pulling lingams out of their asses and manifesting junk jewelery or buggering little boys or worshipping other "holy ones" who do bugger little boys.

 
At 12/18/2006 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jody, you mentioned Ammabots not being in the crowd because they are "not permeable to alternate space-parenting".

.....

This is one of the immature aspects of Ammachi herself, that she doesn't want people coming to see her to think they should also go elsewhere. One of her top male swamis told me point by point how Ammachi was superior to my guru. This kind of thing is more than just a hint of the weirdness within the Ammachi group. It also says something about her. I've known middle-aged women who sneak to distant cities to sit with a Yogi because they are afraid of being seen by other Ammabots in their own town.

Still not as bad as the experience of a guy I knew who was stalked around the Maharishi college grounds by a scary security guard because someone reported him for reading a muktananda book.

 
At 12/19/2006 11:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vishwananda pretends to know things but in reality he doesn't.
He is only a good actor,smilling always,singing,thats all he can do.
He tells people not to read books,not to depend on him but depends on the Guru within,so what the use he is here!
He really don't know the meaning of Guru.
ONLY FOOLS WILL FOLLOW A FOOL LIKE HIM
HE IS SELLING HIS PHOTOS,DVDS AND PRENTENDS TO BE A GREAT GURU.DESPITE HIS HORRIBLE PAST MANY ARE STILL BLIND HIS SWEET WORDS AND WHITE TEETH.HE SHOULD INSTEAD BE IN A TV COMMERCIAL FOR SELLING TOOTHPASTE.
Visit my blog for more info about his true colors

http://vishwanandatruecolors.blog.co.uk

 
At 12/19/2006 12:02 PM, Anonymous .mistletoe. said...

Jody said -- If you don't like the way I'm presenting my material, bugger off! There! How's that for a reply?

Mistltoe said -- But dude! you play in to your own hands. If what the the gurus do fails catch your fancy, you should bugger off too
cuz they are catering to certain people who like it...

your whole blogging can be meaningless then? Whatever reasons you might putforth to justify your blogging on the absolutely non resistant or non reacting gurudom,
applies to my comments here about your blog. If someone needs to watch the guru then someone else has to watch the guru watcher too.

Who knows you are being watched by more than a bunch who might want to buzz you off sometime.
I was with you till your
bugger off comment!

you pissed me off now!

 
At 12/19/2006 12:33 PM, Anonymous durga said...

mistletoe said: Who knows you are being watched by more than a bunch who might want to buzz you off sometime

Geez, mistletoe, please don't think about putting plutonium in his coffee. I am enjoying his blog.

 
At 12/19/2006 1:06 PM, Blogger jody said...

you should bugger off too cuz they are catering to certain people who like it...

They may like it, but if it's presented as the result of self-realization, it's bullshit, and I'm here to tell it to them.

If someone needs to watch the guru then someone else has to watch the guru watcher too.

For sure. Watch on!

Who knows you are being watched by more than a bunch who might want to buzz you off sometime.

I am always vigilant (and well-armed).

I was with you till your bugger off comment!

I thought you'd get the joke.

you pissed me off now!

Sorry, Mist. I was just trying to kid with you.

 
At 11/03/2007 5:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Namaste!
vishwananda is cool!

 
At 5/18/2009 7:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you interested in the truth about Swami Vishwananda?
April 16, 2009 by tellthetruth123



Jai Gurudev. Victory to the dispeller of ignorance and illusion.



This blog is being written by a small group of people who have known and loved Swami Vishwananda for several years and who feel that the truth has not been fairly represented in the communications that have come from Bhakti Marga and Swami Vishwananda. The intention is not to malign anyone, or to persuade anyone to do anything other than what their heart tells them to do, but rather to bring more light to the situation so that healing can begin;

http://tellthetruth123.wordpress.com/

 

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