More AoL Evil
File under: Gurubusting, Satscams and The Siddhi of PR
A reader supplies us with a bit more AoL/Sri Sri exposé:
Most people in India have been numbed by these spiritual conmen like Ravishankar. As you mentioned there is no news or any intelligent conclusion or minutes of the summit which is available.Vicious and powerful – all brought to you by that false prophet of peace, the fame-whoring and money-lusting Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
I was involved in this organization in the early and mid 90s when it was still small and had not grown into the full blown cult that it is now. But all the cultish prpoganda mechanism and publicity stunts were right in place even then. Ravishankar had learnt a lot from his guru Maharishi Mahesh yogi on organising events and mobilizing funds. Mahesh Yogi was also the crazy guy who taught yogic flying. Esentially you can sell anything in this mad spiritual business market and there are enough gulliable people who will buy.
I was also instrumental in strating up some of the social welfare and development activities of art of living and one of the first teachers of AOL to teach in Bangalore central jail. However these social welfare activities are a big mask and the intention of this organization is the self aggrandizement of the Guru and his cult. Most of these social movements and adoption of villages are big publicity stunts. I know it first hand. I left this movement when I realized their sham social welfare schemes were used to recirculate money from alternate sources (black money) into personal assests for Ravishankar, his family and associates and all the while doing some token social work. Incidentally Ravishankar's immediate family (Sister, Brotherin law, father - Pitaji and others) are the main members of the AOL trust.
It is another matter about the law suits and land grabbing the ashram did and encroached on the Green belt sorrounding bangalore. There was a law suit in Karnataka High court on this which Ravishankar's sister Bhanu and another teacher (now he has left AOL) used to attend court for almost two years. Finally they won and went through an out of court settlement.
Take even the example of the village adjacent to the ashram - Udipalya. There is no development work done in this village except that their land has been encroached by the ashram. The land this village used to use for Grazing their cattle in the late 80s is now no longer available. Now you find hotels, restraunts and STD booths opposite the ashram all owned, controlled by aol devotees and of no benefit to the villagers. All the people who own and control these establishments are not locals from Udipalya.
It is difficult to fight a mighty powerful and vicious organization like Art of Living cult. Although it is a losing battle, I commend [this whistle-blower] for at least taking up this issue.