Monday, May 12, 2008

Sri Sri: A List Of Wrong

File under: Gurubusting and Satscams

Recent commenters have suggested we lack proof to support our critique of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and AoL. But since it's his claims of divinity we're critiquing, the proof is right there in front of us as the culture of guru worship as it exists in AoL.

But then came Yunis, author of the new and excellent Answering AoL blog, who's put together a little list of some of the sins of Sri Sri:
* Saying that the effect of SK has been scientifically proven while it is not (or at least not the effects they mention).

* Not mentioning his guru (Maharishi) and evading questions about him until he is death.

* Writing a book about Islam as a Hindu spiritual figure that is full of mistakes and thus doing something very dangerous in a country like India where tensions are high enough about these topics (and admitting that this book "was written in a hurry" only goes to show how not enlightened he is, 'cause anyone who is the least bit enlightened would never ever write a book about that topic 'in a hurry' when it is to be published in India.)

* Organising NGO summits about that turn out to be complete scams.

* Claiming that "his organisation is working in poor rural communities to promote sustainable growth, and has reached more than 30,000 villages." Although this leads to the hopelessly absurd and impossible fact that in 11 years (or 4015 days) the Association for Human Values would have "reached out" (by which is meant: teaching and promoting organic farming, irrigation techniques, water harvesting development programs, drainage system development, etc.) to an average of more than 7 villages every day.

* A complete lack of transparency in financial dealings although millions of dollars are concerned. (Certainly if they should be able to "reach out" to 7 villages a day.)

* Saying that all the money goes to development courses although a taxfile of 2005 reports total revenues of $3.2M coming from giving courses while none of the money went towards international developmental or humanitarian programs, disaster relief, scientific/medical research or charitable activity. (So apparently they don't need the money of the richest part of the world to "reach out" to the poorest part.)

* Claiming to be in the tradition of Gandhi while his acts and words are (provably) far from it.
Yunis is like us, only researchier.

Also, a word to the TM™ faithful: we predict Sri Sri is coming to take as many devotees from his former mentor as he can muster.

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18 Comments:

At 5/12/2008 11:27 AM, Blogger yomamma said...

I've been unable to find yunis' blog, is it really out there?

 
At 5/12/2008 2:42 PM, Blogger CHUCK said...

Jody said...Also, a word to the whoever is actually wise at TM™, Sri Sri is coming to take as many devotees from his former Daddy as his scrawny little arms can muster.

..........

That would be like out of the drain field back into the septic tank!

 
At 5/12/2008 3:13 PM, Anonymous ned said...

I heartily second the point about Islam. Sri Sri just doesn't seem to know what he's doing there!

I read a bit of his "discussion" with Zakir Naik, a fundamentalist Muslim preacher in India. The fact that he embarrassed himself in front of *Zakir Naik* is quite damning.

Okay, to put my own cards on the table: before I came to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, I grew up a Muslim in Pakistan, and later on became an atheist. At this point I know a good deal about both the Islamic and Hindu religions. I have an appreciation of Sufism and am now revisiting Islam from a Sufi perspective.

Zakir Naik is, for the most part, remarkably ignorant, I'm sorry to say. I mean I basically occasionally watch his lectures for entertainment. He's an embarrassment to the Islamic world. Why would Sri Sri want to hold a discussion with Zakir Naik rather than some of the fantastic Sufis who have come out of India? Why not hold a dialogue with Pir Zia Inayat Khan, grandson of Hazrat Inayat Khan, who gave a very good talk at Baroda in the aftermath of the Gujarat riots? (His own aunt had been stuck in the middle of that mess btw, and it was remarkable how composed and compassionate he still was during his talk.)

Or what about Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, another great Muslim scholar India has produced, who has some refreshing new interpretations of Islam and who is very progressive and pluralistic, and has spoken out harshly against terrorism?

Sri Aurobindo's words come to mind: what we need is a faith that is compatible with critical thinking and most importantly COMMON SENSE -- which people like Sri Sri appear to lack.

All I can say is that Sri Sri wasted an opportunity to build bridges between Hindus and Muslims. And I suppose on some level he and Zakir Naik deserve each other.

 
At 5/12/2008 11:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This time, all they've got is the assertion that we're jealous of Sri Sri's success and that our complaints are not specific enough to warrant anyone's consideration.

If that is a reference to me (I challenged you Jody about your obsession with SSRS) then it's carelessly wrong.

I am questioning you because I would like evidence about SSRS other than that Jody and Chuckles can make sarcastic snipes.

Jody, your personal issues and faith in some concept of Vedanta actually are obscuring the possible problems arising from SSRS activities.

When SSRS commented on those who attack him you fell right into his rhetoric.

The stuff about SSRS on Guruphiliac often looks like plain nastiness. That's why I said come up with the proof - that's what the followers will react positively to not the cattiness.

I agreed with Yunis that he had made a start. We will see how much he can prove (as he claims he can).

 
At 5/13/2008 12:14 AM, Anonymous Kishore Ramamurthy said...

The first point is actually very true. Ravishankar's organizaion pays a lot of money to get this so called scientific validation. The Director of the India's premier and reputed institute NIMHANS, Bangalore (National Institute of Mental health and Nueroscience) has this to say in a published paper.
httP://etd.lsu.edu/docs/available/etd-04122005-173708/unrestricted/Shankar_thesis.pdf

"Dr. Janakiramaiah was one person who recognized the marketing behind the spirituality and xpressed dissatisfaction with the
fact that although the research34 had been conducted jointly between the Art of Living and NIMHANS, he felt that the research findings had been published much before any
valid testing could be done to prove the results were valid. Especially claims like improved areas of function in the brain etc were not done according to the approval of NIMHANS. The preliminary ‘positive’ effects had been observed and then published and used as a validation for the SKY before any actual scientific testing could be done.
He referred specifically to one example and said that in one of the brochures they describe that doing Sudharshan Kriya leads to a tingling in your fingers and toes. The brochures claim that this has to do with ultimate brain function and is a result of SKY.
“But if anyone keeps breathing like that- essentially they are hyperventilating and flushing their body with oxygen, which is what is going to happen. There is no mystical meaning behind the tingling in their fingers and all that."

If you investigate an exercise like Jogging or swimming you can get to better scientific validation on health benefits as compared to practices like sudharshan kriya.

 
At 5/13/2008 12:16 AM, Anonymous Kishore Ramamurthi said...

"Then they throw in all this science and research that they
have done with SKY and all that. One very clever thing they do- they tell you that other
than teaching you the SKY method the rest is up to you. They have this subtle way of
attributing any changes to you and this goes down very well with the western audience. It
is easily accessible also so there are a lot of people who are coming in to do AoL
courses.’ By attributing some aspects of the course as appealing to the western audience,
Dr. Janakiramaiah is referring to the marketing of the AoL which takes into consideration
the different backgrounds of people that it can refer to and then works on that basis."

 
At 5/13/2008 3:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jod, It beats me, when i try to figure out whats your point. You want to denounce any god man who claims himself to be more divine than the rest of us. Agreed, then when the god man does all the dirty things we mortal do, it gets you to whine endlessly.

You want them to think and behave like us, or at least like your dog's ass, since we are all equally divine, only as much your dog's ass. But when they indeed do it just like us, or like your dogs ass, you start cribbin that they shoulda behaved holier ????
What do you expect from a dogass?

Im keen to sort this jinx for myself, by you and your side kicks chuck,yunuz or yomummy.

 
At 5/13/2008 8:01 AM, Blogger CHUCK said...

Anonimouse, you sound surprisingly like my friend Semblance tryin to stir the pot! I don't believe you like She She any more than I do! If you want direct proof of the harm this guy and others like him can and do do, so to speak, join one of these here cults and spend a decade or two gettin used up in it! Then you will see very clearly where our asses are comin from! Your own misery will be the proof you're a lookin for!

 
At 5/13/2008 12:09 PM, Blogger s e m b l a n c e said...

CHUCK said..
Anonimouse, you sound surprisingly like my friend Semblance tryin to stir the pot!
-------------
I may be down a bit, waiting for my supplies, but not out. Chuckji, am keepin' the track on every word of wisdom, shot like a dart from you. Nevertheless, must agree this anonimouse has resemblances of my unpatented shtyle. Thats Gen Next shtyle in India these days, particularly if you are blessed with havin' a sugar daddy just like mine. But I cant think of inspiring this annoymouse, as much as you have inspired me chuckji !

 
At 5/13/2008 4:20 PM, Blogger s e m b l a n c e said...

Chuckji..Good news is that i just got my supplies and I can say or see things more sensibly only now.

Was meaning to ask you what good the baptism does to someone as unchristian and clueless as me?

can i remain the holyroller of the golden weeds, even after baptismal rites?

I am hooked by this 'femmes fatales' who you think is Ok to hang out with even after a realtime baptism??.

Which baptismal technique is the best one?
1/. where I immerse myself in to holy tub fully or 2/. get head splashed with holy water by that dude?

Share a little of your baptismal experiences here chuckji. That would be a blast..I will learn to shout the hosanna loud and out meanwhile...

 
At 5/14/2008 11:53 AM, Blogger Yunus said...

To Yomamma: Unable to find the blog?
Goodness, i posted the link three times and Jody provided a link in the start of this thread.
So here it is yet again:
http://answeringaol.blogspot.com

To anonymous:
Just go to the same blog and check out the summary on the most frequently used AOL arguments. You'll find all the references you need right there. I'm too lazy to copy-paste it all again.

To Kishore:
Thanks for the extra references.

To Ned:
Thanks for the insight on Zakir Naik.

 
At 5/14/2008 12:08 PM, Blogger Yunus said...

Oh, and one more that i have recently come across:
In their immense desire to link as much politicians as they can to their AOL, they apparently had also invited the Belgian politician Filip De Winter to their 25 year AOL Silver Jubilee. They even let him address the public in a lecture. Considering i'm Belgian i can easily say that that was rather bad PR for Filip De Winter is the frontman of the Vlaams Belang (Flemish Importance) a political party that had previously been legally banned because of public display of racism (they then came back under a new name), they have always been linked with aggressive politics, they are an extreme-right party promoting the idea of "own people first" and because of all of this the other parties in Belgium have for a long time chosen to stick together in explicitly refusing to form a government with Vlaams Belang.
All in all then, everybody living in Belgium knows that associating with Filip De Winter is exactly the opposite of associating yourself with peace. Quite the contrary, you'd be linking yourself more to neo-fascist thinking.
And they didn't invite him to "go into discussion", no no, he was invited to join the festivities (and probably asked to endorse their cause in Belgium) just like all the other people in the AOL family.

And for a reference that Filip indeed speaking at the Jubilee (sadly enough in dutch): http://www.filipdewinter.be/page.php?linkID=309

I guess the AOL office wasn't too well informed about who was coming.

 
At 5/14/2008 12:11 PM, Blogger yomamma said...

my goodness , i hit all aforementioned links and came up dry, even copied text to my search box , but hey that's the internet. this last link has finally work , heavens to murgatroyd!

 
At 5/14/2008 1:00 PM, Blogger zhoro said...

yunus, I find the de Winter question similar to that of Modi. In the spring of 2005, a group of leftist students and faculty at UMass-Amherst attempted to sabotage the organization of a symposium by the AoL chapter on campus, which was to feature SSRS. The group quite effectively managed to create the necessary degree of doubt in a number of parties, who had initially backed the symposium, to lead to their withdrawal. The group did this by continuously driving home with people the point that SSRS was a sympathizer with the Hindu right and failed to condemn the actions of Chief Minister Modi during the Gujarat riots.

The symposium did occur, although at a much lower scale than desired by the organizers, among whom was I. Activists from the leftist group attended the symposium and continued to raise the same issues in the presence of SSRS. His reply was that to condemn was the job of a politician, not the job of a reformer. The job of a reformer was to transform with love. By condemning, the chance to transform would only be lost as greater distance would be created.

So, following that logic, perhaps de Winter's presence in India was, unbeknownst to him, for his own transformation in the ocean of love that bubbled up there. :)

 
At 5/14/2008 1:29 PM, Blogger CHUCK said...

Semblance, as a red neck from the no collar side of the county, I was baptized by immersion at 14 years, like the Bible says, not sprinkled like the rich folks do it. You bein a rich man's son may take your pick. I saw many baptisms in cow ponds and slow movin rivers where the snakes was as interested as the folks gettin dunked . But I had mine done in a tank that was 4-5 feet deep in the church. My grandpa as an elder did the dunkin. Have you seen the movie Tender Mercies? There is a scene in there where Robt Duvall gets baptized in much the same way. Did I have an experience? Yessir, I felt mighty close to the good Lord. Funny thang is that feelin close to the Lord was pretty much the end of my sincere association with the church. I felt like I was flyin in a prop plane among the stars! Church couldn't hold a candle to that there!

So I have kept goin to church for the sake of my momma but it don't go too deep with me...

Had I all the advantages of wealth ,beauty and your golden weed, I might have been more of a rascal than I am but when you look like a side of pork, the women are not that much of a problem!

Good luck to you, my friend, Semblance!

 
At 5/14/2008 1:37 PM, Blogger Yunus said...

As far as i can tell it didn't transform him too much though. No love bubbling from him to the political scene just yet. ;)

Now, i seem to remember that you (zhoro) are the one who wrote the resignation letter. So, as i could never find any real references about SSRS being "a sympathizer with the Hindu right and failed to condemn the actions of Chief Minister Modi during the Gujarat riots", i'll just ask you: is it true that he is supported by (and in return supports) Hindutva politicians?

And by the way (supposing people of AOL read this and are willing to take this "not condemning" idea as a show of SSRS' enlightendness): we are also not condemning De Winter (he has only been put in jail for a couple of hours recently for becoming aggressive at the police during an anti-islam gathering that wasn't allowed by the municipality-officials), but not to condemn does not mean that you shouldn't at least put into question. And if you don't put into question at least you should not enhance the possibilities.
If SSRS claims to be so Gandhian, he could learn something from Bapu's letter to Hitler: no condemning of Hitler himself at all in that one, but quite a lot of criticism on his actions and pleading to change his mind by use of argument. If all Gandhi did was smile in a nice way, i don't think he wouldn't have gotten too far.

 
At 5/14/2008 2:37 PM, Blogger zhoro said...

yunus, I don't have any direct evidence one way or another. The leftist group at UMass cited some relations and fund flows at the time, but I cannot provide their sources.

Here is a link to an AoL member forum discussing a recent article hinting at a relationship between gurus and the Hindu right:

http://www.esatsang.net/node/6042

The article itself is available here:

http://week.manoramaonline.com/cgi-bin/MMOnline.dll/portal/ep/theWeekContent.do?BV_ID=@@@&contentType=EDITORIAL§ionName=TheWeek%20COVER%20STORY&programId=1073755753&contentId=3681868

One thing I have witnessed SSRS do is speak against Christian proselytizing and conversion in India. He would encourage AoL-ers to counteract that. There was a young (just out of high school) American guy I knew, who went to Bangalore and stayed at the ashram for a while. As part of his training, SSRS had him go out among Indians and speak against Christian conversion.

 
At 5/16/2008 4:31 AM, Blogger Krish said...

Sri Sri knows how to deal with people like Zakir Naik- he is a fanatic who on stage tries to call for an argument. There is absolutely nothing wrong in the book Sri Sri wrote. Instead of arguing, Sri Sri agreed. He knows vaada,jalpa and vitanda and tarka, vitarka and kuttarka.
He has often said that wisdom cannot be revealed to the masses, but to those who walk closely.

 

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