Friday, October 30, 2009

More Online Trouble For Nithyananda

File under: Gurubusting and The siddhi of PR

Some of the best comment battles on this blog have occurred with Nithyananda devotees. But we're beginning to see the defenders become exposers, as the folks who get close can now see behind the curtain, providing the information they need to opt out of the charade, as this brave soul has done with his blog, The Truth About the Cult of Nithyananda:
For all you sweet devotees of Nithyananda's La-La Land, those who believe in this illusion and falsehood, you must read the book, “The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene. Pay particular attention to 217-218 on cults psychology that is applied on you by your loving master, Nithyananda.
A disgruntled ex is no big deal, but we know of three very inner-circle devotees who've split like this. It only reinforces what we saw from the start. Nithyananda's oversized personality isn't divine, it's just persuasive. Instead of a saint, he's at best, a deluded con man, and at worst, a knowing one.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sri Sri's Slanted Health Advice

File under: The Siddhi of PR

We were more than mildly disappointed when we encountered this uncritical republication of a health article from an Indian press release service on Lance Armstrong's livestrong.com. The article in question is little more than an advertisement for Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living cult, and we find it to be almost dishonest in its claims about Art of Living health practices. For instance:
Elaborating on this, Dr. Manikantan and Dr. Nisha Manikantan, senior ayurvedic doctors at Sri Sri Ayurveda centre said, “Swine flu invades the body because of a breakdown in immunity. Ayurveda offers simple and effective remedies to boost immunity and build resistance. Tea made from Laxmi Taru (botanical name: Simarouba) leaves, Tulsi, Amla and Amrut (Giloy) acts as an immunity enhancer.
First of all, these clowns aren't medical doctors, Lance. And their oversimplification of how the flu works is very misleading. You'll get swine flu with a perfectly healthy and normal immune system as well. While a weakened immune system is more vulnerable, folks get the flu because they lack immunity to a new virus, not because they have weak immunity. But to cast the problem this way allows Sri Sri's shills to hawk their own products as the solution to the swine flu, and that could be more than a little dangerous.

The article goes on to make more completely uncritical claims about ayurvedic flu remedies:
“To counter air-borne swine flu viruses, Sambarani dhoop (loban stems) should be burnt in the house twice a day. Sambarani is a very potent atmospheric sterilser”, the doctors added.
It doesn't take a medical publisher to know there is no conclusive proof that Sambarani dhoop has any anti-viral properties at all in the air. Just because it's too stinky for mosquitoes doesn't mean it's going to have any effect on semi-alive microscopic disease particles.

You wouldn't expect this article to end without a little pranayama pimping by Sri Sri:
Sri Sri also said, “In addition, our mind also plays an important role in our immunity. Whenever we panic and have fear, our immunity level goes down. Practices like pranayama and meditation play a vital role in reducing panic and keeping ourselves calm.”

Independent studies conducted at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi (AIIMS) and National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bengaluru (NIMHANS) have empirically proved that practices such as pranayama and meditation boosts immunity at least three-fold, he said.
While we are quite convinced of the many health benefits of meditation and adjacent practices, the last sentence clearly suggests that Sri Sri's meditation products will treble the effectiveness of your immune system. What they fail to disclose is exactly what they were measuring as immune health. Perhaps meditation was shown to increase a certain chemical marker that suggests immune health. This still doesn't mean that the whole system is three times more healthy than it would be without joining the Art of Living cult.

Which is exactly what this little PR stunt is about, to use fear of the swine flu to position Sri Sri as a savior. He does this all the time, usually by showing up at the site of conflict to grandstand in an attempt to better position himself for the Nobel Peace Prize committee.

We watched Lance Armstrong win the Tour 7-times, and podium this year. We are in just as much awe as anyone else, but he really needs to tighten up his editorial policies a bit. As it stands, he's allowed his site to be invaded with the Art of Living virus, an organism that hosts all manner of myth, ignorance, superstition and one man's continuing quest to climb up to worldwide fame on the backs of the poor, downtrodden, and easily duped.

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Friday, October 09, 2009

Wealth Guru Kills 2, Sends 16 To Hospital

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

Colorado gurubuster and self-help industry critic Duff McDuffee alerted us to this AP news article which details the death of two and the hospitalization of 16 after a sweat lodge run by New Age™ self-help and prosperity guru James Arthur Ray:
Two people died and an estimated 19 others were taken to hospitals after being overcome while sitting in a sauna-like sweat lodge during a Sedona spiritual retreat, authorities said Friday...

Sheriff's homicide investigators were working to determine what happened and whether any criminal actions might have been a factor in the incident, D'Evelyn said. Investigators were at the resort Friday interviewing the retreat director, staff and guests, including some who told detectives they paid up to $9,000 for the multi-day program.
That's an expensive way to go, especially when most bridges are free to jump from.

Duff has been tracking Ray for awhile, coming to the conclusion that:
The total abundance James Arthur Ray is really enjoying is an abundance of total bullshit.
And now he's in some really deep shit, which, according to Ray's own professed beliefs, he attracted to himself and is completely responsible for.

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Criminal Trial Of Prakashanand Saraswati Delayed — What A Surprise!!

File under: Gurubusting, Gurus Doin' Time, Hands Where They Don't Belong and The Siddhi of PR

[Ed.note: Our Austin correspondent and former member of the tainted temple in Texas where little girls allegedly got groped and diddled, comes through with another fine report on the ongoing legal saga of the God-faking Kreepalu protegé, Swami Prakashanand, known fauxfectionately to us as Swami Prakashaka BOOM!]

By a Former Barsana Dham Ashram Resident

October 6th, 2009 — As Eric Cartman on “South Park” might say: “Well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well” — if he heard that the trial has been delayed in the case of The State of Texas vs. Prakashanand Saraswati on 20 counts of indecency with a child. Originally set to start on November 2, 2009, the trial was reset today to commence on January 11, 2010, as reported by the Austin American-Statesman.

Truth be told, many who know Prakashanand are not surprised. We expected the trial would be delayed all along.

I’m mean, after all, if you were an 80-year-old man who has had hundreds of people licking your heels and kissing another body part for the past several decades, would you be looking forward to standing trial for crimes you knew you were 100 percent guilty of committing?

Before you answer, consider the fact that you most likely would have squirreled away a significant amount of cash in places law-abiding citizens would never think to look in a country half a world away. I know that I would much rather live off-the-map in some remote village in India for the rest of my days on earth than in the Texas State prison system (where, if I were a “guru,” the other inmates might not treat me with the respect to which I’ve become accustomed).

A great deal of legal paper filing occurred over the past couple of weeks preceding today’s notice of the trial delay as stated in the Statesman. Here’s a little more insight:

  • Prakashanand’s high-priced lawyers motioned for, and were granted, discovery evidence in the form of the testimonies of the two female witnesses in the case. This, presumably, is the first time his legal counsel has had a clear view of the victims’ side of the case. I can only imagine the laundry bill after that shoe dropped.

  • Next Prakashanand’s lawyers requested to subpoena another person whom they claim “is material to the pending criminal prosecution” and without whom they claim “the Defendant in this pending criminal prosecution will in all reasonable likelihood be denied his rights of compulsory process.” Meanwhile, the lawyers had not yet seen this particular person’s personal report to the Hays County Sherriff’s office. Once they did read that report I can only imagine it was another “spit-hit-the-fan” moment.

  • Finally, yesterday the Hays County Public Access Website reported that the District Attorney for the case filed an application for 14 (yes, that’s fourteen! subpoenas). The motion cited eight people from the Barsana Dham ashram, located southwest of Austin, including four members of the five-member JKP-Barsana Dham management team.
The only member of the management team not on the subpoena request list is Prakashanand himself. After all, he doesn’t need to be subpoenaed. He’s the Defendant. He’ll be there on January 11th, 2010, to have his day in court and prove to the world that he is innocent of child molestation. Right? I mean he will, won’t he? (I kind of like the reporter’s commentary: “If the trial does get underway then …”)

Perhaps Prakashanand will even perform a few divine miracles for those of us in the courtroom to prove once and for all that he really is a God-realized Saint. Lord knows, he hasn’t performed any miracles yet surrounding his arrest and the nearly year-and-a-half drawn out legal battle!

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