Guruphiliac: <i>Tehelka</i> Gives 'Em Hell

Monday, June 25, 2007

Tehelka Gives 'Em Hell

File under: Amma All-Over-The-Planet, Gurus Clockin' Dollars and The Siddhi of PR

Being stuck in the States, we've a bit of a distant outlook on the guru scene in India. Our main viewing portal is Google News and the occasional bit of luck in the way of a reader-supplied tip. Yet much of the time, what we come across in the Indian press is unusable as it's just fawning about traditional ideas of gurudom.

So we were very pleased to discover Tehelka, a sort of alternative press paper in India known for hard-hitting investigations and that slightly anti-corporate tone you find in the alt weeklies here in the States. In their sights this week are some of those occlusion-spewing, self-aggrandizing and money-grubbing fauxvatars that you know we just love to complain about in this blog.

Having already examined the finances of a number of these so-called divine beings, today Tehelka goes after Big Mamma specifically. The article opens with an excellent treatise as to how a guru gets to the big-time in India (and the rest of the world):
RELIGION MAKES lots of money because of the universal belief that you earn merit by giving. The best of faith-founders have stressed compassion; so has humanism. For the modern individual, directly helping the needy is a messy business because you are forced to get involved. Presenting money or goods to a place of worship or to a godman/woman solves the issue neatly. Hinduism has a special place for the parityagi — he who renounces all. The way things turned out, it is the so-called parityagi who ends up making all the money! What fun!

Usual places of worship do not do so well in money-catching because they have no special charisma; or they must build up the god as a miracle-maker through competitive marketing. Big money flows only towards the talented individual who can create popular spiritual appeal and surround him/herself with a group of committed disciples.

Disciples are the key. By him/herself the godman/woman is like a nuclear reactor waiting to go critical. It is the disciples who trigger the money-machine and the supporting media blast. They have more at stake than the guru. Almost none of them is guru-material. They control immense wealth and power because of the guru’s talent. And when the guru is dead, a statue with an offerings-box can do pretty well too.
So true! And there is not one iota of difference between the living guru and the statue which symbolizes her/him. They are both symbols of the devotee's inner hope, the real source of any "miracles" that are perceived (or much more likely, misperceived,) to occur.

But author Paul Zacharia has a bigger fisherwomen to fry:
Mata Amritanandamayi Devi née Ms Radhamani fits Malayali decadence to a T. She is reckoned to be one of the country’s richest gurus. She is a handmaiden of the Sangh Parivar, especially the VHP, with its global fund-flows. The hug is her USP. Her media managers and fund-managers are the real miracle-workers, considering what they have made out of a simple woman with a knack for popular religious enactment and the energy to hug all and sundry...

Amritanandamayi has invested well too. She has an expensive TV channel which is a great conduit. All the millions invested into medical/engineering and other professional institutions go under the head of charity. But the same charity also demands capitation fees of about Rs 30 to 40 lakh for a seat in the professional institutions. Some millions were spent on building homes for the tsunami-hit. That was a God-sent credibility exercise because it looked almost like charity. It was the best mask Amritanandamayi’s millions have yet worn. It increased her money-gathering power a hundred times. As we know, what all godmen/ women don’t like is auditing and accountability. But then, can you audit God?
We take the dust of Paul's feet and tip the turban to Telhelka, our new bff and now high in the bookmarks for our daily Indian edification.

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At 6/25/2007 7:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is high time some investigation goes into where all of this Ammachi cash flow is going. They have the media in their back pocket playing up the whole hugging saint bit, so it could be tough. Though I'm willing to bet that the Ammachi empire topples within the next 10 years.

At 6/25/2007 11:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

May God bless you with some brain and a good HEART!!! Try to do something better. Something that would do others good and not waste your time even discouraging people who actually do. Amen!!!

At 6/25/2007 11:32 PM, Blogger guruphiliac said...

Try to do something... that would do others good

I'm trying to do just that. The fact that you can't see it is the fact that it must be done.

At 6/26/2007 1:12 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Which sort of devil working through to find fault with the greatest men and women ever born on the Earth.

What an earthworm, you must be ...

Don't live in the mud of pigs and say that others are wrong. Come of the delusion of devilry within to find the blessedness of Indian Masters who are the infinite store house of compassion and love.

At 6/26/2007 1:36 AM, Blogger Global Purple Orchestra said...

Atleast we realize now its not just the that does this great service of awakening the occluded ones but there exists already many. That India is not just a land of suckers but has enough people to question and probe
the fauxrus. Perhaps jody can sit back someday soon and breath eazy that its all being taken care.
Perhaps get married and raise a little family in his HQ. Haha..
im bullying you jody. Im very bad at that....

At 6/26/2007 9:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a boardmember of a small spiritual non profit that brings our Guru to the US once a year to teach meditation free of charge, with several retreats which are also free of charge, I can tell you that we know where every donated penny goes.

These big guru groups, no matter what may be the "purity" of the teacher or the noble intentions behind their beginnings, go bad. They are unable to meet the basic needs of their devotees because there are too many of them. They end up existing simply to take in money and propogate goofy beliefs and dogmas.

At 6/26/2007 10:21 AM, Blogger guruphiliac said...

What an earthworm, you must be ...

How sad that you are the victim of acute Kool-Aid poisoning.

At 6/26/2007 10:21 AM, Blogger guruphiliac said...

Perhaps get married and raise a little family in his HQ.

No sir, I am not marriageable. Just ask Chuck.

At 6/26/2007 10:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi and thanks for doing this service. I just wrote about my former life with Ammachi and wanted to share this bit with you because it is important for people to know what is really going on.

Anyone who has lost their children to Ammachi because
Ammachi told them to abandon their families (and yes she does this)
has a taste of what is going on here. Don't be fooled by the media
because the organization has the media in their back pocket and all
you will see is this ILLUSION of the hugging saint. Underneath that
pretty exterior are a bunch of brainwashed cult members who believe
that Ammachi is invisibly orchestrating every aspect of their lives,
grown women and even worse young girls who believe Ammachi is their husband, people who think
that Ammachi is their real mother and they sometimes abandon their
birth mothers because of this. It is about time that people started
speaking up before more and more innocent people get taken by this
cult. That is what it is a cult operating under the guise of charity.
Where that money goes is a whole nother story that I won't even get
into. People need to come out and share these stories.

At 6/26/2007 1:29 PM, Blogger Global Purple Orchestra said...

Hey SoulCircling,
you should ideally call yourself
soulbeatinround. Why cant you tell us something that happened to you in the first person singular?
This speculative writing can be sometimes terribly bugging pal.
Tell us what mAmma did to you???

At 6/26/2007 1:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I have said is all based on what I have seen. I don't understand what you mean. Just add "i have seen" to everything and maybe you will enjoy it more? I lost two out of three of my children to Ammachi. They won't even talk to me anymore because I am not their true mother so I was told by them. So yes maybe I have a personal beef with that but who wouldn't. soulcircling

At 6/26/2007 1:56 PM, Blogger guruphiliac said...

They won't even talk to me anymore because I am not their true mother

If you write a more full accounting of these events, I will publish them as an item on the blog. Please send your account to

At 6/26/2007 2:47 PM, Blogger CHUCK said...

Ôm Namah Sivaya said...
Which sort of devil working through to find fault...

This silly assed fellow sounds like one of my customers who belongs to the Dime Box Chuch of God, a holy roller outfit that's one step away from snake handling! Actually sounds like he may have been handling his snake as he wrote this piss drivel. I won't stand for this kind of talk about my guru Jody even if he is unmarriable, same as semblance and probably this Om namah shivaya fellow too. I am also unmarriable but didn't find out in time, which is why I spend all my quality time in the mule shed! I agree with you, semblance that this soulcircling should just tell the frickin story and give us the facts, mam. I'll bet she was not the best of mothers to begin with or else she wouldn't have lost her 26 and 28 year old kids to Ammachi. Frankly I wish Amma would take over for me where Chuck JR is concerned. At 35, she can have the boy and maybe he could learn some work skills better than janitorial service.

I've got to go now as I have a bleeding hemmroid to take care of!

At 5/25/2008 4:19 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

i guess sourcircling is out of her mind. Amma has done more to the world than a lot of people put together. if her children have deserted her, she needs to ask herself- why?? probably, she could do with a little more care and love for her kids- which they got from AMMA- which means mother.

At 11/28/2009 6:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear soulcircling I must say that you are totally wrong. Amma will never ask anyone to leave their families or job to be in ashram.You might have to leave your family when you go to university for studies. That doesn't mean that you are leaving the family. Just consider ashram as a university.

At 11/28/2009 6:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And regarding money flow. how many of us are dared to ask where the money comes for terrorism?? And where is the money going from chruch??

At 3/03/2010 9:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Respected soulcircling not an advise but juss a few words from a hopless guys wont mind even if u dont listen to it u r blessed with two of ur kids engaging in a service that their good karmas of the past gave.
The better way to say is that they r engaged in higher responsibilities than the normal responsibilities of the home since the whole world is their home which they will b looking after with more love and care
Its better if u can encourage them and b a part of som1 who can help atleast a few part of the suffering population in the earth.

Well as far as a responsibilities of u saying tht kids taking care of the families prove that every kid take care of their family especially their mom & dad in this earth thn u can criticize ur kids

At 10/28/2011 6:10 AM, Blogger Dilip Reddy said...

This Fellow Here,who posted is a total fraud.He's making good fool of u guys.MA is one among cores.Iam a student in Amrita University(4th year B.Tech).Our university is one of the finest in south India and also India(stands 44 th All India Ranking-AICTC,NACC-A).MA is doing great service to us by providing quality education.The University takes intake of students though All India Exam(Has State Quota).Fee here goes 50,000 per semister(Including Hostel and Mess) just on par with other good institutes like IIT's and NIT's.Even Payment Seat here(consosts of total 2% of university seats) costs only 5-8Lakhs.The Medical University Yearly fees-1.5 Lakhs.This idiot here is a total noob who has obsession towards world.Please see the truth by visiting Mata Amritanandamayi Math(Kerala) with your eyes."Madhava Seva" Inside the temple and "Manava Seva outside" the temple.

At 7/02/2017 10:54 PM, Blogger The Wizard said...

I know this idiot who says he is a student in hi right sense will write that stuff.for the reason nearly all hate her and what she stands for...he talks about ranking....ask him how much money changes hands when the authorities come auditing...I know I studied there and trust me when I say I had enough... especially when the frogs started jumping out of the lentil soup they serve every day.the person who wrote this the very few minority who are drunk on the Kool aide.


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