Guruphiliac: July 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The "Hug" That Killed A Blog

File under: Amma All-Over-The-Planet, Gurubusting and The Siddhi of PR

For the supreme Goddess of the Universe, Ammachi seems somewhat overly concerned with her less-than-glowing online press, because it appears that Blogger has pulled the plug on the Cult of the Hugging Saint blog. Gurubuster Bronte Baxter contacted the author this morning to inform him that his site got disappeared:
Thank you SO MUCH for e-mailing me this. I had no idea there was anything wrong with the site. Now I see that the site has been completely removed. It is deleted entirely from the web and even when I log into my Blogger account, it does not show in my account. I am very upset about this and cannot imagine how this could have happened. I suspect foul play. There is no way to get in touch with Blogger, but there was an option that said "Restore a blog that I accidentally deleted". I am hoping that by submitting this, someone will get in touch with me and/or restore the blog. I know that I didn't accidentally delete it because I hadn't even logged in recently other than to post the last post that I posted.

The only other thing I can figure is that somehow the blog was reported for a bogus "terms of use violation" of some sort. Like if they tried to claim "hugging saint" was copyrighted or libelous or something and then Blogger removed it. I can't imagine that...and it sounds pretty far fetched. I wouldn't put anything past her organization. The reason why I think it is something like that is because I can still log into my blog account. Besides, they would have had to hack my actual computer to get the login and password for blogger.
Is Ammachi really so petty as to squash what amounts to a mere drop in the ocean of manic devotion to her? We'll let you know as soon as we hear just who it was who hugged the Cult of the Hugging Saint to death.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bored Guru Busted For Being Normal

File under: Gurubusting

We have a full-on, swoon-filled bro-crush on the Bored Guru:
But soon came the disparage [from the devotee,] "I even wonder if you have any respect for the religion you belong to". BG shot back quite sharply this time "I appreciate your direct comments, but I don't belong to any religion and I personally consider all religions worth just this trash", BG pointed out at the empty squeezed out tetra pack, on the tray in front of him and continued further, "I don't care if you don't consider me as much as a guru or a religious man, but if you think you are here to tell me, how I should dress and how I should brush my hair, then I may ask you to leave this seat I offered, within next twenty seconds, only because i don't need any advice on how my appearance should be maintained, besides you are disturbing my sleep".
All he wanted to do was to fly low key, under the radar of imposing devotees like this one. But the station demands a heavy cross to be bore, as BG has been telling with his blog.

The world is a much better place for getting to hear it.


OutFoxing Doctor Scami

File under: Gurubusting and The Siddhi of PR

Fox5 News in Atlanta, Georgia, has the goods on a certain flimflammer named Dr. Commander Selvam, heretofore known as Dr. Scami:
Instead of being uninterested in the trappings of worldly possessions, this swami lives in a million-dollar mansion, drives expensive cars and encourages the faithful to pay thousands of dollars to his Temple. What do his followers get in return? His prayerful help in warding off a variety of problems, everything from marriage and immigration issues, to "bad dreams," "black magic" and "evil power."
The good part is how he paid himself. He collected the credit card numbers of those he was charging for pujas, and then went ahead and charged whatever he wanted for himself. The report is available in two parts for those who care to know the gory details.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Aussie Blondes Trying To Corner Market On Truth

File under: Gurubusting and The Siddhi of PR

Tiruvannamalai-based Gurubuster Kevinandaji punishes us with yet another Aussie blonde who was known in India as "Satsang Barbie":
Miranda is known for her breadth as well as depth of approach, and extraordinary capacity to guide others into direct experience of The Sacred... [Ed.note: Or mire you in an emotional experience she's calling "The Sacred."]

In more recent years, the Advaita teachings of Self-enquiry as taught by Ramana Maharshi and Papaji have brought about new depths of awakening which is strongly influencing the direction of the work today.
To which we say: practice what you preach! Would Ramana be plastering his website with pictures of himself?

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Mostest Specialest Person In Oz

File under: Gurubusting and The Siddhi of PR

CAUTION: You may feel a strong desire to wash the eyes right out of your skull with Clorox and Drano after watching this:

We're not sure whether to thank him for the tip or put a price on the head of our gurubusting colleague for scarring us within an inch of our life with this pastiche of self-help un-helpfulness and ignorance-reinforcing, occluding concepts about nondual truth, all wrapped up in a pink bow of "Look at how special my enlightenment has made me! Oh, and aren't I pretty hot for a sage?"

Hot? Yes! Sage? We think not!

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Swami Ramdon't

File under: The Siddhi of PR

Swami Ramdev was in Anaheim, California, this week, bumming the kids out:
He told his Indian-American audience dealing constantly with pizzas, hamburgers and coke how awful it was for the body. He told the children, who he had invited free on the last day of the camp, that soda could be used to clean toilets as it was that potent. Cooking meat at home, he said, was akin to creating a crematory at home.
Ramdev doesn't want the kids drinking Coke, but they're welcome to as much of his Kool-Aid as they can get down their throats without drowning.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Bored Guru Does Not Do Stoplights

File under: Gurubusting

His blog is the coolest thing to hit the planet since they began putting toilet paper on a roll:
The drive to the airport was meant to be lasting about 45 minutes. We had already crossed four signals and all of them were free. I enquired, "are there any more signals ahead?". He promptly replied, "Yes, there is one more and then turned around and announced to the children and wife, you will see even that signal will be free". Now every body got ready and there was excitement filling up inside the mean german running machine.

He spotted the green signal well ahead and almost screamed " See I told you", and then turned to me and said "at least now will you believe this?". But even as the signal fever was burning bright and hot, the signal was changing to amber and was blinking. He suddenly appeared worked up and started accelerating the car real fast before it could turn red. It was a blind effort to prove his point rather than saving my face. The audi went crazy as it neared the signal and then, the signal turned red. Audi came to grinding halt as he had to jam the brakes. Suddenly there was a deafening silence invaded the car from nowhere, as the engine got ceased due to the sudden braking.

It appeared like eternity as the car awaited the green signal and I had to break the silence inside the car. I asked "so now all of you plan to throw me out of this car?." I said further,"the guru is not meant to clear your path but only show it and also prepare you to face the dangers lurking on the way". I continued further "the guru is not here to replace your sorrows with happiness and the perils with some protection". I thought it was such perfect timing to drive some sense in to them. I continued further, "I cant facilitate your life without obstacles but can only tell you how to face the obstacles and move ahead." The car moved as the signal turned green. That was the last signal before reaching the airport.

I thought it was all over, quite content about how things took shape, but not really. As we reached the airport without any exchange of words, I got off the car and they picked up my bag from boot space, came to face me at the entrance of the airport. I smiled and said "I am already delayed and should hurry up, because I dont control the air traffic signals on the airport runway". He quietly replied, "guruji, you taught us a great lesson today". I asked "what was the lesson?" as I prepared to enter the airport. He said,"you taught us that you may not grant us, whatever may we may want, by turning the signal to red, even when we wanted it to be green".

He simply blew my mind, I felt as if someone shoved a big ball of dirty cotton, deep into my throat and amidst all the crowds that were milling, I walked in to the airport like a zombie, dumb founded, utterly speechless, carrying the heavy load of divinity, just then dumped all over me.
If even a self-aware and consistent defender of Vedantic truth continues to get hosed by his devotees' superstitious notions about his magic powers after such a clear demonstration of their status as ridiculous fantasy, what of the big-time flimflammers who use those expectations to line their pockets with gold? It truly is the Kali Yuga, folks, and Ma is having a field day tossing us around in Her sea of ignorance, even those who rise above it like lighthouses built on mountains of truth.


"YouTube Guru" A Loon For The Moon

File under: The Siddhi of PR

Today, the SF Chronicle published an interview with Dattatreya Siva Baba, who expects the full moon of Guru Purnima this month to usher in a "new age of enlightenment on the earth." For like, the eleventy-billionth time, if you count all the other "new ages" predicted by this particular, plentiful, and frighteningly successful variety of nutbag guru.

The Baba is also known as the "YouTube Guru," which is a bit like saying the "lowest common denominator" guru, if you asked us. And wouldn't you know it, he's living up to that descriptor quite nicely:
I have incarnated innumerable times as a saint or sage in nearly every religion to be a conduit for Grace Light to relieve the suffering of humanity. Even so, I am only one conduit to receive and spread the light. Who is going to transmit it? Every single person who receives it will also be capable of transmitting it. Grace Light is the most intelligent light and will provide everyone with exactly what they need. It is providence answering one's prayers.
While surprisingly articulate, we haven't heard that much ass-talking nonsense since we were in New Age™ college (with ourselves being the loudest ass-talker of all.) But we must admit, it's shrewd to be predicting positive changes in the works for humanity packaged with some good old deeksha-style flimflamming... if you're looking for a cheap and simple product you can sell quickly and easily for much more than you paid for it. Kinda like Afghani heroin procured in Kabul.

We've been watching this unabashedly insane destroyer of Vedantic truth for a while now, but didn't want to give him any more traction than he was getting already. Looks like he did just fine without us, proving once again that the market for persistently self-promoting space-daddies who obsessively talk about themselves continues to expand at an alarming pace. Perhaps 2012 will bring the final battle between a proliferate future population of space-daddies, mommies, brothers, sisters and lovers, all commanding their own sizable armies of Kool-Aid drowned, brain-paralyzed dupes, all throwing invitations to expensive retreats and pictures of their Beloved at one another.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Gurumayi Sticks Her Hand Out

File under: Gurubusting and The Siddhi of PR

She was the Queen of the shakti-infused peacock feather, one whose loyal subjects could always be counted on to turn their pockets inside-out to inch up to whatever next level of "consciousness" their org was putting on the end of the stick stuck in front of them that week.

Well, not any more:
Everybody on the mailing list just got a request for money to celebrate gurupurnima. The guru, Gurumayi, hasn't shown her face for 5 years! She is a total phony. Thousands of dollars were collected years ago to build a temple in Oakland which has never been built. Ashrams all over the world have closed. Siddha yoga has been dying for a long time.
Not as long as there's shopping to be done!
Dear Siddha Yogi,

On this auspicious holiday of Gurupurnima (July 17th), with great enthusiasm, I invite you to join me in celebrating the Guru's grace by making a special offering of dakshina. During Gurupurnima, I reflect on the transformation that the Siddha Yoga teachings, the Siddha Yoga path, and the grace of the Siddha Yoga Guru have brought in my life; for all this I experience profound gratitude.

Happy Gurupurnima.

With love,

Swami Ishwarananda
Siddha Yoga Meditation Teacher
SYDA Foundation
Sounds like Gurumayi is gunning for a run at some new couture. New York Fashion Week is coming up, people. Mama needs a new Prada handbag, so y'all better get cracking!

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

One Bored Guru Is Worth Ten Million Sri Sris

File under: Gurubusting


We sit here in a stunned astonishment after reading the blog of the Bored Guru:
After a few regular 'intelligent' questions, the lady in focus appeared eager to say something. So I pointed at her and said "do you have anything to say or need clarification?" She was very graceful in her movement while she rose from the seat and then in a mild tone asked me "I have been seeing the intense glow you are emitting all around you. Can you explain that ?"

Most of the 'aura seeing' people are never interested to know about what they see, but only interested to know about their own ability to see such glowing stuff. I thought this lady probably was different. So i said, "I never emitted any glow around me at any point of time". She replied with perhaps a little increased tone "But I have been seeing it, why, even now I'm seeing it actually".

At this point, I knew I am in for one more disaster. Meanwhile, I did not fail to see how a few others too were trying to sharpen their eyes and 'look' at my direction intently through the tiny crack of their eyes. The hour long talk on collective consciousness has already been tossed up in to oblivion and now I suddenly felt like some glow worm.

I said "you probably have certain flaw in your eye sight and you should consult a good eye specialist". I did not allow her to say anything from her side but I continued "It could be cataract or myopia and when you see distant objects it may appear to glow, especially if the eyes are watering". My knowledge in ophthalmology is as good or as bad as my knowledge in Chinese kanji characters. But I just tried to dissuade her by using all those few technical terminologies in medical science. That's why I also mentioned to her that she must consult a eye specialist.

Her graceful face now suddenly had a certain scornful smile. She said "do you mean my eye sight is not OK?". I said "without any doubt". She turned around both ways as if she need some support to prove her point. I realized all that she needed was a single nod from me saying "yes, what you are seeing is true". This would have made her a clairvoyant and made me a glowing guru and made the rest of everyone in the congregation a plain dumb ass. She was some how pushing this idea 'gracefully' and I seem to have missed her point. I must have spoilt those moments of a divine conspiracy. Now her personal prestige was at stake.
Everyone reading this sentence, ask yourself this: Would Sri Sri Ravi Shankar have refuted the delusions of such a person at the expense of her opinion of him, as well as of those listening to the exchange?


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Amma Crosses Picket Line For Second Year

File under: Amma All-Over-The-Planet and The Siddhi of PR

For the second year in a row, Amma has ignored the plight of Los Angeles' working poor:

Nice way to show us how to love, Amma.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Gurubuster Works It Out On The Stage

File under: Amma All-Over-The-Planet, Gurubusting and The Siddhi of PR

Sujit Saraf appears to be a kindred soul to any reasonable gurubuster:
Concurrently with Amma’s tour, I inaugurated my annual hand-wringing ceremony, asking myself as I do once every year: What am I to do about all these gurus? After all, one does not even have to be an atheist to recognize imposture, but merely possess a scientific temper, one that tries to explain physical and natural phenomena on the basis of generally accepted scientific principles and, in the absence of such an explanation, refuses to believe in them. Should I grin and bear it while Sathya Sai Baba produces gold chains from his sleeves? Do I make no comment on the Art of Living courses, Ammachi’s hugs, or the hundred other babas and matas who will touch you with their feet, hands, tongues, tongs, poles, prods and tridents? Perhaps I had best keep quiet, for everyone knows that our gurus count prime ministers and presidents among their followers. We have heard of physics professors dutifully following Sai Baba to the airport in October 2007, when he was about to manifest himself on the moon. We know of CEOs who skip board meetings when the “call” comes from Ammachi. And we know, of course, that so many powerful people cannot be fooled at the same time, even less than they can be induced to part with their money without getting good value in return...

Now, I know the question has risen in many minds, and the usual answer is: Why do anything at all? The gods who walk among us, offering ashes, bananas and hugs, are harmless snake-oil salesmen. If, while peddling a useless product, they untruthfully extol its virtues, they are merely practicing the art of marketing. Which businessman would not? And any liberal will tell you that people are free to worship whom they want in a free society: Ammachi or armadillos. Besides, you never have to hear of the hullabaloo in Castro Valley if you don’t want to, so the foolishness around you does not exist unless you look for it. Sure, our godmen induce a collect retreat into infantilism, and discourage the notion that self-fulfillment can be achieved without surrendering your intelligence and common sense to a fallible human being, but they do not plan to fly planes into buildings. So let them enthrall those who would be enthralled, and let us thank God (if we are not atheists) that we are not the suckers in line.

Thus ends, usually, my annual hand-wringing ceremony, but this happy conclusion is becoming harder to reach with each passing year. My days of blissful isolation — when I could pretend that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was the guy who tugs at sitar strings — have ended with the Internet. And mailing lists. And spam. And desktop publishing. And Facebook. And the “Aasthaa Channel” on television. The empires of our godmen have grown and are growing yet larger, harnessing the Internet to such effect that it has become impossible to escape their benevolence, bestowed on you through posters and postings wherever you are, whatever you may be doing. An innocent lunch at Bhavika’s in Sunnyvale is now an Amma experience: she beams at you from a dozen posters, hugging, force-feeding bliss. Now what is a person of scientific temper to do?
In this case, write a play. Mataji will be staged by Saraf's theater company, Naatak, in July and August around the San Francisco Bay Area. It's the story of a certain nice, round Indian lady who dispenses hugs, named Mataji. We see the gal behind the glory, the fog of self-induced hagiography lifted to reveal the ordinary going-ons of human interaction in a close-knit, authoritarian-led group.

This is nothing less than a grand-slam home run for clarity for the folks of the Bay Area. We've got our eye on Sujit now, and hope to see more of his contributions to a much-needed critical understanding of gurudom inside Hinduism-based spiritual culture in the West.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Not Boring Guru

File under: Blogs of Note

Once again, the comments on this blog are being graced by an unusual presence, a person who understands why big-time gurudom doesn't do what it is supposed to do. Meet the Bored Guru and his Gurucifixion:
A spiritual guru works most of the times like a psychiatrist, at least he is forced to be one. He should be strong in the dealing of the psyche more than dealings with consciousness. Many times such psychological detections will earn the 'all knowing insightful divine guru' title to the guru more easily.
While his blog is a little thin on content for now, it's huge in understanding about gurudom, apparently from an inside perspective. It brings a lightness of being to know such people are out there, making small but important strides at exposing the authentic spiritual truth buried under the mountain of ignorance heaped there by tradition, superstition and the greed of your average big-time guru.


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Sri Sri Ravi Hype-more

File under: Gurubusting and The Siddhi of PR

A few months back, we were interviewed by London's Financial Times about that boogieman of delusional, self-promotional personality cult-making, the personal fame-seeking and glory-hunting Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. We've included the highlights here:
[The Art of Living org] is also, however, given to hype. Its brochure celebrating the “One World Family” boasts of all kinds of programmes and workshops that the Art of Living runs around the world. There was a “workshop for Afghan women refugees” organised through the Afghan Coalition in Fremont, California, which left its participants feeling a “sense of great joy and peace”. Rona Popal, the executive director of the Afghan Coalition, says that the Art of Living ran a single demonstration of their Breath-Water-Sound workshop about three years ago, and nothing since. The brochure also features photographs and gushing quotes from prisoners in Ohio’s prisons, where the Art of Living ran a course. The Ohio prison service said that those courses have not been run for at least the past two years.

Jody Radzik, the creator of Guruphiliac, an American blog which keeps tabs on various gurus and mystics, is sceptical of the Sri Sri cult. “In public,” he says, “Sri Sri repudiates his divinity – he puts on the humble show. But in private, and in his organisation, there’s an assumption of his divinity and his ability to perform miracles.” Radzik says that the physiological experience of Sri Sri’s breathing technique is genuine, but no different from that of many others. What Sri Sri offers is a format for incorporating that experience into your life, via a cult built around his own personality.

Sat Bir Khalsa, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an expert on the health effects of yoga and breathing, says that the Art of Living technique “really is very similar to a lot of breathing techniques in Hatha yoga practice. There’s nothing super-remarkable about what they’re doing.” He adds that there is a growing, but still scarce, body of research into the link between the mind and body and the positive benefits of breathing. There was certainly nothing to justify the “evangelical” approach of the Art of Living. He had witnessed “obnoxious and aggressive” behaviour from members of the Art of Living organisation insisting their technique is the only one worth following. “But I’ve also seen these things wax and wane. There was transcendental meditation in the 1970s, then the Hare Krishnas, and for the past 10 years Vipassana meditation has been very strong because of the Buddhists.”

“It is soft power,” says Rengaraj Viswanathan, India’s ambassador to Argentina, after attending a meeting between Sri Sri and the mayor of Buenos Aires. In his view, Sri Sri is simply an excellent Indian export. “You see yoga centres on every street corner here. In the 1970s, this was a fad, a fashion. But now it has reached serious proportions. You see younger people, professionals, business people all looking to this.” What about the ambassador? Did he meditate or breathe in order to relax? “No,” he said, rocking back with laughter. “I salsa!”
We'll save our dance for the day it becomes clear to the world that Sri Sri is really only in it for his Me Me. Until then, we'll try to keep shoveling his bullshit out of the way of the nondual truth getting covered up in the promotional pollution of his Art of Living org.

Note: Thanks, Gregory!

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

This Week's Acme Of Delusional Ignorance

File under: The Siddhi of PR

Or perhaps it's delusional arrogance:
The boycott call of Hindus against Hollywood movie "The Love Guru" for lampooning Hinduism has been very effective, contributing to its blunt failure at the box office, Rajan Zed, acclaimed Hindu leader, announced this week.
The movie flopped because it sucked, Rajan Zed's inflationary narcissism aside.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Deepockets Off The Deep End

File under: Gurubusting and The Siddhi of PR

Deepak Chopra, hot off his cameo in the recent flop, The Love Guru, lets us into his wacky world in an extensive interview in Newsweek:
In a shopping mall in London, Chopra is explaining the connection between a journalist and his coffee cup. ""This is you,'' he says, pointing to the cup. ""You think it's a cup, but it isn't.'' Dressed in workout clothes, with no cell phone or watch, Chopra seems admirably at ease in the mall, so much so that he doesn't even check his placement at the bookstore. ""It's the conscious energy field that is manifesting as the cup and yourself. The same field.'' On the five-day ""silent'' retreats he takes every three months, sometimes with his wife, Rita, Chopra says he can actually see this field.
Another day, another guru feeding us absolute nonsense about nondual truth. Not that there isn't a shared source of being between a person and a cup, just that it's never been something anyone would be able to see, outside the projection of their own imaginings about it.

But that is the New Age™ way, and Deepockets is the most Indian New Age™ guru, so it makes perfect sense he'd spew a gaffe like this in Newsweek, despite our disappointment at finding out just how full of it he really is.

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