Guruphiliac: November 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Kracki Hive Thrives Despite Clouds

File under: Gurubusting, Gurus Clockin' Dollars, Gurus Doin' Time, Satscams, and The Siddhi of PR

India's best newspaper dishes the dirt on the Bhagavan Kalki's money habits, which are largely about siphoning off donations to buy things like cars, houses, and dummy companies for your progeny in the States:
The report dated January 24, 2003 states that MM Giri alias Acharya Anandagiri, who was a student at the Jeevashram School where the ‘godman’ was earlier employed as the administrator, admitted in his fund flow statement (from 1998 to 2001) “that he had made gifts of Rs 2.53 crore” to Krishna and Preetha, Kalki’s son and daughter-in-law
Of course, the Kracki and his wife/co-conspirator are doing better than ever as a result of this latest brouhaha. There's definitely something to be said for the power of denial as a zeal-inducer in the empty-headed. Apparently, the authorities have been less than anxious to investigate the Krackster. Who is surprised about that?

Whatever, we're bored of the lame huckster and his faux goddess sidekick. Let those who believe, have them. Maybe a glimmer of civil responsibility does exist somewhere within India that can be brought to bear on their operation. It doesn't hurt to hope, as long as you don't expect. The turban is tipped to Tehelka for putting it out there.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Prakashaka BOOM!'s Latest Legal Bust

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

[Ed.note: Once again, our valiant Austin correspondent has the scoop on the continuing legal saga of Swami Prakashanand Saraswati of the Barsana Dham ashram and temple in Texas, who is accused of molesting underage females in his room.]

By a Former Barsana Dham Ashram Resident

Nov. 19th, 2009 — At the junction of Darden Hills Road and Rural Route 1826, you can see the 90-foot high tower of the 35,000-square-foot temple built by Swami Prakashanand Saraswati (not with his own hands — or money — of course: it’s just an expression) rising above the hills and trees two miles away to the east.

Less than a mile to the west of this intersection, Mr. Saraswati resides in a home that looks to be about 2,000 or 3,000 square-feet on maybe one acre of land. To get to Austin and all points east, he has to be driven right past his 220-or-so-acre Barsana Dham ashram, which abuts RR 1826.

By Texas law he has not been allowed to enter his ashram since May of 2008.

Despite multiple requests made by his lawyers on his behalf to return him to his kingdom, Saraswati has been told “no,” not just once, but a total of four times — twice by a Hays County judge, once by the Texas Third Court of Appeals, and Wednesday by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

You KNOW that has got to bite the big one for him.

If you’ve ever followed a “guru,” you understand that “No” is not a word he or she hears very often. Certainly not from his or her groveling minions.

Having lived in his ashram for one and half decades, I'm pretty sure I can guess the party-line Prakashanand and his inner circle are feeding the others to explain his inability to bend Texas criminal courts to his will. Terms like “kaliyug,” “evil,” and “demons” have likely been thrown around like cheap pieces of candy at a celebration.

And lest you think that the State of Texas is just being mean spirited or simply doesn’t like his face, please note that the reason Saraswati is not allowed back into this ashram is that he AGREED to this condition at his first hearing after his arrest on April 24, 2008, on 20 counts of indecency with a child. All he wanted then was his passport back so he could return to India. He got what he wanted. He said he agreed. He signed on the dotted line. And he happily flew back to India to make love to or whatever he does with his master, Kripalu Maharaj (aka, Ram Tripathi).

That was fine and dandy until he flew back to the U.S. a few months later and realized (ooops!) he might have been a bit hasty in giving up his freedom to enter Barsana Dham. Unfortunately for him he signed a contract with the State of Texas, and in this state they expect you to uphold your agreements.

But, as the experienced historical recreationist that he is, he set out to make up a big bogus legal case about “religious freedom,” which his lawyers claimed he was “being denied.” Luckily, Texas State legal officials were not born yesterday, nor are they stupid enough to be conned by a fake guru. So he has been SOL on convincing them to adopt his warped worldview.

I know it’s hard, Saraswati; but it’s time to face the facts: The answer to your request to return to Barsana Dham (the scene of your accused criminal acts of children molestation) have been and are always going to be, not just “No,” but “Hell, NO!”

It’s time for you to take it like a man! (Get used to it — you’ll be in jail soon enough!)

[Ed.note: two updates soon followed this dispatch:] Late breaking development -- JUST learned that Prak's trial date has been changed from January 11th to April 4th. Also, just learned today that he bolted back to India yesterday.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Twisted World Of The American Guru

File under: Gurubusting and The Siddhi of PR

We received a copy of American Guru a few months ago, but have slacked at actually opening it. That said, this review reveals the gist of it, that Andrew Cohen gives every appearance of being yet another personality-disordered, adoration-addicted control-freak cult leader:
Cohen mandated – directly or indirectly – actions such as slapping the face of someone for showing too much ego or pride; banishing followers, at least temporarily, for alleged misbehavior; or requiring followers to shave their heads as a form of humility. In one incident recounted in the book, Yenner says a woman who spoke up to Cohen had red paint thrown in her face as punishment.
Yenner himself kept coming back for more, getting fleeced in the process:
In 1998, he says, he gave Cohen a gift of $10,000 to thank him for being his mentor. A year later, Yenner, told that he was exhibiting too much pride, says he was banished from Foxhollow for betraying Cohen and his teachings.

Increasingly exhausted, desperate, and almost mentally broken, Yenner says, he sought to regain favor by offering EnlightenNext an $80,000 inheritance from his father. Things got only more bizarre after that – Yenner was told to go to Australia to stay with another out-of-favor follower. Six days after his arrival Down Under, Yenner says, Cohen ordered him to return to the United States.

After another cycle of banishment and forgiveness, Yenner was told he was no longer welcome at Foxhollow. “I felt nothing,” he writes. “I decided to leave the community for good.” That night, he stayed in a hotel in the tiny town of Florida in the Berkshires. “I could see for miles,” he writes. “I began to feel joy and liberation.”
Playing God takes two, someone to be God and someone to believe in them. This provides the glue that holds a cult together through each successive episode of the leader's pathological narcissism. What appears to be insanity from an outsider's perspective gets filtered as God's tough love within the group. Yenner and others were paying a lot for that love. Here's to hoping they finally get to see that they got their money's worth for having survived such a towering example of enlightenwrong.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Cult Guru Playbook

File under: Satscams

A commenter named "h" just graced us with what we're calling the cult guru playbook:
  1. Have a set of group rules they expect the followers to adopt and self impose
  2. Be charismatic leaders who self-proclaim enlightenment
  3. Have a drive to recruit as many people (especially westerners) into their organization as possible. Recruitment is often labeled as sadhana, or spiritual practice to help the devotee
  4. Enjoy tax-exempt status—hidden behind charitable works without any proof where the donations go
  5. Insist upon dropping the mind and ego with full surrender to the leader
  6. Brag about their devotees spiritual progress, as if in a marketing campaign for more souls
  7. Employ chanting to Hindu deities in their meditation practices
  8. Employ questionable breathing techniques, usually some form of hyperventilation, inducing mental foginess mistaken as altered level of consciousness
  9. Use contracts, or fear, to ensure their meditation techniques are kept secret from the outside world
  10. Charge money for programs while insisting they do charity work for the less fortunate. If someone can not afford to pay for the program, they are not allowed in
  11. Encourage followers to share their experiences—a form of group control
  12. Have their own group lingo or slang terms
  13. Perform rituals, chants and devotional songs to not only deities, but to the guru him/herself
  14. Questions regarding the group or leader are not allowed
  15. Devotees all insist that their master is the true master and has the only path to enlightenment. These devotees use vague personal experiential stories as proof
  16. Devotees believe and accept everything the guru says
  17. Donations encouraged. A way of giving back to the guru who has given so much to the devotee
  18. Guru quite pleasant and jovial with the newcomers. Yet easily angered and volatile in closed quarters or with the inside group
  19. Group meditation practices, clothing styles, food choices, music, books, knick-knacks, etc, gives the group cohesion. Establishes an us vs. them dynamic
  20. Fictitious anecdotes of the leader to ensure devotees see him as holier than them. Stories are based in myth and beliefs with no way to prove they are true
  21. Have crazed devotees that worship them
  22. Encourage (or don't discourage) families to break up to persue spiritual advancement under the guru
  23. Instill a form of fear to discourage devotees from abandoning the guru/group. The devotee is basically told that to abandon the group means losing all his/her spiritual progress made under the guru
  24. Have some form of meditation on the guru or his photo
  25. Start with an affordable entry level form of meditation practice. Benefits of which are usually peace and health
  26. Insist on additional meditation levels for spiritual advancement—often with higher costs
  27. Volunteerism is considered spiritual practice and often costs money to volunteer
  28. Have lots of stories of enlightened devotees, but you never seem to meet one
  29. Have ties to politicians, high ranking officials and authorities. Celebrities are a bonus
  30. Put followers through intense physical, emotional and mental challenges (i.e., sitting in painful positions for extended time, emotional sharing with strangers, fancy words with quick witted tongue), thereby lowering normal judgment process
That's a fairly comprehensive list that reeks of ex-insidership. Pranams to h for sharing his or her insights here.