The Final Word on SSRS and AOL

The time has come for me to bring to a close the matter of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and his Art of Living as discussed on this blog. It began with a simple enough request some years ago from my brother who asked me to check out AOL since he was (and continues to be) a big admirer of SSRS. I checked out the site and I realized that I had indeed heard of SSRS before. It was at an Indian classical music concert in San Francisco. The concert was being sponsored by the Art of Living Foundation (or something to that effect). Before the concert began, there was a fairly long video presentation promoting the AOL program. I recall seeing SSRS images on that promotional video and it seemed to me that the man was central to the movement.

I have a very deep-seated distaste for personality driven movements, as opposed to idea driven movements. Personalities are people and people are human and therefore fallible. When the core is a person, and the masses follow that person, grave danger lurks. From what little I know of the world, it appears to me that all movements that center around a person invariably end up in disasters. Just to name a few names, in no particular order: Lenin, Marx, Gandhi (the Mahatma first, later Indira, Rajiv, and in a few years Sonia, Rahul, Priyanka, their children, their children’s children), Nehru, Mohammed, Jesus, David Koresh, etc. They degenerate into cults one definition of which is an “obsessive, especially faddish, devotion to or veneration for a person, principle, or thing.”

I am all for ideas but when the person is elevated above the idea, my bullshit detector meter registers in the red zone. I realized that SSRS is doing useful work and people are willing to pay for it. But even so many years ago, before SSRS was as famous as he is now, I realized that he will be worshipped in a few years. And so it has come to pass: I see the picture of SSRS jostling for space on many a shelf holding images of Shiv, Ganesh, Durga, etc.

I wrote to my brother saying essentially that SSRS is doing good work and therefore belongs to the category I define as “useful” (which includes you and me and billions of others) but I would not put him in the categories I define as “good,” “enlightened,” or “great.” He was disappointed. I later posted it as an article with the title “Is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar a Con Man?” and answered the question saying that SSRS is a good marketer of wholesome Indian wisdom and is running a very useful business. As an economist, I am all for producers producing stuff that consumers want and benefit from and applaud people who provide useful services. SSRS meets a demand and is amply financially rewarded for it.

I have been consistent in my view that SSRS is doing good. Yet, some of his followers are offended that I don’t consider him to be the 11th incarnation of Vishnu, so to speak. This mystifies me: why do they care what I think of SSRS? Is their faith in their Gurudev (as they prefer to call SSRS) so fragile that the opinion of a nobody like me gets their hackles up? I should stress that I don’t believe that all of the millions of SSRS followers are whacky. I think only those who have a very tenuous grasp on reality in general mis-read what I wrote and they write to me angry emails which are more often than not incoherent and misspelled to boot. In all fairness, one should not judge SSRS by these mentally challenged followers of his.

I think ridicule is a great weapon against puffed up pretensions. I think it is appropriate for me to poke fun at an email which gives me unsolicited advice on how I will see the light if only I enrolled in a AOL course. There is nothing privileged about such a communication and contrary to what one commenter wrote in connection with my recent post, there is nothing the least unethical about making publicly available such an email as long as the personal details of the writer are not revealed.

So now it is time to say goodbye to SSRS and his AOL on this blog. It has been fun but one has to move on. Life is short and there are other things and people waiting to be made the object of one’s fascination.

Goodbye, good night, and may your god go with you.

31 thoughts on “The Final Word on SSRS and AOL

  1. Pingback: Anonymous
  2. I wonder why you haven’t included the Buddha in the “personality based” cults that became religions list (in the previous post). I know some reasons why I wouldn’t add him to the list, but I sure would like to hear your take on it. My reasons would be:

    1. For once Buddha had an original idea. Something that noone before him had ever imagined. In that sense he didn’t just re-package old wine in a new bottle. Moreover his idea was not centred around accepting him as a diety. Infact it was the opposite. So even though his cult was driven by his personality it’s main ideas were note centred around him specifically.

    2. The Buddha himself gave strict instructions not to worship him or any other God/Diety for that matter.

    But other than that.. Buddhism too started out as a cult and it too was a proselytizing movement. Sure the ideas the Bhikkus were selling were different than say the idea that “Christ is the son of God and accepting him so will lead to salvation”. But ultimately they too were selling ideas and those who bought them joined the cult of the Buddha. Over time the cult gained enough numbers to be called a religion.

    Atanu’s response: Buddhism is an idea based religion. The historical figure, Gautam Siddhartha, who became a buddha, codified the ideas. Of course, the ideas exist timelessly. He stated them after realizing them upon his “waking up” or enlightenment. There had been buddhas before and there will many more buddhas. Gautam Buddha is not central to Buddhism in the same sense that the Christ is central to Christianity or Mohammed is central to Mohammedanism (or Islam.) Englightenment, rather than a person, is central to Buddhism.

    Allow me an analogy: in relativistic physics, Einstein’s general and special theory of relativity is central, not Einstein. If Einstein had not been born, someone else would have figured it out. Someone had to figure it out anyway, and it was just the luck of the draw that it was a clerk at the Swiss patent office who did.

    Did the Buddha package old wine in new bottles? Wouldn’t that be like selling good stuff (old wine) as inferior stuff? Perhaps you meant “selling new wine in old bottles.”

    The Buddha was Hindu by birth. He took the Hindu concepts of karma, moksha, atman, etc, and redefined them according to his own taste. He rejected the notion of “god” because he felt that it was not useful. In all, I like the core ideas of Buddhism. I have some bones to pick with the Buddha but they are not major sticking points for me.

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  3. Sameer,

    I was about to comment on the same topic. This is what I think.

    Buddha, was he was alive, was very particular about not characterising him as divinity and preached that the idea of god is irrelevant (same as Jiddu K, who dissolved his order for the same reasons). Contrast this with SSRS who does not have any qualms about people idolizing him.

    If people still went ahead and cast Buddha as god, it is hardly his fault…as we all know, the aam janta are more likely to follow a symbol rather than an idea and as for why, well, it can be a ph.d thesis.

    IMO, elevating a man to the status of a god is the worst thing you can do to him for you take away all his achievements. With our limited grasp on how the universe works, we can hardly say if Buddha was a God or not (what is God, anyway) – however, there cannot be any doubt that he is among the greatest humans that ever lived (if not THE greatest).

    Atanu’s response: We can definitely say that the Buddha was not god. Why? For the same reason that the Buddha was not a unicorn. The Buddha existed; mythical beasts like unicorns don’t exist; therefore, the Buddha was not a unicorn.

    I would agree that the Buddha was a pretty sharp guy.

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  4. Atanu
    I think you are being a bit too harsh. I have done several AOL courses, and have learned much from doing them. I regularly practice Sudarshan Kriya, and I really cannot describe in words the space into which I am sometimes taken by this wonderful breathing practice. What do I feel for Sri Sri? Tremendous gratitude. Not unlike the gratitude you perhaps feel towards your spiritual teachers.

    At the same time, I do not feel the urge to vehemently defend Sri Sri against attacks or criticisms. I know my experience, and nothing that you or anyone else say can take the truth of that experience away from me. The relationship between a student and his teacher is too sacred and deep to be really affected by all of that. If, however, I do feel somewhat slighted, then I am only being human in trying to protect a sense of that sacred intuition against foreign incursions. I suspect that it is the same with all of us. When what one holds as a truth is challenged, one reacts, knowing no better. Some react violently, some in other, more subtle ways. In fact, I would argue that your posts about Sri Sri are just such a reaction too. As also are some of the comments above.

    There is only ONE teaching, but there are many teachers. Every teacher is important, and every teacher deserves our gratitude and respect – equally. There is no way to apportion this respect. Those who try are only playing a game of “My God is best”, and we all know how that game ends.

    Atanu’s response: Deep, I have said this before: please show me where I have even hinted at the possibility that SSRS is not providing value for the money he charges. I have consistently maintained that he is doing good in many ways. I am at a loss to fully comprehend why people get upset at me on my position that SSRS is a very useful person. I am fairly sure that if I were to follow his teachings, I would be also grateful to him. Why is it that my refusal to accord him deity status makes me such an unreasonable person?

    Am I missing something or is it that my language is so convoluted that I am not able to convey my position?

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  5. Atanu
    Thanks for your response. Let me clarify. I am not trying to cajole you into according SSRS deity status. Since you have not experienced SK, we are not even on the same page, so I dont see where I would even begin, if that were my intention. Anyway, wish you well. 🙂

    Atanu’s response: I would not presume to judge SK (sudarshan kriya, I presume) since I have not undergone the practice. Even if I were to do it and find it incredibly useful, it would still not lead me to deify SSRS. Furthermore, I don’t claim that anyone is actively engaged in making me deify SSRS. I was just puzzled by the fact that some followers of SSRS take me to task because I am reluctant to accord him the status of a demigod. The puzzle still persists.

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  6. While SSRS has been involved in spreading yogic breathing, there are a couple of things that I dont agree with: One, in one of his courses called DSN, there’s a module called padmasadhana which is merely a collection of certain yoga postures. By choosing to giving it a specific name, (for poses and names that have existed for many many years), he is appropriating credit for himself which is not due. The second case, is still more blatant. SSRS recently started Sri Sri Ayurveda and some of the medicines and concoctions prepared and marketed by AOL have existed since a very long time. How, is it possible and appropriate for him to put his name on a traditional form of medicine as Ayurveda? The same is true for Sri Sri Yoga.

    Now Sri Sri Yoga and Sri Sri ayurveda doesnt come cheap. In fact they are more expensive, than equivalent courses or medicines

    All this makes me wonder, whether SSRS (notwithstanding his social programs) is just behaving a like a brand and become a marketing machine?

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  7. Holler hello
    You must have a really good handle on THE truth, to know what is rightfully due to whom. I bow before your omniscient wisdom.

    Atanu’s response: Now this is really puzzling. I don’t claim insight into THE truth anywhere. And I make no attempt at telling others how much and to whom they may direct their admiration, gratitude, worship, and loyalty. I do hold opinions and express them as my contribution to a discussion. Since they are opinions — and perhaps we all have them — they don’t come with any warranties, expressed or implied, about their objective validity. Like the average person, I do feel hurt when someone personally attacks me but it does not bother me in the least when my opinion is rejected. In fact, I feel energized when someone pushes against my opinion because it affords me the resistence needed for me to further refine them.

    On a closing note, please hold off on your bowing until I declare to the world at large that I have achieved omniscient wisdom. It may take a few more years 🙂

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  8. …Why is it that my refusal to accord him deity status makes me such an unreasonable person?

    Am I missing something or is it that my language is so convoluted that I am not able to convey my position?

    I think this is because we (Indians) as a society tend to cling to the extremes when it comes to personalities. While at one end we diefy some people and sing their praise till kingdom come, at the other end we hate and despise certain people and deny the possibility of any good in them. The choice of personalities to hate and diefy is up to the individual of course.

    So anything that doesn’t confirm to this model (which is what your assessment of SSRS’s contribution to the society is) is promptly considered unreasonable.

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  9. Hello, Atanu,

    Writing to congratulate you for taking such a bold step. In a country like India, where spirituality is next to politics, no can point a finger in anyone clad in white clothes and long hair.

    I have done the AOL courses and the experience was good. I am associated with AOL volunteer work since last 9 years. But over the years I have seen it become more of a fashion status and marketing gimmick.

    One point you made is so true. Following the idea of one person is dangerous, as it leads to “Identity Crisis’ and if u have a million people experiencing this, its a disaster.

    So in the end I realized just one thing, our god is with us. Just have faith.
    Shivani.

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  10. Dear Atanu,

    I guess you are badgered by emails from SSRS/AOL crowd to want to publicly close the trail of your posts on that topic. Your rationale for de-elevating SSRS on the ground that AOL has a cult signature and that ideas are (far) above individuals looks right. But in doing so your personal biases seems to inadvertently show up.

    It is one thing to place a major blame on Nehru for ills of India or to bash up his progeny but quite another to put Mahatma Gandhi and Lenin in same bracket. I think ideas and leadership often go together. A good part of any leader’s following will not be aware of his or her ideas and will hero worship him/her. Bigger the following, a cult mentality will definitely seep in. The leader’s immediate circle, if not the leader himself or herself, will many times facilitate it. After all, keeping bad motives aside, ideas of those with larger backing will have a better chance of surviving. Democracy to some extent is all about the numbers rather than ideas. Bush is a good example of it.

    I am not beholden by Mahatma Gandhi nor am I in a position to dissect him since I have not read him or about him (including his critics) to a reasonable extent. Lenin may have a dark face and with hindsight of communism’s collapse we can bash him too. I think when one talks of Gandhi or Lenin one inevitably first thinks of their ideas – non-violence and abolition of race and caste in case of Gandhi and communism in case of Lenin – and later the individual. I would have not minded Gandhi and Lenin being bashed up on ideas front but you wanted to rush to spit out your venom of these figures (all Indian leaders around independence for the mess they have left for us and all communist leaders past and present). You may not agree with the way I saw it but it will help to keep that perspective. You lost some brownie points from me when you included Mahatma Gandhi in the list.

    Topics like SSRS make your blog colorful, diversified and highly readable. It remains consistent with your theory of economic angle to most (all?) things in world (if not in life). In SSRS case you have brought in demand and supply, termed SSRS as good marketer and credited him with doing public good in the sense of delivering a service public wants. Another consistent theme in your blog is the notion of supremacy of ideas and this too finds its way in the SSRS posts.

    Sharad

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  11. People at different times will have different needs. Sometimes people need someone to worship, or have a sense of being taken care of. Other times, people need someone to guide them further along the path, an inspirator to encourage growth and go beyond limiting barriers. Then again, some may need correction and have a living example as reference point to further their bearings.

    One person can be so much different to so many people. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar never demands anything of anyone. Nobody is required to have him as a guru (teacher), or do- or think anything differently, even if they have taken the AOL-course or not.

    There have been teachers which have shun responsibility and gone on their own personal trip for years (hmm, think I’ll lose the count if I start the counting here… ;), instead of doing what everyone else was “expecting”. One teacher told me she was for years expecting to be called and placed demands on to do what she perceived the “right thing” to do (she were feeling guilty). It never came.. There were calls,, in both directions, just pleasantries and no expectations. She felt so free, despite trying her best to feel guilty for herself 😉

    You try to understand someone, a satguru, a spiritual teacher, through worldly logic and knowledge, but it is simply different from what you expect.

    After a while, you start to appreciate what you don’t understand – your mind shifts. 🙂 This might sound very esoteric and complex – or even like a great idea, but it is in actuality the simplest and most natural. 🙂

    It does require stopping being a beggar for entertainment though.

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  12. U know, u are absolutely right when u say, that sucha crticism from u should not effect the way we think about our gurudev, and trust me it will never….. our absolute faith in him, is wat keeps us devotees going. Every human is different, u seem to be a very learned man, but completely ignorant and come across as rude. and do u know why so many people have posted cooments on all that u have written, well thats bcoz if u were to criticize my parents in public, i would hae given u left, right and center.. but u just dont know the beauty of AOL, and i leave u too guruji, so that u can be cured!! nobody wants to explain to u wat the presence of guruji in our life feels like, but just like u have full right to criticize him, trust me i have full right to defend him, because he is my mother, father, my everything.. and i just cannot see an ignorant man making a mockery out of him……. our divine faith in him can never be changed, so write an many articles abt him as u want, and evrytime u will get comments defending him, bcoz u know wat not everybody is as lucky as we devotees are……. poor u!!!!!

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  13. For the past decades i’ve been with Guruji. We shared some great knowledge together.

    Why are the people here judging someone who is writing his opinion. He has every right to do this.

    I’ve seens these reactions often…similiar as some other fanatical religious people you hear about in the news.

    How can you react on your emotion and not use your Wisdom. If you say you are devotee then act like one. Don’t be narrow minded.

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  14. Atanu,

    A variety of “Buddhism” in India is entirely dependent on idolising Buddha. It has little or nothing at all about the principles that Siddhartha Gautama talked about and all about a mythical “social reformer” absolute nonsense when put in context of the times Gautama lived in. Quite a few otherwise intelligent people such as Ambedkar himself and Abraham Eraly (the historian of Madras Christian College) have contributed to build up this myth. So this idolisation is an endless process and acquires a life of its own long after the person is dead and gone.

    I am queasy about paying tens of thousands to a Guru when there are still a few places in India where teachers will not accept a paisa from you and will train you only if you show dedication. Do you remember the Sanskrit pandit from Kashi who wrote to Madonna correcting her pronunciation and then agreed to teach her Sanskrit only if she agreed to show commitment and that too for dakshina? May not be a good economic model but a different one.

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  15. After going through all the pro and anti comments and reactions on this blog, I am reminded of one smart idea (!) that Guruji had given us:
    If something adverse happens, like somebody criticises your idol or God, a “SO WHAT” should come from your heart and then, LET GO.
    So dear devotees of Shri Shri, let go. All this criticism on Gurudev on one blog out of millions on the net is not going to affect Gurudev or your devotion for him in any which way. So why get stressed up? Just Let Go. Instead of wasting your time and energy in reacting to these comments, go read some knowledge sheets and do some seva.
    milind

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  16. haha!

    Nice Read! I also don’t find SSRS enlighted. He might be useful though to others.

    And i’ll put krishnamurthy in ‘enlightened’ category….you can also add osho(my love) to boost my ego..haha

    Anyways, one girl was trying to sell AOL to me & was trying hard to prove that i live a tense day to day life & need AOL without even looking at my being relaxed & peaceful..hehe….so, i preferred staying away. ; – )

    Cheers, Rohit

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  17. Would the ‘devotees’ of SSRS be offended if someone talked of him in Romanian, or Arabic, or Afrikaans?? No, probably because they would not fully understand some/one of these languages. What Atanu is doing here is describing him in the language of logic and economics. Why is everyone getting so worked up about this? A particular description or analysis is just one of the several possible takes on reality. So long as you, (whether you are a critic, a follower , an economist or a devotee) understand this, you are free, otherwise you just risk becoming a prisoner of your opinions !! 🙂

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  18. Hemmanth really deserves a big pat from ssrs being increasing the population to designate ssrs in the elite catagory of Indian Gods & Goddeses. Did ever the person behind the art of living has openly came out to support the millions of oppressed destitudes spread across India. Or does he want that the elite should learn the art of living. When the stomach is empty no one could dream art of living. Only thing then matters is how the fire in the belly should be extinguished. Come out SSRS from the sheath of affulance and realise the need of the time.

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  19. I am one who can claim to have some micro glimpses of the wisdom of India. I am not following any living guru also. When I saw the debate, I thought I must share my thoughts.

    It is very difficult to comprehend the depth of the statement “Secular & spiritual are entirely different”. Just reflect on this statement and over a period of time, you will realize.

    To the secular, the world around him is REAL. To the enlightened, the world around him is ILLUSION. (I don’t have any better statements than these cliches, sorry).

    To gain enlightenment, you have to search hard for a guru, be prepared to go to the remotest place on earth.(Unless you are a Buddha, of course!). Sadly, the numbers of gurus as well as seekers is on the decline.
    So, when one finds someone who can be taken as guru, he is simply mobbed.

    Another very important concept of the Sanatana Dharma is that if you want to lose your ego and enjoy the bliss, you have to totally surrender to your guru (knowing fully that he is also a man with flesh & blood and is “mortal”). When you continue thus, you will realize that the guru is not the body, but the one who dwells in it, but then HE also dwells in you(who are “You”, by the way?). It is for this reason, that you attribute divinity in your guru. It is in this spirit that Pativratya of Sita or Draupadi was a liberator, despite the apparent “raw” deal they got.

    So, for all the devotees of Sri Sri, he is & should be god and for those who don’t believe, he can never be god.

    And no amount of arguments can change this fact! Perhaps, I sincerely hope that the sceptic will find his own path and the raw devotee would become ripened,then both would smile at all the War of Wor(l)ds!

    By the way, for the sceptic, I recommend “A Search in Secret India” by Paul Brunton.

    May all the joy be yours!

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  20. Jai Gurudev.

    Dear Atanu,

    MY GOD, you have really flared up an unwanted discussion. What were you trying to get out of it? Were you also trying to get some people to endorse your view of ssrs just the way ssrs’s devotees are doing?

    What ever was your reason or others, your final say says it all! i would like to just say that devotion is altogether different from logic. Yet, they both go hand in hand.
    Your logic and their devotion are was a relly good treat to read….keep up the effort and all the best…

    vinay.

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  21. Jai Gurudev.

    Dear Atanu,

    MY GOD, you have really flared up an unwanted discussion. What were you trying to get out of it? Were you also trying to get some people to endorse your view of ssrs just the way ssrs’s devotees are doing?

    What ever was your reason or others, your final say says it all! i would like to just say that devotion is altogether different from logic. Yet, they both go hand in hand.
    Your logic and their devotion was a really good treat to read….keep up the effort and all the best…

    vinay.

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  22. Hi Atanu and everybody else,

    I have done a few AOL course. I have benefitted and continue to be benefitted. Guruji never says he is GOD. He rather says GURU is our own Self. God is their within us and in all of us. He works for free for people who cannot afford AOL. He did not rename any old asana. He has clubbed them together. So that, all of us lazy bones can do them to become a little healthier and energetic. Doing them we get benefitted, not him. He has been deified by his followers. Christ, if you are not aware, has been deified by the Vatican, the Pointiffs and the Roman Catholic’s for their benefit. Neither Buddha nor Christ ever said we are GOD. The New Testament was created by his followers. The miracles have been blown out of proportion by his followers. He was here to spread the message of love and belongingness at a time when the world was full of violence. So did Buddha. They were all great teachers who said repeatedly GOD is within us. We should increase increase our Godliness by having more love and faith in our fellow human being. Guruji never said, pray me like God. He always says, never put up my picture with the Gods. Deification and lot of hard selling is done by the followers. Some of which are actually irritating. But politics will be there in any organization. One has to go above politics to find the benefits towards Self and Society. In fact I first learnt in an AOL course, GURU means your inner Self. Realise that, all spiritual leaders including Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekananda has said just that.

    Atanu, I now know, how I should not start criticising people, with incomplete knowledge. I do that quite frequqntly. I also feel momentary greatness by doing so. I now know how meaningless it is. It does not show the person criticised in a bad light. It reflects the criticiser’s ignorance. I thank God, for giving me this lesson.

    Arundhati

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  23. atanu u seem to get popular with every answers of urs..I liked the way u have justified .. SSRS Ji Diety stature is just an expression of contenment among His believer.
    (Its a common psycology and a feeling of pride to comment on any popular cause,individual or event just to have a feeling of uniquiness….)Even i have done couple of courses and i have never felt SSRS ji as a God.He is a fantastic teacher spreading a lovely ,wonderful messages to the whole world for which every body should be thank ful (If an individual wants every body to be happy and peaceful
    should be thankful)

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  24. Hi Atanu,
    I just found your blog and it’s a great read. While just browsing the blog, I stumbled upon the discussion on RS. Here’s my comment on it.

    I have never done AoL courses, and most likely never will. Not for any ill-feelings but because in my opinion charging $375 for teaching a “breathing exercise” or “Yoga” sounds crazy to me. At least I don’t have that much money to spend on learning what can be learned by enrolling in a class at a University for less than $50 (a week’s worth of lessons).

    On RS: Yoga has been taught in India for centuries. RS simply provided a neatly packaged item. And as for the devotees — I ask you two questions: 1) If he did not have long hair, long beard and wore a shirt and a pant like everyone else, would you put his picture in your purse for “protection” or next to pictures/statues of Hanuman, Krishna and Shiva? Although, I can guarantee you he never will do that! Because if he did, his stock will plunge since we have been taught over the ages an image of a saint/God and he/she does not look like you and me. 2) Why charge for teaching something that has been taught over centuries by “true” saints for nothing more than a bowl of rice? Then he comes up with something called “advanced course” and charges more $$$ for it. (v1.0 does not come with the “extra enlightenment features” packaged in v2.0!!)

    Anyhoo even if I don’t think these “sadhus” should get away with taking advantage of some gullible people, I don’t really mind the hoopla surrounding RS or Saibaba as long as (even if it is via their “blessings”) there are hospitals and schools funded through these programs which help the poor in India. The only sad part is that Indian people need the “aashirvad” of a Guru to shell out some green and help the poor.

    I hope people will realize that they don’t need a Guru or a God to live a rich life.

    S.

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  25. I am a general surgeon practicing in Pune.I am not following AOL but i have been in close contact with it due to my some family members are following it regularly. I personally don’t understamd why people need false or exaggerated showoffs eg. I have once seen one follower claiming publicly that his cancer got cured due to guruji’s blessings(in Guruji’s presence).Why one requires rich & fancy ashram for his followers? Why one can not ask his followers to live simple life ? Why one can not stay away from making own birthday a bash with millions of people coming to B’lore in cars and planes? With all respect to everybody on the earth I once again apologise for hurting emotions of few people. Simple living high thinking is my moto of life. Mahatma Gandhiji is one of the great personality for such path. I think in today’s materialistic world this is the need of the hour. I haven’t seen AOL followers anyway moving in such direction. By the way I have done SSY 12 years back but that nothing happened to my life on major scale. Be good to everybody . Enjoy the life as it comes. Work is god worship it. Don’t be greedy. Exercise regularly. I think these simple basic few things keeps you in physically & mentally sound condition. I personally don’t understand when god has designed our body in such intricate manner why there should be some method or ways to improve its efficiency. My common sense and our allopathic science don’t believe in the procedures like inhaling thr’ one nostril and exhaling thr’ the other should have any profound effect on the body. Keeping oneself healthy is more related to your lifestyle , a tribal man living in mountains lives for 120 years without knowing the yoga & person practicing the yoga but living hectic life in Mumbai or Pune will die much sooner (though bit later than a person not doing it). So I have come to the conclusion that there is no point in promoting the things like yoga and meditation in today’s world. They are supposed to be practices in calm mountains of Himalayas. So if you can not live organic way of living – “living in the nature with the nature, no ratrace lifestyle, simple living high thinking” then only there is point in practicing these superspecial arts for attaining the higher quality of life. In today’s totally nonorganic, fictious lifestyle I don’t think it carries any meaning.

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  26. Hi Atanu,

    I am glad that some one is taking the right view about SSRS and also is able to express it freely. I had some good opinion about this organization (thought at least AOL was doing something good) until a few months before. Their aggressive marketing in USA made me revise all my views. In my opinion their marketing has reached new lows in the past few months. I got a call from some one at 9:30 pm on a weekday soliciting me to enroll on their AOL part 2 course. Sri Sri has come to US and is offering this part 2 course in PA and CA. I was told that the course fee was $650 + accommodation and expenses for 3 days. I knew that this course cost $350 last year including accommodation. I tried to explain to this person that my present situation will not permit me to spend around $1000 for a 3 day spiritual course. And this person starts making crazy claims that if I do this course SSRS will take care of me and I will get a promotion and hike at work. Also he was stating one guy who had financial difficulty enrolled for the course and few thousand dollars appeared mysteriously in his bank account!!!! What ridiculous claims just to sell their product. At least businesses like HP state that they are there for profit. This organization covers it with the veil that it is non-profit and try all methods to sell its products to get the maximum amounts.

    That was just an example. I recently came to know that they offer an 8 (or 10) our Ayurveda cook course for $250. What kind of a ripoff. I was once asked whether I have children and when I told that I had a three year old, I was told that there is a course name Angels course for 3 year olds offered by AOL for about $175.

    I am not just upset because they charge so much for their courses. What makes me upset is the pretense that this organization uses to enroll people. And the worship of SSRS as GOD. I have been told by some that he cured cancer etc, etc. And lot of intelligent people (at least they seem to be intelligent in other affairs of the life!) get carried away with these claims.

    Last year this organization celberated its silver jublee in such an ostentatious way. The teachers of the organization were marketing every one to go to Bangalore from USA to attend this celebration. I know a few who spent anywhere from $3500 to $6000 to attend this few day celebration in India to boost one man’s ego. The teachers here were marketing it saying attending this celebration will change some one’s life totally and it is for the humanity’s benefit and for SSRS.

    Moral: As long as there are people willing to be taken advantage of, the organizations like AOL will profit from that. “Quick fix” is all we want and when some one promises that we would do anything to get that.

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  27. Dear Mr. Dey,

    My father, a man of extreme discipline, was recently unfortunately diagnosed with third stage lung cancer. Given that he has been a lifelong practictioner of yoga, this comes as a big shock to the family. The doctors gave him a year to survive with the chemo. It’s now almost a year since the chemo, and he practices SSRS’s breathing exercises regularly, and is leading a fairly normal life, free from mental worry and depression, and indeed this helped him to combat the disease even, in that it has not progressed.

    In a lot of ways, the AoL lifestyle seems to have helped for the better…It has not only helped him, but helped millions across the world. Would one be so cruel as to dismiss these simple laws of wellness that have given hope to so many, as being worthless and a scam? Do you have any examples to support why you think AoL is a a rip-off, and why the person who you believe has packaged it and brought it to the people, doesn’t deserve the least bit of credit for it?

    We all love George Lucas for giving us Star Wars, and Keanu Reeves for playing Neo. Tomorrow people may applaud you for architecting India’s economic reform. But I wouldn’t criticize anyone for momentarily deifying you, for doing that. Because in our daily routine lives, one who gives us our life, or gives us life-changing transformation, does become like a God for us. To me, my parents are God. How then, do we question, who may be God, for whom?

    Sincerely,
    Manirupa Das.

    Atanu’s response: Very kind of you to post a comment to my blog. I am afraid that you may have meant to post that comment to some other site and not to my site as what you say in your comment is not relevant to my post.

    For instance, you write, “Would one be so cruel as to dismiss these simple laws of wellness that have given hope to so many, as being worthless and a scam? Do you have any examples to support why you think AoL is a a rip-off, and why the person who you believe has packaged it and brought it to the people, doesn’t deserve the least bit of credit for it?”

    I am sure that you must have read somewhere that AoL is worthless and a scam. But you could not have read it on my blog in any of the posts dealing with AoL and SSRS. If you believe that I claim that AoL is a rip-off, then you would be able to point out to me where I make such a claim.

    I think that you are projecting your own biases on what I have written. May I suggest you re-read what I actually wrote instead of merely going off into a rant based on what you think I wrote?

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  28. Ahh!! How sensitive you are to the fact that I commented about your comments on SSRS and AoL, without actually reading your comments first!!

    Imagine the discomfort of the followers of the principles of AoL and SSRS when someone with no knowledge of its content or potential value, embarks to provide any comments whatsoever on it, whatever those comments may be, good, bad, neutral, deep, shallow, rhetorical, observational, judgmental, passive, tragic, comic, or any other type, without having actually attended a single one of its proceedings, or having attempted to understand it in any way or form whatsoever!!! Great discomfort I would imagine!!

    As a very good friend of mine likes to put, and I applaud her on this:
    “I appreciate people who are civil, whether they mean it or not. I think: Be civil. Do not cherish your opinion over my feelings. There’s a vanity to candor that isn’t really worth it. Be kind.”

    If my message has gotten across Sir, then you will henceforward refrain to comment in any form whatsoever, on this subject of SSRS and AoL, till such time that you have actually gained some insight into the subject through personal experience. Till such time is reached, I sincerely believe that you must restrict your commentary to ideas and subjects you have attained mastery of, such as the Economics of India’s development, which we are all waiting for you to provide us further enlightenment on, like you have been doing so consistently in the past.

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