Atanu Dey On India's Development

A Letter from a Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Worshipper

I expressed the idea that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is not a supreme being endowed with the power of the Almighty God in my article titled “Is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar a Con Man?” I concluded that he is doing very useful work and as evidence I pointed out that he has very large numbers of followers who are willing to pay good deals of money for his guidance. But that rubs his worshippers the wrong way. Fortunately, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a Hindu and therefore his followers are not in the habit of calling for the murder of those who hurt their feelings. When SSRS’s followers feel slighted by my not considering SSRS god incarnate, they merely write letters protesting my view.

One such arrived today asking me to keep my opinions to myself. I don’t suppose the person appreciates the irony of expressing his opinion that I should keep my opinion to myself. Here is the letter verbatim, for the record:

Subject: Blog on Sri Sri Ravishankar and Deepak Chopra

Dear Mr Atanu dey,

I read your blog on both of them. I have read about both of them and also know the services rendered by Sri Sri Ravishankar.

I don’t know what you do? and also not interested.

I want you to keep your personal view points to yourself and not put it on the net.

You have written history only by reading the website. It is not simple.

They are contributing to the people and to the society and if they have to hire teachers, travel all over the world, give free food, build schools, develope villages, bring knowledge, empower women,
bring a change to prisoners,, they require money. How much is a question which can be answered only by involving oneself into these services. Not by reading website.

They are doing good, that matters.

Please keep your opinions to yourself and let it not float.

raghu

  • mahashakti

    I Like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, but you are asking good questions. Let’s get some answers.

  • N K Srinivasan

    I learn from other web information that SS Ravi Shankar studied at St Joseph’s college in Bangalore.I presume that he got a Bachelor’s degree in science [a three year course] from Bangalore University…Some Bio notes of SSRS claim that he obtained “Advanced degree in modern physics” at the age of seventeen.This is claiming too much, but perhaps his overpaid PR manager did this tall claim….they have to make false claims to sell him in the west anyway…I do not find the openness and candour of Paramahansa Yogananda ,the author of Autobiography of Yogi, who got his degree from Calcutta University in 1920′s with the divine intervention of his guru–in the case of SS Ravi Shankar…Well, I wont be surprised if he adds the honorific of “Paramahansa” also before his name soon…It does not cost much; Only some PR steps…..some swami from Rishikesh can be paid to shower that honorific on him,so that he can align himself with Sri Ramakrishna or Yogananda….A still easier method—start a deemed university paying the politicians—then you can give as many doctorates as you want for yourself and your friends and family members—

  • N K Srinivasan

    Let us see the positive side of Ravi Shankar’s ministry:
    1 He brings in foreign money to India;
    2 He promotes tourism indirectly;helps hotels,airlines and taxi service;
    3 He helps event-managers and PR men to prosper;
    4 He helps publishers and audio/video makers prosper;
    5 He keeps smiling and keeps others smiling or laughing–whether artificial or divine smile as you imagine;
    6 He helps lot of unemployed youth to have some work or other serving his institutions;
    7 He may employ a few ghost writers—good for them;
    8 He does not perform so called miracles or street magician tricks;
    9 He quotes Sanskrit verses, usually forgotten by the educated Hindus in India;
    Does it matter whether he is a saint or not?
    As for me, let him earn more foreign money to help alleviate poverty in India.

  • rajkumar bhatnagar

    dear raghu
    have u heard about asuri shakti ? in our old times when sur plans to do yagya or want to do anything good asur came and try to demolish them, but they never get success.
    these are asuri shakti which try to overcome sur shakti but never get success. so dont bother them they can not overcome sur shakti.
    rajkumar bhatnagar

  • R. Mario

    Interesting to read the positive sides listing that you made. Most of which are true outcomes, except for employment for event management by professional firm…oops you got it a bit wrong there, most of it is done by dedicated volunteers.

    If you look at the administrative cost for the organization it is hardly 6-7%, which is because it is the largest unpaid volunteer based organization (~95% are not paid). This remarkable fact is precisely the reason James Wolfensohn, former President of World Bank was amazed about in AolF and IAHV that he planned to use the model in other WB funded projects.

    Many know only a drop about AoL from what they hear from the Media…what Media !! since when have they become the standard of matter-of-fact based straight news !
    This marketing and PR manager campaign this is so bloated now that it makes one laugh. Maybe those who have this perception live only in India, you see a large gathering of people on Mahashivaratri etc., the media reports and you start wondering. Very few know that whatever the org. now is essentially only through word of mouth. Have you visited Poland, Eastern europe, Mongolia, South Africa etc. and bothered to understand how and why the organization has grown big there…PR and marketing? people will laugh at it. Only thro’ personal sharing of experience the being and the values of selfless service that has got people interested in it.

    Someone in this blog suggested that only dullheads could get attracted to the activities of the org ! if that is so Mr. TN Seshan, James Wolfhensohn, President Anirudh Jugnauth or Mauritius, Nobel Prize winning economist Myron S. Scholes who are all assisting and involved in it are dull-heads too.

    Oh ! what fantasies half-baked info can deliver :)

  • Basanth

    Chief,

    You are not doing any good at all by hurting the sentiments of SSRS followers. At least he is doing some good.

    Let me question you in return –
    1. What are you trying to do through your deesha.org
    2. Are you trying to gain popularity and money through these website?

    Similar to the defenses you will give, SSRS started the organisation AOL with some noble objectives and continues to do so. Money and popularity are by-products.

    The way I see it, even now, he is spreading love and you are fermenting agigated thoughts and useless dialouges. Live and let live Atanu. Its like a movie, life’s movie – don’t like it – keep quiet. Don’t disturb others who like it.

    God bless you.

    - Basanth

  • Basanth

    You are having reading comprehension problems. Please tell me where I have stated that SSRS is not going good work. If you cannot point it out, do apologize in a comment on my blog.

    Sincerely,
    Atanu

    From Basanth – Let us talk some facts first:

    1. You have stated that he is doing some recycling of knowledge from Stone age scriptures.

    For that matter any godman from any religion including the founders and prophets can only deliver recycled knowledge. So, it is as a critisism against all gods and godmen.

    Even the website you run, takes it input from all possible social sources and you add on some inputs from your own mind and create this public page. Everybody on earth does that. You cannot avoid or critisize this phnomenon. The difference is – are you picking on good stuff and adding on good stuff? Or Are you adding to the more serious debates in the world with petty matters.

    2. He has commercialized sprirituality.

    Please bring out a white paper on which spiritual course charges how much and what is net worth of each of these organisations – spiriual or religious. TTD (Tirupati) receives the maximum donation because of a myth / fact that it helps the lord pay the loans he had taken. So what would you say – it is a commericially coined story / ved / puran.

    Vedas have encouraged charity and there might be a whole industry running out of it. So are the vedas written with a commercial objective?

    Because of the effectiveness of the techniques or his charisma or whatever, if he has attracted wealth or popularlity, please remember these are by products. He was not popular or wealthy for 20 years after he started the AOL and he was still the same. I never saw an appreciation when the courses were conducted free for 5 years. If economics have forced them to charge – so be it. People are willing and it is thier money. Who are we to comment – whether thier spending pattern is right or wrong.

    Lakhs of maths and temples receive money for doing nothing but having a idol. SSRS is at least doing something. It looks like you are another one of those jealous guys towards all who have made money or have become popular. Please envy others too. SSRS’s net worth is nothing in the market compared to the fleecing happening everywhere around. (Rs. 2000 is a disc entry these days for 2/3 hours dancing, SSRS courses are Rs. 1000 odd for a week full of spiritual teaching.)

    Conclusion

    Without getting into the dept of the matter, this looks like an amatuerish blog.

    Mud-slinging without facts is a very harmful epidemic in the soceity. You are one of its indulgers.

    Lakhs of PIL’s and blogs on the net are nothing but opinion fights. Who is interested? What right do you have to claim that your opinion is greater than mine or anyone else?

    If you have some factual answers to the questions raised above, please furnish them and present your perspective. Do not speak whatever come to your mind – even on your blog! If it is about your-self, it is all right. Especially if it is about somone else, some issue of not-your-exclusive interest – please desist.

    This is my last revert to you as I see it as time waste by indulging in an opinion fight.

    Only humble request – no mud-slinging – this is commercial, he is recycling, etc. etc. on any person or issue. Facts with perspective is responsible writing. Kindly promote that. In the meantime, you must apoligise to all for starting this opinion fight.

    Atanu’s response: I see from the above that you do have reading comprehension problems. But that may be the least of your worries. I have not claimed that SSRS is “doing some recycling of knowledge from Stone age scriptures.” Show me where, else apologize.

    My final word on your comment: You come across as seriously intellectually handicapped. Fortunately, I am forced to be civil to you as you are a guest on my blog. If this were a public forum, I would have been more direct.

  • Basanth

    Atanu in his letter to his brother:
    “Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (henceforth abbreviated as SSRS) has repackaged a well-known breathing technique and commercialized it.” – In “Is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar a Con Man”

    Friend, please check your eye-sight and then run a blog. You seem to be having serious physical and mental ailments. Please pity yourself and then blame me of intellectual handicap.

    Plus he immediately spurts on point No.1 -(reclycling / repackaging) kahan likha hai? He gets deaf, dumb and mute on point two about accusing SSRS of commercialisation.

    Dear All, Atanu seems to be a blind attacker of faith. He has no facts and just keeps spurting out what comes to him ir-responsibly. One of his freinds believes in numerology and he has a problem with that too. Anyone, believes in anything and Atanu has a problem with it. He cant live and let live.

    I thought I’ll avoid further conversation with him but as pure social service recommend him a trip to the eye-doctor too apart from ENT and psycologists of course!

    Atanu, this is my level of being civil. If I become more direct, you may have to visit more doctors.

    Atanu’s response: You, sir, are an idiot. Even though I have laid out my argument as plain as broad daylight, you have not comprehended it. That, however, is your problem, not mine. I have said this before but let me state it again: it is devotees such as you that SSRS should be rightly ashamed of. He does draw a crowd but if you are a typical example of that, the crowd is a bunch of mindless morons. Now just go away and don’t bother coming back here. We don’t need any more mindless crap. If you wish, go start your own blog and spew your nonsense from there.

  • Mohammed Saif Ullah

    Hi Atanu,

    Bless your heart and soul one more time (and infinite times to come)! Patience and forbearance, my friend, should be the order of the day, don’t you think?

    Here is an idea! Why don’t you try and take one of the courses offered by AOL and lay for rest all doubts or concerns Sri Sri may evoke? I recommend that you at least try and comprehend what Sudharsan Kriya means in learning and practising the kriya as Guruji recommends…even just for the heck of it! In fact I will try to sweeten the idea with offering to pay for the course fees at a location convenient for your good self. How about that? No malice or ill motive intended from this offer but just love in service so eloquently and constantly extended by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who is just like you and me.

    Regards

    Mohammed

  • Pingback: India » Blog Archive » The Serenity - Udaipur, India

  • Shaktiratna Dasi

    I did the sudarshan kriya course recently and I am a committed member [initiated] of the Hare Krishna movement. . . the ultimate goal of my life is quite different from Sri Sri’s in regard to the highest tattva or truth, but I still think he’s doing helpful things in the world and certainly in India he’s raising awareness about some very pertinent issues, ie, killing the girl child in the womb or at birth. . . the old double standard for women that goes on in India.

  • Achintya Nath Sexena

    Hi
    its me again.Sir,you put Mahavira,gautama etc in the “great” category & Gurus like Sri Sri in the bottom-most “useful” category.
    Have you had the privilege of staying with Lord Mahavira,Budhdha or any of these enlightened Masters to know what they were like?
    Because in Indian Spirituality “Experience-not words-is everything”

    Regards

  • Jayant K

    Dear Atanu,
    Your letter to your brother was the best analysis of SSRS I have ever read.I am one of the fools who was caught in this web for around 3 years,but fortunate enough to get disillusioned and get out with total understanding.I certainly do not blame anybody. After knowing everything about the organisation having been done lot of courses and ‘seva’,I only realised the truth behind one proverb ‘Duniya Zukti hai Zukanewala Chahiye’.
    There are some interesting comments from Rishi,Chaitanya,Mosur and NK Srinivasan which are very much true and I can vouch for them. This information is necessary, because many of the people are interested in knowing this side too.As a cult figure you cannot avoid this. I feel the outbursts of supporters of SSRS only further strengthens Atanu’s viewpoint. Jayant

  • http://sheshadrithinks.blogspot.com Sheshadri!

    Dear Atanu ji,

    Haah! You have successfully made countless man hours go waste in a seemingly futile exrcise ! Not your fault tho!!!

    I just cant comprehend why or how people need to criticise / respond to criticism … wasting own time as well as others’ :) Some how I just briefly appreciate some thing which appears good tome, and if not I just ignore!! You will say, its Good for me, eh? True,my dear ones.

    Looks like there are so many people like you and ME (too) who have somuch free time to kill!!!

    he he he I think I am getting enlightened :D

    but Just wanted to add that if at all we need to criticise, it should be after really experiencing the object – in First person!

    bye…

    Sheshadri Thinks!

  • Deeptha Echampati

    I’ve attended the basic course of Sudarshana Kriya. I must admit, I had a lot of health benefits apart from a certain stability of thought patterns. Indeed the breathing that is being taught is reassures people of enhanced health for sure. But to be unifying SSRS with the Almight is overdone. At the same, every Guru has his own unique way of touching his chosen devotees and SSRS has not done that to me as yet. As commercial as his circle is, atleast we do not hear of any untoward rumours about them, like we do about Sathya Sai. As far as people are not getting hurt, we are all safe. In this age and time, divinity is an index of how a person is NOT exploited, than how a person IS advancing spiritually. That is Kali Yugam :-) Using this as a yard stick, SSRS and his preachings are very harmless.

    Thanks
    Deeptha Echampati

  • Full Moon

    I don’t know why people want to complicate simple things, but I should not blame as I have been in the same position at some time.

    The thing is if your mind is quiet and calm and heart full of love for this whole creation then this world is a paradise for you.

    But if your mind is all restless, u find this world full of problems, miseries and imperfection and u are full of fear , anxiety and jealousy … then u r in hell.

    So there are different options either u are intelligent enough to find means to understand yourslef and make thie world a paradise for your self or keep living in hell thinking this is waht life is or try to learn from some one who has understanding of how to make your life paradise.

    Now there are people who lived in heaven like Budhha , Jesus, Sai Baba or NAnak to take few names out of so many masters. They do not need anything from this world only thing they see is people suffering out of ignorance so they come to spread the knowledge and make difference in thier life.
    And when some one living in knowldege speaks the effect is instantaneous and he will say based on the current state of person in nfront of him. So that is why there are so many flavours of the same knowledge.
    Jesus stressed on LOVE, budhha on peace, Nanak puts the knowledge is such simple way and so on !!!!
    But only an enlightened can see the simillarities in the teachings.. because they are actually the same .. but for a person who does not have proper understanding will only find vaguness and contradiction.

    But for a stressed person who does not want to go deep and is already pissed out from his life and thinks every one is foolling and have all concepts about life thinking he knows all ::: for him these masters and the knowledge brings more anger … and frustration … So no wonder why Jesus was crucified !!!! Some one spat on face of Buddha !!!! and some abused Sai and … so on …….

    Same is with current age gurus .. whether ravi shankar or mata Amritanand mayi mata … !!!!! They are just living the knowledge and each having their unique way to convey the same thing thir own style !!!!And it is helping people from all culture and walk of live tremendously !!!!!! From a distance, their style and approach might seem full of flaws .. but if you go closer then u might understand why people want to call him GOD or anything !!!!!!

    The whole theory is as simple as this .. if u meditate in true sense it generates positive enrgy in you whihc gives happienss and blisfullesss from inside … that which al the money, fame and ego does not give…. If u meditate with a person already mastered meditation ur progress will be multifold …. There one touch glance or one touch of that person in deep state can bring bring u in that deep state .. so it is not wrapping of old meditation in new package .. but mastering it, and benefitting oneself and all around you … !!!!! This is all very scientfic and any one can expereince it on there own without have to beleive in any concept and geting caught in all ambiguity and contradictions !!!! I don’t know why this simple practically expreincable thing has become so complicated for the modern age educated person to understand and experience it !!!!!!!

    Your own capabilities might be nothing but you can find flaws in Budhha, Jesus, Nanak… you can disprove the whole knowledge … u know why .. because that is the simplest thing one can achieve … To understand them appreciate them and to prove knowledge u need to take time go deep learn and attain … for that u need capabilities … SO just don’t say we need more people like vivekanand … take the responsibilty and become Vivekanand yourself .. andthen I will come and criticize you in 100s of way and you will find what does it take to take the resposibilty of world in true sense !!!!!

  • Hari Kishan

    We all are trying to tackle a situation ( to discuss God ) with the help of logic. The irony is that God is beyond logic which cannot be dealt with the help of an incomapatible tool of logic . God is much beyond the field of logic which is only dual in nature. God is infinity which is beyond the realm of logic , then why break our head over who is God and who is not. Go beyond logic and then you will have some inkling of God and this is only possible when you go into meditation.

  • yukesh

    I read Atanu’s letter to his brother, and I must admit, one could not have written a more balanced and unbiased opinion. I have come to know of AoL through the experience of my wife who had enthusiasitically joined the 6-day course (“to add value to life”, she would say but I feel it was out of curiosity – shortcut to spritual discovery- and perhaps out of sheer boredome of living life as a housewife). Though she was under oath not to reveal the goings on to ANYONE, she did do so. And here’s what I feel after I learnt of the goings-on at AoL sessions. The sessions of AoL smack of arcane practices of cults founded by self-important gurus. My wife was told, for example, that if anyone was to record the discourse of the AoL teacher, the CD/VCD will not work. The criminal who recorded the goings-on would feel dizzy and will suffer severe headache until he confessed his crime. This kind of utter hogwash is puntuacted with grandiose talk on spritual achievements of SRSS. Don’t Believe me? See it for yourself. This is happening in Rajouri Garden, New Delhi. The AoL preacher claims to be an ex-GM of a national bank. It is pathetic to see public domain knowledge of yoga fall into the hands of pelf-seekers, who put their own label on the package and market it just the way commercial organisatons market other products such as soap, shampoo or toothpaste. SSRS may well be a well-meaning person – in which case, he should make this knowledge as free just as source of his own inspiration is. to prove his altruistic credentials, SRSS could have shared his discovery, his insights into Yoga (pranayama), with the rest of the world, instead of making it into a profitable enterprise. And profitable it is. Why does he not propound his ideas on an open platform? Furthermore, does SRSS really know how foolishly his so-called volunteers merrily go around peddling SRSS’s style of yoga wrapped up thick with religious imagery, loaded with superstitions and patently laughable mumbo-jumbo? The way AoL “volunteers” wangle Rs. 1500 out of gullible people by promising unheard-of rewards, and the way they lie supine at the picture of SRSS before starting any sesson would make any rational being turn away in disgust…

  • Mores

    Yukesh,

    “The criminal who recorded the goings-on would feel dizzy and will suffer severe headache until he confessed his crime.”

    Now this is either made up or whoever telling your wife about this is either crazy or pulling her leg !

    Yukesh over the past several years that I have sat on courses in various countries including India … what you mention is pure nonsense. It it what was said was true, it is again pure nonsense ! Have never heard an iota directly or indirectly anything resembling to what you mention !

    Also SSRS I believe doesn’t need to prove anything to anybody. You have to take the effort and responsibilty to investigate the kind of monummental service activities around the world are happening under the IAHV and AoLF. Also it behoves that you understand, this cannot happen without money. If the ancient knowledge of Yoga was to be propogated to the 140+ countries where it now exists..it would not have happened without funds. I wonder, how apparently intelligent people like you skip this stream.

    “Why not propound his ideas on an open platform” This statement only shows the kind of effort you have taken to find out what he has spoken and the diversity of platforms where he has spoken and enunciated the ancient principles of Human Values.

    If you even have any idea about Yoga Sadhana and the injunctions on how knowledge is given, you would not have made such a statement.

    That overt aside the expression of devotion by volunteers is something they should definitely be careful about. People with conditioned minds cannot grasp it… just like you and I previously did not. That is quiet true.

  • yukesh

    Mores, What I have written is truth and nothing but the truth. Carry out your own investigations. I have mentioned the place in Delhi where this is taking place EVERY DAY. And BTW, when I spoke of open platform, I meant open platform for teaching what was a charged course, not a stage for mouthing homilies and the need for world peace etc – in the fashion of politicians. There certainly is some good in what is taught in AoL sesson. My request: cut the mumbo-jumbo and make it free. Free for all. And for the sake of rationality, don’t promote deificaton of humans and idolatory.

  • Mores

    Dear Yukesh,

    I do not understand why it should be free! if something is so valuable why keep it free; why this sticky concept that spiritual knowledge should be given free ? Even in olden days a Guru Dakshina was demanded. There is some thought and process into why a fee is charged. Also as I mentioned before too, take some time and take the next step in knowing what is done with the fee. I personally have gone through its publicly available accounts in USA, Canada and India. BTW politicians mouth homilies, here I have seen that there is verifiable action (inner city/tribal schools, village youth leadership programs, prison programs…so much) happening from Detroit to Mexico City and Phaltan, Maharashtra to Buenos Aires…literally.

    As regards the Delhi incident, I am certainly not putting aside/denying your claim…I maintain that if it is said it is pure nonsense and unfortunate ! and is not in anyway true. I tell you about this from a certain definite position.

    Yes “deification” or put in better words expression of gratitude – if it should, should happen spontaneously, from within. Artificial promotion of it yes, is ridiculous, and does not bode well with a rational mind.

    How about you do the course first-hand, do the practices from a different location and then give a complete well informed and experienced view. That will carry a lot more credibility isn’t it ?

  • Sofia

    This is a question for Nu on a coment he did in his letter, which other breathing practice is similar to the Sudarshan Kriya???, does any body knows a similar practice in any other hindu practice???

    Im a follower of Sri Sri, but also not closed to comments like te one Nu did.

    Thanks a lot,

    Sofía

  • Sofia

    This is a question for Nu on a coment he did in his letter, which other breathing practice is similar to the Sudarshan Kriya???, does any body knows a similar practice in any other hindu practice???

    Im a follower of Sri Sri, but also not closed to comments like te one Nu did.

    Thanks a lot,

    Sofía

  • Arun Kumar Jha

    Dear Atanu Dey,
    Jai Gurudev.
    Peace be unto you. If you recollect, some years ago my plans of doing something for the welfare of the poor people of Bihar was published on your blog.
    My motivation has persisted till this time, purely because I had the perseverance (and time and inclination) to study the teachings of Gurudev more closely…
    Presently, my plans for reducing the migrations of the poorest people from Bihar for earning money by legitimately working hard; seen presently; are planned to be addressed. The land in Bihar is very fertile, and agriculture is highly likely to flourish in Bihar if the proper infrastructure is provided.
    I am a serving officer of the Indian Army, 36 yrs old presently, married, and with two children to support. My father moved to Maharashtra to work in a Yoga Research Institute there in 1969. I was born in Lonavla in Pune district of Maharashtra; and studied in Don Bosco, Lonavla and in Fergusson College, Pune before going for my Military training. We have maintained contact with our roots and property in Bihar. My wife is also from Madhubani district of Bihar. I plan to go back to Madhubani and raise a ‘Food Park’ (for minimum $ 20 Million), and thereafter raise similar food parks all over the identified areas in North Bihar. In case you are interested in this project, kindly contact me at: bpfp@rediffmail.com

  • Pingback: Atanu Dey on India’s Development » Sri Sri the SC0tU

  • Arun Kumar Jha

    Dear Mr Atanu Dey,
    Jai Gurudev.
    I hope you recollect my resolve to do my bit towards improving the lot of the people in Bihar in my own small way. The credit for gently taking my thoughts in this direction goes entirely to HH Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji.

    I am a serving Major in the Indian Army originally from Bihar, though born and brought up in Maharashtra. I am presently in contact with a Management expert dedicated to Gurudev, and have been promised of all advice as and when required.

    I would like to pass on a bit of ‘knowledge’ I came across in my spiritual education process. I don’t know its effect; but, hoping for the best, here goes:

    “Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius. For someone who has already attained 90 degrees temperature in his past life; he has to attain only 10 degrees more to reach perfection (boiling point; like Gurudev). Whereas, for one who has achieved only 15 degrees temperature in his past life, he will have to struggle that much more to advance in the spiritual realms.”

    So, you would be well advised to please desist from your attempts at objectively analysing the cause of success of Gurudev; and focus your energies towards realising the purpose of your taking birth in human form on planet earth. I know I can do little to convince you of your good fortune to be born in India. However, just try and realise that in a few years; you will depart from this worldly existence… and try and plan your remaining years to be utilised in the best possible manner.
    My plans essentially involve setting up various ‘Food Parks’ all across the fertile areas of North Bihar which will manage the activity related to the food grains produced in the villages around them. I will raise the first such food park in Madhubani district; because though my parents are presently staying in Talegaon in Pune district- we have our property and relatives in village Babu Pali in Madhubani district of Bihar. I am married, and my wife is also from Madhubani district. I have a son and a daughter: both below 10 years of age. However, I am prepared to go to our house in Madhubani at the earliest possible for me to start the required activity for the Food Parks. My parents and wife are aware of the plans and are obviously apprehensive regarding my future; but I am confident that when I have surrendered everything to Gurudev (the Divine); I will be taken care of.
    I could really do with some help. My email is bpfp@rediffmail.com. I request you to kindly contact me at the earliest.

  • Freakonomist

    Quoting @:

    “Fortunately, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a Hindu…his followers are not in the habit of calling for the murder…”
    I am not so sure of what you want to convey…but i would like to add that Dara Singh(Graham Staines) is also a Hindu…so is Praveen Togadia and his ilk…

    Atanu’s response: I wrote precisely what I wanted to convey: that the followers of Hindu leaders don’t go about murdering those with whom they disagree. Which part of this simple declaration do you not follow?

    The person(s) who murdered the Australian missionaries were not following the dictates of some Hindu religious leader. Praveen Togadia does not represent mainstream Hindus nor is he a Hindu religious figure. If Dara Singh and Togadia was the best you could do about Hindu “fundamentalism,” I am afraid that your case is rather weak.

    Hey Atanu,
    If I gather correclty you are also on the spontaneous order yahoo group right? Anyways, its really some effort you have had to do to reply and retort at these comments on this post.

    With the abpve mentioned post, as far as hindu fundamentalism goes, I think the Babri Masjid, Ayodhya case with the kar sewaks was fundamentalist and grotesque enough for us Hindus to hang our heads in shame, but then again… in purview of the international situation i agree we are still the less fundamentalist sect (religion wise), but still that doesn;t qualify for us to call ourselves a non violent group… even we have a lot of blood on out hands…
    God Speed

  • sriram

    Hi Atanu

    I think you are pretty accurate about the value of SSR and AOL. Some dimwits lack (sufficient) reading comprehension and the web has become very accessible :-)

    As someone who is somewhat familiar with the organization (AOL) since y2k (but far removed from any inner circle), I have high regard for SSR and his direct disciples, regardless of the variance in their personas and fancies of the moment. Incredibly most of them are volunteers (yes, I also did a bit!), and for that reason alone as James W seems to have observed, the org is worth studying. A lot of people seem to believe that its all about breathing and meditation. It is just one component; the other components are not really advertised that much (barely if at all) and often dont involve any fees! What I have observed is that the vast majority of folks who take the course dont follow-up (much like any other course). Just like physical training, there are long term effects of sustained practice and actually few get to this point (am hazarding less than 10%).

    Its pretty hard to operationalize what being enlightened means.. They say it takes one to know one.. Who knows? But I have been stunned at SSRs travel/work rate. It borders on the insane.

    cheers and all the best on your work on deesha.. liked the paper on RISC

  • sriram

    to add: I think the real value is not so much the yoga+meditation but the organizational structure (or lack of it) that glues AOL together. It is the very antithesis of a bureaucracy and there are all sorts of interesting dynamics. SSR is one of those (relatively few) people who has got large numbers of expats indians to work together without (as far as I can tell) traditional barriers (region, language, caste, and even religion). As Axelrod has noted, co-operation is a pretty difficult thing for evolution to work out and AOL has plenty of experience (as far as I can tell) in all sorts of contexts, working with all types of folks. Its also absolutely true that the branding of AOL is largely around the persona of SSR but frankly its just a convenient device although it can put off some folks.

  • N K Srinivasan

    Dear Atanu,
    Glad you are maintaining this blog on SSRS.Further to my comments earlier, I wish to know how far SSRS acknowledges his debt to his guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.I dont know whether he considers Maharshi as his guru at all now.Did SSRS have a Guru different from Maharshi?
    I presume that he picked up this technique of Sudarshana Kriya from Maharshi or when he stayed with him.The rest of the story is just packaging and marketing it, just the way Maharshi did for Transcendental Meditation[TM] in the sixties worldwide…Is this Kriya technique also patented or registered with Trade Mark, TM.If such practices are followed ,that is rank commercialism of our age old Yoga system.But that is the way to make money and establish a worldwide org…Good job?
    Further I learn that Maharshi Mahesh Yogi wrote a book in the early sixties with he title: The science of being and Art of Living, to explain TM. THis is being revised and printed now and Maharshi appeared in a recent “Larry King” interview.”Cleverly’ Ravishankarji has borrowed part of the title for his org.Nothing wrong ,though.
    I only wish that SSRS openly acknowledge his indebtedness to Maharshi Mahesh Yogi, just as Maharshi himself used to acknowledge his Gurudeva, the Sankaracharya of Jyotir Mutt.
    It is hightime that the Young Guru SSRS pays his respects to his guru or mentor,Maharshi Mahesh Yogi, without attracting ” Guru Droham”.
    N K Srinivasan

  • http://none jan gos

    Hi,
    I am a practicioner of Buddhist vipassana meditation for 10 years now.Recently I walked in on a bunch of SSRS who invited me to a Satsang.Although the singing and meditation were pretty handy to boost up my concentration level,some things surprised me.SSRS seem to addorn their guru as a half-god.I remember one older lady telling to me with a trembling voice:”and now He is in Bagdad!I wish I could be there!”Another thing was,that they almost non stop were mentioning about a new course being held the week after.OK,I said to myself.I’m curious!That’s when I decided to ask about the content of the course,which was pretty frustrating.The only thing they would mention was,”oh,the course is so great.You really should do it!” And :”It will change your life you will see.”Since I am quite up to date with Pranayama and the texts of Patanyali,their explanation meant litteraly nothing to me.If the technique is so unique ,why not being a bit more open about it!”Throw it on the table guys!Give some more detailed information wheter it’s nonsense or not isn’t important!”I was thinking.At the end of the satsang the teacher told us that it was SSR’s birthday and that the festivity would be on the net through a certain website:10$ .Then he told me about the book:another amount of money.Then he told me about the course fare:another amount of money.Then he told me that I could make a donation if I wanted to:another amount of money.Then he told us about a car or so that needed to be paid of:another amount of money.I don’t know guys ,but sometimes I can’t understand some people on this forum.Isn’t it a basic ethical thing that spirituality and money making shouldn’t go hand in hand?I mean if the money thing is inthere from the start it will never be washed out.Look at the Buddhists in Myanmar and their retreat centers.They don’t need a half God as a leader or too much marketing to function well.And I can assure you that they’ve got plenty of followers.The money thing makes down to earth people who are on a spiritual quest confused.It’s a “swallow it! or leave it” approach.Appart from that I liked the chanting and the medative breaks inbetween the songs.Maybe I will join their satsang more in the future,because it helps keeping up my daily meditation routine.But trust the whole SSR thing:no way!I can clearly sense that there’s more behind than just that,and that the money thing is quite big.Nothing compared to the vipassana retreats I did in Myanmar:no guru thing,no pictures on the wall,no videos with a bearded Bagwan type of person with funny eyes,no book selling and course marketing from the start,and no promesses to a 100% better life!Keep your both feet on Earth guys:meditation and breathing techniques are great(even the SSR technique)but they ain’t miracle remedies .And that spirituality can be exploited in a business like way with the justification that other religions are doing the same thing,is just fooling yourself.Spirituality shouldn’t go with marketing:it’s unethical!Toodaloo…………………………..

  • James

    I totally agree with you. Only thing is that people don’t value things that come free. And the charge is for a cause which the world’s witnessing, so no harm in charging for it.

  • N K Srinivasan

    Regarding the fees and money collected from course followers, great Indian masters never charged any fees for darshan or discussions or training that I know of;this includes Sri Ramakrishna, Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta among others.I know a few saintly teachers who dont charge even today..But these are rare.When you label a course, have a few trainers and centres and so on, it is not the spiritual instruction as derived from those great masters.The course from SSRS is like a college course with an instructor.
    The value of this teaching will be seen only in the future.While the name of Sri Ramakrishna or Shirdi Baba or Ramana Maharshi grows AFTER THEIR LIFETIME, the names of self-styled gurus fade away after a decade or two. In fact this is the real test of greatness of socalled Gurus and avatar-purushas in our midst.When one rakes in lot of money, be it charity org or educational institutions, corrupt practices will set in, and the org will collapse on its own without any outside influence.Men like SSRS who wish to grow with money power, instead of serving without asking any fees, cannot last long.Vippassana meditation groups never charge for their training.There are many such gurus, but they reamin obscure, as they would like to be.
    –N K Srinivasan

  • Indian citizen

    Dear all I wish to compliment Atanu for doing such a great service to society by giving high regards to great personalities like His Holiness Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji.I would like to thank him for his research on the subject and glad to know that he is keen to spread the message of the Art Of Living Course and its founder through his blog.I wish he would be able to see himself as SSRSji 25 yrs ago with 150 little orphans to look after and no resources. That was the humble beginning till like minded people – volunteers got together and AOL is what it is today. Forget Hinduism etc.If you were an orphan or neglected outcast of society would you not consider the hand which helped you as that of God?

  • http://none jan gos

    The way I see it is that vipassana is a much purer and safer path to walk on then blindly following a guru.It’s true that in an SSR course or during SSR satsangs we could all come to some Samadi and even reach higher levels of concentration that can be enjoyable and result in PITI(rapture).The problem arises when we get hooked on that rapturous feeling which by some charlatans could be defined as an enlightened state,although it is not more than a mental or physical phenomenon.In vipassana we learn to observe those phenomena without getting too attached to them and to preserve equanimity.If people get wrong or poor guidance they will be easily misled.Luckely I did plenty of vipassana retreats in Myanmar and Thailand before bumping into SSR.It’s true,the SSR TECHNIQUE (which is in fact not more than a very old breathing technique that wasn’t his invention)works to a certain level,but it doesn’t erase the mental or physical defilements on a deeper level.The teachers I met were all pretty vague and incoherent while talking about their techniques.One teacher was telling us about”smashing one’s own ego inorder to free oneself”.Wow!!Yoga isn’t about smashing your ego to pieces.To the contrary it helps you ,so that your spiritual identity can coexist with your worthly life,and eventually build off the latter.Yoga doesn’t predict to live like hermits and gather like cattle with a flockleader as its boss.”Smashing ego’s” and “egolessness” are words that shouldn’t be used to often with inexperienced students.On top of that,Bakthi yoga or devotional yoga are good and give fast result.If I were SSR I would use the same enjoyable chanting to indoctrinate people:it’s like fast food,easy and accessible(instant Samadi).But like with all easy things,they won’t work necessarely in the long run.I agree ,vipassana can be a stonepath,but at least it’s an honnest path without intruders and gurus and their fat bank accounts.And even when the money is used for a propper humanitarian goal,how can you really be sure of that?If you do,then it tells a lot about your own personallity which is a naieve one.Compare people!Don’t just believe.Become your own guru,by exploring yourself .The guru is inside of you,not somewhere in India.

  • N K Srinivasan

    Dear Friends,
    The general view in Bangalore is that SSRS groupp is charging too much for their training programs on Sudarshana Kriya and others….
    I remember learning TH of Mahesh Yogi way back in 1975.My teacher in Coimbatore asked for Rs 20 only and we were asked to bring a white handkerchef and a few flowers and some fruit..It was a very simple offer and the pious man who taught us was totally devoted to teaching that…no commercial overtones….May be the New age gurus want to collect large sums in a small time!

  • A V

    First of all I must commend Atanu Dey on his very well-thought-out and articulate letter to his brother. It has been a long time since I read or heard anything on this topic that was not clouded by either fanaticism or extreme skepticism without willingness to examine the facts.
    I’m one of those that was an ardent devotee but I snapped out of it in a year (and thank goodness I did). Why? I found SSRS hypocritical. Allow me to narrate just one incident:
    Just last week he was in a 4-hour stopover at Bahrain airport. He has a fan following in the country and it would have been no trouble at all to get a visa so he could see them, but he refused. It seems he needed a State invitation! If that isn’t hugely egoistic I don’t know what is. I was totally disgusted. And then he had the audacity to add, ‘the people of Bahrain are not ready to meet me yet.’ Yeah, right.
    In the private lounge at the airport where he met a few people, everyone sat on the floor, but the Indian ambassador to Bahrain sat next to him on the sofa. Why the distinction?
    Meanwhile, outside, the devotees conducted themselves in a deplorable manner over the matter of who would get a pass to go in and meet him. Instead of exercising the love and compassion and detachment that they are taught about in the course, they fought about it, hurt each others’ feelings, and were generally bitchy. I’ve seen less ‘enlightened’ people behave with more decency.
    I think it’s great that he’s improving so many lives, but I have also seen families ruined by this juggernaut that is the Art of Living Foundation. The tragedy of these people is that they think they have been ‘saved’.
    I don’t begrudge the man his millions and his terrific booming business, but I do mind him preaching about love and humility when he does not practice what he preaches. One only has to look at the two ‘Sris’ to see just how ‘humble’ he is.
    Peace.

  • Pingback: Atanu Dey on India’s Development » Another SSRS Letter

  • kathy

    A V reality check do u really think the Indian Ambassador to Bahrain would sit on the floor with/for SSRS or anyone else 4 that matter??? and about the 2 Sri’s , if u were such an ardent follower (after one year) I’m sure u would have come to know the extra Sri was added to distinguish him from Ravi Shankar the sitar player, who was/could also be known as Pandit sri Ravi Shankar. this was all very long ago. the sitar player was not happy that (the now) Sri Sri was using his well established name. Woner if the sitar player has ever played a concert for 2 million? Wonder what he thinks now.
    k

  • N K Srinivasan

    Much has been written about SSRS and other new age gurus.When a Guru starts giving ‘private interviews’ in personal chambers, troubles start.As long as these gurus are open and give audiences to all without distinction of rich and poor,there is no trouble.Some gurus have VIP darshan for big people and slowly degenerate into bogus, renegade gurus or preachers.I hope that SSRS has not descended to that level.

  • pragati

    dear Atanu!
    have u done the course?

  • blueSky

    I notice that some non-hindus (wrongly) see Sri Sri as a “Hindu” only leader and get clouded by deep rooted bigotry and propaganda in their assessment of his teachings and techniques. And then there are some hipsters who think it is fashionable to be just anti-something. They don’t even realize what they are imitating. Neither of these folks have first hand experience to base their opinions on, other than some unverified notions.

    So a really good question is “has anyone done the art of living course?” An opinion (good or bad) of Sri Sri after having experienced the course is more educated one. It’ll display a rather scientific temper than some medieval prejudice.

    I personally find the teachings and techniques taught by Sri Sri to be very profound and transforming.

  • Pingback: On the road to Mahatmahood: “Param Pujya Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji” | Endless, Nameless