Atanu Dey On India's Development

His Most Exalted Holiness Sri Maha Param Pujaniya Gurudevji Bhagwanji Sriman Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji Mahadevji, I presume

Time for a little diversion, don’t you think? Of late this blog has been too involved with serious matters and I think it is time for something entirely different. Many of you regulars know that SSRS — a.k.a Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a.k.a Param Pujaniya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankarji, a.k.a His Most Exalted Holiness the Maha Param Pujaniya Gurudev Bhagwan Sriman Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji Mahadevji, etc etc — is a favorite diversion for this blog. As luck would have it, another of His Most Exalted Holiness Sri Maha Param Pujaniya Gurudevji Bhagwanji Sriman Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji Mahadevji’s (henceforth shortened as HMEHSMHPGBSSSRSM) devotees has deigned to write me a note instructing me to mend my ways.

[I know that this naming of the man is getting a bit out of hand. Previously I had been persuaded by his worshipers that the proper title for the man should be "the Supreme Commander of the Universe out of whose Nether Regions the Sun shines in all its Splendor" which for convenience one should write as SCOTUOOWNRTSSIAIS. So I say, take your pick -- use HMEHSMHPGBSSSRSM or SCOTUOOWNRTSSIAIS -- whichever you fancy, until of course another embellishment comes along to do proper justice to the amazing abilities of this god on earth.]

One Sri Joe Blow (not the actual name of the person) wrote me an email. As his email to me was in response to something that I had written in the public domain — namely, a post on this blog titled “Is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar a con man?” — I wrote back and asked if he could show cause why his email to me could not be considered to be in the public domain. He replied but did not show any cause why his email should not be part of the pubic record and why I should not respond to his email publicly. So here’s my response.

Sri Jeffery’s email is quoted and my response is interleaved:

Hi!

The note you wrote to your brother about Art of Living was done so long ago that you might have a completely new orientation.

I might. On the other hand, I might not have. You see, just because something is old does not mean that it needs revision. Not all things are in the nature of fads and fashion. There are things that are enduring because they reflect what is true and that which is true need not change.

I would have a completely “new orientation” if I had new information. From what I have learnt since my first tentative conclusions about His Most Exalted Holiness Sri Maha Param Pujaniya Gurudevji Bhagwanji Sriman Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji Mahadevji (HMEHSMHPGBSSSRSM) — mostly from emails from his worshipers such as yourself — I have not found any reason to deviate from my conclusion that HMEHSMHPGBSSSRSM is a very useful person doing very good business and thus promoting social welfare. HMEHSMHPGBSSSRSM is not any more a con man than any other business man doing legitimate business.

What you wrote then was interesting but strange. Looking over a website and claiming to able to declare not only the motives but even the state of consciousness of the founder has got to be a new level of confidence in the world. I wonder how you would evaluate yourself if you ran across your own letter. Or maybe it was some kind of satire on people who make judgments by projecting their experience on other things.

Perhaps I am satirically inclined and do jump to conclusions. But that still does not detract from the fact that HMEHSMHPGBSSSRSM promotes himself to the hilt and has legions of brainwashed morons to do his bidding. I don’t envy him his legions of brainwashed morons but I do take exception when some of them legions of brainwashed morons write to me telling me what I should or should not do. There are limits.

You also claim to know that his technique must be nothing new — even though you don’t know what it is. It reminds me of the Harvard researcher Herbert Benson, who had the theory that you didn’t need to practice TM to get the same results. But to prove his point he only cited research on TM! (And of course other researchers found that the mantra was key in creating brainwave coherence, and that the level of rest was deeper when using those mantras.)

Yes, I do know what he teaches as there are sufficient number of people who have undergone the training and have personally spoken about it to me. His technique is nothing new because it is part of the traditional methods of breath control that have been in practice for thousands of years in India. For ignorant Westerners, perhaps, HMEHSMHPGBSSSRSM’s technique may come as a shockingly amazingly new thing. But for the average well-informed Indian, it is as amazingly novel as the fact that bears shit in woods.

It is also interesting how common it is for people to elevate the consciousness of people who lived hundreds or thousands of years ago, and proclaim that no one could possibly have that level of consciousness or grace today.

Thanks for that non sequitur. I will add it to my collection and let you know if it wins the first prize in the “Annual Totally Irrelevant Comment I have Ever Received Contest.”

I would recommend taking the post down, and striving for a bit of innocence and humility. Why not support something that is doing so much good in the world? (If it is a joke, the humor isn’t that good. In my opinion. But even bad comedians seem to get work. Humor is a funny thing.)

You would recommend, would you now? Take that post down? Are you out of your friggin’ mind? I take that back. You have to be out of your mind to have the gumption to write to me asking me to remove a post that has in any way done nobody any harm. All my post did was to reason that there is nothing special about a man who is so fucking full of himself that it has started straining credulity.

Get over it, mister. Judging from the emails that I get from people such as yourself — brainwashed zombies who have lost the power of reason — I am beginning to suspect that the answer to the question “Is SSRS a con man?” to be a most definite yes.

I’m sure you are quite wonderful and like to be able to give your brother advice (and you do advise him ultimately to go with his own experience, which seems very wise), but it would probably help him more to speak about things you know more about.

Feeling a tad patronizing, are we today? Stick it where the sun don’t shine, sweetheart. Here’s what’s puzzling about your attitude. If HMEHSMHPGBSSSRSM is all that wonderful, perhaps he should have taught you some humility. What you display is naked arrogance of a person whose understanding is so little that he doesn’t even know that he is ignorant.

I am finally coming around to the conclusion that SSRS aka HMEHSMHPGBSSSRSM is overall not as harmless as I had first thought. He is turning too many average people into zombies.

In any case, good luck to you.

Mister, it is you who needs all the luck you can get. Don’t go about handing it out so generously.

  • lurker

    OMG. It is HMEHSMPPGBSSSRSM not HMEHSMHPGBSSSRSM.

    As an act of contrition for mistating HIS name, you will have to watch these videos (the video quality is woeful, but revel in the audio).

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=7M0cWy3ariU
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=Tw1B29xLSNk
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=l5A1rxmPpys

  • http://www.ssaidoor.com ctrlalteredmind

    A whole minute has elapsed since I finished reading this post, and I am still smiling in amazement. I have been most fortunate to have not encountered any HMEHSMPPGBSSSRSM-pimping zombie followers yet (touch wood!), and hopefully it stays that way :) I’m going off to read the rest of your posts tagged ‘Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’, though :)

  • dp.chalasani

    Your last paragraph…”I am finally coming around to the conclusion that SSRS aka HMEHSMHPGBSSSRSM is overall not as harmless as I had first thought. He is turning too many average people into zombies.”…brings me much satisfaction. I have met several individuals taken in by this or that baba/swami and I have been thinking along those lines for long…

    I am sure they are not harmless. They are a huge obstacle to critical thinking for so many.

  • atlantis

    dear atanu,
    i firmly believe that you do yourself a great disservice by replying to any persons who frankly do not merit a response….especially to some persons who are perpetually opinionated on such issues….i did go thru the whole article though just for the sake of your wonderful scathing remarks and i do come out a better person if and when i may debate…
    all said and done, pls continue to write serious blogs atleast on this deeshaa.org and start some new blog for other trivial matters….
    one more thing…chota muu aur badi baat…dont you think that you give too much importance to SSRS than he deserves by writing stuff about them (read against)??? deeshaa is a wonderful intellectual blog and pls dont dilute it with articles relating to faith…

  • lurker

    Atanu,

    What do you think of his holiness Sai Baba of Puttapathi. Many believe he is a conman too (and much bigger one).

    But, i never see you writing about him. Perhaps you are afraid to talk about him, given the fact that he has much more fanatical and larger following.

    Anyways, your views on him would be welcome.

  • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

    It is just accidentally that I started on SSRS many years ago because my brother thought he was someone important. That is when I wrote the piece “Is SSRS a con man?”

    Since then I started keeping an eye on SSRS. That was not too difficult to do because it soon became impossible to keep him out of one’s sight as his face was plastered all over India. The more I saw his hirsute image, the more interested I became in what he was peddling. Besides, SSRS and his AoL is totally in your face sort of cult.

    Satya Sai Baba may be big in his own way but he is practically invisible relative to SSRS. In fact, I have not even met a single follower of SSB. I wish I could say the same about SSRS.

    In any event, I don’t write about SSB because I don’t have all that much time to waste. If SSB’s followers were to start being obnoxious to me as the SSRS people do, I am sure that I would be happy to tell them some home truths. I am an equal opportunity offender of the followers of cults. Please don’t think that I am partial to SSRS.

  • samarkand

    Atanu,

    OK drop the – do I say – immature followers of SSRS and the comments they send or the letter’s they send or the impressions of ones who have talked to you about him or their experiences and you seeing the “in your face” plastered all over India and all this drama.

    Why don’t you take a few minutes and just listen to say SSRS’s commentaries on the Ashtavakra Gita. It is one of the most rich texts of ancient times.

    I had a similar experience/opnion that you had of SSRS but when I heard those commentaries I realized why very few have commented on the text. The depth that those commentaries give in simply transforming. I really believe that you should when you get the time.

    As far as your opinions on SSRS…go ahead open a new blog or do whatever you feel right….it can just be an entertainment for you and your readers like me. I read your wonderful piece on Buddha. I wonder why you not also call the then devotees of Buddha also as a cult ? Cult is soo a western concept that it just does not fit in the oriental realm, those thousands of followers of Buddha the few ones that Jesus or any realized saint in the hermitages of India had were also a cult then. Just because some realized saint has an unprecedented amount of followers, some of who may unfortunately not exhibit the same maturity of say the Buddha or Jesus’ followers does not immediately make the whole thing a cult of zombies!! Again keep your opinions and your posts on SSRS, it is your prerogative and judgement.

    Your other posts display your keen intellect. I would really urge to go ahead and listen to those commentaries …it really made me anything unlike a zombie :) )

  • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

    samarkand:

    All organized religions are cults. Look it up in the dictionary for the definition of “cult.”

    About the amazing brightness of SSRS. I have heard the man in person. He appeared to me to be a blithering idiot. Any retarded idiot could have said what he was mouthing. Now it is possible that he is the most enlightened of beings. In which case, he suffer from bi-polar disorder. Because evidently he does appear to be an idiot and a monomaniac on some occasions (when I did see the man) and on other occasions he is an enlightened being.

    I am not saying that it is impossible that he is bi-polar. It could well be. But I think a more parsimonious explanation is that in fact he is just a moron and is so successful because his followers are significantly more moronic than he is. That could well explain why a moron like him is considered by so many to be an enlightened being.

  • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

    Oh and btw, I can do a much better commentary on the Ashtavakra Gita any day with my hands tied behind my back and drunk out out my mind than SSRS.

    I have heard him talk and it is puke-worthy. I am truly astonished that there are so many people who are so astonishingly stupid that they find his idiotic bleating to be anything but sub-normal.

  • lurker

    SRRS is peddling Philosophy.
    Atanu is peddling Economics.

    Both are selling what they think they can.
    To each one his own.

  • http://trunsworld.blogspot.com/ tarun80

    Dear Atanu:

    There have been and will always be persons who will be exalted by a rather large number of people. The “exalted one” may be put up high on a pedestal because of a) spiritual quotient (Satya Sai Baba, Benny Hinn, Guru Ram Rahim etc.) b) Entertainment quotient (Rajnikant, Amitabh, Michael Jackson in his heydays, etc.) c) Power (Sonia Gandhi, Hitler, Bill Gates). I am not sure how any of the above are different from each other.

    A “rock star” from each of the above categories (and the above categories are far from exhaustive; only what I could think of as I write) has a fan following that is, for sure, not absolute. I.e. the “rock star” has a large number of baiters too. If Bill Gates has inspired a million young techies, there are quite a few who despise him for whatever reasons. Similarly with Michael Jackson even in his peak of popularity.

    In history there have might have been many “exalted ones” or “rock stars”. I am sure to get censured by quite a few people if I suggest that some of the founders of major world religion were no different.

    There might be difference in terms of the degrees of usefulness as described by you (enlightened, great, good…). But that is only for you and me. For the person who is enthralled by the exalted one, to the effect that his or her life revolves around the exalted one, it would be rather senseless to try any logic. For a person who believes Sridevi (the actress), no offence meant to her, was the best thing to happen to the world, that she is an incarnation of Goddess XYZ and that he must go without food on her birthday, must roll down from Chennai to Bombay in her honour on the anniversary of her film XYZ, there surely is no sense in arguing with anyway.

    And each of these “exalted ones” benefited in some manner or another. Sonia Gandhi surely revels in the power se commands over the likes of Arjun Singh. Amitabh surely made quite a many millions because of his fan following.

    None of these would ordinarily be classified as a “Con Man” or “Con Person”. In fact, correct me if I am wrong, it is most people’s ambition to achieve the exalted status exalted up like their favourite “rock star”.

    The only contact I’ve ever been in with Sri Sri Ravi is when I was once holed up in a hotel room in Haldia and while surfing channels ended up listening to him for a few minutes. His message (which he attributed to some Upanishad) “chaturai utni, jitni khane main namak” sticks to me to this day. He didn’t claim to invent what he said. He probably doesn’t even claim to having invented the “sudarshan kriya”. So, if he profited, either monetarily or otherwise, by dishing out “rehashed homilies” which educated (I dare not use the word intelligent) people like me readily lap up, or by marketing his calm persona / mystique, how is he different from the rest of “exalted ones”.

    While your articles, especially the ones about “HMEHSMHPGBSSSRSM” or “SSRS” do make an interesting read, I am not sure if he, (or is it He?) can be labeled as a Con Man. But I do urge you to keep bugging him, because it indeed does make an interesting bit to read.

    Regards

    Tarun Singh