This is the recent news in Times of India on Maoist commander surrendering in Jharkhand.
He was inspired by Art of Living classes of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar which he had attended in disguise at Garhwa.
First off, since some of you raised this as a point yesterday, I would like to clarify. No, I
am not a PR lackey. No, I have not been asked by Sri Sri to write on this blog. I am an ardent
follower who has benefited immensely, a teacher who has seen several benefit immensely, and a human being who continues to draw inspiration from Sri Sri. I am just a guy who decided that I cannot sit by and watch a one-sided conversation bashing Sri Sri and the Art Of Living left, right and center. What I write here is not censored by anyone. It is just my own free opinion based on my experiences.
I have, here, compiled the charges made by Skywalker, and then I have compiled the charge-wise response provided by Swamiji – both have been suitably edited for purposes of size.
I have added comments based on my personal experience. I am presenting here rational counter-opinion. I am using Swamiji’s mail as the base document to respond to your charges just the way you asked me to. Will I get rational discussion in exchange?
Skywalker’s Charge: Several people involved in AOL activities have to co-operate out of obligations and at times completely against their will
Swamiji’s Response: Anyone who has been associated with the Art of Living knows that nobody is ever compelled by anyone to do seva nor is put on ‘a guilt trip’by Guruji as has been suggested.
My comment: In my 10 years as a teacher, and about 18 years with Sri Sri, I have never heard a single person complain to me that they are being forced to do seva against their will.
Skywalker’s Charge: Sri Sri Ayurveda formulas copied from Maharishi Ayurveda. the ingredients used are substandard and lot of commission is paid to bhanu’s husband (rs brother in law) by the suppliers of the raw material.
Swamiji’s Response: None of our people have visited Maharishi Ayurveda in the first place. Most of our products are based on the ancient Ayurvedic texts of Charaka (Ashtanaga Hridaya etc) and we don’t need to copy the formula from anyone else. Mr Narasimhan is not at all involved in the purchase of any materials in the ayurveda factory. Let anyone be able to produce one bill to prove that there is someone taking commission in the purchase of raw materials.
Skywalker’s Charge: Unfair means to the Good Manufacturing Practices of Sri Sri Ayurveda products to Europe. Goods Smuggled.
Swamiji’s Response: The preposterous suggestion that we smuggle medicines to countries and sell them is again wholly untrue. Proper clearances and licenses from each country are procured
Skywalker’s Charge: Unholy secrets of the Holy Guru Puja. Escaping the Tax in foreign land.
Swamiji’s Response: Anyone who has even a little knowledge about AoL know that the AoL European headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. We don’t need to transfer money to any country to evade tax because our organization is exempted from tax in all these countries.
Skywalker’s Charge: The Course contents are copied from other Institutions.
Swamiji’s Response: It is a joke that the contents of AoL are copied from other institutions.
My Comments: If the contents are copied from copyrighted material, then the owners of the copyright will not sit idle. Furthermore, I have heard Sri Sri mention on all few occasions in reply to similar questions on source of course contents. His responses have been consistent – that there are several techniques in the courses that are ancient, and several others that are his own.
Skywalker’s Charge: Sahaj Samadhi Meditation is borrowed from Deepak Chopra’s bliss technique or Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s TM.
Swamiji’s Response: And the same goes for Sahaj Samadhi meditation.
My comments: Who borrows from who? The concept of mantra meditation is age-old and ancient. The origin of the concept of mantra meditation goes back to Vedic tradition that was before Buddha. If at all, the subject of borrowing the concept comes up, the source would have to be the Vedas and not Deepak Chopra or Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Skywalker’s Charge: Communication Seminars copied from Oury Engolz
Swamiji’s Response: Oury Engolz was our guest and we invited him a few times. We invite them, but we don’t need to steal their ideas from them.
Skywalker’s Charge: Who actually does the charity from course contribution in AOL? And is it really spent each time for which it is collected?
Neither the course teacher nor a volunteer ever does the charity from course contribution.
Neither an Apex body member nor the organizer does the charity from course contribution.
Sri Sri Vidhya Mandir all across India charge a good fees and is definitely not a charity from
the AOL headquarterters
Swamiji’s Response: I personally have been involved in the trauma relief and rehabilitation projects in the tsunami hit areas of Tamilnadu and Sri Lanka. Anyone who has been involved in any of the service projects of AoL will know that these allegations are false.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Vidya Mandir (SSRVM) schools are not charitable schools and no where we have claimed that. It is Sri Sri Vidya Mandirs and Bal Mandirs across the country which are free schools.
My comments: There are 12,639 students who are part of the FREE Sri Sri Vidhya Mandir schools across the country (http://artofliving.org/social-transformation/education.html).
Skywalker’s Charge: The accountability of the Dollar a Day program seems doubtful
Swamiji’s Response: Those who have visited our rural school where more than 2000 first generation children from neighbouring villages are studying, would have seen for themselves how the money is spent. Children get uniforms, mid-day meals, transportation etc. free of cost.
Skywalker’s Charge: The Statement of Sri Sri Ravishankar about the overhead expenses of Art of Living being less than 10% and thus all your course fee money goes to the charity seems doubtful.
Swamiji’s Response: Vyakti Vikas Kendra India (VVKI) accounts are audited and anyone can verify them. We save only 25% from the course fees that is collected.
Skywalker’s Charge: A full time teacher having provided extra ordinary services in past and dedicated several years when becomes a liability or needs major help is either discouraged, rewarded much less then he really might need, paid less or eventually left stranded. They don’t have any legal work contract neither are they properly insured for health nor against accidents. Although recently some of the teachers are somehow insured. Some teachers of higher rank do have received some form of financial aid at times.
Swamiji’s Response: In fact our experience is that not all full-time teachers perform very well. There are 10,000 teachers worldwide in AOL. Except a handful of teachers who have left AOL, all the teachers will vouch for the organization and how it has benefitted them.
Skywalker’s Charge: Sri Sri does badmouthing
Swamiji’s Response: Guruji directly corrects people when they are wrong . He never humiliates anyone. The skill and knack with which he makes people realize their mistake without making them feel guilty is really amazing. All senior teachers would stand testimony to this.
My comment: My association with Sri Sri is not short. I have spent lot of time with him with many many different kinds of people and also in private. Not once have I seen Sri Sri refer to people with derogatory intent when they were not around. He has pulled me up for my mistakes on a few occasions too, but that was done directly, to my face.
Skywalker’s Charge: People are of the notion that Ms Y follows celibacy but may be not.
Swamiji’s Response: You can malign any organization on two accounts. One is sex, the other is money. AOL has stood the test of these accusattions. It is easy to label anyone as immoral and create doubts. If there is anyone who is the victim of a sex scandal, let them give evidence or face trial in the court for defamation.
Skywalker’s Charge: Despite of some sincere teacher’s feedback regarding some senior teacher’s sex scandal, Sri Sri Ravishankar doesn’t seem to have taken any serious actions. At least from the view points of victims and those who complained.
Swamiji’s Response: Same as above.
Skywalker’s Charge: Few claim Sri Sri Ravishankar of being immoral.
The local language kannada newspaper ‘Agni’ had a three part series on the sexual exploits of this Professor (Chayanna/Swami Suryapad) AOL Saint.
Swamiji’s Response: AGNI is run by a person who is an underworld don. He has four cases of contempt of court and a dozen criminal charges pending against him.
Skywalker’s Charge: Teachers or any devotees invited by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to join his tour are often left on their own for food and shelter. Although at time they are attended briefly, this leaves them highly grateful. May be it happens only during the first visit. As with experience people knows what to expect and do it yourself.
Swamiji’s Response: Anyone who has travelled with Guruji even once in their life know how much he takes care of them. He makes sure that they have have had food (many a time he himself serves food to everyone) and a place to stay. We receive emails or people ask Guruji directly whether they can travel with him abroad. It does not mean that AOL has to pay for their flights. We only pay the fares of full-time teachers who travel to conduct the courses.
My comments: I have travelled with Sri Sri several times – both nationally and internationally. The care and concern he showed for my comfort each and every time is touching. To state the charge the way it has been worded, as a generality, is highly inaccurate.
Skywalker’s Charge: At times instead of respecting people’s need for privacy, Sri Sri ravishankar simply ignores it. Not only that but he goes on to make fun of it. That is how your sincerely written personal emails end up. After all hasn’t he said: God loves fun!!
Swamiji’s Response: Guruji goes through nearly 600 emails/letters everyday. Any email/letter which is marked ‘confidential’, he looks into it himself. But, those mails which are not in English/Kannada/Hindi, he asks translators to read, confidentially.
My comments: I have personally had situations where I have had to share highly confidential information about my personal life with Sri Sri. Not once have I got the feeling that the confidential communication is public information. This is also true of several people in my circle of acquaintances who are with the Art Of Living.
Skywalker’s Charge: The commitments taken in high energy or activities done in grateful state in holy environment later seems unjust. The donation commitment taken during DSN is overwhelming. But during actual money collection after DSN the donors feel reluctant to pay that much.
Swamiji’s Response: We don’t compel anyone to give donations. Those who donate do so out of gratitude, or their commitment to be part of service projects or whatever reason but totally of their own volition.
My Comments: Why generalize what a few individuals may feel? How many people do DSN every year, how many make donations, and how many feel reluctant after committing? And how many feel it is forced? Taking individual examples and generalizing them leaves no room for objective discussion.
Skywalker’s Charge: The Navaratri Yagyas at various local centers are getting more contribution target oriented rather than for the welfare of the world peace. Rishis and swamis openly ask each other how were the contribution.
Swamiji’s Response: This Swamis and Rishis sit and discuss the amount of money collected for Poojas is baseless and ludicrous. I myself have conducted many Navaratri poojas and we leave it totally to the local organizers to conduct the entire event.
Skywalker’s Charge: Even your best pals ignore you if you choose to leave. As a full-timer/teacher leaves, the sense of vacuum is too vast many don’t know how to cope with it. “My basic course teacher was eager I became a full-timer but when I was big time screwed by the AoL and when the damages of being a full-timer became evident, especially financially, she was not there for me either.”
Swamiji’s Response: Guruji discourages anyone to become full time teachers. This lady did not wanted to take up a job. She only wanted to become full time teacher. She claimed that she was sick and was given three months free treatment in the German ashram even though doctors found that she was perfectly okay to work. As per Guruji’s instruction, we were giving her per month. Without doing anything she was being paid every month. Her best friend tried to put sense into her head. But she was constantly bickering and negative. Even after she left AOL and started writing these negative blogs, it is an AOL devotee who is still helping her to date!
Skywalker’s Charge: Sri Sri Ravishankar’s statement doesn’t always turn true. Actually, SSRS swore Barack Obama would not win the elections.
Swamiji’s Response: Guruji has never predicted anything about Bush nor on Obama. Have these predictions appeared in the media? Where has this lady got these ideas if she is not in AOL anylonger?
Skywalker’s Charge: Sri Sri Ravishankar does demand for not getting a stay in 5 star hotel of his choice or a soap of his choice.
Swamiji’s Response: Any sensible person will just laugh at the allegation that Guruji yelled for a soap!!! Guruji has stayed in tents, he has stayed in villages. He always adjusts to his surroundings with utmost ease and is always considerate about not inconveniencing his hosts wherever he might be.
My Comments: When groups of people are to be accommodated, space is needed. I have personally seen that where possible and where the houses can accommodate the people who come to meet with him, Sri Sri prefers to stay in the houses of devotees as compared to 5-star hotels. The charge on soap is definitely hilarious!
Skywalker’s Charge: Spoken und unspoken fights up to loud verbal abuses are quite common among local teachers for trivial affairs of the AOL centres. Often always a major topic of discussion in TRM remains to solve such affairs. Of course this actually doesn’t amount to any charge against AOL, but it definitely shows the life of a peacemaker.
Swamiji’s Response: AoL are not a herd of sheep! We are a heterogeneous group, of various backgrounds and from every walk of life right from prisoners to people who hold high posts in different fields. Only Guruji can bring such diverse group together. Guruji never shies away from taking responsibility for the misdeeds of people –not just the organization, but just about everybody. In our Teachers Refresher Meet( TRM) every teacher gets a chance to express their view point or difference of opinion if any, but, at the end everyone goes back charged with enthusiasm, to teach more courses and take up big service projects. This has been happening every single time.
My Comments: Oh yeah, teachers fight, teachers argue. Isnt that part of free speech?
Skywalker’s Charge: People following ethics in AOL aren’t as respectable as those following politics and charm. One of his most senior teachers of Germany, a very nice guy I happened to teach with and spent a lot of quality time with, decided to leave the movement after realizing that following ethical and, especially legal guidelines for organizational leadership was NOT vital to SSRS. SSRS´ comment was pretty much like this, ”He is free to leave the organization. He anyway never did anything to promote my work!”
Swamiji’s Response: Whether someone performs or not Guruji gives such care to every person. This teacher from **** wanted to stop teaching because of his wife and his career. He had no complaint against Guruji or AOL. Since he is a cook, he wanted to take up the job of a chef and Guruji had told him ‘’if you want to leave, you are welcome’’
I am international full time teacher from Croatia,and in April last year I had a terrible car accident in Bulgaria. I was injured very much. AOL people from Bulgaria found the best hospital for me,came every day to see me in numbers that was problem for the staff in the hospital,bringing me everything what I needed. From the very beginning of this story, from the accident, I had a very strong awareness of Guruji’s presence all around me. He phoned me twice in the hospital and helped me so much. Also at least more than 10 young AOL Bulgarians gave their blood for my operation. One AOL girl, the doctor, came from Macedonia to take daily care off me, and after 15 days came Snježana , AOL full timer from Croatia and continued to take daily care until the end of my stay there.I’ve got so many cards,SMSes,from all over Europe from Satsangs groups.
After coming home,I was completely immobile,and I live alone. So, Aol Croatians had a list where they put their names to cover me 24 hours a day.I had full care from them, and it wasn’t just bringing me a tea,remember,I was immobile,I couldn’t do anything for myself, even toilet or washing.Still I wonder how they could do this.It was love beyond anything I knew.They give me so much love,care, attention, service, that for all doctors my recovering was a miracle.After 1 year I started to walk.Ayurvedic doctor recommended 28 masages, 14 marmas and 14 abyangas,you know how expensive that is. Then one couple ,both AOL teachers from Slovenia took me to their house and during 3 weeks they gave me masages and special ayurvedic treatments just for seva. After that I could walk without scratches.
I was twice in Ashram to see Guruji,every time i’ve got the best accommodation and nobody ever asked me for any money. Now, everybody treats me as a mirracle.I’m walking,I still have some problems with my body, but AOL family saved my soul.From the very begining of this story,from the accident, I had a very strong awareness of Gurujis presence all around me.He phoned me twice in the hospital,but I don’t mean just that.It was just a feeling of being protected,and security that I’ll have place in his life whatever happened .However this ends, he will give me the meaning of life, include me in spreading of the knowledge.My body was suffering,I was in pain,but my soul was very relaxed.This is the secret of my recovering.
For a year and a half I was not able to work ,but they the Art of Living Foundation pays me regularly. God bless them all, my gratefulness is unlimited.
I fell so very grateful to Guruji. It is just a feeling of being protected and the security that I’ll have place in his life whatever happens.
JGD, Sanja Kordi?, AOL full time teacher
From C L RATHI, Ex APEX BODY MEMBER , Maharashtra Art Of Living
Hey guys, what is your problem?To begin with Guruji i.e. Sri Sri designed his own courses and is perfectly entitled to charge money from any one wishing to learn his techniques. This is absolutely normal and legal. He has even kept enough flexibility so that same course is offered free of cost to those that cannot afford it and at Euro 250 to those who can! No one is deprived the knowledge! Millions of people have found solace and their tears have turned into a “Smile”.So I ask again, what is the problem?
2) Guruji is a Hindu and his teachings are all based on ancient Hindu philosophy. Adoring your Guru has been an age old tradition and nothing new. There is nothing “deceptive” about it. It is quite open and clear. World over there are Gurus that follow this Hindu tradition and are looked upon in a similar way.
3) When you say “Guruji’s behavior is quite rude and he gets angry quickly”, you are projecting a picture that is simply untrue. He by far the most smiling Guru I have ever came across and mind you, I have met many, many Gurus. Guruji meets millions with the same smile and genuine love and hundreds of thousands will confirm this.
4) I am an ex-Apex Member and I know the organization’s finances inside out. I have worked with almost 2000+ teachers as an Apex Member. I personally know how difficult and trying it is to bring in discipline in a voluntary organization. Most volunteers never have any understanding about this. I also run my own company with about 450 employees and two family charitable trusts. Take it from me, the Art of Living is probably one of the cleanest organizations in the world.
4) No one is ever forced to join, stay or leave this organization. This again is very unique.
5) Once there was an incident when a group of very poor people from Maharashtra state reached the Ashram to do an advanced course. Guruji not only gave them their fees back but also paid for their train fares! This is never ever done in any business. Guruji is not money-minded at all. He travels tirelessly to help people. Your description about him is totally bizarre. I have traveled with him and been witness to his interactions with people and so I can say all that I am saying with absolute confidence.
6) You speak of injustice. What injustice has happened? To who has it happened?
7) Guruji has created a reward system as an incentive. Every teacher is rewarded based on his / her work. If teachers face problems, there are the Apex Body that are totally empowered to take care of them. I personally have helped several teachers during my own tenure as an Apex Member. I didn’t even have to consult Guruji in these matters.
8) Almost 8 years ago, Guruji asked some of the oldest members of the Art of Living to retire from the trust where they held position, starting with his own sister Bhanu Didi, Arun Madhavanji, Kishor Mukherjee, etc. Now it is almost mandatory for members holding key positions in the organization to retire every 2 years. For example ex-CBI Officer Dhavanji took over the post of Shri Madhavanji and later a very senior retired executive from the Tata group Mr. Yezdi Batliwala took the charge from Shri Dhavanji. Bangalore Ashram was managed by Mrs. Rajita Bagga who is a Senior Manager with Citibank and now Mr. Mehul Parekh who is Civil Engineer from Ahmedabad has taken over the charge in less than 3 years.All stories of financial mismanagement are far fetched. Each one of the trustees has served the organization faithfully and without profit!
Hey Man, Chill out! I seldom write yet your baseless but malicious blog forced me to write as well.
Here is part 2 of the truth I by Swami Sadhyojathah
Although we have known of these 5-6 people who are behind these blogs for a long time, we had chosen to ignore them because any sensible person reading these blogs will immediately realize that they are just lies by those who are desperately trying to malign an organization and its founder.
However, we also don’t want simple innocent seekers on the spiritual path to waste their time by reading this non-stop rubbish. That is why I thought that it is high time that this bunch of negative bloggers be exposed.
When we responded to the first and partial compilation of charges against the Art of Living the bloggers reacted swiftly to say that they didn’t even know the people we were talking about!
But, shortly thereafter, they contradicted their statement by saying the following: ‘This person has been singled out and the same will happen to the rest of the bloggers!!’ They have also appealed to everyone to write good about ‘this person’! First they said that they don’t know ‘this person’, then they said ‘this person has been singled out’ and now they say that ‘this person is good’. This is more than enough for any sane person to understand the mindset of these negative bloggers. Who is ‘disgruntled’?
It seems to be these bloggers who dwell on lies.
When my response came, they asked me to declare how much money I have received till now from Guruji/The Art of Living. We are not those kind of people who sell their souls for mere currency notes. (Read Matthew 26:14-16 which says ‘Then the one called Judas Iscariot went and asked ‘what are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?’ So they counted out for him thirty silver coins’).
Now they talk about ‘freedom of speech’ closeted and writing utter rubbish and lies against anyone. Can that be considered freedom of speech? Brave people who speak the truth reveal their identity. Only cowards hide themselves and blabber about ‘freedom of speech’! Freedom of speech does not mean that you hurt people’s sentiments with lies.
Guruji is a revered spiritual Master worldwide and he is considered as an icon of millions of Hindus. Although nothing affects HIM, no one has any right to hurt the sentiments of millions of devotees and Hindus with their non-parliamentarian language.
How come that even though they claim to get all the inside stories of the Art of Living they didn’t get the news that 4 TTC courses happened in India, Canada and Panama after the BBC recording of the interview till date? Did they not get news from the so called ‘insider’ that each Indian TTC comprised 1000 plus participants? In fact when I wrote that there are more than 10000 teachers worldwide I counted only Part 1, Yes, Yes plus and Art Excel teachers. I have not even counted Sri Sri Yoga teachers and BWS teachers. Since their sole intention is to write lies, we can’t expect them to look at facts.
It was hilarious to read their advice that they wished to teach a DSN course for Guruji! They wish to teach DSN course??!!! There must be love and compassion to teach DSN. Those with hatred and jealousy cannot teach DSN. Only brave people can teach DSN. Cowards who remain anonymous cannot teach DSN. Are they so unintelligent that it took them ‘so many years’ to find flaws in Guruji and the Art of Living? They find fault with one and all and claim that it is ONLY they who have the correct information.
It has become very clear that these negative bloggers have no better job to do other than trying to malign the Art of Living and the tremendous work being done by the organization with the inspiration from Guruji. At present in Manipur 150 Maoists are undergoing training based on peace and further 150 are on the way to get trained.
Such good work is not acceptable to terrorist organizations and they use these negative bloggers to gather some information and spread misinformation.
——– Original Message ——–
Subject: RESPONSE to the charges against The AOL activities
Date: Tue, 24 Aug 2010 19:18:18 +0530
From: Swami Sadyojathah
First of all let me introduce myself. My name is Swami Sadyojathah and I have been with Guruji and the Art of Living for more than 18 years. Even though I was born into a royal family in Kerala, I became a strong communist during my school/college days. In our communist study classes we were taught that spirituality is a hoax and we should go to a spiritual master ONLY to expose them! It was such a coincidence then that I first heard about Guruji from a friend whom I adored because he was also inclined towards communist ideology. When i actually went to meet Guruji it was only to check him out more for being a fraud than anything else! Because of my communist background and my education in Mechanical Engineering, I was not inclined to believe anything so easily. Everything had to appeal my intellect and I would react strongly if i saw even an iota of injustice or irregularity. The very fact that I have been with Guruji and the Art of Living for more than 18 years is testimony to the fact that our organization is transparent and clean for i have not lost that sense of justice and standing up for the truth.
Today, the Art of Living has 10,000 teachers worldwide. The motivation and intention of the 5-6 people who are behind these unsavoury blogs is questionable to say the least. If they wished to save the world, why don’t they work against drug trafficking or poverty or do any other service project instead of trying to stab the hope and solace that millions of people have found in their lives through Guruji? None of these bloggers can touch their hearts and say that what they have written is true.
If you are really sincere, then you should have no fear of revealing your identity. Why don’t you come out in open and confront Guruji? Guruji gives Darshan to everyone and meets anyone who comes to him. Just ”blowing the whistle” without revealing your identity is an act of cowardice. And this is nothing short of terrorism by pen. When these negative blogs against Guruji and Art of Living were brought to Guruji’s notice, he just smiled and said, “it is good to have bad press. This will filter the weak and we can identify our strong pillars.” Millions of strong pillars of AOL worldwide just laugh at these negative blogs and ignore them. But, we feel that it is our responsibility to present the facts and expose this bunch of negative bloggers.
Who are these negative bloggers?
The first one is a lady (Lady X) from South America. She is bipolar and comes from a troubled background. To get sympathy from people she used to tell everyone that her father used to throw shoes at her and her mother used to throw hot tea cups at her. Later on we found that this was just a figment of her imagination and that her parents are from very respectable families. Because of her unstable nature but coming across as perfectly rational she used to take advantage of people. When her whole family rejected her, she was given shelter. She was prone to sudden bouts of violence and make a spectacle of herself screaming and running around even in places such as the airport! This became less frequent when she was regular in her spiritual practices. When she stopped doing the practices the erratic behaviour would erupt once again. Out of compassion, her Part 1 teacher Janael Mcqueen pleaded to Guruji to allow her to do TTC because she felt that if this lady was empowered and made a teacher she would be fine. No doubt that she was a good teacher, but, very soon people discovered her strange behaviour. She demanded that the people of Brazil respect her. Guruji said, “I won’t tell anyone to respect you, you have to earn your own respect.” Her own students pleaded to Guruji not to send her to Brazil anymore which was a big blow for her. Her 3 ex-boy friends like Mr Ignacious , Mr Jonnathan Tang etc. can speak volumes about the trouble that they have undergone in their lives because of her. Janael Mcqueen and reputed journalist Beatriz can testify about her state of mind. As also the Art of Living Brazil Board, about her misconduct.
Ignacio Escribano (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Beatriz Goyoaga (email@example.com) +54114530407
Souza, Alexandre” , (AOL Brazil) – +551191422502
Another person who has joined this negative blog group is a young girl from Australia. Many people want proximity to Guruji and upon not getting what they want lash out at Guruji or the organization.. He tells them to take a project and sincerely work towards it instead of hanging around him. This girl from Australia even rose to work in the secretariat. AOL is such an open organization that anyone who is in the organization for one year and have done the necessary courses can become even a teacher.
Another blogger, a person from Denmark who left AOL because his parents’ suffered from Parkinson disease and was hoping that Guruji would cure them. When they did not cure fully after coming to the AoL Silver Jubilee celebrations he left.
Another gentleman from Denmark was troubled because he could not come to terms with the adulations that Guruji was getting. He started saying that Art of Living should not worship Hindu Gods/Goddesses. He himself was quite depressed and though he became a teacher and was well aware of customs in the Ashram which adhere to ancient Indian spiritual traditions such as Vedic chanting, the singing of bhajans and the Indian custom of bowing down and touching the feet of the Master he used to vehemently object to them. He repeatedly asked Guruji to stop all these practices. Guruji however made it clear that these customs were part of Indian culture. Guruji himslef does not desire for devotees to touch his feet, but that is what devotees wish to do. Althought Guruji explained all this to him very politely He did not take kindly to it.
Two Indian sisters are also part of this negative blog group. They did not have any genuine interest towards knowledge or service. They used to over exhibit their devotion to the Master, constantly vying for his attention. Their own brother, sister in law and other family members are all still actively involved in AOL. One of these sisters wanted to become an Advanced course teacher but was not made one. That factor combined with the not getting the kind of attention they wanted made both sisters leave AOL and take to writing these negative blogs.
Another group which has joined in the fray is an extremist Jihadi group. When it was brought to Guruji’s notice, he said, “welcome them, let them come and see everything, we have nothing to hide, perhaps they will get transformed.” It has happened many a time that agnostics/atheists who come to disprove Guruji have landed up becoming devotees.
Guruji deals with mentally challenged people as compassionately as possible.
There are only two occasions when Guruji avoids answering questions. First is when someone insists Guruji to support abortion and second is when people are diagnosed with serious illnesses but want to go against medical advice. There are a few such people who refuse to take medical help and we call them Blue Stars. Not meant derogatorily. Only Guruji can handle them with patience. We have seen Guruji doing all out to help people irrespective of their attitude or behaviour.
We don’t need to refute that the allegations made by these people are not true. But, since someone has taken the pains to compile the so called allegations, I am decided to take the trouble of making the facts to a sincere seeker who may wander on this site, loud and clear.
1. Anyone who has been associated with the Art of Living knows that nobody is ever compelled by anyone to do seva nor is put on ‘a guilt trip’by Guruji as has been suggested.
2. Only those who are totally ignorant about Ayurveda can say that Sri Sri Ayurveda formulas are copied from Maharishi Ayurveda . None of our people have visited Maharishi Ayurveda in the first place. Most of our products are based on the ancient Ayurvedic texts of Charaka (Ashtanga Hridaya etc) and we don’t need to copy the formula from anyone else. Anyone who has visited our Ayurveda factory can vouch for the high standards of cleanliness and hygiene that are maintained in the manufacturing process. The allegation that our products are substandard is utter nonsense.
Mr Narasimhan is not at all involved in the purchase of any materials in the ayurveda factory. Let anyone be able to produce one bill to prove that there is someone taking commission in the purchase of raw materials.
First they accuse AoL of financial irregularities. When all accounts are in ‘’webstar’’, now they are talking about kickback from suppliers!. Those making these allegations have absolutely no proof of financial irregularities and therefore it is therefore even more surprising that they do it with such ease.
3. The preposterous suggestion that we smuggle medicines to countries and sell them is again wholly untrue. Proper clearances and licenses from each country are procured and all those who have bought our products know that they are sold at market prices.
4. Anyone who has even a little knowledge about AoL know that the AoL European headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. We don’t need to transfer money to any country to evade tax because our organization is exempted from tax in all these countries.
5. It is a joke that the contents of AoL are copied from other institutions.
6. And the same goes for Sahaj Samadhi meditation.
7. Oury Engolz was our guest and we invited him a few times. We invite them, but we don’t need to steal their ideas from them
8. I personally have been involved in the trauma relief and rehabilitation projects in the tsunami hit areas of Tamilnadu and Sri Lanka. Anyone who has been involved in any of the service projects of AoL will know that these allegations are false. The very fact that these negative bloggers have made factual errors about our projects in itself shows that they are all false. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Vidya Mandir (SSRVM) schools are not charitable schools and no where we have claimed that. It is Sri Sri Vidya Mandirs and Bal Mandirs across the country which are free schools.
The charity we do is supported by the fees we charge for the courses. Is it fair to say that just because someone is Guruji’s nephew, he should not get proper education?
9. Those who have visited our rural school where more than 2000 first generation children from neighbouring villages are studying, would have seen for themselves how the money is spent. Children get uniforms, mid-day meals, transportation etc. free of cost.
10. Vyakti Vikas Kendra India (VVKI) accounts are audited and anyone can verify them. We save only 25% from the course fees that is collected.
11. In fact our experience is that not all full-time teachers perform very well.
12. Guruji directly corrects people when they are wrong . He never humiliates anyone. The skill and knack with which he makes people realize their mistake without making them feel guilty is really amazing. All senior teachers would stand testimony to this.
13. There are 10,000 teachers worldwide in AOL. Except a handful of teachers who have left AOL, all the teachers will vouch for the organization and how it has benefitted them.
14. You can malign any organization on two accounts. One is sex, the other is money. AOL has stood the test of these accusattions. It is easy to label anyone as immoral and create doubts. If there is anyone who is the victim of a sex scandal, let them give evidence or face trial in the court for defamation.
15. Same as above.
16. AGNI is a yellow journalism magazine which writes ONLY false stories about anyone and everyone. It is run by a person who is an underworld don. He has four cases of contempt of court and a dozen criminal charges pending against him. If anyone is quoting this magazine to accuse AoL or its teachers, then it is a very clear indication that they are also of the same calibre. The man in question, Sridhar (AGNI) demanded 42 crores rupees and 2 crores every year from AOL failing which he threatened to malign the organization. When the organization refused to entertain him he accused AoL of grabbing land from a Dalit which the world now knows to be an absolute hoax. The land was bought from a Brahmin at market price. Sridhar then came up with another land issue but failed in that also. However that has not deterred him for he is still desperately trying to malign the organization.
The firing of the bullet in the ashram was extremely dubious and no satisfactory explanation was offered by the cops. In every field there are a few disgruntled individuals whose motivations may not be above board. Guruji doesn’t not worry if anyone tries to malign him or his organization. Accolades and brickbats are the same for him, they do not affect him.
17. We started this 21 days TTC format to lessen the burden on people coming from far off places like Bihar, UP and North East.
18. Anyone who has travelled with Guruji even once in their life know how much he takes care of them. He makes sure that they have have had food (many a time he himself serves food to everyone) and a place to stay. We receive emails or people ask Guruji directly whether they can travel with him abroad. It does not mean that AOL has to pay for their flights. We only pay the fares of full-time teachers who travel to conduct the courses.
It seems that the lady who has written this has a deep psychological imbalance.
19. Guruji goes through nearly 600 emails/letters everyday. Any email /letter which is marked ‘confidential’, he looks into it himself. But, those mails which are not in English/Kannada/Hindi, he asks translators to read, confidentially. This lady could read 2-3 languages like Portuguese. Since they were not many who can read Portuguese , she was asked to read those mails. The way she has twisted this shows the disturbed way in which her mind works.
20. We don’t compel anyone to give donations. Those who donate do so out of gratitude, or their commitment to be part of service projects or whatever reason but totally of their own volition.
21. This Swamis and Rishis sit and discuss the amount of money collected for Poojas is baseless and ludicrous. I myself have conducted many Navaratri poojas and we leave it totally to the local organizers to conduct the entire event.
22. Guruji discourages anyone to become full time teachers. This lady did not wanted to take up a job. She only wanted to become full time teacher. She claimed that she was sick and was given three months free treatment in the German ashram even though doctors found that she was perfectly okay to work. As per Guruji’s instruction, we were giving her per month. Without doing anything she was being paid every month. Her best friend tried to put sense into her head. But she was constantly bickering and negative. Even after she left AOL and started writing these negative blogs, it is an AOL devotee who is still helping her to date!
23. Guruji has never predicted anything about Bush nor on Obama. Have these predictions appeared in the media? Where has this lady got these ideas if she is not in AOL anylonger? Once again fabrications of her own mind.
24. This soap story itself is enough to expose how much one can stoop in making allegations. It is rubbish to say that Guruji demanded to stay in a 5 star hotel! While he was in Brazil for the third time, he mentioned to the organizers that the hotel where he had stayed twice before had bigger meeting room to accommodate more people. 200-300 devotees could sit in that bigger meeting room whilst in the current meeting room not even 50 people were able to sit. The rest of the people were hovering in the lobby and Guruji was concerned as he did not want to inconvenience other guests staying in the hotel. Once again the lady has potrayed an a malicious version of what actually took place.
Guruji was visiting Brazil for just a day and this lady had ordered worth of cosmetics(soaps, shampoos etc). The moment Guruji saw that, he asked her ‘’why did you buy so much and that too when I don’t need to use them at all?’’. Guruji carries his own toiletries wherever he goes. Immediately she replied that she got it sponsored by devotees. There were half a dozen shampoo bottles and soaps. Guruji asked her ‘’why do you have to spend so much money whether it is devotee’s money or that of the organization’s?’’. Everyone present there knew that this lady got all those soaps and shampoos and other cosmetics in Guruji’s name so that she can have all that!
Any sensible person will just laugh at the allegation that Guruji yelled for a soap!!! This lady has a habit of imagining that people are yelling at her. People who have interacted with her know that she yells herself! This lady had shouted at a whole group even at Buenos Aires airport as they waited to receive Guruji. All teachers and devotees who were present were witness as to how Guruji handled the situation with utmost patience.
Even when someone was talking to her in a normal tone, she would say, ‘”don’t yell at me.” And every now and then she would say, “I am quitting.”
Guruji has stayed in tents, he has stayed in villages. He always adjusts to his surroundings with utmost ease and is always considerate about not inconveniencing his hosts wherever he might be. Anyone in a right frame of mind cannot accuseGuruji of yelling for soap!
I still remember an occasion when Guruji himself started cleaning the place where he had to stay! This was in Japan and his room had lot of dust, windows unclean etc. He took a cloth and started cleaning without any complaining.
25. AoL are not a herd of sheep! We are a heterogeneous group, of various backgrounds and from every walk of life right from prisoners to people who hold high posts in different fields. Only Guruji can bring such diverse group together. Guruji never shies away from taking responsibility for the misdeeds of people –not just the organization, but just about everybody. In our Teachers Refresher Meet( TRM) every teacher gets a chance to express their view point or difference of opinion if any, but, at the end everyone goes back charged with enthusiasm, to teach more courses and take up big service projects. This has been happening every single time.
26. The hearts that are grateful and mature people always give credit to those whom they love. It is only the disgruntled that find fault in the noblest of people. Whether someone performs or not Guruji gives such care to every person.
27. This teacher from Denmark wanted to stop teaching because of his wife and his career. He had no complaint against Guruji or AOL. Since he is a cook, he wanted to take up the job of a chef and Guruji had told him ‘’if you want to leave, you are welcome’’.
28. Once again this person is contradicting herself. On the one hand she says that Guruji said that she was free to leave. And on the other hand she says that Guruji cursed her. Anyone who knows Guruji knows that this is absolute nonsense and if anything shows the hatred in her. If anyone meets her for even a single day , they will know the truth. Those who were with Guruji are utterly shocked by the way she has deliberately misinterpreted everything.
It should be noted that none of these negative blogs/articles are written by close associates of Guruji or by any ashramite. There are hundreds of people who are engineers/doctors/lawyers/MBA s who are at the helm of affairs in AoL and they are not fools who can be deceived. These negative bloggers only prove the old saying that, ‘’no saint or prophet escaped criticism/condemnation’’. On the one hand they talk about the so called inner circle of Guruji and on the other hand claim to have had access to the inner circle! These are the people who blame Guruji for their own failures and shortcomings. And they do so shamelessly and without hesitation. Only a saint can tolerate such a barrage of ill will. It is tough to be a Guru! But Guruji does it with a smile!!!!