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 called Eng an 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
Janael Mcqueen –
When senior devotees complained about Eng an’s tantrums and abnormal behaviour to Guruji and asked him why they should associate with pathological liars like her, he used to tell them “we stick to our first course point of Art of Living which is: accept people as they are! Nobody wants her, her parents don’t want her, so if we also send her away, where will she go?” Around Guruji there is always lightness and humour. Never is there malicious bad-mouthing. This lady used to get irritated by joy and humour. Only someone who is mentally sick can construe all that as being malicious. Once when someone started praising her about her command of languages (she was conversant in Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and English), Guruji had hinted, “a ladder which takes you up can bring one down also.” This is what she twisted and mentioned in the blog. She demanded 3000 usd per month failing which she would write a negative blog and she fulfilled her threat. Even after she started these negative blogs against Guruji and the organization, she still goes to Art of Living people and takes their help!
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!!!!