Sunday, December 26, 2010

Great vibes, Beautiful people

I took time out and attended a few events of the Art of Living foundation. One thing that nobody can miss is the overwhelming sense of joy that is present in the atmosphere. Its impossible to miss the smiling faces and the positive vibes.

As humans we are all endowed with intuition and its not so difficult to sense when something is seriously wrong. If you look at a corrupt politician you do not need a brain of a scientist to know that he is not a genuine human being.  Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says that ur presence speaks more than the words.

I have had and have also witnessed others having casual conversations with him and his care and concern for every individual seems obvious. Last year a construction worker in the ashram was caught stealing computers and all that Sri Sri did was to give her some money and clothes. He assured her that her needs will be taken care of so she does not need to steal.

Love, joy and enthusiasm permeates wherever He goes. Its obvious. The claims that the organizational imperfections stem form the founder of the organsiation are completely groundless and indicates a temporary distortion of perception.

Finally If a founder of such a huge volunteer based organisation is dishonest, selfish, lacks integrity and is abusive he would create a living hell for people who were associated with it.

But those smiles, that enthusiasm, endless stories of transformation, completely dispel all such doubts. In the next few posts I would Like to share some transformational stories of people who have met Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Trends of negative blogging

Pick up a newspaper, watch any news channel on TV, read any news article on the internet there are a few typical trends that are followed.

1. The title has to be sensational.  Even if the content of the article has very little connection to the title, the title has to shock the reader. It has to be something unbelievable, it has to create a "what"? since the only aim is to attract as many readers as possible.

2. Such articles are never short and sweet. They contain long , never ending paragraphs often not making any point whatsoever. The point is just to create a negative impression about a person or an event.

3. Scandalous stories are an integral part of such blogs. These stories have no evidence.

4. Utter exaggeration. Anything negative is utterly exaggerated and through such exaggerations conclusions are made.

5. Multiple replies by the same group of people to anybody who disagrees or contradicts that shows utter intolerance to others point of views and experiences. 

6. No purpose. Under the garb of objectivity such blogs fake a purpose that sounds quite noble and meaningful. In reality such a blog is just a result of a frustrated mind unable to handle itself.

Fortunately the impact of such ill intended actions is limited.  Ultimately truth prevails.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Doubts create Doubts

One day one of my aunts could not find her purse. She really panicked and did not know what to do. She said she remembered getting it back home that day but did not remember anything after that. After a long search it was more or less concluded that the purse has been stolen.

She was really worried because she had a very important diary in it. She called a psychic who described the physical appearance of the thief which matched a few people. As per the description there were 3 prime suspects. The next two days it was really funny to see the way we analyzed every action of those three people. Whatever they did or said we would try to look beyond and keep doubting. "Oh look she is now saying this because she wants us to think this way and then look when I said that her expression changed and she left the room" It went on and on and on for three days. My aunt could not sleep well in the night.

The misery ended as soon as one of her friends called to tell that they had found her purse in their house. She had forgotten it and never got it home in the first place. Once we got the news it was interesting to see how we again started relating to the same people in a very different way.

When the mind is upset it creates doubts. Doubts create more doubts and more doubts and they just keep multiplying. Soon the doubts seem like absolute reality and we have no idea that we are far far away from the truth.

There are a handful who have become a victim of this and look through and scrutinize the Art of Living and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar without an iota of objectivity. In sanskrit there is a saying that says," sanshay atma vinashyati" ( consciousness filled with doubts leads to self destruction).

We need to first get our own mind in a pleasant state, free from doubts so that we can be constructive in our criticism and effectively contribute towards the betterment of society. Otherwise we are just adding to the already existing garbage.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Straight Talk Part 3

Q: How do you explain that people who have been with the organisation for so long have quit and are doing negative propaganda?

 A: In any school in a class of lets say 50 students not all would acquire the same grades. Each student has the same teacher, same syllabus, same exam and the same books to study. Yet someone would score 9 on 10 and there would be someone who fails miserably. People who fail generally end up blaming either themselves or everything around them or both. But that is also temporary.

I would just like to say that Truth can neither be confronted nor avoided. In the world how long does it take to expose anything that is fraudulent. You cannot fool all the people all the time. When we have hardcore evidences of the stories of transformation one cannot just discard it. I believe that its only the purity of intention that can withstand all obstacles and bring about a positive transformation. Lets get on the field and work together and help each other create a divine society.

Thank you.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Straigth Talk Part 2

Q: You said you got demotivated.What kind of incidents demotivated you?

A: Outbursts of anger, small mindedness, lack of a broad vision of some people sometimes demotivated me.

Q: How did you get back?

A:  If I am harboring negativity against someone it just means that my own weakness is getting exposed. I need to change myself first. The second important thing to note is that everyone  is changing. All the people on the path go through certain phases, good or bad.One cant label people as "bad".

Q: Some people have left the AOL because they could not accept certain things happening in the organization. Does it mean that AOL failed?

A: As I mentioned each one goes through phases. In my long association with AOL I have seen people who were against AOL  becoming devotees and vice versa. I have also seen  people totally disconnected and then suddenly they jump in and get actively involved. Sometimes so called "devotees" completely vanish after six months and then are again spotted in satsangs after a few years. As people go through life and its teachings priorities also keep changing.

Q: What were the factors that convinced you that Sri Sri is a True Guru.

A: NO factors. All the reasons to figure out who is the true Guru can also be used as reasons to prove that the same Guru is a fake. for eg...
1. Lot of service is happening - Oh you know he is craving for the noble peace prize. If the money is collected in the name of service projects he needs to show something in the name of service.

2. So many followers and they all look so happy - Marketing strategy and by the way any Tom, Dick or Harry grows a beard and long hair and talks some spiritual nonsense will get a large following in no time.Ia m sure he is a expert in skillful brain washing

3. Sudarshan Kriya is really amazing - Its just hyperventilation. Any sort of heavy fast breathing can give you a feeling of well being  for some time. its no big deal.

4. He is working hard to uplift  the society and is still smiling all the time -: He is working hard to uplift his own organisation and his own image as a GOD man or an Avataar. Smiling all the time is the only USP of all that he does.

we can go on and on

Q: So then how do you know?

A: I have no idea. If I had specific reason or factors to love him and know that he is genuine then I would be the greatest fool fooling myself. Its my own experience of being in his presence. There is no way I can prove that to anybody else. A feeling of love, joy and abundance is a very deep and  personal experience beyond words.

to be contd


Monday, November 22, 2010

Straight Talk

The purpose of this blog is give an unbiased objective view of the Art of Living Foundation  and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Any particular event, action, words can be viewed through different angles and can be interpreted differently by different people and yet all of them put together may not come even close to the Truth.

So I thought I would just like to interview a few members of the AOL and find out what really makes them stick around, what really inspires them to dedicate their lives working for/with the organisation.On the condition of anonymity a few teachers agreed to answer questions and I would like post the answers on this blog. The answers posted here are a compilation of all the answers given by different members.

Q: When you started on this path did you feel that AOL has two faces? One which they present to the outside world and then when you get in suddenly you are shocked to see the other side where there are conflicts, politics, fights, ego clashes etc?

A: I never felt I was presented two faces. I just did the course, I liked it and since then I have been involved.

Q: Do you mean there is nothing negative about AOL?

A: Yes of course there is. Its an organisation run by human beings. So it has flaws and there are arguments and clashes between people.

Q: So how did you react to the negative side of AOL? Were you shocked? Why did you still continue?

A: I did the course. I did not become prefect. We all have our flaws. So I was not shocked. But the important thing is to know to what degree is the negativity present and what percentage. If it overshadowed the good that is being done and if the whole thing was just a scam involving people with bad intentions then I would have left the organisaton long time back. I find the people who are associated have genuinely good intentions and conflicts are just superficial. There were incidents which were demotivating but at the same there were lot of good examples who were always a source of inspiration.I have met so many wonderful people doing such extraordinary work in society. So much transformation is happening that it completely overshadows all the minor conflicts that happen in any organisation.

to be cont


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Doors are open

One of the most ridiculous things to comment about the Art of Living Foundation and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar would be to say that they are really great in marketing their product. The volunteers seem hardly trained and quite a few times they blabber nonsense in their excitement to share whatever they have to say. Sometimes even simple questions/objections are not handled properly. The media is not properly used at all. There is hardly any planning or strategy. Everything happens in a haphazard and a chaotic way. Art of Living desperately needs good lessons in marketing. If at all the claims that it is a super rich organisation and the founder is hungry for fame/power are true, I would say they are doing a very sad job with their marketing department.

The wonder is, with such poor skills of organising how is it that the Art of Living foundation manages to organise such huge events?? And thousands of courses get organised in so many thousand cities all over the world.

How does this happen? To me the only logical answer seems that the people involved are really inspired to share and are genuinely been benefited by the techniques learnt in these courses. The power of experience, the power of the intention to share and contribute towards society is the only reason I feel, makes such great things happen in society. People who fail to understand this phenomenon generally say that the only reason AOL is successful is because of its extraordinary marketing skills. I beg to differ.

Such a huge volunteer based organisation obviously will consist of a few idiots here and there, some of them not just good enough to represent spirituality. One of the teachers say that the biggest drawback of working in a spiritual organization is that devotees cannot be hired or fired! But at the same time there are no illegal activities happening, people are getting benefited in some way or the other. Isolated examples, stories cooked up by a few disgruntled morons do not define the values of an organization that is involved in so much good work all over the world.

Lastly if anyone does not like it, DO NOT GET IN. If you are already in GET OUT. The doors are open. Nobody is going to stop you. Nobody is forcing you to stay. If you are allowing someone to force/fool you, you anyway deserve to suffer. But still the doors will always remain open. At least now you know that this does not work for you or you failed to make this work for you. In any case you have grown wiser. Move on.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Is he Enlightened?

Once a journalist asked Sri Sri Ravi Shankar,"Are you enlightened"? and He said, "NO". The journalisk repeatedly kept asking. He said ," no tell me really are you enlightened?" Sri Sri repeatedly kept saying "no I am not". We always know the truth. Deep inside our heart knows. So even when he said "No I am not enlightened" the journalist could not believe it.

 Many a times I have seen arrogant, rude reporters asking idiotic questions to Sri Sri. It is great to see the calmness with which he replies all the questions and there definately seems something special in the personality. But more importantly even if we assume that he is a FAKE and  is a born great actor what about the thousands of his followers on whose faces there is an unmistakable sense of joy, enthusiasm, and a willingness to contribute.

One of my friends in Ahmedabad told me that on 2nd november the Art of Living family is hosting an event called ," Annabrahma". 5000 varieties of food are going to be cooked and served to underpriviliged children. Sri Sri is also going to inaugrate  the project of free tribal schools in Gujarat in the presence of thousands of people during the evening satsang.

Around 1000 part time volunteers and teachers are having a great time working for it. He was telling me that the levels of enthusiasm amongst the volunteers is unbelievable. Of course there may be differences of opinions, a few skirmishes here and there but instead of doing a postmortem of the negative events I really wonder what on earth inspires these guys to do and accomplish such events at such a large scale.

Is this just a bubble thats going to burst in just a matter of time? Are all these people faking joy? Even in that case good work seems to be happening in society. Atleast they are not sitting at home and plonking themselves in front of television sets watching stupid TV serials and cricket matches.

Something worthwhile is being done. Instead of jumping to conclusions and screaming at the top of our voices just because we know of a few others who were fake, let us atleast wait and watch. So far these guys seem genuine.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Why would a naxalite commander surrender his weapons to  the police after completing an Art of living course? Its easy to instill negativity in the minds of "innocent" people about something genuine but how easy it is to  brain "wash" a Naxalite and make him give up violence? People who are habituated to mudslinging and involved in writing negativity against Art of Living I request them to read this

I also challenge them to approach and interview all such people who have been transformed by the Art of Living and write about it in their blogs if they are even remotely interested in propagating the "TRUTH" and maintaining objectivity.

First of all more than ninety percent of the people working actively with the organisation come from the educated middle class section of the society. Considering this how is it that all of them are completely overlooking the so called "facts" propagated by these blogs?  Most of the Aolites consist of people who are intelligent and educated enough to not get fooled into something blasphemous.
Out of all the people who "complete" the course and practice the techniques "everyday" 100 percent people have positive feed backs. To me this seems to be the only reason why Art of Living is growing at such an exceptionally fast pace.

Another point to be noted is that the diversity that one can see in Art of Living. One of the signs of an enlightened master is that HE or SHE attracts all types of people from all different types of backgrounds and from all strata of society. Sri Sri in a span of may be a month or so would meet people of all types from  slum dwellers to CEO's, From prison inmates to top scientists, from politicians to housewives, from village farmers to urban youth.

An organisation which is here only to make money, charging exorbitant fees for courses and giving  almost nothing in return, having a leader who is angry and screaming all the time, and  followers who have corrupt minds, psychotic behaviour and quite a few of them being characterless morons - Will such an organisation last? that too for 30 years? will it spread over 151 countries? Will it survive the test of time?

At least my common sense compels me to completely disbelieve the so called propagators of truth and who think that they are doing a great job by acting like messiahs saving people from going to hell!


Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Art of Leaving

I believe that for any person or organization, it takes a very very long time to build trust and reputation in the society, and being a spiritual organization it is all the more difficult. It takes an immense amount of time and social work, before even people know about the organization, forget recognition. The Art of Living has succeeded in many ways to convince people about the work it has been doing.

Though I agree that there could be a little flaws within the organization, the kind of work that they have been doing overshadows any minor glitches. There are not many other non profit social organizations that I know of, spread across a hundred and more countries, irrespective of religion and caste. They should be doing something brilliant to spread at this rate in a little more than 25 years. I am still surprised and taken aback to see a few people maligning the name of an organization recently, which otherwise did not gather a lot of criticism all these 30 years.

I personally know that the Art of Living is indeed the Art of Leaving. I have seen the transformation in a small group of people I met a few months back. They have totally given up drugs after attending just one of the Art of 'Leaving' workshops. The joy that could be seen on the faces of their close ones and friends cannot be expressed. Recently there have been media reports of a few naxals (a group of rebels in India) who gave up violence and came to the path of peace after talks with Sri Sri. I have also heard a story (story because I have not seen the person for real) which says a lady is taking the Art of Living course for a naxalite leader who murdered her husband. I am sure there would be countless other stories that you and I have not heard of and probably never will. When such reports come in popular electronic and print media, which is otherwise very critical about anything spiritual, there should indeed be a lot of good things they are doing. If the Art of Living was really looking to make money and was purely looking for profits, they wouldn’t be bothered to have workshops and courses happening in slums and prisons. They wouldn’t be bothered to take up social initiatives and community projects in disaster struck regions, but would be focussing mainly just on corporate courses and funding from government agencies.

From what I have observed, it is right to call the organization - Art of Leaving - the art of leaving violence, drugs and things that destroy the harmony in our society. Like I have said in my earlier posts, I request the critics to do some basic research before making blank statements and injecting poison in the minds of people

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Not a BIG Deal

I have been asking a few people who have taken courses with the Art of Living Foundation whether they found it too expensive and whether they regretted having invested in the course. Most of them said that they did initially hesitate to do the course because of the cost. But after having experienced the course and noticing the obvious benefits, they did not regret having invested the time and money at all.

I must have talked to probably a few hundreds, but I have yet to meet a person who said that it was really not worth it. I went one step further and asked quite a few who practiced the techniques regularly whether they would give up their practices if they were given ten times the course fee in return. All of them replied in the negative. I must also mention that I came across quite a few people who were given scholarships after they convinced the teacher that they could really not afford it.

Some people in India say that AOL charges exceptionally high amounts for their courses and is only for the rich and elite. Well, looking at the tremendous following that AOL has across India, it is difficult for anyone to believe that all these people belong exclusively to the rich and elite class of society! Most of them seem to be from the middle class. In fact even in Mumbai a course in Mulund or Thane (middle-class suburbs) generally attracts many more people than a course in South Mumbai (pre-dominantly elite class) though the course fee is the same.

It would be absurd to say that all the people practicing AOL techniques in remote Indian villages belong to the rich and elite. And I don't think that people living in the slums of Dharavi would do AOL courses if they were exorbitantly priced. It is obvious that AOL has designed their fee structure based on the socio-economic strata of the population living in the area and this policy seems perfectly sensible.

A little research can clear a lot of misconceptions. I sincerely request the cynics to adopt such an attitude instead of resorting to useless wrangling.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Brain Washed

Unfortunately lot of people in the world suffer from preconceived notions and concepts about spirituality and enlightenment. One of them is that, Art of Living has  rearranged ancient knowledge of all the scriptures and put it in a package and sold it to millions and made lot of money. In that case what is a book? Its just words from a dictionary rearranged. Why do we spend money to buy books and not just dictionaries? Spiritual knowledge was given by masters as per the need of the time. A master “HAS” to package the knowledge in such a way that is relevant to the prevalent times so that people can relate to it and implement it in their day-to-day life.
A few others say that Art of Living is just brainwashing people into something and charging money to support Sri Sri 's extravagant life style. Well,according to me there are far more easier ways of earning money than going around teaching people how to meditate. I would also like to challenge such people to keep pace with Sri Sri's schedule for more than a week. They would have no energy left to even wonder about the difference between "extravagant" and "extraordinary".Moreover service and charity cannot happen with an empty bowl. I would challenge the cynics to do a bit more research about the service projects of the Art of Living rather than just having blind faith in the words of a few other cynics. Just because the media rejects all good news as "soft news" one cant go on believing people who have got into the habit of resorting to shameless and baseless character assassination.
I recently attended a satsang in the Bangalore ashram in the presence of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Towards the end Sri Sri was talking about a story of a village called kathewadi in Nanded district in Maharashtra which was completely transformed in a few months after a few dedicated volunteers of the Art of Living reached out to the villagers with this beautiful knowledge and also trained them into organic farming. The village was totally violence prone but now the entire village folk get together every morning and meditate. There is no sign of any violence. Everything that is sold in this village is organic. There are shops with no shopkeepers! People take what they want and drop the money in a money box. You would barely find anybody smoking or consuming alcohol. Each one has done the Art of Living course and has been brain–washed!! As Sri Sri narrated the story HE introduced us to the village sarpanch (Village Head) and a few others who had come to the ashram to invite Sri Sri to the village. It was quite heart warming to see the gratitude in their eyes.
I don’t see anything wrong with such kind of brain washing! After hearing and reading what people talk and write about something so genuinely beautiful I think there are lot of brains out there that need to be washed… desperately. While I was having dinner I met a young guy who had just finished teaching the Yes!+ course to 200 inmates of the TIHAR jail. His experience was absolutely amazing. He said that quite a few of them told him that if they had met him earlier they would not have landed up in Jail.
Given the end result I would only wish that more and more people get their brains and minds washed and create a beautiful environment which is exactly what is anyway happening and no matter what will continue to happen. 

Monday, May 31, 2010

Guruji and everyone at the Ashram are safe

A shot was fired at Sri Sri Ravi Shankar as he was getting into his car. It caused a minor injury to a devotee called Vinay.

This was a cause for grave concern for me, that such an attack could be made on Sri Sri's life. Guruji's response was balanced, calm and muted. Watching him made me feel relaxed and instantly took away a lot of the worry this incident had caused in my head. I had a few friends at the ashram and they said they were amazed that they felt no worry at all and in fact slept as soundly as they had on any other night. That a few thousand people had no worries, no panic at all after a shot had been fired in their midst and they went on with their meditation and seva as usual in itself is quite incomprehensible. As Sri Sri mentioned, the power of Sadhana and meditation is such that it will make you fearless.

At the various places where people write ill about Art of Living and Sri Sri, i was dismayed at the utter lack of sensitivity shown to the incident. They have quoted Guruji saying in the Astavakra Geeta (some 20 years ago) that violence happens only to violent people. It is Karma. So how come violence happened to and around Sri Sri?

I would like to point out here that violence DID NOT happen. A gunman in a crowd of a few thousand people could have wreaked utter havoc. He just fired exactly one shot which was almost harmless and fled. No one panicked, there was no stampede, nothing. It could have been much, much worse, but thankfully it was not.

I think it was because of Sri Sri and all his devotees and their faith in their Guru that the bullet was not fatal for anyone. Even a person with utterly violent thoughts in his head couldn't take much action in the presence of Sri Sri. We definitely need many, many more people to become like this. People in whose presence, violence would cease or diffuse harmlessly.

Our world would be a far better and safer place to live in.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Only time will tell

I strongly believe that a sign of a matured mind is to have a balanced and a universal perspective towards everything that one comes across in life. As a movement gains enormous popularity it is but natural that it attracts criticism. According to me it does not take even a fair amount of creativity to put down something.  We live in a world where the embodiment of love was crucified and even the lives of the greatest scientists were not spared because they spoke the truth.

There is no denying the fact that the Art of Living has been tremendously successful in bringing about a great transformation in the lives of millions of people from all over the world. I have myself met many people who have completely given up addictions like smoking, drinking, drugs just a few days after taking up the first Art of Living course, and will shortly be putting up their testimonials on this blog. 

How can anybody just discard all these experiences as delusional or false or a marketing gimmick? The stories of transformation are no doubt real and irrefutable. On the other hand most of the critical observation some people have made seems to be overtly exaggerated, the stories seem to be made up just to sound scandalous and there does not seem to be any mention of any of the positive aspects of Art of Living or Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Such one sided, evidence less, biased observations seem to be unreal to a rational mind. 

One thing that creates problems for the Art of Living as an organization is that it seems to be quite loosely structured. There are no fixed criteria for a person to be a representative of Art of Living as a volunteer. There is hardly any specific hierarchy amongst the teachers and as human beings come together and work together especially in such a framework errors are bound to happen. As Sri Sri has been known to quote on occasion the event (that was being organized) was mesmerizing but behind the scenes things were a mess.

It has been 29 years and Art of Living is moving from strength to strength. Totally undeterred, it is making its own way through various obstacles. Ultimately only Time will tell how genuine this movement is and how long it lasts.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Favor

Some time back, in answer to a question about some people talking negative about the organisation or him, I heard him say, it is alright.. This just filters in the right kind of people. The strong and reliable ones will come though.

What a different way of looking at things. In effect what he was saying is that those people who are saying or writing negative about Art of Living are doing a favor!

Later I had asked some others why Art of Living had not put up any official counters to this disgusting (at least to me, most of them seemed not to be bothered about it), they said in different ways that they were too busy.

Very few were concerned about it, but when i told them what Guruji had said to me earlier, they all brightened up and encouraged me to write more on this blog. Some of them even said they wanted to contribute.

One of them told me about an interview that Sri Sri had given sometime ago. He had been asked, Guruji can you predict the future? With a smile He had replied, wise men don't predict the future, they make it!

This volunteer told me i have much to do, to make the future, can't be bothered by Guruholic and co.

I asked another, what about Satyameva Jayate? That truth should prevail.
She smiled and said, in time, truth will always prevail.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Truth

There are a few blogs out there who seek to defame Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, His organizations and His teachers. Just as a small stain stands out on a pristine white cloth and begs for attention, these blogs seek to disgrace the brilliant service, and the absolutely amazing programs facilitated by the Art of Living by spreading doubts and negativity.

When I read a few of these blogs and the extent of character assassination they are perpetrating, I decided to find out the truth for myself. I have now been associated on and off with the Art of Living for a few years and have almost never come across any of the accusations that are being made… True, sometimes some volunteers or teachers may be rude or sloppy in their behaviour but to call them psychotic, perverted, imbalanced, etc would be a lie.

It is fine not to agree with some of Art of Living’s policies, I myself don’t in a few cases, but resorting to false stories and fabricated allegations to defame Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and the Art of Living along with many other spiritual organizations using blatant lies is unacceptable, at least to me, making me wonder if these people have been hired by some extremist organization to do this.

These are ill intentioned individuals with sick minds who are bewildering other people with their rumour mongering, a kind of an intellectual terrorism. These people cannot be left unchallenged.

The Art of Living doesn’t seem to be doing much about countering these allegations, in fact this is one of their policies i don't agree with, so I decided to do it. Everyone should be made aware of the truth at least as I see it.

Light should prevail.