Monday, January 25, 2010

Additional links

Its amazing how much aol propaganda one has to sort through before finding precious kernels of truth and opinions that shed a negative light on ravi shankar and the organization. I came across these interesting sites after spending some time with good-old google:

The first two links are personal assessments on an aol event and ravi shankar, and the last three are reports on aol's involvement in political matters last spring.



Art of Leaving said...

Thanks for those links, Humble Witness. If only I had done some research on Ravishankar’s political involvements in India and his desire for a pro-Hindu (as opposed to secular) government, I would have steered well clear of him.

Many people with progressive views end up falling for him because of lack of information. I can think of at least one person who previously was an anti-apartheid activist and who is now an AoL Part I and YES teacher. I doubt he would have been sucked in had he known of Ravishankar’s rightwing agenda beforehand. Now he’s so deep in, it would be almost impossible for him to face up to the truth. He feels RS has helped him get over his fears of being persecuted. It is so sad that people who fought for progressive causes end up being susceptible to someone like Shankar.

Art of Leaving said...

I feel Ravishankar’s (and other similar Gurus’) politics is a very important issue that many people outside India don’t know about, so I thought I’d post a few quotes for people who don’t have time to follow up all the article links.

Of course, people (including Ravishankar) are free to support any political party or agenda they want to, but it is sheer dishonesty on his part not to openly disclose his political interests when wooing followers the world over. His one-sided religious-political agenda back home certainly contradicts his spiritual message of a one-world-family.

WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHING IN... – Meera Nanda (May 2009)

“The work of Hindukaran is more subtle than the in-your-face Ram mandir agitation of 1990s. It is taking place through yagnas, kathas and yoga-shivirs held in temples, ashrams and public meetings, often presided over by popular and supposedly a-political gurus and “saints” whose spiritual discourses could well be lifted out of the writings of the Sangh Parivar. In many of these meetings, people are urged to take an oath to vote for the party that takes care of “Hindu interests.”...

A good place to start would be the letter L.K. Advani wrote to 1,000 sadhu-sants within days of days of releasing BJP’s election manifesto. While the manifesto is lukewarm to Hindutva, Advani’s letter lays out the red carpet for the saints to come marching straight into the government. His letter promises to establish a permanent institutional mechanism for consulting the holy men/women to “guide politics, governance and other national affairs by the lofty ideals as enshrined in the concept of Ram Rajya.”

... The 1,000 sadhu-sants who received Advani’s pledge of allegiance were chosen from a hand-picked list put together by VHP. While the complete list remains a secret, we know that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Swami Ramdev received the letter...

... In late January, VHP and RSS organized the Dharma Raksha Manch in Mumbai which gave the pride of place to popular gurus including Swami Ramdev, Rameshbhai Oza, Sadhavi Rithambara and Asaram Bapu. In March, the Manch came out with an 11-point Hindu charter. Within days, BJP announced that it had included all the 11 demands in its manifesto. This was followed by Advani’s fawning letter to 1,000 sadhu-sants for which he won great praise from Swami Ramdev, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and other Sangh Parivar representatives....

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has long been active in Hindutva causes having to do with conversion and the state oversight of temples. These gurus with mass appeal have been a major conduit for mainstreaming the Hindutva agenda.”

Art of Leaving said...

A few more article quotes:


“The release of the Hindi version of BJP leader L K Advani’s autobiography, My Country My Life, in Bhopal last week was noticed for the high-profile presence of spiritual gurus, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Swami Ramdev.... The gurus were profuse in their admiration for Advani and only stopped short of endorsing him for the prime ministerial position.

... In one of his speeches in Singapore a few months ago, Advani had cited “India’s growing soft power” while referring to spiritual gurus like Sri Sri and Mata Amritanandamayi. The active association with these “voices of reconciliation”, say some within the party, may shore up Advani’s soft power as well.”


‘‘If none of the parties agree to resolve the issue,’’ Sri Sri adds: ‘‘Parliament is to enact a legislation gifting the Ram Janmabhoomi to the Hindu community and keeping the status quo of all other places of worship.’’ ‘‘Fingers are being pointed at the Muslim community around the world,’’ he points out. ‘‘If Indian Muslims can make this gesture, at least it will make a huge difference.’’

NEW MARKETING IN KASHMIR - S.Mitra Kalita (August 2008)

[A] 2003 article in The Economist detailed the blurry lines between the teachings and reality among Hinduism’s so-called godmen, saying it was very difficult to separate Hindutva ideas from Hindu sages, the spiritual from the religious.

“On the issue of Ayodhya, for example, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar might be expected to urge compromise on his Hindu disciples. He has a huge following, a message of universal human values and access to, as he sees it, ‘desperate and helpless’ politicians who ask him for a blessing and spiritual support,” The Economist wrote. “Art of Living, moreover, is open to people of all faiths. But, in fact, discussing the Ram temple, its guru starts to sound less like a spiritual leader and more like a politician, talking of the long history of ‘appeasement of the minority community’, and of the unfairness of a system that subsidises Muslims to go on the haj to Mecca, while making Hindus pay a fee to take a dip at the Kumbh Mela.”

Anonymous said...

Art of Leaving ,

While narrating real anecdotes & events about such gurujis , obviously the behaviour of the masses also gets mentioned. I have not succumbed to this disease called political correctness.

One ought to be familiar "exceptions prove the rule".

That I invariably quote Ramana Bhagavan , Kaanchi Shankaracharya , cite Upanishads should at least let incensed & informed detractors , know I am no racist or India hater.

When I highlight faults of Indian establishment this labelling of me as racist/india hater only serves to deflect.

Many of these gurujis are inextricably linked with politicians also.

Initially before coming across Jody's blog I was commenting in a "hindu nationalist " IIT blogger living in America. The day I voiced my opinion about SSRS (based on facts not speculation) the blogger banned me categorically stating " not a word against hindu gurus; only christians bashing allowed ".

Rest of the indians commenting also supported his stand.

The burnt child dreads the fire. Hence I wrote " I shun Indians ".

If certain folks want to selectively pounce upon certain phrases & misconstrue in their strong desire to prove themselves right I plead not guilty.

Art of Leaving said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for writing me to explain your position. I think you often make very useful and pertinent points, but they get lost on people when combined with certain sweeping statements that hurt people's feelings. I'm not saying one shouldn't point out the wrongs in one's own culture. But I think there are ways of doing it that will constructively engage people. If some nationalist blogs go to the extreme of banning all critique of Hindu Gurus or Indian culture, then I understand your frustration. But I feel it will serve your purpose better (and help all of us too) if your statements don't go to the opposite extreme of those nationalists. Perhaps just a little more nuance in some expressions is needed - not to come across as oversimplistic and stereotyping, that's all. Text is a difficult medium - it is easy to misunderstand someone. As I said before, often you make very good and perceptive points, and I enjoy reading them. Thanks for participating in the blog.

Kind regards.

Anonymous said...

Art of Leaving ,

Thank you. It is a luxury to be understood says Emerson.

"constructively engage people"??

My past experiences have mellowed me. Many are not willing to walk the talk. In fact I have only been USED very often. Now I am too old & exhausted to " engage people".

My doctor asked me to take to writing everything as I have confided my life story only to my child.

Yeah , writing is cathartic. And I like the anonymity I get here.

I might sound abrasive to many who are disinterested in the crux of my comments save nitpicking. Right from school days through college to workplace I have had to skirmish with the mean minded.

Sorry I cannot go against the grain of my nature. Am not particularly aiming for bouquets.It is SATHYAM AEva jeyathae ! Not jingoism.

Anonymous said...

Art of Leaving ,

A lie by repeated assertion DOES NOT become the Truth.

I have been called a western stooge , traitor , muslim christian , leftist , unpatriotic yadayada umpteen times.

Art of Leaving said...

OK, Anonymous, no need to change your nature. What about a signature at the end of some of your more strongly worded posts, something like: "Just don't ever call me an India basher! My views are much more complex than you'll ever imagine or text could ever convey!" ;-)

By the way, sometimes you're quite sharp at picking things up, but I really don't think Jivani is the same as Vinita who posted earlier. The input and style is too different, and there's not that "Jai Gurudev"-feel. You really came down a bit hard on her, hey. Anyway, I know I'm also not innocent when it comes to getting paranoid about some people's identities and intentions. Perhaps we need to chill a bit. ;-)

I agree writing is good catharsis. Thanks to KLIM who's offering all of us (friends and foes alike)this space for expressing and healing ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Art of Leaving ,

Thanks for your opinion. About Jivani , her comments endorsing Gopal's erroneous labelling me as india hater whatever triggered it.

I am weary of repeating that discussing these gurus cannot but bring Indian politics & allied matters.

Art of Leaving said...

Thanks for explaining what it was that triggered stuff for you. I now understand it better.

Anonymous said...

Art of Leaving ,

Peace at last :))

Thank you.