Monday, January 25, 2010

Healings or Hoax?

One of the main methods used by Ravishankar and AoL to bolster up the faith of his devotees and lure unsuspecting newcomers to the fold, is by constant testimonies about blessings and miraculous healings.

During the 2006 Navaratri celebrations Ravishankar gave darshan to international devotees at the Bangalore ashram. While circulating among the country groups to hear what projects each country was planning (note: as usual his primary interest was in projects rather than in people’s spiritual/personal concerns), he requested an Indian devotee to share his experiences with the Blessings course.

The devotee said Guruji had sent him to do blessings in certain Indian provinces where large numbers of farmers were committing suicide due to increasing debts. He claimed to have blessed approximately twenty-eight thousand people within a few days and rambled off statistics about how many blind and deaf people gained sight and hearing, how many got cured from depression, etc. He even claimed that people saw him as Guruji during the blessings and demanded to know why he had not previously warned them it was Guruji himself who would impart the blessings.

He was not a self-confident speaker and people were more interested in where Ravishankar was in the darshan queue than in listening to his testimonies. So every now and again he would lose heart and fall silent, with Ravishankar calling out: “Continue, continue.” I felt a bit sorry for this guy, thinking he was being taught a lesson on self-assertion.

At the time I was sceptical about the long-lasting effect or authenticity of all the reported healings. I wondered if the deaf persons who acquired hearing were able to speak/understand their mother tongue afterwards. I knew that deaf people whose hearing is restored by means of cochlear implants often have a long and difficult journey to distinguish sounds and learn to speak. I wondered if these blessings instantly conferred the gift of speaking as well. Similarly with blind persons who gained sight. It’s not just about gaining sight but also learning to distinguish shapes and know what you are seeing. As for people with depression, how can one claim an immediate cure? It is easy to bless someone and make them feel better for the moment, but what about next week, next month, next year?

Incidentally, someone who has worked for eighteen years with deaf children, some of whose parents occasionally take them to Christian faith healing services, has told me that she has not seen a single case where they have not returned disappointed. Some children who had some degree of hearing beforehand said afterwards that they heard better, but when tested no improvement was detected.

Similar to many Christian faith healing groups, AoL is quick to exploit people’s testimonies of healings to promote kriya, their courses, the organization and the guru. AoL cameras are always ready to register testimonies. But if the same person comes back next week and says the old condition has returned, would s/he make it again to a camera? Would anyone get to hear of it? Not a chance.

Healing should come with responsibility. If miraculous mass healings are claimed, they should be accompanied by scientific investigation and report of the cases (before and after, as well as long-term follow-up). And if scientifically validated, well, let’s have them bless and heal all sick people without exception!

As for myself, I have not been blessed or healed – neither physically, nor emotionally, nor spiritually. From an already fragile emotional state I was steadily pushed to the verge of a complete breakdown. Who was there to bless me then? If Ravishankar can bless and heal some, I can also testify from my own experience that he is capable of doing very deep damage.

With all the evidence of deception and manipulation mounting against Ravishankar and AoL, I now wonder if the reason for that devotee’s poor public speaking skills weren’t perhaps because he was instructed to fabricate lies about healings that never took place, rather than due to a natural shyness on his part.

1 comment:

P Naik said...

Perhaps, Sri3 watches Benny Hinn, Popoff and other snake-oil preachers who preach the Prosperity Gospel and sell the Boaz Miracle idea.