Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sri Sri Sri Sri

Why not? If we can have Sri Sri then I am sure we can string a few more and feel elevated! I couldn't help writing this post after reading a piece titled "The Ambassador of peace" in the ToI today. Yes, you guessed it, our ambassador of peace is none other than Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
I shall refrain from commenting on his teachings or his relevance as a spiritual guru (and readers of this blog are well familiar with my views about a guru for spiritual matters). I would direct the curious reader to some really entertaining posts by Atanu Dey about his favourite diversion
I was amazed at what I read in that article. I jumped and hobbled my way to my computer when I read the "You ask, Sri Sri answers" column-let in the advertisement (I think that is what it was).
By the way, does anyone know where Sri Sri Sri Sri received his advanced degree in science at the age of 17? I have looked around and I have no sources. In case someone can get me that info I would be truly indebted. I don't even want to go into the "astonished teachers by reciting the Bhagavad Gita" at the age of four claim!

So here is the piece. I am going to type it out because I get the pleasure of hammering some imaginary nitwit in the process. They call this stress-relief! :-D My comments interleaved.

A not-to be missed part of the Mahasatsang is the Q&A with Sri Sri. A few nuggets:
Q: Do you believe in rebirth?
Sri Sri: I don't believe in it. I KNOW (there is).

Was the (there is) inserted? Because I can always say "I KNOW" and then leave the real knowledge to be guessed or altered later on! I KNOW (that you will never know what I know, for I don't know too).

Q: Guruji, you have visited so many places around the world. Which is your favourite place?
Sri Sri: (touches his heart) Right here.

Cho chweet! Please note that nearly all his answers seem to evade the basic question by giving some really clever answer. It is like someone asking "Is there God?" and a sage replying "In asking that there is God. In not knowing the answer there is God. In knowing the answer there is God and you ask is there God?" Sounds like Bill Clinton answering the question of "Did you have sex with that plump woman?". I don't think it is so difficult to say "I liked Florida" or "I am not sure whether I liked any place in particular over the other. I liked the beaches of Riviera and the dunes of the Sahara, but nothing to supersede the other". No, I am not over-reacting, just wondering why people enjoy giving cute answers to simple questions. Here is another one which was quoted in the article without being a question:

How many of you have IPOD? Everybody should have IPOD. Do you know the meaning of IPOD? It means Inner Peace and Outer Dynamism. Got it?

What is there to get in it? That's not the theory of relativity is it!? I wonder whether Apple should sue them for infringement! :-)

Q: I want to develop patience. What should I do?
Sri Sri: I will tell you next year.

Really? And till then what should I do? Sign up for half a dozen AoL classes and courses!? This is why I prefer JK. He was probably not an enlightened being nor one whom I would consider to be in touch with the Divine. He was honest and clear. Very clear. He was immersed in the daily problems of the human mind and being, but he wasn't cute. He didn't evade questions. If someone came to him asking him about his constant search, he didn't reply with a cute answer but actually patiently went into the issue and discussed it tediously with the questioner. Perhaps the snippets are taken out of context but still they only give a gimmicky feel.

Q: Who are you?
Sri Sri: First find out who you are. Then you will automatically know who I am.

Yet another gem! God! Grow up! The man is probably earnest in asking you what he did. Can you stop playing to the audience? Why couldn't you lead him to finding out who he is so that he gets an answer to who you are?

Q: What does Rama mean?
Sri Sri: You know the English word radiance. Ray comes from the sanskrit root rA... rA means ray, rashmi, light. So radiance comes from rA. You know the English word me comes from the Sanskrit root mA. mA means me. So Rama means the light in me, the light in my heart, the light within me. That is the real meaning of Rama, ok?

Not ok! Ray did not derive from any Sanskrit word. rA in sanskrit means just this:

rAti means giver, btw. So where did this whole thing about rA being ray originating from rA theory come up? Like an egg pulled out of the magician's beard (and we at least have the beard here)!  Please see for yourself. Similarly, "me" did not come from mA or any other Sanskrit word. If one were to stretch it far enough, one could at best get to mama (mum-uh and not maamaa) which means mine and its root is in aham (I). But there is no clear connection to that.
Secondly, the Indian scriptures (Padma Purana, for instance) give a very different etymology to Rama having nothing to do with any ray of light within me. The Rig Veda mentions the word Rama in certain places and whenever used as an adjective it means black or dark!! Far from a ray of light!
Adi Shankara and others have given at most 3 possible interpretations to the word Rama and none of them include the one provided by Sri Sri Sri Sri with English etymology thrown in!

I hate it when people assume we are stupid enough to be taken for a ride. I have had the fortune of meeting and interacting with ridiculously stupid people who make claims and allegations without a basis and expect me to accept them all without blinking. God! Let me at least blink!
This whole urge to appeal to the lowest common denominator (LCD) seems to be driving several "guru"s into being cute and giving these capsule answers which thousands of LCD folks can repeat ad nauseam without understanding a thing. Dimwits who are only interested in these capsules will follow the most clever and gimmicky guru. Not that it makes them any better but neither has any religion and hence people think that this is better than the austerities of a religion. People are stupid in both cases, one out of fear and the other out of stark laziness and dullness. To make matters worse these devotees start out with laziness and then are also governed by the fear of the guru's institution and paraphernalia. 

Matters of daily life cannot be addressed with cute ad-lines or by breathing techniques. It needs an alert mind which is always willing to seek and understand. Any other route is merely an escape, a drug. So it doesn't matter whether SKY has been proven to release better body-chemicals and the like or not. So does caffeine, LSD, marijuana and dark chocolate. So do all the medically prescribed drugs. It doesn't matter whether the guru has clever answers or 4-word-summaries of the Vedas to give. If the issue is that of a daily human problem, then address it head-on and don't find escapes. To organise SKY and AoL courses in a summit on environmental issues is as ridiculous as having a wine-crushing exercise at an AIDS awareness conference. Very good marketing but shabby, nevertheless. Matters of daily life cannot be tackled at Mahasatsangs by chanting and singing songs in "full-throated abandon". It could clear your throat, for sure!

I think the day people stop looking for easy escape routes is the day when anything serious, anything honest and anything right can be achieved, be it in education (and I have an article coming up about that), human relationships or the other aspects of life. It is disgusting when people conduct themselves otherwise.

12 comments:

  1. Well, Ra is Egyptian Sun God, so Sri square (or is it cube) is not exactly off the tangent you know. :-)
    Very nice write up..

    ~Sookie

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  2. Dear S,
    And the Egyptians took the long-distance course in Sanskrit from IGNOU? :-o

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  3. Anonymous2:06 PM

    Indeed thoughtful post for people like me in dilemma. 3 years back I did AOL and had amazing experience with sudharshan kriya. Since then I am on and off doing it and getting benefited appropriately as one can get from a meditation. Recently did its adv. course. I liked all the meaningless part of it ( meditation, dance etc.) But packaged with all that also come the claim & insistence from devotees that Sri Sri is God and one should be submissive and help group activities to raise funds etc. In short, I like the meditation part of it, but cann't accept the group philosphy as a whole. I wish there should be a freedom (in terms of people acceptance) to choose only what you like... in all organized groups.

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  4. Dear Anon,
    Feel free to leave your name. I am not a member of the AoL!! :-D Meditation is fine and is important. Meditation, nevertheless, is not mere sitting under a tree or on a mat and becoming mindless. Meditation that takes you deep into the mind and achieves a stillness of the chattering mind has a quality that is not gimmicky. I am not sure whether SKY is any different from drugs. It might seem like the latter has worse effects (but people confuse OD with drug intake) but the psychological dependence is nearly the same. In one you need the drug and in the other you need to keep repeating SKY and then possibly need the guru and his organisation. Any guru who can point out a path and then leave you to your own devices is worth respecting. If he is essentially available when you need guidance to go the way on your own, then he is respect-worthy. Any guru who needs you and many like you to be considered of any worth is a cult-guru and is best left to his own wants. People can trick themselves into thinking that their guru doesn't really want them and it is they who wish to be in the presence of such a great (wo)man and the sheer presence of this Divine being is salve to all wounds and pains. Well, good for them!

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  5. I am not sure whether SKY is any different from drugs.

    In my experience, it's an effective meditation (in sense it quitens the mind) based on certain pattern of breathing, non-addictive I'll add.

    Any guru who can point out a path and then leave you to your own devices is worth respecting.

    Agree. only the path that matters.

    Any guru who needs you and many like you to be considered of any worth is a cult-guru and is best left to his own wants.
    Humbly here I would like to put a point across and seek your p.o.v. too. For the sake of it, let's consider the guru is aware of meaninglessness of life. For the sheer joy he discovered/invented the game of meditation and shared with others. Seeing its success, he also created the game of social service (5H program as it's called) and enrolled people playing the game of meditation to join this game too. Some accepted by choice or mindlessely, others followed seeing them, or not knowing if there was an option. There are still few (like me) who clearly want only one offering, and have to put efforts to defend from the other in this packaged deal. And I am not going towards rightness or wrongness of such deals. The fact is such deals (cross-selling/upselling) exist in life in the matters that matter. And one has to deal with! How you do it and I do it is what can differ and be discussed.

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  6. Dear M,
    A drug is not just a drug because it is addictive but because you need it to resolve an unwanted state. Are we together? SKY doesn't seem to liberate and requires the practitioner to continuously return to it for that stress-release and mental peace. There are several folks who take heroin and enjoy it when they have and are fine otherwise. Not every consumer of drugs ends up being addicted.
    Oh! Very important. You needn't be humble at all. If you feel something you put it across as it come to your mind and we can have a discussion here. You will notice that most people who comment on this blog are not even remotely humble! :-D
    To call life meaningless is an assumption that can be debated forever. If you feel that life has a purpose and a meaning, we can debate that too. Life is well-meant in its purposelessness!!
    I think you are confusing the SKY with meditation. SKY is a technique and not meditation itself.
    A well-intentioned guru will provide the technique and be off! Gurus abound in India who try to impress with magic and miracles and techniques. How does that help the human race? Tomorrow the guru dies, there is no miracle maker, then what?
    If you found a technique to help you on your path to spiritual realisation, take it, pay a token amount as gratitude and move on. If the technique doesn't liberate you, drop it if you can and find that which is timeless.
    It is practical to pick what you like and drop what you don't (which is what, I suppose, you are claiming). But of course! Isn't that what we do in a market (be it of vegetables or human relationships)? But something that is true and right and complete is not in the purview of choice. As much as you don't chose to breathe or have the sun rise. If you are interested an earnest, seek that. Here is where words fail me. I cannot describe that which is our only means to re-connect with the Divine.

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  7. Dear E,
    Indeed insightful your comments are. Agree on SKY being a technique, and not meditation which is state of mind. Pardon my pick of words.
    Life is well-meant in its purposelessness!! ..exactly what I mean by its meaninglessness. So no debate here :)
    So I guess that leaves my quest down to practical aspects of life, where we have the illusion of making a choice. I am talking a practical person/group offering a technique/service which I choose, but along with that comes a bundle of non-choices. This seems to be way of marketing these days, i.e. riding on one choice to sell others, such that the experience of choice gets spoilt for the first, rather becomes a decision/compromise.
    May be I like cribbing to start my day :D.
    Enjoy reading you, and your replies to meaningless matters of mine.

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  8. Parvati9:30 PM

    The more popular you are, the more you have to play to the crowd, in order to detain it to yourself, in order to increase the size of the said crowd.
    And this can be done only by catering to and nurturing the superficialities of a human being, the trite humour, the clever snaps of short quick useless replies.

    In short, Kitsch begets kitsch - 'something that appeals to popular or lowbrow taste and IS OFTEN OF POOR QUALITY',

    'a tacky or lowbrow quality or condition'

    begets exactly itself...

    Sri Sri or any other Guru of a similar calibre of attitude, will never want to tap and focus and nurture the depths of the crowds' souls and the heights of their greater mind, because the majority of mankind cannot bear that heavy burden, and he will lose them as his followers.

    If Truth and Rightness cease to the motivating factors, and only external gains like gathering more and more disciples or followers in order to make more and more money for whatever purposes, then only Kitsch remains.

    We are best saved by leaving such environments and such an atmosphere to people that may be in that phase or stage of their life and evolution of consciousness, wherein even Sri Sri or similar Gurus are of assistance or immense help to perhaps hopefully for them to reach the next stage of development of consciousness.

    In short, to each unto his own.

    # As you too have remarked, I find the flippancy and lack of sincere seriousness in Sri Sri's attitude as evinced by his 'cute' replies low class and abhorrent and quite deplorable. The questions are important to the questioner, the Guru is considered to be of that exalted status which makes the disciple treat him with the utmost respect and trust in his leading. Instead the disciple is worse for the wear because he is stuck with a Guru who is an insult to the sacred clan of Gurus.

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  9. Dear P,
    Glad we (surprisingly) agree! ;-)

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  10. Anonymous2:59 PM

    I found the Sudarshan Kriya very beneficial. I did many courses after that, including the Blessing course and the Teachers' training course. I respect Guruji for his knowledge- especially the Ashtavakra Gita classes. Yes, he tends to be flippant sometimes during Q&A sessions, and I learnt to live with it, and accept and love him all the same.

    However, I find the organization filled with folks who are for personal attention, rarely allowing others to enter the inner core. I find many teachers only talk of numbers and courses, and while that is a goal per se, it is not an end in itself. So I have learnt to be detached, practice the teachings and leave the rest. I help when I can and I do not want to get too judgemental about anything. I believe that when an organization grows too big, it tends to send out mixed messages, or the true message gets garbled. So it is best to take the good in any teaching, and sometimes, even move on...perhaps any guru will wish that at some stage....

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  12. Personally, among the few I have read, I like Osho's words (which is also one of the many reasons why he appeals to me): "I can only show you the moon, but you have to understand that my finger is not the moon" [here the finger refers to his teachings/techniques of dynamic meditation]
    and on dynamic meditation he has clearly said: "This is only the door to meditation ... not meditation itself. This is the preparation for meditation"

    I reckon SKY to be something similar. I have done the basic course about 11 years ago, but did not continue, perhaps because it did not appeal to me much at the time, although it was good exercise and a revelation (at least to me) that breathing and its regulation did indeed have an impact on my mind body spectrum ...

    Note: I have used the word "appeal" ... and that, I reckon, is what the "cute answers" (Eroteme's words) of Sri Sri are there for. He knows who he is appealing to. To be fair to him - he makes no claims of being only for charity - he/his organization does charge for their sessions, and therefore appeal becomes important. Osho had appeal to - and his appeal was completely different from Sri Sri or J Krishnamurthy. Osho clearly states he wanted to reach out to "his" people ... not in the sense of people born on a particular strip of land but in the sense of people who connected with his ideas and vision. Those who did would have potential to go to him with a more receptive and open mind as opposed to one with closed due prejudices. Needless to say, receptivity is important for any experience/learning to be really enriching ... and the tool to locating a receptive audience is by appealing ... They choose who to appeal to and how, and the recipients choose whether to be appealed by it or no ... which is fair.

    Tags of "con man", "God" etc do not serve much purpose. The one thing of value is direct experience. "Baaki sab maya hai" (all the rest is illusory) as many people say :-)

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