Posts Tagged 'bangalore'

Scrap FCRA and Save the Republic


Normally reticent and mild mannered Manmohan Singh in an interview to Science magazine during February mentioned that American NGO’s are funding the protests against Kudankulam nuclear plant. He also blamed protests against genetically modified crops on groups which were funded from the US and Scandinavian countries.

He said that “they are not fully appreciative of the development challenges that our country faces” . This is a major revelation coming from the PM and unfortunately our media which is frenzy or agenda driven has not fully comprehended the dimensions of the issues raised by our PM. Let us understand the nature of the threat posed by these NGOs or WMD’s –Weapons of Mass Destruction – to our republic and the need to stem the rot here and now.

Among the largest members of the Indian economy is the NGO sector or what is known as the Third Sector or Civil Society (other than government and private) in academic circles.

Two important criteria are that they should be independent from government and organizations not meant for making profit. But many get money from the government or from foreign governments. The type of activities they are involved is mind-boggling which can extent from “aging issues” to “corruption” to “human rights” to “waste management”. Many of them call themselves “Civil Society” and involve in socio-political activities even though they do not directly participate in the electoral process. Many are Church-related organization and others involve in human rights issues as a civil society organization. The funding for many of these civil society groups is substantially international.

Before we proceed let us look at some numbers.

The international flow of funds is regulated by the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act [FCRA Act] of the Central Government which the ministry of home affairs has re-formulated now. In the period from 2001 to 2010 [ 9 years] such organizations received more than Rs 70000 crore and in the year 2009-10 [of which data is available] it was Rs 10338 crore

Salient Features for the year 2009-2010 [ year for which latest data is available]

Its salient features are as below:

I. A total of 38436 Associations have been registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act up to 31.3.2010. During the year 2009-10, 2022 Associations were granted registration and 388 Associations were granted prior permission to receive foreign contribution.

II. 21508 Associations reported a total receipt of an amount of Rs.10, 337.59 crore as foreign contribution.

III. Among the States and the Union Territories, the highest receipt of foreign contribution was reported by Delhi (Rs. 1815.91 crore), followed by Tamil Nadu (Rs. 1663.31 crore) and Andhra Pradesh (Rs. 1324.87 crore).

IV. Among the districts, the highest receipt of foreign contribution was reported by Chennai (Rs. 871.60 crore), followed by Bengaluru (Rs. 702.43 crore) and Mumbai (Rs. 606.63 crore).

V. The list of donor countries is headed by the USA (Rs. 3105.73 crore) followed by Germany (Rs. 1046.30 crore) and UK (Rs. 1038.68 crore).

VI The list of foreign donors is topped by the Gospel For Asia Inc, USA (Rs. 232.71 crore) followed by the Fundacion Vicente Ferrer, Barcelona, Spain (Rs.228.60 crore) and the World Vision Global Centre, USA (Rs.197.62 crore).

VII. Among the Associations which reported receipt of foreign contribution, the highest amount of foreign contribution was received by the World Vision of India, Chennai, Tamil Nadu (Rs.208.94 crore), followed by the Rural Development Trust, Ananthapur, A.P. (Rs.151.31 crore) and Shri Sevasubramania Nadar Educational Charitable Trust, Chennai, T.N. (Rs. 94.28 crore).

VIII The highest amount of foreign contribution was received and utilized for Establishment Expenses (Rs. 1482.58 crore), followed by Rural Development (Rs. 944.30 crore), Welfare of Children (Rs. 742.42 crore), Construction and Maintenance of school/college (Rs.630.78 crore) and Grant of Stipend/scholarship/assistance in cash and kind to poor/deserving children (Rs. 454.70 crore).

(We have provided some salient statistics from the Home ministry web site in Tables 1 to 5- See Appendix)

Some important observations.

Establishment expenses consist of buying land, buildings, jeeps, setting up offices, mobiles, laptops, cameras, salaries, consultancy fees, honorarium, and foreign travel etc., constituting nearly 50 % of the expenses and in some cases as high as 70%. This goes against the grain of service motto where the ultimate recipient is supposed to get the maximum. Now, such organizations even recruit “executives” from management institutions. Most of the top recipients are Church or Church related organizations. They use the funds for service as well as religious purposes.

However, they are not covered by Right to Information Act as they are not part of Government. For instance, this writer has tried unsuccessfully to get the annual accounts from the web site of the top 25 recipients, many of whom are often reported in newspapers and TV and stressing the importance of “transparency” in the functioning of the government. Many do not have any information on their web sites. Some of the web sites contain nothing on finances. These Civil society groups who day in day out harangue us on TV talk shows about transparency and disclosures for the government and corporate sector etc., should practice what they preach

There is a long list of illustrative programmes /activities to be carried out by these associations receiving foreign contributions. This is given in the Home Ministry web site.

More importantly the amended act suggests that acceptance of foreign contributions should be within the broad parameters as listed in the appendix 1

We have provided in Appendix 1 to 4 some salient aspects of the act including a paltry punishment for violating the act.


Nature of Use of Funds:

Significant portion of the received funds are used for ‘Establishment Expenses” which is against the basic cannon of charity work. It is expected that Charity involves lesser fixed assets creation particularly of the flamboyant nature. Also the jet setting aspect of the NGO’s provide clues to the nature of expenditure. Whether it is New York or Geneva we find members of Indian NGO community lobbying for some cause mostly of human rights. This creates a closed loop wherein they receive money to further some agenda and for that they receive more money

Religious Conversion:

Large amount of funds go to Christian organizations whose purpose is conversion. This act of “soul harvesting” or “planting of the Church” is an anachronistic practice of nineteenth century which is totally incongruous in the twenty first century where faith based political movements like the Church movements are disappearing from Europe their cradle of growth. Europe which has given up on the Church is trying to overcome its guilt by exporting Christianity to India. The recipient organizations may argue that they are serving poor but do they need European money to serve Indian poor.

Also some organizations like World Vision appear to be secular or non-denominational in India. But the fact of the matter is that is Christian in origin and membership. This has been affirmed by the Supreme Court of USA. We can take them as a representative example wherein they do not mention much about their exclusive Christian identity when campaigning for funds within India

To quote from their website

History of our Christian identity

World Vision was founded 60 years ago as a Christian humanitarian organization. Motivated by our faith in Jesus Christ, World Vision’s work with the poor and oppressed is a demonstration of God’s unconditional love for all people.

As a Christian organization, World Vision has virtually the same Statement of Faith included in its September 1950 articles of incorporation. While about 20 percent of our worldwide staff are of other faiths, all prospective staff at World Vision U.S. are required to sign that Statement of Faith or, as an alternative, the Apostles’ Creed.

Far from being narrow in scope, the Apostles’ Creed and World Vision’s Statement of Faith reflect the basic theological beliefs shared for millennia by the vast majority of orthodox Christian traditions — Roman Catholic, Mainline Protestant, Pentecostal, evangelical, or Orthodox.

Issues of the current court case

The issues at the center of the Spencer case — the plaintiffs’ denial of the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus Christ — are central to Christianity. By definition, a Christian believes that Jesus Christ is the only son of God. World Vision believes one can be a good person, a moral person — even a religious person — without believing this. But World Vision believes that one cannot be a Christian unless one can confess, as the Apostle Peter did in Matthew 16:16 (NIV), “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

To be clear, we hire Christians, imperfect and flawed, not because we think they are superior, but because we believe that any real success will come only through the presence of Christ in each employee’s heart and His power through prayer in each staff member’s mind and hands.

The plaintiffs in this case signed the Statement of Faith when they were hired, but later changed their core beliefs. It was only when these staff members stopped attending World Vision’s weekly chapel services and instead began alternative worship and study sessions at work that the change in their beliefs became obvious. We regret the departure of our former colleagues, and we pray they have been able to find areas of humanitarian service that are compatible with their new beliefs.

Hiring people of shared beliefs

World Vision believes that staff commitment to core Christian beliefs as we understand them from the Bible is essential for maintaining our Christian identity. Organizationally, our humanitarian work is done as a reflection of — and an extension of — our Christian faith. We represent Christ in our work.

Hiring people of shared belief is a common practice among charitable institutions, many of whom receive federal funding. A non-profit that advocates for animal rights, for example, would be unlikely to hire a hunter or a non-vegetarian. An environmental organization is unlikely to hire a global warming skeptic. Non-profit organizations are defined by their core mission and motivation. To hire those uncommitted to that mission would be to undermine the organization

Who we are and how we serve

World Vision has worked hard to be clear with our donors in our communication and transparent about our Christian identity. We do not want to take donations under false pretences.

Similarly, World Vision always identifies itself as a Christian organization in the communities where we serve, including many where there are few, if any, Christians. World Vision works in many countries where the majority of people follow another religion, including some areas where Christian teaching is not welcome. In all cases, we respect the local culture and abide by local laws.

World Vision is a signatory to the Red Cross Code of Conduct and does not proselytize. That is, we never require aid recipients to listen to a religious message as a condition of our help, nor do we use aid as an inducement for recipients to change religion. We also never discriminate on the basis of religion in giving aid; we serve every child in need that we possibly can, of any faith or

Our staff worldwide

More than 80 percent of World Vision’s 40,000 staff members worldwide are Christian.

We work in some countries where there are few Christians with the needed professional qualifications, and in some where it is illegal to hire only Christians. However, in each of the nearly 100 countries where World Vision works, our leadership is Christian.

Federal law

In the United States, nearly 50 years of federal law has guaranteed that faith-based organizations can consider religion in hiring staff. The 1964 Civil Rights Act explicitly allows religious preference in employment by any “religious association, corporation, educational institution or society.”

Similarly, Congress has never said that faith-based organizations lose their hiring rights if they receive federal grants. Neither have the courts. In 1987, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that religious hiring rights do not violate the Constitution’s ban on government preference for religion.

The above mentioned quote highlights the dubious role played by mainly religious organizations presenting themselves as social or secular organizations in our context but receiving massive funds for global Christian activities

Not only that, we also finds that the Government of India involves mainly Christian organizations for carrying out their social agenda about Aids or reducing TB. Lets take another instance.The Organizations that currently comprise the National TB Consortium India are the Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA), Damien Foundation India Trust (DFIT), German Leprosy and TB Relief Association (GLRA), LEPRA Society, PATH India, Project Concern International (PCI) India, TB Alert India and World Vision India

We do not find Rama Krishna Mission or that of Amritanandamayi in these government funded endeavors

The power of the Converting Lobby

The planting of the cross [conversion] among the poorer and weaker segments creates social tensions. If a girl gets converted then her parents and siblings are impacted giving raise to family and social tensions. But if even SC points this out there is a furore and the court is asked to erase it from its records.

How much the power of the church and its lobbies has spread far and wide is illustrated by the Supreme Court altering the wordings in its judgment in the famous Dara Singh Case

In the supreme Court of India-Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction.Criminal appeal nb. 1366 of 2005 Rabindra Kumar Pal @ Dara Singh …. Appellant(s) Versus Republic of India…. Respondent(s) with Criminal appeal no: 1259 of 2007 And Criminal appeal nos: 1357-1365

Its original verdict, the apex court observed, “the intention was to teach a lesson to Graham Staines about his religious activities, namely, converting poor tribals to Christianity. All these aspects have been correctly appreciated by the High Court, which modified the sentence of death into life imprisonment with which we concur”. This was later modified as, “more than 12 years have elapsed since the act was committed, we are of the opinion that the life sentence awarded by the High Court need not be enhanced in view of the factual position discussed in the earlier paras.”

Secondly, the sentence, “It is undisputed that there is no justification for interfering in someone’s belief by way of use of force, provocation, conversion, incitement or upon a flawed premise that one religion is better than the other” (the meaning of the constitutional principle of equality of faiths and non-discrimination in matters of religion) was replaced by “There is no justification for interfering in someone’s religious belief by any means”.

The facts are as follows: while upholding the life sentence on Dara Singh, main accused in the Staines murder case, Justices P. Sathasivam and B.S. Chouhan observed that the murder had taken place in an atmosphere that had been poisoned by the conversion activism of foreign missionaries in that part of Orissa. They said in their judgment pronounced in open court:

 “It is undisputed that there is no justification for interfering in someone’s belief by way of use of force, provocation, conversion, incitement or upon a flawed premise that one religion is better than the other.”

However, our two Supreme Court judges, proved even more nimble-footed than what John Dayal and company had expected. The original judgement was pronounced on 21 Jan. (a Friday), and the cacophony orchestrated by the Christian lobby started straightaway, reaching a crescendo during the weekend and on the following Monday.

On 25 Jan. (Tuesday), Sathasivam and Chouhan re-opened the matter in open court and announced the deletions / changes. There are some reports that the counsels for the two parties (the State and Dara Singh) were given notice to attend, but this is not verifiable as yet. What is certain is that there was no application for a Review Petition or any other form of legal representation before the two judges, asking them to reconsider their observations already on record. It was a suo motu act by the two judges. Clearly, Dayal and his cohorts would have been delighted and overjoyed with the supersonic speed of the two judges and their commendable powers of foresight and anticipation.

What can possibly account for this change of mind and heart? Divine intervention, a hyperactive conscience? Impossible to pinpoint, for mere mortals. What happened was the observations quoted above (“It is undisputed that there is no justification for interfering in…) were deleted / expunged and replaced by the platitudinous and ambivalent sentence, “There is no justification for interfering in someone’s religious belief by any means.” This piece of pontification has no judicial import at all, either in the case under discussion or in general. All that can be said is that the somersault of this Bench in this case will be debated for quite some time.

The above mentioned example shows that the power of Church for converting religion has been made in to a major fundamental right and it is supported by Global funds. We would like to point out that the right to convert does not include the right to convert using foreign money.

We also find that from the point of funding as well as conversion activities the so called “New Age or Evangelical” or “born again Christians” are much more active compared to the traditional Catholic or Protestant churches of India. Of course this needs another article.



Ground Report India (GRI)
Committed for true ground reports and freedom of expression. An independent and apolitical international online-publication for ground reporting of India.. For articles: publication AT
Wednesday, March 10, 2010


This writer was part of a fact-finding team that inquired into the “attack” on the Holy Family Church, Hinkal, in Mysore in February 2002. The team had found out, among other things, that the incident was a minor one – a minor scuffle in the church premises and a broken window-pane. The incident should have been localised and contained. But, it was blown out of proportion and internationalized by the media and the self-styled leaders and spokesmen of the minority communities. It was a classic example of vested interests making a mountain out of a molehill and spreading distress and divisions among neighbours of different faiths and provoke religious sentiments and fan the flames of hatred”. (Report attached).

I was again part of another fact-finding team that visited Managalore and Udupi following violent incidents there in September 2008. The report* of this team too is attached for your ready reference.

Yes, no civil society can condone violence. But mere condemnation is not a method to avert the repetition of violence. We have to find out if the violence is deliberate and unprovoked, or due to provocation. If it is the former, then there is one set of solutions, which mostly involve applying the law and severely punishing the perpetrators of the violence. However, if there is provocation, then we have to study the issue in greater detail. We have to understand why there has been a provocation for the violence, and who are the persons or organisations behind the provocation.

The real source of danger to the Indian Christian community is not the handful of Hindu extremists. Most of the violent incidents have been due to aggressive evangelization and faith-marketing. Other than this there have been few attacks on Christians. Finally the sensitive and sensible Christians must realize that acts of certain “born-again”, cultic and splinter groups among them who denigrate Hindu gods and abuse Hindu rituals as ” barbaric” are the root cause of tension between Christian and Hindu communities. Christian leaders known for their erudition, equipoise and empathy should come out in the open to disown such acts of intolerance.

It is worth recalling at this juncture what Fr. Adolf Washington, media coordinator, Archdiocese of Bangalore, wrote in Deccan Herald some time ago:

“There are several groups of people doing the rounds in Bangalore adopting persuasive techniques not just to convert people but also to spread animosity against mainstream Christian denominations.
They hurl invectives against the teachings of Christian denominations and even induce people to tender a written “resignation” to the pastor or priest. Since some of these groups do not even accept the divinity of Christ, in effect, their conversion should not be understood as conversion to Christianity but to their organisation. Mainstream Christian denominations do not go on a conversion spree, only splinter groups and cultic groups do so probably for some self-gain.”

Terms such as “evangelistic campaign”, “missionary strategy”, “campus crusade”, “occupying non-Christian areas”, a “blitzkrieg” of missionaries, and sending “reinforcements” sound more appropriate to military enterprises than to Christian witness to God’s redeeming love in Jesus Christ. The statistical approach implied in the words “the unreached millions” is derogatory to neighbours of other faiths.”Unreached” by whom? When Indian Christians themselves use these phrases, which have originated outside the country, to describe their neighbours living next door to them in the community, Christians should not be surprised if the nehigbours are offended. (Courage for Dialogue- Dr Stanley Samartha).

Call it the irrational Hindu anger at being cheated of destiny. Call it the Hindu backlash at the growing fanaticism in other communities. Call it the end of the tether for Hindu patience and tolerance. India’s cycles of violence continue because it is only seldom that we have allowed healing to take place. It is imperative that our ears be made sensitive to the heartbeat of the ‘other’ community or caste. And we must all assist and permit a true healing. Stop spreading hatred, against any particular community, Hindu or Muslim, or those who are branded as our enemies, like butter on hot bread. And stop being merchants of hate. We must learn to overcome hatred by love
All of us would be doing a great service to the cause of communal and religious amity and peace in this country if we learn to show a little humility and a little diffidence about the correctness of our views. We should not seek to satisfy our thirst for ego and vanity by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred and jealousy. We have to teach ourselves that consideration for others is nobler than muscling our way to the front.

About 250 leaders from 11 Churches and denominations who met recently in Bangalore resolved not to condemn or denigrate deities of other religions, or the traditions that other religious believers hold as sacred. They also have decided to “work positively to build a harmonious relationship with people of all religions and cultures.”

I have written these lines at the risk of being branded as anti-Christian, anti-Church and ‘the blue-eyed boy” of RSS. But, I muster courage from the following a couplet from the famous Urdu poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz:

Speak: your lips are free
Speak: your tongue is still yours
Speak: this lissome body is yours
Speak: this life is yours
Speak: so that the truth can prevail ….
(Bol ke lab azaad hain tere Bol Zabaan ab tak teri hain Bol yeh sutwan jism hai tera Bol ke jaan ab tak teri hai Bol ke sach zinda hai ab tak …. )

Column By:
P. N. Benjamin

How church destroyed Swami Nithyananda! – Rajiv Malhotra

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

When the sex scandal of Swami Nithyananda suddenly erupted on March 2, 2010, I was already in Delhi as part of a group to go to Kumbh Mela. I was also finalizing my new book which deals specifically with Tamil Nadu religious politics, and in particular with the role of various nexuses based overseas. So I decided to jump into the eye of the storm of this scandal in order to investigate whether similar nexuses were at work in this case. Naturally, at one level I have seen this scandal through the framework of a civilization encounter in which Vedic culture is pitted against the Dravidian divisiveness that is being backed by Christian evangelism. At another level, I found that the sensationalized media reports were too one-sided, and none of them had a single statement to report from the swami himself. Furthermore, there was chaos and mismanagement of the crisis from Swami Nithyananda’s inner circle. In hindsight, things might have turned out differently had they managed more sensibly and faster – which I will elaborate later in this article. Given this, another interest of mine has been to extrapolate important lessons from this episode for other Hindu organizations, which I predict will face similar scandals as and when their weaknesses become understood by those opposed to them. This article highlights my findings at these multiple levels and issues.

During this 2-week investigative period, I have been loyal to my pledge to give Swami Nithyananda’s organization the benefit of doubt and to report their side of the story. Besides wanting to balance out the one-sided media depictions, I wanted access to the ashram’s core group for my own research on the broader subject of civilization encounters. I respect the sensitivities of that organization consisting of many decent and dedicated devotees who have sacrificed a great deal and stand to lose a lot.

But I have concluded that the situation is now beyond repair for Swami Nithyananda and that his continued involvement can only damage the broader interests of dharma as well as jeopardize the ashramites. Along with two other sympathizers who are not ashramites, I have personally recommended to Swami Nithyananda that the best course at this stage would be for him to resign completely from his organization. He should turn it over to a small team of senior Hindu mahatmas, so that the assets can be used in the best interests of dharma. Further, under the guidance of these mahatmas he must live a quiet life as a sadhu devoid of any institutional responsibilities. Because the head of any organization must accept responsibility that “the buck stops here,” only such a move can salvage the organization and the reputation of dharma at large. Over several years, this resignation would hopefully reduce the massive pressure that has built up against him personally, and enable him to live peacefully as a sadhu. It is up to him to accept or reject this advice. The basis for this conclusion becomes clearer once the reader has gone through the rest of this article.

I want to begin by examining some principles about the relationships between siddhis (extraordinary yogic powers), morality, Tantra and sex. This will provide the framework in which to interpret what has happened. Then I will turn to my initial interest in pursuing the challenges facing Hinduism in south India from a variety of forces.

Siddhis (Extraordinary Yogic Powers) and Morality

A few days ago, I had the honor of having a two-hour private conversation with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at his ashram in Rishikesh. I introduced myself as an independent researcher who is writing a series of books on Indian civilization in the context of the global challenges and opportunities. One of my volumes will be specifically on the major global gurus since the 1960s – including Krishnamurti, Swami Muktananda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Pabhupada, among others – as well as living global gurus such as Sri Sri himself. I have been investigating what happened to such gurus, in terms of the shifts in their Western followers over time, their scandals, their Indian followers and critics, and also how each guru negotiated his/her position sandwiched between Indian orthodoxy on one side and Western modernity on the other. The relevance of this in the context of Swami Nithyananda will become clear very soon.

The first provocative question I asked Sri Sri concerned the nature of yogic powers: What is the relationship between siddhis and morality? If siddhis are a scientific phenomena dealing with powers that can be harnessed by all humans then one must bear in mind that science deals with truths that are morally neutral. If Einstein was declared to have lived an immoral life it would not invalidate his scientific theories. A person who designs aircrafts or any other complex technological systems may or may not be moral in order to be effective in his technical work. In other words, rtam (the patterns of the cosmos) which we discover and call science, functions independently of human morality. This is why a scientific principle can be used either morally or immorally, because it is independent of morality. There are moral persons who lack any siddhis or even ordinary scientific competence. Conversely, there are great siddhas (like Ravana) who lack morality. Sri Sri’s pranayama techniques would also produce results for an immoral person.

Sri Sri seemed impressed by this question, and agreed with my overall position on the independence between siddhis and morality. But he pointed out that the moral dimension, while not determining the siddhis, was also important because it led to receiving the grace of the divine. I agree with him.

So there are two separate phenomena involved: (i) spiritual technologies that are objective and that allow anyone to harness spiritual energies, and (ii) morality which is important in itself, not for attaining siddhis, but in order to have a positive relationship with the divine. Either one can be developed without the other; however, the dharma tradition encourages us to cultivate both. The reason that meditation systems prescribe things like vegetarian diet, ahimsa, etc. is because an inappropriate lifestyle interferes with the mental tranquility required to advance. This lifestyle change can be appreciated regardless of whether one believes in a personal God. This absence of a personal God is clear in Buddhist meditation. Different Hindu systems place different levels of emphasis upon a personal God for the yoga to function. This is why many secular and scientifically minded persons are also drawn towards meditation techniques. In other words, something cannot be a science if it depends upon morality, because science is objective and stands independent of morality.

The relevance of this question is as follows: Many persons who have learned advanced meditation from Swami Nithyananda want to know if any moral breaches by him would invalidate the whole Hindu claim of achieving higher states of consciousness. When a far worse sex scandal against the legendry Swami Muktananda emerged in the 1990s, involving charges by a large number of his Western female disciples, the Western academy rashly condemned not only one man’s morality, but the whole legitimacy of the Indian tradition itself. In that series of debates (with Risa scholars like Sarah Caldwell, etc.), I took the same position then as I am taking now: that Muktananda’s capabilities in harnessing spiritual energies are separate and independent from whether or not he violated any code of morality.

Patanjali warns against getting lured by siddhis which appear along the way when one practices advanced meditation persistently. One is not supposed to indulge in them. This warning is found in various Hindu systems that deal with the body as a vehicle for spiritual evolution, because these energies are very powerful and can get out of control. Another point that is worth noting is that the techniques taught by Swami Nithyananda are not his original ones; he has made it clear repeatedly that they are from the Shiva Sutras which have a long history in our civilization. I feel that he does have the siddhi of being able to transmit these techniques very effectively to others. For instance, I have never before in my life been able to sit still and alert in meditation for the whole night, but he had a few hundred persons in a large hall achieving this. The point here is similar to saying that the mathematics and golf I have learned from someone is not invalidated when the teacher is found to be immoral.

Hence, the issue of his morality must be pursued separately and independently from whether his siddhis are genuine.

Is Tantra a Part of Hinduism?

The second question that I asked Sri Sri could not be completely dealt with in the time available for our meeting. I hope to pursue this some day with him and with various other acharyas for my own benefit. Its significance in the present scandal becomes clear soon. I asked whether the Shiva Sutras are valid, pointing out that among the 112 spiritual enlightenment techniques taught in them, about 6 deal with sexual contact between a male yogi and a female yogini. Kashmir Shaivism as well as the Tantra traditions have included exemplars that practiced these techniques. Recently, Osho tried to revive them and nowadays Deepak Chopra has brought some elements of these into his repertoire. Sunthar Vishvalingam, a US based scholar of Tantra and Kashmir Shaivism, is one of the voices who brings out the authenticity of these approaches in the tradition, despite the common rejections by society at large. The tradition considers itself not suitable for mainstream society and is meant only for a small subset of people.

Many popular Hindu rituals and symbols have emerged out of the Tantra traditions – such as Shiva lingam, etc. The Tantra and Vedic traditions were not separate until recent times. The Vedic-Tantric integration is found in Adi Shankara all the way to Jiva Goswami (the great integrator of Vaishnavism who took Ramanuja’s ideas further), and even more recently in the life of Sri Ramakrishna. The Bihar School of Yoga has Tantra practitioners, but they do it privately and not publicly.

I have an unpublished monograph that shows the history of this shift in Indian consciousness concerning Tantra. It was under British rule that certain Indian leaders (such as Ram Mohan Roy) started to condemn (as part of their “reform” of Hinduism) those aspects of Hinduism that bothered puritan Christian values. It must be noted that Christianity has had a very negative posture towards the human body starting with the Biblical episode of Origin Sin. This is why female priests (called “witches”) got demonized by the Church in its very official genocide of several million practitioners across Europe. This Church prosecution was called the Inquisition and was widespread for a few centuries. The use of shakti and anything concerning the body as a spiritual resource was considered not only immoral but also demonic, and was outlawed with draconian enforcement. The term “occult” was used to refer to a vast assortment of such practices and was heavily condemned by the Church as the work of the Devil.

This mentality entered India under the British. The Criminal Tribes Act of India was passed by the British in the late 1800s. It listed several dozen tribes that practiced such “evil” techniques, and they were officially persecuted into extinction. A middle-class “whitened” Hinduism evolved as the mark of being “civilized” on British terms. We could be proud of our identity, now that it was “cleansed” of “primitive” practices of our ancestors.

In this history of removing Tantra out of Hinduism, some people include Swami Vivekananda among those who undermined Tantra. I disagree with this charge. He was saying a separate set of things to his Western audiences than to Indians. In his Western lecture tours, he presented a Hinduism that Westerners could relate to and appreciate, but he did not ask Indians to shift their practice. It is unfortunate that after his death, the Ramakrishna Mission he started has diluted itself into a sort of pseudo-Christianity. Kali and other related Tantra deities, symbols and rituals that were dear to Ramakrishna himself, have become “hidden” for the “private” use by the monks, but are marginalized publicly and considered as an embarrassment. Their lead in this direction has spread across modern Hinduism to such an extent that Vedic Hinduism has become separated from Tantra, and Tantra is now widely condemned by many Hindu gurus. This is also a factor that worked against Swami Nithyananda’s reputation among orthodox Hindu leaders, for he uses Tantric techniques that arouse body energies, such as kundalini.

My own feeling is that Tantra is making a big comeback. First there was Western popularity of distorted versions of Tantra; but this is now being followed by more clinical experimentation by psychologists and others. The whole issue of latent human energies and potentials (both positive and dangerous) is a hot topic of serious scientific investigation. Hindus should reclaim this aspect of their own tradition rather than waiting for U-Turned (appropriated) versions to get re-exported back to India, packaged as “Made in USA” spiritual science. This requires an attitude of experimentation under the appropriate controls to prevent abuses and quackery.

I just returned from Kumbh Mela where I walked amidst several tens of thousands of naga sadhus who were completely naked. I did not consider them as either vulgar or primitive. The old guard of Hindu orthodoxy rejects Tantra at least in public, and yet lives in contradictions because they do respect the naga sadhus and also the various symbols and rituals that have their foundations in Tantra. The vacuum left by avoiding the subject of Tantra has created opportunities for the likes of Wendy Doniger to formulate distorted interpretations. I feel that Hindu spiritual practitioners as well as intellectuals must take control over Tantra as an intrinsic part of our tradition.

Sex and Morality

Against this backdrop, I will address the issue of Swami Nithyananda’s morality. Just to recap:

My first point above has been that the morality issue about Swami Nithyananda does not impact the effectiveness of the meditation techniques he has taught very successfully. Their efficacy is best evaluated by the tens of thousands of practitioners for themselves.
My second point was that there is nothing inherent about sex that is rejected by Hinduism across the board, although certain strains of Hinduism do reject sex seeing it as harmful to spirituality.
Here it must be noted that brahmacharya (involving sexual abstinence) is just one of the spiritual paths of Hinduism. The first half of my recent stay in Haridwar was as a guest of the Gayatri Pariwar, one of the greatest and largest Hindu movements, that does not advocate being brahmacharya. Its founder, its present head and its members at large, are householders and not brahmacharyas. But for Swami Nithyananda to claim moral authenticity under this system, he would have to pronounce himself as a householder and not a sannyasin. He has never done that, so we must examine his morality by some other criteria.

Another approach for him could have been to announce himself as an experimenter of Tantra for modern times, thereby making himself transparent of any such charges. This would place him in the same category as Osho. Many times in his public discourses and teachings, he has praised Osho as his greatest teacher and enlightened exemplar. He even said that many of his own teachings were derived from Osho. But he failed to publicly clarify whether he was practicing those techniques that involve sex. Privately, he explained to me in recent days that Shiva Sutras have two categories of techniques. Most of the sutras do not involve physical contact with another person and only use the four senses of sight, sound, taste and smell as pathways to spiritual experiences. Hence an individual practices these techniques entirely on his/her own. This path is what he has taught thus far to the public. The best pursuit of this path is as a brahamacharya according to him, and he has initiated many followers into it. But for a small number of persons, he feels that the 6 sutras involving sexual Tantra need to be tested and perfected for modern times, before they can be safely taught more widely. This he considers like any R & D done in a lab for developing a product.

My sense is that he did practice Tantra with a very small number of persons, and I believe that he even entered into written legal contracts with them to make sure that both parties were clear about the arrangement. The reason for this “Non-Disclosure Agreement” was to make sure that someone who willingly approaches him for Tantra does not later accuse him of physical contact. On March 9 (about a week ago), I did a specific video interview with him dealing with this issue very specifically. But this video was blocked by his ashram leaders even though he personally felt that it was a good idea to show it. I gave up arguing in favor of showing it, because his ashram management took a firm stand against it. I still feel that this was a blunder they made. Swami Nithyananda is very forthright and clear in that interview – I felt that it was the best interview of all the ones I did with him, but it was never made public.

I surmise that Rancitha, the Tamil actress in the scandalous videotape, was practicing Tantra with him. He taught her the self-control she had to achieve before any intimacy. I have tried to interview her in order to get her side of the story, but so far I have not succeeded in getting through to her. Based on third party reports from some persons who are in touch with her, and the media reports of her statements, her stance seems to be along the following lines: She took the sexual initiative with him on the occasion shown in the videotape, at a time when he was not fully alert. But this activity did not proceed to intercourse. It was terminated. She has also said that the videos being shown on TV are manipulated versions of what actually happened, because they exaggerate the situation. They do not show portions where he asked her to stop. Different clips from various videos seem to have been turned into a single video by editing. She has not filed any complaint against him. So in the worst case, this was consensual sex between adults, and that too backed by a formal written contract between the parties. Because she has refused to give any statement against Swami Nithyananda, she feels threatened by those who set her up and who did this sting. I hear that she has gone overseas to protect her safety from this mafia-like conspiracy. I have not been able to corroborate this thesis directly from her.

My concern about his morality is, therefore, not based on sex between consenting adults. Rather, my moral issue is about the lack of transparency before the public. He could have openly said that he wants to select a few yoginis to experiment Tantra under mutual consent. At worst this would have upset many followers and pushed them away. In response to my concern over his lack of transparency, he could offer the argument that this was a private activity between adults who are under no obligation to disclose it to the public. After all, people do not go about broadcasting their sexual lives. So long as this was under mutual consent, he might say, it cannot be an offense. And if it was done under the Tantra portions of the Shiva Sutra, it was also an act within the Hindu tradition despite the controversy surrounding Tantra today.

Having given this best case argument on his behalf, I must say that there could also be the alternative scenario, namely, that this was mere lust packaged as Tantric spirituality. David White, one of Wendy’s Children, has written extensively making the claim that all Tantra is “hard core porn” that gets wrapped up before the public in metaphysical mumbo-jumbo to appear to be legitimate spirituality, which he calls “soft porn” coating. White’s latest book takes this allegation to the extreme, and states that all major yogic exemplars in Indian history were basically not engaged in any kind of spirituality at all. Instead, he claims, they were developing personal power for the purpose of exploiting others. I am unqualified to comment on whether Swami Nithyananda’s case fits this notion of “soft porn,” or whether it was legitimate Tantra. Nor do I have adequate factual data of what happened to pass judgment either way.

This concludes what I have to say about his morality issue as shown in the sex tapes.

My Impressions of Swami Nithyananda Prior to this Scandal

I was introduced to Swami Nithyananda a couple of years ago, by a prominent Hindu leader based in California. This man was so impressed by the young swami that he frequently called me to speak about him in glowing terms. I told him that I had a guru already, and that my present interest in interacting with gurus was mainly as a part of my research for my book on global gurus. He arranged a private meeting for me with Swami Nithyanana which I used mostly to explain the civilization threats facing Hinduism, citing numerous examples, and questioned him on his position in this regard. I found him to be very sharp, a great listener, and in agreement that we must engage social issues rather than pursuing the “world negating” or “escapist” paths that are typical of many gurus today.

Later on, I attended a weekend course in USA where he taught the Patanjali Yoga Sutras. I have read several translations of this great classical work, but I had never before seen it taught experientially. Swami Nithyananda gave the attendees their own personal inner experience of every one of the eight limbs of Patanjali’s system, right up to and including samadhi. This was quite an achievement in two days.

Overall, my interactions with him remained centered largely on the geopolitics of religions. I saw him as a prominent swami who was not running away from troubling issues, such as Christian conversions and the Dravidianization of Tamil identity. Given that I have been writing a book on this very issue in Tamil Nadu for three years (now in the editing stage), I was especially impressed by his experimental program of a Hindu temple on wheels traveling from village to village. In each village this mobile temple stops and offers chanting, a talk by one of the leaders, food, medicines, etc. So it combines religion with social service and thus competes directly against Christian evangelism. Rather than building a temple in every village and needing a purohit in each of the thousands of villages across Tamil Nadu, the strategy was to bring to each village this “temple on wheels.” What I discovered by my own independent fact finding was that wherever this temple on wheels went, the missionaries were upset because it blunted their conversion efforts.

I attended his 21-day meditation program in December 2009. The various techniques in it are very deep and transformative. The best evaluation of this can be done by the hundreds of attendees, who were divided roughly equally between Indians and whites from North America.

In several side conversations with him as well in the public forum, I pursued the point that I already have a guru since 1994, so I was not looking for a new guru. Since my guru had left the body a few years ago, I wanted to continue learning new techniques for my practice. I explained to him that I had previously learned and practiced meditation techniques from multiple sources for over 30 years, including: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Yogi Amrit Desai (who certified me as a teacher), Deepak Chopra, Vipasana, and more. Additionally, I had practiced numerous bhakti traditions, as well as formal Vedanta education from Swami Chinmayananda and Ramakrishna Mission. I went through a serious study of the writings by Sri Aurobindo, various Madhyamika Buddhist systems, Kashmir Shaivism, Ramana Maharshi, etc. So I was not seeking a new guru like most others who took his courses.

I have to say that he never pressured me to adopt him as my new guru, and even said that one must remain loyal to one’s guru. To be classified as a devotee/disciple of his, there are two criteria, neither of which applies to me. First, there is an optional program one can sign up for, to do “paada puja” at the guru’s feet, in order to develop a special link with him. The second is that one can ask to be given an initiation with a new name, in which case his policy is that the person must legally change his/her name, and use this new name publicly. I did not do either of these steps. So my relationship is not as a devotee or disciple, but more arms-length.

It was a two-way street. While he taught me meditation, I brought to him my scholarship on the geopolitical positioning of Hinduism which I feel the gurus know only superficially. They do not adequately know things like: Western philosophy, neither religious nor secular; or Western history; or Western institutions that have been set up explicitly to spread its civilization; or various global campaigns under way to invade Indian civilization through conversions, education, media, political policymaking and more.

He requested that I should present him my findings on such matters so that he and his senior acharyas could learn. I told him that most gurus have little time to listen attentively to a layperson like me, because the gurus like to do all the talking. He replied that he would sit and listen to me seriously. I made it clear that I was disinterested in giving a short talk of a few minutes, because my findings required considerable time to be examined seriously. I told him that I would need two full days of undivided attention, so that I could present 300 Powerpoint slides.

Swami Nithyananda sent me an invitation when I was in Delhi to visit his ashram and present my research. I was delighted to have such an important audience. I was very impressed by the fact that he sat through two long days of my talks, about 12 hours per day. He asked his 40 top acharyas and various thought leaders in his ashram to sit and listen to me for both the days. The interactions were intense, and I explained many points from my forthcoming books. I felt that he and I had a peer relationship, each side being an expert in his domain to teach the other. After my two days of talks were over, he asked me to help him incorporate my core ideas into his curriculum, so as to make sure that his teachings helped position the Vedic civilization properly.

No other guru in the world has invested so much time with me to try and learn these global issues so deeply. (The only other prominent guru I know personally who understands these issues about the external challenges is Swami Dayananda Saraswati.) Most gurus tend to either be dismissive by resorting to spiritual loftiness, or imagine that they already know whatever there is worth knowing. Thus, my primary interest in Swami Nithyananda was as a vehicle to spread greater awareness of the kinds of issues that I was researching. (For instance, he bought a couple of hundred copies of the book, “Invading the Sacred” at the full price, and made it required reading for all his ashram residents.)

I must balance this praise with criticism. In my 2-day talks, I had explicitly discussed that many gurus were falling prey to sex scandals, often with women planted as part of sting operations, or women in the inner circle who got too close and let things get out of control. Despite these warnings, it seems that nothing concrete was done to prevent or at least anticipate the crisis that was to follow.

My Approach to this Investigation

When the scandal broke out I was in Delhi. I called the Bangalore ashram management and found them confident but confused. Probably they felt that the matter would soon get forgotten if left alone. But exactly the opposite happened, as each day brought fresh allegations and sensational media coverage. After several days had passed I was invited to go to Bangalore to study the situation for myself. At that time I had no clue about his Tantra practice with any women. Whatever I knew was based on what his followers told me, because he was personally inaccessible for several days even after I reached Bangalore. I spent many hours daily with some of his ashram’s top team.

What I wrote earlier in this article actually comes later in the chronology of my investigation. But I presented it up front because most readers are obsessed with getting my answer to only one single question: did he or did he not have sex? Nothing else seems to matter to them, whereas my investigation’s emphasis has been about issues broader and more consequential than any one man’s morality.

Until I concluded my fact-finding 2-week period recently, I was unable to discuss the sexual acts shown in the videotapes. I had to respect the policies of his people as part of the trust being placed in me to gain access. They also needed legal clearance on what can and cannot be said by them. Their policy on the sex tapes was that Swami Nithyananda would directly explain his acts. The Tamil actress’ lawyer was also in contact with them and her sensitivities had to be respected. The sensitivities of the 140-strong ashramites had to be protected also. Given this set of circumstances facing me, I feel that it was unfair to demand that I should hound him with the one critical question. People have assumed that it was up to me to decide what would be within the scope of each interview. As I have mentioned earlier, even after certain interviews were recorded by me, the ashram leadership used its discretion not to air them.

In response to my critics on how I conducted my interviews, I would also like to explain why I chose to focus on the criminal charges being made against Swami Nithyananda. Besides the sex-tape being off limits as mentioned in the foregoing paragraph, the criminal charges became my focus for two reasons. These charges could be ascertained with objectivity – such as asking for documents on the land ownership, the medical reports on the death of one meditation participant 2 years ago, and so forth. The evidence was more clear-cut than the evidence on what exactly happened in the videotapes between two persons none of whom were willing to talk with me about it. Secondly, the consequences of criminality would be far more severe than mere moral fallibility. While immoral conduct is a big concern for the devotees, it is not enough grounds by itself for the state to confiscate the entire property that runs into very large sums of money. Also, as a matter of principle, regardless of whether or not he is guilty of the morality charge, I felt opposed to spurious criminal charges being piled up by the irresponsible media just to create sensationalism.

The Conspiracy against Swami Nithyananda

Since I had arrived at the scene while writing my book on the conspiracy in Tamil Nadu religious politics, it was natural to start with that as my emphasis for the investigation. But in this short article I have decided to focus on the matters surrounding his conduct and his organization’s conduct, because these have assumed a more urgent nature. The details of the conspiracy belong in my book as corroborating evidence for my thesis there. The types of parties reported to be behind the conspiracy, both foreign and India based, were remarkably similar to the ones I have written about in the book. So for now I shall merely summarize some of the main points concerning this conspiracy.

First one must understand why Swami Nithyananda became such a target. He was virtually unknown 7 years ago, but once he appeared in public his popularity catapulted at a dramatic rate. For example, last year, UTube wrote to him that he was the most watched of all Indian spiritual leaders on the Internet and proposed a closer collaboration for their viewers. This letter also stated that among all spiritual leaders worldwide (not just Indian) he was the second most popular one, the Vatican being first. His meditation programs have become very popular in USA and in certain Indian states. The main factors are that participants almost invariably report experiencing higher states of consciousness, and he has healed a large number of persons of a variety of diseases. His healing powers are what brought together his core inner group of devotees from around the world – doctors, businessmen, IT professionals, corporate executives. Many of them have explained their personal healings from terminal illnesses as the turning point in their lives. His meditation programs sometimes bring up to a few thousand attendees for periods ranging from a few days to several weeks.

While the funds come mostly from upper strata participants in India and USA, a large portion of the expenses have been allocated to develop grass-roots social and spiritual programs focusing primarily in Tamil Nadu, his native state. This is where he is seen as a threat by Dravidian as well as Christian forces. For instance, in December 2009, about 600 villages across Tamil Nadu sent their local “Nithyananda leaders” for a celebration and planning session in his main ashram near Bangalore. I happened to be present for the event. These common folks, mostly from the lower strata of Tamil society, had walked 300 kilometers for this journey which they saw as a spiritual pilgrimage. The reason for the anger of Christian and Dravidian forces is that his activities have put a dampener to conversions in many districts, and several Christians have return to Hinduism by getting initiated formally into his organization. The swami himself has spoken against conversions, and has also stated that the Dravidian movement had made Tamil people unspiritual in their lives, and that this had caused social decay. His Tamil language publications and courses have become his most popular ones, far exceeding the numbers in English. Also he is a very big threat because he is not a Brahmin. Because he cannot be targeted using the classical attack on Brahmins, and because the masses in Tamil Nadu were rising to swell his ranks, the threat he posed to the existing political power structure had to be stopped one way or another.

The attack against Swami Nithyananda has consisted of two prongs, image and legal. At first a highly sensational sexual charge was broadcast in order to devastate his credibility and create an atmosphere in which any and all kinds of outlandish allegations would be taken at face value. Once the media and popular sentiments had been turned against him, there was one amazing allegation after another in rapid sequence. It was clear that none of this was spontaneous but was being centrally orchestrated under a systematic plan.

What became evident to me was that there was “cooperation” in informal and unofficial ways among the media, police and lower level judiciary. In fact, many third parties were aware of the attack in advance and had warned his people before it happened with specific details of the plan. For instance, one of his top devotees got a phone call from someone based in New York describing the media and police attack that was to come. His predictions turned out to be accurate but at that time the ashramites did not take the threat literally. He said that for the right sum of money he could be helpful in preventing such an attack. He claimed that the planning for this attack had started a year ago. He mentioned that a budget of Rs 200 crores was allocated by some overseas groups to demolish Hindu gurus especially in south India, and named two south Indian churches as the nodal agencies to coordinate this strategic plan. (I am presently pursuing these leads as part of my book investigation.)

There was another concrete extortion effort about eleven or twelve days prior to the scandal breaking out. A lawyer contacted them and claimed that his client had compromising videos, and that the client was seeking money or else they would get released. The same intermediary later sent a letter containing a variety of unsubstantiated criminal allegations against Swami Nithyananda, and this letter’s distribution list included India’s Prime Minister, President, Sonya Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, various Chief Ministers and police heads, various national criminal investigation and security organizations. I have a copy of this letter, and it makes the Nithyananda organization seem like a terrorist outfit that needs to be attacked for the sake of public safety. This letter along with a DVD of the sex video was delivered to the Chief Minister of Karnataka state two hours before the videotape was first aired. Clearly, the attack was well planned and executed across many locations, and was persistently carried out over several days. This is not the work of some isolated individuals.

There were warnings given to individuals in the ashram that their phones were being tapped and that they better leave to save their own lives, because something horrible was about to happen. One friendly man based in Pune who runs a magazine and is a devotee of Swami Nithyananda, told the ashram a week in advance of the attack that some such catastrophe would happen. He named his source as a man in Bangalore press club. Another publisher in Hyderabad who distributes Swami Nithyananda’s books in Telugu, called three times to warn that a graphic video would be released and gave a precise time for this to happen. It was also reported that an American devotee who had fallen out of the ashram was working in association with Jody Razdik who specializes in guru bashing at a prominent web site. He was being helped by an Indian based in San Diego, who was once very deeply involved inside the Nithyananda organization but had turned malicious. The only man who has openly come out as the main accuser was an ashramite who had a falling out when he got demoted due to his conduct. It was recently reported that he had a prior criminal record against him but nobody in the ashram had checked out his background before admitting him.

There were constant threats received to harass the ashramites and scare them away, with claims that “narcotics will be planted to cause arrest warrants.” The actions by the police were being leaked to the media ahead of time and even to the opposing side, leading to numerous “tips” received by “friends” asking the ashram dwellers to run away before “the attack comes.”

But even after a couple of weeks since the scandal has erupted, the lawyers for Swami Nithyananda’s ashram have failed to get copies of any concrete charges filed with the police, except a few trivial ones. Each time they approach for specific details they are told that there is no formal charge, except relatively minor ones. So the intimidation has been carried out mainly through media reports, without any legal due process starting where facts and arguments could get cross-examined. This lack of formal charges has enabled an atmosphere of intimidation using rumors and threats that cannot be pinned down officially.

It is important to contrast this with the manner in which Indian media treats scandals facing Islamic or Christian groups. The numerous scandals occurring overseas often get blocked by Indian media entirely, or are given mild treatment with tremendous sensitivity, in order to be seen as “secular” and not “communal.” By contrast every kind of allegation against any Hindu group gets clubbed in one homogeneous category and treated as a social scourge equivalent to terror groups.

The media’s hounding mentality and mafia tactics deserve to be condemned. In the Swami Nithyananda case, they have used carrots and sticks to lure and threaten, using whatever would get them more sensational footage. Several TV stations and journalists camped out in Haridwar and sent me emails requesting my help in arranging an interview. When I failed to deliver (because it was not up to me to deliver any such thing), some of them turned nasty against me. One TV woman promised the swami’s people “positive” coverage if she got an exclusive. But after the interview, she betrayed and turned it into more distortion and smut. This led Swami Nithyananda’s handlers to give interviews to more stations in order to counteract this distortion. But the more they said before TV cameras, the worse the scandal became. One station was blatant in its threat to the swami’s assistant: “If you don’t give us an interview right away, we will show you the power of the media to destroy you.” At one point a major TV station also wanted to drag in Ramakrishna Mission with similar allegations, but someone was able to stop that.

Failures of Swami Nithyananda’s Organization

Hindu tradition separates three kinds of varna (skills), each representing a form of social capital, and these three were never supposed to be concentrated in a single person, thereby preventing too much concentration of power. I use the terms Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya not as birth based “caste,” but as merit based social capital and areas of competence. The Brahmin job description focuses on spirituality and research; Kshatriya on governance, politics and leadership; and Vaishyas on commerce and financial capital. Swami Nithyananda had persons with Brahmin qualities performing duties that demand Kshatriya and Vaishnav skills. This was counterproductive. The ashram leaders were selected and trained for skills and roles that are very different than this situation demands. Too often their bhakti and spiritual practice substituted for professional competence in managing a rapidly growing global enterprise. The sole emphasis was placed on traditional Brahmin qualities, and none on what would be considered Kshatriya qualities.

For example, there are a large number of white devotees who do have Kshatriyata – leadership expertise, courage and commitment. But even after this attack the ashram organization has blundered in its failure to leverage and deploy them. I met some of these Westerners at the Kumbh and found them remarkably willing to stand up for their guru, but nobody had bothered to organize them and take advantage of the fact that Swami Nithyananda has a global following. Instead of such initiatives to deal with the crisis, his organization was in utter chaos, reacting to each “hit” by the other side. Its leaders were running scared, driven by one rumor after another. Decisions were being made in desperation and panic. The group was cognitively disoriented and many of its members were psychologically breaking down.

The organization was too much of a one-man show with the leaders operating like children dependent on the swami for every decision. The swami had become the iconic object of the ashram’s inner circle. Their proximity to him became their measure of personal power and identity. This is classical cult-like behavior that cannot survive the onslaughts that are inevitable nowadays. Such a concentration of varnas into one man not only makes an enterprise incompetent, but it also can also get into the leader’s head and make him power hungry. Especially when the guru has siddhis, this power can easily become co-opted by his ego into a dangerous mixture. The result is that he surrounds himself with psychopaths who tell him what he wants to hear, and this feedback loop of self glorification turns into group delusion.

I noticed this in the form of the inner circle’s inability to make common sense judgments, and their misrepresenting the facts to their leader by giving him too much “good news.” The result was that the honest truth did not come out fast enough to allow pragmatic and realistic planning. I had a difficult time to get dependable information, and the stories kept changing not only over time but also between one person and another within the group. I could not tell if there was a cover up and if new lies were fabricated to cover prior lies. In such an atmosphere one cannot tell which individuals might have a separate stake and vested interest from the group. Lacking competent Kshatriyas, the swami had not anticipated that such a crisis was ever possible, despite the fact that outsiders (including myself in my 2-day talks at his ashram) had explained to them the threats facing every prominent Hindu mahatma today.

While on the one hand I blame those in positions of responsibility at the ashram, ultimately Swami Nithyananda bears the responsibility as he selected them, defined their roles, evaluated their performance, motivated and supervised them very closely. In this regard, his spiritual capabilities had failed to evaluate those very close to him as well as the external reality. An enlightened master must do better than this, or else he must not try to control everything so personally.

I acknowledge that being a global guru is very demanding today, given that one has to represent a very old tradition authentically and yet in a manner that appeals to modern people. This is why Hindu leaders need a crash course on matters that are well beyond the traditional education in their own sampradayas (lineages).

Hindu Chaos

Swami Nithyananda’s own support base in India has started to distance itself out of self preservation amidst all the rumors and slander. His closest supporters were not approached soon enough with his side of the story, and by the time they were approached the damage to his credibility was already irreversible. They did not want to risk being associated with a “fallen guru.” Many Hindu gurus have started to publicly lash out against the “fallen godman”; others became silent or neutral publicly, while offering private sympathy but refusing to stick their necks out.

One factor is that the swami’s approach was too conservative for some and too liberal for others. It is too filled with deities, symbols and rituals of a very orthodox kind for the aesthetic taste of modern global gurus who propagate a whitened, Westernized “clean” Hinduism that is abstract and metaphysical but devoid of imagery associated with “primitive paganism.” At the other end of the spectrum are orthodox Hindu leaders who find his idea of youthful dancing, celebration, and liberal atmosphere to be not “real” Hinduism. A couple of shankaracharyas interviewed on NDTV lashed out against “false” gurus and claimed that only the shankaracharyas had the authority to certify who was qualified to be a guru. So Swami Nithyananda fits neither end of this spectrum.

Many of the gurus I met have told me in confidence that they fear that similar attacks are coming to more Hindu gurus, but that there is no central Hindu mechanism to deal with these episodes along the lines of various church mechanisms that intervene when Christianity faces a scandal. I sent feelers to the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha as to whether it should offer to step in and take over the ashram and its related organizations, thereby bringing new management to clean up matters and bring stability to the enterprise. I was told that while this was a “good idea in principle,” it was not practical because HDAS is simply not set up to deal with this.

The Way Forward

My overriding concern throughout this investigation has been to find a way to do damage control in order to protect the broader interests of dharma. This requires a pragmatic approach. Given the state of affairs, it seems that the mess cannot be created without the swami leaving the movement and going into a strictly private life of meditation and self inquiry. I worry for the young ashramites who I feel are amazing individuals but in need of proper mentoring. They have a solid commitment to the cause and their personal spiritual paths, but they lack the sophistication and maturity to deal with what they face today.

Swami Nithyananda should resign immediately and hand over all his organizations to senior spiritual masters, preferably Shaivites practicing the Shiva Sutras and related traditions. He told me in an interview hat I recorded on March 9th that he was willing to leave everything and become a wandering sadhu again. I wish that interview had been aired.

The new spiritual leaders would give the ashram a new life and chance to revive itself. It could either remain a place for spiritual training or turn itself into a Hindu social service organization. Either way it would be a better outcome than the likely alternative of the government stepping in to take over the ashram and turn it over to administrators who are not positively disposed to Hindu spirituality – as has happened in numerous similar cases of government takeovers of Hindu temples and organizations despite claims of being “secular”.

Besides giving up the organization, Swami Nithyananda should return to his personal sadhana under their guidance. Let them evaluate him and his organization, and issue their independent report to the public. Swami Nithyananda should fearlessly and humbly submit himself to their judgment of what happened and what the remedies ought to be.

Hinduism has survived for many millennia and faced many kinds of crises, just like all the other major religions of the world. It has its own internal resources and mechanisms to deal with such situations. These need to be put to use and they need to become modernized. This is not the last such scandal Hindu groups are going to face in the near future.

Seminar on Towards a New Paradigm of Business Management

Bangalore Chamber of Industry & Commerce

Presents a Seminar
Towards a New Paradigm of Business Management
Alternative Perspectives from
Ancient Indian Wisdom

12th December 2009, Saturday @
Indian Institute of Management Bangalore
Bannerghatta Road Bangalore 560 076


Globally, corporate entities are in a melting pot. On one hand they face serious challenges of growth and sustainability. On the other hand, several intra-firm challenges remain despite evolution in man¬agement theories and practice. Creating “high performing or¬ganizations” that can be proud of nurturing highly inspired and self-driven individuals who can manage sustainable institutions that can harmoniously exist with the natural eco-system and at the same time enjoy quality of work life as well as personal life still remain a distant dream.

Today, India has caught the attention of global business for its mar¬ket, services, people, and products. It is an appropriate time to ask “Can India leverage this global attention to help the corpo¬rate world with a new paradigm of corporate governance and management?” Indian Tradition has considered “Dharma” as the pivot of all human endeavor. Enterprises and organizations were successfully run on the basis of Dharma in India. Kingdoms of Janaka, Rama, Yamahas, Yudhishtira down to Hakka and Bukka and Krishna Deva Raya, ran such large public enterprises.

The philosophical part of Dharma has been discussed in various scriptures and the operative part has been enunciated in various Smrithis, the two epics and texts such as Bhagavadgita. Collec-tively, the scriptures have covered various aspects of enterprise management including the management of people and relationships. One of the distinguishing aspects of our tradition has been that the earth, environment and the entire cosmos have been treated as an intrinsic and integral part of all systems, including business enter¬prises. As a result, environmental and sustainability issues became an integral part of the approach.

The seminar provides a forum for discussion on these issues. It specifically seeks to focus on the following aspects of interest to to¬day’s corporate leaders and business managers:
• What are the fundamental problems that business entities face to¬day?
• Is there an overarching framework that we can develop from the ancient Indian wisdom that would help us construct alternative per¬spectives to address these problems?
• Are there some specific ideas from our scriptures that may be of interest to today’s business?
• Are there any attempts by some of our industry leaders to borrow ideas from ancient Indian wisdom? What has been the experience and what do we have to learn from these?

Invited Dignitaries (Partial List)

Mr. H R Nagendra,
Dean Svyasa former space scientist at NASA, established the internationally famous Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Re¬search Foundation (or V K YOGAS)

Prof B Mahadevan,
Dean, IIM Bangalore ,has more than 15 years of experience in teaching, Specialized in sourcing, supply and Manufac¬turing management.

Dr. Shatavadhani R Ganesh,
Scholar, has a deep and intimate knowledge of various forms of Indian classical music, He has also served as the Director of Sanskrit Department in the Bharatiya Vidya Bha¬vana, Bangalore. He has worked with the Jain International Residential School in Bangalore.

Dr. T V Subramanian,
Chairman, Education committee CII Institute of Logistics Faculty, IFMR, Chennai; Chairman Board of Studies; Visiting Professor; management consultant from Chennai

Mr. Anant Koppar,
CEO, K2 Technologies, He has Successfully worn many hats and is a recognized achiever in Academia (PMI Bangalore Chapter), Technocrat (recognized Indian IT leader), Busi¬nessman.

Mr. K R Girish,
President,BCIC/Partner BSR & Co.

Prof Narahari,
Head of Computer Science and Automation Dept IISc,The focus of his current research is to apply Game Theory and Mechanism Design to Internet and Network Economics

Prof S K Sinha,
Associate Professor, Centre for electronics design and tech¬nology, IISc

Mr. T R Parasuraman,
Sr. Vice President, HR /IS Toyota Kirloskar Auto parts Pvt Ltd. Chairman, Industry & Manufacturing expert committee BCIC

Dr. S Shamasundar,
Yugayatri/Managing Director ProSIM R&D Pvt Ltd

Prof C Manohar Reddy,
Professor OB & HR Management , IIM Bangalore


Yugayatri is a non-profit trust working for promotion and adaptation of Indian culture in contemporary life and practices. Yugayatri has conducted several workshops and training programs for benefit of working professionals, students, and academics. Yugayatri has con¬ducted research on science technology heritage and published exten¬sively. Yugayatri has executed projects from DRDO, IGNCA, ISRO, Karnataka Govt, Rajiv Gandhi Health University, Tirupathi University, Rashtriya Samskrita Prathishtan, and so on. Yugayatri is developing a theme park based on Ramayana on Bangalore-Mysore Road near Sriranga Patna.

Registration Details

Registration forms can be downloaded from Please send the duly filled application forms to YUGAYATRI address along with the registration fee. Cheques and DD’s should favour ‘Yugayatri’ pay-able at Bangalore.

Registration fee:
Industry -Rs.500/- Student-250/-

For More Details Contact :
G R Santhosh—9448891472
Nethra— 9972304445

About BCIC:

Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC) is the apex Chamber of Industry and Commerce in the State of Karnataka representing large and medium industry. The Chamber’s member¬ship represents 95% of the capital investment and 90% of the la¬bour employed in the State of Karnataka. BCIC, at present, has a membership of around 650 Leading companies like Infosys, Wipro, Cisco, Biocon, ITC, Toyota, ABB, BOSCH, Bharti Telecom, TVS, L & T , KPMG, PwC, Deloitte to name a few, are members of BCIC.BCIC plays an active and important role in promoting trade and invest¬ment in the State and has an excellent domestic and international network with MoUs with the leading Chambers of Commerce across the globe. BCIC organizes seminars / workshops and interactions with Government Officials on critical issues concerning trade and industry from time to time.

Registrations are done on first come, first served basis

Contact Details

21/B, 9th Main,
Shankar Nagar, Mahalakshmi puram,
Bangalore – 560 096
Fax : +91 080 23323304
Email :,

Please find the attached registration form & programme schedule

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

Message of Ramayana to contemporary life – Dr Shatavadhani R Ganesh

Message of Ramayana to contemporary life – Dr Shatavadhani R Ganesh

Lecture and discussion series 4th – 7th August 2009, 7 – 8.15 PM.
(Venue: 21/B, 9th Main, Shankara Nagara Mahalakshmi Puram, Bangalore 560096 Phone 23575866 / 23371758)

Our life today has become tense, competitive, and complex. Tension, anxiety, and stress is accumulated in each of the activities we take up. Ramayana provides a basis to endure the difficulties in life, and a methodology to face the challenges. Issues of leadership, friendship, partnership, collaboration, goal setting and mission accomplishment, inter-personal relations are all dealt in intricate detail in Ramayana. Several characters in Ramayana portray personality traits and attributes that are very much an essential requirement of today’s life. Lecture and discussion will be focusing around these aspects.

Directions to the venue: From Mahalakshmi Lay out Swimming pool bus stop, go towards Kanteerava Studio. After about 300 meters, On right side see Ashok Leyland Apartment complex. This is for reference only.. Make left on 6th main. Take 2nd right turn. Make left on 9th main (behind a park in shankara nagar.

YUGAYATRI is a non-profit trust working for the preservation and promotion of Indian Culture. Yugayatri conducts a variety of research activities (for example on scientific and technology heritage of India, socio-cultural interactions, epics) and training activities. Yugayatri is developing a theme park based on Ramayana near Srirangapatna, on Bangalore – Mysore highway. Yugayatri solicits the support and assistance of all the people interested in the same.

Priest admits to idol worship in churches

Priest admits to idol worship in churches

Express News Service

http://www.expressb story.aspx? Title=Priest+ admits+to+ idol+worship+ in+churches& artid=1WM/ aO6Ec6I=& SectionID= 7GUA38txp3s= &MainSectionID= 7GUA38txp3s= &SectionName= zkvyRoWGpmWSxZV2 TGM5XQ==& SEO=B%20K% 20Somashekara

BANGALORE: In a revelation that could have widespread ramifications,
Father Joseph Menengis, priest of St James Church in Mariyannapalya,
Bangalore, confessed before the Justice B K Somashekara Commission of
Inquiry on Wednesday that idol worship was being performed in churches
to attract Hindus and convert them to Christianity.

The Commission is inquiring into the recent attacks on churches in Karnataka.

“Hindus believe in idol worship. So to attract them to Christianity,
idol worship is performed in churches,” Menengis said.

During cross-examination, the priest said that “despite idol worship
being prohibited in Bible, we have idol worship in churches.” “The
duty of every Christian is to convert non-Christians to Christianity
by any means,” the priest told the commission.

St James Church was attacked by miscreants on September 21, 2008.

The church is running co-education institutions, with classes from
first to eight standard.

During cross-examination the priest confessed that “no girl students
are permitted to use kumkum, bangles and wear flowers. In our
institution, we have moral science textbook.

But it does not contain texts regarding Holy Bible and Jesus,” the priest added.

The commission has requested the priest to submit the textbook to it.

Learn Samskrit in two days – 23rd, 24th Nov 2008

Here is an opportunity to get introduced to samskrit in two days. Samskrit Bharati is conducting a two days traiinig on speaking samskrit on Nov 23rd and 24th 2008.  This is conducted in 108 places in bangalore. Its a good opportunity to learn samskrit. Interested people can visit this site for further details.