"SPIRITUAL" CULTS AND FRAUDS
Rajneesh (Osho)’s Fraud & A review of the movie "GURU - Bhagwan, His Secretary & His Bodyguard"
15 May 2010 -- By Reza Ganjavi
Tonight I saw a new Swiss documentary movie about Rajneesh (Osho)’s, “GURU - Bhagwan, His Secretary & His Bodyguard”. The thrilling movie depicted an ambitious and talented businessman / ex-philosophy professor, a crook, who abused people’s gullibility to rise to great heights materially and then his fall. Osho was a crook but the people who followed him were also responsible for the misery they led him onto. If he was a good man he would have said, don't follow me, but instead he encouraged them to follow him and give him lots of free service and lots of money and power and position.
The narrators were mostly his personal body guard and his secretary, both of whom broke up with him by the end of the saga.
Here are my notes from the movie and further research [and comments in brackets].
- Secretary: his book “from sex to supreme consciousness” got the attention of 600 million people.
- Followers started calling him Bagwan. He accepted it. [Followers make the guru].
- Rajneesh (Osho) gave them new name, new clothes, new image [but inside nothing fundamentally changed].
- Bodyguard: His moto was “Surrender to me and I will transform you. That is my promise.”
- Bodyguard: Rajneesh (Osho) encouraged him to have sex. Later in Pune, he could have any woman he wanted. He had sex with several different women every week. [I have a friend who went to Pune and reported the same promiscuous decadent behavior”.
- Rajneesh (Osho) claimed to be enlightened.
- Movie showed scenes of “therapy” with people doing all kinds of weird things. One therapy session involved a group of naked people dancing and so on.
- Movie showed Osho rubbing forehead of women in a party that resembled a masturbating movement while others danced and made strange moves and he moved woman to woman.
- Secretary talked about all the women who wanted to have sex with Rajneesh (Osho) [and probably did though she did not say so].
- Rajneesh (Osho)’s followers worked 12 hours a day with no pay. The commune in India had 5000 people living in it in 1981. And another 15000 worked outside and sent in money.
- Rajneesh (Osho) referred to his movement as “materialistic and spiritual” – and as a new experiment. [Indeed it was an experiment for him: how and Indian man from a little town can end up with numerous Rolls Royces and get thousands of gullible people to work for him for free. I just read that he had 93 Rolls Royces and drove with a different one everyday. His followers wanted to buy him 365 Rolls Royces so every day he drives in a different one].
- Secretary: Rajneesh (Osho) had the ambition to go in Guinness Book of World Records as the man with the most Rolls Royces. The movie shows that in Oregon while his people sweated everyday working long hours as construction workers he drove with a different Rolls and greeted them once a day.
- Visitors put flowers on Rajneesh (Osho)’s car. He ordered his secretary to sell flowers for people who want to greet him so they make profit from flowers too [smart businessman] “he knew Capitalism till the end”.
- 30 of them went to USA. As they landed, Rajneesh (Osho) declared “I am the massaiah America has been waiting for”. Secretary said Bombay was flirting, Poona was foreplay, USA was action.
- Secretary spent $5M buying land for commune in Oregon without checking zoning. It was zoned for 6 people. In 1 year, 2500 people lived there.
- Rajneesh (Osho) said: “only bring in people who are good at work”.
- Bodyguard: “many of the things that Rajneesh (Osho) did were criminal”.
- In 1982 they created a city. His city in Oregon became paramilitary and armed. There were armed guards at Rajneesh (Osho)’s talks. They started controlling the phones and reading all mail of the residents. The community became a dictatorship [no surprise]. If you complained you were kicked out or punished.
- They brought homeless people to win their vote but once law changed (to discard new registrations) they let go of them. At rumor of FBI/CIA being around she threatened that for every person killed she will order 15 killed in retaliation.
- Meanwhile Rajneesh (Osho) spent a long time in silence [no wonder, he’s got 1000’s of slaves working for him for free, and regularly new cars and massive amounts of donations, so why should he say anything to risk it!!]
- They set up arranged marriages to make foreigners stay.
- Rajneesh (Osho) felt so miserable despite all these riches that he was pumped with drugs including valium regularly.
- Rajneesh (Osho) admitted to being a showman.
- Rajneesh (Osho) was a convicted criminal who was deported from the USA. He was issued a thirty-five-count indictment in Multnomah County, Oregon in 1985 for immigration violations, making false statements on his visa application. He was fined $400,000 and was deported. Twenty-one countries denied him entry so he ended up in Pune where he died in 1990 at the age of 58.
- His books still sell very well because he speaks at a simple and shallow level most people who don’t want to or can’t dig too deep can relate to. The stuff I read were all too shallow, but if it works for people, so be it.
- After the movie, a newcomer to this told me: “his followers want to find themselves but they all look like they lost themselves".
Rajneesh Osho Corruption And a few notes in relationship to J. Krishnamurti
2010 - by Reza Ganjavi
I remember Rajneesh followers used to come to K’s talks in their colorful purple and red outfits and hippy looks. They were fond of K. Years later I read an article by Christopher Calder in which he wrote:
Listening to J. Krishnamurti speak was like eating a sandwich made of bread and sand. I found the best way to enjoy his talks was to completely ignore his words and quietly absorb his presence. Using that technique I would become so expanded after a lecture that I could barely talk for hours afterwards. J. Krishnamurti, while fully enlightened and uniquely lovable, will be recorded in history as a teacher with very poor verbal communication skills. Unlike the highly eloquent Rajneesh, however, J. Krishnamurti never committed any crime, never pretended to be more than he was, and he never used other human beings selfishly.
Osho was deported from the US as a convicted criminal. And the above paragraph is perhaps also the story of many K followers who are still going to gatherings. I have wondered if after 30 years of being glued to the stage, and now the video tapes, why is it that some are so confused about the very basics of his teachings (this is not a judgment but their own admission). Now I know. It’s perhaps because as Calder puts it, they listened to his voice but not to his words.
This subject reminds me of a discussion in evolutionary psychology where theoretically in their first interactions some men and women who are attracted to each other might think as follows: the woman thinks ‘what will my child look like’, and the man thinks ‘how can I get her to bed’. Osho misled a lot of people around the subject of sex.
In K circles, the communities have had their own share of this subject but handled it very well and nothing compared to the extreme nature of Osho’s decadent communes. I witnessed this subject most common in summer gatherings where people go in wonderful nature away from family and daily problems and meet others. I’ve suffered enough around this subject by the problems created out of mainly jealousy. K gave a good tip years ago during one of the summer camps. He said, don’t fall in love with each others’ wife or husband. That is so profound and it eliminates so many problems, and it is a principle that I’ve always lived by: stay away from married women.
On the subject of listening, intelligence is to listen not just to words but the silence between the words, not just the lines but also between the lines. The folks that Calder mentions only listen to sound of the lines and not to the lines themselves or what’s between the lines.
There is a lot of material on Osho in relationship to K but it’s not worth spending any time on. He apparently said K says what he says and K said it’s the other way.
There are many websites that have articles in which Osho talks about K. He praises K, and he criticizes K, and he completely distorts K’s message in his silly interpretations. For the most part the articles are pretty much drivel. They kind of remind me of UG Krishnamurti’s drivel. There is a big market today for drivel, nonsense, ‘spiritual’ entertainment.
There are better K copycats out there. Some have obviously integrated deeper truths in their lives. The best-selling author Eckhart Tolle learned a lot of his extremely successful teaching from J. Krishnamurti. And Osho’s books still sell very well. There are many others who pick a little piece of truth and market it well and make millions off gullible people. I have a couple of articles in the pipeline about two such cases. People prefer more superficial material than deeper. Deeper material takes more work, more diligence, more understanding.
Rajneesh was a great businessman. It is disconcerting to see that some people move up in the K circles by a shrewd strategy. What always works is the weakness Westerners have for Easterners.
To end this section, here are a few lines from Julian Lee, a former follower of Osho:
"Thousands of sincere western seekers were misled and harmed by the novel teachings of Osho. I have seen many of them in the aftermath. They always lack the satvic glow that comes from yogic sex restraint; they look like spent rakes aged well beyond their actual years. Even in their age -- when they might show some spiritual attainment -- many still crave sex, and all the ordinary base things. Despite Osho's "indulgence technique," they never got over sex addiction and lust.”
"Rajneesh/Osho is the worst thing that ever happened to spirituality in the west. He rode herd over a mob of naive, idealistic spiritual seekers”
“Osho was basically a kind of pimp who used the base desires of average people, along with their beautiful hunger for real spirituality, to build a financial empire and a following of worshippers who would do whatever he asked.”
"The saddest thing is what happened to all those children of Osho followers. Osho wanted them to grow up not knowing who their Fathers were; raised by a mob, with no particular person as Parent. I can't think of anything much more ignorant, or more cruel. Krishnamurti was right: Osho was a criminal."~~~
On 10/1/2010 8:25 PM, Shreeniwas wrote:
My very personal view. This could offend you if you are attached to these people.
I visited Rajneesh's Ashram in 1987. I found him very hurt, cynical and cruel. He is a glib
talker, a gifted stand-up comedian. There is nothing original about that chap. People close to him say he died of AIDS, he was a serious sex addict. The book " Bhagvan, the god that failed" clearly shows what a confused man he was. He stole most his message from Buddha, K, and others. If people follow him , nobody can save them. Though he is a shade better than UG. I have met that chap a few times. He was very jealous of K, class conscious, violent and stole everything from K , while not acknowledging it. He tried to persuade me to give him publicity, invited me to lunch a couple of times and gave me all his books. When I told him he was jealous of K and was desperate for publicity he got upset. I think these two guys are truly mad.
Regarding K, I was a person who doubted him, questioned him and publicly asked him questions about his comfortable life style.
What was remarkable was after my questions disturbed his meeting, caused much doubt in people who were listening, he did not allow anybody to condemn me. When I went back and said: " Sir I hope I haven't offended you by publicly saying those things... " He replied : " No sir, not at all, I am not that kind of person sir" My doubts never left me for long but what really matters now is not what or who he really was. He was loving, caring and genuinely sane till I last met him in Vasanth Vihar, one month before he died.
Many things he said have happened to me after 24 years , but they could all be coincidences too. What matters is if I can be harmless, understand the tricks of the ego.
On 9/27/2010 5:19 PM, Sitanshu Kumar wrote:
I have read rajnessh since i was fifteen, and having seen him in person when I was only four. Lately when I hear him, it seems his understanding of all major issues is faulty, if not plain wrong. But one thing I detect in him, he had a some kind of fearlessness, Wether it came from complete resignation, or something else, I do not know. He played around too much with sex and material things ( which is completely frivolous). I do not think anybody should read Osho at al. It may lead to madness.
As I was taking a walk in the morning, it came to me. Is there a superior being ?
In my realization there is not. Only a "clear" being. This bring is like glass or quartz crystal , without a mark. But all the light is amplified many times over. As I said I remember Rajneesh from when I was 4, he used to wear white clothes. I was about 50 feet. I did not feel anything thing extra-ordinary.
My earliest remembrances of K was when I was 5. I still remember him as a light bulb. A yellow light bulb. K was darker than Rajneesh, but a yellow light emanated from him. Of course as soon as he stepped, the whole congregation would become silent. Pin drop. As I have indicated earlier K had some sort of super clairvoyance. Any way I got side tracked. Rajneesh had good potential, but attachments got the better of him, indulged in a lot of delusionay thinking. Out friend Pathik did agree with me, that towards the end of his life, he was positively mad. Be-aware of the spiritual path .
As I was growing up fist chirst, then gandhi and then rajneesh and then K became a big figure for me ( in that order). As I have grown older, I realized that all men have drawbacks. But now, I do not see any spirituality in Rajneesh. He
was an armchair philosopher, most of the time reading books written by others. He also seemed to be living for wealth and sex, all that profane crap. Living for these things is profanity of life, not using them when required.
Sorry for expressing these for a man that is gone. He makes a good light reading for many, and they should continue. But I still maintain that seriously following him
can lead to madness. I did mention K and Rajneesh in the same paragraph, but I never think of them together. I still think is a joker but not as mad as UG krishnamurti.
REVIEW ON TRIPADVISOR FOR OSHO ASHRAM IN PUNE
“EmptyWallets, Not Empty Minds”
Reviewed January 5, 2014
As with all my reviews, I like to take a balanced view. My disclaimer is therefore important – I have never meditated before, and my preconceptions of what meditation should be are based, admittedly, on popular media – that of peaceful, immobile submersion into the one’s mind. Myself and my partner came to Osho for 3N 4D after landing the previous night in Mumbai, with the intention of spending our first few days in India recharging our batteries and getting over the 9 hour flight from the UK. We arranged transfers via Travel Masters, the company situated ‘in house’ at Osho, and it cost 3200 Rs. (or roughly £32) for the 3 hour journey to Pune in an AC people carrier.
*AESTHETICS - The overall design of Osho is quite something, if a little ‘grey’ – it’s pretty much the colour of every building and a minimalist architect has clearly had a great deal of influence over the design. How they have juxtaposed this the beautiful trees of the property though is inventive and creates a peaceful ambiance.
*COSTS – as many reviewers have previously commented, this place really is ruined by the blatant commercialism and extortionate additional costs. Our guesthouse room rate for 2 was 5300 Rs per night (incl. tax), which doesn’t seem so bad when looking at the website at the promise of “Ultra Luxe” facilities (which turned out to be an outright lie – see points below re the room’s shortfalls). On top of the room rate, you will have to pay the following: 1300 Rs. Registration fee that includes HIV test and welcome morning. Then a 1360 Rs daily admission fee to use the facilities (and actually access the hotel!), then up to 750 Rs each for one maroon robe for daytime, and another 750 Rs for a white robe for evening (see tips below on where to get these a little cheaper), 620 Rs for a maroon bikini or swimsuit if you wish to sunbathe or use the pool, 230 Rs each time you’d like to actually use the pool, even as a hotel guest (80 Rs on top of this if you leave the main complex and want to use the pool again the same day), 80 Rs per pair of white socks (compulsory if you wish to use the 2nd meditation room), plus costs we didn’t bother paying so I cannot give exact estimates, but included access to lockers, the costs of purchasing a white shawl and meditation cushion or chair for the evening meeting, blindfolds, ‘in silence’ badges and so on. I came away feeling like if they could charge you for air, they would.
*QUESTIONABLE ETHICS around the compulsory HIV test. Many others have complained on here about this too. My concerns are three fold. Firstly, there is no clear explanation as to why a HIV test is compulsory. A well hidden link on the website leads to a rambling and nonsensical essay written by Osho on the subject of aids. But that’s about it. There’s nothing in the meditation programme about the exchange of bodily fluids, nor does this seem to be encouraged, so why on EARTH do all guests have to take this test?! To me, it’s another clear excuse to extort more money under the guise of Osho’s ‘mystique’ and ‘teachings’. Secondly, in the UK (and I’m sure many other Western countries), HIV testing is carried out with an element on pre-counselling and always, always, ALWAYS has follow up counselling regardless of the outcome. I was given my test by a random in a white jacket in a tiny office and then was not told the outcome. Once everyone had completed their tests, they were given passes but myself and my partner were not, and we had to actually ask for us, which lead to a few moments of unnecessary panic – they had just forgotten to give us our passes – which was incredibly sloppy and ignorant to the emotional impact of the situation. From an ethical point of view, it is appalling that no pre and post test support appears to be offered. Suppose someone DID receive a positive test and hadn’t known they had HIV – what would happen then? Thirdly, when I was being very quickly whizzed through the sign up process on a PC with one of the workers (they collect far more information than I feel is necessary) I saw briefly my HIV result, and for some bizarre reason, my blood type! I’m sorry but this is not a hospital or any other kind of medical facility, and they have NO right to collect and store this information and certainly not without informed consent. At the end of this sign up process I was briefly shown the Ts and Cs (for literally 2 seconds) before the worker moved on to the next screen and asked me for an electronic signature. I’d SINCERELY like to read what was in those Ts & Cs and advise anyone else going to ask for sufficient time to read through them. Lastly, on the ethics front, it appears the staff have been leaving their own reviews on Trip Advisor to boost its rating – a lot of the positive ones funnily enough have only ever left one review, for Osho! So don’t be fooled by the majority of positive reviews on there – I have reported them as suspicious. It also says A LOT that no-one from the resort responds to negative reviews on here.
*POOR STANDARD OF ACCOMMODATION – we found our room to be incredibly small, with just enough room for a double bed, a very small table and a chair. There is also a built in wardrobe. And that’s it apart from the bathroom which was poorly lit, had small towels, and very little toilet paper was provided. The overall design was inconvenient with no light switches beside the bed (you have to get out of bed to switch anything off) and I also noted there was no fire safety information. Given there does not appear to be any stairs in the hotel block, only an idiotic ‘high-tech’ lift which buttons didn’t always work, that was a bit of a concern. Our room wasn’t cleaned one day because we had a lie-in BE WARNED housekeeping starts at approx. 7am and the housekeeping staff are not shy about slamming doors or loudly announcing their arrival – which can be heard by everyone in the surrounding rooms. For a meditation resort I would have hoped for a little more consideration, discretion, tact and overall, QUIETNESS in the mornings!
*QUALITY OF MEDITATIONS – now this is where my preconceptions of meditation come into play, but I found the ‘meditations’ just plain bizarre. The welcome morning got us practicing each of the main types, and I found them to be mostly just physically exhausting without actually clearing the mind. Dancing around, breathing heavily, screaming, talking gibberish, laughing, punching the air etc were (it seems, though we had NO explanation around the objective) all to do with releasing frustration etc, but once you’ve done that a few times, I didn’t have much more anger to get out (apart from all the anger at the standards of Osho itself, but screaming wasn’t going to solve it. I hope this review does.) There wasn’t much relaxation involved apart from that. I was also very disappointed that no yoga was offered, despite what the website said about classes before we arrived.
*POOR QUALITY OF FOOD – given how expensive the food is compared to normal Indian restaurant prices, we were especially disappointed by the quality of the food here. The self serve hot food was anything but – every portion of dhal I ate was cold. The expensive a la carte items were all served warm but had very small portions, which did not represent good value for money. All the curried items were bland tasting and not at all flavoursome.
*RUDE STAFF – others have commented on this too. The ‘living in’ Westerners were a bit happier than their native colleagues, all of whom did not smile at all. One of the hotel receptionists was usually spectacularly unhelpful and not at all welcoming in any way – he literally could not care less and left us standing there after a long journey whilst he chatted on his mobile. The ‘living-in’ folk were mostly ok, though there were a few odd sorts, including the two who did our welcome morning, a man and woman, the latter of whom was embarrassingly flirtatious with my partner – very disrespectful and totally inappropriate really. There was also a very odd older gentleman who we initially took to be a friendly sort, introducing himself almost as soon as we arrived. We saw him the next day and he explained he was departing the following day to go on a book tour to Dubai). He gave us his card and then we watched for the next 3 days as he badgered everyone who would listen to him about his book, and didn’t leave the premises. Very strange indeed.
My advice is if you are serious about learning meditation, or want a peaceful retreat, or really, have any common sense at all, GO SOMEWHERE ELSE. There are plenty of Buddhist retreats in India that offer free accommodation and food. They may not claim to be western-style “luxury” but at least you’d get an authentic experience and wouldn’t just leave with an empty wallet, not an empty mind.
Who are the "Hare-Krishnas?" - By Reza Ganjavi
I have several good friends who are Hare Krishna followers and I have respect for anyone on any path as long as it's not evil worship! Over the years the movement has seemed to mellow down and strengthen in some ways. Which indicates it's probably here to stay. Being a philosopher, I can not embrace such belief systems, but I can understand the Bhakti spirit, and can appreciate and enjoy the music and devotion to God -- God, the nameless, timeless, immeasureable. The Hare-Krishna (HK) movement was founded in the United States in 1966 by Swami Prabhupada. The Swami was a scholar of Hinduism who wrote many books and commentaries on scriptures. The group's official name is: "International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)".
Many people have come across HK followers. They sell books at airports and chant in the streets in orange and saffron robes and shaved heads. They have temples around the world which offer vegetarian meals at a reasonable price and on Sundays, a free feast (no longer) for those who attend the talks.
HK's is a sect of Hinduism -- Bhakti-Yogis who try to find God through devotion and chanting. Most major world religions have a form of devotional practice. I have had the occasion to attend their restaurants (once I got sick) and temples and discuss their beliefs a few times. From what I recall, they have a very traditional Hindu outlook on life - encompassing the confusion which surrounds many religions - vast bodies of works that make little scientific, logical, rational, common sense, and blind-belief. Their followers abstain from sex though married, except to have children. Many are attracted to the movement in order to embrace the cultural aspect - many I met were those with very rough pasts. One of their spiritual practices is Mantra yoga - repeating over and over and over and over a phrase until the mind is dull and forcefully quiet. They have a strict hierarchy which reminds one of the Catholic church with its Bishops, Cardinals, etc. Their celebrations and chanting can be quite emotional - with many seemingly sexually suppressed men jumping up and down to the sound of many drums and bells in a dance which did not seem too artistic, delicate, subtle, or religious.
There has been numerous accounts of corruption and abuse within the movement. Yesterday (June 12, 2000) more that 40 former Hare Krishna students sued the organization for $400,000,000 alleging they were sexually and physically abused as children over the course of two decades. ``This lawsuit describes the most unthinkable abuse and maltreatment of little children which we have seen. It includes rape, sexual abuse, physical torture and emotional terror of children as young as 3 years of age,'' said the plaintiff's attorney, Windle Turley. The lawsuit alleged children in Hare Krishna boarding schools were routinely abused by teachers and staff from 1972, when ISKCON's first school opened in Dallas, until around 1990. The abuses ranged from rape and beatings to forcing small children to stand for hours in a darkened closet or sleep in soiled blankets as punishment for wetting their beds. It claimed the abuse continued in a half-dozen other schools in the United States and
eventually at two boys' schools in India.
I believe their success has been due to the West's thirst for imported culture and exotic beliefs, and general gullibility of people.
The scripture on which they are based is of course respectful. And I must say I have been impressed by their kindness.
Hare Krishnas to File Chapter 11
Hare Krishna congregations named in a $400 million lawsuit alleging sexual and emotional abuse of boarding school
students plan to file for bankruptcy.
the lawsuit would cost congregations millions to fight and potentially bankrupt many even if they won.
Turley has said the abuse started in 1972 at ISKCON's first school in Dallas, and continued in six other U.S. schools and two in India. He said ISKCON knew that sex offenders were working in their schools.
About a dozen congregations will start filing for Chapter 11 reorganization.
Listened to audio of Prabhupada talking with George H and John L and Yoko. It was funny how they cornered him against his remark that his path is the best.
15 JAN 2004 -- had a nice meal at the K restaurant - same place where a few years ago I got sick from the meal. Didn't touch the sweets which seems to be an important part of this diet culture. the people are always nice ad friendly specially those who are not in it for too long. after a decade or so the ones I met seem kind of dulled by all the silly repetition of the mantra which quietens the mind by dulling it. That quality of silence has nothing to do with natural, unimposed silence.
I looked at your web page. It is creative, personal, and full of variety.
My only complaint is that I think you are too hard on the Hare Krishnas.
Just a couple of examples.
The repetition of God's names or prayers to God, a practice shared by other traditions, does not dull the mind but spiritually invigorates it.
The teachings of Bhagavad-gita on which the Hare Krishna movement is based have been appreciated by great thinkers such as Thoreau, Emerson, and Gandhi, and certainly are not childish. Thoreau once said, "In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita, . . . in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seems puny and trivial."
I wish you well on your spiritual path.
ON THE BRAHMA KUMARIS CULT
BY REZA GANJAVI
I received an invitation for a "Raja Yoga" retreat and when I saw that it was yoga and in Schoenried I signed up. Schoenried is the next villlage before Gstaad and 2 villages from Saanen. That entire region, known as Saanenland / Gstaad is my favorite mountain resort in Switzerland. Unlike most mountain regions which is crammed this area is wide and the sky is bigger than typical mountain skies. Aside from the natural beauty, I have many fond memories (I have forgotten the painful ones) of this area in association with the summer gatherings which were organized in relationship to Jiddu Krishnamurti's work, which were sometimes great and sometimes had nothing to do or even were contrary to his work but that is the human condition (I don't want to call it human nature). In those gatherings I met many good friends, had deep conversations, inquiries, timeless love and joy, as well as pains of gossip authority polarization and small-mindedness.
That gathering has since dwindled down in size and been moved to Muerren, another mountain region - in the midst of the high Alps. The setting is not comparable to Saanenland which is a very special jewel. Anyway, seeing a retreat in Schoenried, I immediately signed up without doing research of what it was really about -- the title said Raja Yoga.
It turns out that the retreat was by a group called "Brahma Kumaris" (BK) -- a big international cult. I am calling it a cult because it has been called a cult by many entities including the government of France. The government of Greece declared it as an "enemy of the state" and it was termed "dangerous" in France and Poland. A quick scan of this cult's history indicates every reason for it to be considered a cult including blind beliefs, ridiculously unscientific and senseless beliefs, fanaticism, radical predictions, suicide, love for money, and allegedly violent actions against some who spoke against it.
I spoke to one of the BK's recently and just as I had thought she pretty much ignores the history of the BK movement - she gives no weight to anything written in books or internet and sticks to her experience. We didn't discuss epistemology in depth but we can't discard knowledge -- it is not all important, it's limited and can be distorted, however if it wasn't for knowledge we would not have technology and advancement in medicine, etc. I have no desire to take anyone off this path - I think if it works for you fine - but it's important to know that as soon as you associate with a cult you automatically carry its history. More notes from the conversation at the bottom of this article.
Here is some information from wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahma_Kumaris_World_Spiritual_University#Controversies_and_criticism
Another website was set up by ex-followers of this cult and reveals shocking information about the cult. BK tried to shut it down but were not successful: http://www.brahmakumaris.info/
Here's another website exposing BK: http://bkwatchers.wordpress.com/2008/10/13/brahma-kumaris-exposed/ (There's a shocking video on this website -- direct link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=mnNSe5XYp6E#!)
Some photos and info: http://bkwsuwatch.com/
Core beliefs of the cult: http://bkwsuwatch.com/about/core-beliefs/
Why it's a cult: http://bkwsuwatch.com/about/identifying-a-cult/
Failed predictions: http://www.brahmakumaris.info/end-of-the-world/historical-revisionism/
How new recruits are sucked into the cult: http://www.brahmakumaris.info/forum/faq.php?mode=forum#f5r7
After the first session he told me I am too advanced for these people who are mostly beginners. I didn't attend most of the sessions because I didn't have an interest in the subject which was essentially what I call pop-psychology combined with a simplistic view of nature of human consciousness.
Most participants were ladies, majority of whom were over 50 -- this is typical for this sort of thing -- I don't know why. One older man was my roommate and God forbid it was hell. He woke up at 4 a.m. to take a shower and made so much noise. He didn't even join the devout followers who were in the meeting room "meditating" at 4 a.m. -- he went for a walk. The next night I wanted to change my room but he said he won't take a shower at 4 so I stayed hoping for a night of uninterrupted sleep. No Chance!! He made so many weired noises all night - not just snoring but strange noises. I finally said something at 3 am: are you ok? He woke up and said there are many movies going on in his mind. His strange noises continues including strange movements in bed. By 5 he got up to go for a walk and made drumming noise with his shoes for several minutes. I just got up and went in living room till he's done with his ordeal. Went to get a drink and at 5 am the cult members were there around the coffee machine -- it was a bit of a spooky energy although they're all nice people -- that cult feeling was still there. He came to me and said "I have telepathic information that the police is looking for my computer - and now we are connected so they may be looking for you". I said I have nothing to fear about. Later I asked him why the police is after him. He said it's a telepathic intuition because he's older he's alone he has a computer and he watches porn. What the hell !! And he used both set of towels that were in the room for the double occupancy, for himself. And he was a smoker. But he slept with his "spiritual" beads.
Anyway I survived 2 nights there. The organizer apologized for this ordeal.
The organizers were nice people - gentle - might be so called meditators but at least one, was not short of image making.
We had fun - laughing etc - and also some deep discussions.
One of the cult members was not shy - or what he considered a joke - or maybe not - at least not in my eyes - by calling themselves the clan.
The cult members, i.e., the senior members, organizers, cook, etc., were nice gentle people and we had good interactions.
My impressions are:
- the BK cult is reshaping itself away from the past beliefs some of which were proven to be false (e.g. the world ending by a couple of predicted dates which did not happen).
- They say there is no guru but authority plays a big role in this cult, in their meditations and beliefs around divine connection.
- these seminar leaders who say they're not leaders actually are authorities -- the presentation was never an inquiry but it was "I tell you now it is"
- their reduction of truth to their theory of life and human and soul and universe works is sloppy.
- the cult's beliefs is typical of most such systems in that the self is always there - not just the jiva atman, the individual soul is always there, but in their practices the me, the ego, is always there.
- they have refined their beliefs to keep up with times and the hardcore cult's beliefs have turned into kind of pop psychology, self-help, motivation seminar type due to contribution of various people some of whom present themselves as a motivational speakers, and not as a "senior cult adviser".
- they're trying to suck in beginners into the cult by painting a rosy picture,offering gift, etc., and not appearing materialistic at all (except for room fee all other fees were on donation basis). However once sucked in. "The start of Brahma Kumari expansion into the West, under its current chief BK Janki Kirpalani, is notable for its purchase of freehold property at the same time it was encouraging its followers that the end of the world was to happen (1976) and to give over their life savings." (source: http://www.brahmakumaris.info/)
- cult members are expected to provide free service and donate their time (as well as money).
- an older cult member gentleman who explained the belief system to me, left out the hardcore aspects of it. Again, it's going through reform.
- If it does go through a major reform, and drop the radical ideas, etc., why does it need to remain as a cult? Why not end itself? It will never do that because it has the insight.
- Key question is, is it helping people. I am not sure. It helps people sit quietly which is good. But as the speaker said the effect of the weekend wears off UNLESS you continue taking seminars and retreats etc. (which sounds to me like he's saying you need to join the cult).
- The beginners are not provided an honest background of what this cult is about. In fact it seems they prefer that their history never comes up.
- From a technical standpoint I see dangers with their approach because
a) the controller is separated from the controlled which is a major fallacy
b) the self is always there and with it all the self glorification and self crystallization that cults like this provide (like the whole business of "I get what I want"). None of them talk about the ending of the self. BK talks about ending of the world but what continues after the world ends are BK's! It's childish, it's silly, but when did silliness stopped masses from believing in something totally nonsensical?
c) understanding and growth which comes from learning in relationship is not promoted
d) their theory of how human psyche operates is confusing obscure esoteric and contradictory (e.g. their leader said thought is the source of creativity -- after I questioned it he twisted it around saying he meant thought creates but real creativity is blah blah).
e) their definition of meditation is totally senseless and has no reference to emptying which is essential to meditation.
f) state of consciousness is not attended to except during the "meditation" period and "traffic stop" periods (once an hour or so).
g) The obscure esoteric teachings confuse people. I don't think the leaders mind this because when people get confused they will need more lessons to understand. Much core wisdom is missing in their teachings and people are misled into believing the observer is separate from the observed, a traditional idea which is simply bankrupt.
h) Most of the cult members looked kind of sleepy and worn in some ways perhaps because they get themselves up at 4 a.m. every day to "meditate". Why? Because supposedly at that time the world is sleeping and it's easier to connect. The issues are:
- if physical distance matters in that mountain region there was hardly anybody around so 4 am and 10 am makes no
difference in terms of "chitta britti nirodha" I guess (I remember this term from a long time ago).
- if physical distance doesn't matter 4 am here is a very busy time in another time zone.
- The gist of the issue is this: Brahma Kumaris as a system, a method, a theory and a cult is short of insights about nature of
natural quietness and it requires the self to always be there - so things like outer vibration and time of day become important in search for imposed quietness.
One author wrote: "At the end of a day that started before 4.00 am they will go to bed exhausted – only to wake up a few hours later to sit in meditation to
cement their beliefs and do it all over again – day after day, 7 days a week."
h) there is a whole set of dangers associated with any cult, with blind belief, and some of the consequences have been documented about this cult as well.
i) they call their classes a university which sounds fraudulent to me -- there is nothing about it that resembles a university which is generally understood to be a place for love of wisdom and truth not one of propagating blind belief and radical prophecies.
j) their Raja Yoga is dithered with these fanatic beliefs which are not part of what is generally known as Raja Yoga. Some people claim BK is not Raja Yoga at all. In a flier I just received they promote a speaker as having studied Raja Yoga meditation in India. Petanjali 's might roll in the Ganges if he finds out they call their cult Raja Yoga.
- On a positive note what's good about their new revised offering if you delete all the bullshit:
a) sitting quietly is good -- anyone who finds a quality of a quiet mind sees the joy associated with it. Connecting with the source is good, it's joyful. But it does not justify having a cult, believing in a cult, or belonging to a cult. I don't think thought can just be suppressed without being understood. The quality of quietness which is the result of suppression is very different than the quietness that comes naturally when thought understands its own limits.
b) eliminating divisive thought is good -- however this does not mean there is positive psychological thought that is not divisive. Love does not need thought. I saw no where in their teachings the idea of thought ending, neither any discussion on origins of thought except what they seem to have cherry picked from other profound thinkers to add to their system which I'm sure was not part of the cult's foundation. The self is always there and the psychological self is a bundle of memories which is made from thought.
c) if you put aside the nonsense - and the division of controller and controlled, then the idea of "me" being one of the select few who will rule the world once it's destroyed (according to their silly belief) -what's left is nothing that needs any system method cult or organization.
d) no matter how much the new leaders of the cult try to put lipstick on it, present it as something moderate, the fact remains that the background, the foundation of Brahma Kumaris makes it a cult and all cults are dangerous.
The last night they did what they call a "Global Cafe" - groups of 4 discussed 2 questions:
Q1) how do you see the world unfolding in the future
Q2) what will be your role in that world
Now I know that the cult's answer to the above questions are:
A1) their cults thinks the world will be destroyed - I read different things - one was that it will be destroyed except their campus in India or something like that -- and they predicted end of world several times but those dates passed and they were proven wrong. Now they have a new date in mind.
A2) their cult preaches that only the cult members will survive and be saved.
Here's a funny quote to end this write up with. It's by the current head of this cult, Dadi Janki: "meditation is about learning to entertain your mind". That about explains it.
NOTES FROM TALKS WITH A BRAHMA KUMARIS FOLLOWER
(BY REZA GANJAVI)
"I am immortal"
"I was not content. BK told me you're a soul - a point of light - how it looks like - what it is - and where is supreme soul (God) -
"I don't spend time and energy checking things.
They've modernizes the doctrines - are no longer calling for a destruction but calling it renewal - very contradictory to their doctrine.
Money is paid in retreats. No donation or dues are paid otherwise
"I am no longer attracted to men but I was once and i prayed and got pure love from god
don't need it any more
never felt 100% fulfilled w/ a man "
I asked: why separate it?
sex is overblown true but it's part of life.
"I can't sleep with a man without being attached - i give it continuity in my mind - all day thinking about him"
why not understand attachment instead - its building blocks - and thought finding its right place.
"not everyone can do that..."
MORE ON BRAHMA KUMARIS CULT
BY REZA GANJAVI
I don't understand why people need to belong to organizations? A human can, throughout the day, and also when sitting quietly, be rooted in that movement which is not of time and thought , the immeasurable. And in that there is joy and contentment. If we are not rooted in that, and are seeking contentment from the world and senses we go to pieces. I am against all forms of cult, fanaticism, blind belief. The article below outlines my preliminary research on the BK cult. But I must say I have met a few people who seem to not pay attention to the weight that being in a cult carries, and find joy in sitting quietly twice a day and connecting, in their own way, to the unknown.
(BY REZA GANJAVI)
This is an email I just wrote to a fine gentleman who corresponded with me on this subject:
Dear X. Thanks for the note. There is no doubt that right meditation - simply sitting quietly - being aware of what-is either sitting quietly or during the day - and emptying consciousness of its content, is good. I don't think there's a method of doing it - as in step 1 2 3 and there you are - because where you're trying to get to is not a fixed point - it's moving. And much of the belief system is not necessary either -- people don't have to believe the world will get destroyed etc in order to meditate... Also the notion that "I will continue" somehow seems to be born out of human weakness for continuity. Why not be ok with ending completely? What I sense in BK teachings is that the "I" will continue - the Jiva Atman, individual soul. We don't know if that is really the case or not - it might work in pools instead of little drops... I would be happy to post your email on the online article so people can see your response. I want the article to be balanced and provide any rebuttals. Is that ok with you? Anyway thanks again for writing. All the best. Reza
EMAIL EXCHANGE (posted with permission of the author who sent me the mail)
(BY REZA GANJAVI)
Thanks a lot for the mail. Please see my comments in line:
On 9/12/2012 5:32 PM, Aigle, Brahma Kumaris wrote:
I would like to give my opinion on one important point, which is about the
need to destroy the old to be able to re-establish the new.
This seems to be part of the renovation of Brahma Kumaris. My impression is that the idea of destruction which is one of the attributes of Shiva which is at the foundation of the BK belief system. I understand the Hindu idea of destruction being precursor to renewal. But BK took this literally and predicted that our world - the physical world - would get destroyed - they thought it's coming through in the world war - they had at least one if not two other predictions but they were all false.
Now in the new, "reformed" BK, as you put it, it's taken a more moderate shape - but that history associated with this belief is there and that's a problem with belief systems - not only usually they're blind belief, they are indoctrinated. Is it necessary? That's the whole question?
At the moment there are 4 powers running the world:
1) the power of science
2) the power of politics
3) the power of economics
4) the power of religion
The 5th one, which does not exist at the moment in the world, is the
spiritual power or the power of the soul (atma), which is the power of
Thought is the accumulation of memory - there's nothing spiritual about thought - it's a tool like the computer CPU for practical aspects of life.
I would say the power of love is there -- if it wasn't we would have blown ourselves away long time ago. Love is what's holding this together still and thought is the antithesis of it.
Nothing exists in this world that we didn't think of before.
We did not create trees and mountains.
the greatest power and only it can bring UNITY. UNITY begins in our
Perhaps mind would be a better term because thought by its very nature is dualistic, and likes to break things apart. We can hypnotize ourselves to think good thoughts but it's still the movement of thought which is limited because it's a material process and because it's based on the known, on experience, which is limited.
UNITY means: One God and all human souls are His children. No
DIVISION. One FAMILY. This is SPIRITUALITY.
I agree. Whether it's He or She or It is irrelevant - whether he's a father mother or not a relative is also irrelevant. These are just human projections of something greater than our limits of understanding according to our limitations.
From the beginning until now,
all religions have split into many, many religious sects, this means into
DIVISIONS, competition and fights.
Think about it, how can you bring UNITY
amongst the world Family now ?
Impossible as long as problem of identification exists.
Do you think that people will listen and stop
First they have to stop fighting with themselves.
Without UNITY you cannot have respect and without respect you
cannot build a better world.
What we see now in the world is the degradation
in human relations and degradation means conflicts, wars.
It has never been different.
that he/she is right. This means that at one point you have to go through
destruction to start again in UNITY.
That's reformed-BK thought. 60 years ago they'd laugh at that idea because destruction had a very specific meaning.
For instance, when Christ came, he
established the Christian religion, without divisions. Today, like in all
other religions, there are so many different sects created by men. Expansion
means interpretation of the original message and this can only increase
difficulties amongst human beings.
It's true. That's the divisive nature of thought - my tribe vs. your tribe.
Regarding matter you can, for instance, renew a house a certain number of
time, but at one point, it will no longer be possible, because it will be
too old, too damaged. The same thing is happening to the Earth. We continue
to pollute it, more and more, without any respect and no will to change
anything in our behaviour. Due to greed, we also manipulate Nature and food,
which has a great impact on our health. But again, the businesses of health
and food are the biggest ones in the world. And so, greed, attachment,
anger, ego, etc. don't allow human beings to change ! Who will start first,
showing the path ?
Is there a path to truth? A path to somewhere means that somewhere is a fixed point. Truth is dynamic.
This is the way that Raja Yoga is showing to those who
really want to change their lives. But only a handful of people (souls) will
feel concerned by this change, because one needs some courage to step out of
Meditation is good. Meditation is not control. Seeing what-is is at the root of change.
For the majority it's easier to stay in their old beliefs and
fight any coming change.
Change is not a matter of choice when there is insight into what-is.
So, how can the world be changed ? How can we make
it better ? Each day, this world is losing so many moral values ! All that
we do in response, is just make new laws, in an effort to stop corruption.
But this is vane because laws should be inside of human beings, not in
I fully agree.
External laws can never stop dishonesty. Matter, from new becomes old
and human souls lose energy through reincanation and become weak.
This is purely a belief, a theory.
of life must come to an end, must be destroyed and than it starts again.
Now we're talking classic-BK belief -- so you do believe after all that the world will get destroyed
Each soul is an eternal actor.
I am not sure if this individual concept is true or is it a projection of human vanity and desire for continuity.
This is eternity. We should meditate on these subtle aspects to be able to understand them very clearly. You can post these reflections on your online article. Best regards.
Thank you for sharing.
ANOTHER FAKE GURU: Vishwananda
BY REZA GANJAVI
I have a friend who was really into Vishwananda. One day she woke up to the fact that he's a fake guru and walked all over him, and walked out.
He even has the nerves to call himself a "Parmahamsa" - piggy back riding on Yogananda's title because he looks a bit like Yogananda, and gullible Westerners fall for it.
I went to an event. As is the case with most "spiritual" circles and circuses, the music was fun. But the worship of this guy was ridiculous.
Oh he also purports to vomit golden egg -- like the conman Sai Baba who was caught with defrauding his gullible audience.
His movement is called Bhaktimarga. I didn't see anything original in it.
Sathya Sai Baba - fraudster guru
BY REZA GANJAVI
On Youtube there are a number of good documentaries on the fraudster Sathya Sai Baba and his cheating of his followers by all kinds of tricks including (fake) pulling ash out of the air, etc. etc.
Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi)
BY REZA GANJAVI
Sometime ago I was invited to go see Amma – the chubby woman who hugs her visitors – that’s a new fad – in the old days gurus would bless the visitors in other ways, now she hugs – that’s her competitive advantage – and it works, not meaning that it transforms people but that people are suckers for it. Flocks of gullible Westerners go to see her and donate money and free service. She does “good”, no doubt, charitable work, but her empire is also materially rich and her ego as well, boasted by power. The followers are the same genre that made the other gurus into masters of giant empires. Rajneesh’s knack was sex. Her knack is hugs. It was a huge hall. Music was blasting at jet decibel. People were lined up for the hugs. Many stands were selling Amma commercial material. From little Amma statues to pictures of her (not so attractive) feet, to digital mantra counters. The ideology is the same old Hindu stuff; nothing original, nothing fresh. Same old ideas of bow to the master and she will purify your mind nonsense. (page 9). According to one of the books: Amma considers herself to be a “sat guru” who “raises us to God’s world”. “The sat guru means more to the disciple than God. Once you find a sat guru you no longer need to think about realization, nor do you need to worry about rebirth. All you need to do is follow the path of your master… all the disciple needs to do is surrender wholeheartedly at the master’s feet…” (page 21/22) The whole book is about dedicating yourself to the master and her feet. That “the master knows far better than the disciple what is good or bad for the disciple, and what he or she does or does not need”. (Page 30) Anotherwords, be a sheep. Give the money to Amma, and don’t worry about anything else. Nice easy life. But dull and illusory. “it becomes impossible to away from the master even for a moment” page 26. And the rest of standard practices of Hinduism and the same cosmology and the same primitive simplistic and false approach to psychology: “creation exists only when there is a notion of ”I”. Wrong !! “the universe is an illusion”. Sure!! :) Check out her epistemology: “…the things that we perceive through our senses … in truth, they are nonexistent, just like dreams”!! Ok, that chair is not there :) “you can get everything you need from a satguru; there’s no need to go anywhere in search of anything” pg 76). Same exact lines as Sai Baba and some other gurus: “Mother is always with you…there is no need to be afraid”. “The mind of mahatma resembles the brakes of an expensive car”. Wow, how profound :) – “a mahatma holds a firm grip on her mind”… so there’s still duality, conflict, effort… This is about slavery not freedom! There are plenty of page on the internet about Amma. One good article is Cult of the hugging saint: http://cultofhuggingsaintamma.wordpress.com/ “Let us worship Amma as the embodiment of all forms of God, knowing that all divine forms are hers alone. Then, let us expand our minds still further and realize that all forms in this universe are her forms and that she resides in each one of us as the very core of our personality.” - Swami Amritageetananda Puri (AMRITANANDAM Second Quarter, 1996) One critic wrote based on examination of her writings: “You aren’t just getting a hug, you are taking part in a ceremony that worships Ammachi as not only God, but higher than God.” Amma said: “AMMA IS AWARE OF YOUR MENTAL STATES ALL THE TIME- REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOU ARE PRAYING TO HER OR NOT AT THAT POINT” Now who would believe that nonsense? “Her words are not Her own but are that of the Lord.” And it gets violent: “last year, a group of ashramites nearly beat a group of villagers to death when the villagers removed a billboard of their beloved guru.”
Komaja is a cult started by Serbian self-proclaimed guru, Franjo Milicevic. I was invited to an event. Went to the singing session. Then to their mountain place, which is a property by Maria Ursula Frueh. Then the guru came and they had this spookiest cult event for the guru where they worshiped him, in a dark room, and the instruments had to be played exactly according to the formula, etc. -- I walked out after 3 minutes when they went into this totally cult mood, and never went back.
At the singing event before, I was talking to one of the attractive woman who's part of the cult. I can't tell 100% but my guess is the guru probably enjoys the various women, and like Osho inspired cults, it seemed, based on what they were saying that they are quite liberal sexually.
In principle, I don't have a problem with communities around spiritual ideas, but these groups often get corrupted and turn into a cult which not only hurts the followers but also the leader despite all his inflated egotistic claims of godhood.
I was also not impressed by the guru at all -- he had nothing of value to say, nor was his personality impressive.