Monday, June 05, 2017

Three classes, Three Gurus, with some notes on Sri Sri

An ancient post on a classification of Gurus.

Swami Ramdev, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev are the three major godmen in India at present.

Swami Ramdev started as a Hatha Yoga and Pranayama evangelist.  His ascent was mostly due to the 24x7 religious channels on Indian cable TV which beamed his Yoga instructions to millions of home.  Now he has diversified into being the head of an Ayurvedic-themed FMCG empire.  He wears orange robes and can be considered a monk.

Sr Sri, a past follower of Mahesh Yogi, teaches a form of breathing exercise called the Sudarshan Kriya through his Art of Living Foundation.  The foundation runs courses for beginners and experienced practitioners for a fee.  He wears white and is presumably living a celibate existence.

Sadhguru, about who I have written a bit on this blog, teaches what he calls "Isha Yoga" through his Isha Foundation which now also runs shops selling yoga-themed trinkets and accessories.  He wears both modern and traditional wear, and has a long beard.  He was married at one time, but is now a widower.

It is interesting to note that these three gurus cater to different demographics in India and abroad.

Swami Ramdev talks in Hindi, and appeals to lower-middle-class Indians.  He has almost no foreign following.  He is a "1.5-star" guru in terms of ambiance.

Sri Sri, speaks mostly English, and appeals to the middle classes who have moderate exposure to English but may not be too fluent.  He has some foreign following.  He can be considered three-star for his venues and training materials.

Sadhguru speaks primarily in English, and appeals to the elite classes who don't mix with the riff-raff.  His stuff is four-star and above.

Mind, the star-rating is not for their spiritual or philosophical insight, which is third-rate for all three, but only for the material quality of their atmosphere.

(Curious folks might be interested in the long-running Sarlo's Guru Rating service.)

All three gurus are still in business and have managed to avoid, unlike the unlucky Asaram "Bapu" or "Satguru" Ram Rahim, criminal prosecution for nefariousness.


Some notes on Sri Sri, who has been in the news recently for the wrong reasons.

  • Why the dyed hair and beard?  He is 60+ and why this subterfuge about appearance.  One should note that both the late Sathya Sai Baba and Swami Ramdev likely dye(d) their hair as well.
  • Why does he allow his humble self to be called "Sri Sri"?  The explanation that he just went along with it as his followers decided on this name is somewhat weak.
  • He is described by his sister, and himself, as a child prodigy.  But he likely graduated only with difficulty, and in third class.  His degree is not in "advanced physics" as claimed, but is merely a regular 3-year undergraduate bachelor's course which he was able to clear only on the second attempt.
  • Given his mannerisms, I consider him quite likely to be a gay man.  There is nothing wrong with being gay, of course.  But if true, he would be the first gay guru in modern India.
  • He, like Swami Ramdev and Jaggi Vasudev, is politically well-connected.  This is a rather good way to get land at concessional rates, and generally avoid trouble.
This blog article offers more color on him and his courses.  The comments are interesting as well.  The title phrase of the blog "How genuine is ..." can be construed as an effort to determine his category in the guru-world.  As per my taxonomy, I would categorize him as a second-category teacher.


Visitor said...

What a funny post, and to some extent mistaken. For the record, Baba Ramdev has a huge following in the west too. Whether in the UK or in the US, primarily amongst Americans of Indian origin. There is no question that he took Yoga to the common man, and is extremely knowledgable. I think he was even donated some land in Scotland; not sure.

Sri Sri - again mistaken. He too has a huge foreign following. Lots of devotees who are westerners or europeans or latin americans, and even white americans (fluent in english).

On the whole, the post suggests the author's colonial mindset. Calling the atmosphere -- judging it based on language? Had you said something about aesthetics, maybe understandable.

Let me add: Isckon, Parmarth Niketan, Brahmkumaris, Sai Baba, Ramakrishna - all of these have devotees from all parts of the world.

Venkat said...

Global Footprint (of the Art of Living)
155 countries in 6 continents
370 million lives touched
Reached out to 40,212 villages in India
Giving free education to 53,361 children in 425 schools

Please see this- Harman.