Non-Hindus in high Hindu Posts – in a Religion that doesn’t allow Conversion – 30 Jan 13

While I was writing about the Kumbh Mela in the past days, I was obviously writing a lot about Hindus, about Indians, about Indian pilgrims and at the side maybe mentioned pilgrims from foreign countries. I did not however talk about another type of person: non-Indian sadhus and gurus who are very clearly not visitors at the Kumbh Mela, who are not tourists but exhibitors and performers.

I have explained before that Hinduism does not actually allow conversion to it. You can convert to Islam, you can convert to Christianity but there is no way to convert to Hinduism. In no Hindu scripture can you find a description of a ceremony or ritual on how to become a Hindu. You can only be Hindu by birth. This is the reason why the Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, the Jagannath temple in Puri, Orissa and most Hindu temples in South India prohibit non-Hindus from entering still today. That notice is written on a signboard outside a temple and that is the reason why no foreigner can enter in the temple. I once explained this kind of religious racism but it just shows again that you cannot convert to Hinduism.

The funny part is that the businessmen of Hinduism, the religious leaders and gurus have picked apart their own religion by themselves. The newspapers are daily writing about sadhus from America, Russia, Sweden and other countries on the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad. They are not only simple sadhus, following some Indian guru, no, they are gurus themselves with big camps and they are fully acknowledged and accepted by the Indian gurus around them – because they have been initiated into their posts by a very old religious organization of Hinduism which has the authority to give people the honour of being Mahamandaleshwar, the head of a group of followers. And they gave this post to foreigners as well! Everybody knows now however that such titles are sellable – if you have enough money, you can buy one.

The Hindu religion does not even allow foreigners to enter their temples, how come that an old organization of this religion initiates the same foreigners and even gives them high posts? They now make their own followers, have their tents and camps at the Kumbh Mela and are prayed to and worshipped by people from all over the world – including faithful Indian Hindus, who obviously forgot or don’t know what their own scriptures say.

What makes this worse that you then see them all doing their business together at this festival. The western gurus and sadhus are no less than the Indians, showing off their wealth and enjoying with female followers although sanyasis of that post are not even supposed to talk to women! A western guru is known to sell one pinch of ashes for 1100 Rupees – approximately 20 US-Dollars! They make really big money there while they are actually supposed to be detached from all material.

This is why I say religion is pure business and nothing else. Everybody modifies it to his comfort, gives his interpretation, creates his own tradition and opens his shop for selling god and religion. The religious audience of our country is ready to buy anything which is sold on the name of religion.

I am aware of it that those foreigners who call themselves Hindus cannot agree with my words and most of all not those gurus whose business religion is. The last time I wrote about this topic, I received a lot of angry response from those who felt I had touched the truth. I also know that regular religious people, the followers, will curse me for my words but they will bow in front of those gurus who enrich themselves while ridiculing the scriptures they want others to believe in. I can again only reach to the conclusion that it is either sad or laughable – I prefer laughing.

Naga Sadhus – Concept of Detachment or showing off Genitals and taking Drugs – 29 Jan 13

When you read anything about the Kumbh Mela, you probably think of the most famous scenes which are usually depicted in news: thousands of naked men running into the Ganges. Most people are aware of the fact that these men are not only naked for the holy bath in the Ganges – this is their regular dress: no clothes at all. They are called the Naga Sadhus and they are interesting enough for me to write a complete article about them and their philosophy.

Naga simply means naked, so they are the naked sadhus. You can say that they are the ultimate form of a detached sadhu. The principle of a Sadhu is quite clear: they practice detachment. They have cut all ties with their family so that they don’t get attached, they are always on the move so that they can remain detached from geographical locations and they don’t have a lot of belongings. They eat what they find or what people give them. They won’t store anything but just eat as much as fits into their hands.

A Naga Sadhu goes one step further and is not even attached to his clothes. In the process of getting more and more detached, this is the logical next step. When you don’t have anything anymore except for the clothes on your body but you want to get detached from everything, your clothes have to come off. If you have clothes, you have to wash them, too. While you are washing them, you need to wear something, so you need at least a second set of clothes. If you have two pairs of pants, you wear one and need to keep the second one in a bag or a piece of cloth. If you have a bag, you need to take care where to put it when you sleep and that you don’t forget it. If someone steals it, you won’t be able to accept it just as a fact – so you see, the attachment has already grown into a problem. The Naga Sadhus decide not to have any of this and remain naked.

Naga Sadhus are supposed to be so deeply in spirituality and love to God that they don’t care how they look like and don’t even care whether it is warm or cold. They don’t even have that much attachment to their body to save it from high or low temperatures.

That is how it is supposed to be and how it maybe was in older times. They had nothing and not even clothes. What you can see today is mostly that they have everything, just no clothes. Many of them have money, gold, jewelry, they are luxury sadhus! The regular, clothed sadhus these days have spent up to three million rupees on building and decorating their temporary tents on the Kumbh Mela! Just in the same way, the Naga Sadhus walk around, naked, but with precious rings on their hands and asking people for money while showing them their genitals. The Naga Sadhus know how to give a pose to the photographers and how to show their naked bodies to young western girls, knowing their pictures will be published in international media. They have drugs and thus don’t feel the cold. How much detachment is that still?

I heard that there are also female Naga Sadhus present at the Kumbh Mela, separate in another tent, closed from the public. If that is true, why don’t they sit in public display like the men do? Isn’t it anyway strange that if a normal person shows his genitals in public, it is offending and indecent behavior but when a religious man does that, it is fine! If you do it, you can get arrested and will most probably have to pay a fine. If they do it, people take pictures of them, the pictures are printed all over the world and everybody is fascinated, not offended.

Isn’t it a strange world?

Washing off more than Sins – Polluting the Ganges at the Kumbh Mela and inviting Diseases – 28 Jan 13

Last week I started explaining why I am definitely not going to visit the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad which is in full swing there at the moment. Besides the obvious reason – that I am not religious and don’t believe in the benefits of going there – I mentioned the exploitation of children and the big business that is really going on there. There is however another very big factor that should not only keep non-believers like me from going there but should definitely concern the most faithful religious believer, too: the pollution of the river Ganges!

In Allahabad, the holy river Yamuna flows into the holy Ganges and from Allahabad on, only the Ganges flows on. For religious people this is a very holy place because the holy Yamuna and the holy Ganges mix and obviously create double holiness. Additionally there is the story with the nectar of immortality having dripped in Allahabad, so the river junction is just the perfect place for the biggest religious festival on earth.

The most important action for any visitor of the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad is the dip in the Ganges. It is supposed to clean you from your sins. For them it is a holy bath, cleansing and refreshing. To me it looks like one of the dirtiest spots to wash yourself at! This place is most probably one of the most polluted places of both rivers! The Yamuna arrives there, bringing all the pollution and waste water of Delhi, Agra and other cities it has flown through! The Ganges itself is dirty, too, having come all the way down from the mountains! Do you really want to jump into this water full of industrial and human waste?

I know however that there is no way to stop blind religious believers from not only bathing in this polluted water but even drink a few sips. It is supposed to cleanse your sins away but they all are obviously ready to put up with allergies, skin diseases, stomach and digestion problems and maybe serious illnesses that they carry away from drinking water which is on a normal day already high above the regular pollution levels.

Well, if you want to do this to your body, I don’t think there is anybody who can keep you from making yourself ill. I do object to this ritualistic bathing however because it indirectly also affects me! How? Water tests before and after the big mass bathing on 14th January have shown that the pollution level was too high for drinking or bathing already before everybody jumped in but afterwards it had nearly doubled!

It is not very surprising – approximately eight million people have washed off not only their sins but along with it all their own dirt into the river! In the complete time of the Kumbh Mela, 100 million visitors are expected to bath in the river and additionally do their ceremonies, putting their religious garbage into it, too. You are heavily polluting the biggest river of our country! Yes, it does affect me and every other Indian, ultimately every other person on this earth!

Now authorities have released more water from further above so that the pollution gets spread on some more water and is not as intense at one place – they would probably not like to make international news because of a mass infection or a spreading disease among all festival visitors.

The conclusion is that this festival is not advisable to attend – it is spiritual nonsense, there is human exploitation, it is anyway just about business and it harms your health and the environment. Now you can think yourself what you would like to do!

BBC article on the Ganges pollution by the Kumbh Mela

Showing off and making Money – Sadhus and Gurus on the Kumbh Mela – 24 Jan 13

I yesterday said that I did not believe in the cleansing effect that a bath in the river Ganges would have and that I thus did not see any reason why I should go to the Kumbh Mela. I am however not only ‘not interested’ in going, there are a lot of things going on that I actually find repulsive and make me happy that I am nowhere close Allahabad at the moment. The most important of these aspects is the showing off of money, the money-focused behavior of all those sadhus, gurus and religious leaders. The big business that is happening on the name of religion.

I have heard and read reports of people who have been to Allahabad in the past days and the main feedback is that religious business is all around. I have mentioned the sadhus, gurus and all the religious leaders on the Kumbh Mela who are present at the festival. They are not only gurus or sadhus however – they have found a lot of different ways to make business!

They are preachers: It is their normal work to give lectures and hold speeches there. They give ceremonies and of course they also take their dip in the Ganges, taking along the people around them. While they may not charge money for their speeches, most of them do ask money for performing special ceremonies for individuals. They have gathered their followers in their camps and make every effort to find new followers at this occasion. Followers will give them money for their blessings, for their ceremonies and just for meeting them.

They are salesmen: These gurus all have their own shops in their camps, selling malas, pendants with their pictures, altar items and deities and much more. You don’t need to argue that they don’t sit there and take money! Just like every other successful shop owner, they have their store managers sitting there, doing the physical work.

They are hotel owners, too: This is something that I only got to know about in this year. These sadhus have started giving out ‘Spiritual Holiday Packages’ for followers who want to come and rent a tent in their camp for some days during the Kumbh Mela! Our local newspaper published their prices, which were varying throughout the time of the Kumbh Mela – during days when more public and a higher number of interested people could be expected, the prizes were higher. The rates were separated in three different categories: regular visitors, VIPs and VVIPs – very, very important persons.

When I read the experiences of people who have visited the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, people said they did not find one piece of spirituality or divinity around. With all the offers, the shops, the food that was sold and all those people who tried to attract them to come in their tents, it just seemed like a big fun fair.

Amidst all of that there are the sadhus and gurus doing their own drama and exhibiting their wealth. They arrive at the Kumbh Mela in their luxury cars and live in their air-conditioned five star luxury tents. They sit on golden or silver thrones and have an array of silver pots and tables around them, wearing golden necklaces and jewelry with kilos of gems and precious stones. They show how rich they are and in this way, again, are not different from many regular rich businessmen. It is just religious business.

The point to laugh about is that their actual title ‘Sadhu’ or ‘Sanyasi’ means that they are detached. It is a term for those who are not involved in the material world and have nothing to do with money. Their display of material and money is completely against the actual concept of being a sadhu yet this is what you see all around at this festival! No, I really don’t want to go there.

Journey from Holy men to Charitable Businessmen – 3 Mar 11

Last year I was talking with one of our organizers just generally about some programs and after some minutes of talk he said ‘Swami Ji, I see a businessman in you.’ and he laughed. I felt good about this. I can imagine that some of you frown now and wonder how this can make me happy. Some may even think this statement should have insulted me. Yesterday I already started explaining to you why it did not.

What is business? For me the definition is something like this: First you make an investment. You then put effort and work in it and in the end you harvest the fruits. In this way you earn back what you invested and hopefully some more.

Before my time in the cave I was used to live as a guru. I was celebrated as a holy man, worshipped by others. In that time I was not really doing any business. I see it like that because I did not do any investment, I only got the fruit. In business you earn should earn your investment and some more so that your money or bank account numbers increase. A spiritual person who claims detachment from material is actually not supposed to do business and if you say this to some of the biggest gurus of this time, they would probably feel insulted and get angry. I might have felt this way, too, if you had called me a business man 15 or 20 years ago.

Now however I don’t. In 1997 I went into the cave and my whole life changed in the years afterwards. I made a journey from being called holy man to being called businessman. I like to learn and do business and my mind and path is developing in the right way with all the activities that we offer and our charity projects which seem to be growing and making progress every day.

Now there is just one small difference to the regular businessman: I do not want to put my profit into my bank account! I want to do charity with it. We work very hard and give our best in whatever we do. Sometimes people who see our website wonder and one person said to me ‘I never saw a charity website that has a shop! You offer so many things to your visitor!’ And I told him yes, this is what I want to do. I want to offer retreats, activities and even items in our shop.

There have been many experiences with running the Ashram and offering all these activities, a mix of sweet and sour. Through all this my idea about being a businessman has become very clear. And my reward is not the money. My reward is these children's smile!

Who is close to God – Superrich Gurus or Superrich Businessmen? – 1 Mar 11

I was very happy to see a piece of news in one of the last weeks’ newspaper. Two of the richest men of the world, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, are making plans to visit India this year. Actually the fact that they will come is not so much what made me happy but rather the reason why they will come. They want to encourage Indian’s millionaires and billionaires to donate more money to charity!

Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and his wife Melinda have started this campaign, the ‘Giving Pledge’, urging rich people to donate 50% or more of their money to charities. They themselves have pledged that they will give away freely and they have already convinced many rich people that this would be the right thing to do. They don’t talk about giving to a certain organization or for a certain cause, they just talk about philanthropy, about charity, about giving and sharing with those who need it. I love this idea of a campaign and wish them the best of success!

Especially here in India there are many people who could give a lot and could see their donation used in front of their own eyes, in their own country, if they had the compassion for others to do it. This campaign is urging anybody who has gathered wealth to do good with it and it particularly addresses businessmen. In my eyes, some of the biggest businessmen in India are those who do the business of spirituality and religions.

Most Gurus and religious leaders would never like being called businessmen but they are among the most successful ones in India. It is the ‘Business of Gods’, as nicely stated in this article. I don’t even want to start listing religious people who are rich because the list could get very long. In the article they only mention a few and the figures are already four years old, today they would be much higher already.

There are just so many people who receive donations by claiming they build temples or are some kind of Gods. They even live like Gods, building multiple Ashrams and enourmous temples in India and around the world.

Do they forget that there are not only people who want to hear lectures or perform spiritual rituals but people who need food and struggle to survive? They don’t need temples, they need a roof over their head! They don’t need your blessing, they need your money!

Some people will tell me now that many of these gurus also build hospitals and schools or give in another way to charity. This however is such a minimal part of their wealth, a tiny part of what they could give that they should feel ashamed to advertise their charitable attitude in this way. Ideally they should be able to leave 100% of their wealth because they show themselves as sanyasi, only devoted to God and having renounced from material belongings. Instead they take what they can get and distribute it most generously among their family members. They preach detachment but seem much more attached to their Rupees than Bill Gates to his Dollars!

All these people are businessmen, the gurus as well as the founders of this campaign. But now there seems to be a switching of roles – the spiritual people become more and more involved in and obsessed with business while the business people become more and more spiritual, giving away to helping others. Who do you think is closer to God, those who sell God and make this their business or those who make real business and then donate what they have so that others have a better life?

I don’t want to say much about money in the spiritual business these days but if all those rich super-gurus with all their wealth could also donate 50% or more of what they have, they could make a significant change in this society and make this world a better place to live in for so many.

Detach yourself to Learn Controlling your Mind – 16 Feb 10

In a way what I was writing about is also the philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita. When our mind is active and it is not concentrated or focused, it is difficult to be in peace. It is all the time here and there.

The Gita also says that you need to control the mind. And for controlling the mind you need detachment. What is detachment? It means not to be attached with material. That is why I ask why these all Swamis and Gurus who even give lectures from the Gita are so much attached to material. If you see their lifestyle, you can see how it is reflecting. I think I don’t need to explain in which way, everybody knows this.

Now a good question that everybody can ask himself: are you attached to material? The immediate answer of many people will be ‘No!’ but we want to go a bit deeper than just this. Maybe you believe that you are not attached to material because you don’t have much anyway but let me tell you, this is not the definition of being detached.

If you really have a lot and lose everything, you will feel if you are attached or not. And also if you don’t have much and lose the rest, then, too, you will feel your attachment to the things that you lost. It may be very difficult not to be attached to anything. Try to be attached to as little as possible, leave old things, throw them out and give them to someone who needs them more than you.

An Honest Opinion is not Always Appreciated – 24 Nov 09

Even though I never write my diary about one particular person and never write any name in the diary, some people get upset with what I am writing. It is particularly Swamis and gurus who don’t like that I am writing like this. I am writing about the general system but of course, many Swamis and gurus can feel that I am directly talking to or about them. And who will feel this? Obviously those who are doing what I am writing. Those, who are really on the path of love and on the way to God, won’t feel this because it is not for them.

I only said that there are Swamis and gurus who are interested in collecting gold and money. I don’t think that anybody will not agree with me if I say that there is a conflict between two things: on the one hand collecting money and gold and on the other hand teaching detachment from material.

I actually don’t only say this for Swamis and gurus, I like to direct my word to anybody who has the means to help and to share. That can be industrialists, it can be politicians, it can be celebrities and everybody who could give something to someone who needs it more urgently. Why do you collect this all, what will you do with it once you left from this earth? Give something of what you have and most importantly your love to those who need it.

It is okay if some people don’t feel good with my diary and statements, I will let them feel what they want but it will not prevent me from saying and expressing what I feel.

Paramahansa – Real Meaning and Abuse – 14 Aug 09

Yesterday we were talking about the guru image that many people like to have and keep. It is not only Indian people who come to the west but also western people who are impressed by this image and the whole drama which is made and created by these gurus. It is a big business in India to sell spiritual names and titles. And this is how I see several masters here with the title ‘Paramahansa’.

I am sure more than half of them don’t even know what paramahansa means. They like to put this title in front of their names, to have followers, to sit on a silver or golden throne, with heavy golden necklaces full of precious stones, holding one hand up in the pose of a Hindu God and with their disciples sitting at their feet wearing malas and necklaces with pendants of their picture.

I have met real paramahansa, who get this respect as a spiritual person with a very high level of consciousness. None of them is ever sitting on a throne. They are not interested in this and don’t need this drama because they don’t need to impress anybody with their wealth. With much love and respect we call Ramkrishna paramahansa. He left his body in 1886 at the age of 50. There can be a big description of the word ‘Paramahansa’ but explained in short it describes a person who is beyond this material world and who lost even the attachment to his senses and his body.

I cannot understand how these gurus who love the material, silver and gold, can be Paramahansa. It just makes me sad if I see that there are innocent and lovely people who are blinded by these masters.

Today we had a great chakra dance party in the evening.

In Love is no Attachment – 30 Apr 08

I will continue with my lecture:
I may have told you already about one spiritual man, a gyan yogi. He was wonderful man, a really great, great, wise man. Unfortunately he had cancer and was very ill. In 1989, I was 18 years old, it got very bad and many doctors said that his last time had come. So I and many others went to see him. He was lying on a bed and we, doctors and many disciples were around him. Somebody asked him: "Are you feeling much pain?" And he answered with a Mantra from the Vedanta: "Chidanand Rupah Shivoham Shivoham. Oh yes, I have pain in the body," and he smiled and seemed to be shining. "But I am not the body!" There was light on his face, he was not suffering from the pain which was in his body. If I have pain in the hand, my hand has pain, not me. I am not the hand. What is self-realization? When you realize that you are not the body. Then you do not feel pain. This man had so much pain and he was smiling. He proved that pain comes from attachment to the body.

If you are not attached, if you are in love then there is no pain. If I am attached with for example this alarm clock here and if I lose it I will be very sad. I will feel pain because I lost it. If I love it I will not feel pain. Okay, I lost it but maybe somebody else found it and I can be happy for that.

The philosophy of love is a great philosophy. Maybe you know the Gopis and Krishna. There was a big love in between them and the Gopis said to Krishna: "We love you but if you are happy somewhere else it is okay. We do not need physical contact to love you. We love you, we are not attached to you. Go where you are needed, we love you always and wherever you are." I don't want to bind you but love you freely.

You see, the line between love and attachment is very thin. Sometimes attachment might seem like love and whatever we claim, most of the times, if you see it from a yogi's point of view, it is not love but attachment.

We had a chakra dance party tonight. In Germany it is an old tradition to dance into the May and we did it today in a special way with the dance party. Many friends were here and everybody enjoyed it very much.