Keep your Children away from TV – it is dangerous for them! – 21 Apr 15

I told you yesterday about an advertisement that I didn’t approve of. It was a product designed to give parents more guilt-free time by occupying their children away from TV. While I feel that the presentation of the product was just terrible, I fully support the idea that you should get your children away from TV – because that thing is not good for them!

Obviously, one of the things also this clip said was that TV-watching children are at a higher risk of becoming overweight. Everybody understands this logic, I believe: if you are sitting in front of a TV, you quite naturally burn much less calories than by running around in the garden, or park, jumping a trampoline or catching friends or siblings! Up and down the stairs, from kitchen to living room to bedroom – children usually walk a much further distance than we adults in one day if they are not put in front of a screen!

Even more important however is that your children don’t really learn as much as you think when they watch TV! Of course, watching a TV show of making arts can inspire them the next time you are painting or doing handicraft together. That time has to come however! If they just watch the shows and never do any such thing on their own, it won’t be as helpful as you make yourself believe it is! They actually have to touch things to get to know how they feel, they have to jump and stand on one leg themselves to be able to balance, they have to really stick the paper together with glue in order to know that it works! Of course, children have the urge to do in real what they see – but you have to give them the possibility for that as well!

And with this we come to the most important part: the content of what your little ones are watching!

Okay, so you say your child only watches the children channel? When was the last time you looked at those shows critically yourself? All those high-pitched voices of cartoon characters who run after each other trying to set each other on fire, hit each other or make some sci-fi ice ball in between their hands that totally freezes the child next door because it didn’t let them sit on the swing?

No, no, no, those channels made for children are not the best thing for children to watch! There may be some useful programs on there but most of it is brainless nonsense that your child should not be watching at all! Violence, dramatic breakdowns and tantrums (worse than the regular ones that belong to development…) and more really often has its base in TV shows that your child watches while you are happy that you found time for yourself!

Get them off that thing and if you really think that you have found a great show, please sit and watch with them so that you can not only monitor what is being shown but also explain whenever they don’t understand something!

More than that however, please make your children play, invent something, get creative with them – it will help them so much in later life!

Keep your Children busy and off the TV – but not because they are a Burden for you! – 20 Apr 15

Today I would like to write a bit about an advertising campaign that showed me once more how wrong some people’s attitude towards their children is. Sometimes it feels as though their children are a burden for them!

These thoughts basically started when my wife came to show me an advertisement. She had seen it on her facebook newsfeed several times but had never clicked on it because the headline was not interesting for her: ‘Ever thought: “How can I cut back on my child’s TV time?”’ – and as Apra about never watches TV and only some YouTube videos we select for her, we don’t actually have this issue. She got curious one day though and watched the promotion video.

The idea in itself was a good one: a company monthly sends a box with craft supplies, paint and something to read. A wonderful business idea which also helps parents to be creative with their kids. The product is nothing wrong in my eyes. The advertisement of it is the issue!

In this video, a cartoon mother and father look at their child who is watching TV and a text says ‘You always wanted to get them off the TV…’ but when the mother suggests ‘You wanna take him out and play?’, the father runs away to work saying ‘I’m busy!’ and the mother, in meditation pose, answers ‘So am I’. After some scientific figures and proof that TV watching is bad, there is the solution – this box – and then you see how the mother is blissfully meditating and the father is sleeping.

So the problem that they want to solve is obviously not the children watching TV but the parents wanting to have time for themselves! They know TV is not good but oh, they don’t have time to play with their child! And here is the perfect solution: you get a box full of toys that will keep your child busy so that you have time for yourself!

No, this is not what parenting is supposed to be! If you have a child, you have a responsibility! You know it – otherwise you wouldn’t feel guilty when a video tells you that ‘the age from 3 to 7 is crucial in brain development’, that ‘80% of brain development occurs by the age of 5 – only through active engagement’ and that children who watch too much TV are ‘more likely to become overweight’! You know this all and it makes you feel bad when you look at your child’s daily activities? Make a change!

I am not saying you shouldn’t have time to meditate or work! I am not saying that you have to be with your child every minute of the day! But if you already think of paying for a box of art and craft supplies every month, please sit down with your children and use those items together! It is not only developing their brain and spending their time sensibly, it also creates a bond in between you! Your child will learn so much more if there is a loving individual, a real person next to him or her!

It is sad that such advertisements are being made and that they actually hit home for people! I know you love your children – now don’t be lazy, get up and play with them! Don’t say you are too busy and will do it later – the best years will be over faster than you will even know!

Do you really prefer a fictional World to real Life? – 18 Sep 14

Yesterday I started a list of reasons why I believe TV is one of the worst ways of passing your time that you can imagine. Today I would like to complete this list of reasons why you shouldn’t watch TV:

4. You are bombarded with Advertisement – and cannot fight against its Effect!

There are a whole lot of commercial breaks in a regular TV movie or TV show. You won’t get to see a complete half an hour of entertainment, news or other information: a few ad spots are definitely going to reach you and, depending on how well they are made, reach their goals as well! You just need to see the same thing often enough to know a brand for a product and trust it. Simply because you have heard of it so often. In the same way, commercials give you a subconscious message that you really need whatever they are showing. That can be electronic devices, food items or insurances, pretty much anything!

Fact is that it is effective. It is a very soft and subtle way of brainwashing that you submit yourself to! You don’t want this? Switch off that TV!

5. You get sucked into a fictional Illusion which makes you unhappy in real Life!

Last but definitely not least is this point. I cannot stress this enough because it is something you often don’t even realize anymore, especially if you watch a lot of TV: those movies and shows absorb you. It is just fiction but it is so well played and directed that you identify with the main characters and you take all their emotions on you! You suffer with them and you are happy with them! What is the problem with that?

You slowly lose your connection to real life. Seems exaggerated to you? It is not! It is a slow process that pulls you into this fictional world. You start thinking and imagining as if that world really existed. You compare your life to what you see on the screen – and you will never ever feel that your life is better!

It is obvious that your real life cannot be as exciting, fantastic and full of events as TV and movie life is! They cram a whole life’s story in two hours and you are left with the feeling that you are missing something! Soap operas live from the fact that every week someone either dies, gets married, cheated on, has an accident and is saved or finds the love of his life! If it was too close to real life, it would be boring and nobody would watch it – because why would you watch a normal person just like you? Even shows like ‘Big Brother’ choose participants who are a bit different than the normal, regular person, just to make it more interesting!

What we have as a result of today’s TV habits is a whole lot of people who have unrealistic expectations on life and are bitterly disappointed in the consequence!

Get away from your screen, take your kids out in nature, enjoy real life and start living again!

Your Time is too important to spend it on mindless TV Shows – 17 Sep 14

We are about to start for our flight back to India after this intense and beautiful week in Germany. Unfortunately Apra has caught a cold and is coughing and sneezing with a little fever as well. Nevertheless we are confident that we will make it to India smoothly. Last time, she was asleep nearly the whole flight long – and me with her. In the meantime, Ramona considered using the TV on the flight but finally didn’t feel like it. When I woke up, we talked a bit about TVs, how much of a habit it can become and why I normally see it as a rather bad thing. Now here is my list of five reasons why you should not watch TV:

1. Watching TV wastes a lot of your time!

It is just logical: you could use the time that you sit in front of that machine for so many other things: work, clean, tidy up or – if you actually sit there because you had enough of all these activities – get social with friends, be creative, paint, play, take a bath or spoil yourself in any other way. Sitting in front of the TV doesn’t bring you anything. It just makes time go by. Two or three hours is nothing, once you get involved mentally with what you are watching! If you really have too much time, go for it. If not, just keep that thing off!

2. You could use it for learning something – but you don’t!

Let’s be honest about this one: yes, TV is a great thing to see the world. You have the possibility to watch documentaries, to get to know more about this world. You can watch programs to get an insight in other cultures, follow debates on important topics or find out how the things work that you use every day. You could but usually, maybe in 90% of all cases, you don’t.

You use the TV for mindless entertainment. That’s it. So don’t tell me, when you are watching the latest soap opera or a reality TV show, that you are broadening your horizon! You just want to let television wash over you without any challenge for your brain!

3. It can make you aggressive, and your kids even more!

This point is nothing new and I know many people don’t believe in it. I do however, especially when it is about your kids! You show them that you watch TV, they do it, too. And today’s shows, even those made for children, are nearly always so full of violence that I would never want my girl to watch it! They believe what they see is how it should be, that people are hitting each other, fighting and just being full of violence! Combined with the lack of movement and exercise which is a normal consequence of too much TV, this stirs the same aggressive behavior in children – and in yourself!

I have some more ideas – but more about that tomorrow!

Irresponsible Indian Media – TV Shows full of Magic and Superstition – 17 Nov 11

I have told you before that I usually don’t watch TV and if I do, it is usually news. When we are here in India, I watch the news channels and only very rarely anything else. I prefer the real world. In between, in advertisement breaks, I sometimes wonder though if I am really on the news channel. Why? Because the advertisement spots are sometimes full of superstitious nonsense!

One example, a very big one, is the advertisement of ‘Lal Kitab’, which is played not only on one channel but in several, very big national channels. Lal Kitab translated means ‘Red Book’ and it is a book that I have heard of already in my childhood. I was amazed to see an advertisement of that book which I had heard many people, especially women, talk about when they discussed how their future will look like. In the advertisement a lady praises Lal Kitab for telling you how they can change future by simple rituals. Young women can get to know how their future husband will be like.

It is basically a book full of superstitious predictions and also remedies and rituals for all kinds of situations. If you would like to achieve something, if you have the wish for a certain quality in your husband for example, you get advice such as ‘Take a handful of lentils in a full moon night, dig a hole into the earth and let them drop in there one by one’. This is then supposed to have an influence on your future.

What I was wondering about was not only that they must be doing really big business if they can do advertisement on TV. I also wondered how the media could allow this nonsense to be advertised! They claim to have a solution for any kind of problem!

It is not the only kind of superstition and magic promoted on Indian TV Channels though. There are many strange programs in which they talk about ghosts and supernatural powers. There are talk shows in which experts and astrologers make people afraid that there could be certain planetary situations which could harm them. They also give remedies for how to avoid any loss or tragedy that could result from that. Whenever there is a sun eclipse or moon eclipse, they show which zodiac sign will experience which effects and what you can do about it.

Some shows give advice about different temples where you can go to if you want to change or influence your fate. People give testimonials of how they have gone to a certain temple and won their court cases. Other temples are known to help your business and other temples perform special rituals that cure your diseases. Each week they have a new episode showing the religious solution to another problem. You are told rituals for prolonging your husband’s life, for becoming wealthy and for saving your children from evil.

Nearly every channel has such a show and millions of people sit in front of their TVs every day, watching this with interest and believing it to be the truth. After all, it is coming on TV!

Former Supreme Court Judge and present Chairman of the Press Council of India Markandey Katju recently gave a statement that I very much approve of. He said that media should act with more responsibility. Real journalism should bring people out of un-education and lift them up to a higher level instead of going down to their level to entertain them with superstition.

I fully agree with him. In a country like India, where so many people have low education or maybe none at all, media is responsible for teaching people the right thing. Don’t only think of your TRP, your business and your money. Think for a good cause, think for educating the people of this country! TV is a powerful medium and it should save people from superstition instead of further encouraging it!

In many areas of India, there are not enough schools for all children and this is how many people had no chance to go to school. If there is only one TV however, twenty and more people can sit in front of it. Imagine that the TV now showed an interesting, educational program! No, instead they make the viewers afraid and encourage their belief in ghosts, useless rituals and negative influences from all around.

Media has to realize its true role in society and stop fooling people by promoting superstition. Only in this way we can in future turn on the TV and feel good about what we see.

How Veil and Burqa Increase Sexual Abuse and Crime against Women – 5 Apr 11

Yesterday I said that boys have to be supported just like poor girls. There are however of course many topics in today’s societies around the world that show that gender equality is still a problem and that girls and women need support. You can see that for example at the rate of crimes and abuse against women. I would like to write today about the connection of those crimes with the tradition of covering face and the whole body and also the fact that sex is a complete taboo in many countries.

There are many countries in which young people don’t have any kind of sex education. There, sex is a taboo and nobody will talk to them about it. Their parents and their teachers won’t explain them what is going on in their body. They may learn about the sexual organs in the body, in a dry and somehow quick, superficial biology lesson. And that’s it. Whatever they want to get to know has to be taken from talk of elder teenagers or young adults.

In a modern world however, they have other ways of getting to information. There are books, magazines, films, videos and there is the very big world of the internet. What they see and find there, let’s their fantasy go wild. They watch movies and they see on TV or online what nobody wanted to describe to them. The problem is, boys may see naked women on TV, but they don’t see a piece of skin even in their real world.

You all know that in the religion of Islam women are encouraged, in some countries even forced, to wear a burqa, a piece of clothing that covers the face, the head and often even the complete body. Also in Hinduism, there are some people and traditions which say that women should cover their face and head and some women thus always wear a veil and never show their face in public.

In my opinion this can create problems in the mentality and psychology of young men who see through modern media what could be but are not allowed to talk about it. It is unreachable! They cannot talk about sex, their desires and feelings, let alone have sex! All around them they only see women covered from head to toe. Of course, what they see in movies is only drama, acting by professionals. Seeing this, what has been made a taboo, makes them however urge for it and their sexual desire can get overwhelming.

This kind of situation can create a sickness in the mind which leads to horrible cases of abuse. Young women, girls and even children are seen as soft and easy targets. They bait them and kidnap them, take them along, rape them and sometimes even kill them.

In my opinion traditions like the veil and the complete covering of the body can bring sickness to the minds of mentally unstable people. Of course the biggest problem is that a fully natural thing, sex, is made a taboo. In a modern world you cannot live like this because it is all around you.

In a modern world, you have to have gender equality. There is nothing that would elevate men above women or the other way around. If you say there is equality, then why do women have to cover themselves and their beauty? So that men don’t get excited, attracted and aroused? Why don’t men have to cover themselves then? Couldn’t women get aroused in the same way? Sometimes I hear arguments saying that women are sinful and with their bodies want to attract men towards sin which is why they have to cover it. Any religion, law or society that makes women in any way ‘second grade’ or lower in value than men is discriminating women. Men and women are equal in value. Any other idea and attitude leads to crime, domestic violence and sexual abuse.

There are more crimes against women and children in uneducated countries and those in which sexuality is suppressed in society. You need to see this good side of western culture. You say that they are too open with their sex education and they lead children to forget any kind of moral or value but because of those measurements, because of being clear and aware about sex, young women know that nobody is allowed to touch or molest them. And young men learn what is real and what is only drama on TV.

An Open letter to Swami Ramdev from Swami Balendu – 22 Mar 11

Read this letter in Hindi

Dear Baba Ramdev,

You are a yoga teacher. I give you credit for making yoga popular in India. I admire you for building this business empire of Yoga and Ayurveda of billions of Rupees in such a short time. You really have very good business skills. You are a businessman. If you want to be a politician, you can surely be a good politician, too. However it often seems to me you have some hidden agenda that nobody is supposed to know about. You are a multi-faceted personality and it seems you are hiding something many times. I am not the only one who feels this.

The Indian population, also those who admire you and who are looking for someone to raise his voice against corruption, get confused. What is it you actually want, they ask. Let me explain you how you create this confusion.

When you talk about black money and bringing money back from foreign countries to India, people love it. Who wouldn’t want to see their country prosper? Doubt is created though, when we hear that you yourself have property in foreign countries. It is opposite to the aim that you say you want to achieve.

You want to stop poverty in our country by bringing money back, so why don’t you set an example and contribute yourself with the billions worth of property that you have collected abroad? Why don’t you give a big part of the profits of your enourmous corporation to educating people, building schools, paying doctors in hospitals to give free treatments to poor and feed the hungry? I have even heard that the hospital you built is too expensive for normal Indian people to afford.

You would probably tell me now that you actually do charity, that you give yoga classes for free and in this way help people. I however will not really accept this as charity. In the past, when you were a yoga teacher and businessman only, your yoga camps always cost an entrance fee. It was never for free and it was just fine. People paid and got to learn yoga from you. When you started your own political party and started travelling throughout India for making it more popular, your camps suddenly were fully for free! So people could come for free, learn yoga and right away sign up as members for your party and hear some political lectures, too. And then you claim you are helping people with free classes! You are not only helping people, you are helping yourself, too! Ratan Tata sells cars and helps people to come from one spot to the other but in the end this helps him because he increases his wealth. You, Ramdev, do the same thing, so don’t tell that you help people for free! You are doing advertisement and in the end look for your own benefit!

It is actually really very much your political career that confuses people. In the beginning, many were simply enthusiastic. Of course, you talked a lot about stopping corruption and first of all blamed the Congress party for corruption. Who doesn’t want to remove corruption from the Indian political system? The Congress government has disappointed whole India with all those scams and corruption which was brought to light. The party to whom you donate money however, are facing charges of corruption, too! The chief minister of Karnataka, Yeddyurappa, is not the only one, there are investigations running against another 10 ministers of the BJP in Madhya Pradesh because of corruption.

In Uttarakhand, the state that you are in, the ruling party is currently the BJP. Agitated by your talk about the corruption in the Congress party, the Congress Members of Parliament and the Congress Members of the Assembly of Uttarakhand, asked the state government for investigations into your own funds and asked another question: what happened to your Guru Shankar Dev? I read in Hindi newspapers and saw in TV interviews how they asked for more clarity. He had been living in the Ashram and one day simply vanished. You are still there, in the same Ashram, living and working. At that point however the BJP chief minister of Uttarakhand decided that no investigation against Baba Ramdev would take place. I understand that. When someone asked for an RTI proof, it showed that you have given big donations to the BJP and they would not want to risk losing them.

The point is that people could even accept it if you said you supported the BJP. They don’t understand however why you talk against corruption openly and then hide your support for that party. How should anybody trust or understand who you really are?

The Congress leader Digvijay Singh even asked you whether the money that you accept as donations is really white money. Are you 100% sure that your whole empire is built on white money? What is your answer to his question?

Some months ago I read in a newspaper about Ratan Tata who had been asked a bribe for getting a license for an airline company and only revealed that now. The next day I read your statement that you were also asked millions of Rupees bribes for your Ashram. We know you like publicity and being seen in TVs and in newspapers. So you thought it would be a good idea to follow the example of Ratan Tata and give a similar statement. And just like him you did not expose that person’s name who asked you to give them money. I understand Mr. Tata, who has an enourmous enterprise and whose fortune depends also on the approval of several people with high positions in the country.

What about you, why did you not reveal a name? You are showing yourself as a Baba, a Sanyasi, living in truth and honesty and without material attachment. So what is your explanation why you don’t tell the truth? You should not mind the consequences for business as you are not attached to material belongings! Or, if you do mind it, don’t call yourself Sanyasi! Instead, you report with much pride how big your corporation is and how many thousands crore Rupees it is worth. What should the public think now? Really, it is just a normal question in everybody’s mind. Are you still a Sanyasi?

If you still call yourself Sanyasi, do you really follow the Sanyas-Dharm, all those things that a Sanyasi should do? Do you get time in between all the TV interviews, advertisements and other deals? We want to know the truth about you! Help people understand who you are!

When you say you do not own property or any money, people know immediately that it is only a play of words. If you own a corporation and that company has money, it is of course yours, too. People who buy your products in stores all over India are not stupid, they know that they are supporting you! They know that they don’t only give you money but they buy from you because they want to support you! They also see that your family members drive around in expensive cars and have a lot more money than what they themselves could be earning.

Recently I saw some figures on a TV news channel which made your statement of ‘not owning anything’ sound somewhat ridiculous. It said your empire is worth at least 11.52 billion Rupees and they gave a lot of details:

 

1000 Acres Property in Haridwar 3 Billion Rupees /~ 67 Million US-Dollars
100 Acres Ashram in Haridwar 1 Billion Rupees /~ 22 Million US-Dollars
Food Park in Haridwar 5 Billion Rupees /~ 111 Million US-Dollars
Buildings in Haridwar 250 Million Rupees /~ 6 Million US-Dollars
96 Acres Property in Solan, Himachal Pradesh 200 Million Rupees /~ 4 Million US-Dollars
750 Acres Island in Scotland 140 Million Rupees /~ 3 Million US-Dollars
99 Acres Property in Houston 980 Million Rupees /~ 22 Million US-Dollars
20% Profit of Yearly Sales of Ayurvedic Medicine 3 Billion Rupees Sales x 0.20 = 600 Million Rupees /~ 13 Million US-Dollars
Sales of Books and CDs 100 Million Rupees /~ 2 Million US-Dollars
Income of 50000 people coming to your center every year, paying 5000 Rupees per Yoga camp week 250 Million Rupees /~ 6 Million US-Dollars

And then you tell people that you need Billions of Rupees of upcoming projects. It obviously looks like your ambitions are never-ending! Is that really the path of a Sanyasi who has renounced from all worldly attachments?

Some years ago there were allegations on you and your company to have mixed the powder of human bones in the medicine you were producing and selling. You were able to save yourself and your company through your connections and your approach to the right people. A few days ago the former railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav gave a statement on TV, saying that he and others saved you by taking your favour in that time but they would not do that for you again. It seems that there was something wrong, otherwise why would anybody talk about having saved you?

You yourself have been seen on different spiritual TV channels a lot, so that everybody got to know your name and face. Everybody knows that one can buy the slots there and just pay for the sending time. I have heard however that you even the majority of the shares of one of those channels, so you can practically broadcast whatever you want. Another rumour is that you have plans to start your own news channel, too, because the other ones don’t give enough coverage of your own news and your statements. What should people think about this all?

I remember a few years ago I heard you saying on TV that you have nothing in foreign countries and you don’t even have a passport. In that time you were focusing on India and honestly had nothing to do with foreign countries. Some people liked it because you obviously were devoted to your home country. Sometime later you went to the west yourself though and gave a few very big yoga programs there. You must have been disappointed, because western people did not really accept you and your ways there.

To be honest, I think that is your own fault. You gave a very strange statement, saying that yoga can cure cancer. If you had said, yoga can help if you have cancer, it would have been right but people in educated countries know enough about medicine that this is not true. Additionally you have very narrow-minded ideas of sexuality and straight-out said that homosexuality is wrong. Your yoga-oriented audience in the west did not really like that idea, either, which reminds them maybe too much of the opinion of the Pope and the suppression of sexuality through the Catholic Church.

Well, I guess it was best for you to come back home, where you still find followers for those ideas, too.

There are of course many of your ideas that I don’t approve of but you had a lot of respect for your whole work of yoga. If you could have stayed with that, it would have been good for you. Your ambitions made you show different faces to the public, the face of the businessman and the face of a politician. Don’t you see that the graph of your popularity is going down, that people have doubts and that there are fingers pointing at you? Don’t you think you have cut that branch on which you were sitting and planted the seed of doubt in people’s minds? I am really sad about this for you, are you not? I may have supported you, too, with your good deeds for the world of yoga but not with all these doubts.

If you did some real charity with your money, I would be really happy. It seems however that you are too much the businessman for that and like to invest your money in this way. If you consider all of this, you must understand why people believe that you act out of personal interest and the ambition of getting more power and wealth instead of acting for the interest of the nation.

I hope nobody thinks now that I am a supporter of the Congress party. I do not have any interest or involvement in politics and I don’t give any donation to any political party. What I say to you is from my heart and I believe this is not only my voice. Millions of Indians have these questions for you. I am not your enemy and I am not opposing you. I just would like to see clearly what your agenda is.

I come from the same background, have lived the life of a guru but gave it up, along with all followers and my religion. I am now a happily married businessman, paying tax and having nothing to do with politics. I am a simple man with no millions in my account and also have no ambition to have an empire like you. I could have, if I had remained a Guru in this religious country. But I decided not to. I just want enough for my family to survive nicely and live in a respectful manner, so that sometime, if you come to my home, I can feed you, too.

As Kabir said:

“Sahib itana dijiye jame kutum samay | mai bhi bhukha na rahu aur sadhu na bhukha jaye||”

In short this means, I just want to live nicely and honestly and die peacefully. You may thus say I am just one of the normal Indian people, hereby raising my voice to just ask what you are all about.

It doesn’t matter to me who you want to be, the yoga teacher, the businessman, the politician or all three at once. Whichever role you decide to play however, be honest in it, only that is the right way. People doubt and find out lies. Nobody can cover and hide money, property and crimes. It will come out and destroy all of what they have built.

I hope you and your followers understand my words in the way they are meant and do not get angry with me. I wish you all the best whichever way you decide to go.

Sending you much love,

Read my recent letter to Baba Ramdev on 6th June 2011 here

Brahmrishi Kumar Swami wants 1 Trillion Dollar for Temple in Vrindavan – 22 Feb 11

Read this article in Hindi

In the last week I was writing much about literacy in India and mentioned that there are more temples than schools in India. Unfortunately there are still people who like to take advantage of the religiosity of Indian people and who build more and more temples. Some weeks ago there was a big advertisement in our newspaper which attracted my attention because it had something to do with this topic and I saved it to show it to you.

It is a full page with advertisement printed on the front and on the back. It is obviously in Hindi, so I will point out the most important parts for you.

It is a two-page invitation to an event with the man in the middle, ‘Brahmrishi Kumar Swami’. The text starts by reading ’31 crore (310 Million) people are proved to have got rid of their sorrows and pain.’ And the article goes on with testimonials of different people with their pictures printed beside them.

‘I got great results in my studies’ a girl tells while another student writes ‘I was finally admitted to the institute I always wanted to go to’. ‘I was cured from cancer’ and ‘My father was very ill and was healed’ are only examples for the long list of diseases that were allegedly cured by the Swami: prostate cancer, bleeding problems of women, acne, depression, diabetes, swelling of legs, cancer that doctors had diagnosed as incurable and more, with the climax being a brain tumor that was fixed by a Mantra just before the woman died and a person who was blind and was finally healed after 4 futile surgeries.
Brahmrishi Kumar Swami claims to have healed all of them with one of his Mantras and his blessing.

On one side of the paper there are Indian people telling how he helped them, on the other side there are people of Indian origin who live overseas. With these people they printed another short article which praises his accomplishments abroad. There they say that he was even honoured by the Canadian as well as American government for his work. The American Senate and the General Assembly allegedly handed him an official certificate to honour him which was signed by the speaker of that occasion and the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama. Obama’s representative is mentioned to have given him the certificate in New Jersey.

In that certificate, which they have printed a very small picture of, it is said to be written that he is the world’s most respectable Saint, the leader of the most popular spiritual organization of the world. Billions of people got together, got healed from pain and sorrow, established a brotherhood in between them and got success in life.

Further the clipping tells that the Canadian Parliament, seeing his growing popularity all over the world, invited him to a meeting with parliament members, journalists and intellectuals. The chairman of the economic cell of Canadian government gave a certificate of honour as a representative of the Canadian government, similar to the American one he already had. They organized a special event for him and said the Canadian government felt proud to honour him for giving guidance and enlightenment to people all over the world.

Now I have been searching all over the internet to find something about all those official honours by the US and Canada government and parliament but could not find anything. Don’t you think that should be mentioned somewhere? I know there are many readers of this diary who live in America and Canada. If you have ever heard anything about this happening in your assembly or if you got to know that he gave a lecture in your senate, please let me know. I really believe the General Assembly and the Parliaments of Canada and the US have more important things to do than honouring an Indian preacher that most people of the country never heard nor cared about.

There are more pictures on that paper of different Indian politicians who take his blessings and TV artists and actors of TV series that were broadcast in the late 80s here. All these people have at some point performed in religious movies, about 15 years ago and were supposed to come to the event they invited for. I happen to know that Hema Malini, a former Bollywood heroine, now 62 years old and announced for the program brings a big group of artists and with all the setup and everything it will cost millions of rupees to invite her and other artists.

Of course people here know all those actors and they also know Kumar Swami, even if you have never heard of him. He has been on Indian TV, making his advertisement by paying spiritual TV channels to broadcast his programs. This is his and the TV channels’ way of selling spirituality.

"Building
1 Trillion Dollars for a Temple on 108 Acres

You will be asking yourself what this all advertisement is for. They invite people to come and meet him and at this occasion donate for a temple he wants to build. On 108 acres land, he wants to create a ‘Radha Krishna Golden Temple’, a big temple out of gold which will cost 50 Trillion Rupees, about 1 Trillion US-Dollar.

I already wrote about Kripalu who has actually built a big temple in Vrindavan and has spent millions of Rupees for that. Now Kumar Swami is planning to build another temple and we read in the local newspaper that some people of Vrindavan are protesting against this plan. They don’t want another such temple to be built.

Anyway, they tell that they plan to build this temple and write an enourmous figure as a cost. Who knows if they will get all this money together anytime to build a temple like this? This advertisement however is directed especially towards poor people who don’t even know how many zeros are in this figure. People, who don’t have much and don’t know much but who have a wish for themselves. They may be ill and not have money to go to hospital but they go there, pray and give a donation with the hope to get better. Others read how famous this man is, with even Obama honouring him, and they want to see him, meet him and get his blessings. They go and give a donation.

In short, this advertisement is for collecting donations. They may never actually build the temple but they can do this all over the country and get richer and richer! How they make a fool out of poor people! From the little money that they can give, they make their business and all of this by saying that they will build a temple! If this money could be given and used for education, for building schools and paying teachers, how many children could learn and change their lives?

Media Should Not Create Stories that Ruin Lives – 5 Jan 11

Today I want to write about a local story, which is now called the sex scandal of Vrindavan, but which actually started last year in beginning of August. One day, our guard came and gave us a USB stick which a stranger had given to him in front of the gate. He did not know that man and just told us that it was for us. When we saw the data which was on that stick, we all were shocked. What we were looking at were the private pictures of an old classmate of mine, all a few years old. I had been to school with this man and his wife and we are friends even if we had not seen each other for a long time. And there they were, pictures and videos of them being intimate with each other.

What I did was to immediately call this friend and ask him to come to the Ashram. I showed him the data that was anonymously delivered to us. He told me that the month before, in July, his computer had crashed and he had taken it to a computer shop for repairing. He knew already that someone had in that time stolen his data because we were not the only ones who had received it. I suggested he should go to those people of whom he thinks that they have the data and tell them that it is private data. If he had not done anything wrong, he should not worry.

This issue did not come up anymore and I thought it to be resolved until we received his phone call last week. He asked us for help, telling us that his private data was out in public now, with many more people some of whom started blackmailing him. What he was afraid of was that anybody could go to the media with those pictures and videos. Of course we don’t have control over local media and this is how we saw news about him in local newspapers and TV channels today.

The story that the journalists created however shocked us even more. According to the news, he has been involved in the sex movie business for years now. They presented him as a porn star who earns his money by selling his movies abroad.

Why did the media do this to the family when they made them part of a sex scandal? This man has a teenage son and a teenage daughter! The whole town of Vrindavan knows about this now, half of the people have the videos and pictures on their mobiles and this family’s social life is over. Even if you say that taking pictures and videos of himself and his wife is wrong, how can it be right what you did? You ruin not only his and his wife’s lives but also the life of their children!

Media always loves to have sensational news to have some more readers, some more watchers and just some kind of story. If however you create a wrong story and by this ruin somebody’s life, it is not right. I think media persons should act with more responsibility! He has of course made a police report and accused those people of whom he thinks that they took and spread the data. Of course, the media story does not stand a chance in front of court but his social life will be non-existent after this.

I have written before about how many dirty things are going on in religious centers, organization and even in temples, especially here in Vrindavan. Media should spend more time cleaning up that dirt instead of creating false stories of sex scandals about the intimate pictures of a married couple. I hope after some time people will forget and he and his family will get peace back into their lives.

Video Games cannot be Your Answer to Boredom – 14 Dec 10

When we were writing about video games, I asked Ramona ‘Why do people actually play all these games? I don’t understand it!’ She replied ‘Well, you wouldn’t have any time for that either.’ But even if I had time, I would not like to play any of those games. Obviously not any game including violence, shooting and killing but I have also seen games where you are a character and collect things in a fictional world. I just don’t understand what I would get from this. Am I just not bored enough of life to do this?

I don’t watch TV either. I never felt the need of any different world than the one that I am in. People often tell me that they need those things, a movie or a game, so that they can forget their world and enter another one, the world of that fictional character. There are two main reasons why people do this: they are bored and don’t know how else to kill time or they want to forget their own problems.

If you play video games or watch TV because you are bored, I would really recommend you to open your eyes and have a look at reality. See how many things are going on around you! What you see in TV is inspired by reality but it is not real! The miracles of reality can be found in real life and the beautiful thing is, you can actually experience them. Sitting in front of TV for boredom truly only kills time but doesn’t make boredom go away. You will switch off the TV and still be bored.

If you have problems, I can only say that fleeing in another world doesn’t help. Do you believe your problems will just vanish? Simply be gone if you go somewhere else for a few hours? You try to switch off your mind by watching TV, watching something that is very far away from your own life so that you don’t have to think of all its complications. It doesn’t work like this. You have to face your problems. If you only have stress, you should find other ways to get out of it. Physical exercise or meditation are very good for stress management. And if you have other problems: solve them instead of suppressing them. Accept them and work on them. Mostly they are not as bad as you think.

If you now think that you really only play video games for entertainment, think of all the other great things you could do in that time! You could play with your children, visit your parents, have a talk with a friend, revive an old friendship or make a new one, work in the garden, paint, make music, do sports… I can find hundreds of things that in my opinion are much more useful than any video game.

If it relaxes you, fine. If it makes your stress go away, fine. If it in some way is useful to you, fine. But most of the times I see that this is not at all like this. People get irritated and more stressed because hours have passed by so quickly, they get headaches, backaches and they are more tensed because their brain was the entire time busy working with all the new information it was bombarded with.

If you find yourself in this description and think now ‘actually I know this all’, then please start living it. Your life and time is worth a lot, so please spend it happily and in full consciousness of what you are doing. Stay with us in this world and enjoy reality.