Sri is a polite way to address someone. It is also used for Deities in Hinduism.

So, in case of humans, when Sri is used multiple times (or twice, as is the case), it should be reflective of a great politeness.

Though what the most famous double Sri (Sri Sri) thinks about ‘Sri Sri’ is not clear, an official blog post on his website, from June 19, 2014 says, “A colleague who had been with me at Maharishi’s came up with the idea of Sri Sri. Everybody agreed that one Sri is very common, generic and confusing. My opinion on the matter was irrelevant in this animated discussion. I was just a silent witness. And so, I was rechristened at Waldorf.”

Okay, so we don’t know what actually Sri Sri thinks about ‘Sri Sri’ or probably, I didn’t dug enough. Anyway that is not the point here.

The point is, ‘ Sri is very common, generic and confusing’, so, ‘Sri Sri’ was adopted to avoid ‘confusion’ and give ‘an uncommon and branded identity’.

So, in social parlance, ‘Sri’ is for commoners and ‘Sri Sri is for greats, especially the spiritual uncommoners.

And ideally that is the case. Our society runs like that and we are content with the system, even with its deviations and diversions.

Ideally, if ‘Sri’ symbolizes politeness, ‘Sri Sri’ should sent out an aura of politeness that is saintly, that is great, especially if it is about saints and gurus in our society who drive us, who guide us, who many a times, make us understand the meaning of life.

So, when we hear our constitutional bodies, the protectors of our legal systems, the courts, commenting about him like “You have no sense of responsibility. Who gave you liberty to speak whatever you want to. It is shocking”, it only reinforces that this ‘Sri Sri’ may be about anything but it is certainly not about politeness.

This ‘Sri Sri’ says “fine should be levied on Delhi government, NGT for saying ‘yes’ to Yamuna event”, as his website says, and not on him and his organization that made a constitutional court, the National Green Tribunal, came down heavily on him.

This statement may be reflective of anything, but certainly not of spiritual politeness and not of saintly greatness.

The events like the ‘World Culture Festival’ have takers in India and millions who descended in Delhi to join the three day long spectacle last year prove it. But had it been by someone else or some other entity than a person/entity with claims of being religious/spiritual guru of our society and who has achieved a saintly status for his followers, it was acceptable.

But not when you are a religious/spiritual guru of a society where millions still toil to earn their daily meal, where they don’t know what is meaning of education and healthcare, where a government whip can be the only force to force them to have ‘Aadhar’, where they don’t know what is quality of life, where they don’t know if there is life beyond the life they are living.

Such spectacle events can feed millions of them. And the true peace will only come when they are fed, when they are aware of their rights to have a decent quality of life with education, health and a place to stay. That may sound utopian, but at least this is what that is expected from our saints, our gurus, our religious guides and our spiritual patrons. They draw sanctity and strength from people and, therefore, they must justify their ‘Sri Sri’ here.



October 10 is an important day, for it has three observances that make for intense societal debates – World Day Against the Death Penalty – World Mental Health Day – World Homeless Day – the scourges of our organized societies – the results of our organized societies.

Abolishing death sentence is a raging debate the world over including India. According to Amnesty International, 2015, with 1634 executions, was the deadliest year on gallows since 1989. In its report, Amnesty says the figure is from some 25 countries and it could go up to 2000.

What does it say?

Do crimes and criminals have increased in our societies or societies are becoming more tough and hardened on criminals?

There will always be proponents and opponents and mere statistics cannot define it. If a victim demands death penalty for the perpetrator, we cannot go and tell him that he is wrong. It will be immoral. Similarly, an activist who demands that death penalty be abolished, is also correct in his approach. A wrong can never be answered by another wrong. So, even if someone has taken away someone’s life, we do not have any right to do the same to him.

This dichotomy will last till human civilization is here.

To continue..





©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/




©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/



Sample this.

Funeral pyre is said to be the only decided event that comes inevitably to every life – irrespective of your caste, religion, community, sect or ethnicity.

And it is very rightly said that we all are equal in death – even if we spend our whole life with lofty ideals, with gaudy ostentations, with bawdy deliberations, with audacious aggrandizements, with synthetic ethos, with filthy exaggerations, and with everything else extravagant.

What happens to the body of a billionaire also happens with a beggar – either buried or burnt on a funeral pyre.

Yet, VIPism runs deep even here – and is spreading its tentacles fast.

If you chance visit any cemetery or cremation place on riverbanks, in most towns, cities and metro cities, you can see a separate section, with or without a raised platform – the so-called VIP section – that is available either to VVIPs or VIPs – or for a higher charge.

And mind you – people do lobbying – like getting some influential person to call – even while in the heaviness of death – if they don’t get the VIP option available. Likewise, the people manning the crematorium have their behaviours modified.

With increasing levels of income, sophistication (and obviously consumerism, that is otherwise a good trend for a growing economy), the VIPism to show your clout or to simply to quench your inner urge to feel above from others, is becoming a regular feature even at our final resting places.

When – the eternal and the only truth is – we all are same in death – even if we lived different lives.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/



“We are so sucked in this VIP culture –
– in life –
– and in death –
– from the VIP queues in temples –
– to the VIP arrangement for funeral pyres!!”



©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/



Temples are probably the best examples to see how deeply ingrained is the VIP culture in our society in India, something that a rational and logical mind instantly disapproves.

But then what can you do?


But to keep you straight, up according to the norms – as humanity desires and as God decrees – and not as some of us, so called rulers or the ruling elite, lay out.

My first experience to this VIPism was some 10 years ago – back in Chennai – when I was in queue to the famous Ashtalakshmi Temple near some beach – when I saw this VIP line – for people who would pay some amount to bypass the longish queues of sinners like us to get nearer to God.

Now only they can tell or the priests can vouch for if getting in a VIP queue at all helps the purpose – in feeling God – in going near to Him.

What can you achieve by saving some moments by rushing to have your presence in that Sanctum Sanctorum when you cannot toil to see even God?

And this is when our scriptures say that it takes ages of Tapasya (austerity, penance, strict meditation, whatever you want to say) to meet the Almighty in any possible form.

Our scriptures say, our tradition says, the Hindu codes of worship say – that even Goddess Parvati had to do Tapasya for ages to marry Shiva.

But this VIPism has only got worse. From some temples, it is now becoming a regular feature of large temples across the country.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/


In a newspaper interview published today, Mr. Ravi Shankar again reiterated that he would never pay a fine. He said he agreed to pay the compensation to develop the Yamuna floodplains. He also said that the farmers were happy with the compensation amount given by his Art of Living Foundation.

He lashed out at his critics for trying to paint his event in a negative light. He said the successful management of the World Culture Festival (WCF), which was even bigger than the Olympics and the FIFA soccer world cup events, should silence everyone. He said the place where the event was organised was a dumping ground and his Foundation would develop it into a beautiful biopark.

So, in a way, Mr. Ravi Shankar has further toughened his stand from what he was earlier saying.

But he is not realizing that this stand is so anti-middle class – ‘audacity of privilege’ – as one article described it. It is a well-established fact that popular sentiments tend to be with the weaker sections. Here Mr. Ravi Shankar sounded like an adamant powerbroker while those who were opposing his event were seen as working for a just cause. The sentiment was further augmented by the hostile comments that the WCF got from the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal.

Mr. Ravi Shankar may have pure intent but when you address masses to convey your viewpoints, it is not your intent, but your words that echo.

And the impression that have had loud echoes during all this WCF row is that Mr. Ravi Shankar acted as if he was above all – above the rule of law – above those activists crying hoarse – and above the common men who bore the brunt of incessant traffic nightmares in a city that is already reeling under the intense chaos of some 80 lakh vehicles making traffic snarls a daily routine.

That has not gone down well with masses, especially the target group that forms the support base of sages or religious gurus like Mr. Ravi Shankar – the urban middle class, the educated youth and the middle-age professionals.

The great Indian middle class that is projected to become the largest middle class base in the world by 2030 – a market of some 450 million people, as BBC and Harvard Business Review reports put it.

Just scroll through social media platforms and you can see the anger there.

Also, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is not Baba Ramdev.

The brand appeal that Mr. Ravi Shankar has is for classes while Ramdev has become a mass phenomenon. We need to accept that with the rapid strides his Patanjali brand of household products are making.

And another development that lends more justifications to the questions raised on the event is the cropping up of advertisements of Sri Sri Ayurveda products with the WCF. There is nothing wrong in trying to build outreach for your products but what about timing? The ‘purely’ marketing exercise just doesn’t gel with the tall claims of ‘world peace and humanitarianism’.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/


Till the World Culture Festival happened, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar or Mr. Ravishankar was probably a figure from a very small group of religious gurus in India who were more or less non-controversial. Mr. Ravishankar enjoyed a widespread support with a reputation of being ‘an efficient mediator in conflict resolution’.

Not anymore!

And the sharpest reflection of that sentiment is addressing him as ‘Mr. Ravishankar’ and not as ‘Sri Sri’, something that had become synonymous with him. Yes, many consciously tried to do it after the controversy on the World Culture Festival erupted and the stand that Mr. Ravishankar took – like he would rather go to jail than paying the fine asked by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) or that it was not a fine but a cess that he agreed to give.

The impression went that he took on law, that he bent it and blatantly tried to convey that he was far beyond it, that he was above all. And there would be many more than the participants or the audience at the World Culture Festival to share this feeling.

There was also another development that didn’t go unnoticed from those who are open minded about society and its religious extensions – a large, urban middle class, the prospective target audience of a spiritual-religious guru like Mr. Ravishankar, that builds and nurture its opinion based on logical thinking and rational perceptions.

In addition to harbouring a natural grudge, a middle class phenomenon, on abuse of authority and power that went into organizing the World Culture Festival, there is another spectacle that can hardly go unnoticed – that further questions the ‘noble intent’.

I, personally, did not have seen television commercials of ‘Sri Sri Ayurveda’ products before it, before the row (or frenzy for some) over the World Culture Festival. But, in the run up to the event and during the event, I saw it many times on television channels. Obviously, for the organizers of the event, the millions of eyeballs were the target and thus the millions of expected footfalls in the days to come.

I cannot say and I don’t know about the part of India Mr. Ravishankar has his ashram in, but we in Northern India, so far, had not seen the ‘Sri Sri’ products advertisements on the channels televised nationally, be it entertainment, be it news, be it infotainment or any other genre.

Till the World Culture Festival happened!

There was a coordinated and well-oiled effort to reach that elusive ‘effective frequency’ of advertisements to build the outreach.

But would it help take the brand ‘Sri Sri’ further?

Also, was the decision to hold a mega event in Delhi to take the ‘Art of Living Foundation’ and ‘Sri Sri’ brand name across the country influenced by the rapid strides made by products of another religious guru – Ramdev’s ‘Patanjali’ brand?

Obviously, Mr. Ravishankar denied so and Ramdev would not speak on it but these TV advertisements speak a lot.

But they certainly belie the tall claims of world peace, unity and humanitarianism.

Why these advertisements now only?

If the event was organized with such a noble intent like the world peace then there was no place for these advertisements!

At best, the event can be termed a breathtaking cultural extravaganza aimed at making Mr. Ravishankar a pan-India religious guru – to massify his brand appeal.

And the event would have been a brilliant marketing exercise in doing so but for the ‘Yamuna’ controversy.

When every concerned authority, from the Supreme Court to the NGT, was opposed to the event being organized at the Yamuna floodplains, Mr. Ravishankar made it prestige battle to have his say and got his way.

Combined with the fact that the political establishments (including the Delhi government) and the administration extended the olive branch and went out of the way to ensure smooth organization of a private event that caused endless traffic nightmares to millions in Delhi, the World Culture Festival sent negative feelers, that in fact, caused a dent into the ‘holy aura’ of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

It is not that ‘holy’ anymore!

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/


We can rightly argue that the events like the one being organized by Sri Sri Ravishankar (or Mr. Ravishankar) are good for the overall health of the society – but when we see the grandiose scale of such events which are at best fleeting in effect in a society like India with millions of under-nourished, quality-illiterate poor people, we start questioning utillity and futility of such initiatives.

The world peace simply means nothing for them.

And it is my firm belief that that every religious person has the moral and social obligation to work until there is even a single person to be helped is left, something that means it is going to be a lifelong, endless endeavour.

So, if Mr. Ravishankar has spent around 30 crore or more in organizing this event that claims to bring the world on the fragile Yamuna riverbed for three days, he needs to do some soul-searching so as to find the rationale that has driven his decision.

An ordinary Indian needs hospitals, schools and basic civic amenities first and not big temples, monuments, parks and mega events like this World Culture Festival.

Yes, it may be argued, it is being argued, and it will be argued that the Art of Living Foundation, the religious organization of Mr. Ravishankar, runs many schools and hospitals but to claim the ‘spirituality’ tag needs going much beyond it – like shunning the luxury of these mega events until there is no needy left – and to invest the scare resources in creating resources to help them.

In 30 crore or so, many clinics or hospitals or schools could be started in our rural areas or in our hinterlands.

Yes, the way the event has been lined up – with musical and cultural performances from across the world, it would certainly be a breathtaking view – but for the very same reason, it leaves valid questions for a spiritual-religious person, that Mr. Ravishankar claims to be, to introspect.

A poignant conversation from the movie Schindler’s List, that was based on a true story, captures the essence of such an introspection:

Oskar Schindler: This car. Goeth would have bought this car. Why did I keep the car? Ten people right there. Ten people. Ten more people.

Oskar Schindler: This pin. Two people. This is gold. Two more people. He would have given me two for it, at least one. One more person. A person, Stern. For this.

Oskar Schindler: I could have gotten one more person… and I didn’t! And I… I didn’t!

To continue..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/