Thursday, January 21, 2010

The REAL Shri Ram Chandra Mission History (Part 4)

Taken and Translated from a research article by Alexis on his French blog: Le Projet Sahaj Marg

Comments and Insertions by 4d-don are in "red italics"

The Multinational Sahaj Marg

The Shri Ram Chandra Mission Rajagopalachari has become a multinational. It is based on its army of preceptors, who are virtually (real) missionary soldiers trained in unbridled proselytism, and on a gigantic but flawless administration. All numbers conceivable currently circulate on its importance. Numerically, there are probably some 50,000 regular meditators, 150,000 contributors and 500,000 supporters, including more than 80% who live in India. Financially, there is a turnover (budgetary revenues and expenses) of 50 to 100 millions, and assets of 150 to 400 millions, 70 to 90% being managed by foundations with no financial transparency. As for the participation of the followers, it is not solely in its annual membership fee (100 to 150 € in the West-Europe), but it could well reach 1,000 to 2,000 €, if one adds the publication purchases and other donations of all kinds. 

* The Creation of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission 

* Preceptors, the Missionaries of Sahaj Marg 
* Sahaj marg, How Many Divisions? 

* Associations, Foundations, Societies and Brands 
* Ashrams and Assets

* Publications for Collectors 

* Transparency or Opacity?

The creation of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission 

Lalaji apparently had hundreds of disciples, according to Rajagopalachari, 212 exactly as stated by his grandson, Dinaysh Kumar Saxena, mainly in the state of Uttar Pradesh and surrounding areas of northern India. He indicates that nine or them were his preceptors, including his son Jagmohan Narain and his nephew Brij Mohan Lal. Eight organizations were born from these. (Babuji was not one of them (preceptor) ... See why here  

If "Epitome of Sahaj Marg" is un-available on this site, see the contents of Epitome of Sahaj Marg on Alexis' blog here: La Fabuleuse Épopée du Sahaj Marg  

Babuji started from scratch. In his diary, he recounts his inter-communications (in dreams) with Lalaji who (allegedly) told him to start the organization in May 30, 1944, and then gives instructions on the following June 3. But it is only on June 10, 1945 that Babuji and twenty two of his followers gather at a meeting and decide to create the Shri Ram Chandra Mission. A working committee of nine persons was appointed June 20. The articles of association are registered in Lucknow on the next July 21. Its objective is to promote the system of Sahaj Marg founded by Lalaji his master, he writes. (See excerpts from Autobiography of Ram Chandra edited by SP Srivastava, President for 10 years, and published by SRCM (Shahjahanpur) (with comments by Christian (17 years with Chari's clan at SRCM (California-1997) which contains 80% of Babuji's Journals, as opposed to Chari's clan's version, which contains 20% ... Literary "cleansing"?) (see also: scans of many legal documents on Freedom from Sahaj Marg) 

The organization is based in Shahjahanpur and chaired by Babuji or by his spiritual representative in direct line of succession. Anyone wishing to participate can join, without obligation to pay any subscription, but subject to presidential approval. (dictatorship... or private club??) He appoints a committee of nine persons to assist him. Madan Mohan Lal, senior preceptor of Lalaji at Shahjahanpur (not listed by Dinaysh...Kumar Saxena, grandson of Lalaji and dean of NaqshMuMRa Sufi Order) becomes the number two of the organization as its secretary. Prakash Chandra Saxena, the eldest son of Babuji, is also a member of the working committee. (while still a boy! Why?)  

At the same time, Babuji's Journal tells of a series of inter-communications between Babuji and Swami Vivekananda. On May 20, 1945, Vivekananda himself gives him the name of the organization to create and tells him to convene a meeting of his followers. Several successive inter-communications stress that what is being created is a "new religion", under the authority of Vivekananda. His instructions on the emblem of the mission will come next August 26. (See excerpts from: the Autobiography of Ram Chandra

In reality, Lalaji is not the founder of Sahaj Marg, contrary to what is written by the founders of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission, (and Chari's SRCM-California-1997) except in the dreams of Babuji, says Dinaysh. And why did Babuji not speak any more of Vivekananda, if he played so important a role, as he says in his diary at the inception? (See NaqshMuMRa Nexus, the site operated by Dinaysh Kumar Saxena, dean of NaqshMuMRa and grandson of Lalaji)  

Anyway, Babuji has at least twenty-two disciples in 1945. Twenty years later, at the arrival of Rajagopalachari, the number of his followers would be only 42 or 43, if one believes the latter. Also according to him, then, it suddenly jumps to 600 in 1972, and Ajay Kumar Bhatter reveals that there were approximately 3,000 at Babuji's death in 1983. The manipulation of figures has already begun, Rajagopalachari having all interest in minimizing the number of followers before his arrival in 1964, to magnify it later, and then assigns to himself the benefits of the growth.

Preceptors, The Missionaries of Sahaj Marg 

Whether or not Rajagopalachari inflated the figures, the late sixties marked the beginning of the internationalization of Sahaj Marg. Lakshmi Narasimhan, is the first charged by Babuji to teach in Copenhagen, Denmark from 1968-69. KC Narayana (son of Dr. KC Varadachari, the Guru-in-waiting before Chari came on the scene) began touring the United States in 1971. And Rajagopalachari, appointed secretary of the Mission, lures Babuji to the West in 1972. This is the first in a long series of trips, the beginning of the exponential growth of the mission. 

The number of disciples was increasing, the number of preceptors also. These (preceptors) serve as a channel for the transmission of the master, allowing him to multiply his spiritual capacities. And indeed, the mission goes from a dozen preceptors in 1964, to 45 in 1970, 60 in 1972, and 180 in 1983. A hierarchy begins to emerge with the appearance among them of "full preceptors", (said to have) spiritually arrived to the "central region" or its vicinity, (invented? Is there really a "central region" to timeless and eternal SPIRIT??) and the senior preceptors are respected because of their age and experience due to the time they spent in the company of Babuji. 

From June 18, 1970, Dr. KC Varadachari writes to Babuji to warn him about the risk of commercialization of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission because of its (rapid) growth. To maintain the financial stability of the Mission, undermined by this growth, the introduction of activities not directly connected with the spiritual development of the disciples, is leading it to commercial excesses, Varadachari regrets. But nothing stops the further growth of the Mission, or its drifting (of its teachings). 

The death of Babuji and the controversial takeover (attempt) by Rajagopalachari does not help. The latter has no choice but to develop the Shri Ram Chandra Mission abroad so as to assert his authority. The preceptors are becoming essential for the relay around the world and their role is changing rapidly. 

Preceptors as (alleged) channels of spiritual transmission, gives way to preceptors as recruiters of new followers. Rajagopalachari selects them by their ambition and their pushiness, rather than by their spiritual qualities, that becomes secondary. Under the pretext of reaching a critical size necessary for the changeover of humanity through spirituality, he galvanizes his troops to do more recruiting. Their role is to proselytize, to play the "beater of the bush" (in hunting, to scare up the "game") and to enroll with a vengeance. There will be time later to address the spiritual development of the newcomers. 

It suffices that there be nobody in a country or a region of the world for the first abhyasi to come up, to be immediately appointed preceptor. Rajagopalachari made and unmade preceptors according to his needs, up to naming them by phone. And gradually, a spiritual hierarchy is set up with directors of geographical areas, (Zone-In-Charge... ZIC) responsible for controlling the work of the preceptors, who are no longer the backbone of this vast enterprise of proselytism. Exit the full preceptor and the senior preceptors (of Babuji's), with their ability and their spiritual experience, to be replaced by an exacerbated proselytism. 

Thus in 2003, Santosh Khanjee (developer from Austin, Texas) reorganizes the whole hierarchical system which is clogged by the geographical and numerical development of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission. Basically, a preceptor deals with a group of active members at what is called the Center. The preceptor is the Center-in-charge (CIC). At the higher levels, there are directors to head areas and regions. These are the Zone-In-Charge (ZIC) and the Region-In-Charge (RIC). More recently, they have been joined by developers charged especially with the development of the smaller centers in parallel with the work of the Zone-In-Charge. 

For example, France has just over a thousand followers spread over 43 centers, 25 followers at an average center and a preceptor for eleven of them. These centers are grouped into six geographical areas with a ZIC and a developer for each. France is itself embedded in a larger area called the "Francophone Area, Spain and the British Isles", and that is included in "Europe". 

All, preceptor as well as administrator, should promote spiritual growth and provide a monthly report to the next higher hierarchical level, and to Rajagopalachari personally. Included, must be the number of meditations conducted, and especially the number of newly introduced followers. 

In the spirit of Rajagopalachari, the organization is designed to proselytize as if one is waging war with a plan, a tactical military strategy for the occupation of territory. In a training session at Hyderabad on April 4, 2004, the ZIC is compared to the general, the CIC to a "field commander": 

"Strategy formulation. The Zone-in-charge is like a General, in charge of a territory. He has to evolve a strategy for effective penetration of his territory. He has to communicate this strategy to all the centers-in-charge, and convince them of its efficacy. He has to evolve a tactical plan to make this work (...) Tactical Plan. The Zone-in-charge has to plan where and how to grow the Mission. He has to device the means to achieve this growth . He has to train the functionaries in his area to undertake this task. He has to monitor this activity and make corrections where necessary. He has to conduct annual reviews of this plan, and send a progress report to Chennai. " 

Preceptors must deliver the numbers, more and more sales, just the numbers. To do this, Rajagopalachari does not hesitate to play on their emotional feelings towards him, saying that they are not doing enough to deserve his affection. He blames them for their supposed lack of results and sinks them into the anxiety of upsetting the master. A permanent malaise that he carefully cultivates. 

In a speech to the Danish preceptors, September 19, 1998, Rajagopalachari said: "For heaven's sake, wake up and get to work!". In a speech to the American preceptors, August 10, 2000, "Nobody worked (...). Only work produces results, only God works through human beings".  

An English preceptor relates her experience and feelings following a training seminar in Manchester on March 12-13, 1999 (Natural Way, Fall 2000): "We watched Chariji's Speech to Preceptors in India, October 01, 1996 on video. Chariji said that Preceptors do not work enough. By not working we are really insulting Babuji and his plans. We were sad after the video."  

Same thing in India where Rajagopalachari, in a speech at the Mysore Ashram (Karnataka, India), February 16, 2004, urged his followers to wake up:  

"(...) Karnataka has been very slow in developing in Sahaj Marg (...) there is too much tendency to stay at home and wait for everything to come to our house (...) I know many houses where the father is an abhyasis, not the wife, not the children, and for twenty years they do not change. If a man can not influence his own wife to start Sahaj Marg, who else is he going to influence? Wives I know are very difficult to manage, but that is the female nature, you see, and we are here to change nature by starting with our own family first (...) So, people of Karnataka, please awake." Same thing in Bangalore September 26 following: "(...) Karnataka is a big state. Why is it not growing? (...) But no growth (...) Karnataka is in a sleepy state (...) If you sleep, you have to be woken up. "  

At a meeting of preceptors in Chennai July 17, 2004, Rajagopalachari shows he is well aware of the pressure that makes them suffer, but it's their fault: "(...) we were talking (...) about preceptors, their responsibilities, their work or lack of it (...) I receive letters from abhyasis, from preceptors, and they tends to dramatize this business of being a preceptor out of all proportion to what it really involves in our life . Either they suffer from guilt because they do not do the work that is assigned to them that goes with being a preceptor (...). and sometimes they are also angry, annoyed, desperate (...) ".  

And it continues today. Ajay Kumar Bhatti takes over in Europe in a circular to the French preceptors, dated June 17, 2008: "After so many years and many visits to the Master, the number of abhyasis is disappointing in Europe." Then again, Rajagopalachari said in a message sent to supporters of the United States on October 11, 2009,: "(...) the Mission in the U.S. Had gone into some sort of - I will not say coma, but a partial sort of sleep mode. "

Sahaj Marg, How Many Divisions?

Nevertheless, the quasi-military strategy of Rajagopalachari and emotional blackmail of the preceptors are bearing fruit. The numerical growth is as expected. 

According to Ajay Kumar Bhatter, the Shri Ram Chandra Mission had 3,000 followers at the death of Babuji in 1983. Then KC Narayana estimated their numbers to be 20,000 at his departure in 1991. And Rajagopalachari announces 50 to 55,000 adepts in 1995-97 and 75,000 in 2000. Finally in 2003, he claims to have tripled the number of followers in India in three years. All this to reach 200 to 300,000 followers between 2004 and 2007. And some mention 300 to 400,000, some say even 600,000 ... (Frank, ex Zonal-In-Charge (ZIC) for the Netherlands, says in his blog: Pitfalls of Spirituality, that "The number of followers is reported as much higher than it is in reality." 

Let us remain reasonable, a presentation of the Mission carried out in Germany in 2007 gives the following table: 200,000 followers in India, 25,000 elsewhere, including 3,500 in Europe and a presence in over 90 countries. 

The actual strength of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission is a perpetual issue of speculation. It is difficult to determine right from wrong! Especially as the Mission itself is not clear about the size of its troops. Rajagopalachari knows for sure that he can gather more than 50,000 people at major ceremonies for his birthday, and he knows exactly how many preceptors, about 2,600 currently. That's it! 

Before knowing how many abhyasis there are, we must still determine: What is an "abhyasis" (an adherent)? People who have been introduced to Sahaj Marg and attended three sittings of introduction with a preceptor, but we don't know if they continued their practice after. For simplicity, I call them "supporters". To attend the anniversary ceremony of Rajagopalachari, one must be a "contributor", even if one goes to the ashram only once a year, as is the case with many Indians. So, Rajagopalachari commissioned a global census of "regular followers" of Sahaj Marg, estimated by the number of people who attended the Sunday group meditation of April 30, 2008. 

So who are these "abhyasis? Surely not all supporters or contributors. But surely not only the regular practitioners of Sunday group meditation. Probably somewhere between contributors and regular followers, is the reality. 

In India, at the center of Chennai, a stronghold of the Mission, there is a preceptor for thirty regular followers, which themselves represent less than 30% of the contributors, and we must introduce three persons for a single "aderent" (as in adhesion, glue, stuck!) . In the rest of the world, things are somewhat different. Contributors and regular followers are more similar in number and include a preceptor for ten to fifteen regular adepts. As for supporters, in France they represent 25% of the contributors. 

Overall, we would then have a nebula a little less than 500,000 supporters (or sympathizers), just over 150,000 contributors and appoximately 50,000 regular followers around the world. The number of abhyasis would be somewhere between 50 and 150,000, and probably not very far from 100,000 followers. The range is vast, but extrapolations are still much more accurate and precise than any reports from Rajagopalachari. This is not so bad, even if it falls far short of what they wanted us to believe ... 

Whatever the actual numbers, India now has at least three quarters of the followers of Sahaj Marg. Then we find at the lead, North America and Western Europe each weighing in with nearly one third of the membership outside of India. 

Beside India, two countries have over a thousand followers, the United States with about 3,000 supporters and France with over a thousand. Three other countries have more than 500 followers, Germany, Denmark and the United Arab Emirates. These five already account for half of the membership outside India. Ten other countries have more than 200 followers, or the fifteen counted here, account for three quarters of the global membership, always outside of India. 

In France, it was estimated that 250 to 500,000 people were involved in sects (cults) in 2000. The market share held by the sectarian Shri Ram Chandra Mission there (France) would be much less than 1%. Another way to measure its importance is its penetration into French society, which is around fifteen followers per million inhabitants, roughly equivalent to its average penetration rate worldwide. It is well below that of India which is 80, and some smaller European countries like Denmark (90) and Switzerland (50), and Asia with the United Arab Emirates (120) and Singapore (35). 

Since the mid-90s, the strength of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission in France has stagnated as in the rest of Western Europe, and in North America more recently. Conversely, substantial increases were recorded in India where Rajagopalachari returned triumphant over his competitors, in Latin America and in Eastern European countries since the fall of the Berlin Wall. And Rajagopalachari is trying to get a foothold in China ...

For more information, see also: Importance of SRCM

Associations, Foundations, Societies and Brands 

The presence of Shri Ram Chandra Mission extends around the planet and the number is growing. Having only one association based in India to manage all of that is fast becoming insufficient. National associations are created in the 70's and 80's in North America and Europe in particular, to relay the administrative support from India and to accompany its global development. 

They are all built on the same model. Rajagopalachari is President and appoints a management committee with a vice president, secretary, treasurer and auditor of accounts, to which he adds some members among his most loyal allies, often from foreign countries. (i.e. not from the country where the Association is registered) Until the 90s, their resources come from contributions of supporters, from the sale of publications, and donations, often roughly one third each. 

The Shri Ram Chandra Mission Shahjahanpur created by Babuji in 1945 was not a model of democracy. National associations created fifty years later are hardly more so. But the societies statutes in the host countries do not as easily permit such a denial of democracy, so the (SRCM) statutes refer most often to the operating rules of procedure. As in France where it is written in Article 17 of the articles submitted in 1986: "The president who is the true master of the Association will exercise his powers through the intervention of interior regulations, which he can change at will (... ).  

In 1997, the son of Babuji, Umesh Chandra Saxena, is violently opposed to Rajagopalachari. The Indian Shri Ram Chandra Mission (Shahjahanpur-1945) is claimed by both groups. Who owns the bank account? The Indian justice system is hearing the case since 1984 but has still not decided. And a further conflict erupts in the United States around the rightful ownership of the domain name on the web. More broadly, the dispute concerns the ownership of the assets, which Umesh Chandra Saxena is said at the time, to be 200 million euros. 

Pragmatic, without abandoning the legal battle, Rajagopalachari throws in the towel and instructs his "eminence grise", Santosh Khanjee to find a solution to this impasse. He then creates (in 1997) another association SRCM association in California and files for trademarks, Sahaj Marg, Shri Ram Chandra Mission ™, and Constant Remembrance ™ (the name of their quarterly magazine), and the emblem of the mission, with the Department of Commerce U.S. Then he begins a major reorganization of its International administration. 

Rajagopalachari is surrounded by an Executive Committee of three persons only. This triumvirate is made up of his designated successor Ajay Kumar Bhatter in charge of finance, his son Krishna PR, assets, and Santosh Khanjee himself, in charge of the administration. And he creates an international secretariat, OSIA (Office of the Secretariat for International Affairs) at the head of several sectors such as finance, ashrams, information, development, operations or the publications. A model that he will reproduce and impose in all structures. 

As early as 1998, the British Isles is used as a laboratory to professionalize an administration which is too amateur in his eyes. To help get the bitter pill of restructuring down, he names in by the sweet name of "flower system". (that fools the gullible abhyasis) The management committee or the Board of Directors does not change but becomes the heart of the flower, while its petals are constituted by different sectors of activity which he professionalizes in the image of the International Secretariat. 

Santosh Khanjee at the same time is trying to impose a separation of powers and the denationalization of the associations with somewhat less success. He wants to separate the spiritual and administrative powers to prevent the overlapping functions of preceptors and administration onto the same people. But motivation being what it is, this policy fails miserably. 

However, he tries to combine several countries together to create supra-national organizations. Thus, the United Kingdom and Ireland form a single association, as well as the countries of Oceania and of the Benelux. France, which displays some resistance, is saddled with a (female) vice-president from a foreign country. One suspects that behind the destabilizing of the different groups, is the desire to avoid any hint of resistance or the building of lobbies. 

The global reorganization around a model solely "associative" quickly shows its limitations. Remittances are heavily taxed, which Rajagopalachari swallows with difficulty, transforming his close family into "suitcase carriers". (see allegations of "money transportation" (in French) on Elodie's blog, Pour Que Vive Le Sahaj Marg ... in the comments in the English version: Sahaj Marg Long Life) Then, Santosh Khanjee, inspired by the foundation established in Switzerland by Ferdinand Wulliemier in 1994, also creates (and registers) a foundation in Austin, Texas in 1999, the Sahaj Marg Spirituality Foundation (SMSF). Then follows another SMSF in India in 2003, and one in Dubai in 2004. With the LMOIS school in 2005, two other societies emerge: the Baal Vatika Educational Society, responsible for its functioning, and the Baal Vatika Educational Trust for its funding. (now changed ... On their site: LMOIS, there is no mention of any ( Baal Vatika (meaning: "Baal=Master's, and Vatika=Hermitage (such as the wealthy "Vatican")) "funding" or "andministration" societies, or of SMSF "foundations" ... International Charity dollars used to build private schools for the "well-to-do".) 

In the United States, foundations enjoy tax exemption provided that at least 5% of their donations are used for charity. The SMSF, Austin, Texas has regularly paid money to the Red Cross (for September 11, to Katrina, etc.). (now the SMSF Private Foundation, can donate their 5% to "themselves", or to the LMOIS and SRCM as "education") As for Dubai, it hosts the first "free zone" in the Middle East, where more than 6,000 foreign societies are permitted to operate as offshore, no exchange controls or taxes on imports or export duties, with the possibility of 100% repatriation of capital and profits, no taxation on corporations or on physical persons. 

At the time, Rajagopalachari said that like a bird, Sahaj Marg has two wings, the first is spiritual and is the Shri Ram Chandra Mission, the second is material and that is the Sahaj Marg Spirituality Foundation. On one side, associations and on the other, foundations. The administrative reorganization is followed by a financial reorganization in which Santosh Khanjee (allegedly) robs the local associations of most of their resources to transfer it to the foundation. 

National Associations will now no longer manage anything beside the funds for their daily operations. Each year they will submit a budget for approval to the OSIA. Every quarter they will send him a financial report on their progress. Any expenditure greater than or equal to USD 1,000 requires prior approval from the OSIA. And the same for any proposed investment in land or real estate, of course. 

Local associations also must conduct a cost accounting in three sections: operations, publications and seminars. And each of them must balance its income and its expenditures. Thus the contributions will cover the operation, the sale of publications will no longer generate local benefits and the seminars must be self-financing. Most of the resources generated from the sale of publications and donations are now collected directly by the foundations. The associations have little more than the contributions of their members to put their hands on. The former distribution of resources into roughly three equal parts is now shattered. 

From the scant information available, the resources of local associations represent 200 to 300 € per adept, depending on the country, outside India in 2007. In this country, they would be around 50 € only, most costs being divided by five. Extrapolating these figures to all contributors leads to an estimate of about ten to fifteen million in turnover for all the associations. The foundations would then generate at least the other two thirds, not to mention the explosion of donations ... 

The Associations have therefore lost most of their resources but there is worse, these are the centers. In France, the contribution amounted to € 75, of which up to € 60 was taken to operate nationally. Thus, to the local centers remained fifteen unhappy euros per contributor for groups of ten to thirty people on average, a poor annual budget of approximately € 300. To rent a room or pay the heating, there only remains the option of asking for contributions yet again. In 2009 (in France), the national contribution was doubled, the share of the local groups may well explode. But their spending being so strictly controlled, it gives a false sense of autonomy. 

Rajagopalachari leaves little room for initiatives from his followers. Initially, numerous fact sheets and exchanges have sprung up everywhere, like Sahaj Marg Info in several French regions, with a publication that was often hieratic but original. After several failed attempts, Rajagopalachari finally put some order in recent years and they are aggregated in supranational regions, these are the "Echoes of ... 

If Rajagopalachari succeeded on paper and in the centers, today it is the WEB which presents a problem. Long, he has banned exchanges outside the strict framework of the Mission. In May 2004, the preceptor Clark Powell introduced a blog for the "spiritual travelers". But soon after, on July 2, Rajagopalachari orders its closure: "I have been seeing the emails between you and others proliferating, and this causes me disquiet. By this mail I request you to finally stop your website permanently and oblige. I thank you for your obedience. "  

But that position became difficult to sustain as the development of critical websites and blogs, which has ultimately led him to make concessions in March 2007, while six months ago one could still read in Sahaj Sandesh (N ° 2006 -- 68, 20/09/2006): "On the advice of the Master, the Mission has adopted a policy to discourage the use of online groups, chat rooms, blogs, email lists, private or unauthorized use by third-party mailing lists to disseminate information about the Mission. " 

The Shri Ram Chandra Mission has also created its own website and a newsletter, initially called Sahaj Net News and Sahaj Sansdesh during the 90s. But again, the battle raged with the clan of the son of Babuji around domain names. Rajagopalachari first loses in the U.S. in 2000, before winning in India in 2008 at the National Commission for Arbitration. So he bought the domain names Lalaji, Babuji or Chariji with all possible extensions, but also:,, ( or better yet,, (spiritual and

Ashrams and Assets  

During Babuji's life, the assets of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission were mixed with his own. The ashram of Shahjahanpur was built on his land, near his house, and it opened in 1976. This is the first ashram of the Mission, the only one ever created by Babuji. Otherwise, it (the Mission) had almost nothing else. 

Rajagopalachari left for the West to assert his legitimacy. His troops were initially established mainly in Europe, before he rallied India and the Indians around him. The same applies to the ashrams, the first being the Augerans (the old Peugeot (automobiles) Castle) acquisitions in France in 1988, the Molena Ashram (a private house in a small village in Georgia), in the U.S., and Vrad Sande, in Denmark in 1992. It was not until 1999 that the Babuji Memorial Ashram kind of "rose from the ground" near Chennai, as it was the headquarters of the (Chari's SRCM-Californial-1997) Mission. 

When it settles somewhere, the Shri Ram Chandra Mission intends to enjoy unhindered access to its property. This happened at the Augerans Castle, a property of ten hectares (20 acres) with over 3,400 square meters (m2) of living space, opened on October 9, 1988, near Dole in the French (district of) Jura. The Mission purchases it for nearly two million (French) francs (€ 300,000) from the Peugeot group , and made it its European headquarters. By 1993, according to local newspapers of the time, they built a meditation hall on the property after constructing a car park with 150 spaces and a collective sanitation facilities. So the Zoning Plan prohibited any extension of the buildings over 500 m². A showdown begins between the Mission and the mayor of the town, crystallizing around the municipal elections of 95. The Shri Ram Chandra Mission closes its account with the bank where the mayor works, explaining to its manager that the fault lies with their employee. Then they establish residence in the Castle for several of their followers who register on the electoral rolls. Also according to the newspapers, fifteen additional voters tip (influence) the elections in this small village of 150 inhabitants. Soon a new big tent of 600 m² is placed adjacent to the castle, the new mayor lifts the ban on camping on the site and the Mission organizes seminars for over 1,500 people. This is not taking in consideration the opposition of the villagers and the local press. So, Rajagopalachari throws in the towel in 2000 and they managed to sell the castle in 2003. The occupation lasted fifteen years. The European headquarters is moved to Vrad Sande, Denmark, another small village of 150 inhabitants, but here, many are followers of the Mission, nearly half of the Danish preceptors have residence there. 

In the late 1990's, Rajagopalachari changes strategy. Henceforth, the major investments are all in India, and that begins with the global headquarters of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission. Donations are pouring in from everywhere, and the work lasts two years and the Babuji Memorial Ashram (BMA) is launched at Manapakkam on the outskirts of Chennai, on April 30, 1999, a symbolic date as it is the centenary of the birth of Babuji. At an estimated cost of between two and three million dollars at the time, the ashram covers five hectares and can accommodate 13,000 people under its meditation hall. 

And this strategy continues at a frantic pace. In 2006, the Shri Ram Chandra Mission accounts for 53 ashrams in India, including nine major ashrams in addition to the Babuji Memorial Ashram (BMA), Bangalore, Tiruppur, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Allahabad, Kolkata and Satkhol. For example, the Ahmedabad ashram is spread over two hectares, the meditation hall can accommodate 2,500 people, with dormitories for 750 persons and fifteen apartments. 

From 2005, Rajagopalachari diversifies his investments. Instead of ashrams, he invests in a school, the Lalaji Memorial Omega International School (LMOIS), then in two training centers at Bangalore and Kharagpur (Center for Research and Education Training Sadhana-CREST) and three retreat centers (the 25 acre ranch) SPURS in Austin, Texas and two others in India at Panshet and Malampuzha. 

That has not completely stopped the Western ashrams from multiplying. During the 1990's, the United States have acquired three, South Africa, one, and two in France with Montpellier in 1991 after Augerans, and one in Switzerland at Lausanne in 1996. And despite the transfer of funds to India, the movement continues even then. France acquires an ashram at Nice in 2001 and another in Paris in 2004. Berlin gets its own in 2006, then it is the turn of Milan and Timisoara (Romania) in 2008. And the projects are still very numerous: London, Lyons, New Jersey and Australia also want their own ashrams. In the U.S., he also plans for the upgrade of the Molena ashram and Pioneer Valley ...(Massachusetts, USA) 

In theory, Rajagopalachari had said it, the foundations SMSF are responsible for the material wealth, and associations for the spirituality. In practice this is not so simple. All is not rosy for Western followers who wish to acquire an ashram, far from it. Although it becomes part of the assets of the Mission once it is acquired, it still must be previously funded, at least partly, by the local enthusiasts themselves, once they have obtained the agreement of Rajagopalachari. This is not necessarily so easy. 

Examples: In 2000, the guru unilaterally decides to resell Augerans (Castle) against the advice of the French adepts. Then it is the turn of the newly acquired land in Armadale, near Perth, Australia, which was sold in 2003. Then, on May 19, 2006, Rajagopalachari authorizes the proposed acquisition of an ashram in Italy, after having visited the place himself. A week later, he canceled the project and authorized the Berlin (Ashram) less than three weeks later. In the process, he opposes the English project of the London abhyasis, whose lease on the Scottish Broomlee ashram is due, and tells them to go to Vrad Sande in Denmark. 

After their defeat, the Italians returned to the charge in 2008 with a persuasive argument, the direct air link between Dubai and Milan, which would make this new ashram the first stop of their guru in Europe. Suddenly, the acquisition is formalized on March 28 and Rajagopalachari comes to inaugurate it himself the following May 11. The same year, Ajay Kumar Bhatter agrees with the center of Lyons to undertake a search for an ashram. Meanwhile, Rajagopalachari talks about getting rid of the one in Lausanne and to build another elsewhere, as the current renovations are just being completed. In October, he freezes any new acquisition because of the global financial crisis, while he grants the right for some to go ahead, and then he relaunches things in the United States three to six months later ... 

For the German National ashram, Rajagopalachari announces that the Sahaj Marg Spirituality Foundation will finance only two-thirds of it. The national association has only to figure out how to find the rest, without the use of contributions or the sale of publications. So, even other national organizations have participated: France at 35,ooo € and Switzerland at 30,000. The Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Italy also participated. Rajagopalachari opposed the London project even though the supporters in the United Kingdom and Ireland had already found the equivalent of € 1,500 each. He does not participate financially in the Lyon (France) ashram, the French SRCM providing half of the estimated amount, which means that the local followers have to find themselves 3,000 € each. What then was invested by the SMSF in the Italian National ashram, as we know that France is already involved to the tune of 115,000 €? 

Yet, according to the explanations of Rajagopalachari, one would have thought that it would be only the foundation which would buy the ashrams. At least for the national ashrams, in the absence of regional associations, but nothing is less true.  

The assets are then not wholly held by the foundations. Some remains in the hands of the associations. According to all available information, capital equity held by associations outside India vary from 700 to 1,500 € per practitioner in 2007 and five times less in India, slightly more than fifty million. If the distribution of wealth followed the amount of revenues and expenses, then at least two thirds of it would be in the hands of foundations. And the global assets could exceed 150 million. 

In 1997, Umesh Chandra Saxena, the son of Babuji and a direct competitor of Rajagopalachari, considered the assets of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission to 200 million euros, when it had 55,000 followers. If this estimate was accurate and if the assets evolved in the same proportion as the number of contributors, it would then reach nearly 400 million in 2007. That would mean that not only two thirds of the assets are managed by the foundations, but almost 90% ...

Publications for Collectors 

Originally, the publishing and the printing of the Sahaj Marg material was created to allow the dissemination of the works of Babuji to his disciples. The bestseller "My Master" by Rajagopalachari, recommended to newcomers to the Shri Ram Chandra Mission, quickly took over, soon followed by all of his speeches. But as he intended to retain a strict control on all of his words, a publication committee now reads and corrects them after their transcription on paper, and before compiling, printing and selling them. (This was one of Michael's duties. Michael is an ex-preceptor and ex-member of Chari's Inner Circle. See "Inner Circle of SRCM") 

The "cult of the personality" was translated into the display of the photo of the master in all the followers' homes, then in every room of their house. The publishers started selling photos, then posters, full-length or life-size. And diversification has intensified with souvenir albums, t-shirts, preceptors' badges, etc.. With the digital revolution, they moved into CDs and DVDs. 

The publishing and printing of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission material has been transformed into a vast multimedia company, sending and marketing its products around the world. To finance the investments needed for this evolution, they offered lifetime subscriptions to various magazines ($ 250 for Constant Remembrance), books ($350 USD), and audiovisual publications ($1,000 USD). 

But that was not sufficient. Until then, the sale of publications and other marketed products represented one third to one half of the revenues of the local (national) associations. Rajagopalachari intended to recover part of it to finance his projects, as he did from 1997 to 99 for the construction of the Babuji Memorial Ashram, with the launch of products such as photo albums or other badges and tee-shirts. The proposed LMOIS school, and the importance of funds needed to achieve it, will change everything in 2005. Henceforth, the local associations will resell traditional publications at cost, (on sale) while the foundation will offer a gift to the followers who make large donations, as a "thanks". 

So, on March 30, 2005, Rajagopalachari announces the upcoming release of a book about which nobody knows anything. Not yet printed, its title, its author and its contents are unknown. To purchase this book, one must donate $250 € "based on trust", because after April 15 will be too late "even if you come with a lakh rupees." A large commercial operation of Rajagopalachari who defends himself: "For once in your life, you have a 'book future'. And your future is linked to this book. I will not mention this again because I have not come here to ask for money. " On 1 May he announces that the orders amounted to 5,200 copies as of April 15. "Knowledge is unnecessary, so long as you have faith. Because if you did not have trust me, you would not buy that book." 

Frank Waaldijk follower of Sahaj Marg since 1993 and Zone-In-Charge (ZIC) for the Netherlands, says that he was moved by the price of "Whispers" and he proposed to sell it to the richer followers, so they then can redistribute it to the centers. But "they" replied that he should never have said such a thing. Immediately ostracized, he eventually left the Mission. (see Frank's comments on "Finances of SRCM" blog) And Rajagopalachari also prohibits any French translation of the book, including any passages, as a French version is planned at 300 € per copy. "Given the amount, payment by installments is possible, however the total to be paid on 31 December, 05 (...) Note that each copy of this book is personal." 

In 2007, to finance and participate in the celebration of his 80th birthday at Tiruppur, the Shri Ram Chandra Mission announces that one should first make a donation of $1,200 USD, and that the first donors will receive a gift from the master. 

After the insistence of Rajagopalachari so as to sell "Whispers", the misbehavior at Vrad Sande in Denmark and Lignano, Italy (auction sales during satsangh) is the "straw that broke the camel's back". Everyone is taken aback by the amount of the donation requested, and the words used, "primary beneficiaries". A wave of unprecedented protests captures the followers who are finally aware that the mission operates at two speeds: one for the rich and one for the others. After some hesitation, the Shri Ram Chandra Mission reverses its requests. Participation at the festivities is free. Donations are destined for the regional foundations to develop the Mission and its activities. The first donors will be presented first with the gift from the master and it is only during the celebrations that we discover that this "gift" is actually an 18 DVD box set entitled "He, the Hookah and I". (in which he calls the "bloggers" the "enemies of Spirituality") 

Back to square one: they must still finance Tiruppur. Thus during the festivities, one can buy an exclusive T-shirt or a special anniversary book of yet unpublished photos. "Timeline - Years of Love and Guidance" is less than $30 USD and contains 300 pages of photographs taken between 1983 and 2007. Evidence that the Shri Ram Chandra Mission publications can be produced cheap when it wishes. Soon after, new subscriptions are open for "Whispers" and "Hookah". The deadline for initial subscription is long passed, there was to be no exception, but the Publications go on sale at $1,000 USD for the "Hookah" instead of the previous $1,200. And it revamps a new book of the celebrations with a new special commemorative edition, "And He walks on," for fifty dollars. 

In 2009, after the global financial crisis and a freeze on investments imposed by Rajagopalachari, all is "GO" again. From Satkhol on February 2, he announces the release of a second volume of "Whispers" to be released on April 30. The deadline for subscription is February 25. A third volume will be published in 2010 and a fourth in 2011, and perhaps even a fifth in 2012. "There is no fixed price for this invaluable book containing the messages, but it will be reserved for all abhyasis in Europe that will make a donation of 250€. On February 13th, he decides to give a discount of 100 €, the minimum donation now being 150 € instead of 250 for the second volume. Then, just before satsangh, Sunday, March 1st, at Manapakkam, he delivers a speech that can not be called anything but a commercial release, coupled with blackmail for what he calls the Bible of Sahaj Marg: 

"(...) Do not look at what you have to pay for it. Even today I am told that [with] gold costing fifteen hundred rupees a gram, people are buying gold. It is just a metal. If you do not know where it is, it's lost, the value is gone. If tomorrow Gold falls to five hundred rupees a gram, you have lost money. Whereas what you are going to get is the Bible of Sahaj Marg, the Vedas of Sahaj Marg, the shruti. 

I would request you not to hesitate, but to acquire a copy before you leave this hall before you leave this ashram. And pass this message on to all your brothers and sisters, Because they will not be reprinted within the next fifty years - not any of them. Volume One will not be reprinted. Volume Two will not be reprinted - there will be only one edition. And if my successor feels that it is necessary, may be sometime in 2030, 2035, you may see a second edition. This is my decision, so do not look for a second edition. It will not come. This is policy. This is an instruction to my successor, Ajay Bhatter, that there shall be no reprint of this book before the year 2030. 

So please acquire it and do not depend on the computer to read it everyday, because Volume Two will not be released on the internet till I say it should be done. (...) " 

Ajay Kumar Bhatter added that no French version will be on the agenda until 2012. Then we learn that the Shri Ram Chandra Mission is finally considering publishing a French version in 2010, provided that the presales amount to at least 750 copies by June 30. Later, we finally learn that those who paid the high price - 250 € - for the English version, will pay only 50 € for the French version. A very poor move, when we know that those who have already made a donation will never be reimbursed ...

Transparency or Opacity? 

Recap. The multinational Sahaj Marg is 50 000 regular followers, 150,000 contributors and 500,000 supporters. Financially, there is a turnover (revenues and expenditures) of 50 to 100 million, and assets of 150 to 400 million. The local associations manage 10 to 30% of this. The annual participation of a follower does not just constitute a contribution (100 to 150 € in the West), but it reaches 1,000 to 2,000 € when we add the purchase of publications and donations of all kinds. 

On the occasion of the creation of the LMOIS school, Rajagopalachari said to an applause: "(...) there is no black money transaction-no trustees following the money. I'm here to see to that." 

If the accounts of local associations are presented annually to the General Meeting of contributors, it is not the same for the foundations, the two societies that manage the LMOIS school, or the new Spiritual Hierarchy Publication Trust (SHPT ) created in 2009 to take over the publishing activities. And again, it is still necessary to participate in general meetings, especially when that (the meeting) of the French association takes place at Vrad Sande, in Denmark, in 2008 or that of the Unite States, takes place in Tiruppur in India, in 2009. 

Not to mention that in May 2008, at the Board of Directors of the SRCM France at Vrad Sande, Rajagopalachari did not only double the French contribution. He also suggested discreetly creating the President's International Fund based in Switzerland to collect donations small and large, the idea being that the Master would be able to draw from the pot at his will, and for what he sees fit. No written communication was to be made of this, only oral ads at the centers so as to propose monthly donations (automatic bank deductions and transfers).

 Parallel and equally discreet, Committees for building projects were put in place to assist Santosh Khanjee, Krishna and PR (Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari) in their search for real estate deals (bank foreclosures?? Is "opportunism" a material or a spiritual character flaw?). But it's no longer simply investments for the foundations. They are now private projects where legal and tax arrangements are sometimes complex, and where specialized lawyers, architects and real estate professionals think about the most appropriate arrangements, including individuals and corporations.



Anonymous said...

Very good work. But how the people those who are well educated are also trusting and following ???
and hope people will open their eyes and know the fact.

Thanks for sharing

4d-Don said...

Hi anonymous...

Many join "religions" for a network (business, sales, therapies (alternate and mainstream), and many are into "power" and see religion as a way to have power over others...

Women and other "romantics" believe in fantasies and fairy tales ... Many are looking for a "mate", and the thought of a "soul mate", another fantasy attracts many to religions...

In most religions, women, although they seldom have any real power, are the ones doing all the work and keeping the "fantasy" going. They are also the ones who target the "children" and the youth and hence help the religions grow in the future...

Religions and religious groups will eventually become "un-important" as the old religions which have been lost in the sands of TIME, when we the ALL, realize our ONE-ness and not let ourselves be divided in the name of ONE-ness... a contradiction of RELIGIOUS proportion... RELIGIONS DIVIDE SOCIETY even to war...

Sahaj Marg is just another religion which grows by denigrating the other religions... much as they have also grown by denigrating the other religions and spirituality of more primitive (non-technological) cultures.