Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sahaj Marg, the Multinational

Translation of an article by Alexis: La Multinationale du Sahaj Marg, on Élodie's blog in Europe: Pour Que Vive Le Sahaj Marg.

January 25, 2014 

The Sahaj Marg Multinational

Alexis updates his alternative website presentation of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission and Sahaj Marg. Below is an article published last week on the multiple structures of this multinational.

The Mission, a Sprawling Multinational Organization?

The Mission is at least one parent association and twenty satellite national associations, one research institute, five foundations, one a society and two trusts.

The parent association, Shahjahanpur SRCM (Shri Ram Chandra Mission), was created by Babuji in 1945. The Research Institute was established by Dr KC Varadachari in 1965 (SMRTI or Sahaj Marg Research and Training Institute). The first satellite association was founded by Donald Sabourin in Canada in 1974 (SRCM Canada).   

The first foundation was created by Ferdinand Wulliemier in Switzerland in 1994 (SMSF or Sahaj Marg Spirituality Foundation). The opening of the Omega school in 2005 was accompanied by the creation of a society (or LMES  Lalaji Memorial Educational Society) and a trust ( BVET or Baal Vatika Education Trust).  Chari finally created another trust for the editing of the publications of the Mission in 2009 (SHPT or Spiritual Hierarchy Publication Trust) ... 

Long time in the courts with the descendants of Babuji about the Presidency of the SRCM Shahjahanpur, Chari first used his satellite national associations, and especially the USA SRCM to safekeep his booty.  But since the creation of the two foundation, first in the USA in 1999, then in India in 2003, he has profoundly changed the material organization of his financial empire, beginning with integrating a research institute without statutes within the foundations.  As if that were not enough, Chari found the need to create the SHPT in 2009 to access the money raised by his publications. 

Prior to the end of the 90s, donations, membership fees and the sale of publications were in proportion roughly equivalent to the revenues of local associations of the Mission.  Since the creation of the SHPT, only the membership dues of the local members continue to provide for the operation of the local associations, the foundations garner donations and the SHPT develops sales. 

Donations feed the foundations, which have the theoretical role of providing good material conditions for the Abhyasis to meditate.  In practice, they subsidize parsimoniously the acquisition of new ashrams, once they have assessed the needs and found that the Abhyasis had provided a sufficiently substantial effort. 

Local organizations with their annual general meetings (AGM) are considered too democratic for Chari to abandon much power to them, although he used all the tricks in the book to remove the little  power they have. Conversely, foundations have a vague advisory status and very little control.

There remains the LMES and the BVET to control the Omega school since 2005 on which virtually nothing is known except for the sentence by Chari at its creation : "(...) there is no black money transaction - no trustees Following the money. I'm here to see to That."

And there is the more than likely collusion with some companies!  One example, the HTC Global Services Inc.  Madhava Reddy, CEO of this start-up founded in 1990 which employs more than 2,500 people, is a preceptor and a member of the Management Committee of the SRCM, USA, as far as internally auditHe was the second most important contributor to the Indian SMSF between 2006 and 2012 with donations of no less than $ 6.5 million (more than 12 million between 1999 and 2011). Two of his directors in North America are donors and/or followers of Chari.  The former boss of Sahaj Marg, Australia and a very active member of SMRTI  was also director of HTC in the same country.  Present in the USA, India, Australia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates, HTC has introduced its main manufacturing plant in Chennai where it employs many Abhyasis ...

A Very Opaque Foundations 

Ferdinand Wulliemier created the first foundation in Switzerland in 1994 (SMSF or Sahaj Marg Spirituality Foundation), Santosh Khanjee did the same in Austin, Texas in 1999, then it was the turn of India in 2003, in Dubai 2004 and Hong Kong in 2012. 
No less than 5 foundations which Chari presents as a single foundation, a sister organization of the Mission, an outward window, his public face. He explains that like a bird, Sahaj Marg has two wings, the first is spiritual, which is the SRCM, the second is material, which is the SMSF. Translated: one side, the spiritual associations are penniless, on the other are the foundations that manage land, the real estate and the finances.

“So the Foundation will be ninety percent oriented to social and physical life; Shri Ram Chandra Mission will be oriented ninety-nine percent towards spirituality.”

According to the Mission itself, the Indian SMSF manages the training and retreat centers in India, the USA SMSF manages the SPURS retreat center, near Austin, Texas, the  Swiss SMSF manages the ashram and training center in Berlin (and possibly also,  the ashram and retreat center at Vrads, Denmark).  The SMSF, Dubai established in 2004 manages the ashram of this country and all the interests of the Mission in the Middle East and Africa.  They don't not tell us what is managed by the youngest-born, the Hong Kong SMSF, created in 2012, but presumably it is in charge of  its Asian interests.

According to them, the foundations should provide good material conditions for the Abhyasis to meditate: Meditation training places (ashrams and centers), but also a health clinic and free meals, etc..  In practice, they subsidize sparingly the acquisition of  new ashrams, once they have assessed the needs and found that Abhyasis had provided a sufficiently substantial effort.  They are also responsible for the conduct of programs in the areas of spiritual formation, education and research.

Faced with local associations considered too democratic, the foundations are better suited to Chari. They have a Board of Directors with vague advisory status, and very few controls. Thus, the Swiss foundation Stiftung Sahaj Marg Spiritualität Weinfelden whose statutes were filed Aug. 2, 1994, currently enrolled in the Commercial Register of the Canton of Thurgau, has a Board of 11 members chaired by Chari whose signature is enough to access their account and carry out any operation. Only three other members of the board also have the privilege, but only with the joint signatures of two of them.

In May 2008, when the Board meeting of the SRCM France at Vrads, Rajagopalachari doubled the amount of the French contribution.  But he also suggests creating a discreet international President's Fund based in Switzerland to collect small and large donations, the idea being that the master could draw at will in this pot for whatever he sees fit.  No written communication need be made, but only verbal notification to the centers to propose monthly donations.

Foreign donations made ​​to the Indian SMSF  over 7 years,
between 2006 and 2012 represent more than $28 million (compared to  $3 million to the SRCM ), according to the FCRA Indian Ministry of Internal Affairs. Its cumulative revenue reached $38 million (donations + financial interests), while its expenses were capped at $6,000,000.

Not surprising since Chari's idea was to create through the donations, a "corpus fund" capable of generating alone, the interest to cover all the expenses of the organization.  That was chieved for the Indian SMSF since 2008 (2009 for the SRCM)! But the donations are still flowing in ... 

In March 2013, the capital of the Indian SMSF from abroad accounted for $39 million ( against $14 in the SRCM), including a "corpus fund"  of $34 million ( against $10 in the SRCM).

How much are Indian donations? What are the capital of the four other foundations? Mystery.

If the SMSF lives handsomely from its interests since 2007 and the donations are still pouring in, why does it not participate more generously in the acquisition of new meditation centers?  Why does it distribute its "coins" so parsimoniously? 

 Also read: [Foreign Donations]  

Very Undemocratic Associations 

Creating a local structure becomes essential when the number of Abhyasis increases and it is necessary to buy or rent property (ashrams and meditation centers) and open bank accounts to collect "voluntary contributions". Since the creation of the SRCM, Shahjahanpur by Babuji in 1945, two dozen local associations were formed. Half of them are located in Western Europe. 
But the democratic nature of the different types of organizations proposed by all the States of the planet really fit very poorly with the functioning of a totally un-democratic Spiritualist Mission such as Chari's SRCM.  

Reconciling the two is a work of craftsmanship (i.e. a "watch maker"?), whereby the establishment by the SRCM of a guide to create an ad hoc local structure. 

This 19-page internal memorandum summarizes the key questions to ask to determine the most appropriate type of organization and proposes models of pre-written articles. Indeed, the President must retain overall control of the organization, with the most limited responsibility possible and the least to incur legal risks. The organization must allow the transfer of surplus funds to other structures within and outside the country. Usually in a democracy, the general meeting is plenipotentiary.  The main objective of Chari (and of this document) is to deprive it of all its powers ... 

French example: the Master is the president of the national association created in 1986. It is he who appoints the members of the Administration and the Board of Directors, which he calls his Management Committee, among its most loyal allies, and for the majority, non-resident foreigners to France.  The General Assembly has no role other than to ratify decisions already taken, the management committee has no more weight, it is the Master who decides everything. 

However, the French association statutes do not as easily allow such a denial of democracy; then they refer to internal regulations (French)Article 17 of the by-laws filed in 1986: "the president who is the real master of the Association shall exercise his powers through the application of  the interior regulations, which he can modify at will (...) ".

At general meetings, members who have paid their dues are obliged to endorse the decisions taken in high places, otherwise they displease the Master. But one  must still be able to participate, especially when the gatherings take place abroad (that of the French association was held at Vrads, in Denmark in 2008, the United States (meeting) was in Tiruppur India in 2009 , etc... ).  A habit that has become widespread since Chari does not travel much any more ... 

If they manage to attend the general meeting, the members still have access to the presentation of financial statements. This is still too much for Chari . Until the 90s, contributions, donations and sale of publications fueled the national treasury roughly equally.  With the creation of foundations which now collect the donations, and the SHPT that collects the sale of publications, it is two thirds of the budget which now escapes the associations. 

This is too much. The President must also be able to set a maximum limit of withdrawals from the bank account of the local structure for his expenses. So each year, the associatons prepare a provisional budget for Chari's approval.  Each quarter, they send him a progress report.  And any greater than or equal to $1,000 dollars in expenditure requires the prior agreement of Chari ... not to mention the land or real estate investment projects, of course. 

As for meditation centers, their budget is even more meager. At the General Meeting of SRCM France, held at Vrads in Denmark in 2008, Chari unilaterally doubled the amount of expected contributions. 

Previously set at € 75 per member, € 15 returned to the meditation center to which was attached the participant, the remaining € 60 went to the functioning of the national structure.  A rate of ten to thirty people on average, the center was left with an unfortunate annual budget of approximately € 300 to rent a room or pay for heating and electricity. 

I know only of the accounts of four local associations, the Swiss, the Canadian, the French SRCM, and the English.  They concern about 2,400 Abhyasis, 18 to 19% of the membership outside of India.  In contrast, the donations from nationals of these countries to the Indian SMSF account for just over 19% of the foreign donations recorded by the FCRA Indian Ministry of Internal Affairs between 2006 and 2012, if we do not count those of four of the largest donors (over $2 million each). 

According to the national accounts, the cumulative 7-year contributions and sale of other products of these four associations amount to a little over $5 million.  By extrapolation, if we reason according to the actual proportion or amount of donations to the SMSF, one obtains a cumulative product $27 to $28 million, roughly equivalent to donations to the Indian SMSF. 

The cumulative capital associations same $4 almost $5 million. According to the same rules of extrapolation, we reach $25-26,000,000 dollars of capital for all local associations outside India. Much less than the $39 million of the Indian SMSF ... 

Besides that, the Indian SRCM has accumulated $3 million in donations from abroad over the same period and has a capital of $14 million as of March 31, 2013. 

See also:- [Guide to create an organization]- [French Rules of Procedure]

SHPT, a Capitalist Trust to Sell Publications and Collectibles
Initially, the publication sector of SRCM was created to disseminate the speeches of Babuji in the greatest number and at the lowest cost. For her part, Kasturi continued in this direction. From Chari's side, he has favoured quality and cost inflation, not to mention the scissors of censorship (see testimony of Michael, Part 3 (in English).

Beyond the books and speeches, one has seen emerge collections of pictures (including a life-size photo of the master) and badges for preceptors and/or abhyasi , etc... The publishing industry wanted to profit and it actually did, allowing associations to increase their funding.

All the speeches of Chari, his slightest words are transcribed, reviewed and corrected, compiled and published . Each event is immortalized by a duly accredited photographer and is the subject of a scrapbook. And from the book and the album, we went to the CD and DVD printing ... The SRCM has turned into a large multimedia company, sending its marketing products around the world. 

To finance the investment necessary for this evolution, SRCM has gathered a treasury by offering cash subscriptions for life, first for its various print publications and also for its audiovisual publications, averaging:  € 1,000.

In 2005, Chari has given a new impetus to the sector. It was no longer "buy a book", but make a prior donation of  € 300.  It was already a way of transferring money from the publication of local associations to the transnational "Foundations sector".  Two years later was no different! To help celebrate Chari's 80th anniversary in Tiruppur and receive his gift, a donation of $1,200 dollars was requested ...

The donation finally ended up by shocking some. A wave of unprecedented protests gripped the abhyasis who were made aware that the Mission operates at two speeds: the rich and that of others.  It was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Facing the winds of protest Chari has backtracked. Participation in the festivities is free.  Donations are for regional foundations of the SMSF to develop the Mission and its activities.

It was later learned that the €300 of  2005 allowed the Abhyasis to get the book: "Whispers from the Brighter World", as the proceeds were used by Chari to finance his international school LMOIS project, and also, were the proceeds from the auctions held amid the satsangs at Vrads Sande, Denmark and Lignano in Italy.  As well, the requested blind-donation of $1,200 were for a box of 18 DVDs.

Back to square one: they still have to finance Tiruppur (party). So we surf on the wave of collectibles and their derivatives: sale of exclusive special, unique, birthday photo book, or a T-shirt and a special edition commemorating his 80th anniversary, or an unedited collection of photographs and texts of Chari from between 1983 and 2007 ...

Today, every new project is accompanied by its derivatives responsible for funding all or part of the costs.

The publication sector of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission has evolved.  Donations were not enough so they made ​​gifts to donors to encourage them to give more. Mercantilism has gradually eroded the  publications sector, but it is really become professionalized since 2005.

Mechanisms are invariant: offer a gift to the donors who give before a fixed date, and then postpone the date despite claims to the contrary from the beginning. What changes, however, is the proliferation of derivatives and the spiraling price inflation for photos, scrapbooks, badges, T- shirts, etc. .

April 1, 2009, Chari creates a new organization responsible only for the publications of SRCM.  And the SMSF and SRCM have stopped all publishing activity.  It is now the SHPT (Spiritual Hierarchy Publication Trust, a very funny name ) who took over.  Finally we have a broadcast sector entrusted to a private company ! Obviously, Abhyasis do not have access to any of its accounts ...

See also:

[Whispers first and foremost, a commercial adventure ... (French)]

[ Testimony of Michael censorship (Part 3 - The Publishing Committee)  (English)] 



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