Taken and translated from an article by Alexis on his French blog: Le Projet Sahaj Marg
(last updated: Feb., 2010)
Comments and Insertions by 4d-don are in "red italics"
For scans of legal documents,
including both Constitutions and By-laws, both letter of successions (with dated envelopes, interviews of old officials, etc... see this site:
Freedom From Sahaj Marg
For current history and discussions (comments) in English, see: Our World From Another Dimension
For current history and discussions (comments) in French (some English), see Alexis's blog site: Le Projet Sahaj Marg
For current history and discussions (comments) in French see Elodie's blog: Pour Que Vive Le Sahaj Marg
For testimonials and comments of ex-preceptors, see some of their blogs (and comments on other blogs):
Inner Circle of SRCM by Michael (ex-preceptor-USA, member of Publishing Committee),
Pitfalls of Spirituality, by Frank (ex-preceptor, zonal-in-charge for the Netherlands)
For analysis (French) from research psychologist, psycho linguist and ex-abhyasi (18 years), see:
Analyse de la SRCM(tm)
many more important links at: Our World From Another Dimension
New Presentation for 2010
"New religious movements" for the Anglo-Saxon, "sectes nuisibles" for the French, or "new spirituality" for the Eastern world, the words used to describe the current spiritual wealth shows us how the different apprehensions of this phenomenon may differ.
In this changing context of exceptional mutations of the religious phenomenon, here is the example of the incredible saga of nearly 70 years of Sahaj Marg, a global spirituality of Indian origin, based on the techniques of meditation from a simplification of the ancestral Hindu Raja Yoga. (Which the Founder of Sahaj Marg, Ram Chandra of Shahjahanpur (aka Babuji), experienced from a Naqshbandiya Order Sufi (Ram Chandra of Fatehgarh (aka Lalaji) whom he visited a few times only in his early 20's.) The Shri Ram Chandra Mission, an organization responsible for disseminating this (Sahaj Marg) teaching, claims* three masters, Lalaji, Babuji and Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari, the last, a living master.
* See statement by the Dean of NaqshMuMRa, grandson of Lalaji, Dinaysh Kumar Saxena, from reading the journals of his grand-father, claiming that Lalaji has nothing to do with Sahaj Marg and that Babuji was never a preceptor of Lalaji's organization: Epitome of Sahaj Marg. (If document is not available here, then see other links at this site: Sahaj Marg and SRCM Legal and Important Documents
This presentation emphasizes a historical perspective to properly highlight the changes implemented within this movement. It has five parts: a) The Epic of Sahaj Marg, b) Personalities and Trends that have influenced it, c) the Totalitarian Temptation of its Guru and his Followers, d) The Resulting Multinational Shri Ram Chandra Mission, and e) its Current Business Seduction.
The French parliamentary report n. 2468 cites the Shri Ram Chandra Mission in its list of "harmful sects", dated December, 1995. What the SRCM does not say is that it practices a very active proselytism, especially among psychologically fragile people. What it also does not say is that there is often a very rapid onset of strong mental dependence on the Guru and distance vis-à-vis those near to the adherents, family and social relationships. What it does especially not say is that it is hungry (desires?) for real estate as well as spirituality.
This website is a place of independent information. If you are looking for psychological or legal assistance, contact UNADFI or any other victim's defense association.
The Fabulous Epic of Sahaj Marg
In the late nineteenth century, Lalaji met a Sufi master. Together, they founded a syncretic teaching between Hinduism and Sufism, in northern India. In 1945, (13 years after Lalaji's death...allegedly) on posthumous orders by Lalaji (and others, in dreams), (see Autobiography of Ram Chandra) Babuji founded the Shri Ram Chandra Mission and the Sahaj Marga method which spread gradually to the south of India, once it rid itself of its Sufi (Islam) references. After raising Rajagopalachari (The current president of SRCM(California-1997) on a pedestal, in 1982, Babuji, ill and aging, finally appoints his own son (Umesh Saxena) to succeed him. Immediately after his (Babuji's) death (1983) , Rajagopalachari attempts to place himself at the control of the Society (SRCM Shahjahanpur-1945) with the support of followers from the West, while supporters of the son of Babuji continue to develop the Sahaj Marg from its historical stronghold in northern India, at
Shahjahanpur. In 1999, (after having been refused the Presidency of SRCM (Shahjahanpur-1945), by its Board of Directors, and having re-registered the Shri Ram Chandra Mission) in San Luis Obispo, California, in 1997, and its research arm, the SMRTI in Austin, Texas) Rajagopalachari returns to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Babuji, inaugurating the lavish Manapakkam ashram, near Chennai. Strengthened by his troops of Western followers and the financial power they give him, he (Chari) returns in triumph to his country. But to succeed in this feat, he has generously adapted the Spiritual product of Babuji and exploited without limit the weaknesses of his troops. He has become an autocratic guru, but resistance is increasing ...
First, a Teaching Syncretized From Hinduism and Sufism (1891-1930)
In the late nineteenth century, precisely in 1891, a young Brahmin named Ram Chandra of Fatehgarh , aka Lalaji, meets the master of a Sufi lineage (Naqshbandiya Sufi Order) in India. This encounter between a Hindu and a Muslim is not unique in this northern region of India, Uttar Pradesh, densely populated and heavily Muslim. Their friendship is much more surprising in this politically sensitive time when the inter-communal tensions are exacerbated.
Hazarat or Maulana Fazal Ahmad Shah Khan Raipur (1857-1907), known simply as "Hujur" is the spiritual leader of Tarika Mazahariya. This branch of the Sufi brotherhood of Naqshbandiya created by Mirza Mazhar Zanzana (1701-1781), is permanently implanted in Uttar Pradesh. There is already a kind of syncretism between the major Indian Sufi brotherhoods and certain traditional Hindu teachings. Hujur already taught equally to Muslims and Hindus. But he will go even further in that direction with his disciple, Lalaji. They highlight the equivalence between Hindu and Sufi spirituality and achieve a new synthesis. Their goal, totally against the current of history, dominated by the identity withdrawal in the face of the British invader, is to abolish the inter-religious boundaries.
The fruit of their work establishes that the primary responsibility for the spiritual evolution of the aspirant rests in the hands of his master, provided he comes into daily contact with his guru through meditation. The Master pours divine energy into the heart of his disciple by releasing him from his impure thoughts. One finds some of the foundations of Santmat, as posited by Kabir in the fifteenth century, as elements of the eleven principles of Naqshbandiya already extolling the silent meditation on the heart and the constant remembrance of God's presence.
Following Hujur, Lalaji becomes the first Hindu spiritual leader of the Tarika Mazahariya, but never converts to Islam. His (Lalaji's) teaching is based increasingly on the Santmat of Kabir and his followers over time. Thus, many of Lalaji's disciples founded the Ramashram Satsang, a kind of syncretism between Sufism and Santmat, which spreads throughout northern India.
In 1930, a year before his death, Lalaji appoints his own son, Jag Mohan Narain, to succeed him at the head of the order, contrary to the desire of Hujur who wanted to see Lalaji's nephew, Brij Mohan Lal Dadaji, succeed Lalaji. He (Jag Mohan Narain) creates for the first time in the hereditary Sufi lineage, a lineage called: Tariq Ramchandriya.
NaqshMuMRA (Sufi tariqa Ramchandriya descendants of Lalaji), Golden Sufi Center (Sufi tariqa from Lalaji's nephew), Ramashram Satsang and Akhil Bhartiya Santmat Satsang (ABSS) (two syncretisms between Sufism and Santmat) are still to this day spiritual movements which claim a direct lineage from Lalaji and his family.
The Sahaj Marga, a Refinement of Raja Yoga? (1931-73)
In 1945, not far away from Fatehgarh, Ram Chandra of Shahjahanpur, aka Babuji, claims to be the only truly spiritual successor appointed by Lalaji.
Different personalities long deceased (apparently) come to him in dreams, which he calls "intercommunications", such as Lalaji, the Sufis: Hujur and Baqi Billah, and the Hindus: Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna and Buddha himself. They ask Babuji to create the teachings of Sahaj Marga (easy way, the easy way) (later changed to the "natural path") and to found the organization called Shri Ram Chandra Mission (SRCM) at Shahjahanpur.
Comments and Corretions by Shashwat Pandey:
1. Lalaji was never a part of Sahaj Marg system, nor was he was a brahmin, Lalaji is a title given to "Kayasthya" community in India, and Babuji only claims that he is representing Lalaji, however the authentic lineage of Lalaji and Dinaysh Saxena (Dean of NaqshMuMRA have objected strongly to this publication of yours where you have linked Lalaji to Sahaj Marg. Lalaji does not deserve any mention while referring to Sahaj marg.
You can find an interview of Dinaysh on my site (Freedom from Sahaj Marg) where he has explained the actual teachings of Lalaji, you can download that interview and listen to it for clarity.
Thankfully you have not mentioned Vivekananda in your publications about Sahaj Marg, which is another blatant lie of SRCM.
2. You have also mentioned and have tried to draw a parallel line between Raja Yoga and Sahaj Marg, Raja Yoga of Patanjali is totally different from the practice of Sahaj Marg, and needs not be mentioned, there is no point in promoting a false claim. pls redefine this section.
Babuji physically met Lalaji three times in all, the first time was on June 3, 1922. Everything else is the result of an intercommunication (dreams) that begins after the death of Lalaji in 1931, and then is interrupted to resume in April 1944. Meanwhile, he (Babuji) attended the Ramashram Satsang of Dr. Chaturbhuj in Etah and apparently, that of Shri Krishna Lal Sikandarabad. He also dreams that he went to Kanpur, the seat of the family of Raghubal Dayal Chachaji's brother of Lalaji and father of Brij Mohan Lal Dadaji. According to his diary, Babuji thought that he was surrounded by competitors and enemies. They have (allegedly) even tried
to poison and kill him. Reality or paranoia? Enemies maybe, certainly competitors.
At first, the parents of young Babuji are offended that he is frequenting Muslims. He himself then, with his book "Efficacy of Raja-Yoga in the Light of Sahaj Marg" published in 1947, makes a strategic refocusing of his teachings around Raja Yoga and Lalaji alone, thus omitting any reference to Sufism. It is true that the independence and partition are at the heart of the Indian news of the moment. Later, in 1963, he expresses the same opinion that Sahaj Marga has replaced the various Sufi orders that seem outdated.
As a refinement of Raja Yoga, the spiritual teachings of Sahaj Marga eliminates the difficult first (Steps 1 to 6 of the original "eightfold path" that is Raja Yoga, and Sahaj Marg starts at step 7, according to SRCM literature) stages of meditation, making it easier and feasible for our time. The ten commandments given by Lalaji to Babuji specifies that the practice also has a prayer to recite before sunrise, and at sunset, a repentance for sins committed. Remembering to have a heart filled with love and devotion, the aim is to achieve unity with God.
Babuji begins his spiritual teaching in Uttar Pradesh, where he allies himself with Kasturi Chaturvedi which he soon declares "the Saint of Sahaj Marga". But his notoriety overflows quickly from northern India and spreads throughout the country. Men join in the south, such as Raghavendra Rao, the south-west (Raichur, Karnataka), Dr KC Varadachari, the southeast (Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh), and Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari from still farther south (Chennai, Tamil Nadu).
The meeting between Babuji and Dr. Varadachari quickly turns into a deep friendship. Holder of the famous Vivekananda Chair at the University of Madras, and professor of philosophy, he creates the Sahaj Marg Research Institute (SMRI) in 1965, and contributes to the spread of Sahaj Marga to the general public.
Babuji names preceptors, charged with serving as a channel for the transmission between him and his disciples. In the late sixties, some of them go abroad and begin broadcasting the Sahaj Marga. Babuji made his first trip west in 1972, accompanied by Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari. And the Shri Ram Chandra Mission expands.
Dr. Babuji Varadachari warns Babuji in 1970, about the risks of the drifting of the teaching, due to its expansion, but he dies the following year. And Babuji is old and tired too, he is 75 years old in 1974 when he is hospitalized in Lucknow. The previous year, Kasturi Chaturvedi, Raghavendra Rao and Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari proposed to him to assist in his spiritual work. Kasturi would deal with the north, in the south would be Rao, and Rajagopalachari would be in charge of "outside India", but Babuji refuses and continues to travel tirelessly.
(See selected excerpts of Autobiograpy of Ram Chandra with comments by Christian (ex abhyasi of 17 years with Chari, and a research psychologist and psycho-linguist), published by SRCM (Shahjahanpur-1945) and compiled by its president: SP Srivastava.)
The Sahaj Marga, the Power Games (1974-84)
Babuji first prepared his great friend, Dr. Varadachari as his own successor. But the latter died before him, on January 30, 1971, leaving him embarrassed. He then draws closer to Rajagopalachari who became his disciple in 1964, appointing him secretary of the Mission in 1970, and everything seems to be going well between them. But suddenly, everything changes in 1982. Babuji makes serious accusations in a letter dated April 6 and appoints another secretary in his place June 28.
In September, very sick and weak, Babuji writes from Paris that some are plotting to take over the assets of the Mission. He accuses Rajagopalachari of trying to poison him repeatedly for eight years. He finally adds that the latter is presenting himself to Western disciples as the future president of the Mission, whereas he has secretly appointed his own successor. Again... reality, paranoia or simply senility?
Babuji was (allegedly) sick, delirious and could not walk alone. The doctor who accompanies him confirms that he should never have undertaken this journey in light of the state of his health. Rajagopalachari, meanwhile, becomes silent and aggressive but the French André Poray steals the show in Paris which does not leave him indifferent, not to mention the accusations of Babuji.
Babuji dies on April 19, 1983. At the gathering held the following July 10, two suitors appear. The eldest son of Babuji, Prakash Chandra, has nominated his son, Sharad Saxena, and Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari presents a copy of his letter of appointment dated March 23, 1974. The working committee defers its decision until February.
February 84, Rajagopalachari takes advantage of the anniversary of the birth of Lalaji and goes to Shahjahanpur, but it is made clear that he is not welcome and must withdraw from the ashram. The committee then meets without his presence. At its meeting on 6 and 7 February, the new Secretary General SA Sarnad suggests that the committee be chaired by the Dean, PC Chaturvedi. (judge and father of Sister Kasturi) Both the candidatures of Sharad and Rajagopalachari are rejected because of deception (forged letters of succession?) . The committee states that the letter of Rajagopalachari was postmarked at an earlier date than that which was inside and that Babuji had once complained (to the police) of the disappearance of four signed blank SRCM letterheads. Sarnad then presents to the committee the secret letter of appointment brought up by Babuji and it designates another of his sons, Umesh Chandra Saxena, dated April 16, 1982. The committee examines it, validates it and declares Umesh Chandra as President. Sarnad is instructed to issue a circular announcing his appointment that is ratified at a general meeting before 982 members on 8 february, 1984.
According to supporters of Rajagopalachari, Kasturi (see interview with Kasturi and/or transcript) and Canadian Donald Sabourin (now deceased) were witnesses to his appointment. The son of Dr. Varadachari, KC Narayana (retired state chief financial officer) said that Babuji announced in 1979 that he should work closely with Rajagopalachari after his death. He (apparently) also said that Babuji declared as late as 1980 in Munich that he would leave him the power. And everyone (many) agrees that the children of Babuji did not participate in collective weekly meditations, and have never shown any sign of interest in things spiritual.
But Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari, a southern man, smoking American cigarettes and very westernized, is not at all appreciated by the senior preceptors. In 1981, two of them, Raghavendra Rao and Ramachandra Reddy, tour the United States in a non-official capacity, accompanied by Umesh Chandra Saxena, who is not even a preceptor. Critics also argue that Rajagopalachari was stripped of all responsibilities by Babuji, and they add that he (allegedly) accompanied Babuji without his consent on his last tour of France, saying to Danish disciples that he would be President before the death of Babuji.
Then, is the letter of appointment of Rajagopalachari a fake (forgery)? Did Babuji dismiss Rajagopalachari of all his functions? Does he rightly accuse him of the worst atrocities or is his letter from Paris the fruit of delirium and senility? Why did his family begin by nominating Sharad July 83 before bringing forward the secret letter of appointment of Umesh Chandra? These questions will probably remain forever unanswered.
By designating his son, Babuji stated that he would become president of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission Shahjahanpur and the spiritual representative in line of succession. In his letter of accusation, he stated that he would be assisted in his task by Narayana, SP Srivastava and two other disciples. But Umesh Chandra temporarily cedes his place to SP Srivastava, the newly elected but not appointed president, to avoid further disruption of the organization. The latter then presides from Shahjahanpur and tackles the publication of the Journal of Babuji.
Rajagopalachari secedes, brings together another committee at Hyderabad, which appoints him the president, then he presides from the Ashram in Chennai in southern India, and travels the world seeking support. Narayana remaining faithful to the request of Babuji of 1979, betrays that of September 82, and he rallies behind Rajagopalachari and refuses to assist Umesh Chandra. It is then the turn of Sarnad to join the clan of Rajagopalachari, thus interrupting the spread of the circular attesting to the appointment of Umesh. Rajagopalachari, meanwhile, contacts the preceptors appointed by Babuji, ordering them to recognize him as President, otherwise he sacks them.
In Europe, some followers of Babuji completely lost, follow Andre Poray, while begins a long legal battle between Umesh Chandra Saxena and Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari for the presidency of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission and control of the ashram of Shahjahanpur.
Sahaj Marg Conquers the World (1984-2004)
Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari, called Chari or more affectionately Chariji by his followers, is seeking the legitimacy that he lacks. He is familiar with the Western culture and masters it perfectly. Graduated with a bachelor of science degree, he spent two years in Yugoslavia and then started to work in chemical engineering (plastics). Soon, he joined the Indian industrial conglomerate TTK Krishnamachari & Co, where he managed its subsidiary Indian Textile Paper Tube until his retirement in 1985. His work has led him to travel the world on numerous occasions, representing his country at an International Conference on ISO in Switzerland among others. A clever entrepreneur, he knows how to lead men and manage his affairs.
Constantly traveling, he travels to all the continents, making the West his bridgehead. He woos his disciples and they are quickly subjugated by this man. They find him charismatic and with a strange look, both penetrating and disturbing, in a word, fascinating. They follow him everywhere, rush to his feet, ask him his opinion on everything and anything and display his portrait in their homes. The seeds of the cult of personality are all there, he will cleverly exploit it to enhance his appeal and the dependence of his disciples who progressively become enslaved followers.
He changes the spiritual practice, its definition and its history and makes it more responsive to his needs. Once he has codified and ritualized the practice, and established the legend and the spirituality as a standardized product, the brand Sahaj Marg ™ is filed with the U.S. Agency of Commerce (U.S. Patent & Trademark Office) July 29, 1997. To top it off, the statutes of the SRCM, a California society, are deposited in his stride.
Rajagopalachari names preceptors with a vengeance, not on their spiritual profile but by their ambition and their pushiness. He practices an unbridled proselytism, asking them to constantly recruit new followers. According to Babuji, the goal was to reach the critical size necessary for the changeover of humanity through spirituality. He galvanizes his forces of preceptors having previously "guilted" them for their lack of results. They must increase the numbers, more and more sales, always the numbers. The preceptors then sink into the fear of displeasing the Master, never able to do enough to win his affection. A permanent malaise that he cultivates carefully.
The strategy of the seduction of Westerners used by Rajagopalachari and his management methods proves effective, if we are to believe the figures put forward by one or the other. Lalaji had 100 to 200 followers, Babuji about 3,000 and 180 preceptors. Rajagopalachari brings that number to 20,000 in 1991, 50 to 55,000 by 1995-97 and 75,000 in 2000 with approximately 1,500 preceptors. Many centers are open in Denmark, France and Switzerland, Canada and the United States, South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and Dubai.
With his Western success, Rajagopalachari is therefore all-powerful in India and able in 1999 to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Babuji. On 30 April, he inaugurated the Babuji Memorial Ashram, at Manappakam on the outskirts of Chennai, an ashram on five acres that can accommodate 13,000 people inside the meditation hall.
For its part, the Shri Ram Chandra Mission (Shahjahanpur-1945) has not been as successful. Elected in 1984, and re-elected in 1990 SP Srivastava publishes the second part of Babuji's Journals (May 44 to June 55) in three volumes that appear from 1987 to 89. In 1994, Umesh Chandra Saxena is elected to replace SP Srivastava, but will soon no longer carry unanimous support. He does not work, uses the money from the Mission to support the lifestyle of his family, and invites corrupt politicians for rowdy parties. Raghavendra Rao and Srivastava distance themselves, as well, Andre Poray in France.
The defections have not spared the Rajagopalachari clan. KC Narayana, (son of Dr. Varadachari) who took over the head of the Sahaj Marg Research Institute (SMRI) founded by his father abandons his post in 1991 to found the Institute of Sri Ramchandra Consciousness (ISRC) in Hyderabad. He criticizes Rajagopalachari for letting develop the cult of a (his) personality and refuses to recognize him as the spiritual representative of Babuji. Kasturi Chaturvedi says much the same thing in a memorable speech on 30 April, 1995, before the followers of Rajagopalachari assembled in Chennai. Having never played any administrative role, she takes a little more distance and retires to Lucknow.
In reality, Rajagopalachari was never completely absent from his country, but he was confined to his southern stronghold of Chennai. To establish his legitimacy, he includes on the list of his preceptors, celebrities like Kasturi and the grandson of Lalaji, Dinesh Kumar Saxena, with or without their consent. He develops valuable relationships with prominent Indians. He incorporates his own working committee with representatives of the judiciary, police officers and entrepreneurs.
With his domestic support and the money that comes from his Western troops, he does not hesitate to take by force, ashrams run by his opponents. As early as 1984-85, his henchmen seize the ashrams of Visakhapatnam, Nellore and Vadodara. In 1988 it was the turn of the ashram in Allahabad and in 1991 of Delhi and Moradabad, even to a first aborted attempt in Shahjahanpur in 1997.
If one believes interested persons in the know, the return of Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari to India is an overwhelming success and is crowned by a resounding victory over his rival organization, the Shri Ram Chandra Mission (Shahjahanpur-1945). In 2003, he announces that the number of his disciples has multiplied by three in three years. From 75,000 in 2000, it has passed 200 to 300,000 by 2003-04.
The Dusk of a Multinational That Has Reached its Peak (2005-09)
Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari easily attracts more than 50,000 people during the great annual ceremonies organized to celebrate his birthday. According to my estimates, regular adherents are almost as numerous, but the SRCM registered in California (in 1997) must have more than 150,000 contributors. With the nebula that revolves around the Sahaj Marg, it could well reach some 500,000 supporters around the world.
The Sahaj Marg of Rajagopalachari is also a small empire of land, housing and financial. In 1997, Umesh Chandra Saxena estimated its wealth at some 200 million euros when it declared having 55,000 followers. If the property has followed the same trend as the membership, it is now nearing the billion. Dozens of ashrams, retreat centers, a research and training institute, an international brand Sahaj Marg ™ ... The organization that manages this multinational with the largest opacity is composed of four foundations created between 1994 and 2004: Switzerland, the United States, India and Dubai. To which are added two new societies for managing his school in 2005 and a trust for the publishing of his publications in 2009.
Intoxicated with his power, Rajagopalachari uses and abuses it without limits. Thus in 2003, his minions are trying again to seize the ashram of Shahjahanpur only four days after the death of Umesh Chandra Saxena (poison?). They again attempted with success on April 2, 2006 and also capture the Raichur ashram after the death of Raghavendra Rao. Rajagopalachari went himself to Shahjahanpur in October 2007 to mark his symbolic victory. Billing himself the only living master of the Sahaj Marg world, he imposes his will on the alternate currents as well as on his own followers. (see scans of newspaper articles on Freedom from Sahaj Marg, and interviews with Babuji's Family on Youtube)
Pushing all limits, he no longer asks his followers to obey and serve. In 2005, using only their trust, he launched a campaign of sales of € 250 per practitioner for a book whose content is not disclosed. In 2007, the subscription goes to 1,200 USD for an equally secret gift of which the only beneficiaries will be the first donors. In 2009, he announces the limited release in three new volumes in the three years following the 2005 luxury-version book, that he describes as the New Bible or the Vedas of Sahaj Marg, always at a price of 250 € each, which he prohibits any new issue before 2030. (The books: Whispers From the Brighter World, is a series of channeled messages from beyond the grave by an anonymous French Lady Medium ... The spirits who send the messages are allegedly: Babuji, Lalaji, Chari's mother, Chari's wife and other "elevated spirits")
With his heritage and his power over men, he goes in search of the external recognition that he lacks for certain respectability. To do this, he flirts with the UN on the humanitarian and educational themes. In humanitarian terms, he opens some ashrams in India to providing free care and food distribution, the centers of light. On the education side, from a paper prepared by the institute created by Varadachari, he broadcasts the spiritual values of Sahaj Marg in hundreds of Indian schools in 2005 and then he founds his own school, Lalaji Memorial Omega International School (LMOIS) .
The same year, his organization joined the Department of Public Information of the UN (DPI). In 2009, the SRCM is organizing a national written composition competition in all Indian schools in collaboration with the Information Center of the UN for India and Bhutan (UNIC) on the occasion of the International Youth Day of August 12. This action, undertaken by the SRCM only since 1989, has mobilized nearly 75,000 children and youth participants from 10 to 24 years in 2008. (See template of letter to UNDPI)
All smiles, but suddenly in October 2008 from Dubai, he declares a fiscal austerity and freezes all future projects at the beginning of the global financial crisis. In January, to general surprise, he says that a cancer is eating away at the Sahaj Marg from the interior and that the organization is threatened with disintegration. He thinks his preceptors, imbued with their hierarchical position, do not do quality work. The discipline is everywhere, there are divisions between communities, centers of dissidents who call themselves faithful to Babuji but ignore the Mission. In short, he has nightmares where he sees the SRCM disintegrating into"240 small missions" because of lack of discipline.
Reality, senility, or paranoia? Financial crisis, moral crisis of ego or is there any crisis at all? Has he reached the point of no return? In any case, an atmosphere of "end times" reigns.
Indeed, Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari is aging at his turn. He celebrates his 80th anniversary in 2007, two years after designating his successor, Bengali businessman, Ajay Kumar Bhatter, to quell the internal strife. But this does not mean "entente cordiale" at the top of the hierarchy. All goes well as long as he is there, but tomorrow? His opportunistic lieutenants are biding their time. His only son PR Krishna, the wealthy heir, AK Bhatter, the designated successor, Santosh Khanjee the "eminence grise" or even AP Durai (retired Policeman) U.S. Bajpai and his henchmen, all are biding their time.
Among the followers too, all is not well. In 2005, he eventually triggers a forced reaction by always asking for more money. A book sold at 250 € each, and auctions are held during the group meditation at international gatherings at Vrads Sande, Denmark and Lignano, Italy. This is too much. In January, not able to speak freely internally, a desperate Swiss abhyasi opens a web blog entitled: "Pour que vive le Sahaj Marg, débarrassé des dérives de la Shri Ram Chandra Mission", soon followed by others. The myths that he had built are exposed one after the other.
In January 2007, Navneet Kumar Saxena comes at his turn on the web. He is the son of Umesh Chandra Saxena, grandson of Babuji and president of the Mission, elected after them. He informs that the legal battle brought by his father against Rajagopalachari remains unresolved. He accuses, and presents official documents in support. Disciples of Raghavendra Rao and Kasturi Chaturvedi open blogs and accuse them too. Dinesh Kumar Saxena, grandson of Lalaji, creates a website. KC Narayana, son of Dr. Varadachari, customizes his. SP Srivastava creates an association. In France and Canada, abhyasis who followed Andre Poray and Kasturi reveal on the web that there exists independent communities of followers loyal to the teaching of Babuji, still very much alive today.
(See: Freedom from Sahaj Marg for scans of many "legal documents", newspaper articles, and telephone and video (youtube) interviews, etc...)
The market shares of Sahaj Marg are enormous and they will soon be for the taking. Everyone is excited, and some sometimes say and do anything. As the person who has remained anonymous, but published in September 2007, on the web an accusation of rape, incest and pedophilia without anyone knowing exactly who was involved, all the wildest hypotheses being considered. So why bother? And this is probably not finished ...
* * *
Babuji occupies a good half of this historical epic of more than a century as traced here in its most salient features, while Rajagopalachari dominates the last quarter century unchallenged, despite his opponents. The Sahaj Marg that came out of the confidential teachings of Lalaji is not yet 70 years old, but it has already spread across the globe.
The legend of the transmission of spiritual power that Rajagopalachari put in place occults the power struggles of succession between the Masters, that have afflicted the movement at every moment. The spiritual derivative product has evolved considerably. De-cultured, de-territorialized and standardized, it retains not much more now than the mere characteristics of a meditation technique. The initial attraction of Westerners for real Indian spirituality will not resist the general trend towards globalization and individualism. The Indian and Western followers are increasingly individualistic, not really looking for more spirituality, but only a tool for personal development, such as meditation or yoga.
From Spiritual Master to Totalitarian Guru
The master transmits the divine energy to the heart of his disciples. He holds a central role in what makes the specificity of Sahaj Marg by Rajagopalachari. He is the sole repository of a considerable "spiritual" power. History shows that every change of master has been accompanied by a rough period of transition where the suitors have all shown their audacity to seize this unique spiritual power.
We know little about the events that followed the death of Lalaji but Babuji in his diary records that he is surrounded by "competitors and enemies" who attempted on his life. Obviously, they must be Masters of Ramashram Satsang or family members of Lalaji, among whom he spent time between 1931 and 44. Much later, he claims that Rajagopalachari has made attempts on his life on several occasions between 1974 and 82, that is to say since he came into possession of his letter of appointment as "president of the system of Sahaj Marg ".
Babuji's paranoia? Political history teaches us that a man of power is figuratively a true professional killer, paranoid out of the necessity and to survive, when that paranoia does not end by devouring him. Would spiritual power obey other laws than political power? The capture of power by Rajagopalachari, is it spiritual or political? Sahaj Marg begins to "drain" (to attract like a sewer drain) a large number of disciples and Rajagopalachari is not immune to the allure of power over men. Similarly, today is the economic power that seems to animate the current contenders. Paranoia always?
Narayana and Kasturi establish a difference between the President of the Mission (as an organization) and the spiritual representative of Babuji. Navneet Kumar Saxena, himself, strongly reaffirms the statutes of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission as decreed by his grandfather, namely that a spiritual representative is established in Shahjahanpur in direct line of succession. He recalls that Lalaji preferred his son to his nephew, and that Babuji preferred Umesh Chandra Rajagopalachari. Babuji and Rajagopalachari have interpreted the spiritual lineage or the hereditary blood ties, so as to achieve their own ends. So, will Rajagopalachari eventually succumb in turn and appoint his son, PR Krishna, or his grandson?
Spiritual power, political and economic power, all tangled in Sahaj Marg as everywhere else . Only the shape of the power evolves from one capacity or spiritual competence towards always more seduction, even to the cult of personality, whether it passes through the related bloodline, as in a monarchy, or not.
Fame, power and money fuel the greed, and complicate the successions. It is a law of history, perhaps even a law of nature. Spiritual gurus are not exempt. The greater the leader, the more difficult it is to succeed him. Lalaji was not a giant, Babuji was not a dwarf. And Rajagopalachari, a totalitarian autocrat?
The history of Sahaj Marg is virtually nothing more than the history of its leadership.
Sahaj Marg ™, a Standardized Spiritual Product
Lalaji and Hujur showed syncretism by going to the sources of Sufism and Hinduism. The teaching that follows was coherent, innovative and not without courage in those troubled inter-religious times. Conversely, Babuji rehabilitated it as a method that incorporates only the last stages of Raja Yoga with undeniable Hindu origins. He showed a formidable simplistic reductionism, and a morbid reluctance (caution) by succumbing to a nationalist ambience. In his contacts with Westerners, Rajagopalachari still more profoundly transformed it.
Of the spiritual practice described in the ten commandments of Babuji, Rajagopalachari retains only certain aspects which suit him more than others. In a slow but permanent shift, he gives the practicant a preponderance that enhances the dependence of the followers, and their adoration of the master. Thus, he reminds his followers that they must keep a daily diary, but says that they must send it to him regularly. Correspond and meet with the teacher are strongly encouraged, as is the group meditation and constant remembrance.
The followers are increasingly dependent on their guru and they adore him. But the ultimate goal remains the merger with the divine. For that to hold, Rajagopalachari then develops an intellectual confusion between the master and the divine. The total abandonment of the follower becomes total surrender to his master, to the sole desire of the guru. Is the "constant remembrance" that of the master or of the divine? The fusion of the believer with the divine transforms itself into the adoration of his guru, he must make him (guru) happy at all costs.
Not content with having changed the spiritual practices and the very definition of Sahaj Marg, Rajagopalachari also revises its history, creating a legend that is simplified and easy to remember. Lalaji invented ex nihilo Sahaj Marg, Babuji his successor has perfected it and Rajagopalachari succeeded him as the last living master, all in a straight transmission line.
The "ten commandments" of Babuji are un-christened, and become mere "maxims". The Sahaj Marga of Babuji, translated as "easy path" (easy way), becomes in the Sahaj Marg of Rajagopalachari, the "natural way" (natural path). The transmission of divine energy by the master to the heart of the believer is built in as a unique specificity, despite its ancient origins. One has pased from a path of easy access (easy way) to a narrow delicate passage (natural path) to which access is restricted to an elite.
Where Babuji said that spirituality begins where religion ends, and that divine love begins where spirituality is completed, Rajagopalachari replies with the caricature that religion divides whereas spirituality unites. He adds that no knowledge is necessary and that reflection (thinking) hinders the meditation.
Trademarked, the Spiritual Product of Sahaj Marg™ has been standardized. Its objective has been redefined, its history rewritten and its practice codified and ritualized. Decultured, it requires no knowledge or no religion. Dislocated it is accessible to Westerners as well or better than to Indians.
From the teachings of Lalaji, it has passed to the method of Babuji to achieve the extreme oversimplification of the meditation of Rajagopalachari, namely one yoga technique among many others. But it is unique, and difficult and reserved for the elite, says he.
Hyper Individualistic Followers In Search Of A Tool Of Personal Development
The Hindu and Sufi mystics have developed that it was important for a disciple, if he wanted to grow spiritually, to follow the teachings of several masters, as there was so many of them in the past in the districts of northern India. This approach of Eastern spirituality, made up of contemplation and meditation, has attracted many Westerners who reject the traditional religions in their search for meaning and emotional and social ties against the materialism of this dehumanizing society. But India has in turn entered into the global marketplace also, and incorporates Western values even if to a "forced march".
The Swiss preceptor, Wulliemier Ferdinand, the precursor of "spiritual psychiatry", described the Western followers of their meditation as psychologically fragile, "borderline" in psychiatric jargon, often in mid-life crisis. And indeed it is very often women alone, vulnerable in their personal and family life. He added that the occupational categories most represented are medical or paramedical, and to a lesser extent, the education or artistic professions. These followers are of a sociocultural and economic level that is higher than the average, still professionally engaged in often difficult human relations. Fragile, often in psychotherapy, they are navel-gazingly focused on their own egotistical problems.
Thus, these individualistic Westerners, weakened by modern life, succumb to the charm of meditation, a yoga technique, a tool for personal development and well-being among many others. The more easily when a charismatic guru tells them that this spiritual product, unique in the world, is a difficult path reserved for the elite. They are offered what they need most, they are offered a purpose, a community and a Truth. The Sahaj Marg of Rajagopalachari is for them a refuge that traditional religions do not provide them any more, a soothing balm on their more open-face wounds in the face of the most glaring hardships imposed on them in their social and professional life by society.
Not content to find a relative and uncertain psychological balance, the followers of Sahaj Marg are transformed in turn into prescribing therapists with their contemporaries. They combine the techniques of meditation of Rajagopalachari with the most disparate picks in the current esoteric mystical new age and alternative medicine, as well as with the tools of personal development and well-being. Setting themselves up in turn as psychotherapists - one is never better treated than by one's own - they become promoters of psychological genealogy, of gestalt therapy or even coaching.
These mixtures are dispensed by people who are frail and maladjusted, to others just as mentally unbalanced, are sometimes explosive and highly dangerous.
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A French parliamentary report in 1995 compiled a list of "harmful sects" which features prominently the Shri Ram Chandra Mission, while other countries have chosen to declare them of public utility and exempt from taxes.
French Rationalism, often atheist or agnostic, imagines cults everywhere. Conversely, the Anglo-Saxons dominated by born-again evangelicals or New Agers, baptize anything and everything with the symbol of New Religious Movement. Between these two radical conceptions, the traditional Eastern approach of a sensitive and emotional spirituality has re-taken on an air of modernity. But the East of today has little to do with the archetypes that are Auroville or the Buddhism of the Dalai Lama. Globalization, immediacy and individualism has taken them over. The Bollywood of Mumbai and the Indian Silicon Valley of Bangalore have passed by there. Rajagopalachari is the product of the confrontation of traditional Indian values with Western values.
Well beyond its irrational aspects that can tend to lead one to chuckle, it is the finality of Sahaj Marg ™ itself that carries the totalitarian danger the farthest. Self-transformation through meditation, an altered state of consciousness, sublimates the feelings to the detriment of reflection and transports the solution of changing one's self instead of social change and/or civic engagement. Finally, to seek at any price the merger with the divine which is too often confused with the guru, Rajagopalachari is ultimately the greatest danger to his followers. It means the renunciation of one's individuality so as to blend into an ALL that is completely unknown.
When emotion is primary, manipulation is not far. In a world of loss of bearings where there is uncertainty, the temptation to follow a community, its prophet and his messianism is strong. The need for certainty is deeply rooted in us all. Therefore we must learn to keep a critical mind and our free will.
The modern mature individual is one who is autonomous and responsible, who chooses his path and builds his own benchmarks, without any certainty, but with strong convictions.