Saturday, September 24, 2016

Why many Hindu Gurus are wrong

            Guru Parampara is very unique to the Dharmic religions. A Guru plays a very critical role in the evolutionary ladder of every Jiva. In Sanatana Dharma, a realized Guru is worshipped as Paramatma in flesh. Another unique feature of Sanatana Dharma is that in every century there has been some thought altering, mind raising Guru has appeared in Bharatvarsha and kept the purity of Sanatana Dharma for the posterity. While not all Gurus will be in the highest class of Rishi, it is safe to assume any good Guru as a co-traveler in this cosmic journey that has tested the road ahead, yet compassionate enough to trace a few steps back, to hold the hands of the ones who seek out and be a guide.

            It is very easy to get off this larger purpose if one is not grounded in Dharma or in Truth experience. It is not a belief based idea like a religion, not even an experience of Truth, but the Guru is verily the Truth. So it is obvious that many Gurus we know do not measure up to this Sanatana Dharma Standard

            A Guru without Self Realization is a very big danger not only to the disciples, but also to Sanatana Dharma. I bow my head to the lotus feet of the Gurus of all the generations that have passed, the ones who are alive and the ones who are yet to appear. With their blessings, I endeavor to shine light upon how some of Today’s Hindu Gurus are not only patently wrong, but also hurting Sanatana Dharma at its very roots. 

            I will not be naming any negative names, but I do agree that the description of certain behaviors of Gurus may invoke the memories of certain personalities. I leave it to the reader to make this connection in their head. 

            We are aware of a lot of fake gurus who exploit the society who get caught in due time. Our focus is not on such a social menace. These parasites merely exploit the sentiments in the society for personal gains. Hence, we will be excluding these characters from our discussion. It may be noted that faking using a saintly guise is at least as old as Ramayana, where Ravana used such a ploy to trick Sita. 

            Let us turn our attention to those relatively evolved atmas, yet due to a whole host of behaviors are causing serious dents in Sanatana Dharma, unknowingly or knowingly. The following will be only a short checklist to initiate discussions and there is no order followed.

            This is a classic Sanskrit idiom of describing a frog in the well, someone who is not only an alpabuddhi, but feels having complete mastery. Rajiv Malhotra in this video explained how many White Americans during the 60’s, 70’s and 80's approached many Indian gurus for mantra diksha. He narrates an eye opening incident he witnessed, where the guru who has no understanding of either Christianity or Judaism, assumes a white Jew to be a Christian. Suggests him to chant “Om Jesus” as a mantra - neither understanding that it is an idea not tenable to a Jew nor with any regard to Sanatana Dharma.

            The majority of today’s gurus do not have depth in other mathas under the Sanatana Dharma umbrella, worse still about other religions. Yet they make audacious teachings like all religion is one. Rajiv Malhotra in this brief talk demolishes the myth – “All Religions are NOT same”. He raises a simple question, if one does not understand other religions; on what grounds can a guru claim the sameness with Sanatana Dharma. This makes even their claim of understanding Hindu Dharma suspect.

            The tradition of PurvaPaksha – studying the other person’s POV is almost non-existent, yet the modern guru comes out with a swinging bat of sameness. The worser issue is their lack of understanding of how Digestion (read more of Rajiv Malhotra’s works) and U-turn works, and how Breaking India forces are operating.

Market focused:
            There are a growing number of Hindu gurus who masquerade themselves as New Age Gurus or Mystics. They suck and digest all Hindu concepts, yet lack the backbone to announce their roots or the source of such traditions, practices, and meditations. They need the hip upscale crowd or their expanding abroad disciple market. They give a twist to even the most time honored traditions to suit their business. Not that such guru is bad person. Many support wonderful humanitarian causes which make them very dear. They are not committed to Sanatana Dharma, yet they like to suck the essence out of it and present the digest to the audience as if it is their own experience. Claiming to be mystic is their argument to why they claim not to be leaning on their source dharma.

            Many gurus establish personality based cults. Even leaders of century old traditions/institutions still get mired in their founder’s personality. While it is wonderful that many have created numerous ashrams, institutions and a reproducible methodology, very rarely we see a leader of the same caliber reappearing from such a school. In majority of the cases, the institution is revolving around the one big person who walked few paces ahead.

            Such cult based, personality oriented gurus tend to center the explanations and interpretations around their over patterns. Obviously the larger idea of Sanatana Dharma is out of the window.

            This is another aspect of the above two. It may arise due to a complex following a particular sect, guru or set of guidelines, which make them feel separated. While any introspecting individual or a real truth seeker will immediately discern that such a differentiation in the mind is a serious sign of immaturity and a danger to swerve away from, it is a tragedy that many Gurus or leaders fail to notice it. The worst part of this duplicity is that the same leaders preach tolerance, accepting different mindset while highlighting their path is superior.

            Ego is also evident when we see break away gurudoms or intense rivalry with competing ideas, even if they are within the umbrella of Sanatana Dharma. We also see this when

Secular bug bites modern Hindu Gurus only:
            We already observed how either due to their limited knowledge or due to their market focus they are oriented towards the sameness message. In any case, such gurus seem to be hastening the dissolution of Sanatana Dharma identity. Many times, they take populist stance on certain time honored practices to suit to their audience, rather than standing firm on dharma.

            Instead of preaching Sanatana Dharma, they suddenly end up being constitutional experts in preaching sameness. We have had one Ramakrishna Paramahamsa who experimented with the different religions and if HE tells from an experiential POV, it makes sense.  We find many Hindu Institutions celebrating Christmas so they can attract foreign audience. What they do not understand, in this cheap gimmick, is the real charitability of Sanatana Dharma’s philosophy. Do we see a church wishing us Deepavali, but nowadays we have many temples wishing Christmas. In US, some temples loan Bible as a part of spiritual library.

Despite this lack of standards, our gurus fail to convince even one non Hindu to think as all religions as Same, yet they keep brainwashing the Hindus to lose their identity and believe in a mythical sameness, which no monotheistic religion will ever agree. Our Gurus must show more dharma nishta (not their own small sect, but to Sanatana Dharma), rather than their efforts to win a bigger following or peddle some merchandise.

            In the past when there was a good ecosystem to sustain different viewpoints to aid the different flavors of spiritual needs, different gurus appeared to provide insights about the Brahman. The different sects of Vedanta, which constitutes the bulk of modern Hinduism, is one among the many. Apart from vedic outlook, other dharmic mathas also existed like sramana(Jainism), baudha(Buddhism). It was customary amongst the intellectuals to not only study other traditions (PurvaPaksha) but also engage in intellectual clashes (UttarPaksha). This also helped the followers to stick to their traditions.

            Over the last millennia, we find enormous influences from the Abrahamic religions and more recently the western hedonism and the motivated Breaking India forces having strong disruptive influences in India. But in today’s context many gurus (we will be forced to use this word even for a person who has not realized the SELF) without understanding the dangers faced by Sanatana Dharma, merely wishes to amplify their sectarian ideas.

            A classic example can be the strong Vaishnavism vs Saivism intellectual clashes, which also resulted in many excesses by their supporting rulers. Today many puritanical scholars and gurus exist who still profess by these petty divisions. The same is true for other non vedic dharmic mathas which try to still settle score with Sanatana Dharma.

            The tragedy and hypocrisy behind this bigotry is that we have vedic mantras, behing chanted in every SandhyaVandana like the one given below, which keeps highlighting the bigger picture:

आकाशात् पतितं तोयं यथा गच्छति सागरम्
सर्व देव नमस्कारः केशवं प्रतिगच्छति

AkAshAt patitam tOyam yathA gacchati sAgaram
sarva dEva namaskArah kEshavam pratigacchati

As rain drops falling from the sky meet their end in the ocean; all the prayers offered to all the Gods reach Keshava (ParaBrahman)

The need of the hour is to look at Sanatana Dharma as a whole; dharmic mathas as a whole and not amplify the diversities that exist within. It is this diversity that gives strength and identity to Sanatana Dharma, unlike monotheistic religions which preach their way or the highway to eternal hell.

Satchitananda’s Prescription:

            Sanatana Dharma is all about the individual, unlike the mass based monotheistic religions.

  •  Can we work more on our inner sadhana? The quality of our Sadhana will drive us towards the right Guru. To get started we have a huge cornucopia of spiritual information in Sanatana Dharma to match our vasanas and gunas.

  •   Can we stop personality worship and follow principles more? Unless one is wedded to a guru the way Narendra was to Ramakrishna Paramahamsa which enabled the transition of an agnostic into Swami Vivekananda or emulate an atheist Balakrishna Menon who came in contact with Swami Sivananda and morphed into a dynamic Swami Chinmayananda, we cannot talk of our Guru Bhakti.

  •  We have identified several categories of flaws where Hindu gurus are cutting the very branch they are seated. Can we be strong enough to confront them or avoid them to say the least?

  • Can we raise our standards and accept all Mahatmas under Sanatana Dharma to be venerable, rather than our favorite cult or sect? Can we be a torch bearer for not just tolerance but also of MUTUAL RESPECT and accommodate the variations with dignity?

  • Can we focus on cultivating good virtues within ourselves and raise our standards, rather than trying to be the Scotland Yard for other’s badness? Despite the critique on our gurus here, the focus must still be on ourselves.

  •  Can we educate ourselves about the trends happening around us? We may not be in the same league like Rajiv Malhotra, but we sure can read his books, listen to his talks to understand the concepts like Digestion, U-turn theory, Dharmic traditions vs Abrahamic ideas, Academic Hinduphobia, the importance of preserving one’s identity.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Girish. Please continue reading the other articles.

  2. Very high thinking and well written. It shows a good grasp of the problems facing Sanatana Dharma today and the way to unite. Satchitanandaji, I think you're probably the best follower of Rajiv Malhotraji.

    1. Thanks for your kind thoughts. I think we have not scratched the surface of our potential yet. Sadhana and Dharma are the guidelines and we all can raise the inner bar.

  3. Very well written. But Sivananda himself tells Hindus that Christ is Lord, God and what not and asks Hindus to worship him. He has huge writings on Christ and asks Hindus to celebrate Christmas. Sivananda put Jesus as Guru alongside Great Gurus, Krishna-Arjuna relation and our Avatars while explaining Guru-Shishya Parampara in his writings. I have confronted many Hindus who keep saying all religions are same and all 'gods' are same and they gave me Sivananda's teachings. Please include him in the list of pseudo-gurus who are digesting Sanatana Dharma into Christianity. Balakrishna Menon became Swami Chinmayananda despite Sivananda not because of Sivananda.

    1. Namasthe. Let me start with your last point. You are wrong. Please try reading a couple of very good biographies on Swami Chinmayananda. Last year for his 100th centenary, even Chinmaya Mission made a movie called THE QUEST, even there it is acknowledged.

      On Swami Sivananda, a leading luminary of our times who produced many many many intellectual and spiritual giants, my pranams to him. He is also one of my gurus.

      You have to understand the way a mahatma like Sivananda views the world. His teachings revolved around Serve, love, give, purify, meditate, realise; Be good, do good, be kind, be compassionate;

      The world view from such an elevated point, no differences appear.

      He is definitely not a pseudo guru. I am sorry you have no idea of his contributions. He has written over 300 books on different topics. Just to put things in perspective. If you wrote a book a month, almost 30 years you have been writing to serve others.

      Sivananda's viewpoint is from compassion and inner spiritual evolution. If you are so inclined, you can take a position like Swami Dayananda Saraswati, who also was an offshoot from this galaxy.

      It was Swami Chinmayananda who founded VHP, in case you were not aware. Do not underestimate the contributions of these great ones.

      The idea is to focus on the fake ones, not make the real ones appear as fake. I did not take names for this reason and this reason only.

      We need more Swami Sivanandas. The question is can you awaken the one asleep inside you?

  4. बहुउत्तमः विचारः महोदय | सर्वेभ्यः प्रेशनीयः इति मन्ये |

  5. Namaste .. I just wonder if you are aware of the contradiction contained in your thesis? On one hand you warn of 'amplifying the diversity' while acknowledging that it is this very 'diversity which gives strength and identity to Sanatana Dharma'.

    Indeed, diversity is a two edge sword. On one hand it allows freedom to explore, to test, and to acknowledge various of ways of advancing towards Brahman. On the other hand, there is no one authority to which one may appeal for a ruling on any issue of advancement.

    Islam faces similar issues. There is no centralised authority like the Papacy to which one may appeal. This has allowed various warlords to enter into unholy alliances with certain Muslims promoting particular, and generally extreme, interpretations of the Quran and Sunna. We are witnessing the result of those alliances as they impact on the rest of the world even as I write.

    There are 'bad', whatever that may mean, gurus just as there are 'bad' schoolteachers and 'bad' motor vehicle mechanics. There is nothing new here. Nor is there anything 'new' about the continuing 'grab for cash' which Westerners dangle in front of the world. It's tempting, to say the least, to 'follow the money'.

    As a Westerner, isolated in a country far from Hindu culture (Australia), I can assure you that the way to Sanantana dharma is strewn with obstacles, geographic and cultural. Then there is the problem of language. I have listened, frustratingly, to Hindu gurus trying to articulate what they mean in English. Generally I give up and turn to my library for sustenance. This is not their fault but demonstrates another hurdle along the way.

    It is understandable therefore that Westerners who can articulate the dharma jump in front of glossy and slick websites promoting their views on the matter. For one, I am grateful for their assistance.

    There are few with the cross cultural skills that Sri Rajiv Malhotra exhibits. I have enthusiastically read his books which have provided essential cultural nuances which otherwise escape translation no matter how skilful the translator. There are no other Westerners and few Hindus, as far as I am aware, apart from the likes of Swami Vivekananda or Sri Aurobindo, who have these skills. The point is, and one of which SRM is fully aware, that for Westerners the field is wide open to abuse.

    This is not a problem of dharma .. it is a problem of ignorance on one hand and desire on the other, the desire to learn, to obtain knowledge. To this effect the only comment I can make is .. what a great problem to have .. the problem of removing ignorance.

    1. Namaste Johnji, I saw your post as new entrant to the SRM forum. Welcome.

      Appreciate your thoughts. My brief response is -

      I would like to merely point of there are two Points of View - Simplespeak - the Subjective one of I, Me, Myself and a divine view. Our Rishis called it as Laukika and Paramarthika.

      You are right in observing that the problem is not of dharma. But the focus on the article is the collateral damage that is happening due to the twisted myopic vision of these gurus.

      I agree again on your final comment. Avidya/Ignorance is the primary enemy not just in Spiritual evolution, but also in following Dharma. Since Dharma always has societal implications and the context here is the Guru's impact (such kind of Gurus) on Sanatana Dharma.

      Based on your comments, I feel that you may love reading some of the older posts as well. Feel free to explore.

  6. Great Sir �� thanks so much for sharing....enlightening. I, myself is a a Jigyasu...inquirer eagerly in search of a Guru.
    Further... I would like to inform that I have previously received a few of your writings in my Gmail inbox but it has stopped coming since quite some time now. Would you please add me... If there is any option so that I may receive directly in my inbox. Though I am able to come here through RM Sirs group but I sometimes miss some mails due to limitations of Gmail app. in my useless windows phone.

    1. Namasthe Mithileshji. Appreciate your interest. There is a Follow by Email option. It is possible that such emails land up in the spam box. There is also a Subscribe to Choice. I can experiment by myself subscribing and seeing if there is any issue.

      Of course, there is also the option of visiting the URL once in a couple of weeks.. (This sounds lame solution.. hehe)

      But thanks for your continued reading and feedback.

  7. A very good article indeed......

    As we all know, we required Gurus at all levels of our Sadhana and may some the Gurus we face initially are half baked. May be for the stage we are in at that time only a half baked will help. But if we continue our Sadhana and become more inward look instead of getting attached to the Guru, we will get the chance to meet another one for the next stage. Our tradition says that once you get to the next level means you should give equal respect to past and present Gurus. And Finally you will find that all the Gurus and like boats who will help you cross the many rivers of Samsara and that finally you reach the Sea (of Samsara). Here no guru is going to help as you have to leave everybody including your body to dive deep into yourself. Only then you will find that you, Guru and God and path are one and the same.

    1. Well said. The amount of help we receive is always proportional to our Sadhana. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa gave this analogy. There are some spiritual leaders who are like a piece of straw floating on water. Ants can go on it, but if a small bird sits it sinks.

      There are some others like a piece of log. Small animals can ride on them.

      Then there are others like Swami Vivekananda, Ramana Maharishi, Swami Sivananda, who are like Ocean liners who ferry thousands of people from one end to the other.

      These gradations are only from the laukika level as we approach only from that side. Great realized Gurus out of their compassion to share keep giving and giving. Thinking about such Mahatmas itself is enough to raise our Sadhana.

      Great Gurus, I am told are always on the look out to aid us, even if they may not be having a sharira.

      This blog itself is a testimonial that seems to be guided by the grace of such great Gurus as I am only a mere penholder who has not given up the status of being a privileged penholder.(Working on it everyday)

      You are very right sskji, the answer lies in our Sadhana.

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  9. This article not only articulates what our Guru jis should be doing be doing but it also creates awareness for the Hindu Dharma practitioners who may be a bit naive with a very good intent and may not know how to put a counter argument or worse how to defend themselves.

    It is my fervent request that all Hindus should safeguard themselves from the vulturous proselytising religions.

    To do this they will have to rely on themselves rather than expecting Bhagwan ji to help them. That will not happen. So please read what Shree Rajiv Malhotra has written and come here on this blog so that you can supplement your views even further.

    The clarion call therefore is, arise and awake and walk on that path which will make you knowledgeable. It is tough but those who are expecting an easy approach as merely wasting their time or worse be-fooling themselves.


  10. I would just add a note under the column EGO. If one(GURU) has ego it clearly shows that he has not progressed at all in his spiritual path. Your articles are always 'to be read'.