NGT – Not Good Try Again

What does one do, when they go out of circulation and unnoticed for a long time? Piggy back on to something/someone popular – Exactly what NGT seem to be trying to implement to perfection these days. After their unwarranted and vengeful attempt to defame and derail  World Culture Festival, during which they were exposed by their own Expert Panel with Observations that cannot even be categorised as Amateurish, the recent “Selective” targeting of the Art of Living’s  Temple of Knowledge by the EKW Management Authority (EKWMA) comes in handy for them. Who better to piggy back than world renowned Spiritual Master & Guru of Joy Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji, the founder of Art of Living.

Since I am in the know about some facts and background of this project, thought this should be recorded here. Here we go…

First up, every single legal norms warranted by all concerned regulatory authorities has been complied with by the Vaidic Dharma Sansthan Trust of the Art of Living in respect of the Temple of Knowledge Project  

On Oct 25, 2017, Kolkata NGT, ordered the demolition of the Temple of Knowledge (ToK) – the structure owned by the Vaidic Dharma Sansthan (VDS) Trust by relying upon an order passed by the East ​Kolkata Wetlands Authority on the previous day i.e 24 October 2017, UNILATERALLY without even serving the same to VDS for it to deal with it legally. VDS has come to know of the said order of EKWMA through the Media. Basic premise and process of Natural justice is to afford an opportunity to all parties or atleast keep affected parties informed. Especially since VDS has all records and FACTS to prove that the order of EKWMA’s order is legally Void and Erroneous – which is well known to EKWMA and the NGT – (Was it the reason to go ahead and issue the order almost surreptitiously?)

It is pertinent to note here that the plot of the Trust has been categorised under the schedule to the East Kolkata Wetlands (Conservation and Preservation) Act 2006, as one in which Rural and Urban Settlement was allowed. The structure of the Trust was therefore perfectly legal and valid.

A cursory drive past would reveal existence of more than a thousand private and ​commercial projects, schools, colleges in the wetland area. Why is it that a Not for Profit Charitable ToK, VDS & Art of Living being singled out – Vendetta?

Let it be known that when the construction of the ‘Temple for Knowledge’ began, a group of volunteers started it based on the sanction plan given to VDS by the donor. The East ​Kolkata Wetlands Management Authority was not even functional then. VDS had obtained all required permissions from regulatory departments.

It is in this context that Selectively ToK building which is for the public good been ordered to be razed down. I hope VDS trust won’t let itself to be bullied by these kind of over-reach and use of discretionary powers and move higher court against this arbitrary order of EKWMA and NGT.

Some pictures of permanent structures existing in the same area where the Trust has been singled out.

View of Wetlands and Structures on it
Structures that has been spared
A view from the Under Construction ToK
Temple of Knowledge Building

NOTE: This rebuttal could have well been provided to the Media who had published the report, but it would be sending more hits to their portal which I don’t wish to do. A responsible media would have first sought Art of Living/VDS Trust’s reaction before they went to town with a one sided reportage.

Additional Reading: This is by no means an attempt to say Two wrongs don’t make a right. But to put things in perspective – Witch hunting (for reasons that is anyone’s guess) a legally cleared and permitted Not-For-Profit Organisation while commercial activities goes unchecked.

  1. In a meeting on July 14, the first of the reconstituted authority chaired by Chatterjee, the newly constituted EKWMA committee (this committee was created by the Government just to bull doze decisions on the Authority) made a series of decisions which, environmentalists allege, have formalised encroachment within the wetlands. This sitting cleared several Government Project (In-Principle approvals).A five kilometre flyover which will see 146 piers constructed within eight water bodies in the core of the Ramsar site is not a danger? Also note this has come post establishment of the authority unlike ToK which was much before.  Click on the picture below for details.

    Wastewater is released into the Kolkata wetlands at the Bantala Lock Gate
  2. A 5 km long flyover over the wetland – WB Government cared two hoots to the concerns raised.
  3. Clearance for dumping of City”s Solid waste (yes! You read it right) – Though this has been resisted, Minister Chatterjee has been very vocal with this demand.
  4. Two roads that would definitely damage and adverserly affect the Wetlands.
  5. This committee has allowed the Meghnath Saha Institute of Technology to procure land outside the wetland area and turn it into a water body (this was expressly banned by the authority and now overturned by this Committee)
  6. As evident from the pictures above, huge skyscrapers are also being permitted brazenly and the Authority nor the NGT seem to be bothered.
  7. There are reports that there is rampant and illegal sale of Wetlands (and on August 15th 2017, there was even violence between two parties including firing due to differences in sharing the spoils)

 

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Presstitutes-Lynchmobs of Frenzier Kind

Sharing a thought provoking piece by friend B Kalyan (Unedited Version, except for Typesetting for Emphasis and hyperlinking)

Media today Picture Courtesy- http://www.chicagonow.com/

A spiritual master through guidance, wisdom and love reveals the Knowledge of the self, making their life as a message of humanity, service and unconditional love. The master exemplifies the impossible, inspiring even an ordinary student/disciple to grow to their full potential.

At one end of the spectrum, we have masters who are either born enlightened or have become enlightened after years of dedicated practice. India has been blessed with Spiritual masters like Adi ShankarachrayaBabaji, Swami Vivekananda, Paramhansa Yogananda and more recently, Neem Karoli baba, Maharishi Maheish Yogi, Anandamayi Ma, Karunamayi, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to name a few.  Leading by example they have spread the message of peace, unconditional love and service, imparting the timeless wisdom not only in India but also all over the world. 

At the other end we have so-called religious masters like Nityananda Swami, Narayan Sai and more recently Gurmeet Ram Rahim who either have come to the seat of knowledge due to inheritance or pure greed. The Dera Sacha Sauda incident and the fall from grace of its leader who committed a heinous crime was borne out of such a situation. However, this unfortunate incident is an aberration.

In country with thousands of Gurus with several of them doing yeomen service, it would be gross to paint them all with the same brush. In an age of intense media coverage and scrutiny, this opportunity was seized upon to drive their biased, prejudiced and self-serving agendas. Based on specious logic, contorted and misrepresented facts, many of these have been cloaked in apparently ‘respectable’ and ‘intellectual’ explanations and interpretations of happenings.

One spiritual master who has had to face unfounded accusations is founder of the Art of Living; Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. He has been at the receiving end of accusations. The sheer stature that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has a worldwide following ensures attention. He is one of the most respected peace ambassador honored by different countries including USA, Canada, Russia, Columbia, Argentina, for his service to bring peace and harmony in the world. 

It is unfortunate author  Sanjay Shrivastava has used the Dera Sacha Sauda incident to attack Hindu gurus, playing with the minds of vulnerable disciples. In his article he writes, there is a “differentiated market” for Gurus driven by different strata of society. He goes on to add, and I quote “What is important to remember is that each following expresses mob frenzy – and its destructive force – in different ways”.  That avers that each guru has created a mob that can unleash frenzied mayhem at will. As an illustration he picks on the Art of Living and says “mobilization of collective opinion by Art of Living followers against the findings of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) regarding the damage caused by Art of Living’s “World Culture Festival” to the Yamuna floodplain in Delhi in March 2016 is, really, another form of mob action”.

I am completely dumbfounded and non-pulsed. Let us try to decipher the line of thought for a moment along with related facts.

First, there apparently was mobilization of collective opinion!! Pray, whose “collective opinion” is being referred to? The author has glibly begun his article with the conclusion “The charisma of the guru (usually a male) lies in the fact that he is able to convince his followers that his own acts are not anti-social but a-social”. Their opinion obviously need not be mobilized. Then it can only refer to the general public. People are therefore ill informed, gullible, and bereft of reasoning and logic. That does not paint a very complimentary picture of the so-called ‘hoi polloi’, does it?

Next, Sanjay has gone on to suggest that the NGT was weighed down by pressure of public opinion. In other words, NGT, a court of law, headed by a judge from Supreme Court decides matters based on public opinion rather than facts presented before it!! This seems to betray an utter contempt of the institution, should it not act in a manner aligned to thoughts and ideas of the author.  He seems to have left out a fact that Art of Living has adhered strictly the judicial court route. Complete scientific evidence of no damage was submitted to the court whereas the NGT committee members had no proof to sustain their claims of damage to the grounds where the world cultural festival was held. 

And then comes the final burst. Since public memory is assumed to be notoriously short and frail. So “streets occupied by the Art of Living followers – and the damage caused to public property” are different from recent incidents yet similar!!! Which street Art of Living followers occupied and which public property was damagedNeedless to say Sanjay does not seem too keen to mention any of those details. 

Isn’t this intellectuals mob frenzy of worse kind? Creating  things that do not exist and damaging reputation beyond repair!  

PALS and Art of Living – Part 2

The context for part 2  set here => PALS and Art of Living – Part 1

Paid-Media & Liberals (I call them PALs in the rest of this piece) continue their attack on Art of Living and Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. As it turns out each time, unfailingly they were exposed and had to eat their socks which reminds me of this scene from a popular Indian Movie Gambler – Johnny Level type of grenade attack

Reasons for this sudden attention to everything that Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar & Art of Living does (of course, thank God that they do only Good) is not far to seek. The attacks ramped up especially after run away success of World Culture Festival 2016 in New Delhi where every leader worth his/her salt took part (I repeat, those worth their salt). There were incessant attacks from all quarters to derail this & to their utter dismay world not only stood up and took note, they handed out invites and offers to host the next one in their country. This was terribly indigestible for all those PALs  who worked day in and out to stop the event at any cost. It bruised their ego and also choked their funds. Sadly even the nature conspired to deny them their sadistic pleasure. Rain that seem to be pouring turns into a rainbow 30 minutes before the inauguration by Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi While PAL focussed on the dirty slush on Yamuna banks, positively inclined folks enjoyed the now what is famously known as the WCF Rainbow.

WCF-Rainbow-01

My two penny analysis (yeah! tt can be written off as worth just that, but nevertheless I record my reasons here). As clear, it is far more deeper, not just the success of World Culture Festival, it is their attempt to scuttle Gurudev’s work as you will discover in this piece.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar still continues to be seen (perception among followers and opponents alike) as retaining His image as Hindu Spiritual leader and a Sadguru. He never diluted what has been the traditions and values of Sanatana Dharma, just to be seen as a liberal. He has taken the message of Sanatana Dharma across the world. He has established himself as one of the most respected Indian Spiritual Leader amongst the World leaders, who have reached out to Him for various interventions. Never after Swami Vivekananda did we have an Indian Guru who could get citizens of all belief, region & culture to voluntary participate in our Dharmic practices. To the utter dismay of PALs, Art of Living not only popularized all traditional rituals as per our scriptures but also ensured that people felt proud to be a part of such yagnas. Not only people stopped falling prey to the Vatican and Western agenda through PALs to negative portrayal of our traditions or making everyone look down upon our traditions and culture, today a sense of pride was instilled in being part of it.

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It is pertinent to reproduce a part of my earlier piece arguing that  Macaulay’s speech is a hoax,  But I agree to whatever he is supposed to have said: Though Britishers gave up on that, our internal enemies for their own sinister purposes ensured that attempt was always on to undermine power and values of our Culture. Relevant part is reproduced here

I also agree with what “Macaulay is supposed to have said in the British Parliament”, that India’s richness and strength is its culture, and going by what JNU educated Historians are doing to the nation since independence, it also validates the strategy of how to break the backbone of the nation.

This is against the grain of what our PALs have come to believe. And Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is one of the formidable obstacle to what they want Indians to believe – That anything Indian in to be looked down upon. Considering the reach of Art of Living it is a common place to find European Christians or African Muslims tying the proverbial knot in the Vedic way.

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What evangelists used to practice – embed themselves into local populace, embrace local customs and slowly indoctrinate local population into believing that our Gods are worthless and theirs is the only god. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar not only is seen as a challenger to this, but also someone who effortlessly draws people from other faith to appreciate, participate and derive benefits from our practices. I have seen many foreigners who have undergone Upanayana and practice Sandhya Vandanam more diligently than Indians. This is something that Vatican and their agents in the Western world are unable to counter in the open. A surreptitious campaign with support of PALs is thus launched against Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of late to silence Him and stop Him in His tracks – but alas! Satyameva Jayate (Truth alone Triumphs) – He marches on taking with single minded goal of “Bringing smiles to everyone’s face”

Another aspect is loss of the Youth to the Congress and Communists – A cursory glance at the followers of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Art of Living indicates that students and youth across the world form a major chunk. Communists and Congress attracted youth with a negative agenda – agenda of obstruction, rebellion and destruction. Unless we are Anti-India there is no proverbial light at the end of tunnel. Youth that were brought up on a dose of negativity continued in the same steam throughout their lives.

yesadvance41

Well it was only until Art of Living came along.  A positive narrative was established. Youth suddenly found the values in Indian values, It attracted students from Premier Institutions like IIT, IIM and many others who later on became Art of Living’s and Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s ambassadors. This was bad news for PALs. Their foot soldiers who at the drop of the hat were provoked into going on strike, were today peacefully meditating, performing well academically. PAL Backers started questioning on return on investments – Gainfully employed, positively oriented youth means that there are no disruption on progressive work embarked in the country. From obstructionists they became facilitators, torch bearers of progress. They took pride in being natives. In a short span, the youth membership of YES crossed a lakh and it is growing exponentially. For the Communist cottage industry, their production lines got choked. There were no youth today to indulge in violence and strike or hartals. PAL backers saw no benefits in investing in them. So PALs went after Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and caught on anything and everything – Barring increasing His popularity – nothing changed. It is work as usual for Art of Living.

Art of Living attracts followers from all religions, regions and genders. All the spiritual practices and processes in the Ashram or in the courses offered by Art of Living are steeped in Indian culture and traditions – Positive assertion of the values that it adds to one life is the emphasis that draws millions of people everyday into this movement, much the river valley based civilization that we belong to. Contrast this with desert originated cults where negativity or lacks are highlighted to draw people to a movement. What this means to the Politics of a nation? While most in the majority community in India always voted irrespective of the candidates Religion, the minorities always voted en bloc on the basis of what their religious leaders decided. For a particular party, community or candidate from their own religion. This concept promoted by PALs explains disproportionate numbers in our Parliament.

Art of Living removed that line of Religious divide in Politics since this One World Family has people from all beliefs. They realized experientially that the divide was more a requirement of Selfish Politicians and they don’t benefit anyone at all. They went for Candidates based on merit. A basic research into Election results of 2014 especially in poor and poverty struck pockets of UP which has history of electing only Muslim candidates since independence suddenly elects a Hindu candidate. They realized that even 60 years did not change their status from being BPL card holders. What is different in these constituencies? Art of Living memberships and volunteers who did a lot of good work, produced changes that mattered. Villagers now did not bother about the diktats of their religious leaders and voted instead for those who thought will work for them. Uttar Pradesh results is a manifestation of such an approach. Personally, I also feel May 2014 was a result of emerging sense of pride and Indian Cultural renaissance, contributed in no small measures by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji and other Spiritual leaders

Expect more such attacks and attention on Hindu Spiritual Leaders. PALs are not going to let this slip away from them easily. But we are harder nuts to crack. We are here to stay. We will give better than what we get. We are on the side of TRUTH!

Jai Gurudev!