Free hit counter


By continuing your visit to this site, you accept the use of cookies. These ensure the smooth running of our services. Learn more.


When idolatry makes you blind...

Today, Monday August 28, most of Gurgaon schools are closed. Not because of a heat wave, of heavy rain, of a pollution peak, or of an election, not even because it’s time for the annual bath of the elephant-headed God. No. It’s because a crazy fanatic, self-proclaimed God, is going on trial for rape. So why close the schools? Because his fans are protesting mind you! He was found guilty on Friday of two rapes – and the riots following the news have caused the death of 30 to 40 people – and he is expecting his sentence today.

India,gurus,worshipping,yoga,hinduism,baba ramdev,amma,controversies,rapes,sri sri ravi shankar,bapuji,modi,PatanjaliThis 50 year old man, Ram Rahim, is the head of a sect, Dera Sacha Sauda, based in Haryana and especially present in the North (Haryana, Punjab and Delhi) – it claims to have 60 million followers. People have been blaming him for his poor sense of style and love of jewels which earned him the nickname of “guru of bling”. But most importantly, in addition to dozens of rapes, he might be responsible for the assassination of a journalist who investigated it in 2002, and the castration of 400 of his advisers. On the other hand, his sect runs hospitals and schools, and takes care of supporting his fans living in poverty. Which perhaps explains why even his female groupies are still defending him.

This country is a little bit crazy!

But you could argue that Madona also has fans who idolize her and would be ready to die for her, so why not worship big fat hairy guys??

Here are some other living gurus who are superstars in India but also outside:

India,gurus,worshipping,yoga,hinduism,baba ramdev,amma,controversies,rapes,sri sri ravi shankar,bapuji,modi,PatanjaliBaba Ramdev – A yoga master who launched the brand of so-called Ayurvedic consumer products Patanjali (successfully marketed as cheap but quality stuff), an empire that today has a turnover of more than $1.6 billion.

India,gurus,worshipping,yoga,hinduism,baba ramdev,amma,controversies,rapes,sri sri ravi shankar,bapuji,modi,PatanjaliAmma (‘mother’) or Mata Amritanandamayi The Saint who heals people by hugging them. Make love not war – even though her hugs are nothing sexual. Her fortune is estimated at close to $3 billion (see NYTimes article).

India,gurus,worshipping,yoga,hinduism,baba ramdev,amma,controversies,rapes,sri sri ravi shankar,bapuji,modi,PatanjaliSri Sri Ravi Shankar (not to be confused with the musician) Known for his philosophy of Art of Living, he is believed to have 300 million followers in 151 countries. His fortune is estimated at nearly $2 billion.

India,gurus,worshipping,yoga,hinduism,baba ramdev,amma,controversies,rapes,sri sri ravi shankar,bapuji,modi,PatanjaliBapuji or Asaram Bapu I had actually never heard of him before (and neither had I head of Ram Rahim) but apparently he is one of the wealthiest, and controversial gurus in India. He has been in jail since 2013 for rape, still awaiting trial.

India,gurus,worshipping,yoga,hinduism,baba ramdev,amma,controversies,rapes,sri sri ravi shankar,bapuji,modi,PatanjaliSathya Sai Baba The guru to the supposedly magical powers died in 2011. He was also accused of rape to several times, without having ever been judged.

It should therefore be noted that: Hinduism is a fertile ground for the worship of gurus; most of them also have trouble with sexuality – possibly due to the fact that they often advocate celibacy, and are in fact unable to resist their urges (but it will be the subject of another article); and the Prime Minister, Modi, often scratches their backs.


Because yoga is much better when wearing only underwears...


At the Bagel Shop, Bandra, Mumbai


Yoga: between tradition and modernity

But my story with prenatal yoga did not stop there (see previous post)...

After two months of singing Om, putting my legs up on the wall, bouncing on my pregnancy ball, taking the Warrior position, and this three times a week, my dear teacher suddenly increased her fare by more than 50%. And she did not appreciate when I mentioned, when the car came back from the garage, how much it cost me and what I was I could expect from her.

From the beginning I made it clear that I would prefer if we kept the yoga lessons and the car thing separate. For her, two trial classes and a rebate on the 12 following sessions was enough of a compensation.

None of this was very important of course. But it may be enough to kill the vibe! And especially when you do yoga and relaxation it’s not cool...

So I resumed my prenatal yoga teacher search thinking I would do a 'benchmark' (see what other teachers out there have to offer and at what cost) and then decide what to do. An Indian woman of my ‘Mumbai mums’ Whatsap Group (there is no end to progress) suggested a name. Immediately I contacted her and signed for a trial class!

That’s how I met S., a woman in her forties, dressed with a salwar-kameez, quite fat, and without a yoga mat (and I am not talking about music). The contrast was striking: my current teacher is young and thin (which the partners of my new-mother friends who follow her classes do not really like: what can she possibly know of pregnancy?), model and bollywood actress during her free time. But let's not be judgmental, traditional can be good!

We therefore started by the usual questions: where am I from, what do I do, what does my husband do (?), for how long have we been married (??), where did he study (???). Huh?? Are these questions really necessary for a yoga class?

Then we started the exercises. I could have been in a sketch of Coluche (a French humorist):

“Up, down, up, down...

So now we'll move to the other eyelid.”

Rising up the left arm, rotation of the right foot. The whole time she is staring at me with a weird smile. I'd bet that she does not meet foreigners every day...

Three breaths through the nose and S. started blabbing again. Out of the blue, she went into a monologue about breast-feeding and without warning asked me: “Are your nipples out?” Luckily I was sitting...

“No. Because it is absolutely necessary that you breast-feed. And if your nipples are not out, you must pull them out every night and put a drop of oil if it hurts. Ask your gynec*.” And she did not stop there: “When you will be breast-feeding and tired, do not lie down on the side, you could smother your baby if you fall asleep.”

I could have end the class right there. To her dismay, I did not book for 12 classes, nor promise to continue... I had managed for 7 months to avoid awful stories on pregnancy and the rest, and it is not a yoga teacher who is going to change that! Especially if she doesn’t do what I paid her for: namely a yoga class!

It was therefore with great pleasure that I did my next class with my old young yoga teacher and her 'westernized' methods! Let's not 50 euros get in the way! I returned happily to my pregnancy ball and Kegel exercises (I like that, vaginal muscle contraction exercises, it reminds me an episod of Sex and the City I watched when I was around 15 (see this site)) that probably did not exist in S.’s century...

* PS: Seen with the gynec: pinching the nipples may actually cause contractions: the body understands the signal of breastfeeding, and since it's easier if the baby is out, it starts getting ready for the expulsion...

NB: We have a "traditional" (fat, salwar-kameez, no yoga mat, no music) teacher in office and she is excellent... And my first ashtanga teacher, very “modern” (slim, beautiful, active in music), did not teach me anything but positions (no explanations). So I'm not proving anything here, just sharing a story!!

1 2 3 4 5 Next