India’s Super Rich Gurus

Media Watch

Kul Bhushan recently forwarded for fun a mailer with photos and lifestyles of some of the gurus who live in comfortable luxury in India…

He received some interesting feed-back:

“I have wasted my entire life,” wrote a professor emeritus from the USA.

“Sir, can I change my profession?” asked a CEO of an IT security firm in response.

And an old-time Osho disciple wrote, “Please send a burf bag – and it was these people who were jealous of the Rolls Royces we gifted to Osho, and were a device!”

This is a taste of the spicy comments for this article that went round the mail-forwarding circuit. Obviously, all of them had forgotten’ The Rich Man’s Guru’ who startled the world with wealthy communes, 99 Rolls Royces, designer watches, flamboyant robes and expensive sun shades – but no economic empire there…

One thing is clear that India’s Super Rich Gurus now have amassed massive wealth and property.

Yoga Guru Ramdev has established a mini-city near Haridwar with factories churning out mass production of traditional Indian medicines, toileteries and even groceries! Quite a commercial empire this and competing with global multi-nationals – all from the seed of yoga!

To be fair, some of them have set up schools, colleges, hospitals, old age homes, orphanages, clinics and hospitals for the common and needy people. Hugging saint Amma tops them all.

Sri Sri Ravishankar is a smooth talking guru with a good command of the English language who uses his basic meditation ‘Sudershan Kriya’, a watered-down version of Osho’s Dynamic Meditation.

Sant Shri Asaram Ji Bapu has no problem in quoting Osho extensively in his discourses as he collects followers.

The costumes of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insaan are clearly inspired by Osho.

All of them have enlarged their institutions to spread their spiritual teachings. With their multi-billion empires and some having a rather lavish lifestyle, sitting on golden thrones, why is Osho still dubbed the ‘Rich Man’s Guru’?

Kul Bhushan, Osho News

Here’s the mailer:

Super-Rich Spiritual Gurus of India – Let’s All Become Babas….

These modern-day gurus are not only renowned but they also possess a lot of wealth through NGO’s and private funds. Some prominent ones who have passed away cannot be excluded, such as Satya Sai Baba who died recently and who could count more followers than any other Indian guru, and the financial worth of his spiritual empire is several times larger. Sai Baba’s wealth reportedly was more than Rs 40,000 crore (at present exchange rates, 6,7 billion US$).

Here are 5 super-rich Indian gurus who own vast business empires.

Baba RamdevYoga Guru Baba Ramdev gained popularity through ventures in yoga, alternative medicine and agriculture, as well as his advocacy on Indian political issues. His life is no less than a typical Bollywood movie. He was born in a poor farmer’s family in Haryana and until 15 years ago Ramdev was a struggling man who was often seen on the streets of Haridwar, peddling his bicycle as he went to temples and people’s homes to teach them yajnas. Later, through his knowledge of yoga asanas Baba Ramdev went on to build an enviable Rs 1,100 crore empire. He was also among the first to raise the issue of black money publicly in 2008 and before the assembly elections of 2009 it was during this time he officially announced his wealth of Rs 1,100 crore but, according to tehelka.com, he controls over Rs 11,000 crore. Wealthy Assets: Patanjali Yogpeeth and Divya Yogi Mandir trusts and other branches, Patanjali Ayurved College, Patanjali Chikitsalaya, Yog Gram, Goshala, Patanjali Food and Herbal Park, etc. His empire today consists of over three dozen companies.

Mata AmritanandamayiMata Amritanandamayi is the Hindu spiritual leader and teacher, who is revered as a saint by her followers. Amritanandamayi spontaneously embraces people to comfort them in their sorrow and therefore is also referred to as ‘The Hugging Saint’. She has hugged close to 30 million people to-date; she is widely respected for her humanitarian activities and is probably by far the richest godwoman in the country. Main source of income: Amrita Viswa Vidyapeetham colleges, Amrita Institute of Medical Science (Kochi), Amrita Schools, TV channel. Amrita Schools are located across Kerala where students are charged the same fee as in top-notch private schools. Adding to it are the contributions from her millions of Indian and foreign devotees. Even by modest estimates, the Amritanandamayi Trust, which she presides over, is said to have assets worth over Rs 1,500 crore. Today, her ashram at her native Vallikavu, a small island off Kollam, is a posh five-storey building.

Sri Sri RavishankarSri Sri Ravishankar is a renowned spiritual leader, known worldwide. He is the founder of the very famous Art of Living Foundation that has an estimated 300 million followers in 151 countries who donate millions to this foundation. He was born in Tamil Nadu and took up Vedic studies when he was just six years old and by the age of 17, he had completed his studies in Vedic literature and science according to India Today. Main source of income: Art of Living Centre (Bangalore), Sri Sri Shankar Vidya Mandir Trust, PU College (Bangalore), Sri Sri Centre for Media Studies (Bangalore), Sri Sri University, Art of Living Health & Educational Trust (US), etc. It is estimated that he has built an empire and that it has a total turnover of approximately Rs 1,000 crore that includes his Art of Living (AOL) institutes, pharmacy and health centres, and a hill 40 km from Bangalore he has on lease from the Karnataka government for 99 years.

Asaram BapuSant Shri Asaram Ji Bapu is endearingly known as Bapu among all the godmen and self-proclaimed saints mentioned above. Asaram Bapu is one of the most controversial of them. He is accused of land grabbing in Gujarat and various other cities and is busy settling the string of cases charged against him. There have also been rumors of “sinister activities” at his ashrams, after four children were found dead a couple of months ago, although it turned out that a student had killed them. It was bad publicity for the godman nonetheless. His most popular and well established Ashram Motera in Ahmedabad is said to be built on land acquired illegally. The trust headed by the controversial godman owns more than 350 ashrams in the country and abroad, besides 17,000 Bal Sanskar Kendras. Asaram Bapu’s trust is said to have a turnover of Rs 350 crore according to official announcement (figures may vary) which includes the multi-crore controversial ashram in Delhi’s Ridge area.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim SinghGurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insaan is the current leader of an organisation called Dera Sacha Sauda. Since becoming the head of this sect, he has often been involved in controversy, even having criminal cases filed against him. The Dera Sacha Sauda was established by Shah Mastana Ji from Baluchistan in 1948, as a centre for spiritual learning. Assets: Over 700 acres of agriculture land in Sirsa, a 175-bed hospital in Ganganagar, Rajasthan, gas stations, market complexes and over 250 ashrams across the globe. Although his income isn’t revealed officially, he is considered to be one among the richest gurus. Ram Rahim, the Dera chief, is accused of murder, rape and sexual harassment. The most damaging allegation as yet on Baba Ram Rahim is of a female follower’s letter anonymously sent to the Prime Minister and President which claimed that Baba Ram Rahim had allegedly raped her as well as at least 50 more female followers in the Dera Sacha Sauda premises. This Baba is currently out on bail and is being investigated by the CBI. The trial is on before a special CBI court at Ambala.

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