The following is the full text of a press release issued by the Art of Living bureau of communication in response to the charges of ownership of land held by “India’s future Nobel laureate“, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
At a young age just after his graduation, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar started receiving invitations from different parts of the world to give lectures on vedic knowledge. He traveled to universities in Europe where he interacted with many scholars and professors.
On one such occasion, a German university invited guruji to their library that housed volumes of Sanskrit manuscripts and sought his help to decode them. Guruji decided to get Sanskrit scholars from India for this work. On returning to India, he searched extensively for Sanskrit pundits but found a big gap between orthodox Sanskrit pundits and those with a scientific outlook.
To bridge this gap, guruji formed a committee comprising well known Sanskrit scholars and respected members of society such as Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, former Chief Justice of India Justice P.N. Bhagwati, chief secretary Narasimha Rao and N. Lakshman Rau (former administrator, Bangalore city municipal corporation) with the sole intention of reviving the science and knowledge of the Vedas.
This was the basis on which a few prominent citizens of Karnataka along with guruji’s father, Sri R.S.V. Ratnam established Ved Vignan Maha Vidya Peeth (VVMVP) in 1981 to take guruji’s vision forward.
In 1985, VVMVP applied for 100 acres of fertile land close to a forest on Bannnerghatta Road to build a vedic academy. R. Gundu Rao, the chief minister of Karnataka at the time, agreed to allot the land. In the couple of years that followed, it transpired that the land to be given to us had been given to Islamia Institute. The Chief Minister then gave alternative land to VVMVP off Kanakapura road.
This was 60 acres of barren land covered with rocks where nothing grew.
There was not a single tree!
The same barren land where not even grass or weed would grow has now been transformed into a beautiful ashram with trees and gardens where tens of thousands of people from all over the world come and find joy and peace in their lives.
Although it was such arid land, VVMVP agreed to take it on lease for a period of thirty years. Even though the full amount was paid to the government at the time of the purchase, VVMVP had to wait an additional two years to take possession of it.
By this time, locals had begun encroaching upon the land. When the officials gave VVMVP permission to take possession of the land, only 24 acres was available of the 60 acres, as villagers who had settled on the land had usurped the rest.
The land authorities were on the verge of removing the settlers when guruji intervened and said that VVMVP would take only 24 acres and allow the villagers to remain where they were. The villagers who had feared forcible evacuation were furthermore taken by surprise when guruji instructed his people to dig the first bore-well in the land and supply water to all the huts around.
Guruji not only prevented the evacuation and demolition from taking place, he allowed them to then legally own the land, which they had illegally occupied!
Subsequently, VVMVP approached the government to give the remaining land due to it somewhere else. It was in the mid-1990s that the government allotted 19.5 acres on the opposite side of where the ashram now stands. This was also a barren hill.
At present VVMVP still does not have all of 60 acres of land, which was allotted to it in the mid-1980s and is still awaiting an additional 16.5 acres.
Since there was no school in the vicinity, guruji started a rural school for all the children from neighbouring villages, and built a water tank for the villagers. This school provides free education to children until class 10. As of now, more than 2,000 children are studying in the school.
It was guruji’s wish that kutcha huts in neighbouring villages be transformed to a simple proper house with toilets and the ashram set about putting this in motion. Udipalya village was the first village to be adopted by the Art of Living to implement its various service projects.
Now, Art of Living volunteers have worked in thousands of villages in India and in many under-developed and developing countries. The ashram’s activities have given a boost to the local economy. However, guruji often says that this is but a drop in the ocean and there is much to be done.
Since some malefactors have come up with stories that the Art of Living ashram has grabbed land from poor people the foundation felt compelled to present the truth behind each piece of land possessed by VVMVP. It was guruji who helped the villagers get land in their name.
Then VVMVP bought another 8 acres next to the lake near the ashram. This land was purchased from people around the lake, which was all set to be used for a poultry farm.
Karnataka state financial corporation auctioned another piece of land in the north of the ashram. It was auctioned twice and our bid was accepted. Gopal Krishna and Arti Krishna put lot of pressure and challenged this transaction in court. Her appeal was dismissed in the High court and then by the Supreme Court.
In 2005, preparations for the silver jubilee celebrations of the Art of Living were on. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over India and the world were expected in Bangalore and at the ashram for the event. In light of this the Art of Living purchased fourteen acres of land from a person named Vijay.
All the land documents were verified, and a notice was issued in the newspapers calling for any objections. After waiting for six months for any response, the land was bought from him at market price. After we took legal possession of land, a gentleman called Paul challenged the sale claiming that Vijay’s father was his business partner and owed him money.
‘Agni‘ Sridhar, a don turned tabloid owner/publisher with a criminal background has suddenly worn the garb of a messiah of the Dalits! He recently alleged that the ashram had grabbed the land of the aforementioned Vijay, a dalit, who as it turns out is a Brahmin.
Paul coming on TV and saying that ashram has grabbed his land is baseless! We had even requested Vijay and Paul to settle their grievances amicably. We will never agree to any unfair practices and we will follow the verdict of the court.
Where is the question of land grabbing? We have always bought land at the current market value after checking all the legalities.
Land laws in Karnataka are stringent and it takes a lot of time for the deal to become legal. By the time land is registered, years pass and prices soar high. After the deal is made, by the time you actually get possession, sometimes you pay ten times more. Nevertheless we have always paid the correct value for the land. Often we have lost land because we did not wish indulge in bribery.
In recent years, when more people began coming to the ashram, more accommodation and facilities were required. Over the years VVMVP has acquired an additional:
22 acres of land from Kashinath
8 acres from Colonel Sobti
16 acres from Madhusoodan Baliga
13 acres from Shiva Kumar
15 acres from various farmers
Currently, we are in the process of acquiring few acres more of land for the ayurveda hospital and educational institutions.
The organization’s growth has been an up-hill task, which has been successfully undertaken and is a shining example of how one can grow despite the institutionalized impediments that exist. One need not succumb to corruption and bribery in order to grow with haste.
We have led by example.
For further details on the same, contact Prasanna Prabhu (9886819956); Prasad (9980366997); Karthik Krishna (9686850711)
Photograph: courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Also read: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar threatens to sue Agni Sridhar
When a newspaper recites the Gita to a godman
CHURUMURI POLL: Target Sri Sri Ravi Shankar?
The the great great Sri Sri NGO NGO scam scam
what is ravi shanker crib here…??
He was alloted 60 acres of land in 1985 for lease period of 30 years(just 5 more years to go). He voluntary allowed villagers to use some of the land, fine and good.
guruji intervened and said that VVMVP would take only 24 acres and allow the villagers to remain where they were
AFTER DOING PUNYA
“VVMVP approached the government to give the remaining land due to it somewhere else”
Big WTF, if you voluntary given the land for the poor villagers, where is the “due”?? Still govt gave you another 24acres!!!!
That is not enough, still expecting loot mar raj of yeddi will provide your “due??
“..and is still awaiting an additional 16.5 acres.
In all this, am lost where Muslims came????
What has the title got to do with the article? What has it go to do with muslims, dalits and brahmins. Are you trying to give a communal/caste color. This entry was posted under Hindutva, Moditva. Vow what a connection? Kudos Churumuri, you guys are brilliant. You should be given the next Indira Gandhi award for National Integration (after all you share same mindset as Ram Puniyani and Teesta Setalvad)
As Guruji claims every things is transparent and above board, why can’t one see the account of this charitable association? The web site of AOL has information on various topics, but not on the basic subject dealing with fiance. An institution which is trying to its bona fides should have given information on finance.
Excellent history of land acquisition by the Sage. Now what other parts in and around Bangalore are up for inclusion in the Guruji’s real estate?
The cheat sheet begins with some reference to creating a hoaky, east-west blend of and Vijnaana. How far has the reverend come with regard to accoplishing this goal?
Sri Sri cannot bear to see squatters suffer. If I knew how to go about it, I would park my rear in some corner of his extensive land holdings right away. Landless, I would make an excellent squatter.
Is Paul the Brahmin that the caption refers to?
SRI SRI … has commercialised Hinduism like a Soap Opera. He thinks it is his personal property.
Now he is trying to cultivate PAN Hinduism by blaming muslim, dalit and christians.
Athiests, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Jains , Buddhist must unite and sue this hypocrite.
It is time he stops POP Hinduism.
i dont understand the title of this piece but i know someone who’s been gently threatened to give up his farm ….
This whole line of explanation misses the point. VVMVP was granted land on lease by the Govt. for the purpose of teaching and studying Veda. Not for establishing a cult of his own.
By modifying the charter of VVMVP and making it AOL foundation, which doesn’t teach or study Veda, they have lost the right to the land granted by the govt. for a particular social good.
Govt. shouldn’t renew the lease and take back any land it has given VVMVP as it no longer exists with the original charter.
Churumuri guys stink! The stench is horrendously dangerous!!!
It is generally difficult and incorrect to access a person’s present just from his past activities .
Times change and so do people .
( So called ) Dons can become saints and social workers in turn dons / corrupt.
Land can be just one such issue – there could be many others under the carpet.
Hence the requirement of the day is a detached assessment of the authenticity / genuineness of such so called Godmen .
Having read the above , it wouldn’t be wrong to state that we have complete compassion for the AOL devotees / employees working full time for Mr. Ravi Shankar as they would have to get back in the market looking for jobs ( if he is proved corrupt ) after years of income from the Art of living Foundation.
But we urge all to work in interest of humanity and not against it for ones personal gain.
Now here’s a nice bunch of armchair analysts passing judgement on something most of us know nearly nothing about and are biased one way or the other.
Ramakrishna Hegde was Chief Minister in 1985. Not R Gundu Rao!
Mr. Agni Sridhar’s accusation is baseless and also he has no right to talk about an organization like AOL. He has prove himself uncultured when he asked Sri Sri Vishweshateerta Swami of Pejavar Mutt to offer Gobi Manchurian and Pizza to Lord Krishna in Udupi in a debate program organized by a regional channel.
Agni Sridhar is not a Ex-Don as mentioned in the TOI, he was an associate working and earning from a don like a Hyena stealing food from a Lion. It was his fortune that he escaped when some one had tried to put a bullet into is head. It is high time now some one put sense into his head.
The spokesperson of AOL is on record on national TV. His words “to learn spiritualism you need to shell out money, just like you need money to study Enginering or Medicine.”
So, it is business. not anything else being doine at AOL.
” i know someone who’s been gently threatened to give up his farm”
Can you expand on this a little? Sounds interesting.
So called “AGNI” has no moral right to talk about another cheat like s.s.r.
As earlier i mentioned its not AOL its COL(COMMERCE OF LIVING),now its being endorsed by its spokesperson.TOI has defamed AGNI by calling him
ex don,he is just small time criminal and an extortionist,who always want to be in the limelight for one or the other reason.
the 60 acres promised to guruji went to the muslims…that’s where they come in. No problem there though.
If you have any grouse against any of these holy people, especially that they have grabbed the land from the poor, or grabbed from legit owners through threats, and if you have any evidence, please bring it out, instead of publishing pointless pieces with misleading, and may I say mischievous, headlines.
The title of the post is misleading. What is the relation of Ravi business with dalit, muslim, bramhin etc.
Its all about money matters and business of Ravi Shankar in the name of religion, service, spirituality etc. It should be exposed.
>” i know someone who’s been gently threatened to give up his farm”
Don’t be under any illusion about SSRS or AOL. They are crooks of a different kind. I was associated with a computer animation specialist. He had done some stuff for AOL, and they refused to pay him, instead invited him to an AOL course free of charge (sort of barter)!! He followed up quite a few times with them and they asked him with incredulity – You want money for doing work for SSRS??!!!
This guy is born chritian, married to a hindu, but an atheist. He is supposed to care who SSRS is??!!
He never got paid. This was in early 2000s, the amount was little over 20,000/- But, it isn’t about money – it is about the mentality of these folks.
>Now here’s a nice bunch of armchair analysts passing judgement
And you are sitting an armless chair?? ;-)
Firstly, i too agree that the title is misleading.
It is not about which religion or caste one belongs to- it is about ethics. That’s all. I’d rather believe a person who is honest but not of my religion than someone who is my caste and is a dishonest person.
I recall, in one art of living satsang, the guru openly asked people to donate their land. I was a bit shocked at this, but at that time, I merely thought that he was being open about wanting people to do ‘seva’ by donating land and money.
Strangely, when a simple local seva was performed (giving alms to the poor etc) no one at the ashram bats an eyelid. When I approached the ashram to help with a clothes drive during the floods that affected North Karnataka, no one, not one senior teacher pointed me to the actual help desk in the ashram. So much for trauma relief. Maybe there’s so much control that teachers can’t lift a finger without permission.
The women’s conference is a rip-off- there may be a few honest hard-working dedicated women in the conference, but most of them are the rich and famous who walk the ramp, er, I mean, dais. Infighting, chaos, confusion are all there during such seminars.
I dont know what seva projects are really being followed up and who follows up on them- dont want to comment on that. But my years of personal association showed the org’s underbelly that is filled with many shallow, egocentric power mongering devotees.
I hope the truth comes out. Whatever it is. If my thoughts and feelings stand corrected, that’s fine too.
If what DP Satish says is correct, then AOL guys are wrong!
Aaargh! You just want to drive traffic to ur website, don’t u churmuri?
The title is misleading – what has the article got to do with Dalits/Moslems or anyone else?
It is all about u trying to get attention….poor u, maybe ur mom did not hug u enough as a child.
A true challenge to this harbinger of peace $$Rs .who can resolve conflicts of nations and races.
convert terrorist and naxals but when it comes to their own issues nothing works.
what amazes me is AOL was willing to join hands with Agni initially according to their own report.
if not for this land deal issue we would have been treated for news that $$Rs reformed the well known extortionist Agni Shridhar.
They sure have job for him in their organisation as they intend to acquire more land.
– Is this leased land? If so when does lease end?
– Have Ravishankar and his folks used the land for different purpose than what they proposed while getting the lease?
If answer to above is both no – then their whole big press release is one big exercise in hoodwinking.
If it is indeed leased land which was not used for original purpose it was given, it is no wonder ex-criminal like Agni Sridhar is behind them for his share of grab.
This press release is useless if this basic fact is not addressed. As Harkol says, the government should not renew lease and hold AOL responsible for any squatters allowed.
The other day I happen to listen to his live talk over TV and he was full of advice to all, asking people to live a simple life, but was seen to be getting out of an AC car. It is easy to preach than practice.
The key issue is massive land embezzlement, black money and corruption.
My family had an 8 acre coconut and sapota farm in Blr. After sustained pressure and threats from the underworld (shockingly with proactive blessing’s of the local BJP MLA), we had to finally give in to the developers (like all real estate developers in Blr today they too were Reddy’s originally from Andhra and not Kannadigas). The money pots a.k.a developers converted the farm into a BDA approved layout in no time after paying crores in bribes to all concerned, including the head of BDA.
Today we own a small fraction of the original farm as BDA sites while the developers have disappeared into thin air after disposing all ‘their sites’ and getting massive ROI apart from conveniently converting black money into white.
To those who are unaware, this is what is happening to the once upon a time ‘Green Bangalore’.
Name the top politicians from any party and they all have acquired obscene amounts of precious land in and around Bangalore. No wonder some of Yedii’s trusted ministers like Ashok, Khatta Subramanya Naidu apart from cong-I goons like D.K. Shivakumar, liquor baron DK Adikeshavulu, poor farmer’s son HD Kumaraswamy are all today among the top real-estate developers in Bangalore!
Next time you see another new Business Park occupied by MNC’s like Cisco or Intel (on super premium land forcibly acquired at peanuts from farmers or the govt, under a pseudo joint development plan!) being announced by folks like Irfan Razack, CMD, Prestige Group, you can bet that there is a highly corrupt, political heavy weight behind the project!
Reading your account, the moral of story is – if you cant beat them join them!
What other option do we have anyway?
What a shame Churumuri?
We all once has a Sankey Lake and a free for all nature park! Remember….?
While Blr’s last remaining farms and green lands are being ruthlessly looted (so called BDA APPROVED layouts) and exploited by MPs, MLAs, and everyone who is “connected” (including our dear Sankey tank biased/based politicians, it is sad to note that the powers that be, are arrogantly ignoring the common man’s demands in such a prime and most noticable area!
>you can bet that there is a highly corrupt, political heavy weight behind the project!
You are so right. It is impossible to hold on to a land that’s of few acres within BBMP area! Invariably, a political bigwig castes an eye on it.
I know of a humble family owning about 5acre land in Dodda-Gubbi village (close to hennur). They too became the target of a christian congressman, an ex-minister. They didn’t want to sell the property and this politician would badger them asking to know WHY! And his minions and goondas would come to their home and ‘persuade’ this old couple. Since their children were settled abroad, they were left to fend for themselves. Police were helpless.
They finally had to take the help of another politician to get this guy off their back. Have large land holding in bangalore, you’ll need political protection.. sad state of affairs.
You both have hit a bull on the Wall. Do not restrict it to CISCO,INTEL etc. I know for a fact a top Infosys VP who handles the facilities of the Bengaluru DC involved with such unfair malpractices. All he does is Trading of Land using his contacts that he has gaining through his official course of duty. Infy has provided him with a designation, which catapults him into the big deals.
He has had nexus with the criminal elements in the society to pull of some big deals.
Sir, why only blame the hard working Reddy’s?
There are infamous Mallu’s, Gujju’s, Setty’s and Shetty’s too! In fact, the Mafia from SK is among the most active with Ravi Pujari, Muthappa Rai and the likes of Irfan Razack, Moideen Bava..etc happy to be front-faces for the unprecedented looting of precious land that was pioneered by the D Gang and Chotta Rajan long ago.
Adding to the unfair anarchy are the IT firms that have a single-minded agenda of acquiring massive tracts of land under the disguise of software tech parks! Of course, Infosys has been the ring leader in this domain for almost a decade now.
A key point to note is that only the Reddy Syndicate offers poor land owners and farmers (with no resources or clout to develop the much sought after ‘BDA approved layout’) almost 50 percent of the land’s inflated value in cash! Compared to this the crooked politicians who dabble in Blr real estate as well as the underworld dons offer only 20 percent to “abandon their claim”!
Think it over.
>Think it over.
Good try but no cigar!! Churumuri is a middle class echo chamber, extreme prejudice is the norm here……
Excellent argument, Harish. If I had an inch of land near M. G. Road in Bengaluru, I would sell it to the Reddys for a shipload of black money rather than “abandon my claim” in return for twenty percent of the real value to the Agnis who are going after one of our most spiritual landgrabbers.
>There are infamous Mallu’s, Gujju’s, Setty’s and Shetty’s too!
The real-estate mafia consists of people of all religion and region. All hues of politicians.
The Reddy’s that are ruining Karnataka are the Ones from Bellary. They aren’t as interested in Bangalore real-estate as much as Mining areas of Bellary. The reddy’s ruling the Bangalore Real Estate are Local reddys settled in the area for perhaps above a hundred years.
It is true that some dons are also active. But, dons play the role of muscle, but the brain (and money in most cases) is that of politicians of various parties.
Of course, Infosys has been the ring leader in this domain for almost a decade now.
Notice how, Infosys has been filtered out by commentators above!!!
So much for the indignation at reddy corruption and self-righteous middle class.
Maybe they have shares in “middle class” Infosys, so they tune out infosys corruption and no share in reddy mining and take to mega phone.
Industrial Houses have crept into the Daily life of Indian’s. Infosys is one among them. They have now begun to ensure subtly that they make policies through the back door. UID/AADHAR and what not.
They have begun to such the tax payers money on one end and on the other end usurp the land of the tiller. This is just the beginning as the loot is going to increase in due course of time.
It must not be forgotten that Corruption in Independent India started with TT Krishnamachari of Prestige Group and Rameshwar Dalmia of Times of India.
Now modern day corruption is done subtly through policy corruption, with Companies like Infosys having a share in the Governance. They are not elected directly as people’s representatives, but nominated by choice.
Now does the country have a choice when about Rs 3000- 7000 crores worth of Indian Tax payers money is being distributed to these IT companies like complimentary breakfast. This amount’s to close to 15-20% of the direct/Indirect Tax collection by Govt agencies.
After 60 years we still lack Quality Public Education, Basic Health Care etc. We are told that Aadhar will solve all these problems through accountability. The New age Industrial Policy makers have managed to capture the imagination of the media houses and the so called self righteous middle class without understanding the needs of the remaining 80% of poor in the Country.
>Notice how, Infosys has been filtered out by commentators above!!!
Miss the point entirely.
Land mafia uses illegal force for acquiring land. Infy uses ‘legal force’. It is mostly playing by the rules of the game, though it is a wrong game for it to be playing. Being a victim of Infy’s mega acquisitions in Mangalore, my family knows this too well..
But, we also know how this works. When Infy did its first acquisition in Mangalore, they paid the govt. almost double of the going rates in the area, the additional amounts were collected by govt. for development of the area. An unnecessary second acquisition was done recently at lesser than market value. In both cases the value of land was set by the govt.
Since Infy never directly deals with the land owners , it lets the govt. do that. This makes the process entirely legal. Infy doesn’t coerce the land owners. It tells govt. if you want us to set shop in your state, give us land. The politicians know once infy comes to a area the land value shoots up. So, they go buy land in those areas, then allot land to infy.
All This is never the case with land sharks. They simply identify a vulnerable land lord, coerce or cheat him. They identify govt. properties and create fake documents. All this is patently illegal.
In short – Infy plays by the rules, though it should stick to its primary game.
Disclosure: I don’t have any shares in Infy. I have lost land to Infy.
To elaborate further:
In DK, there is massive land acquisitions going on in both south and north of Mangalore. Just as in case of road widening acquisitions in Bangalore, a lot of innocent people get hurt in these acquisitions.
But, none of this is illegal. Our constitution removed absolute right for land in 1950, and govt. can acquire land under eminent domain for purpose it seems fit. THAT IS THE LAW.
Anyone privately acquiring property by coercing, mis-representations etc. is breaking the law. Govt. coercion however is legal. Most industries use this path to acquire property. Most builders/mafia can’t and don’t.
That – essentially – is a huge difference.
Difference between tax planning and tax evasion.
“Infy does not directly deal with its land owners”
Factually incorrect atleast in the acquisition at Sarjapur, wherein they have acquired 300 plus acres of land. They went about negotiating for the large tract of land over a period of time and finally handed it over to KIADB to get a legal sanctity to the acquisition.
Rather an under the table dealing. They gets its stamped and proves to the world that it has done supposedly legally.
They are smarter than the folks around think.
>They went about negotiating for the large tract of land over a period of time and finally handed it over to KIADB to get a legal sanctity to the acquisition.
I don’t understand what ‘negotiation’ they’d do if they are using Govt.(KIADB) to acquire the land? Because then govt. is a party that has to do the negotiation.
By this article , IS ART OF LIVING A SPIRITUAL ORGANISATION OR A MAJOR REAL ESTATE COMPANY ??? . MR. SRI SRI WILL BE GONE ONE DAY LIKE SAI BABA AND EVERY TRUSTEE WILL BE FIGHTING FOR THEIR SHARE . A BIG MOMENT FOR THE MEDIA AGAIN. AND NOTHING FOR THE POOR AND NEEDY PEOPLE ANY WAYS. VERY GOOD WORK SRI SRI . WAIT FOR UR MOST TRUSTED TRUSTEES TO KILL U ONE DAY. THE FATE OF ALL U SO CALLED RICH SAINTS
@ Viswa, Liked your comment, I am also waiting for this Cult Ravi to get cought let us wait and see.It mostly will happens according to the current situation.
“WAIT FOR UR MOST TRUSTED TRUSTEES TO KILL U ONE DAY”