DHARMA BHARATHI–NEW AGE & SYNCRETISM
Note to the reader of this report on the three Dharma Bharathis: This letter which is my response to a letter dated July 25, 2003 from Swami Sachidananda Bharathi, which you can read on page 54, ends on page 38 of this report.
For Index/List of contents, see page 39
TO, SWAMI SACHIDANANDA BHARATHI, DHARMA BHARATHI FOUNDATION
12-13-329 Street no. 10, Tarnaka
SECUNDERABAD 500 017 (ANDHRA PRADESH) DATED
01. 08. 2003
My dear Swamiji, I thank you for your letter dated 25th July 2003* concerning my original report dt. 01.08.2002 on DHARMA BHARATHI, a copy of which was given to you by the priests of the SVD congregation on 19th July at the Divine Word Centre, Muthangi. While I do admit that I have circulated copies of it to all charismatic prayer centers and to the CBCI/Bishops as you wrote, I stand by my original statements and conclusions and do not agree with your contention that I “have done harm to the Lord’s work by confusing people with comparing
(your) mission with New Age Movement” for the reasons that I am detailing in this letter. *see page 54
1. My conclusions that the philosophies, teachings, practices and goals of Dharma Bharathi (DB) reflect and propagate
the errors and dangers of syncretism and New Age were independently confirmed by the Sunday
Shalom, a Catholic Malayalam weekly published from Peruvannamoozhi, Kozhikode [Calicut] on 30th March in an editorial. It is titled “BEWARE OF DHARMA BHARATHI”.
(The excerpts below are translated from the original Malayalam in Sunday Shalom to the best of my ability.)
(a) The editorial in Sunday Shalom is particularly significant because the same editor who had earlier published an interview with you now wrote “We regret to have published unknowingly through Sunday Shalom pages (the earlier interview) glorifying the philosophies and action plans of a movement (DHARMA BHARATHI) which is diametrically opposed to what we stand for. We apologize to our readers and ask their pardon for this.”
(b) The editorial says that it was prepared after an intense study of DB and its sister- organizations like your National Regeneration Movement (NRM) through their manuals, brochures, seminar reports like the papers presented by various speakers at the National Seminar on Peace and Value Education for Schools held in Hyderabad in December 2001 etc. It says that your view-points are “completely un-Christian” and are based on “New Age
philosophies which the Vatican describes as the greatest danger to the Christian church”, that they “discard Jesus and Christian prayer from Christian institutions, eradicate the spirit of evangelization and the spirituality of the Church from the minds of priests and nuns working in the field of education,” etc.
“These are the dangers that are created… which fact is pointed out by the many educational institutions where DB programmes have been introduced.” “The main target of DB activity is Christian schools. We should discern the secret plans of DB to brainwash priests and nuns with omkar prayers and thereby hide the Prince of Peace Jesus Christ from the next generation. Our colleges should promote the love and Gospel values of Jesus Christ. And that is the only way to renew India,” Sunday Shalom says.
(c) Sunday Shalom states: “Swamiji’s spirituality is a New Age spirituality.”
Sunday Shalom says again, “We can see New Age philosophy in the NRM manual.”
Referring to the New Age vocabulary used by you in the manuals, and the seven prominent inter-national New Age leaders named by you (with relevant page numbers), the editorial warns Catholics that “we should be cautious about the spirituality of a person who has taken inspiration from Taoism, Buddhism and Hinduism and given these thoughts a guise of science thereby trying to prove as false the Christian viewpoint and revelation on the world, man, creation, god, eternal life,
(d) The Sunday Shalom researcher has also noted the following:
- DB’s programme includes that, yoga, meditation, bhajans and other spiritual exercises be introduced in Catholic educational institutions.
- DB claims to propagate a “spirituality that is equally acceptable to all religions.” “The spiritual danger posed by DB is evident from (this) statement. All religions are not the same. All spirituality is not similar. Therefore it is not possible to formulate a Christianity that is acceptable to all religions.”
- The personalities (names given) whose teachings students would have to study, and the organizations that DB would associate with are anti-Christian in positions and doctrines.
Referring to the pages in the NRM manual in which you name these persons (including Annie Besant,
quoted by you in the manual, page 45 and in the Seminar papers, page 61) and list a number of ‘progressive movements’ (manual, page 51) such as the Theosophical Society (TS), Divine Life Society (DLS), Brahmo Samaj, Arya Samaj, Aurobindo Society and the Sri Ramakrishna Order which you believe have ‘Indian insights into the truths of spirit’, the Shalom editorial says that Annie Besant was the President of the TS through which New Age ideals were propagated and quotes her as having said that Christianity is the enemy of mankind. It says that the DLS is founded on Adi Sankara’s advaita and teaches that God is not a Person or Spirit but only a consciousness. It asks their readers “What has all this got to do with Christianity?” and concludes “Either the Swamiji has not understood… or he is intentionally trying to deceive us.”
- The editorial asks, “Is there not something wrong in Swamiji claiming to be a disciple of Sadguru Jesus
Christ and at the same time insisting that the words of Jesus and the salvation message of the Church established by Christ should not be promoted?” “Why should we struggle to promote the meditations, teachings and prayers that are un-Christian? Don’t the words of Jesus have any value for us? Should we use our educational institutions to propagate the teachings of Sai Baba who said ‘I am god, you are also gods. It is because of your ignorance that you are not able to recognize your own divinity’?” The editorial says “Swami Sachidananda who has professed Jesus Christ as the Prince of Peace should have endeavoured to promote the Gospel of Peace.”
- The Shalom writer expresses “shock” to hear that you have conducted “10 spiritual orientation programmes for priests and sisters” (as on 01.01.01), and asks “Is it not wrong to allow a person to conduct spiritual orientation programmes for priests and nuns without evaluating his personal life, relationship with the Church, attitude to the Sacraments etc.”
He notes that one of the Patrons of DB is a (retired) Archbishop and that the National Coordinator of DB is a priest of the SVD congregation. He informs us that
the Education and Culture Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) was the chief organizer of the DB National Seminar at the Renewal Centre, Kaloor, Ernakulam, Kerala, in
December 2002 and that the majority of the participants were important personalities mainly priests and nuns in the field of education.
The editor says that he published the original interview with you, believing that the involvement of so many Catholic religious surely meant that DB must be an organization promoting Jesus Christ and Christian ideals.
Dear Swami, I, in turn, am truly shocked to learn from the Sunday Shalom that the Education and Culture Commission of the CBCI organized the Kaloor seminar because my original report of 1.8.2002 on DHARMA BHARATHI was in fact addressed to this very Commission.
And it has been to your benefit and advantage that the Commission has neither cared to acknowledge receipt of my report nor to assess its contents, as is evident from their continued support of the anti-Catholic New Age philosophies and programmes of DHARMA BHARATHI.
- I quote from the editorial: “Is the value of Christian peace not to be taught in Indian schools? Are not
religious fellowship and tolerance exhibited through Christianity? Religious tolerance is not where no differences are present in a relationship. Instead, it is respecting one another despite these differences.
The equality of man, the values of life, liberty, and love have been propagated in India through the Gospel of Jesus. Our country which was full of discrimination, caste etc., benefited from missionary activities and Christian education. Swami Sachidananda knows this… The very premise that world peace can be established only through religious unity is wrong because religion cannot unite. The vision of truth of each religion is different from that of the other. When one changes that, the religion ceases to exist. The only alternative before us is to lead the world to the real Way, Life and Truth.
All should be united in (this) Truth. For that to happen, the Truth has to be revealed to the whole world. This is the duty of one who claims to be a disciple of (Him Who is) the Way, the Truth and the Life.
It is the official policy of the Church to respect and assimilate all that is good and true in other religions. For that we do not need a Dharma Bharathi. Emperor Akbar tried to form a new religion by combining religions. It disappeared during his time. Is it not impossible to unite truth with falsehood, half-truths and lies?”
The editor informs us that Sunday Shalom’s Catholic readers from all over India contacted him in protest against the original interview with you that was published by him, and he concludes that his findings, from his subsequent in-depth study, assure him that the readers had very good cause to protest.
I have sent the Shalom editor a copy of my report only on 7th April, 2003. If my findings had influenced him in any way, the original Sunday Shalom story on DB and you — which was written several months earlier and regretted in the issue of 30th March — would never have been published by them in the first place.
It is clearly evident that the findings and conclusions of the Sunday Shalom editor are independent, unbiased, and absolutely identical to mine, and therefore vindicate the contents of my report to the CBCI.
2. My report was headlined ‘DHARMA BHARATHI – NEW AGE and SYNCRETISM’.
In your letter to me, however, while you have denied that DB has anything to do with the former, you have not protested against my latter charge, which is equally grave.
I now reproduce a few selections of DB writings that give us cause for grave concern, and sufficient reason for me to reiterate my charge that DHARMA BHARATHI promotes indifferentism, relativism, religious pluralism, syncretism
and New Age, finally explaining these terms for my not-so-well-versed readers and giving them some information about selected persons and organizations listed in Dharma Bharathi literature.
Indifferentism, Relativism, Religious Pluralism
Syncretism promoted by Dharma Bharathi
(Quotes are from magazines, your brochures, your National Regeneration Movement Manual, indicated by ‘NRMM’ and the various papers presented at the December 2001 DB National Seminar at Hyderabad, indicated by ‘DBNS’, followed by the respective page number. All emphases mine, unless otherwise indicated.)
- DB has a “vision of an awakened Mother India who will be an instrument of God for a civilisation
of love, unity and peace on earth.” (Brochures etc.)
“The world at the dawn of the third millennium urgently needs peace… We are discovering the fact that lasting peace and unity on earth needs a religious motivation.” (From the presentation made by you at the World Peace Summit, United Nations, 28-31 August 2000. Source, The New Leader, November 1-15, 2000)
“There cannot be peace in the world unless there is unity among religions in the world.” (NRMM 38)
- At the “10 spiritual orientation programmes for priests and sisters in which ‘National Regeneration’ was
presented as the mission of religions in India today”,
“the need for missionary activity to be channelised for the
purpose of National Regeneration rather than for promoting Christianity and trying to convert people from
one religion to another was stressed…” (NRMM 14)
- “I, as a disciple of Sadguru Jesus Christ …should share my experience freely with others without any
desire to promote Christianity
or to win over ‘converts’ for the Church.” (Yourself, DBNS 65, 66)
- School “curriculum should also provide for…practical spiritual exercises
bhajans, study of scriptures and the lives of gurus of different religions.” (Dr. M. Abel, DBNS 91)
Again, at the same Hyderabad seminar, your speaker Dr. Prasad, Vice-Chancellor of Dr. Ambedkar Open University, “laid
emphasis on the availability of opportunities for the students to participate
spiritual exercises like…
meditation, yoga etc.” (DBNS 16)
The point was so well taken that the ‘Statement and Recommendations’ of the 82 participants includes this:
“We recommend that managements and heads of schools should endeavor to create such an atmosphere by providing opportunities for
spiritual exercises like… meditation and yoga.” (DBNS 52)
You held a day of fasting and prayer (30th January 1998) at Yogalaya, Hyderabad. (NRMM 8)
Your Ashtanga Yagna or 8-point National Reconstruction Programme envisions that children in Catholic schools require “study and inculcation of the noble values of different religions, meditation, yoga, etc”. (NRMM 35)
- “…a great line of
Mahatmas…like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda, Bede Griffiths,
Swami Ranganathananda, Sathya Sai Baba, Mata Amrithananda Mayi
etc.” (K. P. Joseph, DBNS 120,121)
You have acclaimed Swami Dayananda
(Bede Griffiths) as one of your four spiritual gurus and received from him ‘Acharya Diksha’ on 18th January 1990.
Talking of the ’emerging confluence of science and religion’ (which I will finally show is the New Age), you said “Mystics of 20th century like Sri Aurobindo, Teilhard de Chardin… and Bede Griffiths have served as prophets of this emerging new integral vision of reality.” (DBNS 59, 60). They are New Agers, all.
- “Noteworthy developments” include “collaboration with organizations like
Sri Ramachandra Mission, Swami Vivekananda Institute, and Sri Sathya Sai (Baba)
Institute“. (Prof. Rangacharlu, DBNS 134). They are anti-Christian, all.
- “The National Regeneration Campaign was launched with a seminar…inaugurated by His Holiness
Swami Ranganathananda, President, Ramakrishna Mission and Chief Patron of Dharma Rajya Vedi, (of which you are Acharya-Guru), on 14th August 1997.” (NRMM 7).
You have acclaimed the Brahmin Swami as one of your four spiritual gurus and he conferred on you ‘Kavi Diksha’ at the Belur Math on 25th November 2001.
- “The initial momentum for NRM was further reinforced on 18th August 1998 at Hyderabad by His Holiness Swami Jayendra Saraswathi of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam.” (NRMM 8)
- At the inauguration on 5th August 2000 of the NRP 3-year Pilot Project, “Swami Paramarthananda,
President, Ramakrishna Math, Hyderabad gave the benediction.” (NRMM 11)
- NRM was formally inaugurated on 7th May 2001, Buddha Purnima Day. (NRMM 18) (Buddha Purnima is considered an ‘auspicious day’ for people who belong to certain non-Christian faiths.)
- One of your ‘Advisors’ is Vandana Mataji (Rishikesh), and your ‘Theological Consultant’ is Rev. Dr. M. Amaldoss SJ, Professor of Theology, Vidya Jyothi, Delhi. (Disciples of Christ for Peace, Constitution). We will, later in this article, conduct a study of their anti-Catholic teachings.
- In your Interreligious Sadhana (spiritual discipline) or Sahana Yoga, you introduce the Hindu concept of
karma. “The fruits of karma can be nullified, and human hearts can be sanctified by sincere adherence to Sahana Yoga. Thus, Sahana Yoga is the ‘mukti marga’ (path of liberation) for those burdened by their past
karma.” (NRMM 64).
Christians do not believe in the Law of Karma and do not need any spiritual discipline (Sadhana) to liberate them from a non-existent ‘past karma’. For Christians to believe that through such a discipline they could be sanctified’, it would be spiritual suicide.
- In your agenda for your Satsanghs (meetings), you commence with a meditation where the participants are required to “breathe in ‘OM ‘.” Next, they are required to “read from one of the Religious Scriptures…followed by 5 minutes of silent meditation on the portion just read.” (NRMM 121, 122) In the booklet ‘Religious Symbols and Festivals’ brought out for DB by Dr.Thomas Sahanananda, the very first symbol to be explained is ‘OM ‘.
- Your DHARMA RAJYA VEDI
“is not part of any of the existing religions but has an independent identity of
its own. It has also its own spirituality, theology, vision, philosophy, and rule of life.” (NRMM 107). A new religion?
In the light of what we have noted earlier, this statement is extremely significant.
I must conclude therefore that Dharma Bharathi’s
cannot therefore be a Catholic Christian ‘spirituality, theology, vision, philosophy and rule of life’. It is one or all of the following:
The period of the Enlightenment witnessed an enthusiasm for comparative study of religions. This study revealed resemblances between Christianity and non-Christian religions and led to a certain religious ‘indifferentism’. They believed God to be active in the history of each people and hence every religion was true.
This caused them to accept the principle
and non-commitment to Christianity as the one true religion.
It was against this Indifferentism that many magisterial pronouncements of the Church were directed.
Christian Openness to the World Religions, A Catholic Approach to World Religions according to Nostra Aetate (the Vatican II Document ‘Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions’), 1988,
Fr. Zacharias Paranilam, page 27.
An attitude of religious indifferentism is one wherein all religions are regarded as equally valid.
In the First Plenary Council of India (1950) held in Bangalore, convoked by a Papal legate Cardinal Gilroy, and approved by Pope Pius XII in 1951, indifferentism is once again rejected, but for the first time in an official document of the Catholic Church a clearly positive statement is made regarding the spiritual values of the world religions. “We acknowledge indeed that there is truth and goodness outside the Christian religion… But the inadequacy of all non-Christian religions is principally derived from this, that, Christ being constituted the one Mediator between God and humankind, there is no salvation by any other name.”
Catholicism, Fr. Richard McBrien, 1994, pages 381, 387, 388
Relativism understands Christ as representing what is to be found in all religions. Christian revelation is not regarded as unique, but simply a form, perhaps the highest and most developed form of authentic religion…
All religions, including Christianity, are relative… there is no absolute truth in religion… all religions are different paths to the same goal… This approach may lead to syncretism. This relativist approach has the merit of making possible a positive appreciation of the religions of mankind. Yet it has serious drawback too. It is incompatible with faith in Christ as this has been traditionally understood from New Testament times.
Christian Openness to World Religions…, 1988, Fr. Zacharias Paranilam, pages 53, 54
The pressure of a multi-faith society and the need to recognize pluralism in religious education in schools means that some Christians seem to have accepted meekly that any and all religious approaches are equally valid. Jesus and the World Religions, Is Christianity Just Another Religion? Ajith Fernando, 1987, page 9
In his address of 6 November 1999, while presenting his apostolic exhortation ‘Ecclesia in Asia’ in New Delhi, Pope John Paul II Exhorted our Bishops to “make ever greater efforts to spread the Gospel of salvation throughout the length and breadth of Asia.”
The New Leader, November 16-30, 1999
The Vatican Document ‘Dominus Iesus” released on 5 September 2000 emphasized the “exclusive, universal and absolute value” of Jesus Christ, taking aim at the notion that “one religion is as good as another”.
The text criticized the tendency to… elevate other religions as pathways to salvation and to downplay Scripture. “The Old and New Testaments are the only such writings inspired by the Holy Spirit” it said.
“The Church’s missionary proclamation is endangered today by relativistic theories which seek to justify religious pluralism.”
Equality in interreligious dialogue refers to equal personal dignity of the participants, not to doctrinal content…
This may seem a slight to other religions but in fact “such language is simply being faithful to revelation.”
The New Leader, October 1-15, 2000
Religious Pluralism is an essential feature of Hinduism.
Christian Openness to the World Religions…, 1988, Fr. Zacharias Paranilam, page 131
The fusion of different forms of belief or practice;
the claim that all religions are one and share the same core teachings.
The Seduction of our Children, Neil T. Anderson and Steve Russo, 1991, page 238
To strive, by uniting religions, to make mankind better and happier
is one thing. To pray with ardent heart for the union of all men in love of the same God is another. And the first is perhaps the most subtle Luciferian
temptation aimed at bringing the second to nothing.
J. A. Cuttatt,’The Encounter of Religions’, page 81 as quoted by Fr. Paranilam in Christian Openness… page 59
Syncretistic Christianity (may contain) indigenous religious components open to the demonic.
Wrestling with Dark Angels, ed. Peter Wagner, Douglas Pennoyer, 1990, page 107
Syncretism can be defined as the incorporation of various elements, often mismatched and sometimes contradictory, in order to arrive at a whole that satisfies the largest number. Syncretism in contemporary Catholicism is usually the result of an uncritical acceptance of elements from other religions, and can be motivated by a variety of concerns – insecurity, the need for acceptance, a fear of being perceived as different, or sometimes a desire to present oneself as progressive or even revolutionary.
Emmanuel, Quarterly of the Emmanuel Prayer Group, Mumbai, January-February 2003
The average Hindu is an eclectic or syncretist, believing in the essential unity of all religions holding that truth can be found in some measure in all religions… Reformed Hinduism (Brahmo and Arya Samaj, Theosophy, Ramakrishna Mission) is largely syncretistic – all paths lead to the same goal as all rivers join the ocean.
How to present Christ to a Hindu, R. C. Das, pages 8, 17
Many Christians, while studying the goodness in other religions, have strayed from faithfulness to the Gospel. Paul quoted from two non-Christian poets (Acts 17:28)… but nowhere are we told that he accepted the religious system of their philosophies… A few generations after Paul there were Christian apologists who followed Paul’s example but made errors in the process.
First, when they tried to accommodate themselves to their audience, they downplayed some of the ‘offensive’ features of Christianity. Second, they accepted some of the features of the non-Christian religions that were incompatible with Christianity. They set out to contextualize the Gospel but ended up diluting it. They became syncretists, something that happens too often today.
We must disagree with the syncretist who says ‘Let us learn from each other and live harmoniously with each other. After all we are headed in the same direction even though some of our practices may differ.’
The Biblical Christian says ‘We are NOT headed in the same direction. Some of our practices may be similar. We may learn from each other, but there is a sense in which we cannot live harmoniously with each other.’
We seek to bring all who are outside of a relationship with Christ
into such a relationship, and that necessitates the forsaking of their former religions.
The syncretist says that we are one in the center though we may differ on peripheral details. The Biblical Christian says that though we may have peripheral similarities we are different in the center.
Christ’s claim to uniqueness does not set well with those who are seeking a new type of ‘harmonious’ relationship with other religions which would necessitate the dropping of a call to conversion to Christ.
Jesus and the World Religions, Is Christianity just Another Religion? Ajith Fernando, 1987, pages 84, 86, 91, 94, 113
At an interreligious ceremony in Rome in October 1999, the Pope “invited all people of goodwill to counter a crisis of civilization…by a new civilization of love founded on the universal values of peace…”
(Now we know the source of DHARMA BHARATHI’s slogan, see page 3. But the rest of the Pope’s message is deliberately ignored!)
“…Jesus is the one who… sacrifices Himself for the salvation of others… Is not Jesus thus a model and a permanent message for humanity?”
Cardinal Arinze, President, Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, The Examiner, 13 May 2000
Nowhere (again, see page 3) did the Pope make a call for “unity among religions” that DB aims to bring about.
Instead he has always called for a missionary proclamation of the person of Jesus who alone, when accepted, can and will bring about the ‘civilization of love and peace’ and unity of the human race that we yearn for.
(More on ‘peace’, Dharma Bharathi’s vs. the Gospel’s, when the New Age is discussed, see page 33)
Vatican City (CNS) A top Vatican official said “ruinous positions” on interreligious dialogue by some Catholic theologians have weakened the Church’s educational efforts among the faithful.
Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos told a Vatican conference October 9 that these theologians, in their efforts to promote interreligious dialogue, were continuing to mistakenly present non-Christian religions as “equally valid” to Christianity. In particular, he criticized Belgian Jesuit Fr. Jacques Dupuis, whose book ‘Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism’ was critically studied by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2001.
The Cardinal criticized Fr. Dupuis’ statement that God’s self-revelation through Jesus was ‘limited, incomplete and imperfect’… On the contrary, he said “the divine mystery is fully revealed in Christ… What the Church needs to underline in its teaching is the “completeness, centrality and saving universality of Christian revelation.”
In 2001, Fr. Dupuis signed a statement of doctrinal principles after the Vatican’s Doctrinal Congregation criticized ambiguities in his book on religious pluralism.
Cardinal Castrillon, who heads the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy, also took aim at Indian Fr. Felix Wilfred, considered a leading Catholic expert in India on dialogue with other religions.
He criticized Fr. Wilfred for saying that other religious traditions contain divine revelation. He also criticized the theologian’s idea that Christian revelation represents only one part of divine revelation.
Petrus, November 2002
As regards dialogue with other religions, Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, specified that the idea that all religions are complementary to Christian revelation “is erroneous.”
“However, everything that is good and true in religions* must not be lost, what is more, it must be recognized and appreciated. Wherever good and truth are found, these come from the Father and are the work of the Spirit; the seeds of the Logos are spread everywhere. But we cannot close our eyes in the face of errors and deceptions, which are also present in religions.” *Nostra Aetate n. 2
Emmanuel, January-February 2003
Another gospel is also preached when one speaks of spiritual liberation through psychology by the use of oriental meditation techniques, enneagrams, New Age and other such things… Through them there is a danger that we find ourselves thinking like the Colossians, who sought salvation through their astral speculations, and syncretistically mix
Christ with other spirits and powers.
As the Apostle Paul writes ‘See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human traditions, according to the elemental powers of the universe and not according to Christ.'(Col. 2: 8, 9)
These seem like words written for our times. Today there is a new invasion of Christianity from retreats and spiritual exercises and courses all inspired by this man-made gospel… In this man-centered gospel, salvation comes from within man himself, and Jesus becomes reduced to just one more ingredient in this religious cocktail. Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the Papal Household at a retreat for 70 bishops & 1500 priests in Mexico.
A THEOLOGY THAT OMITS CONVERSION BETRAYS THE FAITH, SAYS JOHN PAUL II
Appeals to Indian Bishops to Surmount Relativist Explanations of Religious Pluralism
VATICAN CITY, JULY 3, 2003 (Zenit.org) A theology that does not invite conversion to Christ — or that considers all religions as equal — empties Christianity of its meaning, warns John Paul II.
“To bear witness to Jesus Christ is the supreme service which the Church offers to the peoples of Asia,” the Pope said today to a group of bishops of the ecclesiastical provinces of Bangalore, Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam. They were ending their five-yearly visit to the Holy See.
Any “theology of mission that omits the call to a radical conversion to Christ and denies the cultural transformation which such conversion will entail necessarily misrepresents the reality of our faith,” he said.
Our faith, the Pope said, “is always a new beginning in the life of him who alone is the Way, and the Truth and the Life.” “In this regard, we reaffirm that interreligious dialogue does not replace the ‘missio ad gentes’ but rather
forms a part of it,” he said.
“It must be noted that relativist explanations of religious pluralism, which state that the Christian faith is of no different value than any other belief, in fact empty Christianity of its defining Christological heart: faith alienated from our Lord Jesus, as the only Savior, is no longer Christian, no longer theological faith,” he said.
“An even greater misrepresentation of our faith occurs when relativism leads to syncretism: an artificial ‘spiritual construct’ that manipulates and consequently distorts the essential, objective, revelatory nature of Christianity,” John Paul II added. “That which renders the Church missionary by her very nature is precisely the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. This is the foundation of our faith. It is this which makes Christian witness credible,” he explained.
A consequence of this fundamental truth of Christianity is a “correct understanding of the relationship between culture and Christian faith,” John Paul II stressed.
“On your own Indian subcontinent you are faced with cultures rich in religious and philosophical traditions. Within this context, we see how absolutely essential is the proclamation of Jesus Christ as the Incarnate Son of God,” he said. “It is in this understanding of Christ’s uniqueness as the second person of the Blessed Trinity, fully God and fully man, that our faith must be preached and embraced. “Living with people who do not know Christ convinces us ever more of the need for the missionary apostolate.” “The radical newness of life brought by Christ and lived by his followers awakens in us the urgency of missionary activity,” he added. “This demands an explicit proclamation of Jesus as Lord: a bold testimony founded on his command — ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ — and sustained by his promise — ‘I am with you always’.” ZE03070305
The ‘Om’ mantra and Yoga
You have read above [page 7] the comments of Fr. Cantalamessa on oriental meditation techniques, which include mantra chanting and the practice of yoga, which you propagate through Dharma Bharathi. I am separately sending you my three researched reports: on the ‘Om’ mantra titled ‘Inculturation or Hinduisation? Use of the symbol ‘OM’ and the SIVA-LINGAM in forms of Christian Worship’, (15 February, 2001), and, The Truth about Yoga (Part I, 10 July, 2000; Part II, 15 February, 2001).
These three articles which contain comments by eminent Catholic as well as Protestant Christians, will leave no doubt in the mind of any Biblical, Spirit-filled, discerning Christian about the grave spiritual dangers involved in the use of these techniques by Christians. In them I have referred to the Vatican Document ‘Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation’ (signed by Cardinal Ratzinger ‘with the full authority of the Pope’ on 15 October, 1989).
This Document warns Catholics about “proposals to harmonize Christian meditation with Eastern techniques (which) need to have their contents and methods ever subjected to a thorough-going examination so as to avoid the danger of
falling into syncretism.” (n 12), “methods which are inspired by Hinduism and Buddhism such as Zen, Transcendental Meditation or Yoga” (footnote to n 2), stressing that “when the moral condition of the person concerned does not correspond to such an experience” (the use of ‘some physical exercises’ that have the potential to produce a ‘mystical experience’) “would represent a kind of mental schizophrenia which could also lead to psychic disturbance and, at times, to moral deviations.” (n 28)
A more recent Vatican Document ‘Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life. A Christian Reflection on the ‘New Age’ (signed by Paul Cardinal Poupard on 3 February 2003) says “The tendency to confuse psychology and spirituality makes it hard not to insist that many of the meditation techniques now used are not prayer“. (n 4) and links Zen Buddhism and Yoga with occult practices and the New Age (n 2.1, 3.1, 22.214.171.124).
I would also like you to read this report that appeared in The Times of India, Hyderabad, on 18 July 2003.
CROATIA SCRAPS YOGA IN SCHOOLS
Zagreb: Croatia’s education ministry has withdrawn its recommendation that teachers take yoga classes, after the Roman Catholic Church accused it of trying to sneak Hinduism into schools.
Instead, deputy education minister Ivan Vavra said, schools will get a two-page statement explaining in detail that yoga classes will be organized strictly in teachers’ spare time and focused on exercises only, with no students to receive instruction. Vavra acknowledged that the move was triggered by the strong reaction of the Church
in this country of 4.5 million people, 80 percent of whom consider themselves Catholics. He insisted, however, that yoga “was never meant to be introduced into the schools, now or in the near future.”
On Monday, Croatia’s Bishops issued a fierce protest of the planned yoga classes, calling it “unacceptable to introduce into the schools topics that are in contradiction with the generally accepted system of values and the European cultural tradition.”
“Hindu religious practice will be brought into the schools under the guise of exercises”, the Bishops said. Teachers interested in yoga can certainly pursue it, they said, “but not in schools.” (Ass. Press)
I find it impossible to understand, in the face of all the above, how your Dharma Bharathi is actively propagating the practice of yoga in our Catholic educational institutions with the patronization of some Bishops and the Education and Cultural Commission of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India.
As regards your adoption of the ‘Om’ symbol, for a self-confessed disciple of Sadguru Jesus Christ it is as ludicrous as a Brahminical Hindu adopting the symbol of the Cross or chanting the name of Jesus in meditation. Despite the explanations that some of our revered theologians may give you, the ‘Om’ is as Hindu as Hindu can be.
While everything that is unholy can be ‘brought under the Lordship of Jesus’, not everything may be ‘purified’ for use in Christian worship. The ‘Om’ (and the Lingam) of Siva is as intrinsic to Hinduism as the Cross of Jesus is to Christianity. If it were not so, why should Mr. Ashok Singhal, of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), have “urged members of the Omkar family (Hindus and related Indian religions that use the ‘Om’ mantra) to unite against the Christian onslaught”? as reported in The New Leader, December 1-31, 2002.
Personalities and Organizations associated with and favoured by your Dharma Bharathi
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda and the Ramakrishna Mission
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was a priest of a Kali temple… He experimented with devotional aspects of both Islam and Christianity and decided that any religion could be a path to God.
Vivekananda formed the Ramakrishna Mission, envisioned Hinduism the ‘mother of all religions’ as the hope for a unified world and taught that Buddha and Christ were, along with Krishna and Ramakrishna, divine avatars.1
Tantra was revived in India in the 19th century by the powerful psychic experiences and visions of the former who said “The Divine Mother revealed to me in the Kali temple that it was She who had become everything.” He was the guru of the latter. Tantra accepts the classical Hindu view that reality is one. A sophisticated version of tantra entered America in the last century with Vivekananda at the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago (in 1893).2
Swami Vivekananda founded the Vedanta Society in 1895.Under leadership of the Ramakrishna Order and its Mission, the Society teaches a type of neo-Hindu interpretation of (Adi) Shankara… In the meeting room of the Society in St. Louis… stands a picture of Ramakrishna who has been raised, some claim, to divine stature.3
Some of the reform movements like Arya Samaj and the Ramakrishna Mission of Swami Vivekananda
played a negative role in creating a healthy Hindu-Christian relationship.4
If we mean by Hinduism the type of religion which is propagated by Vivekananda, we would have to say that Hinduism is the expression of a spirituality which is diametrically opposed to the spiritual attitude demanded by Jesus Christ. According to Vivekananda, man finds his fulfilment by realizing his identity with the divine Absolute; man regards himself as divine by nature and by right.5
According to Vivekananda, man bears his destiny in his own hands. He transcends all opposites, he is beyond good and evil. Man is the Absolute, there is no room for a personal God.
Vivekananda’s exposition is based on the philosophy of Sankara. The attitude by which someone claims to be god-like by right is precisely the attitude which Christians call Satanic.7
Ramakrishna spoke of the unity of all religions.
Vivekananda and his followers worshipped their guru… and they believed that man was essentially God.
I was especially drawn to the occult by reading biographies on people like… Swami Vivekananda.8
(Sachidananda quotes heavily from Vivekananda’s sayings, but ignores his anti-Christian rhetoric. A sample:)
In a discourse in Boston he is reported to have said to a Christian audience “Stop your bragging! What has your Christianity ever accomplished without the sword. Your religion is preached through pomp… I can hear nothing but hypocrisy in all your preaching.”9
(Swami Sachidananda claims a President of the Ramakrishna Mission as one of his spiritual gurus.)
The Brahmo Samaj and the Arya Samaj
Ram Mohan Roy founded in 1928 the Brahmo Samaj (Society of those who believe in Brahman) in the hope that it would gather all believers in one God… Finding the former’s embrace of non-Indian values unacceptable, Swami Dayanand Saraswati formed the more militant Arya Samaj (Society of Aryans)… He spoke openly against Islam as well as Christianity.10
(One organization is syncretistic, the other neo-Hindu fundamentalist.)
Born Nirmalasundari Bhattacharya in Bengal, she was given to ecstatic states as a child… which gradually mellowed into trance-like absorption. (Later) she moved into a period of what she called effortless being, pure play, total spontaneity. Playing the holy fool, she mimicked the lila of the gods… She would occasionally curl up into a fetal position inside the egg-shaped altar in the ashram and was given the name Anandaymayi (which means Bliss-filled Mother.)11
Sathya Sai Baba
His fame started after an incident in his childhood when he suddenly leaped into the air with a shriek, holding his right toe. The following evening, he lost consciousness. When he recovered, his behaviour changed. Soon he was manifesting supernatural powers (siddhis).
Right away he claimed to have inherited the spirit of Sai Baba of Shirdi who had died in 1918.
Later he claimed to be an avatar or God-incarnate in the form of Siva-Shakti, the male-female principle responsible for the destruction of the world.12
(Saivites & Vaishnavites) agreed that he was Narayana, God come to earth with human and divine attributes. 13
Sai Baba uses secret sessions with his intimate followers in which he helps purify their lower chakras by handling their sexual organs…
People, according to Baba, are atman (self or God), but, under the influence of maya (illusion), we forget that we are God.14
At his ashram, “figures of Ganesh and other deities adorned the walls. I was drawn to a 5-sided pillar which stood in the central courtyard. Each side bore a symbol of a major world religion… The pillar itself pointed to the unity of all religions. The bhajans took place in the mandir overseen by a huge statue of Krishna on horseback.15
The Divine Life Society
Founded by Swami Sivananda Saraswati it follows the advaitic or non-dualistic philosophy of Shankaracharya. According to them, God (Brahman) alone is real. God is not a person or spirit but consciousness…
The Society and its Chinmaya Mission
teach a synthesis of yoga… the purpose of which is to dissolve one’s mind in God through meditation. According to Swamiji, ‘Om’ is the best Mantra.
The Society’s Mission was founded in Bombay in 1952 to train young men and women in advaita philosophy for missionary activity.
Swami Sivananda said “Wholesale preaching of Vedanta to the masses is not advisable. It will result in chaos, bewilderment and stagnation.” His followers will do well to heed him.16
Gandhi was an advocate of the equal validity of religions. According to him, the reason for the imperfection of religion is man. His solution to remove this imperfection is typically Hindu and worth considering a syncretic approach: “Looking at all religions with an equal eye, we would not only hesitate but would think it our duty to blend into our faith every acceptable feature of other faiths.”
Though he was indelibly influenced by the message and life of Christ, Gandhi could not accept him as the most perfect incarnation of God or as the most perfect man ever born. He believed that the Buddha was greater than Christ in the aspect of love in the sense that Christ’s love was confined to mankind, whereas that of Buddha extended to all living things.17
The conversion which the Hindus envisage is a conversion within the framework of one’s own religion, not a change of religion. It is a fundamental mark of the Hindu attitude towards the other religions, of course, inseparably linked to the syncretistic tolerance. The idea is expressed by Gandhiji. “I want the Christians to be good Christians,… and the Hindus to be good Hindus… That, to me, is real conversion.”18
Today, unfortunately, too many Catholic priests themselves subscribe to this position and there are several priests in the DB organization working very hard to propagate this ideal.
(Mahatma Gandhi is one of the four persons whom Swami Sachidananda has called his gurus or persons from whom he has drawn spiritual inspiration.)
Q: Does New Age speak about changing the world?
Osorio: A pamphlet of the Indian Brahma Kumaris movement says: “Something is going to happen … You can make it happen by associating at the same time with millions of others, gathered in a type of new communion of saints, who by their strength and intrinsic creativity have the force capable of tipping the world over to the side of righteousness.” But will thought be enough to change the world? The way proposed to us by Jesus Christ is far more exacting and fascinating: it is the one of reciprocal love, that is translated into concrete works and creates living communities that build a new world.
Christianity Refutes New Age, Interview with Teresa Osorio Goncalves of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, Vatican City, February 7,2003, courtesy zenit.org, Emmanuel July-August 2003, page 5. (see page 21).
VHP or Vishva Hindu Parishad… is Hinduism’s international missionary council… A list of the associations which function in cooperation with the VHP: The Ramakrishna Missions/Vedanta Societies all over the world, Hare Krishna/ISKCON, Sathya Sai Baba, the Theosophists etc.19
The missionary undertakings… of modern Hinduism’s attitude to… Christianity… (is to) convert it to the Advaitic Spirituality of the Upanishads which… is expected to be the forthcoming World Religion.20
(All of the above are the personalities and organizations that influence Dharma Bharathi and its founder.)
1.101 Responses to Questions on Hinduism, John Renard, 1999, pages 161, 162
3.Ibid. pages 169, 170 10. Ibid. page 13 11. Ibid. page 147
2.When the New Age gets Old, Vishal Mangalwadi, 1992, pages 111, 112, 118. 17. Ibid. pages 132, 139
4.Christian Openness to the World Religions, Fr. Zacharias Paranilam, 1988, page 130.
18.Ibid. pages 141, 142 20.Ibid. page 142
5.The Open Door, Hans Staffner SJ, 1978, pages 157-159 7. Ibid. pages 157-159
6.The Catholic Church and World Religions, R. C. Zaehner, page 52
8.Escape From the Guru, Barbara Szandorowska, 1991, pages 77, 9, 29 12. Ibid. page 86 15.Ibid. page 86
9.Witness Potential of Evangelical Poverty in India, J. Cherupallikat, 1975, page 2
13.Dawn of the New Age, Five New Agers Relate their Search for the Truth, Tal Brooke, page 16
14.World of Gurus, Vishal Mangalwadi, 1987, pages 115, 110 16. Ibid. pages 41-51
19.Gods of the New Age, Caryl Matrisciana, 1985, pages 148, 149
We have seen from the above that all of these persons and societies have philosophies and teachings that are inimical to Christianity, from advaita non-dualism to the occult, from mantric tools to tantra (one aspect of tantra being the use of sex between partners in a manner as to experience the ultimate Oneness of reality), and from syncretism to neo-Hindu fundamentalism. Every one of them rejects the unicity of Jesus Christ and the need for a personal Saviour in Him. (Some of them will be discussed again in the following pages.)
A majority of them (pages 3, 4, and 9) are from the section of Indian society (the Kanchi, Belur and other Maths are the citadels of Aryan Brahminism) which supports ‘saffronisation’ and Hindutva, and play a significant role in continuing to hold 90% of the population of India under the inhuman yoke of casteism.
How could the head of one of these Maths, which hold to the anti-egalitarian varnashrama dharma of the caste system, be invited by you to “reinforce” your National Regeneration Movement?
How could Mr. Joseph, a Catholic, be permitted by you to include Ramakrishna, Anandmayi Ma and Sai Baba along with Mother Teresa and Maximilian Kolbe in his ‘great line of Mahatmas’, and you publish the same?
Along with your referred letter to me, you sent me a copy of the Constitution (and Explanations and Orientations) of Disciples of Christ for Peace (DCP), a Catholic Society founded by you along with Archbishop S. Arulappa of Hyderabad on November 9, 1998.
The initial commitment for the proposed DCP was made, significantly as we will see on pages 13 to 18,
on May 13, 1994, the first death anniversary of New Ager and Ashram leader Fr. Bede Griffiths, at Saccidananda Ashram, Shantivanam.
The 3 Patrons of DCP are Archbishops. 3 of the 4 Advisors are Bishops.
We will however study the following: Vandana Mataji who is the other Advisor, and Rev. Dr. M. Amaladoss SJ, Professor of Theology, Vidya Jyothi Seminary, New Delhi who is your Theological Consultant.
The comments that can be made in this section are withheld as the reader will be provided explanations in detail about the terms used here and the significance of other persons named in connection with these two:
[Swami Sachidananda’s ‘Disciples of Christ for Peace’, his advisor] VANDANA MATAJI*…
She is a Catholic nun of the Order of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (RSCJ) and the author of several books. I will quote from a couple of them. *see more in my Oct. 2005 report on the
“We are at the close of the era of ‘religions‘… Now we stand at the threshold of an era of ‘spirituality‘”1
“The kind of experiment Vandana Mataji has been undertaking needs to be recognized as opening a new chapter in religious pluralism“, according to Fr. T. K. John SJ.2
(see ‘Religious Pluralism’, page 5)
“Is not our God Mother Earth in whom alone we can find or deepen our own spirit roots?”3
“To enable people to become God by entering into silence, is this not the raison d’etre of an ashram?”4
“Finding ‘the Self in all things and all things in the Self” (Isa Upanishad 6) is our goal in life in an Ashram.”5
“To ‘become what you are’ is to realize your true Self. Self-Realization is the unique goal.”6
“Swami Vivekananda says ‘We are the greatest god. Christ and Buddha are but waves of the boundless ocean that I am.’… Most Christians cannot easily think of man becoming god… In Buddhism too, the human person is the centre; ‘Look within, thou art the Buddha’.”7
“Christians believe silence will be the ultimate mode of language in heaven… and (so silence) must predominate in an ashram’s atmosphere.”8 [This is contrary to revelation in Scripture, see Rev 4:8, 5:11, 7:9-11, 15:3 etc.]
“There is an interesting discussion going on among the Catholic ashrams as to whether in a Christian ashram, Meditation or the Eucharist should be at the centre of our lives. Personally I tend to agree with Fr. Bede Griffiths that the distinctive call of a Christian ashram is to witness to the transcendent mystery believed in by people of all faiths… in the cave of the heart as the Upanishads call it, and this is reached by meditation…
The presence of Christ in the Eucharist is secondary… However precious this may be, it is still a secondary mode of the presence.”9
“Many aspire when they go to ashrams to sit for long hours in meditation and to be taught by the guru how to raise the kundalini (the serpent power) or the energy within.”10
“The 8-fold systematization of yoga by Patanjali is based on a sound physio-psychological and moral foundation. Yoga, which he defines as ‘Citta-vritti-nirodha’, the control of thought-fluctuations aims at union with God.”11
“But there is one form of Hathayoga called laya or Kundalini Yoga dealing with the psychic energy of the serpentine power in us… Unless it is studied under a genuine master it can be psychically dangerous.“12
In a critique of the October 1989 Vatican Document on “Some Aspects of Christian Meditation” which “warns all Catholic Bishops that Eastern forms of prayer and meditation such as Yoga, Zen and T. M. are ‘not free from dangers and errors’ “, she accuses the Church of the “fear of syncretism.” “We need to recognize… that no one religion, no, not even Christianity, can claim to have the whole truth… Personally, I do not think that syncretism is a real danger, nor what Cardinal Ratzinger truly fears.13
(In the West) Yoga and Zen schools as well as Eastern Spirituality Centres are found almost everywhere. I believe that such open communities… are the great need of the hour… Soon they will be needed also in India.”14
Suggesting that “we make a serious resolve to meditate together in inter-religious groups”, she concludes that there
is “no greater force than the peace vibration of ‘Om Shanti’ ending such meditation.”15
“Are we too sedate, too verbal? The dance of Siva-Nataraja, the flute of Sri Krishna calling the gopis to dance with
him- all this one misses, as is well brought out in a good publication ‘Krishna and Christ’ by Ishanand Vempeney” 16
“Some of us have experienced… at the feet of a Hindu guru in an ashram or a Buddhist Master… He often gives the most intense spiritual direction, sometimes even without a look or touch. We Christians have a lot to learn.”17
“So I sang out as loud as my lungs could sing ‘Om! Boon, bhuva, swaha calling on the three regions- earth, sky, mid-region to join me… By the eleventh mantra, the Lord Sun had risen… beckoning me to do the Surya Namaskar …what a wonderful Yogic gift to humankind that was!” The Examiner, June 20, 1998
“Living together outside of marriage is not always promiscuity. It is often a sincere love-bond requiring unselfish adjustment to the other. When it is such, who can dare cast the first stone against them and call it a sin?”18
“As the first edition (of ‘Waters of Fire’, 1989) was offered to Swami Chidanandji, whose kindness has made it possible for me to live by the Gangaji and to hear her incessant ‘Aum’, so I lay this third edition also at
Her book ‘Living with Hindus’ is dedicated to him again, and also to Swami Sivananda, founder of the Divine Life
Society and his “broad-minded spirituality.” On page 24, one sees a photograph of Vandana “at the feet of (a life-sized portrait of) Swami Sivananda… in Sivananda Ashram“, and on page 28, with her forehead bowed in contact with the seat where Sivananda used to meditate.
Another photograph on page 37 is of Vandana at Sathya Sai
Baba’s ashram. On page 61, one may see her “getting Prasad from B. K. S. Iyengar*, the famous yogi from Pune. About conversions, she says, “My advice is that the less we think of them, the less we aim at them, the better.”19 *see report on KRIPA FOUNDTN.
Vandana has completed over 25 years in an ashram in Rishikesh. She has even experimented with New Age spirituality and has participated at the Findhorn Centre in Scotland which is the world’s main centre of New Age activity.
“Fascinating as I found this institution… I did not feel that its spirituality is sufficiently clear- such as is sought by meditators of Yoga, Zen etc.”20
A selected study of the writings of Vandana Mataji, an ‘Advisor’ to your ‘Disciples of Christ for Peace’, reveals her position on the deification of nature and of the self, and the moral correctness of sexual promiscuity.
She rejects the teaching of the Church, advocating its opposite, and the importance of the Real Presence in the Eucharist. She believes in a theology of religious pluralism.
On page xiii of her book ‘Find your roots and Take Wing’, an Iranian Episcopal Bishop has explained that the illustration on the front cover of an upside down tree is based on certain texts of the Upanishads & Bhagavad Gita. I see it as depicting Vandana’s position, upside down, contrary and in opposition to Biblical revelation, and Christian beliefs, morals and teachings which is because the spirituality of the persons who are her gurus is based on philosophies that are contrary and in opposition to genuine Christian spirituality.
Find Your Roots and Take Wing, Asian Trading, 1991
1. Page 108 3. Page vii 4. Page 70 5. Page 68 6. Page 57 7. Pages 18, 72 8. Page 86 9. Pages 81, 82
10. Page 75 11. Page 106 12. Pages 84, 85 16. Page 89 17. Page 21 18. Page 104 20. Pages 101, 102
Living with Hindus, ISPCK, 1999
2. Page xiii 13. Pages 62, 63 14. Page 88 15. Page 99 19. Page 75
…[and his consultant] DR. MICHAEL AMALADOSS S.J.
Fr. Michael Amaladoss “is one of the best known Indian theologians at the international level.”
To the question, “what are the lessons life has taught you?”, his reply is:
“Almost a Buddhist sense of accepting life in its flow… an experience of the relativity of everything: there is only one Absolute that pervades everything.” Jivan, July 2000, page 30
“Jesus’ saving us from sin consists in showing* us how to turn away from sin.”
‘Jesus and Sin’, The New Leader, August 1-15, 2003.
*ONLY ‘SHOWING‘? THE ERROR IS SUBTLE!
In the ‘Theology and Life’ column in The New Leader, September 1-15, 2000, one of his numerous articles titled ‘Spirits and Ancestors’ was published. Some extracts:
“Death is not the end of human beings. They continue to live in a different way… It is not helpful to imagine them in bizarre ways when we do not know how they are! That is why it is more helpful to think of them as ancestors, people who have gone before us, but who are related to us…
“(At the time of death they) do not simply disappear. They are somehow with us, interested in how we are and what we are doing. They want to guide and protect us in some way. They communicate with us through dreams…
“They do not disappear to some far away place. The idea that our ancestors do not simply disappear, but are near their loved ones need not shock us. We can take it for granted…
“Some spirits are more threatening. If we have seen people who are possessed, they are often possessed by people who are dead. People who die an untimely death through accident or disease are said to be wandering around the place of their death and possess people who pass that way…
“Once dead, they do not look at life and at other people in the same way as they did when they were alive…
“A popular exorcist… said that he had no reason to believe that any spirits were involved…
“How many of us pray to a parent… or even to a child who is alive… I know some people who do.”
Amaladoss believes that there are no spirits, only ‘ancestors’. But the Bible (Hebrews 9:27) and the Catechism teach clearly that people who are dead do not wander around and cannot possess anybody. They teach that there ARE spirits. There is no such thing as “an untimely death”.
And Christians certainly DO NOT pray TO the living on earth.
In an earlier issue, The New Leader, August 1-15, 2000, asking us ‘Do devils exist?’, he explains:
“Is it not strange that a loving God (may have) created… a category of beings to whom repentance and forgiveness do not seem to be available ?…It is (the) conflict between a loving God and devils who remain evil and unforgiven forever that makes me wonder whether devils are simply playing a role in our own worldview. We should not then rush to conclusions about their existence…
“Humans are given a chance to repent and be saved but devils do not seem to have such a chance. The Bible
seems to indicate that God almost ‘needs’ such evil spirits…
“Why is God condemning a group of God’s creatures, namely the devils, to hell fire forever without any hope of redemption? Does not this fact tarnish somehow the image of a loving God? I wonder whether devils are necessary projections of our concerns?…
“The devils are objects on which we can project all the evil… in ourselves… Do we not… hurt the image of God as loving and good, if God needs unredeemed spirits to ‘run’ the universe and eventually hell as the place for punishment? Perhaps we need to explore other answers.”
Fr. Amaladoss understands that the Bible teaches that God created devils and that he seemed to have a ‘need’ to ‘create’ them into existence. He teaches that devils are ‘objects’, a figment of our own imaginations and concerns. If there are no evil ‘spirits’, obviously there can be no devils. Like many other liberal theologians he projects the love and mercy of God to the exclusion of his righteousness and justice and our inevitable judgement by a holy God.
In The New Leader, September 1-15, Letters to the Editor, H. R. T. Roberts remarked ‘Christians believe that devils
exist because it is taught by Scripture and formulated as dogma by the Church.’
Sr. M. Johanna from Goa wrote: (The article by Amaladoss) proves to what extent Satan has succeeded on making even theologians of such repute doubt, or even deny, his existence.’
‘Are we spirits?’, a sequel to the first article, in The New Leader, October 1-15 is nothing less than
a manifesto on the paranormal, the occult, holistic health and New Age Alternative Medicine.
In keeping with the basic premises of the ‘New Science’ (explained later) and New Age Alternative Therapies Amaladoss denies the reality of the ‘spirit’ and of spirits, and asserts “the ‘spirits’ in phenomena of possession are ‘thought forms’ constructed by the mind…
“In Vipassana meditation people are asked to send good vibrations to others. In the same way, evil vibrations can be sent too… I think that the phenomenon of the so-called ‘evil-eye’ belongs to this order…
As with all New Age theory, he agrees with the existence of “energy fields that surround our bodies… as in Alternative Healing practices like Reiki and Pranic Healing… Our ancient yogis mapped such energy fields.” He criticizes “some religious leaders, especially the charismatics who say that such healing practices are superstitious… Such narrow judgements can be ignored.”
Amaladoss expresses his belief in “many paranormal phenomena like Extra-Sensory Perception, Clairvoyance, Mind-reading, Telepathy… prediction of the future by genuine clairvoyants etc.”
Such are the heretical, occult and New Age theological beliefs of Fr. Michael Amaladoss, the ‘Theological Consultant’ to the ‘Disciples of Christ for Peace’ of Swami Sachidananda and Dharma Bharathi.
My advertisement in The New Leader rejected
It is shocking how a Catholic periodical like The New Leader features his column on a regular basis.
On March 2, 2002 I paid (by cheque for Rs. 500) for the insertion of the following advertisement in The New Leader:
ATTENTION CATHOLICS!!! PRANIC HEALING AND REIKI ARE OCCULT ALTERNATIVE NEW AGE THERAPIES. FOR FREE INFORMATION AND COUNSELLING, TELEPHONE : 2461 1606
I was issued Receipt no. RV/01/3908 dated 02/03/02.
Till the time of writing in August 2003, the advertisement has NOT been released, and my payment has not been returned. [see also page 41]
It may be due to the four-page letter dated February 21, 2002 written by me to the Editor, Fr. M. A. Joe Antony SJ In which I had criticized the publication for carrying successive articles in their two February issues, both favoring Reiki and Pranic Healing. The letter and several other reports sent by me to him were returned to me by his office staff when I visited the NL office on 18th March. Though Fr. Antony was in his office, he declined to give me a meeting despite my requests.
A dozen sentences from my letter were published in the Letters to the Editor of March, 1-15, 2002 issue, but it was preceded by a letter from another reader, which paid glowing tributes to Fr. Antony, to the writers of the articles on Alternative Medicine, and to the practices of Reiki, Pranic Healing and Yoga.
Let us now examine Fr. Bede Griffiths, another guru of Swami Sachidananda’s.
Fr. Bede Griffiths O. S. B. (Swami Dayananda), his thought and teaching
Bede influenced hundreds of Catholic religious and laypersons to ‘inculturate’ by taking Indian names (Swami Sachidananda of Dharma Bharathi was one of his disciples with the original name of N. V. John), wearing ‘kavi’ (the saffron robes of the Indian ascetic), adopting Hindu philosophies, techniques of prayer and meditation including ‘surya namaskar’ and mantra (including ‘Om’) chanting, practising yoga and reading the sacred texts of Hinduism and other religions. Many of his disciples, including Swami Sachidananda were privileged to have ‘diksha’ conferred on them by Bede. [Also refer to my October 2005 report on the CATHOLIC ASHRAMS].
(Dayananda was one of Sachidananda’s four spiritual gurus. We will analyze his philosophies and his theology.)
The Swami From Oxford
Bede Griffiths Wants To Integrate Catholicism And Hinduism
© Crisis, 1814 1/2 N Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036 or call 1-800-852-9962, email@example.com.
The scene is Tamil Nadu in South India. An elderly man with white hair and beard sits in meditative posture in a thatched hut near the banks of the River Cavery.* He is dressed in the ocher robe of a Hindu sannyasin — an ascetic who has renounced all possessions. Yet this man is not a Hindu guru but a Benedictine monk named Bede Griffiths, originally associated with Prinknash Abbey in England. A former student of C.S. Lewis at Oxford, Griffiths is well known as an interpreter of Hindu wisdom to Western Christians. A convert to Catholicism, Griffiths is a British version of Thomas Merton, who like the American, has a long and abiding interest in Oriental Religion. *see more in my report on CATHOLIC ASHRAMS after my week-long stay at the ashram
Griffiths has made the claim that he is “a Christian in religion but a Hindu in spirit”. Such an assertion can be understood as his way of adapting the Christian faith to the local culture. But it raises the question of how far a Christian can go in adopting indigenous and non-Christian practices and concepts without giving up Catholic teaching itself.
Bede Griffiths was born in 1906 in Walton-on-Thames, England. He received an outstanding education at Christ’s Hospital and at Magdalen College, Oxford. Although nominally an Anglican throughout his life, Griffiths’ Christian faith was awakened at Oxford by his tutor, C.S. Lewis. Upon graduation, he went to live in a country cottage with some friends; they occupied themselves by reading and holding intellectual discussions. After reading the Bible and church history, Griffiths became more interested in Catholicism. He was finally led to Newman and made up his mind to enter the Catholic Church. A month after being received into the Church, he also entered Prinknash Abbey. Ordained a priest in 1940, Griffiths always remained an avid reader. In addition to his studies in church history, he began to read the classical texts of Indian and Chinese philosophy, which were available in translation.
In 1955, Griffiths accepted an invitation to move to India, and within a few years he helped to start a Christian monastery or ashram in Kerala, South India. Griffiths’s ashram was patterned after a previous Christian community, founded in 1950 by two French priests, Jules Monchanin and Henri Le Saux, named Saccidananda Ashram at Shantivanam near Trichy in Tamil Nadu. In 1968, Henri Le Saux, also known as Abhishiktananda, decided to live in a hermitage, and Griffiths was invited to assume leadership of Shantivanam. Griffiths published his autobiography, The Golden String, in 1954 while still in England. Since moving to India in 1955, he has studied Sanskrit and has continued reading about Hinduism. He has published a number of books, which have tried to relate Hindu concepts to the Christian faith. Among these titles are Christ in India, Vedanta and Christian Faith, Return to the Center, The Marriage of East and West, The Cosmic Revelation, and River of Compassion: A Christian Reading of the Bhagavad Gita.
The main message of these writings is not what Christianity can contribute to Indian culture but what Christians must learn from Hinduism. Indeed, Griffiths’ wish is to transform the Gospel into a message, which is Christian and Hindu at the same time. However, while Griffiths is willing to show the deepest respect for the Hindu spiritual tradition, in recent years he has shown far less respect for the Vatican. In journals like The Tablet and the National Catholic Reporter, he has published several sharply worded critiques of Vatican documents like the new Oath of Loyalty and the instruction On Christian Meditation*. In his May 20, 1989, article in The Tablet, he actually called upon the magisterium to repudiate publicly doctrinal teachings, including a solemn declaration of the Council of Florence. More recently, he has called for a “propositionless Christianity.”
*The Vatican Document ‘Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation’,
October 15, 1989 signed by Cardinal Ratzinger, see ‘The Om Mantra and Yoga.’**
In light of the popularity of Bede Griffiths as a type of Christian Oriental guru, we need to ask whether he represents either authentic Hinduism or authentic Christianity. This question is illumined by a controversy with a traditionalist Hindu named Swami Devananda (“Lord Blissful-in-God”) in which Griffiths recently became entangled. Griffiths, no less pompously, takes the title of Swami Dayananda (“Lord Blissful-in-Compassion”), and so both Blissfuls exchanged some letters, which have since been published. **page 8
The Hindu Swami Devananda displays an unrelenting hostility towards Griffiths and Christianity in his letters and thus does a disservice to what otherwise appears to be a valid case. Vituperation and raillery apart, Devananda, makes two arguments. First, he says that one religion must not be permitted to subvert the symbols of another. In Hinduism, the ocher robe stands for the Hindu ascetic, and the sacred symbol Om for the essence of the Vedic Scriptures. Christianity, too, has its symbols, the monk’s robe for monasticism, and the cross for its basic message. Now Griffiths has taken over the ocher robe and fixed the Om to the cross. For Devananda, this is a subversion of Hinduism, much as a Hindu’s wearing of a Franciscan habit to preach his faith (and adopting the cross as a symbol of that faith) would be a subversion of Christianity.
Devananda also contends that the usage of Hindu symbols is not valid unless sanctioned by representatives of the Hindu tradition. Hinduism is a hierarchical religion, and the continuity of its institutions and the authenticity of its symbols depends upon the supervision and vigilance of its hierarchy. This is true of Catholicism also. As Devananda says, “The Church does not recognize a priest outside the apostolic succession of Peter, and we do not recognize a sannyasin [ascetic] outside the Hindu paramparas [traditional congregations].”
Griffiths responds to both points by invoking the principle of the unity of religions. “Our search today,” he proclaims, “is to go beyond the institutional structures of religion and discover the hidden mystery which is at the heart of all religion.” This idea, he continues, “is the prevailing view among Hindus today.” Other Hindus who subscribe to this view, he observes, are
Sri Aurobindo, Ramana Maharishi, and Mahatma Gandhi. He then makes this strange pronouncement: “I consider myself a Christian in religion but a Hindu in spirit, just as they were Hindus in religion while being Christian in spirit.”
What does Griffiths mean by all this? Being a “Hindu in spirit” and a “Christian in spirit” either mean the same thing or mean different things. If they mean the same thing, then Griffiths is preaching the theosophical unity of faiths and cannot be considered a Christian, at least in the orthodox sense. If they mean different things, then Griffiths, who says that he is a “Hindu in spirit,” is not a Christian by his own confession. Griffiths seems to place “religion” in opposition to “spirit.” Yet, in all his writings, he constantly uses Christian language to interpret Hindu concepts and Hindu language to interpret Christian concepts. What, then, does Griffiths represent? Is he promoting a Christianized Neo-Hinduism or a Hinduized Neo-Christianity? Apart from the question of labels, though, is the more fundamental issue: does Griffiths succeed in his effort at religious integration or does he create a theological hybrid, which is neither authentically Hindu nor Christian?
It can be argued that Griffiths’ understanding of Hinduism is limited. The Hindu sources he usually speaks of are the very ancient Vedas, Upanishads, and Gita (all translated), or the very modern and westernized Hindu sources such as Ramakrishna, and Vivekananda, who usually write in English. He shows little familiarity with the vast majority of Hindu theologians of the intervening two millennia.
The dubious quality of Griffiths’ attempt at a Hindu-Christian integration is also revealed in his attempt to explain the Trinity in Hindu terms. In his book The Marriage of East and West Griffiths equates the Trinity with the Hindu triad of Being-Consciousness-Bliss (sat-chit-ananda). As he writes: “we could then speak of God as Saccidananda . . . and see in the Father, sat . . . we could speak of the Son as the cit . . . we could speak of the Spirit as the ananda.” While there might be some apparent similarities between the Christian Logos and Hindu Consciousness and between the Christian Spirit (who is Love) and Hindu bliss, the differences between Saccidananda and the Trinity
are so pronounced as to discount any attempt to equate them. For Hinduism, the triad of Being-Consciousness-Bliss refers to nothing other than three aspects of the same reality, which are distinguished only in concept but not in reality. There is no question of any of them originating from either or both of the others as in the Christian Trinity. These Hindu qualities are better identified with scholasticism’s three transcendental attributes of being– unity, truth and goodness–to which they largely correspond. If Griffiths persists in equating the Trinity with the Hindu Saccidananda, then he is either distorting the meaning of the Hindu triad or he is promoting a view of the Trinity, which is unacceptable in Christian orthodoxy.
Griffiths is also guilty of theological distortion in his attempt to identify God the Father with the Hindu concept of nirguna brahman, the Qualitiless Absolute, and God the Son with saguna brahman, the Qualitated Absolute. He describes the Father as the “infinite abyss of being beyond word and thought” and the Son as the “Self-manifestation of the unmanifest God.” However, from the Hindu viewpoint, the Qualitated Absolute is an inferior aspect of the deity, an illusory deformation of it projected by an ontological ignorance. If Griffiths is serious about his equation, he has made the Son less than the Father in a way destructive of Christian orthodoxy.
While we cannot form a judgment about Griffiths’ personal sanctity or the depth of his spiritual experience, we can form one about his theology. He does not seem to represent a pure Christian inculturation of Hinduism since his ideas about the Indian tradition are in many ways shaped by Western scholarship and the Neo-Hinduism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. When Roberto De Nobili entered India, he had to preach the Gospel in terms totally taken over from classical Hindu sources. Bede Griffiths’ Hinduism, though, is a hybrid version shaped by modern Indian thinkers like Vivekananda, who have been influenced by Western philosophical ideas.
The purpose of true Catholic inculturation is to express the richness of the Gospel and the Catholic faith through concepts and symbols, which reflect the native culture. Anything that is “good or honorable and beautiful” within the culture can be adapted or absorbed by the Catholic faith–be it a gesture, mode of dress, or spiritual concept. Bede Griffiths, however, appears to offer a form of Neo-Hindu Christianity which obscures rather than enriches the Catholic faith. A close examination of his theology reveals a superficial attempt to give Hindu concepts Christian meaning or Christian concepts Hindu meaning. The result is a system, which is neither truly Hindu nor Christian.
Our underlying intuition is that Griffiths reflects a theosophical
rather than a Christian
point of view. Theosophy here can be discerned by three common characteristics. First, it posits that there is a transcendental unity behind all religions, and that their doctrinal and institutional features are only accidental. Second, it generally expresses itself in Western European languages, rather than Asian ones, and employs a vague and mystical sounding vocabulary to describe vaguely understood concepts of religions identified as “oriental.” Third, it displays an ambivalence to what it calls “dualism,” which it professes to despise while constantly employing dualistic polarities like East/West, rational/mystical.
Perhaps the greatest tragedy of Griffiths’ attempt at inculturation is that it can obscure true efforts to create an Indian Christian theology. Within Hinduism, there is a preparation for the Gospel, which is extraordinary in its theological and spiritual depth. Indeed, Vatican II openly acknowledges that, “in Hinduism men contemplate the divine mystery.” Moreover, it was in Hinduism that some mysteries which Christian theology recognizes as wholly supernatural were first enunciated. In the ancient Hindu writings we find the concept of the mysterious plurality of beings in the unique and transcendent being of God; the assumption by this being of creaturely form (the incarnation); the intimate personal union with this being as constituting man’s supreme happiness (the Beatific Vision); and the unattainability of that Being except through his favor (grace). It is arguable that some of the mysteries distinctive of the Christian revelation can be found in the Hindu scriptures.
We can only hope that in the future India will produce her own Catholic theologians who can create a more authentic version of Indian Catholic Theology than the Englishman Griffiths. Drawing upon the theological and spiritual genius of the Indian mind, such a theology will be truly Catholic in its faithfulness to Scripture, tradition, and the magisterium, and truly Indian in its cultural and linguistic expression. Only in this way, can the riches of India give expression to “the unfathomable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8). By Robert Fastiggi, associate professor of religious studies at St. Edwards University, Austin, Texas and Jose Pereira, a native of Bombay & professor of theology at Fordham, the translator and editor of ‘Hindu Theology: A Reader’ (Doubleday).
About his ‘peak experience of the Transcendent Mystery in nature’ which became ‘the basis of his search for self-realization’
Bede says “I felt the presence of a spirit in nature, with which I longed to be united”*, to the extent that ‘after that experience he gave up his adherence to any form of Christianity. …The first effect of such an experience is often to lead to the abandonment of all religion or it challenges one to work out one’s own religion for oneself… In a way his reading of philosophy led him later on to understand that the Presence which he experienced in nature as a school boy was the one true God.’
‘He has led thousands & thousands of people to this experience which alone gives true joy and peace to humanity.’ * Bede Griffiths, A Pilgrimage to Jerusalem, 1938, page 7.
Bede’s Journey to the Beyond, Fr. Jesu Rajan, 1997, pages 13, 30 to 32, 35
Quoting the letter to the Hebrews 1:1, Griffiths dares to call the Vedic religion as Vedic Revelation*. By this he insists that we have to accept the fact of revelation in other religions, especially in Hinduism. (See the Vatican castigation of Fr. Felix Wilfred for holding the same position, page 6.)
Among the Hindu systems, Griffiths is for Vedanta (Aryan) and tantras (Dravidian)…The early Griffiths was taken up by Vedanta in the beginning. But in his later days, he also recognized the importance of tantra… He pointed out that advaita has a tendency to neglect matter (the body). The aim of advaita is to unite oneself with the supreme Brahman, leaving behind the body, the soul, the mind… Griffiths acknowledges that in opposition to advaita, tantra asserts the values of nature, body, senses and sex…
Tantra consists in bringing the consciousness into all levels of being. It is the process in which the divine energy, the shakti which is in all nature, rises through the seven chakras, the seven levels of consciousness, to reach the supreme consciousness, the Shiva… As this process takes place, Shiva and Shakti, male and female are married, united, and the whole person is transformed. That is the path of tantra… part of the practice was to develop sexual energy as one means of uniting with the Godhead*. The final goal in tantra is to raise the shakti… and unite with the supreme consciousness, God. The study of the relevance of tantra came to the forefront in later Griffiths.
On the part of his mystical theology, there grew a deeper conviction of the worldview of mystics of all religions which caused more and more a critical attitude towards and judgment of the Judeo-Christian traditions.
Those members of the official Church who knew him well, were skeptical of his thought and teaching to a great extent. That is why his tenets were not adopted by the official Church in India.
*Bede Griffiths, The Cosmic Revelation: The Hindu Way to God, 1985, page 7; A New Vision of Reality: Western Science, Eastern Mysticism and Christian Faith, 1989, pages 194, 195
Dr. Fr. Lourdu Anandam, The Western Lover of the East, 1998, pages 152, 157, 158, 243, 244
Bede Griffiths and the New Age Movement*
He derives inspiration from… East and West, and supports his arguments with the findings of the New Science, and the statements of modern theologians like Teilhard de Chardin and sages like Sri Aurobindo. In his late years, he was also influenced by the New Age Movement… All his writings from 1982 are much loaded with the concepts and terms and thinking patterns of the New Age Movement (NAM). Therefore it becomes important from the Catholic theological point of view to make an inquiry into the theology of Griffiths. *see more in my report on the CATHOLIC ASHRAMS
…The New Age has fore-runners… in the form of the Theosophical Society since 1875 (see the analysis in the CRISIS article, pages 15 to 18; also see page 25).
It may be irritating to come across NAM terms often (sometimes too often) in the later writings of Griffiths. First and foremost it must be said that he is not the first one among Catholic theologians to be sympathetic towards the NAM.
‘When the New Age is branded as something evil by German and Anglo-Protestantism, it is much praised by the Catholics.’ Hans Joachim Turk, New Age und christlicher Glaube, 1988, page 667.
Turk makes… theologians such as Teilhard de Chardin… responsible for the fact that the Spirit of God is identified with the Spirit of the New Age in the Catholic Church.(see page 17)
Griffiths’ later writings are pregnant with the terms and concepts of the New Age. The primacy of intuition as means of the right knowledge as opposed to reason, the complementarity of the masculine and the feminine, the insistence of the new consciousness that… reality is a whole in which every part is united with the whole… became the important concepts and thoughts of Griffiths.
The impact of New Age thinking begins to be shown for the first time in his book The Marriage of East and West in 1982. In this book, the (above) and his skepticism of the intellectual concepts and dogmatic formulations of the Church are given expression. But the usage of New Age terminologies as such are to be recognized without ambiguity in A New Vision of Reality, published in 1989. Then, all the later writings, to which a bulk of the unpublished materials belong, use New Age terminologies as well as New Age thinking and there is a clarion call of the New Age.
The final aim of the New Age is a sort of monism and pantheism identifying everything of the created reality with the divine and seeing the oneness of everything. If Griffiths had also the same understanding and vision, then he fails to be recognized anymore as a Catholic theologian…
As we have seen, he has deliberately used New Age terminologies and he was sympathetic to certain ways of thinking and the proponents of the New Age. Besides, he was also united in friendship with some of the proponents like Fritjof Capra and Rupert Sheldrake. They were regular visitors to his Saccidananda Ashram. I think that we can come to the conclusion that these scientists of the so-called ‘new science’ who substantiate their discoveries with those of the philosophies of Eastern religions saw in Griffiths a good example of a Christian monk and theologian through whom their proposals and ‘visions’ could be confirmed. And thus they could win the sympathy and the support of Christians especially in the West… They gave him material to read, reflect and share his opinions on the subjects for which they were supposedly seeking clarifications. Like that, he was slowly influenced by the intellectual New Age Movement.
In the foreword for his book of A New Vision of Reality, page 7, he acknowledges this in the following words:
There is no need for me to say how much this book owes to Fritjof Capra, whose The Tao of Physics gave me an insight into the new movement in science today, and from whose book The Turning Point the title of this book is taken. So also my debt to Ken Wilber, who has opened up Western psychology to the insights of Eastern wisdom, is no less evident. (see analysis of these persons’ teachings on pages 17, 18, 19)
To the question, put to him in an interview on 12th and 13th October, 1991 at Shantivanam by Fr. Lourdu Anandam, Do you share the views of the New Age Movement?, Bede Griffiths replies:
Yes, I do. Incidentally, I am invited next year to a conference in Winchester, England where the leaders of this movement are meeting for several years…. When eternal physics is giving way to Quantum theory and relativity, we see the universe as a field of energies. The whole idea of solid bodies moving in space and time gives way to a field of energies with different frequencies. And that brings us much nearer to the Indian and Eastern traditions. Fritjof Capra shows in his book The Tao of Physics that the new physics is very near to the ancient Indian and Chinese Oriental vision of the universe.
The universe is the field of energies permeated by consciousness… The ‘new science’ says that there is no world outside this consciousness… Thus we come close to the Vedic tradition… of the universe.
To the question Do you think that modern science will soon accept the findings of the ‘new science’ and thus a convergence is taking place between science and spirituality ?, Griffiths says:
Yes…. Many leading scientists today like Fritjof Capra, Rupert Sheldrake and David Bohm, all belonging to that school, are discovering the spiritual dimension of the universe… There is a real convergence taking place between the more historic revelation of Christianity and the more spiritual revelations of India and the East… I think we are
on the verge of a new theology, a new understanding of the Church.
In the interview with me, he approved his alliance with NAM, that he shared its views and that he was associated
with the leaders of the movement.
Griffiths found support in the findings or proposals of the ‘scientists of the New Science’ for the unified vision of the universe of the Eastern mystic religions.
Dr. Fr. Lourdu Anandam, The Western Lover of the East, A Theological Enquiry into Bede Griffiths’ contribution to Christology, 1998, pages 234, 244-248
Fr. Lourdu Anandam criticizes the support that Fr. Bede lends to the New Age Movement, and his later writings as approaching a pluralistic theology of religion.
Dr. Fr. Clive Hurley SDB, The New Leader, February 16-29, 2000
Swami Sachidananda was introduced to the scientific dimension of spirituality by… Swami Dayananda, previously called Father Bede Griffiths. He got to meet men of New Science like Fritjof Capra* who wrote ‘The Tao of Physics’ & Rupert Sheldrake* who wrote ‘The Seven Experiments that could Change the World’ (BangaloreTimes 9.2.2002). *New Agers. New Science=New Age
Swami Sachidananda Bharathi of DHARMA BHARATHI and the New Age Movement
Before we examine DB literature, let us familiarize ourselves with important New Age vocabulary from a few Christian critics of the NAM. You have already come across some of these words and phrases earlier above.
Look out for the others in the extracts from DB literature (in italics) and in our examination of the philosophies and teachings of prominent New Agers whose names are mentioned in DB literature, below.
“The NAM aspires after a new and perfect world… the formation of a ‘New World Order’ marked by group consciousness and synergy (combined action)… but if this goal is to be attained, there will have to be a paradigm shift… Instead of the previous analytic mode of thought… there is to be a new holistic perspective, the belief in the interconnectedness of all things… All things are interdependent… Every individual feels part of nature and the whole cosmos… Rational thinking is to give way to intuitive knowledge… New Age philosophy aims at reconciling all opposites: science and occultism are placed on par… good and evil no longer exist. All is one. This explains the move towards a synthesis of all religions… New Age programmes include meditation, yoga, transpersonal psychology…
New Age From a Biblical Viewpoint, Basilea Schlink, Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary, 1988, pages 7, 10, 11, 16
NEW AGE IN DHARMA BHARATHI LITERATURE
‘Shanti Yagna’, a form of meditation promoted by Dharma Bharathi…has different stages. Stage one: Harmony and synergy stage… Stage three: Wholeness and communion stage. (DBNS 98)
There is need for man to capture a new Cosmo-vision… (for) human beings to effect a paradigm shift in their lifestyle from anthropocentric world to ecocentric universe. (DBNS 95)
The peace culture paradigm… is based on an integral understanding of reality in which God and creation are seen as interpenetrating realities, distinct yet inseparable. One is All, All is One is the basic understanding of reality within this paradigm. (NRMM 43)
Once again an exposure to the West has become necessary for India’s further growth. This time it has to be ‘New Science’. New Science proves the interdependent organic nature of planet Earth and of the whole creation. We have to live in harmony… This earth-family consciousness… (NRMM 50, 81)
Discoveries of New Science are leading us today to an integral vision of reality. We have come to realize that creation is an interdependent organic whole… Everything and everyone is… interdependent. Scientific discoveries and religious insights need to be seen as complementary realities. The
rational and the intuitive, the masculine and the feminine, the secular and the sacred are to be seen as integral to one another. (NRMM 44, 45) Dharma is the underlying principle of unity behind all diversities in creation. This unitive dharmic worldview of India is being supported today by the discoveries of New Science. (DBNS 60)
Discoveries of New Science starting with the Theory of Relativity and Quantum Physics are today proving beyond doubt the interdependent organic nature of creation… A holistic vision of reality is slowly replacing the old mechanical and materialistic model. This emerging integral vision of reality demands profound and far-reaching changes in our attitudes and outlooks as can be seen from the works of the proponents of New Science like Werner Heisenberg, David Bohm, Fritjof Capra, Paul Davies, Ken Wilber, Rupert Sheldrake and E. F. Schumacher to name a few. An interesting aspect of the emerging integral vision of reality is that it is more or less fully in harmony with the unity of all life experienced by the mystics of world religions. The sages and rishis of India proclaimed (it) in enlightened words like ‘Ekam Sat, Vipra Bahudha Vadanti’ (Truth is one, wise men call it by different names.)… Mystics of the 20th century like Sri Aurobindo, Teilhard de Chardin and Bede Griffiths have served as prophets of this emerging new integral vision of reality. Thus we see… a confluence of science and religion taking place. (DBNS 59, 60).
A well-balanced synthesis of science and spirituality… should be evolved… In other words, the curriculum (for Dharma Bharathi education in schools) should be rooted in a new humanism. (DBNS 92) (see page 25)
Indian insights into the truths of spirit gave birth to a number of progressive movements (like) Theosophical Society, Aurobindo Society… (NRMM 51)
The interdependent organic nature of creation and the interrelatedness of our existence are well-embodied in and represented by the concept of Dharma… which according to Annie Besant is ‘India’s word to the world’. (A quotation of hers is included.) (NRMM 45, DBNS 61)
(From a letter dated July 2, 2002 written to me by Swami Sachidananda. Emphases mine.):
The term ‘New Science’ implies the scientific developments beginning with the Theory of Relativity and Quantum Physics that point towards the interdependent organic nature of creation, the inter-convertibility of matter, energy and mind
and towards the complementarity of religious insights and scientific discoveries.
(He differentiates the New Science from the earlier ‘Modern science’): “Modern Science’ that began with Newton promoted a mechanistic model with an inbuilt dichotomy between the secular and the sacred, and between the physical and the spiritual. (He further elaborates…)
Heisenberg and Bohm were nuclear physicists. Davies and Wilber are psychologists. Sheldrake teaches
biology at Oxford University. All of them through their various works, point towards the
interdependence of energy, matter
and mind, of the physical, psychological and the spiritual. (Swami Sachidananda concludes…)
Sheldrake wrote his famous book ‘ New Science of Life’ living in Shantivanam Ashram of Fr. Bede Griffiths. They were friends. Fr. Bede was my guru.
Who are these people of the ‘New Science’, and what are their beliefs?
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
No one has contributed more to the merger of science and religion than the French priest/ paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin. Treated as an apostate by the Vatican, banned from teaching, and forbidden to publish his writings, the controversial Jesuit, who was known as the father of the New Age… expounded “a new theology” leading to the “awakening to a collective superconsciousness…[and] a new age of the earth.” He argued for the coming of a deeply moral super-humanity ennobled by the universal spirit of the cosmic Christ; Human consciousness, growing ever more complex and interdependent, feeds what Teilhard calls the ‘noosphere’, a layer of mind or spirit enveloping the earth; a future fourth layer, the theosphere, is envisioned by Teilhard as the culmination… when the converging… human spirits transcend space and matter and mystically join god-omega at the omega point.1
In the New Age worldview (there is) a confluence of mysticism and quantum physics, intuitive meaning and spirituality… predicated upon a sense of the oneness of all existence… And to explicate these ideas we turn to Jesuit paleontologist de Chardin, whom (New Age guru) Marilyn Ferguson found to be the single most influential individual in the thinking of 185 New Agers she surveyed (when preparing her book ‘The Aquarian Conspiracy’, a manifesto on the NAM, in the 80s.)***
In his law of ‘complexity-consciousness’, Teilhard stated that evolution moves toward increasing complexity. This increase is accompanied by a corresponding rise of consciousness, or awareness, culminating in human evolution; and, finally, a point of convergence, which he called ‘Omega’, is reached. To Teilhard this was God, the Center of centers, and specifically, Christ.
In his writings- considered unorthodox and suppressed by the Roman Catholic Church- Teilhard talked about multiplicity and unity; the one, the many. Matter and energy, said the priest, are a single principle, two aspects of one energy. And he considered spirit to be a function of matter… In fact, he was not even afraid to speak of matter becoming spirit: “There is in the world neither spirit not matter: the ‘stuff of the universe’ is rather spirit-matter.” 2
***Ferguson calls them ‘Aquarian conspirators’. Named in order of frequency: de Chardin (Jesuit priest),
C. G. Jung (at number 2), Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers (existential humanists, at 3 and 4), J. Krishnamurti (7), Paul Tillich (Lutheran theologian), Martin Buber (Jewish theologian), Sri Aurobindo, Thomas Merton (Trappist monk), and Albert Einstein (according to the Vatican Document on the ‘New Age’ notes 15).
In his pitch for the New Science, Swami Sachidananda has quoted Einstein (and Annie Besant) as saying:
‘Religion without science is blind and science without religion is lame’. (NRMM 44)
It is the same Einstein who said: ‘The mystical trend of our times which is manifested in the rampant growth of the so-called Theosophy is for me no more than a symptom of weakness, confusion and a convenient vehicle for exploitation’.
When the New Age Gets Old, Vishal Mangalwadi, 1992, page 259
With Teilhard’s theories of progressive revolution and unification of world consciousness in place, along with the quantum physics view of fundamental reality as… vibrant pulsating energy, enter physicist Fritjof Capra, a leading New Age exponent. …He has become a major mouthpiece for the New Age contention that modern science irrefutably supports mysticism and the ‘universal one’.
In his influential and much quoted book ‘The Tao of Physics’… Capra’s views stem at least in part from a ‘visionary experience’ he had while he sat on a beach meditating, and which he acknowledged was primed by psychedelic herbs: “I ‘saw’ the atoms of the elements and those of my body participating in a gigantic cosmic dance of energy. I felt its rhythm and ‘heard’ its sound, and at that moment I knew that this was the Dance of Shiva, the Lord of Dancers worshipped by the Hindus.” In his later book ‘The Turning Point’ Capra elaborated on Werner Heisenberg’s theory that observation affects the object observed. “The electron”, Capra said, “does not have objective properties independent of my mind.”3
According to Capra, “the earth is a living system; it functions, not just like an organism, but actually seems to be an organism, Gaia, living planetary being.” … His book ‘The Turning Point’, which has also been made into a film, ‘Mindwalk’, has become… a manifesto
for the New
Age Movement and a source of inspiration for the feminist spirituality of theologians such as Mathew Fox… Physicists such as Capra have seriously argued that the conclusions of the New Physics are best understood in the philosophical framework of Eastern mysticism such as Taoism, Hinduism and Buddhism.
(The idea that) ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ or ‘Shiva’ and ‘Shakti’, the ultimate masculine and feminine energies that created the entire cosmos lie within us…and we would see ourselves as ‘divine’ wholes, incorporating within ourselves the God-energy which is said to be both male and female… undoubtedly influenced some forms of New Age thought…Tantra accepts the classical Hindu view that reality is one. Our normal (rational or sensory) perception of duality- of male and female, living and non-living, force and matter, good and evil- is a perception of unreality, maya or lila…
Physicists such as Capra find this tantric view of the ultimate oneness of mind and matter to be a mind-blowing insight for scientists.
He approvingly refers (The Turning Point, page 302) to Paul MacLean’s theory of three brains* in man which has been popularised by Arthur Koestler. (In ‘Janus; A Summing Up’), Koestler says that one of evolution’s countless mistakes is that it has given three brains to man… when our ancestors were reptilians… crocodiles, and later on horses. Inspite of this… Capra’s overall position is that there is nothing inherently wrong with human beings, because they are a part of the goddess
Physicist/mystic Capra argues that “deep ecological awareness” is of necessity a spiritual consciousness “in harmony with… the texts of Hindus, Buddhists and Taoists… in which the individual feels… embedded in nature and the cosmos”
5 (The passage is LOADED with New Age terms!)
Capra, Ferguson and other New Age headliners adduce that when physical reality is broken down to its most elemental parts, there are no parts; all is one. Separate, individualized entities are ultimately illusions of our own creation.6
*SEE PAGE 51
Modern science was built on the assumption that every effect must have a cause. Any effect which did not have a knowable cause could not happen, as far as science was concerned. Outside science it was called ‘magic’ or ‘miracle’… Physicists were convinced that there were no hidden causes which could not one day be found with more sophisticated techniques.
The rise of modern quantum mechanics, however, has challenged this long-held view. For example, Heisenberg showed in 1927 that in accordance with quantum principles it is impossible to measure simultaneously with precision the position and momentum of a particle. (The results of experiments) raised the question whether randomness or non-rationality is not the basic truth of the cosmos.
If human senses and logic are not reliable means of knowing the truth, perhaps we have to transcend them in a mystical experience to get a direct (non-logical, non-sensory) experience of ultimate reality.7
While quantum theory has prospered among scientists and solved some atomic mysteries, it has created others.
One of the most perplexing is central to Heisenberg’s famous ‘uncertainty principle’. Simply stated, his theory describes limitations in our knowledge of subatomic particles, since observation at that level, such as bouncing particles off other particles, interferes with the phenomenon being observed.
This New Age
science-mysticism link needs careful examining.
From the Heisenberg ‘uncertainty principle’, New Age physicist Fritjof Capra concludes that quantum theory “thus reveals the basic oneness of the universe.” The Heisenberg principle is accordingly cited as evidence for the monistic unity of experimenter and experiment and, by extension, all of reality.8
Sheldrake, a British plant physiologist, postulated in his books ‘A New Science of Life’ and ‘The Presence of the Past’ that all patterns in the universe, from electrons to human minds to galaxies are linked by ‘morphogenetic fields’. These M-fields operate… outside… space and time… and explain why phenomena such as extra-sensory
perception and psychokinesis are possible, and how the law of karma might operate.9
New Age notables would include New Age theorist and transpersonal psychologist Ken Wilber, the ‘Einstein of consciousness research.’ Transpersonal psychology seeks to blend Eastern religion with modern psychology.10 Ken Wilber, a leading New Age exponent traces the stages of psychological growth through fourteen levels which mirror the seven yogic chakras of Eastern mysticism.
At the ‘most realized state’ he maintains, a person experiences higher consciousness, the goal of mystics through the ages… and the apex of transpersonal
psychology. At this stage, says Wilber, “we are in touch with the divine; we become enlightened.”
I find it interesting that Wilber has edited a book whose major thrust is that modern physics “offers no positive support (let alone proof) for a mystical worldview.” Yet he takes pains to point out that every one of the eight physicists whose writings comprise the book, including Werner Heisenberg, was a mystic.
Wilber, a major architect of New Age thought, turns the biblical message of the Fall in the Garden of Eden upside down in his book ‘Up from Eden’. Actually, he says, “the Fall” was an “evolutionary advance and perfect growth, but it was experienced as a fall because it necessarily carried an increase in guilt…” By eating from the Tree of Knowledge “men… realized that they had to leave Eden’s subconsciousness and begin the actual life of true self-conscious responsibility on the way to superconsciousness, or Actual Return to godhead. They did not get thrown out of the Garden of Eden; they grew up and walked out. (Incidentally, for this courageous act we have Eve to thank, not to blame.”
The theological Fall, or original sin, Wilber contends, marked the “illusory separation of all things from Spirit.” …Evolution, then, is a labored return toward Spirit, toward Source. Hence the title of his book ‘Up from Eden’: men and women are “up from the beasts and on their way to the gods.”
New Age karma theory appears to mesh here, for working off bad karma in successive lives supposedly would aid in the evolutionary return to godhead and negate the illusion of separate egos and paradise lost. The only sin would be ignorance of wholeness and unity, the only evil belief in separation and distinction.11
The interconnectedness of electrons (matter), was proposed in a new form of the ‘EPR’ paradox, (first put forward by Einstein), to show the interconnectedness of electrons, by Bohm who ‘has become
popular in New Age
The teaching of the Isa Upanishad on ‘This’ (the cosmos within the grasp of the senses) and ‘That’ (which is the source of ‘This’ world, beyond the senses and known only in mystical experience), has a striking parallel in the work of the physicist Bohm… ‘New Age thinkers say that the parallel between New Science and Vedanta is supported by physicists such as Bohm’… When the Upanishads say TatTvam Asi (That thou art) or Aham Brahmasmi (I am Brahma), they are talking about the oneness of the human self and the divine self. 12 David Bohm, a theoretical physicist, says “The primary emphasis is now on undivided wholeness, in which the individual is not separated from what is observed.”13
In ‘Science, Order and Creativity’ David Bohm argues that for science to answer life’s most important questions, it must embrace a combination of Zen Buddhism and Hinduism.14
In Stanley Mooneyham (ex-president of World Vision)’s ‘What do you say to a Hungry World ?’ which advocates much of the political program of the New Agers and in the book ‘Earthkeeping’, the New Age political program is laid out in its entirety…New Ager E.F. Schumacher, de Chardin and others are quoted with approval.15
He went so far as to write ‘It may seem odd, but I feel that science paves the way to God with greater certainty than religion.’16 (Davies, like Wilber, is a ‘psychologist’ according to Sachidananda. They practice ‘Transpersonal Psychology’. ) * TP pertains to experiences reaching beyond the limits of the personality and personal consciousness. During such experiences, the person sacrifices his independent personality, and allows himself to be ruled and manipulated by the psychotechnician in order to ‘regress into prior lives’ or ‘submerge into other worlds’.17 *see pages 25, 26
Sri Aurobindo and the Sri Aurobindo Society
World-renowned gurus of the New Age Movement include Sri Aurobindo18.
He taught that divine energy is at work everywhere… The transformation from matter to life, to consciousness, to
supra-consciousness, ends in complete identity with the Absolute, and is advanced through a process of yoga.
He looked for the emergence of an elite of supermen who would initiate salvation for all.19
In Hathayoga… the power of life, Nature-power, coiled up with all its secret forces asleep in the lowest nervous plexus of the earth-being… rises awakened, centre after centre… in its ascent… till it meets with and becomes one with the divine consciousness.(This is about the psychic chakra centers and the kundalini.) Rajayoga… arrives at the yogic or occult powers… and the one final end is that the mind, stilled and cast into a
concentrated trance, can lose itself in the divine consciousness and the soul free to unite with the divine Being. The third process of the yoga is to perceive all things as God…
Yoga does become dangerous if you want it for your own sake, to serve a personal end… If you cannot get rid of ambition, do not touch the thing [yoga]. It is fire that burns.20
The Theosophical Society and Annie Besant, and the New Age Movement
In any investigation of the New Age the name of Madame Blavatsky surfaces. In 1875 she founded the TS with the twin aims of putting Christianity and science in their places… Annie Besant took over the Society in 1891.21 The New Age Movement traces its modern roots to the Theosophical Society… founded by Blavatsky.22
(They) have labeled Christianity an “enemy” of mankind and in the tradition of those like the founder of the Theosophical Society, Helena P. Blavatsky, have attacked and ridiculed it.23
Mme. Blavatsky worked in telepathic communication with ‘the Masters’ who guided her. She didn’t recognize the significance of the demonic power.24
Madame Blavatsky composed ‘Isis Unveiled’ and ‘The Secret Doctrine’ under the direction of ‘the Masters’. Although the books possess a scholarly appearance, they are in fact entirely the product of automatic (demon-manipulated) writing.25
Annie Besant claimed in 1925 that her adopted son J. Krishnamurti was the reincarnated Messiah. However, Krishnamurti renounced this title in 1931 at the American headquarters of the Society in Krotana, California.26 She wrote two books ‘Ancient Wisdom’ and ‘Esoteric Christianity’ which are both still used among New Agers.27 In Indian tradition Hatha-yoga refers to the system of psycho-physiological training that Blavatsky mentions and which includes… the use of bizarre methods to obtain psychic powers. The warnings which have been given at various times against Hatha-yoga refer to such a system and its methods.28 (Concerning the practice of yogic meditation) you can learn to control your mind… and thus to reach illumination.
One word of warning… maintain throughout an alert attention… If your mind be not in that condition, its mere emptiness is dangerous. It leads to mediumship, to obsession, to possession.29
The (New) Age of Aquarius has such a high profile in the New Age movement largely because of the influence of theosophy… and their esoteric antecedents… The metaphysical component of New Age spirituality comes from its esoteric and theosophical roots, and is basically a new form of gnosis… Theosophy is an ancient term… The name was given new emphasis by the Theosophical Society… Theosophical mysticism tends to be monistic, stressing the essential unity of the spiritual and material components of the universe. It also looks for the hidden forces that cause matter and spirit to react, in such a way that human and divine minds eventually meet. Here is where theosophy offers mystical redemption or enlightenment.30
1. The Seduction of Christianity, Dave Hunt & T. A. McMahon, 1985, page 77
2. Understanding the New Age, Russell Chandler, 1988, pages 186, 187
3. Ibid. 187, 188 6.Ibid. 247 8.Ibid. 186, 246, 247 11.Ibid. 175, 191, 274, 275 13.Ibid. 186
4. When the New Age Gets Old, Vishal Mangalwadi, 1992, pages 127, 137,243, 108, 111, 140
7. Ibid. 258, 259 9.Ibid. 250, 251 12.Ibid. cf. 248, 249, 254, 255, 260
5. The New Spirituality, Dave Hunt and T. A. McMahon, 1988, page 80 14.Ibid. 59
10. The Facts on the New Age Movement, Ankerberg and Weldon, 1988, page 10 18.Ibid. 11 23.Ibid. 24
15. The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow, Constance Cumbey, 1983, pages 154, 164 25.Ibid. 47
16. Reasons to Believe Today in Christ, Fr. John Martinetti, 1996, page 21
17. New Age From a Biblical Viewpoint, Basilea Schlink, 1988, page 31 22.Ibid. 7
19. The World’s Religions, Bruce Nichols, 1950, pages 164, 165
20. Yoga, The Writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, pages 5, 6, 16, 26
21. Close Encounters with the New Age, Kevin Logan, 1991, page 15
24. Understanding the New Age, Roy Livesey, 1986, page 68
26. Cults, World Religions and the Occult, Kenneth Boa, 1990, page 133
27. The New Age Cult, Walter Martin, 1989, page 111
28. The Universal Yoga Tradition, Dr. Radha Burnier, 1988, page 7
29. An Introduction to Yoga, Annie Besant, 1908, page 117
30. The Vatican Document on the ‘New Age’, 3rd February 2003, n 2.1, 3.1, 7.2
The Document on the New Age has much to say about Mme. Blavatsky, Annie Besant, Alice Bailey, the Theosophical Society, Findhorn, James Lovelock’ and his ‘Gaia’ Hypothesis, David Spangler etc.
The United Nations, the unity of religions, the new world religion and the New Age Movement
As the NAM prepares man for his role in the New World Order, the vehicles and philosophies are also being prepared. One is the United Nations.
In order to bring about a one-world order it is necessary to justify ever increasing government interference in our private lives… Here we look where one eventual focus will be- the United Nations. Robert Muller is the Asst. Secretary-General and has served under numerous Secretaries-General. His book ‘New Genesis- Shaping a Global Spirituality’ is an eye-opener for those who will see the spiritual direction the UN is headed.
Let us see Muller’s way of ‘shaping a global spirituality’:
“…as vividly described in the story of the Tree of Knowledge, having decided to become like God through knowledge… we have also become masters in deciding between good and evil… This gives Catholic, Christian and all spiritual educators a marvelous opportunity to teach a new morality and ethics…” Some Christians will question the negative view of the UN, yet in any reading about the UN it is never long before the New Age and occult spirituality is encountered.
Paul Henri Spaak, former President of the UN General Assembly once said “Send us a man who can hold the allegiance of all the people, and whether he be God or devil we will receive him.”
One booklet based on Alice Bailey’s (Theosophical Society) teachings which deals with the United Nations and entering the ‘Global Age’ points to the new way of thinking and behaving…. The view is taken that the UN stands not only as the vehicle for this change but as the catalyst.
When we turn to the UN we are able to see for ourselves the diabolical evidence. The Meditation Room at the UN Headquarters in New York is shaped like a truncated pyramid (the Illuminati insignia) laid on its side.
“To those versed in esoteric understanding, the crescents and triangles present a definite form that takes shape, in the centre and outer circle of the mural as the Illuminati eye.” (The Broken Cross, Piers Compton, 1981) The New Order is political, social and religious, and we see the hand of the UN in all three… The evidence for the
UN being central in Satan’s plan is almost endless…1 (The author provides several pages of supporting evidence.) Recently the Brahmakumaris were granted Consultative Status by the United Nations. It is the first spiritual institution to be given such status. Referring to this, Dr. Muller said… stressed the need for evolving spirituality to usher in peace. “Such spirituality will be based on a happy blend of spiritual values of the East and the material progress of the West”, he said.2
A prestigious ‘Universal Peace Conference’ was held in India in 1983 at the World Spiritual University, headquarters of the Brahmakumari’s Raja Yoga Society, a United Nations affiliate. Among the 3000 delegates from 42 countries was Robert Muller. In his keynote speech to the delegates, he said: The time has come to obtain peace on this planet… The U. N. Charter has to be supplemented by a charter of spiritual laws… I think that what is wrong… we have forgotten that… we have a cosmic evolution and [spiritual] destiny.3
At the Parliament of the World’s Religions that met at Chicago in 1993, a ‘Global Ethic’ was adopted that stressed the need for cooperation among the religions of the world to end hunger, war and injustice… (In it) the word ‘God’
does not appear as a concession to Buddhists (who) do not believe in the existence of any God or gods. Instead,
the word ‘earth’ is capitalized throughout, reflecting the pantheistic nature of the conference. In keeping with globalism, it said: ‘We pledge to work for transformation in individual and collective consciousness, for the awakening of our spiritual powers.’ Whereas the old religions separated people… the new religion unites them… In this new synthesis, religion and science are combined. God is defined as ‘energy’ or ‘the force’ that men can harness to bring about Utopia.4
‘Gaia’ (see Fritjof Capra, above) is an ancient Greek name for the goddess of the earth. James Lovelock formulated the ‘Gaia Hypothesis’ and recorded the theory in a book titled ‘Gaia’ [a favourite of New Age environmentalists and ecologists who give ‘Mother Earth’ divine status]. The hypothesis sees the earth and all life on it as a single self-supporting [living and self-regenerating] organism.5
(The term ‘Mother Earth‘ is used twice on NRMM page 47 alone and, in ‘Holistic Philosophy’ [Chapter 4], we are told that ‘Earth is a living organism’ (NRMM 81).
The new ideological base of the New Age political agenda is a unity of all religions… A unity of religions is absolutely necessary if the ‘oneness of mankind’ is to become a reality. Muller spoke on this theme at a Universal Peace Conference in February 1983.6 Environmentalism is an entry point to the New Age, and there is no shortage of occult and New Age within the ranks of the United Nations.7
1. Understanding the New Age, Roy Livesey, 1986, pages 27-36
2. Zero Update No.3, Maranatha Revival Crusade, Secunderabad, India, 1983
3. The Seduction of Christianity, Dave Hunt and T. A. McMahon, 1985, pages 53, 54
4. Christ Among other Gods, Erwin B. Lutzer, 1994, pages 11, 170, 171, 48
5. The New Age Cult, Walter Martin, 1989, pages 113, 119 6.Ibid. pages 70, 71
7. More Understanding the New Age, Roy Livesey, 1990, page 51
The above section is relevant to you as you were among the ‘religious and spiritual leaders’ who addressed the Millennium World Peace Summit at the United Nations in New York, 28-31 August 2000 at which you presented your ‘socio-spiritual organization’ Dharma Rajya Vedi. (NRMM 7). [What an opportunity for you, a ‘true disciple of Sadguru Jesus Christ’, to have witnessed to Him before the nations of the world!]
It is even more relevant to you because of your proposal to form a ‘Dharma Bharathi Global Open University’ and goal of ‘affiliating it to the United Nations University of Peace’. (NRMM 22).
Make special note of the location of the following New Age organizations and their activities: The ‘New Group of
World Servers’, ‘Planetary Citizens”, ‘Planetary Initiative for the World We Choose’, ‘World Goodwill’, the ‘Unity-in-Diversity Council’ & ‘Lucis Trust’. They all have their headquarters at the United Nations Plaza in New York.
- New Group of World Servers was organized by Theosophist and occultist Alice Bailey, who wrote ‘The
Plan’, under the direction of ‘the Masters’ in 1925, to serve as a vanguard for the reappearance of ‘the Christ.’
- Planetary Citizens, according to a report in ‘New Age Politics’ by Mark Satin, is to aid the above “world
Servers everywhere. New Age guru David Spangler (more on him later) was on its Board of Directors, along with Peter Caddy, the founder of the (New Age centre) Findhorn Foundation (Scotland).
- Planetary Initiative for the World We Choose calls their official publication ‘The Initiator’. New Age guru Benjamin
Crème’s demonic transmissions from ‘Lord Maitreya’ say “I am the Initiator of the little ones“.
Spangler, who is very closely associated with this project, has defined this ‘Initiation” as being Luciferic.
- World Goodwill distributed a ‘prayer’ called “The Great Invocation” for the first time in 1945, the same year the UN was founded.
According to World Goodwill, this world prayer expresses truths central to all major religions and is based on the true and inner unity of all religions and philosophies. By the combined and daily use of the Invocation by men and women of goodwill, an open channel into human consciousness is created, through which spiritual energies flow to heal and rebuild a troubled world. The Invocation refers to the ‘opening cycle of the Aquarian Age’ and the prayer contains Alice Bailey’s key words, ‘the Masters’ and ‘the Plan’. (Bailey’s secret
teachings for a New World Order, communicated to her by mediumistic dictations, is set forth in ‘The Plan’.)
The Great Invocation hopes to be to the coming new world religion what the Lord’s Prayer is to the Christian.
It has been distributed in Hindi, Urdu and Tamil among other world languages. In 1965, a leaflet was issued showing how the Invocation relates to the UN, how it could be used to strengthen the UN, and including the text from the UN Charter of the Principles of the United Nations.
- The Unity-in-Diversity Council ‘s advisory board features New Age luminaries like Caddy, and Robert
Muller. The Council sponsored the huge New Age Mind-Body-Spirit Festivals in San Francisco and Los Angeles and London (“the largest New Age event on the planet”).
It was founded in 1965, the year designated by the UN as International Cooperation Year, as the International Cooperation Council, and sponsored the yearly ‘Festival of Human Unity’ since then.
Some of its several hundred member organizations are Tara Center, a New Age network, Findhorn Foundation, and New Age prophet Marilyn Ferguson’s Leading Edge Bulletin and Brain Mind Bulletin.
The introduction to their 1979 Directory noted that they were to be considered a new species- homo noeticus as opposed to homo sapiens.
The Statement of Its Purpose and Work includes to affirm the oneness of all life, healing of the whole person, exploring the interaction between matter, energy and consciousness, facilitating the evolvement of Universal Persons through consciousness expansion (meditation techniques), transpersonal psychology, creating a new global civilization, a network of planetary citizens, a functional [one] world government.
In its Declaration of Interdependence, it pledges to integrate reason and faith, science and religion; and to build with joy a new civilization of freedom, justice and peace founded on reverence for life.**
- The Lucis Trust was originally incorporated in 1922 as Lucifer Publishing Company by Alice Bailey.
Under its auspices are Lucis Publishing Company (for Bailey’s books), World Goodwill, the Arcane School etc.
Lucis Trust is reportedly the brains, from an occult planning basis, of the New Age Movement.
**Some elements of New Age
teaching are attempts to bridge the gap between a naturalistic science and a supernatural religion. (They use) meditation techniques to reduce stress and heighten personal consciousness. What’s the Appeal of the New Age Movement? Martin R. De Haan, 1990, pages 3, 18
Significant is the New Age link with prominent international organizations such as the United Nations
Organization, UNESCO… New Age
goals are promoted by leading personalities such as the UN’s Robert Muller. New Age from a Biblical Viewpoint, Basilea Schlink, 1988, page 10
The essential matrix of New Age thinking is to be found in the esoteric-theosophical tradition… (of) Theosophy. The Vatican Document on the New Age, February 3, 2003, (n 2.3.3)
The fronts of the Theosophical Society (TS) today connect
at many points
with the activities of the UN… One direction where the UN is making significant advances is that of ‘traditional’ or ‘alternative’ medicine. The promotion of occult medical therapies through the Traditional Medicine Programme at the World Health Organization is as varied and exotic as the wide membership of the UN… The areas which Alice Bailey (TS) wrote would prepare the world for the New Age were holistic health, mind control and meditation.
Understanding the New Age, Roy Livesey, 1986, pages 45, 69
HOLISTIC HEALTH, DHARMA BHARATHI AND THE NEW AGE MOVEMENT
‘Heal India’ programme: The aim of this programme is to promote a holistic approach to healthcare through psycho-spiritual healing, natural healthcare systems and
therapies. (NRMM 36).
The programmes of DB mirror those of the WHO/UN, the Theosophical Society and the New Age Movement.
The Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI) is a collaborating partner in DHARMA BHARATHI’s National
Regeneration Programme and Dr. John Kalayil, CHAI’s Psycho-spiritual Counselling Consultant was actively involved in the earlier referred DB’s ‘Peace and Value Education for Schools’ National Seminar. CHAI promotes the occult New Age Alternative Therapies Pranic Healing and Reiki.
and DHARMA BHARATHI are Trojan horses within the City of God (read as ‘Catholic Church’).
CHAI propagates Holistic Health, Alternative Medicine and psycho-spiritual counselling, and sells occult books published by the Theosophical Society and written by 33rd degree Freemasons and Theosophists.
DHARMA BHARATHI is not only favourable to ‘progressive movements’ like the TS and theosophists like Annie Besant, promotes Holistic Health, Alternative Therapies and psycho-spiritual techniques, and closely associated with CHAI (both are Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh-based), but also influenced by contact with second-line New Agers like Griffiths and the writings of front-line proponents of the New Science (of the NAM) as we have seen. DB goes even further than CHAI, with its promotion of yoga, mantra chanting, linking up with neo-Hindu groups and adoption of a position towards religious pluralism and syncretism in its programmes and teachings.
My investigative report on CHAI is dated February 3, 2000. It was addressed to my Auxiliary Bishop Dr. Lawrence Pius. In course of time I have sent copies of this report to the three Bishops at the helm of the Health Care Commission of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), to its Secretary Dr. Fr. Alex Vadakumthala, to our Cardinals, and to all our Archbishops and around 50 Bishops.
A similar subsequent report dated June 29, 2000 exposes the Holistic Health Centres, established like CHAI, with Church (and other Catholic organizations like CHAI and Caritas’) fundings, CBCI support and the apostolic blessings of Bishops with the avowed purpose of propagating occult, New Age Alternative Medicinal Therapies.
A third major report submitted by me to the Church is dated March 25, 2002. It concerns the 10th World Health Day of the Sick in Vailankanni, February 9-11, 2002. Here again CHAI conducted a public display, sale and promotion of occult books, and Freemasonic and Theosophical works within the premises of the Basilica.
Their campaign for the cause of Alternative Medicines Reiki and Pranic Healing (through free distribution of their Health Action issues) was competitively matched by the stalls of the Sister-Doctors Forum of India (SDFI) touting the same, and by a new-comer under the moniker of ‘Spiritual Human Yoga- Universal Energy’.
My first report on Dharma Bharathi (dated August 1, 2002), like all the others has drawn no official response.
Copies of these have been submitted to the concerned dicasteries of the Holy See and to the Apostolic Pro-Nuncio. Repeated reminders along with shorter articles and reports were sent by me to several Bishops.
I obtained an immediate acknowledgement dated 19th April 2002 from the Vatican against the Vailankanni report. I received an appreciatory telephone call from one Archbishop (who intervened in a particular case in his diocese on the basis of a report made by me), a personal note from a Bishop informing me that he had referred my work to the Doctrinal Commission of the CBCI (April 2002), and several appreciatory letters from another Bishop. Copies of this report too will be reached to the CBCI and to the concerned Church leaders.
The Holistic Health movement may be considered the “medical arm” of the NAM… In general, most holistic therapies are unscientific in nature and as such potentially dangerous when it comes to life-threatening illness… Some treatments work because of the occult power
The Facts on the New Age Movement, John Ankerberg and John Weldon, 1988, page 28
Since I have written extensively on this subject (in separate pamphlets), I will limit myself here to a few points.
Most Alternative Therapies, especially Reiki and Pranic Healing are New Age, and use occult power in healing.
They all believe in, employ and manipulate an ‘energy’ which is the life-force (chi, ki or prana) that is, and sustains, the universe. A monistic concept of god is integral to these practices. Advaita philosophy (including the chakra system, the law of karma, and the doctrine of reincarnation), the New Age synthesis of science and spirituality, and the New Science proposition of the inter-convertibility of mind-energy-matter all contribute to the theories and practices of Alternative Medicine.
The February 3, 2003 Vatican Document on the New Age Movement addresses this issue:
The real danger is the holistic paradigm. New Age is based on totalitarian unity and that is why it is a danger. The clearest articulation of the concept of holism is in the ‘Gaia’ hypothesis…The cosmos is seen as an organic whole. It is animated by an energy which is also identified as the divine Soul or Spirit…
Alternative Therapies have gained enormously in popularity because they claim to look at the whole person (which) formal (allopathic) medicine fails to look at. Holism pervades the NAM from its concern with Holistic Health to its quest for unitive consciousness. A focus on hidden spiritual powers or forces in nature has been the backbone of… New Age theory. The source of healing is… our inner or cosmic energy.
(n 4, notes 71, notes 101, n 2.3.3, n 2.2.4, n 2.2.3, n 2.2.4, n 1.3, n 2.2.3)
“Christ is the same force as Lucifer… Lucifer prepares man for the experience of Christhood… He is the great initiator.
The true light of Lucifer… can only be recognized when one’s own eyes can see with the light of the Christ, the light of the inner sun. Lucifer works within each of us to bring us to wholeness, and as we move into a new age, which is the age of man’s wholeness, each of us is in some way brought to that point which I term the Luciferic
initiation, the particular doorway through which the individual must pass if he is to come fully into the presence of his light and wholeness.
Lucifer comes to give us the final gift of wholeness. If we accept it, then he is free and we are free. That is the Luciferic initiation. It is one that many people now, and in the days ahead, will be facing, for it is an initiation into the New Age. It is an initiation of becoming whole and at peace because we have recognized our inner light… the light of God.”
Reflections on the Christ, David Spangler, Findhorn Publications, 1978, pages 40-45
It is significant that in the Foreword to the first book on Pranic Healing, a New Age alternative therapy, [see separate article] published by its founder Choa Kok Sui, ‘spokesman for the New Age’
David Spangler‘s work titled ‘Revelation, the Birth of a New Age‘ is quoted:
“A new world is taking birth… Its energies are precipitating out into form. People throughout the world are beginning to attune to this energy because in their higher consciousness they are already part of that world. They are citizens of it though they may not know it consciously. From here we must move on and take another step- into the unknown.”
The Ancient Science and Art of Pranic Healing, Dr. Rolando Carbonell, page xvii
NOTE: CHAI is a major promoter of Pranic Healing through its HEALTH ACTION monthly magazine.
DAVID SPANGLER is mentioned several times in the Vatican Document on the New Age.
The programmes of Dharma Bharathi are fraught with unimaginably serious spiritual dangers:
By ‘oneness’, modern physics means the oneness of the physical universe. But the attempt to assert that the interconnectedness of electrons proves the absolute oneness of everything, including the oneness of personality and matter, is, at best, an unscientific extrapolation.
At worst, theologians may be tempted to call it a diabolical deception which makes creation the creator– exactly what Satan said to Eve in the Garden: ‘You will be like God’ (Genesis 3:5).
When the New Age Gets Old, Vishal Mangalwadi, 1992, pages 262-264
New Age involves a fundamental belief in the perfectibility of the human person by means of a wide variety of techniques and therapies (as opposed to the Christian view of co-operation with divine grace).
Mind-expanding techniques are meant to reveal to people their divine power… This exaltation of humanity over- turns the correct relationship between Creator and creature, and one of its extreme forms is Satanism.
The Vatican Document on the ‘New Age’, February 3, 2002 (n 126.96.36.199)
A belief in the oneness, interdependence and interconvertibility of everything (mind-energy-matter) justifies the theories and practices of Alternative Therapies, especially in areas like ‘Distant Healing’ in which thought waves may be transmitted over space (even over the telephone) and time, using ‘chi’ or ‘prana’ to ‘heal’ the symptoms of physical or mental disease in a patient.
To provide more evidence, (and I have tons of it), that Holistic Health/Alternative Medicine is New Age and diabolic, is not within the scope of this ‘letter’, but I believe that what I have presented is amply sufficient for the reader.
The “confluence of science and religion” which Swami Sachidananda hopes for (DBNS 59,60) is one of the ‘New Science’ and Eastern religions, which in the ultimate analysis is that of New (Age) Science and the occult.
Alternative Therapies seek to treat us WHOLLY: energy body, mind and physical body.
Scripture exhorts us to remain perfectly HOLY and blameless, spirit, soul and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
A NEW HUMANISM!
Swami Sachidananda seeks to ensure that the school curriculum is ‘rooted in a new humanism’ (DBNS 92).
New Age philosophy, a complex mixture of Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, the occult and humanism, is attracting millions of people who are shopping in the world’s spiritual market place for what suits them best.1
Humanism is a secular belief system whose central tenets are: man is totally autonomous from God; opposition to
historic Christianity; rejection of the Bible. Man is his own authority and therefore answerable to no Higher Power than himself. This has led to the various kinds of moral and ethical relativism which has been thrust into EDUCATION, science, politics, the arts and so on in the twentieth century.2
Humanism is often used by Satan to deaden the effectiveness of Christian witness. It is the system of thought or action that holds that man is capable of self-fulfillment, PEACE ON EARTH AND RIGHT ETHICAL CONDUCT WITHOUT RECOURSE TO GOD. Humanism therefore is the religion which deifies man and dethrones God.
Humanism is just as deadly as witchcraft or communism… perhaps even more deadly. HUMANISM LEADERS STRIVE TO CONTROL church nurseries… and THE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL CURRICULUM.
Humanism is a sinister, subtle seduction that comes in the back door while you are at the front door keeping alert for the enemy.3 For the humanist, the ‘gospel’ has to do with man’s reconciliation to man; but Christianity’s Gospel puts man’s reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ above all else… The humanist philosophy is a frank statement for the great counterfeit being perpetrated on today’s world, one for which many within the Church have fallen.4
Since, by his own admission, Swami Sachidananda is associated with Transpersonal Psychologists, it will benefit the reader to have some more information on what exactly Transpersonal Psychology is all about.
The tendency to interchange psychology and spirituality was firmly embedded in the Human Potential Movement.
Transpersonal Psychology, strongly influenced by Eastern religions and by Jung, offers a contemplative journey where science meets mysticism…. encouragements to search for ‘the God within’ oneself. To realize one’s potential, one had to go beyond one’s ego in order to become the god that one is, deep down. This could be done by choosing the appropriate therapy- meditation, parapsychological experiences etc.5
Various techniques of personal transformation are used… Transpersonal Technologies (etc.) are all put forward as non-religious, but in reality (people) can find themselves being submitted to an alien ‘spirituality’ which raises questions about personal freedom. There are clear links between Eastern spirituality and psychotherapy, while Jungian psychology and the Human Potential Movement have been very influential on Shamanism and ‘reconstructed’ forms of Paganism like Druidry and Wicca.6
Both humanistic and transpersonal psychologies are heavily involved in what they call ‘spiritual’ therapies which are
a revival of occultism under psychological labels.7
They have now embraced the entire spectrum of sorcery. For example, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Association for Humanistic Psychology held in Boston August 21-26, 1984 was heavily flavored with Hindu/Buddhist occultism.
The official daily schedule included “Early morning: Yoga, Tai Chi, Meditation.” About half the Pre-/Post-Conference Institutes involved blatant sorcery with subjects such as “Visualization and Healing”, “Trance States and Healing”, “Guided Imagery“, “Shamanic Ecstasy and Transformation”, etc.
Variations of such psychology have infiltrated the Church, CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS and seminaries, because pastors and other leaders have accepted the claim that it is scientific and neutral. Most Christians have failed to recognize the fact that Christianity and psychotherapy are actually two rival and irreconcilable religious systems.8
Transpersonal: In the New Age world, a term describing levels of consciousness above and beyond the strictly personal. Often associated with New Age spiritual disciplines
and practices and the intuitive.
Transpersonal Psychology: A vast and bewildering constellation of psychological practices and therapies that incorporate spirituality into counselling. They would include their own blends of syncretism from influences such as Zen Buddhism, Sufism, Transcendental Meditation, hypnotism, gnosticism, Taoism, mysticism and much more.9
To varying degrees, certain schools of modern psychology are supportive of New Age philosophy and practice.
Some of these schools are the Humanistic, the Jungian, the Transpersonal (stressing Eastern psychologies) and literally scores of unconventional ‘fringe’ psychotherapies. Aspects pf psychology are uniting to encourage confidence in the exploration of the mind to bring about the mystical experiences associated with the East and the occult (and) becoming a principal agent for expanding New Age influence in our culture.10
1. Dawn of the New Age, 5 New Agers Relate their Search for the Truth, GLS Publishing, Introduction
2. Wise as a Serpent, Harmless as a Dove, Charles Strohmer, 1994, page 390 9.Ibid. page 405
3. Satan’s Angels Exposed, Salem Kirban, 1980, pages 107,116
4. While Men Slept, Dr. Nelson Bell*, 1970, page 19 (*Bell is the father-in-law of Dr. Billy Graham.)
5. The Vatican Document on the ‘New Age’, February 3, 2003 (n2.3.2) 6.Ibid. (n7.2 A select glossary)
7. The Seduction of Christianity, Dave Hunt and T. A. McMahon, 1985, page 53 8.Ibid. page 30
10. The Facts on the New Age Movement, John Ankerberg and John Weldon, 1988, page 30
At the Bulls eye of the Dharma Bharathi target: YOUR CHILD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The New Age Movement in Education
Abraham Lincoln said, “The philosophy of education in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the
Confronting the New Age, Douglas Groothuis, 1988, page 129
“Even doctors, in their heyday as god-like paragons, have never wielded the authority of a single classroom teacher who can purvey… information to great numbers of relatively powerless, vulnerable young people.”
Marilyn Ferguson in The Aquarian Conspiracy, from cult-Proofing your Kids, Dr. Paul Martin, 1993, page 97
In the ideological contest for cultural supremacy, education is the prime target; it influences the most people in the
most pervasive way at the most impressionable age. No other social institution has anything close to the same potential for mass indoctrination. The Rise of Cosmic Humanism: What is Religion?, Brooks Alexander in the SCP Journal, 1981, page 4
Marilyn Ferguson reported that of the many the ‘Aquarian Conspirators’ she surveyed, “more were involved in education than in any other single category of work. They were teachers, administrators, policy makers and educational psychologists.” The Aquarian Conspiracy, Marilyn Ferguson, 1980, page 280
Values Clarification in the classroom is dangerous because it denies the existence of moral absolutes from God’s Word. Each student is encouraged to come up with his or her own moral values. The fundamental assumption in values clarification is that there are no absolute truths. Values are considered to be essentially neutral. They are to be subjectively chosen by each student… Globalism taught in the classroom is dangerous because it is based on a monistic worldview that espouses not only the unity of all mankind, but a unity of all religious beliefs too.
With values clarification, meditation, globalism and yoga making their way into schools, it becomes clear that the New Age Movement has made significant inroads into the educational system. The New Age Cult, Walter Martin, 1989, pages 57, 60, 62
In line with their New Age belief that ‘Mother Earth’ is a ‘living organism’, Swami Sachidananda and Dharma Bharathi have a ‘Green the Earth’ Programme. Its noble aim ‘is to promote ecological conservation and environ- mental health.’ However, we read:
The question of respect for creation is one which could also be approached creatively in Catholic schools. A great deal of what is proposed by the more radical elements of the ecological movement is difficult to reconcile with Catholic faith. Care for the environment in general terms is a timely sign of a fresh concern for what God has given us, perhaps a necessary mark of Christian stewardship of creation, but ‘deep ecology’ *** is often based on pantheistic and occasionally gnostic principles… This is one area where lack of information can allow those responsible for education to be misled by groups whose real agenda is inimical to the Gospel message. It is particularly the case in schools where a captive curious young audience is an ideal TARGET for ideological merchandising. [Emphasis mine] *** courtesy Fritjof Capra
The Vatican Document on the ‘New Age’, February 3, 2003, (n 6.2, notes 94)
We have individually examined the backgrounds, philosophies, value systems, teachings, programmes and close associates of many of the personalities and organizations who are connected with or have influenced the acharya-guru of Dharma Bharathi and we are presented with a very disturbing composite picture.
We have noted the common New Age thread that is woven through the entire fabric, less evident in some places, strikingly obvious in others and hidden at times, but still there all the same. One may be able to explain away one link as accidental, another as coincidental, a third as unfortunate. But a discerning, Bible-believing Christian cannot simply ignore the lies that we have exposed and the truths that we have revealed.
Dharma Bharathi and its programmes are, intentionally or unknowingly, New Age, syncretistic and pluralistic.
And these programmes of Dharma Bharathi are
That’s what the DB literature says!
The Swami has declared, “The main target group of NRM shall be parents and teachers who are the ‘channels of grace'” and that “youth and students will constitute the second most important target group.” (NRMM 22,23)
Teachers and parents are included, their being influencers. And there is even greater cause for concern.
At the Hyderabad Seminar, 82 participants have taken decisions concerning the future of your child.
Most of them were heads of educational institutions and senior teachers handling Value (sic) Education classes.
They recommended that Value Education should be made an examination subject and pass in it should be required
for purposes of promotion and ranking.
The Teachers Manual already prepared by DB would be adapted as the basic reference material. They propose to open Extension Centres of the DB National Institute all over India, establish an Open University, develop textbooks and teaching materials as well as training aids. Education about ‘religions’ should be made a part of the curriculum in schools. And of course, “provide opportunities for spiritual exercises like meditation and yoga.” (DBNS 10, 48-52)
Through its “Enlightened Leadership Programme”, DB is developing leaders who are “guided by the light within”, “breathing in ‘Om’ and reading from one of the religious scriptures” (NRMM 75, 121, 122) and “the study and inculcation of the noble values of different religions, …through meditation and yoga.” (DBNS 103, NRMM 76). They would have ‘a vision rooted in India’s ancient wisdom’ (NRMM 48) and ‘Indian insights into truth’ (NRMM 51) [and we have seen what those mean according to DB philosophy].
Deprived of Christian teaching and prayer in order to accommodate the DB programmes in their already crammed school curriculum, Catholic children, already having an inadequate knowledge of the Bible and of the Saints, will in course of time be indistinguishable in their beliefs (faith) from those of other religious persuasions. No more using a rational approach, they would be relying on their intuition (as planned by Swami Sachidananda, NRMM 45), and “developing the faculty of listening to the ‘inner voice’ of the indwelling Lord” while mechanically reciting the name of the ‘Sadguru’. (DBNS 97)
These children are the future not only of our nation, but also of the Church, and the future heads of that most basic Christian community, the family. Will they have learned Om and other mantra chanting at the price of forsaking the name of Jesus? (Acts 4:12). Will they have learned about the founders and tenets of the religions and be ignorant of their own? (Ephesians 1:17-23). Will they engage in mindless repetition of japas instead of contemplating on the Word of God? (1Timothy 4: 7, 8). Will they confess to the unicity of Jesus (John 14: 6) or one day teach their children that all religions are one and the same?
A ‘NEW AGE’ PEACE THROUGH DHARMA BHARATHI?
“The world at the dawn of the third millennium urgently needs peace… We are discovering that lasting peace and unity on earth needs a religious motivation.” (From the presentation made by Swami Sachidananda at the Millennium World Peace Summit, United Nations, August 2000) The New Leader, November 1-15, 2000
There cannot be peace in the world unless there is unity among religions
in the world. (NRMM 38)
Peace in the environment: … Peace Education, therefore, should aim at helping students to end the dichotomy between humanity and nature, and live at peace with nature by practicing the eco-friendly values… (DBNS 94, 95)
The Swami speaks and writes a lot about peace.
In fact the full name of the organization is DHARMA BHARATHI NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF PEACE AND VALUE
EDUCATION. (The ‘Value Education’ is the ‘Values Clarification’ that we discussed above.)
The rush to unite the religions of the world is driven by the belief that such unity will solve the problems of the world. Through the development of our human potential [Swami Sachidananda’s ‘a new humanism’ (DBNS 92)], we will usher in a New Era of Peace and Prosperity.
The Bible predicts (Dan 8:25) that the Antichrist will come to power as a peacemaker. “And he will destroy many when they are at ease” (New American Standard Bible).
“Through peace he shall destroy many” (KJV).
Peace will be his platform; peace will be his bait. Christ among Other gods, Erwin B. Lutzer, 1994, page 171
Both peace and ecological issues play an ever-increasing part in international politics. Peace is an understandable desire of natural man; yet that peace is the peace which the world can give. Jesus said: Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I come not to send peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34).
Yet we can have “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding” (Phil 4:7)
Understanding the New Age, Roy Livesey, 1986, page 28
“A nation of firm purpose YOU KEEP IN PEACE, in peace, FOR ITS TRUST IN YOU” (Isaiah 26:3, NAB).
“When the Lord is pleased with a man’s ways, He makes even his
enemies be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7).
“Those who love your law have great peace, and for them there is no stumbling block” (Psalm 119:165).
“Peace I leave with you; MY PEACE I give to you. NOT AS THE WORLD GIVES do I give it to you”
Dharma Bharathi offers a futile pursuit of worldly peace, a peace without a trust in the God of the Bible and His Law a peace that does not include the person and message of the Giver of genuine and everlasting peace, Jesus Christ.
We have been discussing the Dharma Bharathi National Institute presently located in
Hyderabad*. We will identify it as DB-H to distinguish it from two others at Indore and at Lucknow which we will identify as DB-I and DB-L. *It shifted in Nov. 2003 to Kerala, the home state of its founder- Michael, June 2009
THREE DHARMA BHARATHIS?
In the Introduction to ‘Disciples of Christ for Peace’ we read that some persons “could not really understand Swami Sachidananda’s ‘call’ (and) many of them, including his wife parted ways with him.”
These ‘some persons’ include one Varghese Alengaden and a few others who broke away in July 1998 from the original DB founded by Swami Sachidananda, having incorporated a second DB based at Indore* under the slightly modified name of DHARMA BHARATHI NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF VALUE EDUCATION FOR PEACE. * It is now re-named as the Universal Solidarity Movement [USM]– Michael, June 2009
A look into the background, as obtained from inter-DB correspondence and letters from DB to me, is revealing.
Alengaden is a Catholic priest (though you will find him nowhere revealing it), associated with Sachidananda and DB as its Director from inception in 1993. “Starting his own Society and Institute, using the name and modules of the original institute which was shifted (from Indore) to Hyderabad in December 1998”, Alengaden asked Sachidananda to “hand over the DB National Institute with its assets” (to the new DB Society) “to avoid confusion
and scandal to the people… associated with the… Programme which we had been promoting since 1993.” [See separate report on the Universal Solidarity Movement, Dharma Bharathi-Indore]
On October 15, 2001 the Director of DB-H wrote to Fr. Thomas Kunnunkal SJ*, then Advisor to DB-H, to
“help us find an amicable settlement with… Fr. Alengaden… who started another Institute under the same name even though he was requested not to do so. This is now creating much confusion and suspicion in the minds of people, affecting our own credibility … When our earlier attempts for reconciliation had failed… (we) had resolved to initiate legal action if necessary against… Fr. Alengaden for betrayal of trust and fraud.” *see pages 35, 37, 38, 52-53, 62-63
The idea was dropped “as it might affect the whole Indian Church adversely.” The moderation of Fr. Kunnunkal “did not elicit any favourable response. Instead, it drew sharp and negative criticisms from Sr. Loretta“, (President of the newly formed DB-I) “as can be seen from letters she wrote (to us).”
DB-H had demanded that Alengaden “should not use the name Dharma Bharathi National Institute” etc., “return all files, properties, photo albums, account books… to the legal owner immediately… Sr. Loretta** in her letter (to DB-H) had made a strong statement that these would not be returned.”
Sachidananda wrote to me that Fr. Kunnunkal “spoke to Fr. Varghese after he received the letter… However Fr.
Varghese was elusive*** and Fr. Kunnunkal could not do anything further.”
**Sr. Loretta Pinto CSST is Visiting Professor to the Papal Seminary, Pune. See SEPARATE REPORT
*** I can believe that because Alengaden ignored all my letters to him.
CHURCH SUPPORT FOR SWAMI SACHIDANANDA AND THE DHARMA BHARATHIS
Writing to me on July 10, 2002 “Unfortunately there are two organizations under the same name Dharma Bharathi” and that “because of temperamental and character differences, the two split up”, Jesuit Father Tom Kunnunkal added that he himself was “making moves for a (third) DHARMA BHARATI (dropping one ‘H’)
centre here in Lucknow.”
I wrote on June 28, 2002 to Archbishop Arulappa (DB-H), Bishop George Anathil (DB-I) and the Bishop of Hazaribagh, Charles Soreng SJ who is the Chairman, Education and Culture Commission of the CBCI, asking for clarifications about the DBs while expressing my apprehension that the DBs are ‘introducing, along with genuine values, a subtle mix of syncretism and New Age in our Catholic institutions.’
I received a letter dated August 16, 2002 from
saying “Recently I met Swamiji at Patna while giving a Seminar which I attended… I find Swamiji’s position very sound and I am quite pleased with him. He has been giving talks to priests and religious as well.”
Meanwhile Fr. Avinash SVD was made the Managing Trustee of DB-H.
Bishop George Anathil SVD
of Indore supports the Alengaden faction (He is Patron of ‘Renaissance’).
From Fr. Kunnunkal‘s letter to me of July 20, 2002, “what is important” for Bishop Albert D’Souza
of Lucknow is “to push the ideals and vision of Dharma Bharathi… We have a small inter-faith group including Muslims, Hindus, Bahais, Brahmakumaris etc. besides Christians.” (The use of the word ‘Catholic’ is avoided.)
As for DB-H, Hyderabad
Archbishop S. Arulappa is its co-founder and Patron, and Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil C. Ss. R. of Ernakulam (he ‘invoked God’s blessings’ on the Seminar, while Hyderabad Archbishop Joji sent ‘best wishes for its success) and Archbishop Thomas Menamparambil SDB of Guwahati are its Patrons. Its Advisors are Bishop Anathil of Indore, Bishop Prakash Mallavarappu of Cudappah
Bishop Jacob Manathodath of Palakkad.
Of these, I have sent copies of my first report on Dharma Bharathi to the Bishops of Indore (DB-I) and Lucknow (DB-L), and to Cardinal Vithayathil (DB-H), but was not favoured with a response from any of them.
DB-H is patronized and supported by individual priests and nuns and several congregations like the Orders of Friars Minor (OFM), Society of Jesus (SJ), Society of the Divine Word (SVD), the Ursuline Franciscans etc. according to DB literature.
DB-I/USM is supported by the Bishops ad priests of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD), and a large number of congregations: St. Joseph of Tarbes (SJT), the Carmelite and Loreto Orders, Sisters of Charity, Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM), JMC, FCC, JMJ, MSMI, IBMV, MSJ, UMI, CSST, OSB, etc.
This information is almost 3 years old and the DBs would certainly have cast the net wider by this time, 2003.
Fr. Varghese Alengaden hijacked the Indore office lock, stock and barrel, including “all records, accounts and subscribers list of the journal ‘Renaissance’ “from Sachidananda and DB-H. And, the attitude of Sr. Loretta’s of DB-I to the founder and owner of DB has been seen to be anything but Christian.
It is a matter of great surprise (or is it?) that, with so many reverend Bishops involved, the split in DB could not be resolved and unity restored by their intervention. It is a matter of even greater surprise (or, again, is it?) that these learned Bishops and theologians have not taken care to carefully scrutinize the DB programmes and see them for what they are. I can conclude with certainty that the issue of litigation was dropped not out of Christian charity but because it would have made public the truth about the internal fall-out. This way, one could cuts one’s losses, avoid a scandal and get on with the business of infiltrating the educational institutions.
The million-dollar question is this:
separated violently from the parent
and there continues to be no charity, unity and peace between the two of them, what unity and peace do they propose to promote in our nation; what ‘Value Education’ can
give our youth, when it has forcibly occupied the
office, annexed its name, goodwill, and all its assets and evicted the original owner of the Institute; and, when the founders of the 2 rival DBs themselves cannot get along with each other: “because of character and temperamental differences, the two split up” (according to the founder of the third DB, Fr. Tom Kunnunkal), how do they justify that they are deserving or even capable of the correct formation of our children?
DHARMA BHARATHI, INDORE. TRUE HISTORY INTENTIONALLY OBSCURED
[This Dharma Bharathi, now re-christened the
Universal Solidarity Movement
to hide its Dharma Bharathi origins, and its New Age “I am God” “Mirror meditation” is the subject of a separate report in June 2009]
It is only fitting that we devote some attention to the organization ‘founded’ by Fr. Varghese Alengaden.
The early history of DB-I, as recorded in their literature is, to put it simply, vague relating to the period from 1993 to 1998 when it was really the history of the present DB-H. A lot of nice words to hide a lie and cover up the truth: “The movement came into existence through a collective effort of a group of peace-loving (peace-loving?) and pro-active citizens… to provide an alternative to the present system (whatever that means). The movement in its present form evolved in the course of time… Dharma Bharathi came into existence when Varghese Alengaden moved into a rented apartment in… Indore, as its Director.”
The information here is collected from a DB-I Brochure and from the Souvenir of their 2nd National KNIT-INDIA 2000 Seminar held at Bangalore (December 29, 2000 to January 2, 2001) at St. Joseph’s Convent/St. Francis Xavier’s Girls’ High School, under the auspices of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Tarbes.
As with DB-H, New Age jargon is frequently employed in the Brochure as well as by speakers at the Seminar:
Cosmic solidarity, harmonious co-existence, (the explanation for the DB-I emblem also uses the terms ‘harmonious’ and ‘cosmic’), harmony, global union, global, spirit of oneness, holistic, paradigm shift, inner voice etc. DB “promotes a paradigm shift from a narrow understanding of religiosity to a broad and liberative spirituality… It is basically a spiritual movement whose unifying element is its spirituality.” (Brochure, pages 4, 10). The Brochure is with the compliments of the SVD congregation of priest, Central Province, Indore.
In the editorial, one Sr. Humbline describes DB-I as a ‘cosmic marvel (for) creating a new civilization of love’ (see DB-H parallel). According to the Brochure, this is the goal of DB-I.
Sr. Loretta Pinto saw the participation of around 115 Catholic institutions as a ‘confirmation from God to fulfill the mission and vision of Dharma Bharathi.’
‘The growth and expansion of this Movement is a fact that it is… very specially inspired by God. All who were responsible for its origin and growth are only instruments of God’. (Brochure, page 13)
‘Dharma Bharathi is a Divine movement’. (Gyanendra Purohit, Brochure, page 19)
If numbers are an indication of God’s blessing, then Nazism and Communism are top contenders.
Maria Menezes, one of the celebrities at the Seminar, is President of the All India Catholic Union and holds a Doctorate in the philosophy of J.Krishnamurti, the Theosophist and adopted son of New Ager Annie Besant.
She believes that DB ‘can only bring about peace leading to the development of nations’. (Souvenir, page 8)
Like with DB-H, DB-I wants to promote peace within the individual, peace within society and peace with nature. When a person (it teaches) is able to experience these three dimensions of peace, he/she will have peace with God. Hence their programme of Value Education for Peace has four important dimensions namely, psychological, sociological, ecological and theological. (Brochure, page 4)
How will they achieve this? Through an inter-religious spirituality. (Brochure, page 20)
The fruit? A testimony from Lavina D’Souza, Dharma Bharathi full-time animator and a young Catholic:
“After entering DB I began respecting all religions… Till then I was holding the view that my religion alone is the superior one.” (Brochure, page 19)
Some of the aspects of DB-I as culled from the Souvenir: Singing of inter-religious songs, reading of scriptures of different religions to promote inter-religious harmony, inter-religious prayer meetings, inter-religious prayer in hospitals with patients and staff, reading the teachings of great religious leaders and verses from different religious texts in the school assembly, listening to the ‘inner voice’ etc. The original target group of students and youth has been enlarged to include parents, teachers & institution heads.
And all that is what your children will get when DB-I infiltrates your children’s schools.
The first DB-I National Award was made to Janak Palta McGilligan.
She ‘believed both in Hinduism and Sikhism’, then went ‘in search of a religion where she can experience equality between man and woman for she never wanted to be dominated by a man… She spent some time with all the world religions… One day she came in touch with Baha Ullah… Her dream was fulfilled’. (Souvenir, page 75)
Who next? Sai Baba? McGilligan probably didn’t settle on Christianity because our feminist theologians haven’t had their way. Yet.
Lavina D’Souza’s “acquaintance with Dharma Bharathi was casual when she happened to read a copy of ‘Renaissance’ magazine” and “decided to give her services as a fulltime worker.” (Souvenir, page 22)
The Editor of ‘Renaissance’ is (Fr.?) Clarence Srambical. I have just one issue, that of March-April 2002.
While the 8-page magazine many noble reflections, there was nothing in it even vaguely Christian.
“Awaken the Woman in Man” is the title of an article by Varghese Alengaden to celebrate Women’s Day on the 8th of March. “Women will be empowered only when men are able to awaken the woman in them[selves].”
Page one contains an ode to “Pluralism A Unique National Heritage.” Alengaden gave a seminar for the heads of institutions run by Dominican sisters in Kerala and another for the Franciscan Handmaids of the Good Shepherd. The fruit: “Both have resolved to promote pluralistic spirituality.”
DB-I released a bi-lingual Hindi/English pocket book (Sangam) containing “readings from various Holy Scriptures and a brief introduction of all religions.”
St. Mary’s Convent, Kanpur was introduced to DB by Fr. Siby, Fr. Cyril and Sr. Marion IBMV. “We conducted a
prayer service… based on
DB spirituality… and selected readings from various Holy Scriptures.”
On page three, “Stella Maris High School, Bangalore celebrates DHARMA BHARATHI DAY.”
DB animators Prasad IMS and Stella Joseph FMM conduct an orientation programme for the girls of St. Mary’s School, Gajraula.
Page five runs a report on Knit India Agra 2002 in which 14 schools of UP participated. They “prayed together using readings from various holy scriptures.” (Fr.?) George Paul, Principal of Christ the King School and (Fr.?) Varghese Kunnath, DB-UP Regional Coordinator addressed the gathering.
Page six. DB Programme launched in Loreto Convent, New Delhi. “The students committed to promote the pluralistic vision of the movement… Principal Sr. Mercy encouraged the students and teachers.
Interaction for ten selected students of the DB Core group of St. Mary’s, Nainital with 32 principals and managers of schools at Jeolikot who had gathered for an orientation programme.
‘Education: Vision and Ambition’ on page seven. “We need Ramakrishna Paramahamsas to give birth to Swami Vivekanandas… But the basic question we need to ask is whether we want Swami Vivekanandas, Mahatma Gandhis and Mother Teresas at all.”
In 1998 alone DB-I influenced over 200 participants in 5 seminars for heads of institutions. The following year there were nearly 700 from 10 institutions. In 2000, 22 seminars for 1200 heads were conducted.
That year, in the first 2 months alone, nearly 1400 participants attended 6 regional conventions in Goa, Andhra Pradesh & Tamil Nadu. As on January 1, 2001 DB-H has “helped to start a post-graduate diploma in ‘Peace and Value Education’ under the Dept. of Inter-religious Relations, Madurai Kamaraj University”, conducted a I-year training programme for 23 teachers at Hyderabad, training and motivation for more than 2,500 teachers and leaders and over 300,000 students, and “conscientisation courses for more than 10,000 parents.
The DBs are pro-actively indoctrinating the heads, teachers and students of Catholic institutions exclusively, with their ideologies. I possess no evidence that they are promoting their programmes in non-Catholic schools.
With the DBs being instrumental in targeting Catholic students for exposure to the teachings of the founders of the world religions and to their religious texts, I do not find that the teaching staff and students of non-Christian schools have been targeted in order to expose them to the Bible and the beliefs of the Christian faith. To maintain a proper equilibrium and to achieve the DBs’ global objectives, both sides must be given doses of the same medicine.
Shortly before I completed my first report [1.8.2002] on DB, Swami Sachidananda telephoned me and invited me to meet with him and Fr. Avinash SVD during their forthcoming visit to Chennai. The Swami did not make it, but I met Fr. Avinash at Sathya Nilayam, the Jesuit seminary on July 23rd. During our two hour-long meeting over lunch, I explained to him the nature of my ministry. He went through some of my reports with interest, especially the ones on CHAI. However, he declined to accept from me copies of any of my material.
Fr. Tom Kunnunkal SJ of DB-L had written to me on July 10, 2002, “Both Dharma Bharathis (DB-H and DB-I) are doing good work and reach out to many parts of India through several hundred schools… Neither has and neither is interested in
He (Sachidananda) gives retreats to priests, to congregations of sisters and to provinces.
Is it necessary that every good activity that we start should immediately get official approval?”
In a subsequent letter dated July 20, 2002 he revealed his connection with DB-I and his plans, “I am going to Indore to spend a couple of days with Varghese… I am not affiliated to DB Indore or Secunderabad. Our Bishop is clear that what is important is not to swear by this or that group but to push the
ideals and visions of Dharma Bharathi… As for literature, I really do not have much to give as I am at the beginning stage. I had another young Jesuit with me last year, but he is gone for studies. I am trying to get another, a priest or sister to help. I am sending you a folder that I passed around to our people during a CRI (Conference of Religious of India) meeting, aimed at the Catholic audience and hence specifically the mission of Jesus to build up the Kingdom, which to me is a good translation of the aims and goals of DB.”
Those aims and goals [of DB-L] appear to be exactly along the lines of those of DB-H and DB-I.
To the Catholic parents who may have their children in schools not yet invaded by the DBs, I ask,
“How long will it be before Dharma Bharathi reaches their classrooms. Will you remain silent till then?”
To those whose children are already compromised by exposure to any of the DBs, I say:
“Resist DB through joint public action (parent-teachers associations, parish councils, Catholic Associations etc.), enlighten others with information on the truth about Dharma Bharathi, meet with your local Church leaders, parish priests and Bishops, and re-educate your children with the knowledge that you now possess.”
Fr. Kunnunkal of DB-L explained to me the split in DB, “Varghese Alengaden is not inclined to give up his freedom of action.” But your children do not have the same choice, and neither have you. You are obliged to watch impotently while their impressionable minds are being conditioned at school towards a theology of syncretism, religious pluralism and the ‘New Age’.
‘DHARMA BHARATHI’ CAN THIS SAVE INDIA??
is the title of a flattering report on DB-I by Fr. R.H. Lesser, ‘a renowned veteran missionary and author’ published in THE EXAMINER of May 11, 2002. Excerpts: “The Indore-base Dharma Bharathi… spread now to 22 states… more than 3 lakh students and 30,000 teachers. The movement springs from the major foundations of all the major religions. Avoiding the narrow sectarian religiosity, it incorporates the main religious tenets of (all religions)…
The schools which experience the effects of DB recommend it to others. There is never any attempt to incorporate people to any particular religious belief or practice. In fact, THIS IS A VERY PRACTICAL AND POSITIVE MEANS OF EVANGELIZATION AND ESTABLISHING THE KINGDOM OF GOD IN OUR COUNTRY.
Already several courses have been held to inspire Bishops, major superiors, priests and religious. It is my hope and prayer that this movement will spread even wider and achieve the…” (the article ends abruptly)
This Catholic ‘missionary’ is either awfully ignorant or terribly deceived. Or is his conclusion representative of the opinions of the Church in India, meaning our Bishops who are either silent spectators or active supporters of the Dharma Bharathis and the CHAIs? It is beyond my comprehension as to how Bishops and religious congregations (like very recently the SVD) attend ‘courses’ such as those conducted by these organizations.
My answer to Fr. Lesser’s question was carried in THE EXAMINER of June 29, 2002 under the caption “DHARMA BHARATHI ALONE CANNOT SAVE INDIA”.
Part of it reads: “I disagree with Fr. Lesser’s contention that Dharma Bharathi is ‘a very practical and positive means of evangelization… In fact,
when Dharma Bharathi is introduced in Catholic Schools, all TRUE evangelization ceases.
Dharma Bharathi may have a role to play as a social movement to ‘build a civilization of love and peace’, but we are aware that only the Good News of Jesus Christ can save India. Dharma Bharathi, or any other movement, sans Jesus, cannot.”
To that letter in THE EXAMINER I received two responses. The first (August 24, 2002), from Tanya Lal of St. Mary’s College, Nainital, a Class X student said that the Catholic prayers in her Catholic school have not been affected by the introduction of DB programmes.
The other (August 31, 2002) was from Sr. Mariam Therese, General Councillor for Education, St. Teresa’s Generalate, Bangalore. She defended Dharma Bharathi and those involved in the Movement.
But then, they have not read this report. They do not know the Truth.
The truth or The Truth?
Swami Sachidananda believes that “India today urgently needs a vision rooted in her own ancient wisdom” (NRMM 48) and “Indian insights into the truths of spirit (which) gave birth to… progressive movements like the Theosophical Society, the Divine Life Society, the Aurobindo Society etc.” (NRMM 51).
We have learned that much of this ‘wisdom’ and ‘truth’, if not simply incompatible with Christian beliefs, is often diametrically opposed to them, and in not a few, occult and New Age.
What DB offers is a syncretistic synthesis of ‘truths’ of religions in which the complete Divine revelation, the Truth of the Gospel, is completely dissolved and rendered impotent to deliver its unique salvific content.
‘Truth is one, wise men call it by different names’ according to Swami Sachidananda (DBNS 59).
Jesus Christ said, “I am The Way, The Truth and The Life” (John 14:6).
Again, he said, “If you remain in MY word, you will truly be my disciples and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
Sachidananda and the founders of the other DBs have not ‘remained in Jesus’ Word’.
As against the ‘truths of spirit’ in the ‘ancient wisdom’ of the Indian religions, Jesus said, “The Spirit of Truth, He will guide you to all truth.” (John 16:13)
Yours sincerely, Michael Prabhu
Copies to CBCI Office Bearers, concerned Commissions of the CBCI, Bishops associated with the Dharma Bharathi Movement etc. August 1, 2003 [This letter to the Swami, concluded here, started from pg 1]
(Page Numbers in Brackets)
Analysis of Swami Sachidananda Bharathi’s Dharma Bharathi organization in ‘Sunday Shalom’ (1-3)
Analysis of the Dharma Bharathi’s National Regeneration Movement Manual and Seminar Papers (3-4)
Definitions of terms and connection with Dharma Bharathi:
Indifferentism (4-5) Relativism; Religious Pluralism
(5) Syncretism (5-6)
Inter-religious Dialogue (7)
Pope John Paul II says…
‘Om’ mantra, Yoga
Croatia Scraps Yoga (8-9)
Ant-Christian Personalities and Organizations associated with Dharma Bharathi:
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda, the Ramakrishna Mission (9)
The Brahmo Samaj and the Arya Samaj (9)
Ma Anandamayi; Sri Sathya Sai Baba; The Divine Life Society (10)
The Brahmakumaris (11)
Comments on Swami Sachidananda Bharathi’s ‘Disciples of Christ for Peace’ (11)
Ashram leader Vandana Mataji Rscj (12-13)
Liberal and dissenting theologian Dr. Fr. Michael Amaladoss SJ (13-15)
My advertisement in The New Leader rejected
New Ager and Ashram leader Fr. Bede Griffiths OSB (15-20)
NOT CHRISTIAN: Sat-Chit-Ananda/Sachidananda (17)
Bede Griffiths and the New Age Movement (19-20)
Swami Sachidananda and the New Age Movement (20-21)
New Age personalities linked to Dharma Bharathi (22-25)
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin; Albert Einstein, Fritjof Capra (22)
Werner Heisenberg, Rupert Sheldrake, Ken Wilber (23)
David Bohm, E. F. Schumacher, Paul Davies, Sri Aurobindo (24)
The Theosophical Society and Annie Besant (25)
The United Nations and the New Age Movement (26-28)
Holistic Health: The Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI) Dharma Bharathi and the NAM (28-30)
Humanism and Transpersonal Psychology and Dharma Bharathi (30-31)
At the bullseye of the Dharma Bharathi target : YOUR child! (31-32)
The New Age Movement in the field of education (32)
The Dangers of ‘Values Clarification’ (Value Education) in Schools (32)
Peace through Dharma Bharathi? IMPOSSIBLE! (33)
Three Dharma Bharathis! (34)
Church support for Swami Sachidananda Bharathi and the other two Dharma Bharathis (34)
Dharma Bharathi-Indore now renamed UNIVERSAL SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT (35-37)
Can Dharma Bharathi Save India? (38)
The truth or The Truth? (38)
UPDATE OF THE 1.8.2003 REPORT ON THE THREE DHARMA BHARATHIS
2003 letter from the Archbishop of Delhi
My 2004 correspondence with The New Leader
My 2004 letter to the Vatican regarding the Dharma Bharathis, the Catholic Ashrams, etc.
Dharma Bharathi and the Catholic Ashrams Movement
Dharma Bharathi, Hyderabad moves to Kerala, sets up Ashrams, ordains ex-nun woman acharya
Dharma Bharathi invades the diocese of Jammu-Kashmir
My 2007 letters to the Bishops and CBCI
THE NEW LEADER AND THE PROMOTION OF SWAMI SACHIDANANDA BHARATHI, DB-H (49-50)
THE EXAMINER. A VEHICLE FOR PROMOTION OF FR. VARGHESE ALENGADEN, DB-I (50-51)
A HUMAN BEING HAS NOT ONE BUT THREE BRAINS: FR. TOM OF DHARMA BHARATHI-LUCKNOW (51, 23)
My 2002-2003 correspondence with Swami Sachidananda Bharathi
My 2003 correspondence with Secretary of the CBCI
My 2003 response to the Archbishop of Delhi
2003 letter from the Bishop of Jhansi
My 2003 letters to the Chairman and Member Bishops of the CBCI Commission for Culture
My 2002 letters to the Chairman and Member Bishops of the CBCI Commission for Culture
My 2002 letters to the Bishops of Hyderabad and Indore
My 2002 correspondence with Fr. Thomas Kunnunkal SJ of Dharma Bharati-Lucknow
Dharma Bharathi at the III Asian Youth Day, Bangalore
WHAT CAN HAPPEN TO YOUR CHILD IF PROGRAMMED BY THE DHARMA BHARATHIS? (64)
UPDATED JUNE 2009 WITH ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
SWAMI SACHIDANANDA BHARATHI AND DHARMA BHARATHI
Wing Commander or Squadron Leader N. V. John [born 1947] had a near-death experience and a spiritual transformation that was influenced by four gurus including Swami Ranganathananda, President of the Ramakrishna Mission, who gave him ‘kavi diksha’, and Ashrams leader ad New Ager Fr.
Bede Griffiths [Swami Dayananda] who conferred on him ‘acharya diksha’ in January 1990 “according to the Upanishadic tradition”. Earlier, in 1984 November, he had received ‘sadhak diksha’ from Bede with the name ‘Sachidanand’. In July 2001 he took ‘sannyasa diksha’ with the appellation ‘Swami’ to his new name ‘Sachidananda’. The ‘Bharathi’ was added on sometime later.
He established Dharma Bharathi (DB), the National Regeneration Movement (NRM), and the Disciples of Christ for Peace (DCP). The DCP “was initiated as a communion of believers” on 13th May 1994 at Bede Griffiths’ Saccidananda Ashram, Shantivanam, on the first death anniversary of Bede. It was officially founded along with the late Archbishop S. Arulappa of Hyderabad on November 9, 1998.
At the time of preparing the 2003 report, 3
Patrons of DCP were Archbishops. 3 of the 4 Advisors were Bishops. Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil, CSsR who ‘invoked God’s blessings’ on a major DB Seminar, and Hyderabad Archbishop Joji who sent ‘best wishes for its success’ and Archbishop Thomas Menamparambil, SDB of Guwahati were its Patrons. Its other Advisors were Bishops George Anathil, SVD of Indore, Prakash Mallavarappu of Cudappah and Jacob Manathodath of Palakkad.
In response to my letters to the Bishops with the report of August 1, 2003 on Dharma Bharathi – New Age and Syncretism, I received one letter from a CBCI Commission [see page 58], a letter from the Bishop of Jhansi [see page 60], and also the following response:
FROM THE ARCHBISHOP OF DELHI
Dear Mr. Prabhu, October 1, 2003
Peace of Christ and greetings from Delhi. This is to acknowledge your letter of 24th September 2003 and the material you sent. We get plenty of material from all corners and it is not possible to go into everything that comes.
On matters that you are focusing on, I suggest that you contact the Doctrinal Commission of the CBCI and bring to
their notice anything that you find that is not in accordance with the Church’s teaching after prayerful study.
The present Chairman is Bishop Thomas Dabre Bishop of Vasai, Bishop’s House, Vasai (West), Dist. Thane 401202 (Maharashtra), tel. no. 0250-2380220, 2381521. He will certainly give attention to the matter and if the Bishops need to
be advised, he would bring the matter to their attention.
However, since you have sent your comments on Dharma Bharathi etc involved in programmes in Delhi, I will have
to look at what you have sent and see what needs to be done. I have met Acharya Sachidananda and I have also listened to his talks, and I found nothing out of the way in what he said.
In any case I will go through your literature and see what needs to be done.
I am glad to know that you were in Delhi from 1979 to 1992 at St. Michael’s Parish, Prasad Nagar. I do not recall
meeting you. Perhaps if I see you I would remember. With warm regards and God bless, Yours sincerely in Christ,
+Vincent M. Concessao [Letter ref. no. BF/0892/2003] FOR MY RESPONSE, SEE PAGE 59
My correspondence with The New Leader on Dharma Bharathi:
The New Leader, a Catholic magazine from Chennai, in its
issue of May 1-15, 2004 carried a cover story in the form of an interview with Swami Sachidananda Bharathi, with a full-length colour photograph of the kavi [saffron]-clad swami on the cover, accompanied by the large, bold slogan, “LET THIS SWAMIJI SUCCEED!“. On May 10, 2004 I sent the editor, Fr. M. A. Joe Antony SJ., a copy of my above August 2003 report, under the following letter:
Dear Father Editor,
Your cover story [NL, May 1-15, 2004] on Swami Sachidananda Bharathi [and his organization Dharma Bharathi] in the form of an interview with the Swami is well-intentioned and well done. His aims and goals, and those of Dharma Bharathi, are commendable. However, I conducted an in-depth study of Dharma Bharathi teachings and practices that result from his being “guided by Christian and Hindu monks” and his association with “the famous British Benedictine… Fr. Bede Griffiths“. From this study, two things stand out with crystal clarity. Despite all good intentions, many of the means now being used to achieve the said commendable aims are
(1) syncretistic, diluting the Gospel and denying the unicity of Jesus [as opposed to Ecclesia in Asia, Dominus Iesus etc]; (2) ‘New Age’, from Swamiji’s association with Fr. Bede and other Western New Agers at Bede’s Ashram, and which aspect becomes clear when they are seen in the light of the 3rd February 2003 Vatican Document on the New Age Movement.
I am writing this to you in the confidence that the New Leader, as a reputed Catholic weekly, has in all fairness always published letters that disagree with the view of those published in the magazine, but are in line with Church teaching. Yours sincerely Michael Prabhu
[PERSONAL] Dear Father Joe Antony,
I have just posted to you a copy of my report on DHARMA BHARATHI for your kind information. Copies of it have been sent by post and also by email to most Church leaders. It has been acknowledged by several Bishops. Two of them have referred it to the Doctrinal Commission of the CBCI. A follow-up report is on the anvil and should be ready by next month end. My correspondence on this issue with the Bishops and with Swamiji*, along with a study of the Kerala Regeneration Project will be included in it. With regards, In Jesus’ Name, Michael *see pages 51 to 62
The New Leader editor, Fr. Joe Antony, replied:
Dear Mr. Michael Prabhu,
Thanks for your email and the 40-page report. We’ll, of course, publish your letter*.
I see that your 40-page report contains also your old allegations of me and the New Leader. I am sad to see that it omits my reply and your response and your ad. that was published**. Don’t you think that all those to whom you sent this report now need to know all that happened later? Don’t truth and fairness demand it? With all good wishes & prayers, Fraternally, M.A. Joe Antony, SJ Editor, The New Leader
*My letter was published in the NL of June 1-15, 2004, except for the last sentence.
However, it was preceded by two letters, both from nuns. Sr. Lucy Kurien and the staff of Maher, Pune commended the New Leader for “doing good work in educating and informing the discerning public.”
And, Sr. Mirabelle AC., of Bangalore, wrote, “I am pleased that you gave Swami Sachidananda an opportunity to explain his call and mission in the cover story of NL dated 1-15 May ’04 issue. I was sad to read of some negative and false propaganda written against him in some newspapers. I marvel at the work that God is doing through Swamiji. When the Apostles were hesitating to include the gentiles into the early Christian community, God raised Paul who became the apostle for the Gentiles. Swamiji too is undoubtedly chosen by God to lead us in the right way to lead our Christian faith deeply and meaningfully. Indeed, he needs all our cooperation to succeed in his mission.”
More significantly, there was a prominent box on page 5 of the June 1-15, 2004 issue with the Swami Sachidananda cover picture of the May 1-15, 2004 issue reproduced, along with an excerpt in bold print — the two sentences in bold type above, from Sr. Mirabelle’s letter to the editor. Fr. M. A. Joe Antony’s stance is clearly subjective and biased.
Just a couple of months later, in the cover feature of the August 16-31, 2004 issue of The New Leader. “Ten suggestions to the Prime Minister”, the second of the seven contributors was the Swami.
**The report on Dharma Bharathi which I sent to Fr. Joe Antony was written in August 2003. It was only later that I took up with him the old matter of the unpublished advertisement [see page 15] and he agreed to release it only if I made some modifications insisted upon by him, which was during the last week of November 2003. So the acknowledgement that the ad. was finally published in The New Leader of January 1-15, 2004, almost two years after I made the full advance payment of Rs. 500, is included only now when the report is being updated in May 2009.
Fr. Joe Antony makes no mention of the controversial and erroneous articles by Fr. Michael Amaladoss SJ., in The New Leader, about which I wrote in my report.
On May 11, 2004, I sent Fr. Joe Antony a copy of my four-page letter to the Vatican.
A LETTER TO ROME ABOUT THE NEW AGE IN THE INDIAN CHURCH, IN WHICH I INCLUDE THE DHARMA BHARATHI ORGANIZATIONS AND THE N.B.C.L.C.
On the 5th of May, 2004, I wrote a four-page letter under the title: “A Letter to the Vatican. Subject: ‘New Age’ in the Catholic Church in India.”
Around 20 copies were addressed to different dicasteries of the Holy See, and other copies were sent to Bishops and CBCI Commissions. The letter was prepared in the light of the pastoral guidance on New Age provided in the February 3, 2003 Vatican Document on the New Age Movement. Different issues were separately addressed under sub-headings:
The Bishops, The Priests, The Catholic Press, Our Nuns and their Holistic Health Centres, The Sister-Doctors Forum of India [SDFI], The Conference of Religious, India [CRI], Two Dangerous Organizations- The Catholic Health Association of India [CHAI] and Dharma Bharathi, and, Ashrams and the National Biblical Catechetical and Liturgical Centre [NBCLC].
Please read the LETTER TO ROME on the website at www.ephesians-511.net. The matter related to this report is copied:
I have submitted two detailed reports to the Bishops and to the concerned CBCI Commissions concerning this organization whose founder and leaders [which include priests] are ‘Hindu-ising’ Catholic schools and colleges across the nation in the guise of inculturation and the New Age ideals of a syncretistic oneness and secular peace.
Important goals are the compulsory introduction in Catholic schools and colleges of yoga, chanting of mantras like ‘om’, and inter-faith prayer with the replacement [or placing on par] of the Bible by texts of scriptures [also considered to be equally divinely inspired] of other world religions.
The original Dharma Bharathi which, I have shown in my reports has first-hand connections with modern New Agers in the West, soon split. A rival Dharma Bharathi emerged, its founder a priest, who with the help of a nun hijacked the name, goodwill and properties of the founder-organization in which they were serving.
Legal action by the original organization has been considered but avoided only to preclude a public scandal, since both Dharma Bharathis tout a solution to the communal disharmony in India, a new world order of peace and harmony through their almost identical programmes. This second Dharma Bharathi [name recently changed] was not slow in obtaining the support of some Bishops. As a clone of the original, its goals are not very much different either.
Earlier connected with the original founder, an eminent educationist-priest has founded a third Dharma Bharathi with the blessing of his Bishop.
The Dharma Bharathis have virtually served notice on the Church that she must cease, in secular India, to evangelize [read as preach Jesus and His Gospel], or to insist that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life [John 14:6], in defiance of the teaching of the Document ‘Dominus Iesus’ and Pope John Paul II’s directives in Ecclesia in Asia etc.
THE CATHOLIC ASHRAMS & THE NATIONAL BIBLICAL, CATECHETICAL AND LITURGICAL CENTRE [NBCLC]
The Ashram culture was originally meant to be or projected as an Indian Christian way of life and worship that would find mass appeal, and remove the impression that has been created that Christianity is a ‘foreign’ religion, in a country where just over 2% of the population has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord.
But the actual history [as seen from the true believer’s point of view] is sadly different, and warrants close scrutiny from Rome. What it is now can be easily seen from the writings of any of the Benedictine or Jesuit priests or RSCJ nuns connected with the ‘Ashram Movement’. It is difficult to see the unique dualistic theism of the Bible in the different shades of advaitic monism that colour all their ‘Christian’ writings.
From there it was just a short step to the New Age. One of the pioneers Fr. Bede Griffiths not only ended up as a yogi but also opened his center to New Agers from the West [one of whom wrote his famous New Age thesis in the Ashram]. Bede also traveled to Europe to participate in an international New Age conference. His teachings greatly influenced many people who, along with some of his former disciples, are today influential in the major religious congregations and Church hierarchy and who continue to promote the Hindu-isation of the Catholic Church in India.
It is no coincidence that the founder of DHARMA BHARATHI is one of these disciples. He met his first New Agers from the West at Bede’s Ashram. They have influenced his beliefs and his vision and he in turn now passes it on to our children in our educational institutions through his organization with the recognition of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.
These Ashrams have not brought anyone to a saving knowledge of the Jesus Christ of the Bible. Rather, the use of gross iconology, cross-breeding of sacred religious symbols, yogic exercises, temple-dances and dubious rituals and liturgies of an inculturation gone awry that emerged from the Ashram culture and were disseminated in the Church through the NBCLC continues to be one of the major reasons for Catholics leaving the Church.
The Ashram movement is nothing but a Hindu way of life thinly disguised as Christianity. It has opened the door to a multitude of evils which, as in the case of the other issues here already reported on by me, will be the subject of a detailed report from this writer in the near future. END
CLOSELY ASSOCIATED: DHARMA BHARATHI & THE SEDITIOUS CATHOLIC ASHRAMS MOVEMENT
RELEVANT INFORMATION COPIED FROM MY OCT. 2005 REPORT ON THE CATHOLIC ASHRAMS:
AMONG THE INDIAN VISITORS TO THE FR. BEDE GRIFFITHS’ SACCIDANANDA ASHRAM, SHANTIVANAM:
The Indian Visitors’ Book for the previous two years [2003, 2004] records groups of novices and seminarians [as few as 5 to as many as 36 in a group], nuns [31 Cluny nuns from Chennai in one group visit], and a few individual priests. And people sent across by the NBCLC. Their duration of stay varies from three to ten days. Among the prominent lay individuals who visited are …SWAMI SACHIDANANDA BHARATHI
DHARMA BHARATHI, Secunderabad [22 to 26 January, 2003]…
AMONG THE BOOKS IN THE ASHRAM LIBRARY:
…Another is Deepak Chopra‘s How to Know God. [See New Ager Deepak Chopra named in the Vatican Document on the New Age, n.4] … [long list of New Age and occult works] … and,
CHRISTIANITY FOR THE THIRD MILLENNIUM by Acharya Sachidanand [later known as SWAMI SACHIDANANDA BHARATHI] of DHARMA BHARATHI.
DHARMA BHARATHI’S CLOSE ASSOCIATION WITH THE ASHRAM AIKIYA:
…SWAMI SACHIDANANDA BHARATHI of DHARMA BHARATHI writes in to thank Ashram Aikiya [the Ashrams’ association for member ashrams which published his letter in their 24-page News Letter no. 45 of Christmas 2004] for promoting his work as members of AA have got in touch with him. “I wish to have the addresses of all AA members.”
He adds “The New Leader, May 1-15  carries a cover story [see page 40] on our work in Kerala.”
REMEMBER FR. MICHAEL AMALADOSS, DHARMA BHARATHI’S THEOLOGICAL CONSULTANT [PAGES 13-15]?
Fr. Michael Amaladoss
SJ, a liberal theologian
who has denied the existence of devils and received regular coverage for his erroneous views in The New Leader writes in to Ashram Aikiya [the 24-page News Letter no. 45 of Christmas 2004]:
“I am glad to learn that my talk does touch a few hearts… Hope it will keep the ashram people open. OTHERWISE THEY MAY GET LOST IN STRUCTURES” [the rituals and structures of organized religion?]. He was a frequent visitor to Shantivanam Ashram.
REMEMBER THE RSCJ NUN, VANDANA MATAJI, DHARMA BHARATHI’S ADVISOR [PAGES 12-13]?
Fr. Amaladoss’ contribution to ashram founder Vandana Mataji‘s [edited] occult magnum opus Shabda Shakti Sangam is “My walking together with Hindus” in which he relates the influences on his life of ashram figures Fr. Ignatius Hirudayam, Fr. Bede Griffiths, Henri Le Saux, Jyoti Sahi and Raimundo Panikkar. [see details in my CATHOLIC ASHRAMS report]
The selected study of the writings of Vandana Mataji, who is an ‘Advisor’ to the DHARMA BHARATHI‘s ‘Disciples of Christ for Peace’, reveals her position on the deification of nature and of the self, and of sexual promiscuity. She rejects the teachings of the Church, advocating its opposite, and downgrades the importance of the Real Presence in the Eucharist. She believes in a theology of religious pluralism.
Yet, Fr. M. A. Joe Antony, editor of The New Leader, gives a positive review of Living with Hindus, June 1-15, 2000.
The NL has been an ardent supporter of the Mataji over the years. In ‘Living Together Joyfully’ [NL, March 1-15, 1999], she writes, “Intelligent non-Christians are immediately put off by this sort of superiority and exclusivity of proclaiming that our religion is the only true one, or Jesus is the only way to God.”
Ms. S. Barrocas of Mumbai wrote to the editor, “What must we say and do? Accept Christ… as one of the many who lead to God? Should we, for the sake of ‘intelligent non- Christians’ adorn our sanctuaries and homes with the images [of other Gods] and worship them all?” [NL March 1-15, 1999].
When a Catholic nun teaches that there is no need for conversion to Jesus Christ [baptism], that the Eucharist is secondary to meditation, and that couples can cohabit without marriage, the sacramental foundation of the Catholic Church is attacked and undermined.
DHARMA BHARATHI, NOW IN KERALA – THREE YEARS AFTER MY 2003 REPORT
Catholic Ashrams: Sachidananda Ashram gets a woman Acharya India Currents, 15 August 2006
The Indian Church, especially the Catholic Church, is often seen as a male-dominated religious institution. However, there have also been initiatives coming from within that can help bring women to the center stage. The Ashram movement is one such initiative. There are quite a few Christian Ashrams in India which are founded and headed by women religious.
Sr. Catherin Prabhujyoti receiving Acharya deeksha
However, it is a fact that Christian Ashrams in India have not been ‘bearing abundant fruit’. One of the reasons why this has been so is their lack of relevance to the contemporary society and its aspirations. Added to this is the reality that Christianity in India still continues to be taken as an alien religion by most people in this country.
The Church has often failed to identify itself with India’s national life. It enjoys ‘minority rights’ in India which is not seen anywhere else in the world. The Christian Churches have also failed to be enriched by the rich cultural and spiritual traditions of India. In dress, customs and values Christians still continue to be mostly westernized.
Photo: Acharya Catherin Prabhujyoti being seated after receiving the Acharya deeksha and her appointment as the Acharya of the Ashram. Bro. John Martin conveys his felicitation while the local parish priest looks on.
There have been some initiatives by a number of foreign Christian missionaries and few Indian missionaries for ‘inculturation’ of the Church. Foremost among the Catholic initiatives has been the ‘Saccidananda Ashram’ near Trichy founded by two French priests, Fr. Monchanin and Fr. Henri le Saux. This was later on taken up by the internationally famous British Benedictine monk, Fr. Bede Griffiths.
The Indian Missionary Society (IMS) is also a major initiative in inculturation. Bharat Mata Ashram at Kurukshetra and Matridham Ashram at Varanasi are living example to this fact.
Photo: Swami Sachidananda Bharathi and Acharya Sr. Catherin Prabhujyoti
The Anjali Ashram at Mysore established by Fr. Amalorpavadas continues to attract many seekers. The Vatican II added legitimacy to these Catholic initiatives for inculturation. However, such efforts have been limited to the external aspects of Christian faith like dress, symbols, liturgy, names etc.
The Theological, Christological and Missiological dimensions still remain mostly untouched. The philosophy is still ‘Greek’ and the administration is ‘Roman’ for the Catholic Church that constitutes the Christian majority in India.
Squadron Leader N.V. John received the new name ‘John Sachidanand’ in 1984 from his second guru Fr. Bede Griffiths at Saccidananda Ashram. He was also given ‘Acharya diksha’ in 1990 by Fr. Bede Griffiths. Acharya John Sachidanand took to ‘Sanyasa’ with the name ‘Swami Sachidananda’ in July 2001.
His 20-year-long pilgrimage of faith as a disciple of Sadguru Jesus Christ through the multi-religious milieu of India made Swami Sachidananda a heir to India’s rich spiritual and cultural traditions. His experiences have finally led him to initiate an Indian Christian Sanyasa Parampara [parampara = tradition] which he has named ‘Bharathi Sanyasa Parampara’. He himself became the first member of this parampara by taking the name ‘Swami Sachidananda Bharathi’ for himself on 8th July 2003, the 21st anniversary of his air crash. Dharma Bharathi Mission and Dharma Bharathi Ashram are results of his prayerful efforts to promote an ‘Indian face of the Christian faith’ and a ‘Swadeshi Church’ in India without religious conversion and cultural alienation.
On 8th July 2006, Sr. Catherine Prabhujyothi, an America-returned former Carmelite religious sister who did a research study on ‘Inter-religious dialogue in Christian higher education in India’, was given ‘Acharya diksha’ by Swami Sachidananda Bharathi and appointed ‘Acharya’ of Dharma Bharathi Ashram, Mulanthuruthy in Kerala.
Sr. Catherine was initiated by Swamiji with the name ‘Prabhujyothi’ on 8th July 2004. During the last two years she was under training and guidance at the Guru Bhavan in Dharma Bharathi Ashram.
Swami Sachidananda Bharathi trained her in the Shanthi Yagna Meditation, Samasthakriya Yoga and other constituent elements of the Dharma Bharathi spirituality and Dharma Bharathi system of Peace and Value Education.
1. N.V. John, now Swami Sachidananda Bharathi, deserted by his wife, a senior Indian government official, moves his Dharma Bharathi centre from Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh, to Mulanthuruthy, Kerala where he enjoys the patronage of Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil, Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly.
There is too much competition to promote “Value Education For Peace” among the Catholic educational institutions, from the Dharma Bharathi of Indore, hijacked from him by Fr. Varghese Alengaden and Sr. Loretta Pinto and renamed by them the Universal Solidarity Movement [see separate report of June 2009].
2. He appoints a former Carmelite nun, Catherin, as the head of his new Ashram, after she leaves her Congregation to join his Ashram and completes her indoctrination in “Dharma Bharathi spirituality”, which is New Age.
3. The Catholic Church is represented by the local parish priest.
4. Interestingly for an inculturated scenario, and for people who talk incessantly about inculturation or Indianisation, the photographs show everyone, including the Swami himself, sitting on chairs.
The only person squatting on the floor is the new woman acharya.
5. My letter to the Vatican of May 2004 which includes mention of these ashrams, and my October 2005 report on the Catholic Ashrams substantiate my claim that the Catholic Ashrams promote “New Age, blasphemy, sacrilege and heresy”. And sedition.
In this report, I have already provided evidence of the Swami’s roots in the traditions of the Catholic Ashrams movement which is seditious. The Swami is most closely attached to the infamous Saccidananda Ashram, Shantivanam, near Trichy. He received diksha from its guru, Fr. Bede Griffths [Swami Dayanand] and met and discussed there with leading New Agers from the West who greatly influenced his thinking and to whom he refers in his writings. It is not surprising that he himself founds an ashram of his own.
People will come to him at the ashram, sent by the Cardinals and the Bishops.
Most significantly of all, the chief guest at the conferring of the diksha on the ex-nun is “Bro. John Martin“.
Bro. John Martin is
Sahajananda, a Camaldoli Benedictine brother who has appropriated the legacy of Bede Griffiths and is the de facto head of the Saccidananda Ashram, Shantivanam. He is the author of a number of seditious and heretical books, including one on his worldview of marriage, and has even performed marriage ceremonies, one being that of a divorced couple whose spouses are still alive. For details, please read my report on the Catholic Ashrams. Such a man presides over the Dharma Bharathi Swami’s function.
6. The Bharat Mata Ashram at Kurukshetra and Matridham Ashram at Varanasi run by the The Indian Missionary Society (IMS) Fathers promote yoga along with charismatic retreats! See separate report.
A YEAR LATER, DHARMA BHARATHI INVADES JAMMU AND KASHMIR
1. Sanyasin on a peace mission to Kashmir valley [SAR news]
The Examiner, July 14, 2007
A retired squadron leader of the Indian Air Force, the moving spirit behind the National Regeneration Movement, is on a visit to State of Jammu and Kashmir with his message of love and peace. Saffron clad N.V. John, who has taken the name Swami Sachidananda Bharathi, says the movement, also called the Second Freedom Movement, is a prayerful response to the needs of this era, initiated during the Golden Jubilee of Indian Independence 1997.
NRM is now being developed into a ‘Second Freedom Stuggle’ for the economic, social and moral freedoms of India as envisaged by the Father of the Nation.
At the Holy Family Church, Srinagar, Swami said an encounter with death in an aircrash in 1982 was the turning point in his life. He had a series of spiritual and mystical experiences thereafter that made him a seeker of truth. He received sadhal [sic, sadhak] diksha (ritual anointment) in 1984 with name John Sachidanand and Achariya Diksha in 1990.
Swami has studied the basic tenets of Islam and Sikhism from Muslim and Sikh gurus. He came to realise that Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism had ‘grace and peace’ as their common meeting ground.
He felt an inner call to devote the remaining years of his life for National Regeneration and Global peace based on the spiritual and moral values common to different religions, the truth of which he himself had experienced.
He said he had also become a ‘saffron-clad sanyasi’ in his spiritual evolution as a ‘disciple of Christ Jesus for Peace’ in the multi-religious milieu of India, his motherland. “This is the fruit of my efforts to integrate my cultural roots with my faith tradition at a deeper level. Culturally, I come from an upper caste Hindu background according to the Syrian Christian tradition. In my faith I am a disciple of Lord Jesus Christ following the Saint Thomas tradition, he remarked.
Asked what made him abandon his family and become a sanyasi, Swami says peace was the crying need of the hour not only in the Jammu and Kashmir State where lot of blood has been spilled since 1990, but all over the world.
The entire world hungers and yearns for peace. There was very little peace within individuals, within families, within communities, within nations and within religions today. They are also often at conflict with one another. Swami further remarked that peace was impossible without unity and harmony. Love was the basis of this much-needed unity and harmony. True love was forgiving, enduring and self-sacrificing. This was the nature of the divine love that God showered upon humankind in, with and through his son Jesus Christ, the Lord of Love and Prince of Peace.
2. Peace Messenger Initiates Peace Programme In J&K. New Delhi, July 23, 2007, 17.10 Hrs (CBCI News):
Swamy Sachidananda Bharathi of Dharma Bharathi Mission who has dedicated his life to the sole purpose of establishing peace on earth has proposed a project with similar objective on his recent visit to Jammu and Kashmir.
With the purpose of bringing peace in this troubled state which has been reeling under the violence, the Swamy has initiated a project called ‘Jammu-Kashmir Peace Mission’ which was lauded by the J&K diocese.
He was cordially welcomed by Bishop Peter Celestine of Jammu-Srinagar diocese and the people of the northern most diocese of India.
During the short stay in J&K, from June 17 to July 2, 2007, Swamy Sachidananda Bharathi held 12 meetings in Jammu the Jammu region and another 18 in the Kashmir valley. His call for a corruption-free society was enthusiastically welcomed by all. As a result of his meetings, a follow-up team consisting of fourteen people has been formed in Jammu to render support to the Chief Minister of J&K in his efforts to eradicate corruption from the government. The team would work under the guidance of Mr Munilal Gupta who has been elected as the convener of the follow-up team in Jammu.
An ardent advocate of peace, Swamyji was invited to the Millennium World Summit for peace organized by the UN in New York in the year 2000. He was also one of the signatories of the UN declaration for peace.
His visit to the state was part of his plan to cover all the states in India as the year has been dedicated as the year of ‘Desh Vandana’.
Swami Sachidananda whose real name is N.V. John, was born and brought up in a traditional Catholic family in Kerala, though he became a Marxist from the time of his university days. He was promoted to the rank of Wing Commander before he encountered God and death during a plane crash while he was flying as a navigator from Delhi to Cochin in 1982, from which he escaped miraculously.
This incident marked a turning point in his life and he decided to offer himself to the service of God and humanity.
3. Peace Mission Takes Off in Jammu
[SAR news] August 17, 2007
JAMMU, Jammu & Kashmir – An initiative of the Catholic diocese of Jammu-Srinagar to promote a culture of love and peace in the trouble-torn state of Jammu and Kashmir, took off August 15 with a function marking the 61st anniversary of India’s Independence Day here.
The national Tri-colour was unfurled at Jain Mahamandir in Talab Tiloo by Lt. Gen. (Retired) M.S. Jamwal, who later presided over a meeting where speakers lauded the efforts of the J-K Catholic Church in bringing people of all faiths together to find ways to restore peace and normalcy in the state reeling under terrorism for the past 18 years.
The speakers said the underlying aim of the initiative was to work selflessly, fearlessly and tirelessly for realising the vision of the Catholic Church in Jammu and Kashmir through loving service.
Bishop Peter Celestine of Jammu-Srinagar – in his message which was read out in his absence as he was undergoing medical treatment outside the state – said “the Catholic Church visualised a world of love, unity and peace wherein different religions, cultures, ethnic groups and tribes will be accepted, respected and cherished as creative expressions of the infinite love, compassion and benevolence of God, ever active in human history; a world of Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity wherein there will be no corruption, exploitation, hunger and poverty.”
National Regeneration Movement’s (Dharma Bharti)
J-K chapter emphasised the need for making India a corruption-free nation and a reformation of the mindset at the individual level to achieve this goal.
also works in association with the Church.
Sajay Dhar of Swami Yogananda Satsang Sanasthan praised the role of the Catholic Church in bringing about religious unity in the state. Introspection at the individual level would help cleanse society of all evils, chief among them being corruption, he said. M.S. Jamwal, in his presidential address, recalled the contribution of the Catholic Church in the field of education and medical care. He exhorted those present to inculcate a spirit of patriotism, which according to him, was the only way India could vanquish corruption.
Convener of Dharma Bharti, Father Joseph, explained the objectives of National Regeneration Movement. He said NRM was a prayerful response to the needs of the era, initiated during the Golden Jubilee of Indian Independence by N.V. John, an Indian Air Force officer, now Swami Sachidananda Bharti.
Religious harmony preached by Sri Ramakrishna, the spirituality of social transformation taught by Sri Narayana Guru, the Gandhian political philosophy, and the economy of permanence promoted by J.C. Kumarappa are the pillars on which Sachidananda Bharti has built his vision and mission, Father Joseph said.
1. One of the above reports says that N.V. John was formerly an Indian Air Force Wing Commander, while two other reports say that he was a Squadron Leader. This confusion has been seen in all the news reports and documents that I have examined.
2. One report was released by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India [CBCI]. It means that the primary pastoral and teaching body of the Bishops in India finds no problem with the philosophies, teachings and programmes of the Swami and his Dharma Bharathi. This, despite the fact that many of the Bishops and Commissions have received and read my August 2002 and August 2003 reports on Dharma Bharathi as well as the October 2005 report on the Catholic Ashrams. [SAR is also a Catholic news agency.]
3. Read again the last paragraph of the above SAR news report.
It is quite evident from the testimony of Father Joseph that Swami Sachidananda Bharathi has not “built his vision and mission” on anything remotely Christian or Catholic.
4. I spoke to Fr. Varghese, Secretary to the Cardinal of Ernakulam-Angamaly, see letter below and enquired from him about the Dharma Bharathi ashram. “We have not recognized it,” he said.
However, in his interview with The New Leader, May 1-15, 2004, the Swami states that his Kerala Regeneration Project was “formally inaugurated on 01 November, 2003 at St. Teresa’s College, Ernakulam by Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil.”
Some letters written by this ministry to individuals [Cardinals and Bishops] closely associated with and patronizing Swami Sachidananda Bharathi, and to some Commissions of the CBCI
Subject: SWAMI SACHIDANANDA BHARATHI – NATIONAL REGENERATION MOVEMENT AND DHARMA BHARATHI
THROUGH REV. FR. VARGHESE, SECRETARY TO THE CARDINAL
Dear Fr. Varghese,
I sincerely thank you for the kind telephone conversation that we had at around 10:30 this morning.
Here is the letter with attachments as discussed. At your service in Jesus’ Name, Michael Prabhu
HIS EMINENCE VARKEY CARDINAL VITHAYATHIL CssR.,
MAJOR ARCHBISHOP OF ERNAKULAM-ANGAMALY
Kindly read the attachments. The first attachment [ERNAKULAM-ANGAMALY doc.]* is a letter to you.
The other two attached Word documents:
LETTER TO ROME, and NEW AGE IN CATHOLIC EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS_DHARMA BHARATHI,
are related to the subject of the first attachment.
*ALSO PRINTED ON MINISTRY LETTER HEAD AND POSTED TO THE BISHOP ON AUGUST 6, 2007
KIND ATTENTION: HIS EMINENCE VARKEY CARDINAL VITHAYATHIL CssR.,
MAJOR ARCHBISHOP OF ERNAKULAM-ANGAMALY
SUB: SWAMI SACHIDANANDA BHARATHI–NATIONAL REGENERATION MOVEMENT AND DHARMA BHARATHI
On behalf of this Catholic ministry, I am once again writing to you to bring to your kind attention the dangers of the “New Age” errors propagated by the organization named DHARMA BHARATHI [DB], the NATIONAL REGENERATION MOVEMENT [NRM] and their founder, Swami Sachidananda Bharathi, formerly known as Wing Commander/Squadron Leader N. V. John.
I am writing to you on the basis of reports that I read in two Catholic periodicals, and also the CBCI news…
[Similar to the SRINAGAR letter below, but with the CBCI report additionally included]
Yours obediently [ALSO POSTED WITH RELATED REPORTS ON AUGUST 6, 2007]
Subject: REMINDER, PLEASE. WITHOUT THE ATTACHMENTS
This is the latest news on DHARMA BHARATHI: Peace Mission Takes Off in Jammu
JAMMU, Jammu & Kashmir (SAR NEWS) August 17, 2007 An initiative of the Catholic diocese of Jammu-Srinagar…
NO RESPONSE FROM THE CARDINAL TO MY THREE EMAILS AND POSTED LETTER WITH SEVERAL REPORTS
Subject: SWAMI SACHIDANANDA BHARATHI – NATIONAL REGENERATION MOVEMENT AND DHARMA BHARATHI
MOST REV. PETER CELESTINE ELAMPASSERY OFM Cap.,
BISHOP OF JAMMU-SRINAGAR
Kindly read the attachments. The first attachment [SRINAGAR_doc.]* is a letter to you.
The other two attached Word documents:
LETTER TO ROME, and NEW AGE IN CATHOLIC EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS_DHARMA BHARATHI,
are related to the subject of the first attachment.
*ALSO PRINTED ON MINISTRY LETTER HEAD AND POSTED TO THE BISHOP ON AUGUST 6, 2007
MOST REV. PETER CELESTINE ELAMPASSERY OFM Cap.,
BISHOP OF JAMMU-SRINAGAR
SUB: SWAMI SACHIDANANDA BHARATHI–NATIONAL REGENERATION MOVEMENT AND DHARMA BHARATHI
I have been writing to you since the last four years without receiving a single response.
This ministry has remembered you every year on your birthday anniversary as well as the anniversaries of your sacerdotal and episcopal ordinations, and has also sent you Christmas Cards and some reports on matters concerning the interests of our Faith and the Church. But we have not been blessed with even one acknowledgement from you.
Now, on behalf of this Catholic ministry, I am once again writing to you to bring to your kind attention the dangers of the “New Age” errors propagated by the organization named DHARMA BHARATHI and its founder, Swami Sachidananda Bharathi, formerly known as N. V. John.
I am writing to you on the basis of reports that I read in two Catholic periodicals.
1. THE EXAMINER of July 14, 2007, Sanyasin on a peace mission to Kashmir valley [SAR news]. [News story copied here.]
2. THE NEW LEADER of January 1-15, 2007, India’s second freedom struggle, by Swami Sachidananda Bharathi.
I am not reproducing the article here as it is almost on the same lines as the SAR report.
The credit line says, “Swami Sachidanand Bharathi is the Founder and Acharyaguru of National Regeneration Movement and Dharma Bharathi [DB] Mission.”
Your Grace, in August 2002, this ministry published a 16-page report on DB which was widely distributed.
After it was studied by Catholic lay leaders and religious in places like Mangalore and Secunderabad, the Swami found some doors close to him. He wrote to me on July 25, 2003. My response to him was in the form of a 36-page report, copies of which I sent to the concerned Bishops and CBCI Commissions.
It details the spiritual dangers from a Catholic perspective, that involve the philosophies, teachings, practices, ideals and goals of Dharma Bharathi [DB] and the National Regeneration Movement [NRM].
This second 36-page report is dated August 1, 2003. Now, exactly four years, I am sending it to you by email.
The hardcopy will follow by post. Along with it, I will be including:
1. The Swami’s letter to me dated July 25, 2003
2. My “Letter to the Vatican” subject “New Age in the Catholic Church in India” dated May 5, 2004, in which also I have written about DB [on page 3].
This report, too, was sent to all Bishops and Commissions including you. [A copy of it is attached with this email]
3. A response dated April 19, 2002 from the Vatican to my two earlier letters of March 2002 with the same subject line [“New Age in the Catholic Church in India”] addressed to the then Cardinal Ratzinger.
4. My February 2003 Summary of the Vatican Document on the “New Age” which was serialised in The Examiner, May 24 and May 31, 2003.
The Swami did not “abandon his family”. In the introduction to ‘Disciples of Christ for Peace’ we read that “his wife parted ways with him.” She left him.
The Swami is a “seeker of truth”. Jesus says, “I am… the Truth” [John 14:6]. The Swami wants to bring peace on earth. Jesus was the harbinger of Peace on Earth [Luke 2:14], but His Peace is not that worldly peace which is popularly sought [Matthew 10:34, 12:51-53]. The Swami seeks to promote unity and harmony through love. Love is John 3:16.
With his Catholic background, the Swami would do well to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which alone is the solution to the world’s problems and the peoples’ needs. But since his later formation was influenced by New Age, as my report shows, he offers a syncretistic product that can only be described as an alternative to the Gospel; more specifically, as again my report shows, it is inimical to the Gospel.
In August 2006, India Currents published a report “Catholic Ashrams: Sachidananda Ashram gets a woman Acharya”. It carries pictures of a former Carmelite nun, Sr. Catherin Prabhujyoti “receiving Acharya deeksha” from the Swami. He appointed her as ‘Acharya’ of his Dharma Bharathi Ashram, Mulanthuruthy, in Kerala. One of the chief guests was Bro. John Martin Sahajananda of Saccidananda Ashram, Shantivanam, near Trichy, Tamil Nadu. The news item says a lot about the Catholic Ashrams movement, Fr. Bede Griffiths OSB., etc.
In 2005 I had sent an intensively researched 96-page report on the “‘New Age’ in the Catholic Ashrams” to all our Bishops. I am now posting you a copy of the same. In the report, I have recorded the “New Age, blasphemy, heresy and sacrilege” that the Ashrams are indulging in. The report also gives incontrovertible evidence of the links of the Swami with the Ashram and his being inducted into the “New Age” there.
I trust that you will find this information useful in helping you to take the correct, informed decision in respect of Dharma Bharathi, The National Regeneration Movement, and Swami Sachidananda Bharathi, and I look forward to a response from you to this email and the posted reports that follow.
[ALSO POSTED WITH RELATED REPORTS ON AUGUST 6, 2007]
Subject: REMINDER, PLEASE. WITHOUT THE ATTACHMENTS
This is the latest news on DHARMA BHARATHI:
Peace Mission Takes Off in Jammu
JAMMU, Jammu & Kashmir (SAR NEWS) August 17, 2007 An initiative of the Catholic diocese of Jammu-Srinagar…
NO RESPONSE FROM THE BISHOP TO MY THREE EMAILS AND POSTED LETTER WITH SEVERAL REPORTS
Subject: SWAMI SACHIDANANDA BHARATHI – NATIONAL REGENERATION MOVEMENT AND DHARMA BHARATHI
REV. FR. THOMAS SEQUEIRA,
SECRETARY GENERAL- CBCI, DIRECTOR- CBCI CENTRE
Dear Reverend Father Thomas,
On behalf of this Catholic ministry, I am writing to you to bring to your kind attention the dangers of the “New Age” errors propagated by the organization named DHARMA BHARATHI [DB], the NATIONAL REGENERATION MOVEMENT [NRM] and their founder, Swami Sachidananda Bharathi, formerly known as Wing Commander/Squadron Leader N. V. John. I am writing to you on the basis of reports that I read in two Catholic periodicals, and also the CBCI news.
1. THE EXAMINER of July 14, 2007, Sanyasin on a peace mission to Kashmir valley [SAR news]. [News story copied here.]
2. THE NEW LEADER of January 1-15, 2007, India’s second freedom struggle, by Swami Sachidananda Bharathi.
I am not reproducing the article here as it is almost on the same lines as the SAR report.
The credit line says, “Swami Sachidanand Bharathi is the Founder and Acharyaguru of National Regeneration Movement and Dharma Bharathi [DB] Mission.”
3. Peace Messenger Initiates Peace Programme In J&K
New Delhi, July 23, 2007, 17.10 Hrs, CBCI NEWS:
[News story copied here.]
Dear Father Thomas, in August 2002, this ministry published a 16-page report on DB which was widely distributed.
[The rest of the letter is identical to the one above addressed to the Bishop of Jammu-Srinagar, except for the portion about sending by post the hardcopies of the attachments as they were not sent to any of the Commissions by post.]
Yours obediently, Michael Prabhu
Similar letters as the one were sent above to:
REV. FR. HENRY D’SOUZA,
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, SOCIAL COMMUNICATIONS, CBCI
Dear Reverend Father Henry,
REV. FR. BABU JOSEPH KARAKOMBIL SVD.,
SPOKESPERSON, CBCI, MEDIA/INFORMATION OFFICE
Dear Reverend Father Babu Joseph,
Subject: Re: SWAMI SACHIDANANDA BHARATHI – NATIONAL REGENERATION MOVEMENT AND DHARMA BHARATHI
Thanks for the information, and I shall certainly look into the matter and also bring it to the notice of higher authorities.
Fr Babu Joseph [BABU JOSEPH KARAKOMBIL SVD., SPOKESPERSON, CBCI, MEDIA/INFORMATION OFFICE]
ONLY THIS ONE RESPONSE FROM THE CBCI AND TWO COMMISSIONS TO MY SIX EMAILS TO THEM.
Subject: RE: DHARMA BHARATHI
Dear Michael, I went through the contents of the letter and I agree with what you say that Christ alone can be the solution to many problems that we see around. This information about religious syncretism is also well mentioned in the book ‘Crisis of truth’ by Ralph Martin, which you lent me some time back. Hope your work sees its fruit.
Regards, Deepak Ferrao BANGALORE
Two leading Catholic magazines, The New Leader and The Examiner have published articles on the Dharma Bharathis at regular intervals, some of them even written by Fr. Alengaden and the Swami themselves:
1. THE NEW LEADER AND THE PROMOTION OF SWAMI SACHIDANANDA BHARATHI, DB-H
The New Leader, November 1-15, 2000, “The world at the dawn of the third millennium urgently needs peace… We are discovering the fact that lasting peace and unity on earth needs a religious motivation.” “From a presentation made at the Millennium World Peace Summit by Acharya Sachidanand on 28-31 August 2000, United Nations”. A two-page report “The Answer is Peace and Value Education” on Dharma Bharathi in the section “Issues-Religion”.
The New Leader, October 1-15, 2001, USM/DB-I Report “National Seminar on Holistic Education held in Agra” by Shalini Mathew, from August 18-22 “exclusively for the principals of schools that have welcomed the pluralistic spirituality* promoted by Dharma Bharathi, Indore
through its programme of value education for peace…
There were more than a hundred participants from across the country-covering north to south and east to west…
Varghese Kunnath, the co-ordinator of the UP region of Dharma Bharathi, Dr. Loretta Pinto, the president of Dharma Bharathi, and the chief guest, Archbishop Oswald Gracias of Agra**, spoke… Varghese Alengaden, the Director and National Coordinator of Dharma Bharathi explained the dynamics of the Seminar.
*Never mind that Rome repeatedly warns of the dangers of religious pluralism.
**Secretary-General of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), now Cardinal in Bombay
The New Leader, March 1-15, 2002, Two-day workshop on human rights at Lucknow, 26/27 January 2002 DB-L
The New Leader, March 16-31, 2002, Dharma Bharathi award to Daya Bai
The New Leader, May 1-15, 2004 cover story. Interview
with Swami Sachidananda Bharathi, with a full-length colour photograph of the kavi [saffron]-clad swami on the cover, accompanied by the large, bold slogan, “LET THIS SWAMIJI SUCCEED!”
Half the editorial “Hail and help this sower” of this issue was a glowing tribute by The New Leader editor Fr. M. A. Joe Antony S.J. to this Swami who sows New Age tares, not wheat. Fr. Joe Antony describes the Swami as having “spent years under [sic] the feet of great gurus of all religions… his spirituality is inter-religious” as if it were a plus point for a supposed disciple of Christ. The priest finally blesses the Swami’s Kerala Regeneration Project and prays that “God help him succeed”.
Four pages of The New Leader are given to “The Swamiji who spells hope for India”, interviewed by the NL. Swami states that his Kerala Regeneration Project [KRP] was “formally inaugurated on 01 November, 2003 at St. Teresa’s College, Ernakulam by Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil.”
Fr. Avin Avinash SVD., is the Director-in-charge of the Kerala Regeneration Project.
He confirms that his 12-14 December, 2002 National Seminar at [Kaloor, Ernakumam] Kochi “was sponsored jointly by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India…” The Swami had appealed to the Chief Guest, the Chief Minister of Kerala Mr. A. K. Antony [now Union Defence Minister] to make his Dharma Bharathi programme “an integral part of the education in the State”. A similar appeal was made by Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, Patron, Dharma Bharathi-Kochi to the Chief Minister, to make the DB programmes “an integral part of the syllabus in schools and colleges of Kerala… and to establish chairs of Peace and Value Education in the Universities of Kerala”. If such an appeal were to be taken seriously and implemented, it would spell doom for the Catholic faith of hundreds of thousands of Catholic children in Kerala.
The interview records also the Swami’s statement that he started an Ashram in Mulanthuruthy, Kerala: “Dharma Bharathi Ashram was inaugurated on 17 December, 2003 by Justice Jagannadha Raju, Chairman of Dharma Bharathi Foundation, to serve as the spiritual home and formation centre of KRP. Archbishop Daniel Acharuparambil, OCD., blessed the Dharma Bharathi programme.” The Archbishop is well known for his pro-yoga position and his support of the Catholic Ashrams Movement. The acharya of the ashram is an ex-Carmelite nun who left her religious order to be ordained by the Swami. The New Leader tells the Swami, “We wholeheartedly wish you and KRP all success.” READ THE DETAILS IN MY DHARMA BHARATHI REPORT.
The New Leader, June 1-15, 2004. My response to the above interview was published in the letters to the editor under the caption “Well-intentioned, but however…”:
Your cover story [NL, May 1-15, 2004] on Swami Sachidananda Bharathi [and his organization Dharma Bharathi] in the form of an interview with the Swami is well-intentioned and well done. His aims and goals, and those of Dharma Bharathi, are commendable. However, I conducted an in-depth study of Dharma Bharathi teachings and practices that result from his being “guided by Christian and Hindu monks” and his association with “the famous British Benedictine… Fr. Bede Griffiths“.
From this study, two things stand out with crystal clarity.
Despite all good intentions, many of the means now being used to achieve the said commendable aims are
(1) syncretistic, diluting the Gospel and denying the unicity of Jesus [as opposed to Ecclesia in Asia, Dominus Iesus etc];
(2) ‘New Age’, from Swamiji’s association with Fr. Bede and other Western New Agers at Bede’s Ashram, and which aspect becomes clear when they are seen in the light of the 3rd February 2003 Vatican Document on the New Age Movement.
The New Leader, August 16-31, 2004, “Ten suggestions to the Prime Minister”, the second of the seven contributors was Swami Sachidananda Bharathi
The New Leader, August 1-15, 2005, Independence Day Special, with a photograph of the Swami, “Mother India and Lord Jesus” by Swami Sachidananda Bharathi
The New Leader, September 1-15, 2005, “Dharma Bharathi unit launched in Delhi“
by Fr. Victor Edwin, SJ.
Swami Sachidananda Bharathi, the founder of Dharma Bharathi, inaugurated the Dharma Bharathi Delhi unit at the Indian Institute of Public Administration on 5 August. He then released the book, “The Role of Teachers in National Regeneration” edited by Fr. Thomas Kunnunkal SJ.[see next page] The Prem Jyoti students of Holy Child School put up cultural programmes. Fr. Kunnunkal said Dharma Bharathi is a socio-spiritual movement of people of India. Its goal is re-generation of India. A number of schools, colleges, organizations and institutions have joined this movement.
The New Leader, January 1-15, 2007, “India’s second freedom struggle” by Swami Sachidananda Bharathi
The New Leader, February 16-28, 2007, Letter to the editor
“Heed Swamiji’s call“
by Dr. Rita Vas UFS., Mangalore
The New Leader, October 16-31, 2007 pages 33, 34 “Desh Vandana–2007“
by Swami Sachidananda Bharathi
The Swami records his gratitude “to the Bangalore-based Xavier Board of Higher Education which is a network of Catholic colleges in the country for the whole-hearted support it has extended to” this year-long trans-India programme.
The New Leader, February 16-29, 2008 pages 27, 28. This issue has two articles on the Swami.
1. “A Swamiji’s Struggle for an India free from hunger, caste and corruption, Interview with Swami Sachidananda Bharathi”
This is a follow up to the previous article, towards the close of
These two statements in boxes in the two-page interview help summarise the Swami’s spirituality:
“I have accepted Jesus as my master and lord but I preach or promote no religion.”
It is true. He has no programme for evangelization. Neither does he ever quote Jesus or Gospel passages or from anywhere at all in the Holy Bible in any of the articles that I have read, whereas he quotes Hindu gurus and Hindu leaders.
“I do not believe that religious conversion can ever make anyone a better person. What is important is the values by which one lives.”
He is obviously ignorant of the lives of many Catholic saints including those of St. Paul and St. Augustine.
2. “How can the Church in India help to [sic] build a new India?” by Swami Sachidananda Bharathi.
The New Leader, September 1-15, 2008
Book Review by Swami Vikrant, SDB. “God’s Own Land” by Swami Sachidananda Bharathi
The New Leader, June 16-30, 2008 page 15 “The Qs that enhance the quality of life“
Fr. Thomas Kunnunkal, SJ
[see following page]
The New Leader, August 16-31, 2008
Priest’s attempt to build solidarity in India USM/DB-I [UCA news] EXTRACT:
USM has so far reached out to about 1,000 groups in more than 800 schools in India to organize training programmes…
2. THE EXAMINER. A VEHICLE FOR PROMOTION OF FR. VARGHESE ALENGADEN, DB-I
The Examiner, May 11, 2002, ‘DHARMA BHARATHI’ CAN THIS SAVE INDIA??
[see details on page 38]
My response to Fr. Lesser’s question was carried in The Examiner of June 29, 2002 under the caption “DHARMA BHARATHI ALONE CANNOT SAVE INDIA”.
The Examiner, September 10, 2005, tells us who Fr. Lesser is.
Born in London, “he was ordained by his Indian bishop on June 4, 1955… and spent most of his life in India… He has shown great interest in the bhakti saints of India and he has written two books and several articles about them. He has translated some of the Dohas of Kabir into modern English verse… He has also published a collection of Muslim prayers. A recent book published by Intercultural Publications, Delhi, is called ‘Saints and Sages of India’. It includes Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Sikh saints… He has also started Inter-Faith Fraternal Associations in Ajmer and Udaipur where people of different religions meet to discuss each other’s religion and pray together.”
Is it any wonder then that this priest, Fr. Lesser, believes that only Dharma Bharathi can save India?
The Examiner, August 2, 2003, Universal Solidarity Movement by Adrian Khare
The almost one-page article tells the story of Dharma Bharathi-Indore which became the Universal Solidarity Movement.
“Today, 600 schools in 17 states have been covered by this programme. 1,000 core groups of students spread the vision of this movement… USM’s journals in Hindi, English and Tamil – Sanjeevani, Renaissance and Ezuchimalar respectively, give an added dimension. Varghese Alengaden is the national coordinator…”
The Examiner, April 16, 2005, Catholic scribes meet in Goa [SAR news]
Catholic editors, publishers and journalists… have called for a new vision, new priorities, strategies and targets for Christian publications in the country. Deliberating on the theme, “Should Christian Publications Step Out of the Church Walls?” author and editor of the Indore-based Renaissance weekly, Fr. Varghese Alengaden, lambasted the ostrich-like attitude of the Church hierarchy and called for a revamp of the text and content of Christian publications…
The Examiner, May 12, 2007, ICPA elects new team of office bearers [CBCI news]
The Indian Catholic Press Association organized its 13th National Journalists Conference in Bangalore on May 5, 2007…
Eminent journalists attended the conference. They included Renaissance magazine editor Varghese Alengaden…
The Examiner, July 14, 2007,
Sanyasin on a peace mission to Kashmir valley
Swami Sachidananda Bharathi DB-H
[read full report in my detailed 2003 article on DHARMA BHARATHI]
The Examiner, September 22, 2007 pages 10, 11
Paradigm Shift in Religious Life for 21st Century- I
by Fr. Varghese Alengaden
The Examiner, September 29, 2007 pages 14, 15
Paradigm Shift in Religious Life for 21st Century – II by Fr. Varghese Alengaden
The above two articles call for a paradigm shift “from external rituals, rules and regulations”, “from religiosity to spirituality… a spiritual movement free from institutionalized… and hierarchial structures” as against the “stagnant Church institutions which are rejected by the people [and] could be compared to broken wineskins”. It cannot be disputed that these calls are a rebellion against the institution of the Church.
The Examiner, December 15, 2007 Christmas, a celebration of surprises
Fr. Varghese Alengaden
A HUMAN BEING HAS NOT ONE BUT THREE BRAINS*: FR. TOM OF DHARMA BHARATHI-LUCKNOW
*SEE PAGE 23. Fr Tom promotes Paul Maclean/New Ager Fritjof Capra’s theory of a three-brained man!
Fr. Thomas Kunnunkal S.J. was once the Chairman of the Central Board of Secondary Education [C.B.S.E.].
He founded the third Dharma Bharathi at Lucknow. See pages 34, 35, 37, 38, 63
This should amply demonstrate how even the best of priests can be subverted by New Age philosophies:
The New Leader, June 16-30, 2008 page 15 The Qs that enhance the quality of life EXTRACT:
“The focus has to be on inter-connectivity or interdependence*… Recent brain research has revealed that we have not one brain, but three real brains, one in our gut, another in our heart and the third in our head.”
Fr. Thomas Kunnunkal, SJ is the Superior and Research Director at the Indian Social Institute, New Delhi
*Read the February 3, 2003 Vatican Document on the New Age and the 2003 DB report to understand the New Age in these monistic ideas about the inter-connectivity and
interdependence of all things.
I wrote a letter to the editor of The New Leader:
I refer to the article by Fr. Thomas Kunnunkal, SJ ‘The Qs that enhance the quality of life’ in
The New Leader, June 16-30, 2008, wherein he states that “Recent brain research has revealed that we have not one brain, but three real brains, one in our gut, another in our heart and the third in our head.”
I would like to have from Father Thomas the reference of the scientific papers from which he has quoted.
Michael Prabhu, Subscriber, Chennai
My letter was published in the NL of August 16-30, 2008.
There was no response from Fr. Thomas Kunnunkal, S.J., founder of the Lucknow DB.
MY EARLIEST CORRESPONDENCE:
The updated August 2003 report on Dharma Bharathi was one of the very first that I prepared on my new personal computer. I had also only just learned to use email and it was several months more before I learned how to save email that I might need as a record for the future. As a result of that, some of my earliest correspondence, including my letters to Dharma Bharathi-Indore, was either erased and irretrievably lost, or printed out. What I could locate, I am now copying out laboriously into this report.
1. CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE SWAMI:
-My introductory letter was dated 15.6.2002, brief and type-written on plain paper:
Dear Swami Sachidananda,
I recently came across the Report of your National Seminar on ‘Peace and Value Education for Schools’ held at Osmania University, Hyderabad on 14th and 15th December, 2001. It was with Mr. Sunder Yesuvadian, Nagercoil, one of the delegates. I read every line of every page with interest. Yesterday I happened to meet Mr. G. M. Paulraj who was another delegate and he gave me the Brochure that gives a lot of information about your activities.
I have come to know that there is another organization that styles itself as DHARMA BHARATHI, but while you are called the National Institute for Peace and Value Education, the Indore unit is called the National Institute of Value Education for Peace. Can you please clarify? Mr. Paulraj was unable to explain this anomaly.
Sd/- Bro. Michael [with full address]
PS. I have just read with interest the article “‘DHARMA BHARATHI’- CAN THIS SAVE INDIA?” by Fr. Lesser in The Examiner, 11 May 2002. But it seems to concern the Indore unit and says nothing about your role in the founding of DHARMA BHARATHI. Why is this so?
-Handwritten reply dated 25.6.2002 from the Swami on Dharma Bharathi letterhead:
My dear Bro. Michael,
May the peace and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Thank you for your kind letter dated 15.6.2002 seeking certain clarifications with regards to the two Dharma Bharathi National Institutes.
Rev. Fr. Varghese Alengaden worked with us from 1993 to 1998. He thereafter resigned to start his own Society and Institute using the name and modules of the original Institute which was shifted to Hyderabad in December 1998.
I am enclosing herewith a copy of two important letters from the history file of DBNI which will help you to understand things better. With prayerful best wishes,
Sd/- Swami Sachidnanda
“CONFUSION AND SCANDAL”, “SUSPICION”, “BETRAYAL OF TRUST, AND FRAUD”
Enclosure 1: A letter dated 28.7.1998 from Varghese Alengaden, Dharma Bharathi, Indore to Mr. A.H. Moosvi, President, Prabhudha Bharathi [DB], Hyderabad:
Dear Mr. Moosvi, Greetings from Indore!
This has reference to my letter dated 25th March, 1998. I had already informed you through that letter the decision of the meeting of the regional co-ordinators of Peace and Value Education Programme to register a Society.
The reasons for registering a separate society are the following.
i) The Excecutive Committee of Prabudha Bharathi had taken a decision to make Dharma Bharathi Institute, Indore, as an independent body in due course of time. Please refer the decision of Prabudha Bharathi Executive dated 6.9.1993.
ii) Acharya John Sachidanand had expressed in any occasions his plan of making the Institute independent. You may recall that Acharya himself had put forward this proposal at the Annual General Body Meeting of Prabudha Bharathi in 1997.
iii) The rapid expansion of the Value Education Programme has necessitated a mechanism with wider participation of those who are actively involved in the promotion of value education.
The new society, Dharma Bharathi Service Society, Indore, has got its registration. The General Body Meeting of Dharma Bharathi Society held on July 24, 1998 has elected me as its secretary. Because of the above mentioned reason, I resign as director of the Dharma Bharathi Institute of Peace and Value Education, Indore, a project of Prabudha Bharathi, Hyderabad. Kindly accept my resignation. I am grateful to Prabudha Bharathi Society, particularly the members of the executive society for the encouragement, support and cooperation.
The building in which the institute is functioning was taken on rent in my personal name because I started staying in the building on July 16, 1993. The institute was started by the decision of the Executive Committee of Prabudha Bharathi dated 17.11.1993. I will continue to stay in the same building and function as the secretary of the Dharma Bharathi Service Society.
As per the balance sheet of Dharma Bharathi Institute there are assets (furniture and equipments) worth Rs. 1,71,059/-.
Legally speaking these assets belong to Prabudha Bharathi Society. But the funds for creating these assets were partly raised from Madhya Pradesh and partly from abroad for the Institute in Indore.
Against this background may I propose the following suggestions for your kind consideration in order to avoid confusion and scandal to the people particularly those who are associated with the value education programme which we had been promoting since 1993.
i) As suggested earlier, please hand over the Dharma Bharathi Institute with its assets to Dharma Bharathi Service Society. A representative of Prabudha Bharathi will be a member of the Executive Committee of Dharma Bharathi Service Society to continue the cordial relationship.
ii) As Dharma Bharathi Service Society is continuing the activities of Value Education for Peace, Prabudha Bharathi may allow Dharma Bharathi Service Society to USE the furnitures and equipments for the purpose of value education.
PS. The account of CCFD project upto 31st May, 1998 and the audited statement of account of Dharma Bharathi Institute for the period April to July 1998 are sent by registered post to Mr. M.L. Satyan, Secretary.
Expecting your positive response. Yours sincerely, sd/- Varghese Alengaden
Enclosure 2: A letter dated 15.10.2001 on the letterhead of Dharma Bharathi from Wg. Cmdr. Naidu, Director, DB National Institute, Hyderabad, to Fr. Thomas Kunnunkal, S.J., Advisor DBNI, Bishop’s House, Lucknow:
Dear Rev. Fr. Thomas Kunnunkal,
We send you our greetings from Dharma Bharathi. Thank you for your emails. Acharyaji and I were away in Punjab and Haryana conducting few programmes for teachers, parents and sisters. We are sad to know that we would not able to have you with us for the National Seminar because of your prior engagements.
The Executive Committee of Prabudha BharathiNirman Samstha (PBNS) and the Board of Management of Dharma Bharathi National Institute of Peace and Value Education (DBNI) have resolved to request you to help us find an amicable settlement with Fr. Varghese Alengaden, former Director of DBNI who resigned and started another institute under the same name even though he was requested not to do so. This is now creating much confusion and suspicion in the minds of people, affecting our own credibility and value system. A copy of his resignation letter is enclosed. Please refer enclosure 1.
earlier attempts for reconciliation had failed Even after writing to him a number of letters, PBNS had resolved to initiate legal action if necessary against Rev. Fr. Varghese Alengaden
for betrayal of trust and fraud. However the Society did not do so because of Acharya John Sachidanand’s personal request to avoid such a step which may affect the whole Indian Church adversely.
Instead, it drew sharp and negative reactions from Rev. Sr. Loretta, the President of their newly formed Service Society as can be seen from the two letters she wrote- one to Shri A.H. Moosvi, President, PBNS and the other to Acharyaji. Please see enclosures 2a and 2b.
However it has now become necessary to find a settlement for this issue once for all. DBNI is fast growing. Both the State and Central governments are supportive of the Institute and its programmes. NCERT has already given us a grant of Rs. 2,10,000/- for organizing a National Seminar on “Peace and Value Education for Schools”. With God’s grace and the help of eminent educationists like you, we hope to develop DBNI into an Open University for Peace and Value Education within 3 years.
Professor (Dr) M. Abel, our Director General, is a former Vice Chancellor with a great deal of experience in building up Universities from the scratch. Hence we are very confident that our goal can be achieved within the specified time. Settling the issues with Rev. Fr. Varhese Alengaden is an important step in this mission. As you are a member of the Advisory Council of DBNI with considerable influence with the Church authorities and are in the know of things, the members felt that they should seek your help for an amicable settlement before other measures are adopted. Hence on behalf of PBNS and DBNI, I am directed to request you to do the needful at the earliest.
It is also resolved that all expenses incurred by you on this account, including travel by train (AC II tier Sleeper Class) will be reimbursed to you by PBNS. Our requests are:
i) Rev. Fr. Varhese Alengaden should not use the name ‘Dharma Bharathi National Institute’ for his new Institute started in 1998.
ii) He should not use the history and activities of DBNI as the history and activities of his own Institute.
iii) He should return all files, properties (or refund the cost of them), photo albums, account books, etc. of DBNI as on 21 December 1998 to PBNS, the legal owner of DBNI, immediately. Rev. Sr. Loretta in her letter to Acharyaji had made a strong statement that these would not be returned to PBNS even if Fr. Varghese leaves the Institute. Please see enclosure 2c.
iv) He should hand over all records, accounts and subscribers list of the Journal ‘Renaissance‘ which was started as a Journal of Dharma Rajya Vedi and published from DBNI under the legal ownership of PBNS. He should not publish any journal under that name. Please refer enclosures 4a and 4b.
You are requested to treat this as urgent and important. We will await for your valuable suggestions/advice before initiating any further action in this regard. Yours sincerely, Wg. Cmdr. M.G. Naidu (Retd.), Secretary-PBNS, Director-DBNI
-My second letter was dated 29.6.2002, again type-written on plain paper:
Dear Swami Sachidanand,
I acknowledge with thanks your personal, handwritten letter dated 25th June along with the useful and interesting correspondence and news clippings. The position of the present Indore “Dharma Bharathi” is now clear to me. It is no wonder that they are absolutely vague when they discuss the early history and founding of their Institute in their brochures. I have now written a letter to The Examiner against Fr. Lesser’s article.
After reading your letter to Fr. Thomas Kunnunkal, I see that despite your request, Fr. Varghese Alengaden has persisted in using not only your Institute’s name and modules but also the goodwill and infrastructure that you put together, and he has appropriated the activities and the history of the activities too without giving due recognition to you. I am sorry to learn this. Do you think it would be a good idea if I wrote him a letter asking him about his position?
I also learn from a friend that a certain Catholic priest discussed with him the sexually immoral behaviour of Fr. Alengaden in respect of nun-sisters. A Superior of one of the convents supporting Fr. Alengaden is related to me and I would like to learn something more from her too.
What was Fr. Kunnunkal’s response to your letter dated 15 October, 2001? I would have liked to read his reply to enlarge my understanding of the situation? And what is the Church doing to resolve the issue amicably?
In your paper at the National Seminar in December 2001, you mentioned a few “proponents of the new science”. What is this “new science”?
I am aware of Fritjof Capra’s and E.F. Schumacher’s books, but I would like to know more about the others, namely Werner Heisenberg, David Bohm, Paul Davies, Ken Wilber and Rupert Sheldrake. If you can give me a clue as to their particular field of work, and/or the titles of their major works, I will locate and study them. How has their writing/thinking influenced your Mission? I understand that you met some of them on your visit to the United States in 2000.
I would also like to have a copy of the text of your address to the United Nations in New York, August 2000 as I am preparing an article on your work, your world view, and Dharma Rajya Vedi. Thanking you, Yours sincerely,
Sd/- Bro. Michael, ‘Metamorphose’, with full address
NOTE to the reader: All of the above seven men are leading New Agers.
-Printed reply dated 2.7.2002 from the Swami on Dharma Rajya Vedi letterhead:
My dear Bro Michael,
May the peace and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Thank you for your kind letter dated 29 June.
I do not remember having met you before. Have we met at all? Will you please write something about your good self? Are you a Religious Brother or are you a Brother studying in the Seminary? Are you also a journalist? What is the phone number and e-mail address to contact you?
I and Fr. Avinash SVD, National Coordinator of DBNI will be passing through Chennai on 22/23 July. If we can meet personally during that day, it will be good.
The term ‘new science’ implies the scientific developments beginning with the theory of relativity and quantum physics that point towards the interdependent organic nature of creation, the inter-convertibility of matter, energy and mind, and towards the complementarity of religious insights and scientific discoveries. ‘Modern science’ that began with Newton promoted a mechanistic model with an inbuilt dichotomy between the secular and the sacred and between the physical and the spiritual. Werner Heisenberg and David Bohm were nuclear physicists. Paul Davies and Ken Wilber are psychologists. Rupert Sheldrake teaches biology in the Oxford University. All of them through their various works point towards the interdependence of energy, matter and mind, of the physical, psychological and the spiritual.
Rupert Sheldrake wrote his famous book “The New Science of Life” living in Shantivanam Ashram of Fr. Bede Griffiths at Kulithalai near Trichy. They were friends. Fr. Bede was my guru.
Coming back to Rev. Fr. Varghese Alengaden and his Indore Dharma Bharathi, Fr. Thomas Kunnunkal SJ spoke to FR. Varghese after he received the letter from Wg Cmdr Naidu. However, Fr. Varghese was elusive and Fr. Kunnunkal could not do anything further. Fr. Kunnunkal sent us an email to this effect. We have left things at that, praying and hoping that things will settle themselves at God’s time and in His way.
I am sending you copy of the National Regeneration Movement manual by post. My presentation at the UN is included in it. There is also a short write on the history of Dharma Rajya Vedi in it. With prayerful best wishes, Yours in the Lord.
Sd/- Swami Sachidananda
NOTE to the reader: The entire section in bold red above is New Age. See pages 20 to 24 above. Also read the report on the Catholic Ashrams. The Swami’s guru Fr. Bede Griffiths was also a New Ager.
-My letter dated 12.7.2002. A copy of it is not available for reproduction here. Its contents may somewhat be guessed at from the reply of the Swami, further below.
Swami Sachidananda telephoned me and invited me to meet with him and Fr. Avinash, SVD., during their forthcoming visit to Chennai. The Swami did not make it, but I met Fr. Avin Avinash at Sathya Nilayam, the Jesuit seminary, on July 23. During our two hour-long meeting over lunch, I explained to him the nature of my ministry. He went through some of my reports with interest, especially the ones on CHAI. However, he declined to accept from me copies of any of my material.
-A reply dated 30.7.2002 from the Swami, hand-written on DBNI letterhead:
My dear Bro Michael,
May the peace and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace and Lord of love, be with you.
Thank you for your kind letter of 12.7. 2002. I saw it only on my return from Madurai. I could not meet you at Chennai as I was rather ‘fully booked’ during the 9 hours I was there. I caught the 4 pm train to Hyderabad.
Reading your letter has been a source of inspiration and strength for me. I see something of myself in you! Maybe the Lord has some purpose to bring us in touch with one another. In the fullness of time he will reveal his plans for us.
I too was born and brought up in a Catholic family. I too ‘left’ the Church in my twenties and thirties. I too had a deep personal encounter with Jesus. I too am ‘independent’ to follow him fully. I too believe much of the ‘New Age’ movements and ‘new sciences’ have dangerous implications for the spiritual growth of humanity. I too believe that Lord Jesus Christ is ‘Teacher and Lord’ of all humanity and in Him the ‘Truth and Grace’ of God dwells in its fullness.
I do not subscribe to the idea of ‘equality of religions’. Each religion is unique and each has its ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ sides. I do not subscribe to the idea of ‘Word of God’ being used for scriptures of religions. They are surely inspired by the Spirit of God that works through His chosen instruments. All scriptures have ‘contextual’ and ‘eternal’ elements within. The ‘contextual’ loses its relevance once the ‘context’ is changed. Otherwise there will be serious problems.
May the Spirit of the living Lord guide you, dear Bro. Michael. With much love, sd/- Swami Sachidanand
NOTE to the reader: By the time the above letter reached me, I had already released my first report dated 1.8.2002 on Dharma Bharathi. See page 1.
-Next is the July 25, 2003 letter from the Swami [on the letterhead of the Dharma Bharathi Foundation, Hyderabad] against which the first 38 pages of this revised August 2003 report was written:
My dear Sri. Michael Prabhu, 25 July 2003
I send you my love and prayerful best wishes from Dharma Bharathi, Hyderabad. I hope you are keeping well.
Last week, I was invited to Divine Word Center, Muthangi, to speak to the priests of SVD-Hyderabad Province.
There I was given a copy of a document that you have been sending out to all Bishops and Charismatic Prayer Centers warning them of the possible dangers that Dharma Bharathi presents to the Christian faith. In that you have also quoted from my writings and from the writings of many others involved directly or indirectly with me and the National Regeneration Movement (NRM) and with the Dharma Bharathi National Institute (DBNI) that I had initiated.
I wish to request you not to confuse the National Regeneration Movement and the Dharma Bharathi National Institute with the New Age Movement which I myself consider to be very superficial. I had written this very clearly to you.
You yourself have quoted my words to this effect on page 11* of your document.
Dear friend, I appreciate your eagerness and commitment to uphold what you think is the Truth. But please remember that Christian charity demands that we must also respect the dedication and commitment of others who are doing similar work, but maybe in a different way.
Please remember also that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God. No one has seen the length and breadth, the height and depth of the love of Christ as St. Paul himself was convinced. There can be, and there will be, many ways of understanding the Christ-phenomenon. You should know this, because you are a well-read and well-experienced Christian evangelist.
I have consecrated my life for Christ and the Church. I have also founded a ‘Consecrated Society’ by name Disciples of Christ for Peace (DCP) to work for peace in India and the world. Hence I feel you have done harm to the Lord’s work by confusing people with comparing my mission with New Age Movement. If so, may the Lord forgive you. If not, may He bless you. Yours lovingly in Our Lord Jesus Christ,
Sd/- Swami Sachidananda Bharathi, DCP
Please keep in mind that the Swami has written this letter to me against my much shorter type-written 16-page report of August 1, 2002 which did not provide the detailed documentation presented by me in the updated August 1, 2003 report of 38 pages.
-In response to the above letter which I received by post, I completed the 38-page report dated August 1, 2003, in the form of a letter addressed to the Swami, and sent it to him by email on August 12, 2003:
firstname.lastname@example.org Cc: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; Sent: Monday, August 12, 2003 7:33 PM Subject: My reply to your letter
For the kind attention of: Swami Sachidananda Bharathi DCP, and Fr. Avinash, SVD
Dear Swami Sachidananda,
Please find attached my reply to your letter to me of July 25, 2003. Your letter was very kind. Thank you for its gentle tone. I am very grateful and appreciative. But just as you believe that you have a ‘calling’, I too believe that I have a God-given one. So I too must do what I believe is right. I hope that you will understand.
Especially that I am obliged to once again send copies to the CBCI, individual Bishops and other lay ministries.
This issue is not personal at all, and we can still be friends. Yours in Jesus’ Name and service, Michael Prabhu
1. Most Rev. Marampudi Joji, Archbishop of Hyderabad [where Dharma Bharathi is located]
2. Most Rev. Charles Soreng SJ, Bishop of Hazaribagh, Chairman, Education and Culture Commission of the CBCI
3. Most Rev. Ignatius Paul Pinto, Archbishop of Bangalore, Member, -do-
4. Most Rev. Daniel Acharuparambil OCD, Archbishop of Verapoly, Member, -do-
5. Dr. Fr. George Palackapilly, Secretary, -do-
6. Most Rev. Mar Varkey Vithayathil CSsR, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, Patron, Disciples of Christ for Peace
7. Most Rev. Thomas Menamparambil OCD, Archbishop of Guwahati, -do-
8. Most Rev. Jacob Manathodath, Bishop of Palghat, Advisor, -do-
9. Most Rev. Frederick D’Souza, Bishop of Jhansi (just for your kind information please.)
10.Most Rev. Arul Das James, Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore, -do-
11.Most Rev. Lawrence Pius Dorairaj, Auxiliary Bishop, -do-
Copies to certain other reverend Bishops along with copy of the main text addressed to Dharma Bharathi, Indore
ATTACHMENT DHARMA BHARATHI 2.doc
-The Swami’s reply was by email, copied below. He, too, marked copies as I had done, to the Archbishops/ Bishops, and to the Secretary, CBCI Commission for Education:
“dharma bharathi” firstname.lastname@example.org
Cc: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com;
Sent: Friday, September 19, 2003 12:02 PM Subject:
Re: love and prayers
My dear Sri Michael Prabhu,
Greetings of love and peace from Dharma Bharathi Ashram. Thank you for your kind and detailed email addressed to us and to a number of leaders of the Catholic Church in India giving your own personal understanding and interpretation of the vision, mission, spirituality and programmes of Dharma Bharathi.
I wish to point out that you have totally misunderstood Dharma Bharathi and its role in the National Regeneration Movement. National Regeneration Movement is being promoted by Dharma Bharathi and few other like-minded organizations in India including CBCI Commission for Education, AIACHE and some other Christian organizations, for the moral and spiritual regeneration and national reconstruction of India. It is an inter-religious and socio-spiritual movement.
While I appreciate your commitment to your ‘call’, I suggest that you study the matter well and prayerfully before commenting and making judgement on somebody’s vision and mission. Also it will be better if you can devote more time and energy for minding your own business instead of interfering with others work.
However if you really desire to study the National Regeneration Movement and its vision and mission, and if you need any help from our side, we will be glad to extend it.
It seems you have not at all understood what is the role of Dharma Bharathi in the National Regeneration Movement which is essentially a Movement for the economic, moral and social freedoms of India as envisaged by Mahatma Gandhi in his letter written on 27th January, 1948, 3 days before his martyrdom. Please study the latest edition of the NRM Manual for a clear understanding of the movement.
I love India and have given the best years of my life for the service of the nation as an Officer in the Indian Air Force.
Now in my ‘second life’ given to me by God in His grace, I have received a new call and mission to work for moral and spiritual regeneration and national reconstruction of India as a Sanyasi according to the spiritual traditions of India.
The National Regeneration Movement is my initiative to respond to this call and mission.
I have founded a number of movements, organizations, institutions and communities during the last 20 years for this purpose. Pratyasa Movement, Dharma Bharathi National Institute, Dharma Rajya Vedi, Prabhudha Bharathi Society, Dharma Bharathi Foundation, Disciples of Christ For Peace, Dharma Bharathi Mission, Dharma Bharathi Ashram etc. are some of such initiatives.
I request you to refrain from making comments and judgements on the work of other people and organizations without proper study or understanding. May the Lord lead you in the path of truth and light. With love and prayerful blessings,
Swami Sachidananda Bharathi, DCP, Acharya-Guru, Dharma Bharathi & NRM
-My response dated September 29, 2003:
Dear Swami Sachidananda,
I acknowledge receipt of your email of September 19, 2003.
Thank you for informing me that your National Regeneration Movement (NRM) is being co-promoted by “Dharma Bharathi and few like-minded organizations including the CBCI Commission for Education”.
I have received a letter from one of your associates, the Secretary of the above named Commission, Rev. Fr. George Palackapilly sdb, and I will be replying to him under copy to you as he has described my reporting and writing on Dharma Bharathi as “dangerous”. I am relieved that you do not think so too.
I find it very difficult to believe that a Commission of the CBCI would co-promote Dharma Bharathi’s NRM because the mission of NRM, as per your NRM manual (as I have elaborated in my report), is to bring about unity among religions in the world (NRMM page 38), by channelising Catholic missionary activity for the purpose of National Regeneration rather than promoting Christianity (14), training children in Catholic schools to practise Eastern meditations and Yoga (35), read and meditate on scriptures of other religions (121, 122) etc. Your vision, spirituality and programmes are influenced by monistic philosophies (One is All, All is One, 43), the New Sciences of the New Age Movement (NAM) through your personal contact with new agers (44, 45, 50, 81), movements that you call ‘progressive’ such as the Theosophical Society, Aurobindo Society etc. (51), etc.
There are also, of course, your letters to me, the papers of your National Seminar of December 2001, etc., all of which I have documented in my letter-cum-report to you dated 1 August 2003 where your organizations propose alliances, collaboration and mutual cooperation with the Brahmakumaris, ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), the Vivekananda and Ramakrishna Missions, the Brahmo and Arya Samajs, the Divine Life Society of Swami Sivananda Saraswati, Mata Amritananda Mayi, Sathya Sai Baba Institute etc.
I have also included excerpts from Vatican Documents and other letters and publications from the Holy See to show that the Church condemns the theology of religious pluralism, a syncretistic approach to religion, the practice of Yoga, elevating other scriptures to the status of the Bible which is the only inspired (God-breathed) Scripture, the New Age and its pre-Christian and satanic philosophies, a theology that omits conversion etc.
(If your organization is not yet allied with any of the above, your breakaway Indore unit, which has recently dropped the ‘Dharma Bharathi’ in favour of a new name ‘Universal Solidarity Movement’, is doing so.)
If, as you say, your movement is for social, moral and economic freedoms as envisaged by Gandhi, may I ask you why you have included so many SPIRITUAL issues (see above) in your Dharma Bharathi programmes?
About ‘Disciples of Christ for Peace’, the ‘consecrated society’ founded by you (see also your letter to me of 25 July), my report clearly shows that the theologies of your Advisor, Vandana Mataji and your Theological Consultant Fr. Michael Amaladoss SJ are seriously warped and diametrically opposed to the Word of God (Holy Bible and Church teaching).
How then could the CBCI Commission for Education and Culture co-promote your programmes? Fr. Palackapilly took the pains to write to me to be polite to you as you were to me (he probably did not read your e-mail carefully enough to see that you asked me to mind my own business) but he has nothing to say about ‘theologians’ like Fr. Amaladoss whose teachings are contradictory to those of the Church, or about organizations whose missions run counter to the mission of the Church.
Dear Swamiji, just as you believe that you have received a call from God (refer your e-mail), I believe that I too have received a call from God. I too have left my profession and given over 20 years of my life to follow this call. You love India, which is good. But I love my faith, my Church and my Jesus more than I love my motherland. If I have to make a choice between the two, my choice is Jesus.
Is it not strange that both of us believe that we have received calls from the same God and yet one of us is faithful to the teachings of His Son through the authority that He has instituted, while the other, while claiming to be His disciple and founding organizations named after Him, undermines the mission of that institution and associates with its enemies.
The Vatican Document on New Age has this to say (n 6.2) about Dharma Bharathi’s and your ‘own spirituality, theology, vision, philosophy and rule of life‘ (NRMM 107):
Some… institutions are actively pursuing campaigns which promote respect for ‘religious diversity’ and claim religious status for some questionable organizations. This fits in with the New Age vision of moving into an age where the limited character of particular religions gives way to the universality of a new religion or spirituality. Genuine dialogue will never seek to blur distinctions in a fusion of all religious traditions.
Referring again to your letter of 25 July, the NAM is not “very superficial” as you consider it to be. It is real and serious and dangerous enough for the Church to have released a Document to expose its spiritual dangers. And, you have
misquoted & misinterpreted the Bible (St. Paul in Romans 8:39). He is not ‘convinced’ that ‘no one has seen the height and depth… of the love of Christ’ but that ‘nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’. We have to know our own Scriptures thoroughly, not those of other religions.
Thanking you, Michael Prabhu
-My e-mails dated October 1 and 11, 2003:
Subject: Resending email of 1st October.
On returning from tour of Andhra I found that I had inadvertently not included the attachments as said below.**
Kindly excuse. Please find them included now, along with the copy of my letter to the concerned Bishops regarding Fr.George’s letter to me in defense of DHARMA BHARATHI. Michael
Quoting from my earlier letter of October 1, 2003:
“My dear Swami Sachidananda, Thank you for your email of 19th September. I have posted a reply to you dated 29th September. I am attaching herewith** the text of that reply.
Fr.George Palackapilly, Secretary of the CBCI Commission for Education and Culture wrote to me and referred to your email. So I am also attaching herewith** the text of my reply to him concerning DHARMA BHARATHI.
Thanking you, Michael Prabhu”, Unquote.
-The final letter from the Swami, dated October 16, 2003:
Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2003 5:09 PM Subject: love and blessings
My dear Mr. Michael,
Love and blessings from Dharma Bharathi Ashram, Mulanthuruthy. I do appreciate your perseverance in continuing with long drawn correspondences on a misunderstood and misrepresented subject.
The words from various documents published by DBNI that you have quoted to substantiate your findings do not reflect my thoughts or of those involved with Dharma Bharathi but are of those presenting papers or writing reports in various seminars. Also, you seem to be putting your own idea and thoughts into writing and judging others based on them.
The e-mail you claim to have received from a young priest about the Dharma Bharathi Programme attended by him is defenitely not one conducted by me or Rev Dr Avinash, SVD but by someone associated with the break away Dharma Bharathi of Fr Varghese Alengadan.
As for Fr M Amaldoss and Vandana Mataji, please refrain from negative remarks about their life and theology. Both are recognised as pioneers in their own fields by the Catholic Church. Their lives are transparent and they are known for their integrity.
Dear Mr. Michael, I request to be relieved of the burden of this correspondence. Please consider this as the last e-mail or letter from my side.
May the Holy Spirit of God lead you in the path of true wisdom.
With love and blessings, Yours in the Lord, Swami Sachidananda Bharathi, DCP
END OF CORRESPONDENCE.
1. The Swami has set up an Ashram in Mulanthuruthy, Kerala. This confirms my contention from the very beginning that Dharma Bharathi is a part of the Ashrams movement. This ashram comes under the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly whose Archbishop is Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, C.Ss.R., current President of the CBCI [2009, as I write this updated report]
2. The evidence of New Age and other errors presented by me is dismissed by the Swami as the statements or writings of “those presenting papers or writing reports in various seminars” as if they have no connection with his organization whereas they reflect the policies, aspirations, practices and goals of NRM, DCP and DB.
3. He puts the blame for erroneous teaching on the breakaway Dharma Bharathi-Indore, not a very edifying thing to do considering the lofty ideals preached by DB. Further, DB-I is but a clone of the Swami’s DB.
4. He dismisses all the evidence against his spiritual advisors Fr. Michael Amaladoss and Vandana Mataji.
2. CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE SECRETARY, COMMISSION FOR EDUCATION AND CULTURE OF THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE OF INDIA [CBCI]:
[The “National Regeneration Movement is being promoted by Dharma Bharathi and a few other like-minded organizations in India including the CBCI Commission for Education“: The Swami]
Dear Mr. Prabhu, 24 September, 2003
This is to acknowledge receipt of your circular dated 01-08-2003. Thank you.
Before I proceed any further, I would like to know your credentials. On whose behalf are you writing?
If it is that you would like to uphold truth, please do so in polite and charitable words.
You are very judgemental, basing yourself on half truths. That is very dangerous.
The reply of Swami Sachidananda dated 19 September, 2003 speaks for itself – polite and to the point.
I would like to remind you of the words of St. Francis de Sales: more flies are caught with a spoonful of honey than a barrelful of vinegar. With regards, Yours sincerely, Fr. George Palackapilly, sdb., Secretary, CBCI Commission for Education and Culture, SPCI House – Don Bosco, B-32, Dashrath Puri, New Delhi 110 045
This letter was written to me by
Fr. George Palackapilly on the letterhead of the CBCI Commission. Two things make me suspicious: 1. Though my covering letter to the Commission is dated August 12, Fr. George replies only on September 24, just after the September 19 letter of the Swami reaches him. 2. Fr. George does not mark copies of his letter to me to his chairman Bishop or the two other member Bishops of his Commission. I suspect that he wrote me the letter on his own behalf, using the letterhead of the CBCI to intimidate me and to take the pressure off the Swami who is his friend. I replied by post and by email:
Dear Rev. Fr. George, 29 September, 2003
I acknowledge with thanks the receipt of your letter dated 24 September 2003.
It is my privilege to respond to the two questions and some statements made by you in your referred letter.
1. You asked me for my credentials and wanted to know on whose behalf I am writing.
If you mean that you believe that I need credentials to back up my analysis of the 3 DHARMA BHARATHI organizations spawned by Swami Sachidananda, you have every right to hold that view.
As a citizen of this country, I am free to form my own opinions on what is good and what is evil, in as much as Swamiji has the freedom to propagate his philosophies and practices. I am also free to warn others against possible dangers as much as the opposite party enjoys his freedom to pass off evil as good.
However, I have not formed any opinion subjectively as you might have found if you have read the referred report.
I am enclosing here a copy of my latest ‘circular’ titled ‘The Catholic Church speaks on the New Age Movement’ which explains that my analyses are based on what the Church teaches me. (You will observe, from the excerpts of letters included, that several priests share my views.)
And I have briefly described my background which will have to suffice as ‘credentials’.
2. You say that I am ‘very judgmental basing on half truths’ (sic).
My analysis is based mostly on information given to me by Swamiji himself in his letters to me and from the printed matter which he sent me. I refer to them in my letter-cum-report. All other information is authenticated before inclusion and is also documented in my report.
The Dharma Bharathi position has been studied in the light of Scripture and the teaching of the Church.
Most Catholics whom I talk to, share my views. Are they too being judgmental, basing on half-truths?
I would like to quote from an email sent me by a young Catholic priest a couple of days ago:
“Received your notes on Dharma Bharathi which I myself also encountered when one of the Catholic schools called them in to make a presentation. It was sickening to hear a Catholic priest compromise the faith and whom I later confronted personally. Can a leopard change its spots? So too the wicked want to continue in their wickedness!”
Independently, this priest had arrived at the same conclusion that many others and I have.
That DHARMA BHARATHI philosophies, teachings and practices “compromise the faith”.
3. You suggest that I use ‘polite and charitable words’ and write ‘to the point’ if I ‘would like to uphold truth’.
I have written to the point! The difficulty was that there were too many points to address.
Brevity would have been counter-productive, leaving room for explanations of one kind or another.
And, finally, the truth always sounds uncharitable and impolite to some, no matter how much it is sugarcoated.
Pope John Paul II said, “Truth is not always the same as the majority decision”.
Certainly, more flies are caught with a spoonful of honey than a barrelful of vinegar, but with all due respect to St. Francis de Sales and to you, dear Father George, we are not catching flies, are we?
This may not increase my popularity with you, but I do not see that Jeremiah or John the Baptist or Jesus downplayed evil when they saw it in high places, if you know what I mean. And neither did they make the popularity charts.
4. I would like to know from you, Father, whether you have written to me on your own or as directed by the Bishops.
I sent a copy of my letter (of 1.8.2003 to Swamiji) to you in your capacity as Secretary of the CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE OF INDIA (CBCI). You have used the letterhead of the CBCI. I am very happy to receive it, because I have been sending copies of my various reports to different commissions of the CBCI and over 75 Bishops with no official response in over 4 years.
As a matter of fact I had sent you a copy of my first report (of 1.8.2002) on Dharma Bharathi 8 months ago in Feb. 2003. But you did not respond. [I had also written earlier; see page 61, copy of my letter to Bishop Chares Soreng]
The Chairman of your Commission, Bishop Charles Soreng and the 2 other Member Bishops received their copies in August 2002 itself. I look to the Bishops as the teaching authority of the Church and await their replies.
5. I am surprised (should I be?) that you did not have a single complimentary word about my report or about my ministry. (Instead, you defended Swami Sachidananda. May I ask why?). I request you to please identify the ‘half truths’ and ‘judgments’ in my report so that I can issue an apology to Swamiji.
And as a Catholic priest to a layperson, you may please address me as Michael instead of ‘Mr. Prabhu’.
Thanking you, Michael Prabhu
Dear Fr. George,
In the attachment, please find a copy of the letter which I have posted to you today in reply to yours of 24th September, along with a copy of my letter to Swami Sachidananda Bharathi in reply to his email to me which you have referred to in your letter. Thanking you, Yours obediently, In Jesus’ Name and service, Michael Prabhu
NO RESPONSE RECEIVED. END OF CORRESPONDENCE.
3. CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE ARCHBISHOP OF DELHI
See the Archbishop’s letter on page 40. The following is my reply to that letter:
Sent: Monday, October 13, 2003 12:41 AM Subject: Thank you
To, Most Rev. Vincent Concessao, Archbishop of Delhi, under copy to Bishop Thomas Dabre, Bishop of Vasai.
I thank you for your prompt and kind response, reference BF/0892/2003 dated October 1,2003 to my letter dated 24th September and to the material which I sent you concerning my analysis of DHARMA BHARATHI.
I am greatly encouraged by your reply and will certainly do as you advised me, namely to contact the Doctrinal Commission of the CBCI which is under the Chairmanship of Bishop Thomas Dabre of Vasai. Thank you also for giving me his address.
I have sent Bishop Dabre my material on 2 separate occasions last year (1. 3. 2002 and 31. 7. 2002), but I did not receive an acknowledgement from him.
As a matter of fact, I sent you too my material on 1. 3. 2002, 2. 8. 2002 and 12. 6. 2003 but this is the first time that you have replied to me.
One of the attachments to this email is a letter dated 29th September which I sent to the Chairman and Member Bishops of the CBCI Commission for Education and Culture that is directly involved with Dharma Bharathi. As you will see from reading it, I have been writing fruitlessly to the concerned Bishops for a very long time.
18 months ago the Auxiliary Bishop of Delhi, Most Rev. Anil Couto wrote me that he was referring my material to the Doctrinal Commission of the CBCI. I had sent him many reports in the months preceding Easter 2002. And on four different occasions thereafter. I have not heard anything thereafter from His Grace or the Commission.
Though I greatly appreciate the time you have dedicated to give importance to a reply to my concerns, I am unable to understand why the Bishops do not reply to laity when they write not on frivolous matters but on serious issues that concern the spiritual health of the Church, and why such serious issues should be the concern only of a particular Bishop or Commission and not that of every Bishop of the Catholic Church. I wonder what Jesus would say.
Bishop Anil was my Assistant Parish Priest when I was in St. Michael’s parish. And I was there from 1979 to 1993 January and not till 1982 as you wrote. My wife and I were involved in the Sunday School, the choir, Catholic Association, Legion of Mary, Parish Council, charismatic prayer group etc. Father I. dos Santos, Fr. Charles D’Souza, Fr. Beschi D’Almeida and Fr. Victor D’Souza can vouch for our commitment to the Church.
I pray that you will take the initiative and do much more in this matter, In Jesus’ Name, Michael Prabhu
[Copy of the DHARMA BHARATHI report etc posted earlier to the Archbishop. Attached to this email are the above letters of the Swami and Fr. George Palackapilly and my replies; and my letter of September 29 to Bishop Charles Soreng.]
NO RESPONSE RECEIVED FROM EITHER THE ARCHBISHOP OR BISHOP DABRE. END OF CORRESPONDENCE.
4. A LETTER FROM THE BISHOP OF JHANSI
Dear Mr. Prabhu, 24th October 2003
Praised be Our Lord Jesus and Mother Mary.
Thanks for your dossier on Dharma Bharathi. Having gone through the same, I have passed it on to CBCI Executive Secretary Fr. Donald D’Souza at Delhi on the 8th of October. He will study the same through competent persons and where you have expressed cautions they will try to attend to the same to the best of their ability.
Let me express my appreciation of your love for the Church and its teachings. We certainly need lay leadership in the Church, and the same to be exercised with love and understanding. We need to help each other knowing fully well that we are all humans with our human weaknesses.
It is good to caution each other in the journey of Faith against all the pitfalls that may hamper the best of our intentions. God bless you and in union of prayers, Yours in Christ,
Most Rev. Frederick D’Souza [Letter on Bishop’s letterhead] Copy to: Fr. Donald D’Souza, CBCI
NO RESPONSE RECEIVED FROM THE SECRETARY OF THE CBCI.
5. LETTER TO THE CHAIRMAN AND MEMBER BISHOPS OF THE CBCI COMMISSION FOR EDUCATION AND CULTURE [SENT BY EMAIL AS WELL AS BY POST ON MINISTRY LETTERHEAD]:
firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; Sent: Monday, September 29, 2003 Subject: Dharma Bharathi
To, Most Rev. Charles Soreng, S.J., Bishop of Hazaribag, Chairman, CBCI Commission for Education and Culture
Most Rev. Dominic Jala, S.D.B., Archbishop of Shillong, Member,- do-
Mot Rev. Albert D’Souza, Bishop of Lucknow, -do-
In response to a copy of my analysis dated 1.8.2003 of the DHARMA BHARATHI organizations, sent to Fr. George Palackapilly SDB. in his capacity as Secretary of your Commission, which was in the form of a letter to Swami Sachidananda, I received a reply from Fr. George writing to me from CBCI, Delhi. Since none of you are in Delhi, I am sending each of you, as an attachment to this e-mail, a copy of my reply dated 29th September to Fr. George.
Along with it is a copy of my reply of the same date to Swami Sachidananda against an e-mail that he wrote to me under copy to several Bishops and Fr. George, the Secretary of your Commission.
I had earlier sent my analysis of DHARMA BHARATHI to the Swami under copy to these same Bishops.
The e-mail of Swamiji was referred to by Fr. George in his letter to me. At the end of this letter is the text of the covering e-mail under which I sent Fr. George a copy of my letter dated 29th September which has been posted today.
To Bishop Charles Soreng of Hazaribag as Chairman of the Commission, while preparing my first analysis of DHARMA BHARATHI, I had written to His Grace enquiring whether these organizations are safe for Catholics and their philosophies, practices and goals approved by the Bishops of the Church.
I received a reply dated 16.8.2002 from His Grace who informed me that His Grace had recently attended a Seminar given by Swamiji, that Swamiji gives seminars to priests and religious as well, that Swamiji’s position is very sound, and that His Grace is quite pleased with him.
[I had sent similar letters to the Archbishop of Hyderabad and the Bishops of Lucknow and Indore where the three DHARMA BHARATHIs are based, but received no reply from them.]
I sent my first analysis dated 1.8.2002 of the DHARMA BHARATHIs to His Grace on 14.8.2002.
I had also sent His Grace several other reports on 18.9.2002. Both postal deliveries were not acknowledged by him.
I am now sending His Grace a copy of my latest report dated 1.8.2003 against which Fr. George has written to me.
To Bishop Dominic Jala of Shillong, I had sent copies of various reports written by me on 9.2.2002, 26.2.2002 and 2.8.2002. There was no response. I am now sending His Grace a copy of the report dated 1.8.2003 on DHARMA BHARATHI.
To Bishop Albert D’Souza of Lucknow, I had sent my printed material on 8.8.2002, on 18.9.2002 [the first analysis] and on 11.9.2003 [the second analysis of DHARMA BHARATHI]. There has been no response.
When sending the 1.8.2003 analysis of DHARMA BHARATHI to Swami Sachidananda Bharathi [Founder, Hyderabad] and to Varghese Alengaden [the breakaway unit in Indore] by email on 12.8.2003, I had sent copies to several Archbishops and Bishops, including the Archbishop of Hyderabad, the Bishops of Lucknow and Indore, the Archbishops of Bangalore and Verapoly [former members of the Commission], the present Chairman, Bishop Charles Soreng, the present Secretary Fr. George, etc., but I did not receive a single acknowledgement. In fact, I had sent a copy of my first analysis dated 1.8.2002 on the DHARMA BHARATHIs by post to Fr. George on 13.2.2003, but it, too, was not acknowledged.
Copies of all the above were sent to my Auxiliary Bishop, Most Rev. Lawrence Pius Dorairaj [who has regularly received ALL my material] and, on occasions, to my Archbishop Most Rev. Arul Das James. They were never acknowledged.
As a matter of fact, my very first reports were prepared at the instance of my Bishop after several meetings and discussions with him from December 1999 onwards, and were initially addressed to him. It was only due to his total lack of response that I commenced sending my reports as “circulars” – to use the term chosen by Fr. George in his letter to me to describe my analyses.
Copies of my said reports were sent to around 75 Archbishops and Bishops. One Archbishop [now retired, Bangalore] telephoned me and thanked me [he initiated corrective action in one particular instance], and one solitary and righteous Bishop wrote me a very appreciatory letter.
I tried to personally meet a few Bishops during my visits to their dioceses but could never get past their Secretaries no matter how hard I tried to obtain an appointment.
I copy here the text of my covering letter to Fr. George, the Secretary of your Commission. […]
Yours obediently, In Jesus’ Name and service, Michael Prabhu
1. The three Bishops above are the current Chairman and Members respectively of the CBCI Commission for Education and Culture. According to the CBCI Directory 2001 available with me, the Member Bishops of the previous Commission were Most Rev. Ignatius Pinto, Archbishop of Bangalore and Most Rev. Daniel Acharuparambil, Archbishop of Verapoly.
I had sent copies of my various reports to Archbishop Daniel Acharuparambil on 5.8.2002 and to Archbishop Ignatius Pinto on 12.11.2000, 27.2.2002, 1.3.2002, 28.3.2002, 17.4.2002, 2.8.2002, 15.5.2003 and 27.8.2003, including a visit to his office on 18.8.2003 when I met his Secretary, Fr. John Anthony, and after discussions with him, explaining my ministry and requesting for an appointment to meet His Grace, which was refused, left with the Secretary my report on DHARMA BHARATHI along with other material to be given to the Archbishop. I have not received any acknowledgement so far.
2. Apart from all of the above, I have written personal letters to several of those [as well as other] Bishops. I have not maintained copies of many of these letters mainly because they were handwritten. In them, I appealed to the Bishops as pastors and teachers to initiate some sort of action against the errors that I pointed out, but I have not been favoured with a single reply.
My letters and reports were sent to other CBCI Commissions as well, and they too have been ignored.
3. Using the information in the 2001 CBCI Directory, I had written to the Chairman of the Doctrinal Commission, Most Rev. Gali Bali of Guntur on 1.3.2002, 16.4.2002 and 1.8.2002; and to Commission Members Most Rev. Thomas Dabre, Bishop of Vasai on 1.3.2002 and 31.7.2002, and Most Rev. Cyril Mar Baselios, Archbishop of Trivandrum on 1.3.2002, 16.4.2002 and 2.8.2002. Needless to repeat, I received no reply.
4. Apart from the letters, articles and packages posted to the Bishops, I sent a number of emails to many Bishops including those named above. Not a single letter has been acknowledged– Michael Prabhu writing on Sep. 29, 2003
-The above letter to Bishop Charles Soreng on the issue of Dharma Bharathi was not the first. Here is the content of my typed letter to him dated 28.6.2002, written BEFORE I released the first report of 1.8.2002:
To, Most Rev. Charles Soreng, Chairman, CBCI Commission for Education and Culture, with copies to Commission Members Archbishops Ignatius Pinto and Daniel Acharuparambil, OCD., and to Fr. George Palackapilly, Secretary, SUB: DHARMA BHARATHI NATIONAL INSTITUTES:
There are in existence two organizations using the same name. The one founded by Swami Sachidananda is based in Secunderabad and defines itself as the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF PEACE AND VALUE EDUCATION. The one at Indore where Fr. Varghese Alengaden is the National Coordinator is styled as the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF VALUE EDUCATION FOR PEACE.
The original Dharma Bharathi seems to be the one founded by the Swami and it operated from Indore from the same address where the other Dharma Bharathi is now centred. Swami’s Dharma Bharathi is now relocated at Secunderabad.
Apart from the name and the building premises, the Indore Dharma Bharathi uses the same modules and history, vision statement etc. of the original Dharma Bharathi.
Surprisingly, though these Dharma Bharathis are headed by Catholics [one a lay man and the other a priest] and though Dr. Thomas Kunnunkal SJ is “Advisor, Dharma Bharathi National Institute,” nothing seems to have been done for 4 years to definitively distinguish between the two. If there has, the public is unaware of it.
What is even more perplexing is that, with almost identical goals and objectives, THEY ALSO TARGET THE VERY SAME SEGMENT OF OUR SOCIETY – OUR EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS.
The Indore Dharma Bharathi has carried on the Swami’s programme to introduce Dharma Bharathi training in Catholic schools and colleges across India. It has the blessings of the Superiors of many Religious Orders. And the Secunderabad Dharma Bharathi received a large grant from NCERT towards a Seminar for “Peace and Value Education for Schools”.
What is the Church’s position on the two Dharma Bharathis?
Has any attempt been made to understand what their founders believe as Catholic Christians because that is what they will impart to the teachers and students in our Catholic institutions?
I have strong reason to believe that both Dharma Bharathis are introducing, along with genuine social and moral values, a subtle mix of syncretism and New Age philosophies in these institutions.
Kindly let me know your views and what you propose to do about this issue. Thanking you, Yours obediently,
Bro. Michael, ‘Metamorphose’, full address.
NO RESPONSE RECEIVED FROM THE CHAIRMAN, MEMBERS OR SECRETARY OF THE CBCI COMMISSION.
-The same day, 28.6.2002, I wrote to the two Bishops in whose dioceses the two Dharma Bharathis are based: Bishop George Anathil, Indore and S. Arulappa, Archbishop Emeritus of Hyderabad [Patron of DB-H]
Here is the content of my typed letters to them written BEFORE I released the first report of 1.8.2002:
Your Grace, I understand that you are one of the patrons of the Dharma Bharathi National Institute of Swami Sachidanand in Hyderabad. Does this mean that their ideologies and programmes are Church-approved?
I have come across another Institute in Indore using the same title, modules and history except that they do not mention the founder who is Swami Sachidanand. The Indore programme is headed by a Catholic priest Fr. Varghese Alengaden who is also actively promoting Dharma Bharathi in our Catholic educational institutions.
I will be very grateful to you if you will throw some light on the two Dharma Bharathis. Thanking you, Obediently yours…
To, Most Rev. George M. Anathil, Bishop of Indore
SUB: DHARMA BHARATHI NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF VALUE EDUCATION FOR PEACE:
The above-mentioned Institute is based in and functioning from your city of Indore under Fr. Varghese Alengaden who is the National Coordinator. There happens to be another Dharma Bharathi headquartered at Secunderabad that is stled as the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF PEACE AND VALUE EDUCATION headed by Swami Sachidananda.
The original Dharma Bharathi seems to have been founded by the Swami and operated from the same Indore address as the ‘breakaway faction’ does today, and the Swami’s Dharma Bharathi is now re-located at Secunderabad.
The programmes to introduce Dharma Bharathi in Catholic educational institutions were initiated by the Swami and are now being carried forward by Dharma Bharathi, Indore. At the same time, Dharma Bharathi, Secunderabad has received a generous grant from the NCERT towards introducing “Peace and Value Education for Schools”.
Many observations and questions arise from this situation. Both centres cannot share the EXACT SAME titles, goals and objectives, vision statement, target groups, modules, etc. A look into their individual brochures will illuminate my point. One of them has to have a different identity from the other.
Information provided by the Indore Dharma Bharathi is vague and evasive in respect of its early history/founders.
On the other hand, Secunderabad Dharma Bharathi carefully avoids any mention of the 1998 “split” which is quite strange. Why would anyone remain silent when a trusted person annexes one’s operational base and usurps one’s name and the goodwill that one has generated over years of labour? Is there more than meets the eye? How does the Church govern the activities of the two Dharma Bharathis? Both Dharma Bharathis aim “to promote peace within the individual, peace within society, and peace with nature” and “build a civilization of love”. But any publicity about their “split” would be very damaging. Is that the reason for the continuance of two identical organizations?
Could Your Grace kindly enlighten me in this connection? I would also very much like to know from you if Indore DB’s programmes are Church-approved. Thanking you, Yours obediently in Christ, Bro. Michael, ‘Metamorphose’, full address.
NO RESPONSE FROM THE TWO BISHOPS WHO ENCOURAGED DHARMA BHARATHIS IN THEIR DIOCESES
THE ABOVE PAGES STAND AS A RECORD AND TESTIMONY THAT THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN INDIA SIMPLY DO NOT RESPOND TO LETTERS WRITTEN BY THE LAY FAITHFUL WHEN THEY POINT OUT SPIRITUAL ERRORS
3. CORRESPONDENCE WITH FR. THOMAS KUNNUNKAL, SJ., DHARMA BHARATI-LUCKNOW
[ALSO SEE PAGES 34, 35, 37, 38, 52] THIS DHARMA BHARATI HAS DROPPED THE LETTER ‘H’.
-My type-written letter dated 29.6.2002 addressed to Fr. Thomas at the Bishop’s House, Lucknow:
Dear Fr. Thomas,
There seems to be two Institutes of Peace and Value Education under the name of Dharma Bharathi, one at Indore and the other at Secunderabad, both using the same modules and claiming the same history.
Could you please clarify, as I understand that you represent the Church as an Advisor to one or both of them, what is the Church’s official position on their activities and the apparent contradiction in their bifurcated existence?
If our Catholic schools are to conduct ‘Peace and Value Education’ programmes, which of these two Dharma Bharathi Institutes does one approach? Are they mutually exclusive, or are they complementary?
I understand that a Catholic priest, Fr. Varghese Alengaden, is the Director of the Indore Dharma Bharathi. Does that therefore mean that this Dharma Bharathi is Church-approved?
I look forward to receiving your kind reply… Yours sincerely, Bro. Michael, ‘Metamorphose’, full address.
-Printed letter on Dharma Bharati-Lucknow letterhead, dated 10.7.2002, in reply from Fr. Thomas:
Dear Brother Michael
Greetings from the city of Lucknow. Let me briefly answer your queries regarding Dharma Bharathi. Unfortunately there are two organizations under the same name. It started in Indore by Acharya John Sachidanand, earlier an Air Force officer, and the vision and basic spirituality came from him.
Fr. Varghese of Sagar diocese joined him some 10 years ago and was made National Director by Acharya John.
Because of character and temperamental differences, the two split up and one remained at Indore and Acharya moved to Secunderabad.
John asked me to see if I could bring the two together again, but Varghese is not inclined to give up his freedom of action though willing to acknowledge that the vision came from John Sachidanand.
Both are doing very good work and reach out to many parts of India through several hundred schools. In fact I am making moves for a Dharma Bharathi Centre here in Lucknow. We work here with people of other faiths.
You are asking about Church affiliation. Neither has and neither is interested in official affiiation, though John had the Archbishop of Secunderabad, Arulappa, as the Patron and co-founder of the programme of Disciples of Christ for Peace.
Acharya gives retreats and orientations to priests, to Congregations of Sisters and to Provinces, etc.
I am going to Indore to spend a couple of days with Varghese. Is it necessary that every good activity that we start should immediately get official approval? Jesus was a layman and had no official approval from the Sanhedrin for his activities. He carried on, nevertheless, and attracted opposition and was killed, since his thrust and values did not suit the Jewish elders. Gamaliel gave them a good direction when the followers of Jesus came before the Sanhedrin.
I hope this will give you some answers to your questions. With my warmest regards and prayerful good wishes for your ministry and reqesting your prayers for my ministry here, Cordially, sd/- Thomas V. Kunnunkal, S.J.
-My type-written letter dated 13.7.2002 to Fr. Thomas:
Dear Fr. Thomas,
I thank you for your letter dated 10th July… I greatly appreciate all the information provided by you to me in your response which clarified my doubts. However, your letter raised new questions mainly because your letterhead is that of DHARMA BHARATI without the letter ‘H’ that one finds in the other two Dharma Bharathis.
Since you wrote that you are preparing to start a Centre in Lucknow, I presumed that it is independent of the other two until I read lower down in your letter that you were going to Indore to spend a few days with Fr. Varghese.
Would you be kind enough as to let me know if you are affiliated with Dharma Bharathi-Indore or if yours is independent?
If your Dharma Bharati is a separate venture, kindly send me any literature that you may already have already brought out about your movement for ‘re-generation’.
I am preparing a write-up about Dharma Bharat(h)i in our schools and any information from you will be most welcome.
In case you are affiliated with the Indore Dharma Bharathi, I would like you to know that I wrote to Fr. Varghese on the 15th of June and sent him two e-mails 10 days ago but he did not reply to any of my letters.
Generally, you have answered my questions to Fr. Varghese except for two:
i) Are there NON-CATHOLIC schools in which Dharma Bharathi programmes have been implemented?
ii) Is there any school IN CHENNAI in which Dharma Bharathi has been introduced?
Thanking you, Yours sincerely, Michael
-Fr. Thomas’ printed reply on plain paper dated 20.7.2002:
Dear Brother Michael
…Let me answer right away, since I am on the move. I am not affiliated to DB, Indore or Secunderabad. Our Bishop is clear that what is important is not to swear by this or that group but to push the ideals and visions of Dharma Bharati.
The omission of h is a local variation.
Here I have programmes in education, civic and citizenship programmes, heath education etc. planned for this year and one on the rights of the child planned next month.
Wee have a small group (inter-faith group including Muslims, Hinds, Brahmakumaris, Bahais etc. in the group, besides Christians).
Fr. Varghese is concentrating on approaching Catholic schools, though he may have other schools as well. I do not know exact data on this. The Acharya in Secunderabad has both Catholics and those of other faiths that he deals with. I also do not know of schools in Chennai connected with either DB, but I imagine that there will be. Both of them travel through India, North and South, and so Chennai will be on their route map. Fr. Varghese’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I also don’t get immediate replies, as he is very busy.
As for literature, I really do not have much to give as I am at the beginning stage. I had another young Jesuit with me last year but he is gone for studies. I am trying to get another, a priest or a sister, to help, but have not found one yet.
I am sending a folder that I passed around to our people during a CRI [Conference of Religious, India] meeting, aimed at the Catholic audience and hence specifically the mission of Jesus to build
the Kingdom, which to me is a good translation of the aims and goals of DB… With my best wishes and prayers, Cordially, sd/- Thomas V. Kunnunkal, S.J.
One more Bishop [Lucknow diocese] pushes Dharma Bharathi without studying its background and origins.
Fr. Thomas in all sincerity believes that Dharma Bharathi is building the Kingdom of God!
DB inter-faith prayer groups treat religious texts of other faiths on par with the Word of God in the Bible.
With DB, there is no proclamation, no evangelization. Catholics get syncretized, non-Catholics are happy.
There is no evidence to show that any of the DBs are working anywhere but in Catholic circles; so, it is YOUR child that is going to be exposed to the erroneous pluralistic spirituality of the DBs. And to this:
ONE HAS NOT ONE BUT THREE BRAINS, SAYS FR. THOMAS OF DHARMA BHARATHI-LUCKNOW
Fr. Thomas Kunnunkal S.J. was once the Chairman of the Central Board of Secondary Education [C.B.S.E.].
This should amply demonstrate how even the best of priests can be subverted by New Age philosophies:
The New Leader, June 16-30, 2008 page 15 The Qs that enhance the quality of life EXTRACT:
“The focus has to be on inter-connectivity or interdependence*… Recent brain research has revealed that we have not one brain, but three real brains, one in our gut, another in our heart and the third in our head.”
Fr. Thomas Kunnunkal, SJ is the Superior and Research Director at the Indian Social Institute, New Delhi
*Read the February 3, 2003 Vatican Document on the New Age and the 2003 DB report to understand the New Age in these monistic ideas about the inter-connectivity and
interdependence of all things.
I wrote a letter to the editor of The New Leader:
I refer to the article by Fr. Thomas Kunnunkal, SJ ‘The Qs that enhance the quality of life’ in
The New Leader, June 16-30, 2008, wherein he states that “Recent brain research has revealed that we have not one brain, but three real brains, one in our gut, another in our heart and the third in our head.”
I would like to have from Father Thomas the reference of the scientific papers from which he has quoted.
Michael Prabhu, Subscriber, Chennai My letter was published in the NL of August 16-30, 2008.
There was no response from Fr. Thomas Kunnunkal, S.J., founder of the Lucknow DB.
The Third Asian Youth Day, August 15, 2003, and Asian Youth For Peace, Bangalore, August 9-16, 2003
Organized by the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (Office of Laity-Youth Desk). Coordinator- the Indian Catholic Youth Movement (ICYM). Local host: CBCI.
key player? Dharma Bharathi-Hyderabad/Kerala
The news was covered in The Examiner,
August 30, 2003: reproduction of the Zenit news story on the event; The Examiner,
September 13, 2003: 714 youth from 19 countries attended; The Examiner,
September 20, 2003: The Under Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue Fr. Dr. Felix Machado, a priest from the Archdiocese of Bombay, addressed the gathering on August 14 [SAR news].
The event was also given a full page in The New Leader of August 16-31, 2003, courtesy Fides and UCA News.
Symbols included the OM and the occult yin yang splashed on posters as well as pictured in The New Leader
story on the event.
The ICYM along with Dharma Bharathi [the Bangalore office of the Swami] distributed thousands of copies of a pamphlet. One page was devoted to “Inter-religious Prayer Service (40 minutes)”. The programme included “Readings from Holy Scriptures” – The Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, the Koran, the Dhammapada, the Guru Granth Sahib, etc. prepared by Swami Sachidananda.
WHAT CAN HAPPEN TO YOUR CHILD IF PROGRAMMED BY THE DHARMA BHARATHIS?
DHARMA BHARATHI – [HYDERABAD]/KERALA:
He/she will imbibe a
“spirituality that is equally acceptable to all religions“.
He/she will be exposed to “indifferentism, relativism, religious pluralism, syncretism
and New Age“.
He/she will practice and learn “spiritual exercises
meditations, yoga, bhajans, study of scriptures and the lives of gurus of different religions“.
He/she will be influenced by the seditious culture of the Catholic Ashrams movement
He/she will inculcate a
“holistic approach to healthcare through psycho-spiritual healing, natural healthcare systems and [New Age] alternative
DHARMA BHARATHI – INDORE:
He/she will seek to find peace not through Jesus and the Sacraments but “through an
He/she will “hold the view that his/her Catholic faith alone is not the superior one“.
He/she will “pray together using readings from various holy scriptures“.
He/she will pray
“Om Shanti! Om Shanti! Om Shanti!“
“conduct prayer services… based on
He/she will “resolve to promote pluralistic spirituality“.
“commit to promote the pluralistic vision of the Dharma Bharathi movement“.
“discover more meaning in praying before a mirror than in meditating before the tabernacle or in a church“.
“realize that God is within me, not in a church“.
SEE SEPARATE REPORT: THE UNIVERSAL SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT, INDORE: “DHARMA BHARATHI” IN A NEW AVATAR – WORSHIPPING THE DIVINE SELF WITHIN.
DHARMA BHARATI – LUCKNOW:
Some of the above, not forgetting the three-brain theory of Fr. Thomas Kunnunkal, SJ.
Visitors to the website and readers are welcome to send in their suggestions, criticisms, encouragement and information on DB activity in their regions for further documentation.
Second freedom struggle mooted December 16, 2009
A Catholic ascetic, a Hindu reformist leader and the Catholic Religious have come together to launch what they call “a second freedom struggle” to liberate India from its social and moral ills.
Swami Sachidananda Bharti, an atheist-turned-Catholic ascetic, says his dream is to “work for peace, harmony and progress” of India along with like-minded people and organizations.
He was addressing a select group of religious leaders on Dec. 14 on the release of his latest book, “An Indian face of the Christian Faith.” The Conference of Religious India (CRI) hosted the program at its headquarters in New Delhi.
The book explains Indian Christian spirituality, presenting Jesus Christ as the prince of peace. The book also explains Christians’ duty to work toward clear politics, environmental protection and national integration while fighting poverty and other social ills.
Swami Agnivesh, a Hindu reformist leader, launched the book stressing the role of religions in fighting the socio-economical poverty of India, which he said keeps the country in the clutches violence.
“We gained political independence” from the British in 1947 after decades of struggles. “But the biggest challenge we face is today; we still do not have social, moral and economic freedom,” Swami Agnivesh said.
He said it is time religions came together to launch a “second independent struggle” to liberate India from its age-old social ills. “We all practice the same old tradition of fight between caste, creed and religion,” he regretted.
The Hindu ascetic says real change can happen only if people begin to think differently. Social change is needed to liberate people from hate and selfish motive. There can be no peace in the world unless social evils are fought, he asserted.
Swami Agnivesh, chairperson of Bandhua Mukti Morcha (bonded labor liberation front), a voluntary group, said he would be happy to work with Swami Sachidananda Bharti and CRI for a social change.
Swami Sachidananda Bharti, said he wants to join with Swami Agnivesh “who is already in the field” and the CRI members who run thousands of schools and medical facilities across India, especially in villages.
Swami Bharti, a former Indian Air Force officer, was born Christian but remained an atheist for years. He changed after a close encounter with death in an air accident in 1982. He says he was saved by “some supreme power.” His search for that power led him to Jesus.
Brother Mani Mekkunnel, CRI national secretary, welcomed the two ascetics coming together, calling it history. “It is history being made here, where two swamis coming together for the noble cause,” he told the gathering.
The Montfort Brother noted the two ascetics work for peace and harmony in the country. “We will be happy to be partners with them. The Religious also advocate harmony among all religions,” he added.
Source: UCAN report by Bijay Kumar Minj
Dharma Bharathi continue to receive support from Church institutions, in this case the Conference of Religious India [CRI]
Positive Chronicles – A Man with a Mission by Suma Varughese
Meet Swami Satchidananda, who is committed to wresting economic, social and spiritual freedom for this country and thereby achieve Mahatma Gandhi’s purna swaraj.
Like many spiritual personages, Swami Satchidananda is on the cusp of many polarities. He is a former Air Force pilot turned preacher of peace. A saffron-garbed sanyasi who is a follower of Christ. A spiritual teacher who is also an activist, with a mission to regenerate the country by helping it to win the spiritual, economic and social freedoms that constitute Mahatma Gandhi’s purna swaraj.
The swami’s spiritual transition was wrought dramatically through a plane crash in 1982. Recognizing that life was not in his hands, the former Marxist set upon the task of understanding the mystery of life. Successively through dreams, he was led to four gurus, Justice Vithyathil, a retired judge of the Kerala High Court, Bede Griffiths, the well-known Dominican* monk, Swami Ranganathananda, then head of the Ramakrishna Mission, and finally, Mahatma Gandhi. Each honed his commitment to his ‘two loves’ Jesus Christ and Mother India. The swami is presently on the threshold of a one-year padayatra from New Delhi to Kanyakumari, a project that he calls Desh Vandana, with the mission of restoring values, particularly among schools and colleges. *error. It should read as ‘Benedictine’ – Michael
At 60, the Swami exudes a calm radiance and his passion for India rings through his voice. Excerpts from an interview:
Tell me about your Desh Vandana project.
It is an effort whereby we are trying to reach out to young people with a message – regeneration of the nation. They have to take responsibility for it. Somehow in India, the subject mentality is more prevalent than the citizen mentality. The papers are so full of sensationalism. There is a lot of negativity in society. One should cultivate a positive mindset. Life Positive is doing a great job towards that end.
Desh Vandana is a step into public life for me. At the end of the one-year padayatra, I intend to start a community of men and women who can take this forward. We shall set up a center wherever we are gifted with land. Even if I find half-a-dozen men committed to national regeneration, it will be enough. A concrete project that will emerge out of this padayatra is to ensure that every child in India gets a meal a day.
That’s a huge project.
The idea is to plant a seed for it. It’s a dream that I have been nursing for many years. It began when I was giving a discourse to a village school in Ranchi. One little girl in a ragged uniform, stood up and asked me what I would do if I were prime minister of India. When she persisted in her question, I said that my first act as prime minister would be to see that the children of this land did not go hungry. That child came and hugged me. Later, I learnt that she was an orphan brought up by the nuns and that she felt intensely about some things.
What is the objective of Desh Vandana?
The primary objective is to inculcate the values of love and compassion, and an attitude of caring and sharing among the people of India. That is why the feeding of children will be financed entirely by all those who are willing to skip a meal a week and contribute that money to this project. There will be no reliance on governmental or foreign funds. It will be rooted in the sacrifice of people. That is where it will get its power. I am very confident that it will work, seeing the response of the children I have spoken to so far. Desh Vandana will be a monument to Mother India on her 60th birthday.
What was the turning point that moved you to spirituality?
I survived a plane crash, which should have almost definitely resulted in my death. The crash happened on July 8, 1982. About 18 of us were on that plane. I was a crew member. When it caught fire, I knew there was no way out. We took the crash position. I saw my whole life unspooling before my eyes, then I saw the vision of a rising sun and I got absorbed into it. However, the plane plunged into the Dharmapuri lake in Salem district, Tamil Nadu, and all of us survived.
This incident made me realize that life is not in our hands. Earlier, I was confident that I was master of my destiny. Now I recognized that there was a force operating from behind. I felt convinced that my life had been spared for a reason and thenceforth I decided to live for peace and not for war, as I had been doing earlier. Eventually, I left the Defense Forces.
Being a Marxist, I did not want to accept the existence of God immediately, so I decided to read and find a solution to this that would suit my rational mind. However, I soon understood that this was beyond the rational mind. I returned to religion, which meant Christianity for I had been born a Syrian Catholic in Kerala. While I was trying to understand more about Christianity, I was revealed my first guru, Justice Vithyathil, in a dream, where I was shown as a little boy sitting on his lap.
I went to him the next day and his very personality gave me the assurance that he could guide me. I often use concepts like ‘butterfly spirituality’ which I would credit to him. This term refers to the butterfly’s transition from the pupal stage. There is a lot of struggle it has to go through when emerging from the pupa, but if you help the struggling insect it will die. I find that this law holds good for us. One has to wait and allow nature’s processes to unfold.
Around then, I had a vision of Jesus Christ and realized that the spirit of Christ went beyond the Jesus of history. Jesus is not the only Christ. Gandhi was also Christ. Anyone who embodies light can be Christ. Jesus can be the standard.
You also had an association with Bede Griffiths, did you not?
He was my second guru. Incidentally, I encountered all my gurus through the identical dream of seeing myself sitting on their laps. Bede Griffiths was a well-known Dominican monk* from Oxford who came to India in search of spirituality. He has written many books, including A New Vision of Reality, and he used to be passionate about bringing the West and East together: the meeting of the rational mind with the intuitive mind, he used to call it. He helped me to see beyond church organizations and relate to a Christ who was beyond religion. Through him, I learnt to accept church organizations with all their limitations and my hostility towards them melted. Bede Griffiths was a very scientific personality. He was close to Rupert Sheldrake, who popularized the concept of morphogenetic fields, Fritjof Capra, and David Bohm. That ability to integrate
science and spirituality
my rational mind.
*It should read as ‘Benedictine’ – Michael
Swami Ranganathananda, the former head of the Ramakrishna Mission, was my third guru. I remember feeling blissful while sitting in his lap during my dream. His book, Unbound Christ, influenced me powerfully. He gave me sanyas and that is how I got my name, Swami Satchidananda. When I left the Defense Forces, I was called Squadron Leader NV John.
Your last guru was Gandhi, right?
Yes. The dream that initiated him into my life
was a powerful one. I dreamt that I had got a post card from Gandhiji telling me that he would come and see me on January 30, at 5.05 p.m. I learnt later that this was the exact time of his death. I was excited and told my wife Lalita about the honor bestowed upon us. Exactly at that time, the doorbell rang and there stood Gandhiji. He invited me to take a walk with him and he asked me, “Have your read the works of J.C. Kumarappa? He has the answers to what you are seeking.” I had then been on a search for a socio-economic philosophy for the modern world.
On waking up, I started my search for J.C. Kumarappa, who was Gandhiji’s economic adviser, and finally found a Gandhian in Hyderabad who had his books. Two books particularly inspired me, Practice and Precepts of Jesus and Economy of Permanence.
That took me deeper into a study of Gandhi and I found that he answered a lot of my questions. I feel spirituality has to be practical and involved with our life
and struggles. Gandhi found the deepest core in humanity and mobilized a mass awakening of a scale that has never before or since been attempted. My search has been to look for that core and revive it again. I went through the various religions, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Sikhism, with that in mind. I found that what is common to all of them is the grace of God
What is your mission?
In a letter Gandhiji wrote shortly before his death, he mentioned that India has won political freedom but she is yet to win economic, social and spiritual freedoms. Only then would we have the purna swaraj of his dreams. He said these were difficult to achieve and would take time.What did he mean by economic, political and spiritual freedom?
Economic freedom would mean the transcendence of poverty and hunger. Not a single child should go without a meal. Social freedom would mean the removal of the caste system, untouchability and discrimination against women. There is still so much of untouchability left. In Tamil Nadu, I have seen upper caste Christians walk away when a dalit priest administered the Holy Communion. And women may be talked about highly but nowhere else in the world is there so much of dowry deaths and harassment of women. Spiritual freedom would mean overcoming our imperfections. We are one of the most corrupt countries in the world. And the most hypocritical. We make promises we don’t keep; at least our politicians do. They also bend the law to suit themselves and so on. Moral freedom implies that justice must first be meted out and the law held supreme.
In your talk yesterday, you mentioned that we were moving towards an explosion point. Can you elaborate on that?
History goes through cycles. India is going through that. We are reaching its nadir. There is a cry that is emerging from the heart
of people: of anger, frustration, helplessness. We cannot ignore it. My concern is how to respond to this.
What is the reason for this?
The economic crisis we face today. More and more people are coming under the poverty line.
What about the trickle-down effect that economists and capitalists talk about?
I don’t think that is what is needed. It is here that Gandhiji, Kumarappa and Schumacher become relevant. What is needed is a dignified existence for all. In India, this is embodied by a little plot of land. It is most important that land reforms be carried out and land distributed equitably to all.
How can this be done?
By forceful political action. I do not mean violent but through the force of the law.
Gandhi was against the machinery of courts and other governmental institutions.
At this evolutionary stage of mankind, the government and law are needed. They will have to play a part. At the same time, this is not the only way. An awakening has to happen. This can only be through education, conscientisation, and mobilization of people.
So what is your movement all about?
I have founded the Dharma Bharathi Mission and Dharma Bharathi Ashram to promote an Indian Christian sanyasa parampara. I am the initiator and acharya guru
of the National Regeneration Movement (NRM), which is basically involved in peace and value education. My goal is to expand this towards national regeneration.
I have already started a project for the regeneration of Kerala, through promotion of values among schools and colleges. In the last three years, I have worked with 30-35 colleges.
What has been the response?
Some of them have been influenced. They are able to pause and think. That is a great achievement. We offer various programs like the Teacher’s Enrichment Program, Students’ Orientation Program, Family Ethics Program. I have many collaborators.
Do you mean followers?
I don’t think in that way. I am looking for people with a commitment to the nation. I am not too much into personality cult. I am attracted to the concept of servant leadership. In that respect, Jesus was my model. He said that the Son of Man had been born to serve and not to be served. I feel spiritual people have to look into what the spirit is guiding them towards.
You mentioned your wife earlier. Were you married?
Yes. I have two children as well, Deepti (24) and Deepak, who is studying business administration. My wife is a very senior bureaucrat. She works as Chief Income Tax Commissioner in Vizag.
She is neutral about my activities. She is a wonderful, courageous woman. She was in the news for her courage in the beginning of her career for raiding smugglers. That’s how we met and fell in love. She has had to take the brunt of my changing mindset. Like other men, I believed that my wife should follow my footsteps and I asked her to quit her job when I quit mine. There were a lot of conflicts and finally we went to Bede Griffiths. After hearing us out, my guru became angry with me for the first time. He told me that my wife was not my property and that I had to allow her the same freedom that I sought for myself.
I struggled with the issue and discovered that I was not strong enough to go ahead without her. I was too dependent on her for emotional support and companionship. It was this dependence that made me demand that she follow me.
Finally, in 1996, she gave me permission to leave home and we prepared an agreement whereby she would look after the kids and I would transfer all my property in her name. In July ’96, I left home. For five years I lived alone in a village in Andhra Pradesh, testing my survival ability. I experienced solitude and loneliness. In 2001, I decided to enter into the sanyasa stage, as the last step of the chathur ashrama evolutionary pattern that says that man must move from brahmacharya (student), grihastha (householder), vanaprastha (surrendering worldly duties and responsibilities) and finally sanyasa (complete renunciation) ashramas.
Could you not have continued your activities as a householder?
It was very difficult because she was in government service, living in a government house and I would be receiving a great number of visitors. I think it was necessary to take sanyas. It’s a call and you respond. It is not to be generalized. I was very much attached to my wife and children. There was so much pain
in letting them go. First, I had to leave the job, which meant economic security, then family, which meant emotional security, then church, which meant spiritual security. Leaving behind all these securities, today I exist only by the grace of God. I own no property. My ashram in Kerala is owned by a trust. Today, I feel totally free. Joyful and light.
Are you enlightened?
I am free, not enlightened. Freedom is a precondition to enlightenment. The concept of grace gives you freedom. When you are sitting in the lap of God, you feel so free. Not afraid of anything. Saranagati gives you a lot of freedom; of being loved and cared for.
The paragraph on Bede Griffiths which is highlighted in red color is pure New Age-ese.
The Swami’s account of the long-dead Mahatma Gandhi materializing at the Swami’s doorstep at an auspicious time pre-informed in a ‘dream’, and enlightening him on socio-economic issues during their evening stroll intrigues me very much. LIFE POSITIVE is India’s leading New Age magazine.
FR. JOHN PUTHUVA
Fr. John Puthuva, 47, is a lecturer in Social Work at Bharat Matha College, Thrikkakara, near Cochin. Also he is a visiting lecturer at DIST, Angamaly, and Meridian College, Mangalore.
He has been the spiritual column writer in the National Daily, Hindustan Times, and National Weekly, Indian Currents. He was previously the Manger and column writer in the Daily, Deepika. He is a regular writer for the Catholic newspaper, Sathyadeepam, and various Catholic and other publications.
He is a lyricist for Malayalam Christian devotional songs. He has released two music albums, ‘Ente Swantham Eesho’ and ‘Rophe’. A video album, ‘Holy Christmas’, released in 2008, was telecast on Asianet, India Vision and Manorama News. He was also an Assistant Secretary in the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.
Fr John Puthuva received the Dharma Bharati Award
in the year 2004 in value education field for his program ‘ Value education as a creative response to Consumerism and Communalism’ in schools.
He has been organizing a program called “Padanotsav” carrying the message of ‘Do not fear examinations’ in schools and colleges. This program was mainly aimed at 10th, 11th & 12th standard students and their parents. It includes classes in yoga, dhyanam (retreat) and mental preparation. Many such classes have been conducted through out Kerala so far.