JUNE 30/JULY 5, 2013
Yoga is a compulsory subject for students of a Catholic college in the Archdiocese of Bombay; Brahmakumaris are their gurus
Over the years, I have received a number of letters from priests, Indian as well as non-Indian, who condemn the Hindu/New Age spiritual discipline of yoga which is endemic in the Indian Church, promoted openly and aggressively by Catholic media, Catholic institutions, priests, bishops and even Cardinals in open defiance of the Catechism [Youth Catechism, YouCat] as well as two Vatican documents published fourteen years apart.
These letters from priests as well as scores of articles written by eminent Catholics have been published in a number of reports and articles at the ministry’s web site [a list is provided at the bottom of this report].
Another compilation of hundreds of more-recent articles exposing the spiritual dangers of any form of yoga is being prepared for release.
What then was the need for me to prepare this intermediate report? There were three reasons.
I. I learnt that a Catholic college in Bombay archdiocese has made yoga compulsory for its students, giving no provision for conscientious and faithful Catholic objectors to opt for an alternative activity and thus avoid exposure to the Hindu spiritual discipline. They are also subject to indoctrination by the Brahmakumaris.
II. I received a letter from a priest forwarding a recent article written by prominent anti-New Age crusader Susan Brinkmann citing a senior Orthodox Church cleric who, in an official Encyclical, declares unequivocally that yoga as an exercise cannot be separated from its Hindu “religious content and background“.
III. One Prakash Lasrado wrote several letters to around 100 people including the Bombay Cardinal and the bishops of Bombay, the Pro Nuncio and me almost two months ago denouncing my Church-supported stand that yoga may not be practised by Catholics and instead insisting that “yoga minus Hindu philosophy/theology” [as if there is such a thing] is wholly acceptable and beneficial.
In the following pages, I reproduce the relevant information against the above three sections, along with my comments.
I. St Francis Institute of Management and Research (SFIMAR), Affiliated to the University of Mumbai
St Francis Institute of Management & Research (SFIMAR) was established in 2002 by the Society of the Congregation of Franciscan Brothers. [The Institute is AICTE-approved –Michael]
Stress Management & Physical Fitness
SFIMAR ensures that its students are fit enough to fight the challenges they face. Students are provided enough opportunities to build on their physical fitness and embark on the healthier path. Aerobics, Yoga & Meditation are also dedicatedly followed in campus. Also Stress Management sessions by the Brahmakumaris* are conducted regularly at SFIMAR. *See page 14
Some of the staff are compromised, experience in yoga being boasted of among their “qualifications”:
Ms. S. Michael Ammal
One day Workshop on “Yoga and stress management” on 4th July 2005 at St. Francis Institute of Technology (Engineering College)
Practice sessions in “Yoga for Teachers” from September 2002 to November 2002
Ms. Rekha Ajikumar
One day seminar on Stress Management and Yoga Meditation on 3rd July 2005 conducted by Dr. Weiling
Ms. Beatrice Lobo
One day workshop on “Stress Management & Yoga”, June 2005, by Dr. Welling at St. Francis Institute of Technology
Ms. Rohini Malhotra
A Short Term (2 months) Yoga Course conducted by Vidya Niketan from June 2003 to August 2003 at St Xavier’s Institute of Education.
Non academic activities: Such as yoga, meditation, outdoor training camps, competition, inter-collegiate activities, industry-institute interaction Seminar, co-curricular activities for Total Personality Development.
An extract from the book of Rules and Regulations of St Francis Institute of Management and Research:
As it is the objective of the Institute to focus on the total development of students […] participation in yoga and meditation classes is essential for excellence in holistic health* – physical, mental, emotional, intellectual and spiritual integrity, character etc. Yoga and meditation classes will be scheduled as regular classes. Attendance and punctuality in these classes is compulsory. A student absenting from yoga/meditation class on any day will be marked and treated as absent for the whole day from college as well as liable to pay a specified fine for each day of absence from yoga/ meditation. Besides, students whose attendance at these classes is below 75% will be liable for discontinuation from the Master of Management Studies program. […] In case of persistent absence, students will not be permitted to write the exams. *See further below
Yoga, a Hindu spiritual discipline has been thrust compulsorily on the students of a Catholic college. Muslims and Catholics who want to pursue their Masters degrees in management are compelled to participate in yoga and meditation under threat of being disallowed to write their examinations or of being evicted from the academic programme. In case a Catholic student does not wish to compromise the integrity of his Catholic Faith and his eternal salvation, the Institute offers no safe alternative to Hindu yoga and meditation.
I know of a Catholic college in Chennai where attendance has been taken and the students given marks for attending on-campus Reiki healing sessions as an extra-curricular activity. Several years ago, I had successfully campaigned for the termination of the monthly full-moon night pranic healing occult sessions at the same college, Stella Maris College run by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. Most Catholic educational institutions in Chennai now have one or the other form of New Age activity — from yoga to martial arts to a holistic healing centre. It is tragic that our children’s custodians are the very ones who are delivering them to the wolves, aided and abetted by our abysmal ignorance of the spiritual dangers involved in these dark arts, and by our silence.
Based on my findings about the St Francis Institute of Management and Research, I have now begun to wonder what the position is at other Catholic colleges and schools in the archdiocese of Bombay.
Does the responsibility not rest squarely with Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the archbishop of Bombay, and President of both the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India [CBCI] and the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India [CCBI], for permitting our educational institutions to infuse and re-program our children with the occult, the New Age and the philosophies of pre-Christian religions?
*To illustrate that the problem of the St Francis Institute of Management and Research‘s concern “for excellence in holistic health” is NEW AGE, let me cite the February 3, 2003, Vatican document titled
Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life. A Christian Reflection on the ‘New Age’:
The real danger is the
New Age is based on totalitarian
unity and that is why it is a danger … Holistic health, as it is known, concentrates on the important role that the mind plays in physical healing. The connection between the spiritual and the physical aspects of the person is said to be in the immune system or the Indian chakra system** … There is a remarkable variety of approaches for promoting holistic health, some derived from ancient cultural traditions … Advertising connected with New Age covers a wide range of practices as … meditation [#2.2.3]
One of the central concerns of the New Age movement is the search for “wholeness” … Holism pervades the New Age movement, from its concern with holistic health… [#2.2.4] **The yoga system is all about chakras -Michael
Yoga, Zen, transcendental meditation and tantric exercises lead to an experience of self-fulfilment or enlightenment. [#18.104.22.168]
[I]t is important to discover and recognise the fundamental characteristics of New Age ideas. What is offered is often described as simply “spiritual”, rather than belonging to any religion, but there are much closer links to particular Eastern religions than many “consumers” realise … it is also a real question for management in a growing number of companies, whose employees are required to practise meditation and adopt mind-expanding techniques as part of their life at work.
If one examines the red-highlighted words in the Vatican Document, and compares them with the extracts from the St Francis Institute of Management and Research‘s web site and brochure, one cannot fail to see that the Document classifies the Institute’s “focus on the total development of students, participation in yoga and meditation classes” as NEW AGE. My articles on yoga reveal that yoga is not a set of physical exercises but a Hindu
spiritual meditation system. The same Vatican Document suggests the genuine alternative to yoga:
Perhaps the simplest, the most obvious and the most urgent measure to be taken, which might also be the most effective, would be to make the most of the riches of the Christian spiritual heritage. The great religious orders have strong traditions of meditation and spirituality, which could be made more available through courses or periods in which their houses might welcome genuine seekers.
IIa. A letter from a priest in Rome:
Fr Justo Lofeudo
Sent: Thursday, December 06, 2012 10:58 PM
In a few minutes from now, I will celebrate Mass and you and your family will be present. This is the time, time of great confusion created by Satan, that the Church needs apologists like you. And not only prophets who proclaim the Gospel but who denounce the error and evil that surrounds us. I often see that when touched issues like false seers such as Catalina Rivas or Vassula
Ryden, I’m attacked. Same with yoga, which in the West, as you very well know, is being considered as a gym (!) Or homeopathy. We are in spiritual battle and we need to speak up and also to pray and pray. I pray for you, you pray for me and my Perpetual Adoration’s mission. I bless you and your family.
P. Justo Antonio Lofeudo MSE, Rome
IIb. A letter from an Indian priest
Fr Name Withheld Sent: Friday, June 28, 2013, 11:38 AM Subject: Orthodox Church Issues Warning on Yoga
I have been trying to tell you the dangers of Yoga and now the Orthodox Church is saying it in very plain words.
Not that the Roman Catholic Church is ignorant about the same. She has made the concern known, but many priests quote all possible documents they can find and think it quite fashionable to be “Eastern or Authentically Indian” without counting the cost of what they are getting into. Just by doing Yoga doesn’t make one an Indian – one ought to know this much at least. Do read it carefully and let your near and dear ones know about the same too.
In case you still have doubts just email me your thoughts – with prayers and a dialogue let’s resolve the same. But please say NO to Yoga.
Fr Name Withheld, Religious Order, India
Orthodox Church Issues Warning on Yoga
Editorial Note: The Metropolis of Chios, Psara and Oinouses, is within the jurisdiction of the Church of Constantinople which is headed by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Archbishop of Constantinople, not Pope Francis.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos, http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2013/06/a-statement-on-christians-who-practice.html
An encyclical was issued on June 4, 2013 by Metropolitan Markos of Chios on Christians who practice Yoga and whether or not it is merely a physical exercise. In this encyclical he explains that the Hindu religious practice of yoga was established for the sole purpose of entering into a spiritual state, and never had anything to do with exercise until a few decades ago when Hindu yogis explained it this way when they were trying to win converts in the West.
Because he makes some very interesting points, I am publishing the full text of the encyclical on this blog:
Encyclical 14: Is Yoga Exercise?
To the Sacred Clergy and Pious People of our Sacred Metropolis,
A key feature of our time is the confusion observed in various aspects of human life. A characteristic example of this spiritual and existential confusion is the fact that yoga is fundamentally a religious technique of Hinduism, advertised in our country, in Europe and in the United States as an exercise-fitness solution which is offered to release us from the numerous problems stemming from a stressful lifestyle.
But what is yoga? The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj which means to “unite”, meaning the union of the individual soul with the impersonal Absolute One of Hinduism (see P. Schreiner, Yoga: Wörterbuch des Christen-tums, 1995, p. 1376). This union is considered a liberation and redemption of mankind from karma, that is, from the consequences that result from our choices and actions in supposedly previous lives.
Moreover, concerning the term yoga, we must stress that it is used as a qualifying term of one of the six classical orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy (see H. Baer, “Yoga”, in the Lexikon der Sekten, Sohdergruppen und Weltanschauungen, 7th Ed, 2001, pp. 1166-1174).
But is yoga exercise? Can one isolate the practical exercise from its religious content and background? Can one ignore the purpose for which it is used? Unquestionably no.
And what about the claim of various centers, institutes, schools, groups, journals and gyms, that present it as lacking a religious nature, alleging it to be a “scientific” psychosomatic practice, or a practice for a simple existence and spiritual self-knowledge? Without doubt these assertions are inaccurate. They oftentimes misinform and confuse using an extremely attractive vocabulary (see R. Hauth, (Hrsg), Kompaktlexikon Religionen, 1998, p. 366).
On the contrary, yoga is a religious systematic theory, technique and method that evolves in stages and practices, one of which is meditation, which leads those who use it, with the guidance of a teacher (guru), to a singular life joined to the impersonal Absolute of Hinduism. In this way a person is redeemed and atones for the errors and mistakes made during the source of all supposedly previous incarnations.
From the above, therefore, we observe that the view of yoga simply as an exercise is incorrect. And this 1) because it is a fundamental feature of the Hindu system, 2) it cannot be stripped of its religious character according to the conditions of the content and purpose of exercise, 3) it is intrinsically linked to the anti-Christian concept of reincarnation, and 4) because it constitutes a humanistic effort towards redemption through techniques and exercises.
Why are the various techniques of yoga dangerous? The answer is given to us in an article on yoga from an authoritative encyclopedia Δο¬μή. It says there: “It is known that the practice of yoga creates for the individual not entirely physiological properties – and parapsychological – because it reverses certain physical and mental functioning” (Δο¬μή, vol. 4, p. 199).
To conclude this brief offering of ours on whether or not yoga is exercise, we must again remind all of the obvious. The value of our identity as Orthodox Christians is incompatible with the use of Hindu religious practices in any aspect of our lives.
The salvation of man which is freely housed within the Church is the work and offering of the love and grace of our Christ. For us does Paul say with all gravity: “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27), and: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14-15).
With warm fatherly prayers,
The Metropolitan of Chios, Psara and Oinouses, Markos
The publishing of the above Encyclical by the Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church is in stark contrast to the October/November 2012 CBCI-published
message of Cardinal Oswald Gracias:
“Through the prescribed postures and exercises [of yoga] one improves one’s all round sense of well being and is able to enter into oneself so as to commune better with god.”
It is not surprising that the lower case ‘g’ is used for ‘god’.
In my February 25, 2013 letter to Cardinal Oswald Gracias, I had written, “In case you know of some aspects of yogic meditation — it is NOT a system of physical exercises — which are beneficial to Catholics, please let me know so that I can publish it on my web site in a forthcoming report for the benefit of Catholics worldwide.”
Cardinal Oswald Gracias replied five weeks later, on April 5. His letter, evasive as usual, did not address my question and, most significantly, did not even use the word “yoga”. The subject line of my letter was “YOUR ENDORSEMENT OF YOGA” while the Cardinal’s was “Reply“. See
CARDINAL OSWALD GRACIAS ENDORSES YOGA FOR CATHOLICS
In preparation for section III and my comments debunking Prakash Lasrado‘s claims and attacks on this ministry’s stand — and the Catholic Church’s position — on yoga, I reproduce two more articles from John Sanidopoulos’ blog:
The Georgian Church and the Growing Interest in Yoga
September 3, 2012
By Molly Corso, August 31, 2012, Eurasianet
A growing number of Georgians are turning to yoga to shake off the stress of daily life. But their quest for inner calm and smaller waists is generating hostility from the powerful Georgian Orthodox Church.
Over the past two years, yoga has gone from a largely unknown Eastern tradition to a popular fitness routine in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. Georgian National Yoga Federation President Giorgi Berdzenishvili, a passionate practitioner for the past 15 years, called the trend a “dynamic” process that started under former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost’ policies in the late 1980s.
During the Soviet era, when religious beliefs were discouraged, yoga tended to be viewed as a fringe health-oriented practice, devoid of spirituality, Berdzenishvili noted. But slowly, over the past several years, amid increased Internet usage and travel abroad, yoga has moved into the mainstream in Georgian society.
Today, yoga’s popularity is at an all-time high, instructors say. Classes are full, leading to the opening of several new studios in Tbilisi over the past year. This phenomenon has some Georgian Orthodox priests worried, due to yoga’s spiritual roots in Hinduism, and its perceived association with Buddhism.
While the Patriarchy, the body that governs the Georgian Orthodox Church, did not respond to requests from EurasiaNet.org for the Church’s official position on yoga, dozens of websites devoted to the faith have published articles and blogs that are critical of the practice.
Orthodoxy.ge, a website run by priests at Sioni Cathedral, the former headquarters of the Georgian Orthodox Church, warns the faithful that yoga is full of false “charms” that lure people away from God.
In a long entry entitled “Eastern Culture,” the priests caution that even people who perform “simple yoga exercises … gradually develop some spiritual thoughts” (a broad reference to meditation) that are not compatible with Christianity.
The Church is widely viewed as the most trusted institution in Georgia, and, by extension, Georgian Orthodox priests often wield considerable influence, providing guidance on everything from family planning to purchasing a car.
Local yoga instructors told EurasiaNet.org that priests’ concerns about yoga have stopped some Georgians from taking up the discipline, and have prompted others to abandon it. Mariam Ubilava, a certified yoga teacher at Sun Yoga Tbilisi, said that newcomers often ask before class if meditation is part of the program. “Georgians don’t like meditation so much,” Ubilava said. “Georgians are very strong in their religion and they think if they start meditation, this is related to Buddha and India, and they avoid [it].”
Three years ago, when 38-year-old Nino Kokosadze decided to take up yoga, she noticed that some of the women attending her early morning yoga classes bowed out of the group after their priests “forbade” them from attending.
From the Goddess of Death to the Emperor of Life
By Danion Vasile, April 2 and 3, 2012
I am giving this talk because I feel compelled to give witness to the way in which Christ calls to Him those who have been deluded by different religions or by unorthodox spiritual practices. The topic, From the Goddess of Death to the Emperor of Life, relates past and present – since before turning to Christ, the Son of God, and to the teachings of the Orthodox Church, I was a worshipper of Kali, the Goddess of Death.
I would like to start by saying that the things I am going to speak about will seem incredible to some of you. I understand scepticism and I am not trying to convince the sceptics of the validity of what I am going to say; I know that my story will sound like a work of fiction to them, like Orthodox science fiction, in fact, but I also know that there are people out there who will see with their souls and will believe that what I am about to say has actually happened to me. Now, almost fifteen years after I had converted to Orthodoxy, I feel as if I had been born and raised in the Orthodox Church. It is more and more difficult to me to remember the yoga practice I was so keen on and the paranormal forces I used to possess, or the tantric sexual debauchery I used to live in…
Many years have passed since I started writing and speaking against yoga practices, against occultism and the other ramifications of the New Age Movement. Why have I been doing it? Because I know that millions of souls have fallen prey to this delusion, because I know that these souls need Christ’s truth, and because I know how difficult it is to walk along a spiritual path at whose end it is the devil that awaits for you, not God.
It is a lack of humility to speak about one’s life, I know. Yet I shall not speak to you about the good deeds I have done, but about my evil deeds and about the way in which Christ came into my life and gently led me to the light of the truth…
I was born on August 15, 1974, on the day of the Dormition of the Theotokos. As a child I was not close to the church. Although I was baptized when I was a baby, just like most Romanian babies, during the communist regime very few people attended church regularly – and although some of them believed in God they did not provide a religious education to their children.
I remember entering a Catholic Church when I was little; there, on the inside walls I saw scenes from the Passion of Christ. That night I dreamed that Christ was taken to Golgotha and He fell under the weight of the cross. I wanted to pick up His cross… Although the dream moved me, I cannot honestly say that it was the beginning of a commitment to the Christian faith for me. However, I was particularly attracted by a crucifix in our home, which I was told had been brought from Greece, that is, from Mount Athos, by my great-grandparents. I used to look at it and I remember being impressed by Christ’s suffering, but I still did not think about leading a Christian life.
Shortly after I turned thirteen I started my sexual life. My father insisted on it; he kept saying that I was not worthy of being his son if I did not – so I did… To this day, I remember that I used to spend hours on end trying to talk a girl into going to bed with me. Twenty years ago kids led a much purer life than they do nowadays and it was much more difficult to persuade someone to sin.
Right before I turned fourteen my mother committed suicide by throwing herself out the window. She fell approximately six feet away from the spot where my sister happened to be standing; my sister, who was eleven at the time, suffered a terrible shock. My mother’s death made me look for an answer to the question, “What happens to us after death?” I had occasionally tried yoga exercises before that tragic incident, but after it, I took to yoga with more dedication. My father brought home yoga books and books of Oriental philosophy for me to read. I tried to control my heartbeat to the point of stopping it altogether, but I could not do it. I also tried astral voyages and levitation exercises, but I was not good at it. I had even come up with a new spiritualistic technique in my attempts to contact my dead mother, without realizing that instead of talking to her or to other spirits I was talking to demons. It became obvious that I could not do things like that by myself: I needed a guru.
It was when I paid a visit to a young woman who was older than me and who had paranormal forces that I decided to give my undivided attention to spiritual quests. For a long time that young woman had been telling fortune from cards with extraordinary precision. She had been doing it until she started having dreams about dilapidated churches and about a voice, which was asking her, “God or the devil?” Nevertheless, she still did not go to church even though she did quit telling fortune from cards.
While I was talking to her, I told an innocent lie. At that moment, I felt a physical force coming out of her and pushing me away… I felt like jumping out the window to get rid of that unseen pressure. The young woman went to another room and I calmed down. When she came back, I told her that I had been lying to her about something and she said that was the reason why panic had seized me. I said I wanted to have such powers too and she suggested I take up yoga. She recommended the yoga courses taught by Gregorian Bivolaru, the most renowned and controversial Romanian guru of our day…
In 2004, the Romanian authorities took legal action against Bivolaru, accusing him of “white slave trade and law transgressions associated to organized crime” and in 2005 he left the country illegally and sought political asylum in Sweden; the Supreme Court in Stockholm considered that he was persecuted for his religious beliefs and that the charges brought against him had to do with religious persecution and refused to extradite him. Now, after I had known him and the way in which he used to subjugate our souls, I would compare him to Jim Jones, who talked hundreds of disciples into committing suicide in Guyana, in 1978. Bivolaru did not determine anyone to commit suicide – not yet, anyway, but I would have done it if he, who was my guru, had asked me to; I would have committed suicide without thinking twice because I would have been convinced that if my guru was asking me to do it, it meant that suicide would benefit me spiritually.
In 1990, at the time that I joined Bivolaru’s group and started yoga classes with him, less than a year had passed since Ceausescu’s dictatorial regime had been abolished and we were finally enjoying religious freedom in Romania. Ceausescu had persecuted the Church and all spiritual groups for years on end. That was why those who had been imprisoned during those harsh times became very popular after 1989 – and Gregorian Bivolaru was one of them. He had been arrested and put in jail on the charge of spreading pornographic materials, but his disciples declared that those accusations were only a pretext and that the true reason for his incarceration was his yoga teachings. It was a plausible defense, taking into consideration the fact that many priests had been jailed for life by the communist regime on the accusation that they had been affiliated to a political group of Nazi orientation…
I had just started school when I turned to yoga; I was in the tenth grade and I believed that everything I was told was the Truth; I certainly believed that Bivolaru was a great spirit, maybe even the new Messiah. We were told that just as Christ had been the master of the spiritual Age of Pisces, even so the Age of Aquarius or the New Age had a Messiah who was about to come in order to take the world to the heights of holiness.
In those days there circulated some prophecies in our country spread by different Christian denominations claiming that Bucharest would be the New Jerusalem and Romania would become the spiritual centre of the planet. I strongly believed that was so – since I was convinced of the great importance of the meditation techniques taught by Bivolaru. I was convinced that he was familiar with the shortest path to spiritual liberation and to the cessation of the reincarnation cycle. Just like all New Age masters, Bivolaru was preaching belief in reincarnation and held that tantra yoga was the most efficient path to perfection. What is tantra yoga? It is sexual yoga. By mental concentration, yogis claim that they transmute sexual energies into spiritual energies. They engage in sexual acts, but not for the mere pleasure of it – because in tantra yoga orgasm is seen as a waste of energy, whereas a sexual act without orgasm is considered a means of spiritual progress.
Being a high school student, I was glad that many college students and intellectuals were attending yoga courses. For me, it was solid proof that I was on the right path. Nowadays, looking back on it after so many years, I realize that some of them were coming just for the sake of sex… It is easier to take up yoga and have as many sexual partners as you wish than to spend your money paying for it in a brothel. At that time, however, I did not see things that way…
Bivolaru was considered the Great Master… For instance, he taught us how to float in the air: it was a technique that had to be practised for four months and then we would just float… Although we were not interested in acquiring paranormal forces, some of us did acquire them and it was no wonder that we did. A young man managed to fly from the ground, where he was sitting in a meditating position, high up, close to the ceiling, placing objects on top of the cupboard. Other people acquired paranormal forces called “sidhis”… Following many yoga exercises, I, for one, felt that I had become as large as the room I was in and that the four walls of that room were pressing on my energy field. Little did I know that it was all a sensation induced by the devil…
At any rate, I did not really perceive the presence of the evil one except on very rare occasions… During our meditation sessions, they would play a very nice, soft ambient music, but once they played a horrible music that seemed to come from hell… a music that would put rock-and-roll to shame… I was shocked to hear it but I thought I was not sufficiently evolved spiritually to know how to integrate it… Some other time I meditated in front of the mirror by candlelight, trying to catch sight of my aura… I was rehearsing for a meditation that I was going to take up in the Jewish cemetery next to the place where I was living at that time, but I did not have to take the trouble to reach the cemetery… While meditating, I suddenly felt a demonic presence next to me. I did not actually see it, mind you, I just sensed it so vividly that I was very scared.
Still, my most intense contact with the devil came as a result of my initiation into tantra yoga. Although at the time it occurred I thought it was a revelation, a moment of contact with the Absolute, after becoming a Christian I understood that my revelation had been of a demonic origin. Here is how it happened…
I was at the beach with a girl, and there were yogis all around us. We were sitting on the sand in a meditating position, facing each other and touching our palms and our kneecaps… Suddenly I simply forgot that I was human. I perceived the Universe like a being with seven energy centres** and I felt that my seven energy centres were connected to the energy of the universe. I do not know how long that ecstatic state lasted but when I came around I thought, “What is the point in taking up fasting when by practicing tantra yoga I can progress much more easily?” Therefore, I made up my mind to practice tantra yoga… **these are the chakras that we came across on page 2 –Michael
Although I had taken up yoga in order to get rid of the spiritual misery that the sexual sins had left in my soul, I started having sex again – only that this time I was firmly convinced that I was doing the right thing. Each night I said Our Father three times, asking God to forgive all my trespasses and to give me the strength to do only good. The thought that I was sinning by having sex did not even cross my mind; I thought that if I had given up having orgasm, everything was clean… My conviction that tantra yoga was a good thing was so strong that I wished that the master had sex even with my sister, who was a virgin and was around fifteen years old. At a time, the master had sex with my girlfriend each week and she told me that other girls were queuing in front of his room, waiting for their turn; they were all eager to have a tantra yoga training session with the master…
I would not want you to think that yoga had become a pastime for me… I was fasting and I even thought of giving up food altogether – that is, I was thinking about living without eating anything at all…
I started by not eating at all for a day, two days and then even three days in a row… Then, I managed to fast for an entire week; I just drank water and that was it. I was not even eighteen at the time, which means that I was still growing up – so that it was very hard for me when I decided to fast for another week, but with no water this time. I fed on air and on energy from the evil one… It was during Passion Week in 1992. I remember asking myself at the beginning of the Great Lent of that year, “Whom shall I ask for help: Bivolaru or Christ?” I chose to ask Christ to help me first and then if He did not help me, I said to myself, I would subsequently appeal to my guru.
I had great confidence in the forces of my guru. We had been informed of a special form of yoga, called Guru Yoga, which was conditioned by a complete obedience to one’s master. There was a story too, which everybody believed was true, of a man who had thrown himself into a precipice because his master did not accept him as his disciple; he broke his arms and legs and his master put them back in place and then resurrected him… Such stories made me trust my master even more. I even had a vision about him, which I realize now was a demonic vision: the universe was full of millions of cells and my master was sitting in a lotus position in each one of them. I was breathing in those cells – inhaling them as it were – and then when I exhaled the cells came out, but my master remained inside me…
A friend of mine that I had invited to attend a conference delivered by Bivolaru told me that she saw rays of light coming out of him…
Since I had such a great confidence in the guru’s powers, I think that God put in my mind the thought of fasting and asking for Christ’s help just to offer me a way out of the trap I had fallen into.
During that week of fasting, I read excerpts from the Philokalia for the first time. I did not realize that my meditations on Shiva or on Milarepa had nothing in common with the spiritual teachings contained in the Philokalia… I had my moment of weakness when I thought I was going out of my mind because of the fast, but I asked for Christ’s help and I succeeded in overcoming it; true, I was a yogi, but I had not given up Christ. Moreover, each week the master asked us to meditate with Christ’s conscience… So, standing in front of the crucifix, I was praying like this: “God, I received baptism by water in childhood and it did not help me at all. Baptize me with fire now…” I really thought that Christ would help me progress along the path of yoga…
On Good Friday, I admired the sunrise in a park, meditating in front of a big stone crucifix… Although I did not go to church on Easter, preferring to meditate at home, my relationship with Christ became much more powerful after that period of fasting.
Nevertheless, my relationship to Christ did not disengage me from my commitment to the Hindu deities. I liked to meditate with Kali, one of the cosmic powers, the national goddess of Tibet, pictured with a chain of skulls around her neck, holding a knife in one hand and a skull in the other one, and with her tongue full of blood. It is said that she is frightening for all those who do not know her, but very close to those who worship her. Here was how I prayed to her: “Oh, Kali, make me yours! Make love to me. Come inside me and let me come inside you. I want to be one with you. Give me the strength to defeat death, give me the strength to master time. Make me yours.” I perceived Kali as a huge woman, with overwhelming powers. I felt bound to her, but I also felt bound to Christ.
That was why I was surprised when I asked Bivolaru after a yoga class about the connection between Christ and the cosmic powers (we were writing our questions down and sending the slips of paper to the master), I heard his answer: “What connection? There is no connection…” If he had answered, “Christ is a great conscience that looks after our planet, while Kali is one of the beings that keep the universe in existence, and although Christ is not as important as Kali, they are familiar with each other” – I would have believed him. But he said that there was no connection between Christ and the cosmic powers, as if there were two parallel truths, totally unrelated to each other, and I could not accept that. It was for the first time that I seriously doubted my master’s wisdom. Then I asked him, aloud this time, which yoga path was higher, the path of asceticism taken to extremes, or the path of tantra yoga, which involved a very sexual active life. His answer was that each individual should choose the path that suited him the most, but before he gave me that answer, most people in the audience burst into peals of laughter; the very idea of sexual asceticism was received with such heavy irony… Those peals of laughter, as well as the master’s answer, made me wish to find the truth elsewhere…
Not long before that, I had listened to Swami Shivamurti, an initiated Indian master, Swami Satyananda’s disciple. In the late 1970’s she had been sent to Kalamata to impart yoga teachings to the Greeks. In 1984 she had set up “the ashram”, a yoga monastery at Paiania, close to Athens. I met Swami Shivamurti in a private house where she had decided to see a limited number of yogis. I asked her if I could live an ascetic life in her ashram and she answered with much kindness that I certainly could. Although I wished she were a man looking like a traditional master – old, with a long white beard, and with a peaceful countenance – I decided to be her disciple and followed her to Bulgaria where she had been invited to give several conferences.
At some point, she assigned a yogic name to me, some sort of baptismal Indian name. Although I expected a famous name, like Mahashiva or Milarepa, I was given an apparently commonplace name: “Bhaktimurti”, meaning “the form of devotion”, “the form of piety”. In other words, for me the shortest path to illumination was worshipping someone – a deity or a cosmic power… So, I chose to worship Christ. I think that God had put the name of “Bhaktimurti” into Swami Shivamurti’s mind; even if she was not serving Him but the powers of darkness, God spoke through her just as He had spoken through Balaam’s donkey. Yet, I doubt it that she knew she had benefited me greatly by choosing that name for me.
I had made up my mind to join her ashram and she told me that she would definitely have me in it, but since I had not come of age I needed my father’s written consent. In Bulgaria, something of a great consequence for my future occurred… A yogi woman took me to some well-known churches in Sophia, one of which being a Russian church in whose basement there were the holy relics of Bishop Seraphim Sobolev, a wonder-worker. By his coffin there were small pieces of paper on which people were writing their wishes and prayers to the deceased pious hierarch. I stood by the coffin and entreated him with all my heart to help me. I said to him, “Help me that not my will be done but that God’s will be done with me!” In those moments, I felt that something did change, something that I cannot even put into words. At the time that I was practising yoga, I felt sick whenever I walked into a church; it seemed to me there was no air at all and I could not breathe; besides, I could not stand the liturgical services except with very great difficulty… However, there in that Russian church which housed the bishop’s relics, it was as if a fog was lifting from me. Although he has not been canonized, people worship him as if he were a saint.
I came back to Romania terribly excited about my oncoming trip to Greece. My father gave me permission to go to Greece because he knew I had no intention to graduate from high school anyway. The class mistress begged me to come to school so that the teachers would see me and give me a pass lest I would fail to get me removed, but all I was interested in was how to make progress as a yogi. In fact, even when I used to go to school yoga was my only concern. School studies seemed such a waste! Although I was attending the Computer Science High School, which was the best in Bucharest at that time, and although I was very proud to have passed the entrance test – after all, I had been captivated by computer science all my life – yoga was my great big passion. It had subjugated me so completely that I could not concentrate on anything except for asana and meditation techniques. In all honesty, I had been brainwashed into thinking that I could only read and study yoga materials – nothing else but that.
The departure date was getting near. I had made up my mind that before reaching the ashram, which was near Athens, I would visit Mount Athos where, I had heard, the holy fathers were practising the Jesus Prayer. I wanted to be initiated into the practice of the Jesus Prayer too… My father suggested we should call on Father Constantin Galeriu, a well-known priest in Bucharest, who had suffered for Christ in communist prisons.
Father Galeriu sent me to Father Ilie Cleopa of the Sihastria Monastery in Moldavia, which suited me perfectly since I was already thinking about visiting some monasteries to see how monastic obedience was practiced – as a sort of preparatory stage before the ashram. However, Father Cleopa was so adamantly opposed to the yoga practices and my relationships with the monks at Sihastria were so tense because of their disapproval of my being a yogi that I left the monastery after a very short stay.
After I had returned to Bucharest I joined another New Age spiritual group, called “The Alliance for Spiritual Integration in the Absolute”, which combined Orthodox teachings with spiritualistic teachings and taught people to see auras, angels and whatever else had to do with the so-called spiritual world. In fact, all they did was make people fall prey to demonic deceit, for the devil can sometimes appear as a good angel too… In this new group, the devil could work much more efficiently than in the yoga group, or, to put it differently, he was much more visible. While practicing yoga, one can visualize the spiritual world only after many years, in this group, one could see it on the spot… Although I, for one, did not actually see many paranormal things, I had the power to make others see them; all I had to do was put my hands on top of their heads, say a prayer, and they began to see things right away…
At school, I even initiated a class in acquiring paranormal powers… We would get together in the festivity hall and do our paranormal studies there. Going camping at one time, I taught most of the children that I met there to see the spiritual world… I had no way of knowing that what they saw was coming from self-suggestion or demonic influences. At camp, I wanted to see if I could hypnotize anyone. I tried and… I did succeed. It was easy, much easier than I expected…
One of the instances that made me think about what I was doing was my meeting with a hieromonk. The people in the New Age group had convinced me that there was no point in my going to Greece to be a disciple of Swami Shivamurti Saraswati; in a female monastic community of our country, there was a priest, a saintly man who was a reincarnation of Saint John the Evangelist. I wished to see “Saint John” with my own eyes, so I went to the monastery together with my girlfriend and tantra yoga companion, who was twenty-four. I was almost eighteen. As we approached the monastery fence, we saw the reverend father standing next to the fence, as if he had been waiting for us. He asked us, “You are yogis, aren’t you? Go away, you, lost souls! Here is a monastery and this ground is sacred… What are you doing here? Who has heard of such a thing – boys and girls coming together to a monastery…? You, sinners, aren’t you ashamed of yourselves? How dare you come here, of all places? You, followers of Steiner, theosophists and God only knows what else…” he muttered, entering the building that housed the monastic cells. My girlfriend had indeed read many of Rudolf Steiner’s writings and other theosophical works. The reverend father could see right through us… Only later did I understand why he had scolded us for having come together to the monastery – he was referring to the fact that we were lovers, but at the time I had no idea that what we were doing was fornication and that it was a sin.
My girlfriend and I stepped inside the church, thinking that he would not chase us out of there. When he entered the church, he pointed his finger at us and asked us, “You believe in reincarnation, don’t you?” – “Yes,” I answered, being convinced that I had to stand up for the truth in front of Christians who were not familiar with the truth. Then, he added, “And you think that I am John the Evangelist, don’t you?” – “Yes,” I answered with conviction. “Get out, you lost souls! Here is the House of the Lord, and if you do not renounce your madness it means that you do not belong here!” I did not expect him to drive us out of the church. I knew that both the Christian tradition and the Oriental tradition demanded that the patience of the disciple should be put to the test in the most unexpected ways, so I was not going to give in. My girlfriend, who was older, felt bad at hearing the priest’s rebuke and burst into tears…
It would have been natural that I should be converted to the Orthodox faith right then and there… My friends from the “New Alliance” group had repeatedly told me that before accepting me as his secret disciple, the priest would put me to a very difficult test indeed and I thought it was all a trial. Having been manipulated and indoctrinated through and through, I did not realize that the reverend father really meant what he said. We returned to Bucharest, but my wish to see that priest again was getting stronger by the minute. I went back to the monastery and he asked me to choose between the Church teachings and the New Age teachings I had formerly believed in. I refused to let go of my erroneous spiritual commitments and I decided to take off on a pilgrimage to the Moldavian monasteries. A strange thing happened to me at the Sihla Skete. While I was standing in front of a monastic cell with the Bible in my hand, a priest came up to me and asked me to read a certain passage to him; his hair and beard were white and he had a gentle face; in the passage, it said that heretics would be punished for their erroneous ways. Then the priest walked away and I thought, “Yes, heretics would be punished, that’s for sure, but why did he ask me, of all people, to read that passage? Does that mean I am a heretic?”
Close to the Sihla Skete there is a cave where Saint Teodora lived the harsh, ascetic life of a hermit; ravens were providing for her, carrying food to her in their beaks. I wanted to spend a night in that cave, pray there, and ask God to help me choose the right path. The monastery abbot gave me his blessing, so one night I started making for the cave. On the way through the forest, I heard all sorts of strange noises. Someone had told me that three years before a man was eating raspberries from a bush and on the other side of the bush there was a big bear… I could not wait to reach the cave where I thought it would be nice and peaceful; during the day, I had gone there several times to pray and it had been so quiet…
Yet this time it was not so at all… That night was going to be the most awful night of my life… I thought I would stay up all night and say the Jesus Prayer, but the temptations came very fast. First, there were the bats – many bats flying so close to me, flapping their wings, that I felt the cold draught of air made by those dreadful wings blow right into my face. I was scared stiff and I felt sick. I was afraid one of those bats would try to cling to my hair. Although I had had my head shaved a year before in order to look like a true yogi, my hair had grown in the meantime, so I covered my head with my leather coat to keep the bats off. At some point, I thought that maybe God wanted to punish me for my sins and I uncovered my head, but the bats did not touch it… After a while, there was another temptation: mice started climbing my boots. It was a terrible feeling… Some of the people who had been in that cave before told me that there were no bats and no mice in it, but I saw them… On the other hand, perhaps what I saw was a demonic sight… It was so difficult to tell…
I was getting more and more scared. I felt that the nervous tension was reaching breaking point; I actually thought I would go out of my mind. I also thought that if I fell asleep the devil would get hold of me. It is so difficult to explain but it was what I felt and what I thought… I kept dropping candle wax into my palms, on different spots, so that the burns would keep me awake. I prayed and prayed, “God, by the grace of the hegumen’s blessing, have mercy on me! God, by the power of obedience, have mercy on me!” I could not say the Jesus Prayer at all; all I did all night long was to read prayers from a prayer book from beginning to end; as soon as I finished it, I started reading the same prayers all over again…
Then, there was another temptation that really topped the previous ones. All of a sudden, I saw this huge animal walking into the cave through its very narrow entrance; he stepped in and took three big steps. The first step made me lift my head, the second step made me quite apprehensive, and the third one was the pits. It was a big animal alright and it could only have been a bear. I thought, “I do not have room to get out of the cave, not even if I tried to slide by him. If I try to fight him, I do not stand a chance of defeating him. Best thing is to die in prayer.” I was positive that I would die right then and there – so I just prayed without turning to look at the bear… Realizing that there was no longer any noise behind me, I turned to the cave entrance, but there was no animal anywhere in sight… It had been a demonic temptation that had frightened the daylights out of me… Maybe there were bats and mice in that cave but there certainly was no bear, because a bear could not get out of that cave without making the same kind of noise it had made when stepping inside it – since the entrance was so very narrow… Those who are familiar with the cave know what I am talking about and will definitely agree with me… God did see that I had not entered the cave to brag about my ascetic efforts afterwards, but that I was desperate and I wanted to pray to Him and entreat Him to show me the right path. I was afraid that the Orthodox faith was not the true path either and that I would have to look for another spiritual group. I had rather die than exchange an erroneous path for another one. I prayed to Him, “God, let me die rather than live far from You and teach others to take the wrong path”… The night after the terrifying night spent inside the cave, I had a dream that changed my life. I dreamed I was looking in a canonical book on the expiation of sins, searching for a canon that would be suited for my sins. In the dream, I heard a clear and powerful voice, which woke me up. It said, “Here is your canon: you shall teach the others about the philosophy of the Church Fathers.” I awoke at once, trying to understand why the canon I had been assigned, which I had perceived as a divine message, did not refer to my teaching other people about the theology of the Church Fathers, not about their philosophy. An experienced father confessor explained to me what that meant: God did not want me to think that the dream had been induced by self-suggestion, so that was why I heard the word “philosophy” instead of “theology”. To be sure, at that time I did not know that the philosophy of the Church Fathers was in fact their theology, i.e. speaking with God and about God…
The divine voice that came to me in that dream marked a turning point in my life. I went back to the reverend father that had chased me away twice and told him I wanted to embrace the Orthodox faith and become a churchgoer. I prepared myself for confession – I wrote out my sins on paper (there were seven pages overall) and then I went to confession. I felt that my soul was cleansed from sin and that my life changed completely… Although I was still unworthy of it, I received the Holy Eucharist, following the reverend father’s advice and with his blessing.
Since then I gave up my belief in reincarnation, the yoga practices, and sexual debauchery. There were some hard times, some very hard ones, but I always felt Christ was near me… Saying these words to you and thinking about my past feels as if I were telling someone else’s story. It is difficult for me to remember that I was a yogi; it seems it had not been me… In truth, repentance purifies the mind and cleanses the soul.
After a few years, I got married and I had the feeling that I was a virgin; I really had the feeling that I had not known any other woman before and that my wife was the first woman in my life… In fact, a life of sin does not resemble a family life – not in the very least. Although on the surface they may seem similar, they are two altogether different things.
What happened after my first confession of sins? I started attending church services, I went to college and studied theology, graduating from the Department of Orthodox Theology and then taking a master’s degree in Denominational Studies and Ecumenism (focusing on the aberrations of the New Age Movement). When I was in high school, I met a priest who lived like a saint; at present, a book is being written about his life and about the miracles that he performed. He told me that I would write very many books, which would meet spiritual needs… After having written my first books – by now their number has exceeded twenty – a fellow Christian I met when visiting a monastery told me, “You know, ever since you were in high school Father X (and he named the saint-like priest) said that you would write many books. I see that his words turned out to be quite prophetic…”
I started writing in order to convince those who are far from the Orthodox Church that they are far from the Truth, from beauty, and from inner fulfillment. My first books were against aberrations and spiritual delusions, against astrology and horoscopes, against belief in reincarnation, against the Gnostic Gospels. A Journal of My Conversion – From the Goddess of Death to the Emperor of Life – describes my conversion to Orthodoxy, while one of the latest books I have written, The Gospel according to Judas, attacks not only the Gnostic Gospel attributed to Judas, but also Judas’s way of thinking as it is reflected in the contemporary theology, iconography and literature. I have realized that writing for those who have been deluded by the New Age Movement is not enough: those who are “lukewarm” [Revelation 3:15] and lead a mediocre Christian life need help too. I have written books for young people, as for instance, The Wedding Book – How to Start a Family and Young People and Sexuality, pointing out the way in which debauchery perverts the minds of young men and women in our day and age… I have also written books for mature people, dealing with ways in which one should face troubles and disease, and commentaries on the Paterikon…
I am fully aware of the risk I am taking… In Orthodoxy, it is not the young people who should speak up, but the elderly who have a solid spiritual experience… I write because I owe obedience to my spiritual father who said that he regretted that I did not have four hands so I could write more… He also said that I had to write because my redemption depended on it. When I came to Greece for my Ph.D., the first thing I asked a reverend father here was, “Is it all right that I should write so many books, taking into account the fact that I am so young and inexperienced, just because I owe obedience to my spiritual father and because I am under his spiritual authority?” His answer was, “If your spiritual father prays for you and he sustains you by his prayers everything will be fine. Show obedience to him and everything will be all right.”
I had my doubts about obeying: should I or should I not follow the path of obedience? I was even tempted to leave my spiritual father because it seemed to me that he was not the best guide and advisor I could have. One night I had a dream. I dreamed I was inside a church in which there were the holy relics of Saint Nektarios. My spiritual father was praying on one side of the coffin and I was standing on the other side. The saint started moving in the coffin… and I asked him to give me his blessing. He had a big metal cross in his hand and started making the sign of the cross on top of my head. He did it several times, saying, “Bless you, bless you…” On awaking and recalling the dream, I was afraid it might have been sent by the devil, so that I called my spiritual father on his cell phone. I said to him “Father, you know that I do not take dreams seriously, but here is…” – and I related my dream to him. Then I asked him, “Do you think it came from the devil, from my subconscious or from God?” He answered, “How could it have come from the devil when this very morning I was praying for you over the relics of Saint Nektarios? I am in Greece, don’t you know that?” No, I had no idea he was in Greece. I thought he was in Romania, but he had activated his roaming and had answered his cell phone from Greece… I also told my dream to an elder leading a saintly life in a monastery in Greece and he said to me, “Your spiritual father could not have come out and say outright to you that your dream had come from God, lest he fell into the sin of pride – particularly as you saw him next to the saint’s coffin. It was indeed a dream from God. Saint Nektarios wants to encourage you to walk right on along the path of being a witness to Christ…”
That dream was the encouragement I needed in order to go ahead. The road is bumpy, the temptations are great, but I nurture the hope that Christ will help me take another step and then another one…
My life in Christ has been extraordinarily beautiful… The greatest thing for me has been that I came to know the Truth and to know that the Truth is love… In the Orthodox Church, I have learned to love. Christian love is warm – it is not like yogic love, which is cold and superficial… I have discovered the beauty of family life, which is indeed a treasure. Next to my wife and to our three children I have the distinct feeling that I am in the middle of a beautiful dream… It seems to me that people speak and write too little about Christian families. Getting married was almost like a bet in a way: I was hoping that it would be a beautiful life, but I was not sure. My family life has been much more difficult than I had anticipated but also much more beautiful…
I give witness to the beauty of the Orthodox faith because some of those who have practised yoga have serious communication problems and are socially maladjusted although they have formally converted to the Orthodox faith; they have received the Christian teaching but they still have a yogic behaviour.
I confess that I am overjoyed at being an Orthodox believer… In the past, I was afraid that I would get bored with it and I kept asking myself, “Will Christian life become commonplace for me?” Moreover, I have discovered that a life lived in communion with God, with the Theotokos, with the saints and martyrs of the Church can be anything but boring.
On the contrary, I believe that the life of a Christian is extremely captivating. In addition, one should be a real hero in order to live like a Christian in this world, which is so full of sin and so fond of heresy.
My purpose has been to convince you to reach out to those who are far from the Church. Usually after a conference, people collect funds for the poor or for Christian missionaries in African countries or for various and sundry social activities.
I shall not ask you to put money in a box but to put a part of your soul in it and to realize that right next to you there may be so many people who have been deluded by different religions and denominations. You could make a difference. You could help them through living a truly Christian life.
These people have had enough of empty words and unconvincing Christian sermons. They need shining examples of a Christian way of living. They want to see in you a living icon of Christ.
Do not force anyone to come to Christ, but win them over with your Christian love. No one can resist love. Today’s world looks for love in the wrong places and all that people find is fake love.
Offer them true love, sacrificial love, and you will change them. Even those who have decided never to change will start out on the path of conversion – slowly, but surely.
Look, I am just sending out to you this unseen box, inside which I am not asking you to put money but I repeat, something far more precious – a part of your soul. Are you up for such a donation?
You would make so very happy! May God assist you in all your good works and bestow His grace on you. Amen.
In this précis, I have cited the Catholic Church, though far from exhaustively [because there is also criticism of yoga in the Youth Catechism (YouCat) as well as in an October 1989 Vatican Document on Christian Meditation that was addressed to the Bishops of the Catholic Church], and three Orthodox churches. But the Catholic Church in India resolutely promotes yoga in its institutions and through its media.
III. Prakash Lasrado‘s letters defending yoga, and my response
On May 5, 2013, I received this forwarded letter which referred to an email from one Prakash Lasrado:
To: Date: Wed, 1 May 2013 20:55:58 +0530
Subject: IS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN INDIA IN A CONFUSED STATE […]
The very same day, I wrote to Monteiro
From: Michael Prabhu firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Sunday, May 5, 2013, 11:33 PM Subject: Re: IS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN INDIA IN A CONFUSED STATE saying, “I am marking a copy of this email to Prakash [Lasrado] as I would like to have a copy of Prakash’s email, the one that you referred to in yours, to read his views on the matter.”
This is the reply that I received:
Subject: Re: IS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN INDIA IN A CONFUSED STATE
I have certain differences of opinion with you.
I feel that … Yoga minus Hindu philosophy/theology is a good body exercise.
Over the next 36 hours, I received copies of a relentless barrage of unrelated and confusing letters which were again, like his first letter, marked to about one hundred others including Cardinals and archbishops.
I then wrote this letter [what follows is an extract] to Prakash Lasrado:
Sent: Tuesday, May 07, 2013 7:34 PM Subject:
YOUR NUMEROUS EMAILS TO ME IN RESPONSE TO MY EMAIL
My dear brother Prakash,
I write this to you with absolutely no offense, so please don’t take it amiss and be offended.
I take every email that I receive very seriously, and as you can see below, I have given the exact same consideration to all of yours, and taken out the relevant information copied below after spending nearly three precious hours of my ministry time on them hoping to gain something, which I really didn’t in the end.
So may I please request you to remove my name from your mailing list after reading this response from me?
In return, I can assure you that you will not hear from me again [even if you do respond], which I request you to not do].
I had written to Robert Monteiro in response to an email forwarded to me by someone, hoping to benefit from something that you wrote and which he referred to and that’s why I had copied you. Monteiro did not reply to me [since this is my second attempt, I find it suspicious if not strange]. You did, but you did not give what I asked for, which was the purpose of my writing that email.
Instead I received, within the space of 48 hours, over 20 emails, including the forwards, see below, which I was obliged to read.
That was a bit too much for me to handle considering that I have scores of people who write usefully to me.
About your first email to me, I respect your positions, as you have a right to them, but,
1. There is no yoga minus Hindu philosophy. If there is, it is obviously not yoga. It is like saying that you will accept Christianity without Christ. I have compiled as well as written hundreds of pages of Catholic information on yoga and will soon release a compilation of another 500 pages or so. Two Vatican documents condemn yoga. If one insists on calling exercises yoga, or on doing yoga, one contravenes and opposes the teachings of Rome. Incidentally, I agree with the positions that Fergus [Misquitta] defended.
You say you do not know “Hindu theology” but yet you comment on related issues. I am not faulting you for that. Just making a point. I write after much study, years of it. […]
Almost every email addressed to me was copied to about 120 other email ids. I do not understand why you had to do that.
If you wrote to Fergus or to Arcanjo, you either included me as an addressee or copied me in the 120+ list. There was no need to.
When I write/communicate, my letters are on one topic, clear, distinct and uncomplicated and addressed to those concerned.
All of your letters had multiple forwards, each one copied to the 120+. Sometimes the first forward in an email had a cc to me, but in most cases, those ones never reached me. If they had, I would have had many more emails reproduced below.
If understood correctly, there was no theological error in Dom Desa’s writings. At worst, he put it down badly. I am a rabid critic of anti-Catholic writing especially in The Examiner, and I would be the first one to take up the issue if there was. Incidentally, two successive emails from you had the same two pdf attachments. I am a person who likes disciplined correspondence. Several of your emails below had forwarded material that had no connection with other matter in the same mail. That is, they were on different subjects. For a genuine researcher like me, it makes things very difficult.
Towards the end, you started to send general Catholic information. I am subscribed to all Catholic news agencies and so I already have all the information that you sent. We are both wasting our time.
Kindly honour my request to have my name removed, brother.
Thank you and God bless you. Michael
Prakash Lasrado continued his torrent of letters copied to his entire mailing list. He has written on a number of issues. When he referred to the statements of someone who he was challenging, he often described the person’s statements as “allegations“, imputing that they were false! When inviting responses to his emails, he always called for the recipients to “rebut” him, the connotation of the word “rebut” used by him in his emails is that he himself agreed in advance that his statements were erroneous and merited rebutting!!
Another point of interest is that in the majority of instances, the subject line of his email had nothing absolutely to do with its contents. For that reason you will find that line omitted in the reproduced letters.
The day following my above cited letter, I received this [extract of a letter] from Prakash Lasrado:
Sent: Wednesday, May 08, 2013 9:12 AM
Michael Prabhu has asked me to remove his name from the cc list which I will do subsequently.
BUT PRAKASH LASRADO DID NOT HONOUR HIS WORD! I HAVE CONTINUED TO RECEIVE HUNDREDS OF EMAILS FROM HIM TILL TODAY.
Interestingly, his very latest letters are being addressed to me and copied to all the others!!!
I must add that the number of cc recipients of Prakash Lasrado‘s emails has shrunk as several people asked him to remove their names/email addresses from his mailing list.
On my part, I kept the assurance given by me to him in my one and only response to him when I wrote, “I can assure you that you will not hear from me again [even if you do respond].”
I have also not allowed myself to be provoked by Prakash Lasrado into “rebutting” him, copy to the others.
If it becomes necessary in the future, Prakash Lasrado will receive from me the “rebuttals” that he so badly desires and solicits from the recipients of his emails. They will of course appear in reports on this web site.
For the moment, I am recording here his statements on yoga, my comments at the end.
His opening statement [see May 06, 2013] on yoga is recorded on the previous page.
You say yoga is banned by Rome.
Show me one unequivocal statement from a Vatican document that yoga as an exercise is banned.
For me, yoga minus Hindu philosophy/theology is a body exercise which improves your blood circulation, lowers blood pressure etc and removes ailments.
You may give a different name instead of yoga, I don’t care.
Rebut me with cc to all. I don’t mind the humiliation.
You have a surname Prabhu and Prabhu means God.
Are you a god? Are you a devotee of Krishna as mentioned in Wikipedia?
Now analyze your surname vis-à-vis the word yoga.
If you are really strict with the word yoga, you should not carry the surname Prabhu as it refers to devotee of Krishna.
Kindly rebut me with cc to all if I am wrong.
What Christians are referring to is hatha yoga. Not Hindu spiritual discipline.
Refer Oxford dictionary meaning of hatha yoga
Definition of hatha yoga
A yoga system of physical exercises and breathing control.
From Sanskrit haṭha ‘force’ and yoga
Rebut me with cc to all.
Regarding Surya Namaskar exercise do not bow down to the sun and worship the sun. Still you can do this exercise without compromising on Catholic faith.
In fact yoga has a namaaz posture which is also good for improving circulation to the brain. Namaaz posture is borrowed from Muslims and even Muslim clerics are not against yoga as long as it is only a body exercise.
Rebut me with cc to all if you still find hatha yoga unacceptable.
Subject: Rebuttal to Michael Prabhu-Cancer healing.
You have criticized Fr. John Valdaris below
I support Fr. John Valdaris. Fr. Valdaris is right in saying negative emotions cause cancer.
I am happy that Fr. Valdaris is teaching Christ prayer yoga as long as it is devoid of Hindu theology/philosophy.
I believe that Christ centred prayer can actually heal cancer if said with faith.
Fr. Valdaris is a wise man.
Sent: Thursday, May 16, 2013 3:54 PM
Subject: Enneagram practioners should be banned from conducting spiritual retreats.
Rev. Cardinal Gracias, Bishop Thazath, Fr. Vallooran,
[…] Inculturation is OK but there is a limit to inculturation.
One cannot dabble in occult, Ouija boards, séances, necromancy, mediums and wizards, crystal gazing, witchcraft, divination and fortune telling etc.
Even Yoga is good as long as there are no elements of sorcery, divination, magic etc. Hatha Yoga is good for the body since it helps in curing physical ailments. Also a Christ centred Yoga is OK. […]
Subject: An American Franciscan priest answers questions on Yoga
Since you are anti-yoga, Fr. Pat McCloskey answers questions on yoga.
Ask a Franciscan By Father Pat McCloskey, OFM
What Is the Church’s Teaching on Yoga?
Last May, Christopher Heffron’s article “Holistic Care: Treating Mind, Body and Spirit,” cited the benefits of yoga. Speakers whom I greatly respect have said that Catholics should not do yoga or Pilates™. Does the Catholic Church allow this?
Although some Catholics consider yoga as “New Age” because of its pre-Christian origins in Hinduism, the Catholic Church has not forbidden it because it does not require a single religious meaning. Pilates™ is an exercise program, not a religious statement. Indeed, there are agnostics and atheists who use yoga and/or Pilates™ to improve their breathing, posture, coordination and concentration.
Yoga began among people who believed in many gods and had no contact with God’s revelation contained in the Bible. When Catholics meditate and pray, they do so as members of a faith community that recognizes Scripture as the word of God and that celebrates the sacraments given to us by Jesus.
Possible misuses of yoga and other non-Christian forms of meditation and prayer are addressed in the October 15, 1989, “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation.” The letter was issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and is available through its section of www.vatican.va.
That document cites Vatican II’s Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions that the Catholic Church “rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions” (#2). I think most Americans who use yoga or Pilates™ do so for exercise. There is nothing wrong with that.
Subject: Re: Stress and Cancer+Michael Prabhu’s questionable knowledge
MD Anderson Cancer Centre University of Texas is a top US cancer institute.
Even they have published 5 ways to reduce stress. Read how yoga helps prevent cancer.
letters were “rebutted” by a couple of the recipients upon which he
entered into arguments with them. It is pointless to discuss them here because these issues have already been addressed by many Catholic authors in the series of reports and articles at the end of this present report.
He is for yoga — as I am avowedly against it – and the matter is therefore not discussable between us.
As with other yoga enthusiasts, he has been seduced to believe [his letter of May 08, 2013 12:06 PM] that yoga breathing is the breathing in and out of air. It is NOT. It is the breathing of the monistic universal life force energy called prana in Sanskrit, chi or ch’i in Chinese and ki in Japanese.
He has reproduced one article by Franciscan Father Pat McCloskey OFM to support his contention that yoga as an exercise may be practised without any inhibitions by Christians. I myself can provide him with many more such articles. He might as well cite the Franciscan brothers-run St Francis Institute of Management and Research (SFIMAR) case to argue that if the Franciscan brothers in Mumbai and Cardinal Oswald Gracias
of Bombay archdiocese promote and permit yoga, yoga must be safe and good for Catholics.
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. –II Timothy 4:3
I have reproduced [in the listed files] scores of articles written by priests who condemn yoga.
The Brahma Kumaris
We have seen in section I that the archdiocese of Mumbai’s Franciscan brothers-run St Francis Institute of Management and Research (SFIMAR) has made yoga a compulsory subject for its students. On page 1, we read, “Also Stress Management sessions by the
are conducted regularly at SFIMAR.”
What is the Brahma Kumaris?
The Brahmakumaris or Brahma Kumaris is without any shadow of doubt a New Age organization. They are also a recognised New Religious Movement or NRM, and cult. Yet they are invited over to re-mould the souls of Catholic students. Brahma Kumaris propagate the form of yoga that is called Raja Yoga.
Christianity Refutes the New Age
Interview with Teresa Osorio of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue
VATICAN CITY, February 7, 2003 (Zenit.org) A new Vatican document on the New Age movement has stirred up great interest in the media. The report, entitled “Jesus Christ, Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian Reflection on the ‘New Age’,” was presented February 3 by a team of members of different Vatican organizations, including the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue. The signatories acted with the assistance of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
To lend a greater appreciation of this important document, ZENIT interviewed one of its authors, Dr. Teresa Osorio Goncalves, of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, coordinator of the working group on Sects and New Religious Movements.
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.
The United Nations, the unity of religions, the new world religion and the New Age Movement
DHARMA BHARATHI-NEW AGE IN CATHOLIC EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS August 2002/August 2003/June 2009 by Michael Prabhu
As the New Age Movement 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 (of the 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 Brahmakumaris’ 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
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
During meditation, Brahma Kumari sisters give
a spiritually-charged gaze which is beneficial to the recipient. Shiv Baba himself gives drishti when he appears through the medium.
*Drishti is a point of focus where the gaze rests during asana and meditation practice. Focusing on a drishti aids concentration, since it is easier to become distracted when the eyes are wandering all over the room. Each yoga pose has a specific drishti, which also aids in alignment. For instance, in Extended Side Angle Pose – Parsvakonasana the gaze is towards the raised hand, which also reminds us the turn our heads up towards the ceiling. Drishtis are particularly emphasized in
Ashtanga yoga. In Downward Facing Dog, the drishti is your navel.
What Brahma Kumaris don’t want you to know
January 29, 2010
Brahma Kumaris’ Raja Yoga is now promoted behind the facade of new age, positive thinking, values based and corporate training courses. Many individuals experience benefit from these. Indeed, some individuals can look back at their time as a “student” of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University [BKWSU] positively. However, whether right or wrong, at the core of BKWSU teachings and lifestyles are identical elements to recognised cult behaviour. Elements that are hidden from the general public and slowly introduced during the process of indoctrination.
Whilst claiming to have 8,500 centres in 100 countries, the vast majority of these are privately owned residential homes and apartments, many taking donations to pay for personal mortgages. The Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University is not an educational institution but an unaccredited new religious movement.
Brahma Kumari beliefs include:
» belief in the imminent destruction of this world by an unavoidable Nuclear Holocaust (now overdue by 30 to 50 years)
» belief in themselves as the only true messengers of God.
» belief that God only speaks to them and them alone in person at their Indian headquarters via a mediumistic channeller.
» hypnagogic, trance-like practises and repetitive auto-suggestion.
» fixation on attracting VIPs to enhance their credibility and act as “microphones” for their message.
» exaggerated distinction between “pure” (their teachings and activities) and “impure” (the rest of the World’s opinions and leaders)
» exaggerated sense of self-importance (they being topknot “Brahmins”), the rest of the World (Untouchables or “Shudras”)
» belief in an unrealistic view of science, e.g. all of time existing within one endlessly repeating 5,000 year timeframe.
» a slow and gradual re-writing of their core beliefs as they fail.
» unquestionable and unaccountable non-democratic leadership.
» amassing of considerable wealth from followers under such pressures.
» complete separation from non-BKs by complete control of diet, demanding lifestyle, celibacy.
» graphic exaggeration of the plight of those that leave the group: “grinding of teeth like the sound of mustard seeds … crying tears of blood at Destruction”, sexual activity being like “throwing one’s self from a 5-storey high building”, having to face a severe God at Judgement Day.
» secrecy, revision and disguise of the nature and process of teachings.
» intense and long lasting social and psychological problems within individuals leaving the organisation.
The Brahma Kumaris encourage followers:
» not to eat food cooked by impure non-followers such as physical relatives.
» to practice detachment from parents and children.
» to separate from non-Brahma Kumari partners and family so as not to make any more “karmic accounts” with them that would be obstacles to their path.
Under these pressures, individuals are willing to put aside reason and surrender themselves mind, body and wealth, to the will of senior members of the BKWSU. Most of these senior members are professionally untrained in any manner whatsoever. Despite dabbling with perhaps the deepest levels of the human mind, many of these senior members have only ever had a basic education, e.g. 3 years schooling, and no professional experience. One senior BK recently estimated that in India there were as many as 20,000 so-called teachers that have had no training whatsoever. The curriculum and teaching methods have been likened to that of a primary school or kindergarten where followers are infantilized as children.
In this situation, individuals are open to manipulation, the influence of the group or other psyches. Major life decisions are taken on their behalf under the guise of “God’s instructions”. They take on many new, extreme and unproven beliefs unquestioningly in a wish to be accepted. At the point of the failure in these beliefs, or the failure in trust of those self-elected senior practitioners, ex-members are almost without any social support mechanism whatsoever.
Ex-Brahma Kumaris (female) and ex-Brahma Kumars (male) are often unable or unwilling to accept the help of family, or even the help of professionals, who have not gone through the same experience. The strength of mind, developed will or depth of ill explained experience make ex-BK Raja Yogis very independent, detached and resilient.
The organization’s mental training roots distrust of non-BKs at a deep, even sub-conscious level. It is suggested that perhaps only others that have gone through similar experiences can help to explain these, share their pain and make suggestions on how to survive.
Cardinal Oswald Gracias
other Church leaders have
already been consorting with the Brahma Kumaris:
Conversion focus of inter-faith talks
By Linah Baliga, June 13, 2009
Mumbai: An inter-faith interaction between Hindu and Catholic religious leaders, held at Mumbai’s Shanmukhananda Hall on Friday, appears to have focused a lot of time on the issue of conversions and the killings at Kandhamal in Orissa last year.
While the Hindu side was represented, among others, by the Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, Jayendra Saraswati, and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the Christian side was represented by Mumbai Archbishop Cardinal Oswald Gracias, and Cardinal Jean Louis P Tauran, the Pope’s representative from the Vatican.
[…] Among the other Hindu leaders who attended the dialogue were Swami Chidananda Saraswati of Uttaranchal, Swami Vishveshwarananda Giri Maharaj of Mumbai, Swami Nikhileshwarananda of Vadodara, the Prajapita of
Brahmakumaris from Rajasthan, and Chaturvedi Swami of Chennai.
The Catholic side was represented, apart from Cardinal Gracias and Cardinal Tauran, by Archbishop Quintana of the Vatican Nunciature in Delhi, Cardinal Topno of Ranchi, Archbishop Gali Bali of Guntur, Archbishop Felix Machado of Nashik, and Bishop Thomas Dabre of Pune.
Cardinal Tauran had this to say: “India is a cradle of many religions. What impresses me is that Indians are open minded and tolerant with positive values. We know this inter-faith meeting will have a positive outcome. It gives an orientation and a beginning of something.”
This is just one of several news reports I have, showing Church leaders’ closeness to the Brahmakumaris.
UPDATE, JULY 5, 2013
I. UPDATE ON THE BRAHMA KUMARIS, SECTION I:
For details, see my report BRAHMA KUMARIS WORLD SPIRITUAL UNIVERSITY
2 JULY 2013
http://ephesians-511.net/docs/BRAHMA_KUMARIS_WORLD_SPIRITUAL_UNIVERSITY.doc, from which I excerpt this:
Briefly, who are the Brahma Kumaris?
The Brahmakumaris or Brahma Kumaris is a New Age organization. It is also recognised as a New Religious Movement or NRM, and an elitist [only 900,000 will be saved] end-of-the-world doomsday cult. The Brahma Kumaris propagate the form of yoga that is called Raja Yoga. It is pro-abortion and enforces total sexual celibacy of cult members and therefore an enemy of the Catholic Church’s culture of life stand. Its teachings are controlled and guided by a “medium” or “channelled entity“ the Brahma Kumaris “believe is God“. The doctrines of karma and reincarnation are intrinsic to its teachings. Its psychic meditations are dangerous.
Its “World Spiritual University” is NOT an academic institution but the name of its NEW AGE RELIGION.
Yet it is engaged by a Catholic institution to poison the souls of Catholic students. The St Francis Institute of Management and Research provides no safe alternative to Catholics who do not want to be subjected to Hindu yogic meditation. Instead, if they do not participate in the yoga/Brahma Kumaris programme, they are “disciplined” with fines and loss of attendance, and face being debarred from writing their examinations.
III. UPDATE ON PRO-YOGA LETTERS FROM PRAKASH LASRADO, SECTION III:
continues with his barrage of letters, seeking to conclude that Catholics may practise yoga.
My comments are given below.
Subject: No statement on yoga, however Reiki banned in US dioceses.
No statement on yoga, however Reiki is banned in US dioceses.
I agree partly with Michael in that yoga has hidden dangers if not practiced with caution and if Hindu spirituality gets mixed up with Christian spirituality.
However it is OK if it is Christ centred or practised as a physical exercise.
Please read what Bishop Porteous has to say about yoga. Bishop Porteous is also an exorcist, I think.
Statement on Reiki from the Catholic bishops:
Subject: Auxiliary bishop of Sydney writes on yoga, reiki, enneagrams
Is Yoga, Tai Chi, Reiki good for the soul?
Enneagram and Catholic spirituality
Subject: Auxiliary bishop of Sydney talks on exorcism
Rev. Fr. Tom Ryan,
Greetings from India
I have read an article about you below in the American Catholic.
Reiki as an alternative therapy has been banned by the USCCB below.
Is there an official ban by the USCCB on yoga or has the USCCB allowed it?
According to Bishop Porteous of Sydney below, yoga is incompatible with Christianity. What are your thoughts?
Rev. Bishop Porteous,
Greetings from India
What are your thoughts on Fr. Tom Ryan’s yoga classes?
Has the Australian Bishops Conference banned yoga?
Please reply to me with cc to each other.
I read the report on Fr Ryan’s classes and his comments.
One of the issues is that Yoga has as its key spiritual aspect the emptying of the mind. A number of the practitioners interviewed spoke about this when they said how the practice of yoga helped them calm down. Yoga by its very nature is not just a physical exercise, but it has a spiritual dimension, even if not connected with a particular religion. One of the problems then is that people get into the habit of seeing spirituality as the emptying of the mind. The focus is on self.
The Christian tradition is very different. It is about engaging with God. It is an active process. It is the desire for union with God. The focus is not on subjective feelings but growing in a relationship.
The Church has not formally taught on the status of yoga. The Australian bishops have not addressed the issue.
I advise people to develop forms of prayer that have been part of the Catholic tradition. This is the safer way.
Bishop Julian Porteous DD VG
44 Abbotsford Road, Homebush NSW 2140, Australia, T. +61 (2) 9764 6499, F. + 61 (2) 8756 5837
Subject: Bishop Porteous of Sydney responds to me on yoga query
Bishop Porteous responds to me on yoga query.
I am waiting for Fr. Tom Ryan’s reply who is a yoga enthusiast.
Bishop Porteous is wary of yoga as expected.
One thing is clear. The Church has not formally banned yoga in Australia.
Prakash Lasrado is desperate to find an eminent Catholic personality who will give him an authoritative statement endorsing yoga. Since reiki is condemned by the U.S. bishops, and yoga is not, he decides that yoga is not a spiritual danger for Catholics. He agrees “partly” with me that “yoga has hidden dangers if not practiced with caution and if Hindu spirituality gets mixed up with Christian spirituality“. It’s like someone planning to get a little bit pregnant! He adds that yoga “is OK if it is Christ centred or practised as a physical exercise“, like there are instruction manuals or Church guidelines on how to filter out the Hindu elements in yoga. I have purchased a large number of books on “Christian” yoga authored by Catholics, including several by priests, and there is not a single one of them free from syncretism, religious pluralism, indifferentism, New Age, etc.
Pinning his hopes on an article featuring Sydney auxiliary Julian Porteous, he writes to the bishop who responds to his question on yoga with a disappointing answer. On this ministry’s web site, there is an October 2012 article
NEW AGE-BISHOP JULIAN PORTEOUS
that already features all the information that Prakash Lasrado belatedly sent out in his various emails. Anti-New Age crusaders are well aware that the bishop, an exorcist, has been an outspoken critic of yoga, reiki, Harry Potter, enneagrams, etc. Lasrado may be unaware that in July 2012 the bishop preached at the Divine Retreat Centre, Muringoor as the DRC has opened a centre near Sydney.
In my June 30, 2013 report
YOGA AND THE BRAHMAKUMARIS AT A CATHOLIC COLLEGE IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOMBAY
I had written, “Another compilation of hundreds of more-recent articles exposing the spiritual dangers of any form of yoga is being prepared for release.” There is information pertaining to Bishop Julian Porteous’ pronouncements against yoga in that compilation too, at least one article and 3 references].
Also, information in the form of the bishop’s articles, extracts from articles, and a couple of unanswered letters from me to the bishop may be found in a number of files at this ministry’s web site:
APPLAUSE, JOKES, AND SAYING GOOD MORNING AT MASS
[2 articles], DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE ERRORS-01 [reference],
MARTIAL ARTS [reference/letter/extract], NEW AGE-INTERNATIONAL THEOLOGICAL VIDEO CONFERENCE [speech], NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 19-INDIAN CHURCH’S SYNCRETIZED BIBLE EXPORTED
[letter], REIKI AND HOLISTIC HEALING [reference, article], SATANISM, DELIVERANCE AND EXORCISM
[reference]. Prakash Lasrado has been sending coal to Newcastle.
Prakash Lasrado‘s final weak argument [July 04, 2013 8:36 AM] is that the “Church has not formally banned yoga in Australia“.
Before as well as after that, he spews out information scavenged from the Internet to support his pro-yoga stance, below. It cannot be denied that they are Catholic sources, but it’s like appealing to the Bombay archdiocesan weekly, the Examiner, or to the book of Rules and Regulations of the
St Francis Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai, to argue that just because they [Catholic archdiocesan media and a Catholic college] promote yoga and the Brahma Kumaris, the spirituality of yoga and the Brahma Kumaris is safe for Catholic consumption. Prakash Lasrado has received his desired “rebuttal” from at least one person:
Subject: Yoga Can Help Catholics Connect More Deeply With God
Subject: Query for Michael Prabhu on yoga
1. Why is the Catholic University of America (run by US Catholic bishops) holding yoga classes if yoga is not permissible according to you?
2. Why is the Australian Catholic University holding yoga classes?
Kindly rebut me with cc to all. Prakash
Subject: RE: Query for Michael Prabhu on yoga
Prakash, Two wrongs don’t make a thing right. A. M. Sodder
Subject: Show me a Vatican statement that yoga is banned.
Michael Prabhu, Arcanjo,
Show me one unequivocal statement from the Vatican or any bishop’s conference worldwide where yoga is banned?
Reiki is banned by the US Conference of Bishops officially by giving a good justification. Prakash
Subject: RE: Show me a Vatican statement that yoga is banned.
Do you think that the any authority worldwide is going to give a statement so easily?
You will get a statement only when sufficient public opinion is gathered.
As you are aware till today no catholic newspaper published in India which includes the Examiner and UCAN have published any article to show what Bishop Isidore Fernandes has done. Merely because they have not made a statement it does not mean that what he has done is correct and not a grave liturgical abuse.
One of the first persons who has exposed the rot of consecrating a Protestant Bishop by a Roman Catholic Bishop was exposed by Michael Prabhu. Could any person give me a reason why what he had done has been kept under the wraps by the authorities concerned?
The act may seem very simple but it means passing of the Power given to the Roman Catholic Bishop by the successors of Peter to a Protestant.
We are given lovely sermons but our religion begins when the preaching ends.
Isn’t there a sin of complicity?
The laity is being selectively fed with information.
A .M. Sodder
Subject: Re: Show me a Vatican statement that yoga is banned.
Since as you indirectly imply that Vatican has not officially given a ban on yoga we cannot condemn those who do yoga.
We can only debate for or against.
Just as you cannot condemn anybody unless a piece of legislation becomes enforced law from a particular date onwards.
Yoga has some plus and some minus points. Our job is to get rid of the minus points. If the minus points cannot be got rid off, then ban it.
Let the Vatican and the worldwide conference of bishops put their heads together on yoga just as Reiki has been condemned in the US and then we can take action.
Bishop Isidore Fernandes violated Canon law and hence he was punished. It was not possible to punish Isidore if no existing law was present.
To summarize, let’s wait for official ban or acceptance on yoga before condemning anybody.
Till then let us be cautious about yoga’s minus points and dangers of syncretism.
I don’t believe that any single one of the prominent Indian bishops has pastorally communicated the contents of two Vatican Documents, those of October 15, 1989, and February 3, 2003, that speak on the spiritual dangers of transcendental mediation [T.M.], Zen and yoga. How can they when the practice of Hindu and Buddhist meditations, Vipassana included, are taught by influential priests, some of them heavily funded from overseas, organizations, retreat houses, and now even in colleges in their dioceses?
It is because of this that yoga proponents like Prakash Lasrado can brazenly — and stupidly — demand “one unequivocal statement from the Vatican or any bishop’s conference worldwide where yoga is banned“.
From memory I can affirm that the Bishops’ Conferences and Theological Commissions of Korea, Spain, Ireland, Malaysia, Mexico and Slovakia, and individual bishops in the U.S. as well as the world over are among those who have unequivocally condemned yoga. The Youth Catechism [YouCat #355, 356] which like the Catechism of the Catholic Church is authority enough for faithful Catholics, states that yoga is New Age.
Prakash Lasrado will never [I sincerely pray that I am wrong] get to hear the Indian bishops condemn yoga.
Neither, I believe, will Rome do so in unambiguous terms. A CBCI condemnation of yoga might, I repeat might, have repercussions on the Catholic community in a Hindu- or Buddhist-majority nation, so Rome has worded Her two Documents in such a way that those who have eyes will see and those who have ears, hear.
Lasrado would find the truth that he pretends to search for if he puts down the shovel that he is using to move coal to Newcastle and studies orthodox Catholic sources on yoga, something he astutely avoids.
Earlier pro-yoga letters from Prakash Lasrado:
Subject: Stress and Cancer+Michael Prabhu’s questionable knowledge
Stress can cause cancer.
Mice are mammals and they have a body system similar to human beings.
Poor mice are subject to stress and cancer growth is monitored.
Can you stress human beings and then monitor cancer growth? No it is unethical. So forget an FDA trial.
Are you ready to volunteer for an FDA trial in which you are subjected to stress for a long period and see whether you develop cancer?
Only Nazis could conduct horrific medical experiments on prisoners in concentration camps.
2. Michael Prabhu’s website is erroneous.
Michael Prabhu is not the new Pope and the Vatican has not shifted to Chennai. Hence I cannot follow Prabhu blindly.
It is my job to expose Michael Prabhu’s errors and it is his job as my teacher to correct my errors.
Michael Prabhu is not even aware how many prophets in the Old Testament were priests and how many were laypeople. He needs to enroll for a course on biblical studies.
Our religion is a religion of FAITH AND REASON, not blind faith. Read Fides et Ratio by Pope John Paul II below
Even Christ proved himself that he was the Messiah when he raised Lazarus from the dead and when he raised himself from the dead. Christ has power even over death. Also when Thomas questioned the resurrection, Christ asked Thomas to touch his wounds. He did not want Thomas to blindly believe in Him.
Subject: Re: Stress and Cancer+Michael Prabhu’s questionable knowledge
Anxiety increases cancer severity in mice, study shows
Worrywarts, fidgety folk and the naturally nervy may have a real cause for concern: accelerated cancer. In a new study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine, anxiety-prone mice developed more severe cancer then their calm counterparts.
Subject: Re: Stress and Cancer+Michael Prabhu’s questionable knowledge
You can read below article which shows how stress reduction can help reduce cancer progression and increase survival rate.
Subject: Re: Stress and Cancer+Michael Prabhu’s questionable knowledge
Stress increases breast cancer
Subject: Re: Stress and Cancer+Michael Prabhu’s questionable knowledge
Some doctors say stress cannot cause cancer, some say it can in human beings. So it is still a matter of debate.
Anyway research on mice has proved that stress feeds cancer cells. I believe in the studies on mice and that stress can cause cancer. Remember the word CAN and not WILL. Based on studies on mice, the possibility of cancer due to stress cannot be ruled out in humans. Research is still going on and FDA has not yet made a definitive statement.
A human being cannot be tortured and stressed and then monitored for cancer so it is difficult to conduct an FDA trial.
Hope my explanation clarifies.
Subject: Re: Stress and Cancer+Michael Prabhu’s questionable knowledge
Joe, MD Anderson Cancer Centre University of Texas is a top US cancer institute.
Even they have published 5 ways to reduce stress. Read how yoga helps prevent cancer.
Subject: Re: Stress and Cancer+Michael Prabhu’s questionable knowledge
Joe, MD Anderson ranks no 1 in cancer care in the US, so do not take their articles lightly on stress reduction.
My Internet connection is down since the past 36 hours; hence I am unable to reproduce here from the Internet, an article that I read in the Times of India newspaper, Chennai edition, page 14, of July 4, 2013. The caption says, “Court: Yoga now a secular American phenomenon“. The court has ruled that yoga is neither religious nor spiritual. Early last morning I received an email “Yoga passes secularism test in US” with the link “http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Yoga-passes-secularism-test-in-US/articleshow/20901632.cms“, but, I repeat, I have not downloaded the article. A Prakash Lasrado — or even some of our wily bishops — will seize upon and flaunt this court decision as evidence that they have been right and this ministry has been wrong all along. Lasrado has been appealing heavily to secular sources as we have seen in his emails above.
[I would not be surprised if Lasrado has already sent out an email on the above to his entire mailing list.]
By the same standards, will these Catholics accept the recent U.S. ruling that marriage is no more one between a man and a woman and that two members of the same sex can be allowed to legally marry?
In a manner of speaking, Prakash Lasrado is wasting my time because I have never undertaken “rebuttal” of any lay person to this level. But it serves a purpose since sincere readers of this page will be benefited.
As Lasrado is not expected to cease and desist from burdening everyone with the rubbish that he mails out all day long [note that some of his emails on the very same topic are spaced just two or five or eight minutes apart pointing to a careless disposition to serious issues, and I have received hundreds of such emails over the past two months], I just might be constrained to do something that I have never done before: write a unique report on the false charges levelled against this ministry by Prakash Lasrado.
I have been regularly receiving emails from him circulated to a hundred other addresses making various unfounded, unsubstantiated and erroneous allegations against me. I believe it’s time he got the “rebuttal” that he ardently solicits from me. But I will do it my way, not by writing to the one hundred people on his mailing list but by a dedicated report on my ministry’s web site; and I will do that systematically, citing him verbatim from his emails, and giving him my “rebuttals“; and updating it from time to time.
Below are two samples of what to expect from that [possible] dedicated report on Prakash Lasrado:
Lasrado wrote over twenty times [May 09, 2013 9:25 AM, May 09, 2013 6:23 PM, May 10, 2013 2:53 PM, May 10, 2013 3:36 PM, May 10, 2013 4:11 PM, May 11, 2013 9:23 AM, May 12, 2013 3:59 PM, May 12, 2013 7:31 PM, May 12, 2013 7:55 PM, May 16, 2013 12:17 PM, May 29, 2013 4:08 PM, May 29, 2013 4:08 PM, May 30, 2013 9:09 AM, May 31, 2013 8:50 AM, June 05, 2013 9:28 AM, June 14, 2013 9:26 AM, June 29, 2013 10:22 AM, June 30, 2013 8:49 AM, July 02, 2013 6:55 PM, July 02, 2013 6:57 PM, July 03, 2013 2:46 PM] about what he finds on “Michael Prabhu’s blog“.
The truth is that I’ve never owned a blog, I do not own a blog, and I do not expect to ever own a blog.
Lasrado refers to a blog named “ephesians511”. I have had absolutely NOTHING to do with its founding and I have absolutely NOTHING to do with its functioning. I know nothing about blogging. I do not even know how to subscribe to or participate in a blog. When I learned about the “ephesians511” blog, I visited it once, maybe twice, out of curiosity, and found that it was faithfully reproducing the information that is available to anyone on my web site which incidentally is “phesians–511″. That’s it.
Recently someone brought to my attention another blog that appears to be dedicated solely to archiving my articles and reports. I was sent this link, and I clicked on it to check it out just once: “http://nervelessness24.chirasu.com/chan-13089411/all_p1.html, EPHESIANS-511.NET- A Roman Catholic Ministry Exposing Errors in the Indian Church“. My writings are not copyrighted and anyone is free to use them.
Prakash Lasrado wrote charging me with blocking his email id and backstabbing him and the Cardinal.
Subject: Michael Prabhu has blocked my email id and is backstabbing me and Cardinal Gracias on his website
You have cleverly blocked my email id and have started backstabbing me and Cardinal Gracias on your website as seen below.
You have called my emails unsolicited because you do not have the guts to respond directly to my rebuttals with cc to all. Instead you backstab me on your website. I expected this.
Why don’t you seek an honest and open debate via email with cc to all and stop backstabbing people on your website?
Is it fair that you can criticize people on your website without you giving them a chance to respond? Debate must be fair and open and not one sided.
May God forgive you. Also I do not mind if you spoil my reputation behind my back.
Subject: May God forgive Michael Prabhu for his unethical practices on his blog.
Following are the unethical practices of Michael Prabhu.
2. Backstabbing on his blog rather than directly rebutting critic via email with cc to all.
5. Blocking people’s email ids in the past and not willing to listen to rebuttals.
Lasrado may think that he is the only one writing to me. This ministry gets letters from all over the world every day, and I own ten different email ids, each one being used for a different purpose. It is not possible for me to check all my mail on a daily basis, and on occasions not even on a weekly basis. I also have my priorities, and Lasrado‘s rubbish is always the last. It happened that sometime last month, there were about fifty to sixty of Lasrado‘s mails in my Inbox along with around forty from a Traditionalist from Mumbai. As much as I detest the anti-Rome tirade of the Traditionalist, I had neither asked the person to remove my address from the mailing list nor did I attempt to block the sender’s id. I do not resort to blocking others’ emails. I never did it with Prakash Lasrado either. Apparently, some emails of both the Traditionalist as well as Lasrado bounced. The Trad wrote courteously asking me if I had blocked the Trad’s id; I did not respond.
The Trad does not send the interminable forwards since then.
My vsnl Outlook Express is exceedingly small in size. It fills up quick and if I am not sharp, I lose incoming email. At the same time as the Trad and Lasrado faced the problem, at least one other person experienced it.
When I cleared my Inbox, I started to receive all emails sent to me. [There is a possibility that I will lose some this week as my connection will not be restored till late tomorrow if at all.]
But Lasrado jumped to the conclusion that I had blocked his emails and informed everyone likewise. If I had blocked his emails, how is it that I received his emails immediately succeeding the “blocking” including the one of June 29, above?
Furthermore, I do not know how to block someone’s email id and still less how to unblock one if I desire to.
Why should anyone believe me? They don’t have to; except that this ministry has established a reputation for integrity, something that Lasrado challenges, but he himself completely lacks. I refer to my letter to him requesting him to remove my name from his mailing list, see page 11, and his May 08, 2013 9:12 AM response on page 12, stating that “Michael Prabhu has asked me to remove his name from the cc list which I will do subsequently.” He subsequently asked me in several letters to state if I wanted my name to be deleted. That was a cunning ploy. I had already written him in my first and only letter, “May I please request you to remove my name from your mailing list after reading this response from me? In return, I can assure you that you will not hear from me again [even if you do respond], which I request you to not do]“.
He has proved himself to be a person who completely lacks integrity.
As for his pitiful complaint about “backstabbing” him and the Cardinal on my web site, he was completely taken by surprise when he found his name in a report [details to follow later if necessary] on my web site through the ephesians511 blog [not mine!] that he has apparently subscribed to. Exposed in a report from me, he drags in the name of the Cardinal! Backstabbing! What backstabbing! I am doing the same thing – nothing more, nothing less, nothing else – that I have been engaged in for over a decade, exposing uncorrected error, and the persons in authority behind the error – liturgical, doctrinal and New Age.
Despite reneging on his given word to de-list me, Lasrado becomes the accuser, writing, “Instead you backstab me on your website. I expected this. Why don’t you seek an honest and open debate via email with cc to all and stop backstabbing people on your website? Is it fair that you can criticize people on your website without you giving them a chance to respond? Debate must be fair and open and not one sided.”
I conduct all my “debates” privately [not cc a hundred unconnected others] and strictly through email and email alone. Unacknowledged and uncorrected error is made public at my web site, phesians-511.
The first page of every one of my articles and reports carries my ministry masthead which provides my postal address in full, and my landline telephone number. I do not own and have never owned a mobile ‘phone. There is a photograph of me in one document on my web site. Prakash Lasrado on the other hand works from anonymity. And he inflicts his emails up to a dozen times a day on people who mostly either don’t open and read his emails or don’t want to waste the time to even ask for their names to be deleted. Except one single two-line letter of encouragement, all responses to Prakash Lasrado have been critical.
It is Prakash Lasrado who relentlessly pursues the blog that he believes is mine, and writes to me with copy to a hundred others.
On the previous page, I had written about one “cunning ploy” of his. He had another one up his sleeve, far more cunning. He had written to all, see previous page, that he would remove my name from the cc list, against my request. I must admit that he has eventually done that. He has removed my name from the cc but then moved it forward to being the main addressee of all his emails even if they have absolutely nothing to do with my web site and my ministry! Everyone else has been shifted into the cc!!
His letters do not commence with “Dear so-and-so”. They are rude and impolite. Writing to Prakash Lasrado invites interminable and largely nonsensical responses from him. No one replies to him. No one ever has, except to criticise him, some of them very strongly. I have those letters in my archives.
To be continued, and there’s plenty more [in a dedicated article] if necessary.
To assist anyone genuinely interested in pursuing this issue, I copy herewith the titles and links to related reports and articles at this ministry’s web site:
1. BRAHMA KUMARIS WORLD SPIRITUAL UNIVERSITY
2 JULY 2013
2. CARDINAL OSWALD GRACIAS ENDORSES YOGA FOR CATHOLICS
25 FEBRUARY/9 APRIL 2013
3. DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE ERRORS-05
APRIL 2000/2/4/13 JUNE 2013 YOGA PROMOTED
4. FR JOHN FERREIRA-YOGA, SURYANAMASKAR AT ST. PETER’S COLLEGE, AGRA
APRIL 2008/NOVEMBER 2010/25 FEBRUARY 2013
5. FR ADRIAN MASCARENHAS-YOGA AT ST PATRICK’S CHURCH BANGALORE JULY/NOVEMBER 28, 2011
6. FR JOHN VALDARIS-NEW AGE CURES FOR CANCER
31 JANUARY 2013
7. PAPAL CANDIDATE OSWALD CARDINAL GRACIAS ENDORSES YOGA
MARCH/9 APRIL, 2013
8. YOGA IN THE DIOCESE OF MANGALORE APRIL 2007/SEPTEMBER 2007
9. YOGA, SURYANAMASKAR, GAYATRI MANTRA, PRANAYAMA TO BE MADE COMPULSORY IN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS MARCH-APRIL 2007
1. NEW AGE GURUS 1 SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR AND THE ‘ART OF LIVING’
2. TRUTH, LIES AND YOGA-ERROL FERNANDES
3. WAS JESUS A YOGI? SYNCRETISM AND INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE-ERROL FERNANDES
5. YOGA AND DELIVERANCE
6. YOGA IS SATANIC-EXORCIST FR GABRIELE AMORTH
8. YOGA-WHAT DOES THE CATHOLIC CATECHISM SAY ABOUT IT
9. YOGA-WHAT DOES THE CATHOLIC CHURCH SAY ABOUT IT?
1. LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON SOME ASPECTS OF CHRISTIAN MEDITATION CDF/CARDINAL JOSEPH RATZINGER OCTOBER 15, 1989
2. JESUS CHRIST THE BEARER OF THE WATER OF LIFE, A CHRISTIAN REFLECTION ON THE NEW AGE COMBINED VATICAN DICASTERIES FEBRUARY 3, 2003