Elan Vital aware of criticisms of its activities that have appeared on
Yes. We are aware
that criticisms, including unsubstantiated rumors and allegations, have
appeared on the web, most often placed by anonymous posters. Whereas some
people might be initially disturbed by these, we believe in and endorse
everyone's right to free speech. We have been advised by counsel, however,
that some of the posted materials infringe on copyrights belonging to us. Obviously we do
not enjoy being on the receiving end of ungrounded criticism. At the same
time we welcome criticism that can help us do what we do in a better
Elan Vital taken action to protect its reputation?
Yes. Elan Vital,
to protect its copyrights, has written letters to the ISPs involved where
it believes there have been infringements of its copyrights. As a
not-for-profit organization, we were reluctant to use the donations of our
contributors for this activity. However we wanted you to know that
we felt it appropriate to use our resources on this occasion to protect
our rights. Failure to do so could jeopardize our ability to do so in the
were some of the criticisms of Elan Vital and Maharaji?
Elan Vital a cult?
Elan Vital is not a cult of any
kind. However actions speak louder than words, so we have examined commonly
held opinions on what constitutes a cult and compared them with the actual
activities of Elan Vital in the table below. You can form your own
maintain a system of shared belief markedly at variance with that of
the surrounding culture, and members need to be isolated from
consensual information from the general society that would unsettle
the belief system.
Vital is a non-profit organization, composed largely of volunteers,
whose aim is to help make Maharaji's teaching available to those who
want it. Neither his teachings nor the process of communicating them
lend themselves to becoming belief systems and he vigorously
discourages attempts to make them so. Volunteers come from all
backgrounds and live a wide variety of lifestyles.
do not allow the right to free and independent thought.
the techniques of Knowledge is an individual experience. Independent
thinking is strongly encouraged by Maharaji and nowhere is it
close their borders and display a defensive behavior towards others
life choices and circumstances are not the concern of Maharaji or
Elan Vital and have nothing to do with the practice of Knowledge.
discourage contact with family members and non-member friendship
with Knowledge live within society and are active members of society
and the community. There are no boundaries between the people that
practice Knowledge and the society at large. People come from a wide
range of religious, social and cultural backgrounds.
are usually led by charismatic leaders who demand exclusive and
individual loyalty maintained through reducing the social roles
available to members.
is seen as charismatic by many, however he does not use this
attribute in the exercise of leadership in anyone’s personal life.
Furthermore, Elan Vital is not led by Maharaji, nor is he involved
with the management of any of the organization’s activities.
recruit people through brainwashing or mind-control techniques and
it is very difficult to break free once recruited.
Vital does not actively engage in the recruiting of members, and no attempt
is made by Elan Vital or Maharaji to influence or
manipulate anyone’s thinking. On the contrary, free choice is
essential to every step of the learning process. People come freely,
participate freely, and leave freely.
support cults by giving over all their wealth and possessions.
Vital certainly relies on voluntary donations for a part of its
operational costs. However Elan Vital has no membership system and no
mandatory donation system.
Maharaji have an affluent lifestyle?
sometimes criticized for his openly successful
lifestyle. Elan Vital does not recognize the validity of criticizing his
or anyone else’s lifestyle. It could be argued that such criticism is
based on an assumption that it is not OK for a religious or spiritual
leader to be wealthy. But Maharaji is neither a spiritual nor a religious
leader. He is a master who teaches about life and is adamant that any
person’s lifestyle has no relevance to her or his ability to be fulfilled. He
has often stated that whether you are the richest person or the poorest
person, the possibility to be at peace within yourself and to be fulfilled
is available. He has said: "Some people make the assumption
that success or wealth makes inner peace unobtainable. True peace has
nothing to do with external substance. The heart of the richest man and
the poorest man can be equally fulfilled. When we separate from the place
of the heart we suffer even if we have everything, and knowing that place
we can be happy even if we have nothing."
Elan Vital does not compensate
Maharaji financially or in any other way for any services he provides,
including the right to disseminate his teachings in various media formats.
Maharaji has granted Elan Vital a royalty free license to use, publish and
distribute his teachings in all media and to use his name and likeness in
connection with his teachings. Elan Vital, and the affiliated
organizations, pay for documented expenses when Maharaji presents his
conferences around the world. He does not own the private plane which he
usually pilots himself to the many remote destinations to which he travels
worldwide. This is leased from a private company and Maharaji does not
charge a fee for piloting the plane. Because he is asked to speak at so
many engagements worldwide, it would be impossible to schedule his
itinerary in a timely or cost efficient manner on scheduled airlines. In
his private life, as a means of maintaining his independence, he has
business interests which have been very successful. He sometimes receives,
but does not solicit, gifts of appreciation from people who have benefited
from his teachings. As a private individual Maharaji makes no apology for
the fact that he is fortunate to have a very good quality of life. We have
observed he works very hard, contributes great value, and deserves, as the
rest of us, what he has earned. We think any person’s lifestyle is and
should be a matter of personal choice and ability.
Maharaji ever say he was God?
No, Maharaji never at any
time claimed to be God. As an Indian national, when Maharaji first
started teaching in the west when he was 13 years old, he used many
examples from eastern traditions which demonstrated that a student
seeking fulfillment could do so by choosing to follow the teachings
of a guru or master. As he matured he realized that western traditions
put a very different emphasis on the idea of guru and wrongly attributed
messianic labels in this process. He changed his language to use
the term master only and gradually removed all Indian associations
from his teaching, as this is not a path just for Indians but is
something that is available for anyone regardless of color, religion
or race. It is acknowledged that many people at the time were already
looking for a messianic type figure. That Maharaji was not such
a figure disappointed some people.
He recollects: “I
remember coming to the West and talking to people. Some had the
idea that once you attained this ‘high’ state of being, you would
become super-human. You would be in a perpetual state of peace with
no confusion in your life, ever. Even at my very young age, I understood
that this was not the way it was supposed to be.”
“Knowledge is about having a
passion for life, falling in love with life. It is about making a
continuous effort to learn and grow. It is not meant to take you away from
all the experiences of living, it is about accepting and enjoying what it
really means to be alive. It's true that I can help people feel something
that is beautiful, something that exists inside them. I consider it a
gift. But, to become above it all - I have never pursued that, nor do I
want to. This is one of those bizarre things. When people saw me at that
time, they really didn't understand what it was all about.”
Maharaji changed what he is teaching?
Maharaji has been
teaching since he was eight years old. Naturally, over the years his
appearance has changed, how he expresses himself has changed and his
methods of presenting his message have changed. However the message itself
has never changed. What he is saying now is no different from what he has
“In essence, the message is
the same as taught by many others before me - that which you are looking
for lies within you. To me, the divine lives in my heart as the divine
lives in everyone’s heart. That's how simple it is.”
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