Adepts of Sahaj Marg are fragile personalities, who live in a dehumanized society. Chari never ceases to move the track wherever they take refuge, galvanizing his troops, guilting the preceptors because of their lack of results. First drawn by the clientelle of the "psy's", his methods of recruiting are refine and he is now in search of recognition and respectability through the establishment of windows to the outside world.
Adepts of Sahaj Marg
1. The Profile Of The Abhyasis
A psychiatrist, a prominent preceptor of Sahaj Marg, summarizes the main characteristics of the abhyasis: almost three quarters are women, with a maximum between 35 and 50 years, an over-representation of health care workers, teachers and artists. Many are in a "mid-life" crisis, are unstructured (borderline) personalities, or have already undergone some form of psychotherapy.
Western civilization has greatly expanded the values of individualism, materialism, atheism or competitiveness. This society where man is relegated to a variable of adjustment is often hard and frustrating. The lack of human projects and the loss of meaning of that society makes a larger number of people more vulnerable.
Without necessarily totally rejecting this new culture, the seekers also have spiritual or other more humane aspirations and are seeking shelters. They seek a new psychological balance and they expect to find it by listening to the spiritual messages that their receive.
2. Family and Social Impact
"The Sahaj Marg (…) allows people who aspire to achieve union with the divine source within them, as part of a family and professional life normal." That was the message repeated ad infinitum by the SRCM. But the facts are not in agreement with this statement…
The need for "constant remembrance" of the Master leads to a detachment, if not a disinterest, vis-à-vis the daily, which remains liveable when the whole family adheres to the same spiritual goal, but it quickly turns to hell otherwise. Babuji even spoke of the "living dead"!
The accession of a person to Sahaj Marg offers little choice to other members of his family. The alternative lies in his/her full and complete alignment or misunderstanding, and hence the ensuing distance to the progressive breakdown of the family. The pre-existing social relations slowly crumble because of the permanent proselytism that is difficult to bear by the entourage, but also by the lack of other subjects of common interest.
So divorce becomes common among new abhyasis, Chari then organizes meetings and blesses new arranged marriages. And abhyasis try to regroup themselves in the same living places (around the ashrams) …
1. Small Soldiers Of Sahaj Marg
Officially, the preceptor is the channel between the Master and the abhyasi, so he/she is someone spiritually advanced. In practice, this is a foot soldier and a recruiter of the Army of Sahaj Marg, assigned to numbers and the numbers only. He/she must account for his/her activities every month, including data on the number of new recruits (introductions). A zone administrator control the results and refers himself to the next higher level. And so on until Chari. The pyramid is well organized, and very seriously controlled…
As if that were not enough, large gatherings of preceptors are regularly organized by the SRCM. After lengthy "guiltings" on their poor performance, Chari galvanizes his troops before sending them back on the ground. The Mission manages its preceptors as a marketing company treats its Sales Reps, or as the agents of its sales force.
To please Chari (or not to displease), all means are good. And it is not so easy to recruit new followers month after month. Using one's business relations to cover a wider range of recruitment becomes an inevitable drift. Although Chari never formally prompted the preceptors to do so…
2. From Psychotherapies to "Personal Development"
Finding personalities that are psychologically fragile and easy to recruit is a specialty of the Preceptors of Sahaj Marg. Who has not been approached at a difficult moment (unemployment, divorce, bereavement or depression)? But there is a group that is particularly favoured in this type of recruitment, the "psychologists." Taking advantage of the absence of a clear definition of the professional psychotherapist, preceptors of Sahaj Marg have plunged into the breach thus opened. The number of so-called "therapists" has exploded (gestalt, psycho-genealogy, kinesiology, and so on.). And the expected results have followed…
So much so that Chari finally sounded the alarm in a speech on December 31, 1992: "(...) our preceptors must be very careful when they accept new abhyasis, in order to ensure that it did not here people who can not be helped. I am referring especially to people with mental disorders, and who underwent therapy in hospitals or psychiatric firms. Cases of this kind are becoming more frequent (...). "
This did not prevent Chari from attending a conference of the International Association of Spiritual Psychiatry in May 1997 in Israel, following the theoretical contributions of a psychiatrist who was trying to explain the spiritual evolution of Sahaj Marg in the form of 'a new stage in the psychological evolution. (Chari apparently offered the Association of Spiritual Psychiatry his Ashram in India for their next meeting)
But in "Whispers", in a new warning dated April 10, 2001, Babuji reportedly said these words from beyond the grave: "Be wary of the confusion that is being made between the workings of our spiritual method and all psychoanalytical practices that are currently springing up. It is not desirable to make connections between them. Criticisms currently made by the media against Sahaj Marg in France, allude to leaders who manipulate our candidates by involving them in both disciplines. It would be necessary to stop mixing it all up by considering abhyasis as potential clients and vice versa. Therapist preceptors are not serious enough on this point, hence numerous problems are already caused by this lack of vigilance."
The "psy" connection is of course too gross and difficult to maintain in the face of criticism. Backed to the wall, SRCM must retreat. He refines his methods of recruitment, abandons medicine and turns to professional training and the "personal development" movement. Failing to sell spiritual "psy", he turns to stress management, coaching, which is much more subtle. They lead to the same results while broadening the customer base, under the the guise of respectability…
Towards Recognition & Respectability?
Chari wants to improve the image of SRCM vis-à-vis the outside. Personal development is interesting, but not enough. He then invests himself in the "spiritual values" that he will dessiminate in the education of children in particular, but also in humanitarianism, and to the gates of the UN.
1. SMRTI, VBSE and LMOS
Founded in 1967 by K.C. Varadachari, Sahaj Marg Research Institute (now called SMRTI as "Training" was added) is incorporated and operated by Chari in the goal of spreading Sahaj Marg to the outside world, not only to spiritual seekers, but also in other communities, scientific and others.
The Institute for Research and Training first published the works of its most prominent members on spiritual psychiatry, yoga or education, etc. still in close contact with the Sahaj Marg.
Approximately in 2000, Santosh Khanjee annexes the SMRTI to the Sahaj Marg Spirituality Foundation in order to better organize, and the results are quick to come. Shortly thereafter, in fact, the SMRTI produces the Spiritual Value Based Education (VBSE), a sort of guide of a so-called spiritual education, to the educators, teachers and parents for children and youth.
This VBSE is rapidly used in the education and training by the followers of Sahaj Marg. It is used today by over a hundred schools in India, according to the SRCM. But that is still not enough for Chari, looking for recognition and respectability…
Getting closer to teachers, in 2005 he founded a school close to the Babuji Memorial Ashram to educate, according to the principles of Sahaj Marg and its VBSE, the children of his Indian followers as well as those of the westerners who come to him.
The Omega Lalaji Memorial International School (LMOS) then develops to build this showcase that Chari called for in all his vows, in the field of education. He is forging links with business, government and education officials from all sides…
2. From Humanitarianism to the gates of the UN
Many followers of Sahaj Marg are involved in NGOs, but the SRCM is indifferent, more concerned with spirituality (or money?) than the misery of the world. Yet mass poverty in India does not leave all the western abhyasis completely indifferent. Then comes the earthquake in Gujarat in January 2001, which claimed more than 20,000 victims. The Indian migrant communities around the world are mobilizing…
Backed to the wall, SRCM reversed and organizes its first fundraisers specifically to collect donations from its members, though Chari gives himself the right to use that money for other purposes. And the success of the operation is such that, henceforth, for every new cataclysm in the world, SRCM canvasses for campaign donations. Then the greatest centers of the Indian Missions open their doors to the poor, providing them with food, and free health care, thanks to its volunteer caregiver followers. New showcase for respectability, the "Centres of light" were born.
Finally, taking advantage of the profession of some of its members who work in various UN agencies, SRCM attempts a phased approach. In 2005 it became an NGO associated with the Department of Public Information of the United Nations (UNDPI) , by virtue of his expertise in the fields of education and religion.
Chari is rubbing his hands! The SRCM finally has its windows. Respectability and recognition should follow…
More in depth ...
The profile of the abhyasis
The causes of the spiritual search
Chari arrange marriages
Augerans or how SRCM is implanted ...
Testimonies of former adepts
The hellish life of the Preceptors
SRCM - UN: to a partnership?
The Epoch of the LMOS School