Sadhguru (Jaggi Vasudev): A True Guru?

by L. Ron Gardner

[This is my recently posted at Amazon.com two-star review of  Sadhguru's book "Inner Engineering." The  title of the review is "Pop Inner Engineering."]

This book was pretty much what I expected from a big-name pop Hindu guru – lots of allegorical stories (which will impress and entertain neophytes and the ignoranti) spiced with superficial, error-ridden spiritual Dharma that the cognoscenti will turn their noses up at. The book is a smooth and copacetic read – designed to attract new enlistees to Sadguru’s Inner Engineering program -- but real spiritual “engineers,” those with a deep understanding of the “nuts and bolts” of the en-Light-enment process, will find little of value, and much to be critical of, in Sadhguru’s teachings.

The first turn-off for me was Sadhguru’s description -- or should I say ‘non-description” -- of his Awakening and Awakened state. All we get is a vague, hard-to-believe story about how “he never came down” one day after sitting on a rock, and no details about his putatively Enlightened state.

Sadhguru writes, “As Guru, I have no doctrine to teach, no philosophy to impart, no beliefs to propagate. And that is because the only solution for all the ills that plague humanity is self-transformation.” He opines, “Principles and philosophies are only of social consequence.”

First off, the whole book is an exposition of his philosophy, or views, on various subjects, especially those relating to self-transformation. And, IMO, anyone who delimits “principles [which are inherently philosophical in nature] and philosophy” to the social sphere has liitle understanding of what philosophy is really about – “the love of wisdom,” per Pythagoragas, who coined the term.

If “self-transformation” were “the only solution for all the ills that plague humanity,” then why did all the great gurus India has produced over the centuries fail to rid the country of its poverty? Because the solution for this problem was/is capitalism and technology, not self-transformation.” But because Sadhguru has little understanding of philosophy, particularly sociopolitical philosophy, he is seemingly clueless regarding this.

So, how does one upgrade one’s inner technology? According to Sadhguru, “A fundamental step [which he repeatedly emphasizes] would be to recognize consciously just this: ‘My ability to respond is limitless, but my ability to act is limited. I am one hundred percent responsible for everything I am and everything I am not, for my capacities and my incapacities, for my joys and my miseries. I am the one who determines the nature of my experience in this life and beyond. I am the maker of my life.’”

First off, contrary to what Sadhguru says, one’s ability to respond is limited because of one’s conditioning and biological limitations. Secondly, one is not responsible for all one’s incapacities. Is the child who is autistic from being vaccinated responsible for it? How about those who lost limbs in the 2013 Bostom Marathon bombing?

Many of Sadhguru’s statements had me shaking my head. For example, he writes. “It is only juvenile intelligence that analyzes things and arrives at a conclusion.” So, if one reads Hillary Clinton’s emails, which provide clear-cut evidence of her breaches of national security, and conclude that she is guilty of breaching national security, that is juvenile? Gimme a break. And, of course, Sadhguru himself is guilty of “juvenile intelligence,” because he analyzes things and arrives at conclusions in the book.

Sadhguru writes: “I spent twenty-one years of my life transforming a powerful kriya, the Shambhavi Mahamudra, in order that it might be taught to large numbers of people in today’s world. Certain aspects that could empower people either to harm themselves or others, or influence the elements around them have been firewalled, so only the physical, psychological, and spiritual benefits remain. For those two decades I deliberately stayed away from all forms of public outreach, because my entire focus was primarily on re-crafting the kriya to ensure that it could be widely imparted without any adverse effects.”

Twenty-one years transforming a powerful kriya? Yeah, right. Like I said, this book is for the ignoranti, not the cognoscenti, who can only laugh at such statements.

Sadhguru provides some good, but simplistic descriptions of yoga, such as “The science of yoga is quite simply, the science of being in perfect alignment, in absolute harmony, in complete sync with existence.” But instead of providing the radical (or gone-to-the root) method to directly, immediately be in unobstructed alignment to the All (which spiritual traditions such as Dzogchen and Daism provide), he only offers remedial practices, which will benefit newbies, but seem like nothing new or special to spiritual veterans.

The late Alan Watts, when opining on the spiritual adept Adi Da (then known as Franklin Jones), said, “It is obvious, from all sorts of subtle details, that he knows what IT’s all about.” The converse can be said about Sadhguru. Anyone who has “cracked the code” and deeply groks the foremost spiritual Dharmas will reject his staus as a true “Sadhguru.”

The “inner engineering” details that Sadhguru provides make it clear to the cognoscenti that he is not Enlightened, that his Dharma level is that of Osho, and not that of Ramana Maharshi or Adi Da. For example, he writes, “Fundamentally, any spiritual path can be described as the journey from the muladhara to the sahasrara.” Not true. In fact, the final “leg” of the journey to Enlightenment lies down the frontal line of the body -- from the sahasrara to the hridayam (the heart-center, distinct from the ajna chakra), located two digits to the right of the center of one’s chest. This “leg” of the “spiritual circuitry” can only be traversed via Shaktpat, the Descent of Divine Power, the “Higher Kundalini.” But Sadhguru only describes the “Lower” spinal, or ascending, Kundalini. He uses the word “Grace” a few times in his discourse, but never explains what it is. It’s Shaktipat – Blessing/ Blissing Clear-Light-Energy, the same Hypostasis, or “Body,” as the Buddhist Sambhogakaya and the Christian Holy Spirit.

Sadhguru provides a glossary of the Sankrit spiritual terms he uses, but many of the definitions he provides are untenable. For example, he defines Chit (or Cit) Shakti as as “the power of the mind.” This is nonsense. Cit Shakti is the Power of awakened Consciousness, the emissional force-flow of Shakti radiating from the Heart-center (Hridayam) of an awakened yogi.

When I consider the pros of this book (it’s a smooth, polished, basic read that newbies and the ignoranti will appreciate) versus the cons (Sadhguru is not a real Sadguru, his Dharma is superficial and error-ridden, and he’s copying Osho’s stories and “shtick”without mentioning him), I’m only moved to give it two stars.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Ij September 29, 2017 at 9:18 pm

Checked him out in social media. He is more of a motivational speaker than anything else. Not in the league of Sri Ramana Maharshi, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Nisargdatta Maharaj and J Krishnamruti. Like you said he is in the league of Osho Rajneesh.. Certainly has not realized Self to be considered a Sadhguru or an enlightened sage.
IJ.

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IJ September 29, 2017 at 9:23 pm

Mr. Gardner,

A very good review on Jaggi Vasudev’s book who is no Sadhguru. How could he consider himself so, I have no idea.

IJ.

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L. Ron Gardner September 30, 2017 at 2:18 pm

IJ, do you know anything about Maharishi Brahmananda Yogi or Paramahansa Nithyananda? I get lots of posts advertising them at my Facebook group. Paramahansa Nithyananda considers himself an Avatar.

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IJ October 6, 2017 at 8:32 am

Mr. Gardner,

I will reply shortly regarding the two gentleman you mentioned above.

IJ.

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IJ October 10, 2017 at 3:45 am

Paramahamsa Nityananda is 100% bogus. He is a charlatan, a mere pretender. He wears the saffron robe to show off that he is a sanyasi. He is now 39 years old. There is so much dirt on him available on internet that I don’t need to elaborate.

He ended up absconding from the police for 5 days in India in 2012 before surrendering. Alleged charges against him were quite as bad as Rajneesh’s were or even more. Before 2012 he was all high and almighty but then after the scandals were exposed he fell like a hot potato to say the least.

The scandals ranged from alleged sexual improprieties, money laundering, theft, fraudulent activities, kidnapping, forced imprisonment of devotees, even murders committed by his staunch followers against dissidents. etc. In India law enforcement is rarely enforced on rich swamis like Nityananda and he is still going about his business as if nothing happened. His disciples now are a pale comparison of what it used to be.

In his defense he even told the police that he was trans gender and was incapable of having sexual relations to avoid alleged charges of rape against him. There was a video of Nityananda kissing and making love to a young Tamil actress in a compromising position. This was secretly taped and made public by one of his followers who wanted to expose Nityananda’s double life as a spiritual teacher advocating celibacy and his actual life as an ordinary man or householder.. Enough said about this clown who is an embarrassment to Hindu religion.

IJ

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L. Ron Gardner October 10, 2017 at 3:53 pm

Thanks IJ.

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IJ October 10, 2017 at 9:23 pm

Mr. Gardner,

You are welcome.

Regarding Maharishi Brahmananda Yogi :

He is a young fellow, probably in his early 30’s. He is married and has two children. He speaks Telugu the native language of Jiddu Krishnamurti and U.G. Krishnaumurti, meaning his is from the regions of Andra Pradesh and Telangana in Southern India. He calls himself Maharishi, God only knows why. Lol!

Listened to some You Tube videos of his talking and he has absolutely nothing ground breaking to tell us as far as authentic spirituality is concerned, zero, zilch, nada. He is an absolute rookie because he has said nothing substantial and you would be bored with the general nonsense he spews.

He has a Russian following. He is certainly not in the league of that rascal Nityananda though as far as shenanigans are concerned. This fellow seems more mellow and humble but there is nothing to suggest he is a Self realized Jnani. Frankly speaking he is an absolute moron.

He is more of a motivational speaker who caters to the needs of imbeciles and blind fools who can’t think and learn from for themselves and are in desperate need for make shift spiritual crutches. He is quite an ordinary spiritual novice who has the arrogance to call himself a Maharishi. If he is a Maharshi then I am one too. Makes absolutely no sense. Lol!

IJ

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L. Ron Gardner October 11, 2017 at 2:58 pm

Thanks again, IJ.

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