Whether India becomes a superpower in the material sphere or not, in spiritual matters, the country has been and remains one. Indian gurus are the help menu of this dysfunctional world.
From Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and world peace to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and the peace process in Sri Lanka, there is always an Indian guru to show the way. The Maharishi, whose association with the Beatles made him one of the most famous men on the planet, is now engaged in creating a 'Maharishi Effect' — defined as a "rise in coherence in the collective consciousness of a community" — in the Netherlands where he has been living since the early 1990s. Some of the Maharishi's followers in Iowa, USA, also did a spot of 'yogic flying' recently in an effort to pacify Lebanon.
|•Maharishi Mahesh Yogi|
• Osho Rajneesh
• Iskcon founder Srila Prabhupada
• Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
• Satya Sai Baba
• Sri Chinmoy
Their efforts do not seem to have met with particular success. For that matter, neither has the more practical intervention by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Sri Lanka. The 'Art of Living' guru visited LTTE-held Kilinochchi last month and gifted a white 'peace' shawl to V. Prabhakaran as part of an effort to bring all concerned parties to the dialogue table. Shortly after this, the war between the LTTE and the Lankan forces escalated.
However, such little upsets do not affect the followings of gurus. The Art of Living is active in more than 140 countries including Lebanon.
They are not the only ones. There are other Indian gurus who probably have as much of a global presence. The late Osho Rajneesh's following has reportedly shrunk from its peak of 200,000 after his death, but Osho World continues to place his millions in the service of enlightenment. The Iskcon or 'Hare Krishna' movement has 2,50,000 devotees and 350 centres around the world. SN Goenka's Vipassana movement is in growth mode. And even Sathya Sai Baba, whose international reputation has been battered by allegations of sexual molestation by former devotees, continues to count an estimated 100 million people as his flock.
Along with the New Age gurus —Deepak Chopra and Robin Sharma—whose books sell more widely, and in more languages, than any other Indian authors - these 'super men' shape the thinking of a very large number of people around the world.