The new lifestyle statement
Spirituality has clearly become a lifestyle statement today.
With celebs, business tycoons and politicians endorsing the vision of the new age spiritual gurus, spirituality as a lifestyle is spreading like wild fire among the masses.
Our spiritual leaders are a cult in themselves. They command not only respect, but also resources that can put any business house to shame. Thanks to the stressed-out devotees, they are now raking in moolah with flourishing businesses.
Be it the fast moving consumer goods, therapeutic healing, yoga, ayurvedic medicines or lifestyle stores, the gurus are the new age entrepreneurs.
Take the case of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who celebrated his 50th birthday last week.
His followers celebrated his birthday with a splendour befitting a national hero.
His 'The Art of Living Foundation' is the largest volunteer based NGO in the world. It runs programmes on yoga, meditation and stress elimination. And economics plays an important role as well in his foundation.
"A basic course in Sudarshan Kriya costs around Rs 1500 which is held in the groups of 30 to 40. In a month, approximately 20 to 22 groups experience Sudarshan Kriya," says Anil Verma a volunteer with The Art of Living course.
"The sale from merchandise, books and ayurvedic medicines comes to approximately Rs 10 crore," he adds.
Another big time guru Asaram Bapu's ashram has ample merchandise such as soaps and shampoos that generate revenue of about Rs 4 lakh 5 lakh in the Capital alone.
Says Mani Kaka, the caretaker of the ashram in Delhi, "The products are made in Surat and Ahmedabad. The sale amounts to Rs 5,000 15,000 in a day. There are about 175 ashrams in the country. The proceeds go to the Sant Shree Asaram trust."
At Osho's meditation centre the registration fee is about Rs 420 annually. Through stylish stores called Osho World across the city, the foundation sells lifestyle products such as vases, coffee mugs and more.
And for the fashionable devotee, the store sells designer robes too. The prices for the ready-made robes vary, from Rs 300 - 5,000 depending on the fabric and design, says Swami Dhyan Bhaskar of Osho Meditation Centre.
"There are books and MP3 CD's as well for merchandising along with the candles and incense sticks."
Apart from the gurus, the new entrant in the Capital's spiritual galaxy — Swami Narayan temple — attracts hordes of visitors every day. About 10,000 devotees visit the temple in a day.
In fact on January 1 over a lakh devotees visited the temple. "It took five years to construct the tem ple and around Rs 200 crore out of which ap proximately Rs 30 crore were given to DDA for the land. The funds are managed by a trust for which has around 40 temples of Swami Narayan sect in USA, 10 in UK and about 14 in Africa," says Janak Dave, chief PRO of the temple.
The musical fountains in the temple will cost you a a small fee too. Well, no one said mental peace comes for free.