Jay Shetty faked his story? Journalist's revelations about social media 'monk' - Hindustan Times

Jay Shetty faked his story and fooled the world? Journalist's sensational revelations about social media 'monk'

BySumanti Sen
Mar 03, 2024 10:45 AM IST

Jay Shetty is popular among and has been praised by several celebrities, including Michelle Obama, Matt Damon, and Gwyneth Paltrow

Jay Shetty, popularly known as a life coach, gained a large following after he began sharing inspirational videos in 2016. Shetty was born in London, and raised there by his Indian parents. His website says, “During his school years, Jay Shetty spent vacations living with monks in India, immersing himself in their wisdom and teachings.”

Jay Shetty attends a premiere for the film "This Is Me... Now: A Love Story" in Los Angeles, California, U.S. February 13, 2024 (REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)(REUTERS)
Jay Shetty attends a premiere for the film "This Is Me... Now: A Love Story" in Los Angeles, California, U.S. February 13, 2024 (REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)(REUTERS)

Shetty is popular among and has been praised by several celebrities, including Michelle Obama, Matt Damon, and Gwyneth Paltrow. He even officiated the wedding of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez.

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Recently, however, journalist John McDermott has claimed that Shetty’s background is not as amazing as it appears to be. In an article published in The Guardian, McDermott claimed he was commissioned to write a profile for Esquire, and during his research he found that many of Shetty’s claims had inconsistencies.

What did John McDermott find out about Jay Shetty?

Shetty has often shared his life’s story on talk shows, and has also written about it in two of his best-selling books. He said that while he was in business school, he had a major spiritual awakening after attending a talk by Gauranga Das, a monk. He also said he studied at an ashram in India for three years.

However, McDermott found various inconsistencies in the story. He said that Shetty often changes his age in the tale. At times he says he was 18, and on other occasions he said he was 21 and 22. Shetty’s legal team and Gauranga Das confirmed that the talk took place in 2007, which would mean Shetty was 19 or 20 at the time.

Several people who knew Shetty at the time said he did travel to India, but not for as much time as he claims. Some of his former associates said he spent most of his monk stint at an estate outside London called Bhaktivedanta Manor, and not in Mumbai. Das and Shetty’s legal team claimed he spent only a few months there and then moved to India. However, according to a travel blog Shetty kept at the time, he called Bhaktivedanta his main ashram. He discussed in a 2011 post about returning from “almost four months in India” before hanging out at London’s City University and “distributing flyers and books on the streets all over the UK and enjoying festivals!”

Shetty previously claimed that at one point he was so disconnected with society during his stint as a monk that when he rejoined civilisation, he did not know who the prime minister was. Some people have dismissed these claims, saying Shetty spent a lot of this time filming viral YouTube videos in London. “I saw him in sweatpants more than I saw him in robes,” one associate said.

Shetty has been reluctant to speak publicly about the fact that some of his religious education happened in the Hare Krishna movement, a Hindu religious organisation formally known as the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, or ISKCON. This may be because ISKCON has been embroiled in controversies, including allegations of abuse.

Shetty has also been accused of plagiarism over several years. Several creators claimed he did not ask permission to repost their content on Instagram, or pay for them.

McDermott found glaring issues with the Jay Shetty Certification School, a $7,400-a-term self-help course that says it gives students a master’s degree apparently pays in life coaching. This school pays OTHM, a private exam-certification company in the UK, “to evaluate and certify its accreditation,” McDermott wrote. “It also claims that Ofqual, the UK government’s exam watchdog, which regulates all exams for schools and universities, “approves” the qualification,” he added.

“Ofqual said it does not regulate the school’s accreditations. An Ofqual spokesperson wrote that the organization would be contacting the school to have “references to Ofqual removed from their website”,” McDermott wrote.

McDermott added that the Jay Shetty Certification School is not approved by Ofqual, according to lawyers representing Shetty. It is, instead, “an “OTHM Approved Center”, and that OTHM is approved by Ofqual – and that, as a result, students are “eligible to progress” to certain programs “with advanced standing”, as it says on the school’s website.”

“But OTHM told the Guardian that “Ofqual do not recognise Jay Shetty – the Centre is not linked to any OTHM Ofqual-regulated Qualifications”. They said that although the Jay Shetty school is an OTHM “endorsed Learning Programme”, these programs “are not Ofqual regulated” and the way the arrangement is currently advertised on the Shetty’s website “might mislead”,” he added.

As for Shetty, he has appeared to be unbothered by the allegations so far. He has made no direct comment about the accusations.

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