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Among the yogi's relatives, his brother J P Srivaistava's sons, Anand and Ajay Prakash, seem to be in charge of accounts and administration. The brother, reportedly, is not given much importance in the family hierarchy, for reasons that. date back to the illustrious younger sibling's youth. Mahesh Yogi, apparently, had early in life forsaken hearth and home after being allegedly ill-treated by his brother, and the memory seems to still rankle. So J P Srivastava has been relegated to an insignificant position, according to a former inmate of the ashram, and lives with his sons and their families in Delhi's New Friends' Colony.

The yogi is, reportedly, fondest. of his niece, Kirti, his sister Indira's daughter. She is in charge of the women's wing. Apart from Brahmachari Nandkishore, she is the person reported to be closest to him. She has two brothers, Praful and Pramod. While Pramod has settled in West Germany through the benevolence of his uncle, Praful operates from India, say sources. The Maharishi's munificence extends to more distant relatives as well. Girish Varma, the son of one of the yogi's paternal uncles, has comfortably settled at NOIDA.

For the present, the sage is heading for rough weather. For, not only is he under close government scrutiny, but under attack from several quarters, for various reasons. And this might ultimately do him the greatest damage. Briefly, the three most serious charges against him are that, one, the acquisition of 600 acres of land at NOIDA violates the Uttar Pradesh Land Ceiling act; two, the construction of the ashram is illegal as it falls within the green belt; and three, the young brahmin boys inducted for training as Veda pandits have been molested by their teachers and generally ill-treated.

To consider the first charge, land records in Ghaziabad show that some of the organisations connected with the Maharishi's activities have each purchased land in a excess of the 12-and-a-half acres permitted to individual parties, in case of direct transaction with the original landholders.

Attention to this issue has been drawn by the local MLA, Mahendra Singh Bhati, whose constituency. Dadri, includes the ashram complex. Yet, Bhati has been repeatedly thwarted in his attempts to raise the matter in the state assembly. He suspects that the yogi enjoys the protection of certain politicians.

The records show that land in NOIDA has been purchased by 14 organisations, consisting of trusts and societies, from the four villages of Bhangel-Begumpur, Hajipur, Salarpur Khadar and Gejha-Tilupatabad. According to him, even the lease for 40 bighas belonging to the Land Management Committee, which has been reserved for scheduled castes, has been acquired by the ashram. The state government has done nothing to take physical possession of the excess land.

An ashram spokesman, while admitting that about 60 acres have been acquired in the area, says that the organisations had appealed for exemption from the Land Ceiling Act in 1986, on the grounds that they are engaged in public interest service. So far, no decision has been taken in the matter.

Bhati, who feels confident that he has the law on his side, further charges that the buildings in the ashram are illegal constructions, as per an official notice designating 37 villages in the area, including the four from which the ashram land was purchased, as a green belt meant solely for agricultural purposes. He alleges that despite an official warning from NOIDA authorities to the ashram to stop further construction, it has continued under the guise of repairs. Yet, a shop located nearby, owned by a man called Bijjan, has been demolished for violating the green belt notification.

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Creation has two sides: intelligence, which is the cause of everything, and the manifestations of intelligence, which are the physical and psychological features of the everyday world. Because Transcendental Meditation directly approaches intelligence, rather than the manifestations of intelligence, it solves problems by introducing harmony and well-being at the most basic level, and not by dealing with problems themselves. That's why it is so effective.

Consider this example: The gardener supplies water to the root of a tree. That water, that nourishment, then reaches all parts of the tree - leaves, branches, flowers, fruit - through the sap. We can think of the sap as analogous to intelligence and the green leaves or yellow flowers as analogous to the manifestations of the intelligence. The leaves and flowers are the intelligence of the sap, after it has been transformed. So intelligence - like the leaves and flowers of a tree - appears as the many different forms of manifest life. Those manifestations include every aspect of existence, from the material and physiological, through the psychological, intellectual, and spiritual. All of those features of life come from transformations of intelligence. In meditation, we directly meet this essential intelligence. Therefore, we have the possibility of nourishing all of its other levels, and thus all levels of manifestation, in a way that is harmoniously related to the whole universe.

How is Transcendental Meditation different from the various other forms of meditation?

Maharishi: The basic difference is that Transcendental Meditation, in addition to its simplicity, concerns itself only with the mind. Other systems often involve some additional aspects with which the mind is associated, such as breathing or physical exercises. They can be a little complicated because they deal with so many things. But with Transcendental Meditation there is no possibility of any interference. So we say this is the all-simple program, enabling the conscious mind to fathom the whole range of its existence.

Transcendental Meditation ranges from active mind - or performing mind - to quiet mind - or resting mind. In this resting mind, one has purity and simplicity, uninvolved with anything other than the mind, uninvolved with any other practice. In Transcendental Meditation, because we deal only with the mind, we nourish all expressions of intelligence.

The mind meditates, gains Transcendental Consciousness and brings about transformation in different fields of manifestation. All fields of life, which are the expression of intelligence, are nourished or transformed and made better through experiencing Transcendental Consciousness.

The mind, of course, is always concerned with other aspects, such as the physiology of the body, the environment, and the whole universe for that matter. But since Transcendental Meditation deals only with the performance of the mind, from its active states to its settled state, it remains unconcerned with those other aspects, though it deals with them all, because intelligence deals with them all. -- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, unknown interview, copyright presumablyheld by Maharishi Vedic University, The Maharishi Foundation, or another group within the TM family.

Cults come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Categories of cults that are recruiting successfully today include:

Eastern meditation: characterized by belief in God-consciousness, becoming one with God. The leader usually distorts and Eastern-based philosophy or religion. Members sometimes learn to disregard worldly possessions and may take on an ascetic lifestyle. Techniques used: meditation, repeated mantras, altered states of consciousness, trance states.

Religious: marked by belief in salvation, afterlife, sometimes combined with an apocalyptic view. The leader reinterprets the Scriptures and often claims to be a prophet if not the messiah. Often the group is strict, sometimes using physical punishments such as paddling and birching, especially on children. Members are encouraged to spend a great deal of time proselytizing. (Note: included here are Bible-based neo-Christian and other religious cults, many considered syncretic since they combine beliefs and practices). Techniques used: speaking in tongues, chanting, praying, isolation, lengthy study sessions, many hours spent evangelizing, "struggle" (or criticism) and confession sessions.

Political, racist, terrorist: fueled by belief in changing society, revolution, overthrowing the "enemy" or getting rid of evil forces. The leader professes to be all-knowing and all-powerful. Often the group is armed and meets in secret with coded language, handshakes, and other ritualized practices. Members consider themselves an elite cadre ready to go to battle. Techniques used: paramilitary training, reporting on one another, guilt, fear, struggle sessions, instilled paranoia, long hours of indoctrination. -- Captive Hearts, Captive Minds, Lalich and Tobias, Hunter House, 1993.