Category Archives: South Asia(n)

Back from India

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We are back from India. Chennai for bro-in-law’s wedding and then some time in  Kerala to relax. I don’t post personal pics so no wedding images to share. But here are a few pics of the place where we stayed in Samudra Beach (including one above), a pic of Kovalam Beach and a couple lobster pics.

[Lobster, Kerala style: coconut milk, curry leaf, etc.]

[Kovalam Beach]

[Lobster, American style: grilled with lemon butter]

Wednesday News Items

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Things are getting busy around here. The end of the semester is always that way. Here a few news items to point your attention to:

It appears the Mumbai terrorists had some logistical support from a U.S. citizen. David Headley, the son of Pakistani diplomat, “changed his name from Daood Gilani in 2006 so he could hide his Muslim and Pakistani identity and slip more easily into his American businessman cover story while scoping out targets.”  He also served as a DEA informant after getting busted for importing two kilograms of heroin from Pakistan. Read more here, here and here.

Continuing on the counter-terrorism theme, a senior al-Qaeda leader was killed in Pakistan by a Predator drone strike. Abdirizaq Abdi Saleh aka Saleh al-Somali was the number three leader of al-Qaeda after Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Nice shooting!

In other South Asian news, the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh is in turmoil due to recent decision by the national government to allow part of the territory to secede and form the new state of Telangana.

In Cuba, a U.S. contractor who was “distributing cell phones, laptops and other communications devices”  has been detained by the authorities. Sylvia Longmire reports, “[t] uunidentified contractor works for Development Alternatives Inc., a development group based in Bethesda, Maryland.” Who, or what, is Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI)? According to their website:

DAI has worked in 150 developing and transition countries, providing comprehensive development solutions in areas including crisis mitigation and recovery, democratic governance and public sector management, agriculture and agribusiness, private sector development and financial services, economics and trade, HIV/AIDS, avian influenza control, and water and natural resources management. Clients include international development agencies, international lending institutions, private corporations and philanthropies, and host-country governments.

More updates will be provided as more information is available.

Moving to the United States, district judge Nina Gershon has decided in favor of poverty pimps community organization, ACORN, by ruling the Congress acted in an unconstitutional manner in singling out the group. I’m not an expert in Constitutional Law, but I know it is the function of the legislative branch, not the judiciary, to decide how our tax dollars are spent. More here and here.

My last item is from NYC where our resident Nehru suited infantile leftist Charles Barron has struck again. This time at a City University of New York groundbreaking he was not invited to (h/t Gothamist):

After getting into a public squabble with a CUNY trustee at a groundbreaking event on Tuesday, City Councilman Charles Barron wants him out. According to the Daily News, the controversial Council member told an audience at Medgar Evers College (a CUNY school), “The Board of Trustees has to change… This is a racist, rednecked right-winger who’s sitting on the Board of Trustees. Make sure you write a letter and say he must be removed.”

This fool wants to be president of the NYC city council.

Grading Obama’s Afghanistan Speech: Surge or Exit Strategy?

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[Backup is on the way...]

I listened to President Obama’s speech on Afghanistan at West Point and it was not entirely encouraging. His reluctant admission that more troops are needed was welcome but I am concerned he is not supportive of an effective counterinsurgency program as was approved by President George W. Bush during the “surge” in Iraq.

Perhaps a better way of putting it is I am puzzled whether his speech argued in favor of letting facts on the ground determine the length of American involvement or whether he is committed to removing American troops in eighteen months. I was left thinking he was trying to say too many different things to too many different audiences at the same time.

As I tell my students before they give their oral presentations, “always be aware of your audience.” In their case determining the audience is easy. They are doing the presentation for me, in order to receive a grade, as well as their colleagues, in order to edify–but not confuse–them.

President Obama finds himself in a far more difficult situation. He has multiple audiences he needs to appeal to. Making matters worse, what one group wants to hear is often in opposition to another group.

The most obvious audience is that of the West Point cadets and experienced officer corps. If I were grading Obama regarding his appeal to this audience it would be a D. The primary reason is he never once mentioned victory as an outcome of his strategy. Why does this matter? Put yourself in the mindset of an officer who has (or will soon have) enlisted soldiers under his command. One question that would likely spring to mind is, “if my commander in chief is not convinced victory is possible, what do I tell my troops?” That is not a situation an officer wants to find himself in, to say the least.

Another audience are the legislators, activists and partisans of the president’s political party. As the health care debate has shown, Democrats are not united on much of anything. Regarding military action, one the one hand, most Blue Dog Democrats support a strong military and the use of force. But the wing of the Democratic Party that was largely responsible for the president’s victory are the progressives. Most of them want the troops home yesterday. The president’s speech contained some tough talk regarding Al Qaeda and the Taliban for the Blue Dogs and a clear timetable for the progressives. Or, was that a clear timetable? What was that mention of “facts on the ground” all about? Isn’t that what President Bush said time and time again when asked when we would withdrawal from Iraq? Obama did better with Democrats but not great, C-range territory.

The final audience to consider are Republicans, the political opposition. They do not seem very pleased with the president’s speech either. Some dismissed his strategy out of hand before he even gave his speech while others have been railing against him for taking so long to get his act together. Many wanted–but did not expect–Obama to commit to the 60,000 troops that General McChrystal asked for. They were also perturbed by his references to torture and shutting down Gitmo. So he gets another D.

Final Grade: D+

Setting aside how he did with these audiences, just a few words about my own perspective. First, I am not as critical as some that Obama took a while to put his Afghanistan plan together. Yet I agree that it is was too long, especially for someone who made a more effective Afghanistan strategy a centerpiece of his presidential campaign. Progressives seem to have forgotten about that. Second, I concur it is important to let President Karzai know we are not going to be there forever. But did President Obama have to announce the timetable to the entire world? Couldn’t he have done this more diplomatically? Third, the political cheap shots were a disappointment. So how did he do for this audience of one? I give him a C-.

Read More:

Full transcript of the president’s speech here.

Clive Crook at the Atlantic found the speech contradictory:

Obama tried to have it both ways: he gave the generals another 30,000 soldiers, almost as many as they had asked for, but told the country (and anybody else who might have been listening) that disengagement would begin in just 18 months.

At its center, in other words, the speech contradicted itself. You cannot argue, as he tried to, that (a) this is a war America must win to safeguard its own security, and (b) whether the US is winning or not, the troops will start to come home in 2011. If they can start to come home in 18 months regardless, why not start to bring them home now?

That was not the only contradiction. We are against “nation building” (again). But as well as creating the country’s own security forces out of next to nothing, we want a civilian surge to build capacity and foster development. Run that by me once more.

Fred Barnes at the Weekly Standard found it disapopinting:

I had hoped Obama would declare that nothing will deter him, as commander-in-chief, from prevailing in Afghanistan. But it turns out a lot of things might deter him. He listed a few of them: the cost of the war, its length (if more than 18 months from January 2010), the failure of Afghans to step up to the task sufficiently. He hedged.

Americans and our allies were looking for more, I believe. To have rallied the country and the world, Obama needed to indicate he would lead a fight to win in Afghanistan, with the help of allies if possible, but with the armed forces of the U.S. alone if necessary. He didn’t say anything like that. He didn’t come close.

While Joan Walsh over at Slate has this to say:

At the moment he needed all of his persuasive powers, Obama gave the worst major speech of his presidency. I admit: I expected to be, even wanted to be, carried away a bit by Obama’s trademark rhetorical magic. But I wasn’t, not even a little. I found the speech rushed, sing-songy and perfunctory, delivered by rote. I despise the right-wing Obama-Teleprompter taunts, but even I wanted to say, Look at your audience, not the damn Teleprompter, Mr. President. Obama looked haggard, his eyes deeper set, and I believe this decision pained him. But I’m not sure even he believes it’s the right decision.

Remembering the Mumbai Attacks: The Lessons Learned One Year Later

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One year ago today (November 26) Mumbai, India experienced its worst terrorist attack. Ten jihadists with small arms and grenades killed over 173 people and wounded over 308. They managed to hold the police and armed forces at bay until November 29.

While there have been some changes made in the hopes of preventing another attack, Karan Singh Tyagi laments:

Sadly, not much has changed. A year down the line no individual has been held accountable or punished for such a heinous act. It was only yesterday that the Pakistan Anti-Terrorism Court formally charged seven suspects, including Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, with planning and helping execute the Mumbai attacks. It is better late than never, but one only hopes that this indictment will be taken to its logical conclusion without any further delay.

In India itself, the trial of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone jihadi captured alive, has been turned into a prolonged circus that is serving no one. Kasab initially pleaded not guilty, but later, on July 20th, admitted his guilt. The court accepted his plea and placed the confessional statement on record, but dubbed the admission of guilt as a partial admission and let the trial proceed.

By all reckoning, Kasab’s is an open and shut case. So why not get on with it and reach the inevitable end? I am not suggesting kangaroo courts and summary trials, but delays like this don’t translate into justice. It is especially distressing to see such problems continue to emerge after the discomforting maze of the Indian judicial system was so badly exposed to the whole world when the Trial Court took thirteen years to bring down curtains to the 1993 Bombay Bomb Blast case.

Kasab claims he was recruited for the attacks by an Islamist faction in Pakistan. The government of Pakistan initially denied he was Pakistani but they were forced to admit his citizenship as more and more evidence emerged about how and where the plot was hatched. Rhys Blakely reports (July 21, 2009):

Kasab said he had decided to confess and face a possible death sentence in India after learning that Pakistan intended to prosecute five men accused of being linked to the attacks. “I have heard that Pakistan has now admitted I am Pakistani. My wish is to end the trial and for you to punish me,” he told the judge. He had previously pleaded not guilty to 86 offences, including murder and waging war against India, claiming that a confession had been beaten out of him.

Yesterday, however, he detailed how the Mumbai strike had been masterminded by Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, a senior member of the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist faction.

A recent AP story disclosed Italian police arrested two Pakistani men involved in financing aspects of the operation:

The day before the attacks began on Nov. 26 they allegedly sent money using a stolen identity to a U.S. company to activate Internet phone accounts used by the attackers and their handlers, said Stefano Fonsi, the head of anti-terror police in Brescia.

The transfer was just $229 but gave the attackers five lines over the Internet, which are difficult to trace and allowed militants to keep in touch even during the rampage, Mr. Fonsi said.

Italian police began the probe in December after being alerted by the FBI and Indian police about the transfer, Mr. Fonsi said…

The two suspects in Brescia, identified in a police statement as 60-year-old Mohammad Yaqub Janjua and 31-year-old Aamer Yaqub Janjua, are accused of aiding and abetting international terrorism as well as illegal financial activity. Their agency, which operated on the Western Union money transfer network, was seized by police.

Transferring funds using the identity of other people was a common practice at the Madina Trading agency in Brescia, and the Italian probe broke up a ring of people who used the system, Mr. Fonsi said.

Two more Pakistanis were arrested in Saturday’s raids for allegedly committing fraud, money laundering and other crimes through the masked transfers, but they were not linked to the Mumbai attacks. A fifth Pakistani man escaped arrest and was still being sought.

An additional 12 people were flagged to prosecutors for possible investigation but were not arrested, Mr. Fonsi said.

Just by using the stolen identity, the suspects had transferred some €400,000 ($590,000) between 2006 and 2008 to various countries. The network also used its contacts in Pakistan to help illegal immigrants enter Italy, Mr. Fonsi said.

What are the lessons we can learn from the Mumbai terrorist attacks? The first is recognizing the mayhem and destruction that can be accomplished with hand-held weapons. Bombs or other high explosives are not necessary. This was sadly made apparent by Major Malik Hasan’s recent rampage at Fort Hood. The second is realizing the extent of the global connections and networks established by these jihdists rather than narrowly focusing on South Asia. The third lesson regards the wisdom of trying people responsible for warlike acts in civilian courtrooms. While our system of jurisprudence is not as labyrinthine as the Indian courts, the delays in Kasab’s case are what we can likely expect in the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other Gitmo detainees.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those killed and wounded in the Mumbai terrorist attacks. Remember what happened on this day one year ago.

Pakistan Taliban Leader Eliminated?

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Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of Pakistani Taliban (Tehreek-e-Taliban) responsible for a wave of suicide attacks across Pakistan, was killed in a missile strike fired by a CIA Predator drone according to Pakistani officials. Mehsud, one of Pakistan’s most wanted terrorists, was widely regarded the mastermind of the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

The U.S. considered Mehsud less of a priority than Taliban operatives active in Afghanistan but nevertheless placed a $5 million bounty on his head back in March. CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies increased their efforts against Mehsud because they were concerned of the increasing brazenness of his attacks and the possibility that the Pakistani Taliban could destabilize Pakistan, a country considered integral to the U.S. war against Islamist extremists.

The U.S. has not confirmed that Mehsud was killed. American officials are conducting an investigation, including DNA tests, to see if the individual killed in the missile strike was indeed Mehsud. Pakistan and U.S. officials have confirmed that Mehsud’s second wife was killed in the blast.

Added (08/07):

U.S. counterintelligence official claims it is increasingly likely that Mehsud was killed

Pakistan Taliban confirm Mehsud is dead

[Drone airstrike video]

Rudresh Mahanthappa

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I am reluctant to say anything positive about The New Yorker but I had never heard of saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa prior to reading this article by Gary Giddens. Here is an excerpt:

Jazz musicians have two fundamental goals: creating music that keeps listeners wondering what’s next, and finding a novel context within which to explore old truths. (There are no new truths.) Whenever a musician achieves this synthesis, usually after years of apprenticeship and exploration, a rumble echoes through the jazz world.

Such a rumble was heard last fall, when the thirty-seven-year-old alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa released an astonishing album, “Kinsmen,” on a small New York-based label (Pi), quickly followed by another no less astonishing, “Apti,” on a small Minnesota-based label (Innova). The breakthrough had been a long time coming, and, curiously enough, it justifies ethnic assumptions that Mahanthappa had for much of his career been working to escape.

Later in the article Giddens discusses Mahanthappa’s exploration of the South Indian Carnatic musical tradition. This made things even more interesting. So much of the Indian music we hear in the West is from Northern India. Needless to say I found myself wanting to listen to some of his tunes after reading the article. If you are interested, he has a My Space page and a website.

Live at UMASS with the master of Carnatic saxophone Kadri Gopalnath and the rest of the “Kinsmen” crew:

Mumbai Attacked by Terrorists, Again

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[Taj Palace Hotel, Mumbai]

Mumbai, India has been hit by another terrorist attack. Details remain sketchy but a group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen has claimed responsibility. It appears the terrorists approached the city via boat, whether hijacked or an accomplice vessel, and switched to smaller dinghies to come ashore. After landing, they attacked multiple targets throughout Mumbai.

Unlike previous attacks, the terrorists used small arms and grenades rather than high explosive devices. Early reports focused on the explicit targeting of foreigners at the Oberoi Trident and Taj hotels. However, busy locations frequented by Indians, such as the Chhatrapati Shivaji train station and the Nariman House residential and business complex were also attacked. Nariman House is the location of Chabad Lubavich’s Mumbai center.

Indian authorities report the terrorists appeared highly trained and knowledgeable of the layout of the hotels and other targets. According to the BBC, an unidentified Indian commando stated, “Not everybody can fire the AK series of weapons, not everybody can throw grenades like that,” he said. “By using such weapons and explosives, it is obvious that they would have been trained somewhere.” 140 people are reported dead and I expect this number to rise over the days as buildings are secured and cleared of terrorists.

Here are reports and commentary from around the web:

Excellent coverage may be found at the website for The Hindu and India Express newspapers and Desi Pundit blog.

The Hindu: Terrorists Used Hijacked Vessel

Even as special forces continued to battle the terrorists, investigators have been working to piece together the sequence of events that led up to the massacre that started on Wednesday night.

Based on the continuing interrogation of arrested Lashkar terrorist Ajmal Amir Kamal, investigators believe the 12 terrorists who left Karachi on a merchant ship hijacked a fishing boat to facilitate their final assault on Mumbai.

According to Kamal, the group hijacked the Porbandar-registered Kuber to avoid detection by Indian Navy and Coast Guard patrols, which had a considerable presence in off Mumbai.

While one group of terrorists used the hijacked boat to land at Sassoon Docks on the eastern coast of Mumbai, a second group used a fibreglass lifeboat to row west to the Cuffe Parade fisherman’s colony.

Before leaving the fishing boat, the terrorists beheaded its captain, who Gujarat authorities have identified as Balwant Tandel, from Una village in the Union Territory of Diu. There is no word on the fate of the remaining crew of five.

The Hindu: Premature Action, Israeli Experts

Israeli security experts have said that the Indian security forces were premature in storming the besieged Nariman House.

“Indians should have sanitised the area and first collected intelligence about the terrorists before launching flushing out operations,” a media report here said, quoting the experts.

“In hostage situations, the first thing the forces are supposed to do is assemble at the scene and begin collecting intelligence,” a former official in Israel’s famed anti-terror agency Shin Bet told The Jerusalem Post.

“In this case, it appears that the forces showed up at the scene and immediately began exchanging fire with the terrorists instead of first taking control of the area,” he said.

Foreign Policy: Who are the Deccan Mujahideen?

One must always be suspicious when a “new” terrorist organization crops up. Today’s horrific attacks in Mumbai were claimed by a previously unknown group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen. But one India journalist claims the pattern of the attacks suggests that Lashkar-e-Taiba, a nasty Islamist organization based in Lahore, Pakistan, and with a significant presence in Kashmir and links to al Qaeda, may be to blame.

Here’s where it gets interesting — and I stress here that I am just speculating. Lashkar-e-Taiba’s main goal is to expel India from Kashmir. In the past, some have accused elements of the Pakistani military and intelligence services of having ties to the group. Pakistan’s government has always hotly denied such accusations.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has in recent weeks moved closer to the United States, made some significant gestures toward India, and moved to shut down the political wing of the ISI, Pakisan’s powerful intelligence service (that’s the unit that tries to steal elections). How likely is it that some angry “rogue elements” of the ISI, aligned with Kashmiri jihadists and a team of Indian domestic extremists, sought to head off these moves? I have no idea, but it’s definitely a theory worth exploring.

There’s another more straighforward explanation for today’s attacks — revenge. A group calling itself the “Indian Mujahideen” has claimed responsibility for attacks in a number of different cities over the past several months. The Indian Mujahideen sent a warning in September expressing anger over recent raids by the city’s antiterrorism squad (ATS). Today’s message from the Deccan Mujahideen appears to be identical…

Abe Greenwald (Contentions): Return of the Root Cause

The Chief Minister of Mumbai, Vilasrao Deshmukh claims that “British citizens of Pakistani origin” were among the armed terrorists who took over various sites in the city. If true, this puts a new twist on Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement that “external forces” were responsible for the attack. Time and Newsweek can publish all the articles they want about a “mounting sense of persecution” among Muslims in India, but if Indian businessmen (and foreign tourists) are being slaughtered by loyal subjects of the Crown, I’d say the media’s emphasis is a little off-base.

Islamic terrorists don’t need a regional excuse; Western journalists do. Nothing demonstrates this better than the shell game playing out in India this Thanksgiving weekend. One of the terrorists who seized the Oberoi Trident hotel told an Indian news station by phone, “We love this as our country but when our mothers and sisters were being killed, where was everybody?” and then his colleagues went and set off bombs to kill all the neglectful Indian lawmakers in . . . a Jewish outreach center.

Martin in the Margins: Mumbai and the Theology of Death

At lunchtime today, I listened to an insensitive, boneheaded Radio 4 presenter asking the Indian ambassador whether, given that the Mumbai attackers were probably Islamists, his government should now start attending seriously to the grievances of its Muslim population, as Britain had to do after 7/7. It’s enough to make you weep. In something he wrote after 9/11, but which I can’t find right now, Christopher Hitchens recalled asking some Chilean exile friends whether they were tempted to launch a similar attack on America, after the CIA-backed overthrow of Allende. They were horrified at the thought. Genuine radicals, those whose radicalism arises from a love of humanity and rage at inequality and injustice, don’t tend to see the mass murder of innocent people as a legitimate tactic. The murderers of Mumbai, like the Baader-Meinhof killers that I wrote about the other day, were not reacting to ‘grievances’, unless they were grievances imagined in their twisted theology of victimhood, but acting out the logical dictates of a nihilistic and death-loving ideology.

ZWord: The Mumbai Terrorist Attack

We’re continually being told that a solution to the Palestinian question will bind up the wounds inflicted on the pride of certain sections of Muslim opinion by the existence of a state for Jews. It’s never been a very convincing view and every attack like this makes it less so. A solution to the Palestinian question must be found for the sake of the Palestinians themselves and not because it would cool the ardor of radical Muslim opinion in India, Pakistan, Indonesia or anywhere else. To put it another way, does anyone really believe that the coming into existence of a Palestinian state would have convinced the Mumbai terrorists not to attack the Jewish centre?

UPDATE:

Indian troops have stormed the Chabad house. Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, were among the murdered. JTA notes:

Conflicting reports following the takeover of Mumbai’s Chabad-Lubavitch house in the terrorist attacks in India, which left more than 140 dead, prompted confusion and anxiety surrounding the fate of the house’s occupants, including the Holtzbergs.

Four Israelis were among those freed from the Trident-Oberoi luxury hotel along with other hostages late Friday morning, according to the Israeli Foreign Ministry…

On Thursday afternoon, Indian commandos surrounded the Nariman House, where Chabad is located, with plans to storm in and release the hostages. There reportedly were four terrorists holed up inside with six hostages. Indian special forces reportedly killed one terrorist in the building.

Earlier Thursday, the hostage takers released the Holtzberg’s 2-year-old son and the building’s cook, who said that the couple was alive but unconscious…

The Chabad house is located at 5 Hormusji Street in Mumbai. India is a popular destination for young Israeli backpackers, who often make the trip after their army service. The Holtzbergs moved to Mumbai from Brooklyn, New York in 2003 to do Jewish outreach work in India.

Concern about the fate of the Chabad rabbi and his wife mounted throughout the day, with the Brooklyn-based organization issuing calls for prayer to Jews the world over. The National Council of Young Israel also sent out an alert asking Jews to pray for the rabbi and his wife.

“One friend of Gavriel Holtzberg reported receiving an e-mail from the Mumbai rabbi at 11:30 p.m. local time,” Chabad.org reported. “The Israeli Consulate was in touch with Holtzberg, but the line was cut in middle of the conversation. No further contact has since been established.”

On Thursday morning, according to the Jerusalem Post, the Chabad rabbi’s toddler son was rushed from the house in the arms of one of the Jewish center’s employees, Sandra Samuel.

“I took the child, I just grabbed the baby and ran out,” said Samuel, 44, who was identified as a cook.

Analysis from Bill Roggio (Long War Journal)

The Oneness Movement

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As regular readers know, I am interested in cults, especially political cults but religious ones as well. I’m not sure how I discovered the Oneness Movement or O.M. I must have been looking for something on Youtube. If you are not familiar with these nuts, here is what they are all about.

Their leader Sri Bhagavan (original name Vijaykumar Naidu), claims he is Kalki, the final avatar of Vishnu and can “enlighten” us mere mortals through his touch or gaze. The cult is also known as Kalki Deeksha movement. He and his wife, Sri Amma (Padmini), offer classes (level 1 and level 2) for thousands of dollars to facilitate the “enlightenment” process. It is an old scam that never ends to bring in new suckers.

Loved and worshipped by millions, Sri Amma Bhagavan are avatars for enlightenment and God realisation. They are one single avataric consciousness in two bodies. They represent the Divine feminine and the Divine masculine. Together Amma and Bhagavan power the process of enlightenment of the individual seeker as Yin and Yang, stillness and movement, Prakruti and Purusha.

The new twist for this cult is claiming spiritual awakening or deeksha is a “neurobiological process” and adding strange accoutrements like a golden orb to the standard Hindu cosmology:

The phenomenon of the Oneness Blessing/Oneness Deeksha is sourced in the descent of the “Golden Ball of Divine Grace”, a mystical golden orb of light, into which Sri Amma Bhagavan had impregnated their divine consciousness since early childhood through a very esoteric process. In July 1989, this Golden Ball of divine grace descended into many children of the Jeevashram School founded by Sri Amma & Bhagavan. With the descent of the Golden Ball these children were instantly transported into deep mystical states of consciousness and experienced profound transformation, thus heralding the birth of a phenomenon Sri Amma Bhagavan had been waiting for over nearly four decades.

The Golden Ball of Divine grace embodies the divine intent of Sri Amma Bhagavan, namely ‘to set man totally and unconditionally free’ and it is this intent that powers the Oneness Blessings/Oneness Deekshas worldwide. Oneness Blessing/Oneness Deeksha is essentially the process of facilitating the descent of this Golden Ball, which naturally activates a neurobiological process in the receiver’s brain, thus culminating in a spiritual awakening. In addition, it also activates the seven energy centers (chakras) in the subtle body and the dormant spiritual energy (kundalini), which constitutes the basis of every form of transformation in life, mundane as well as spiritual.

How people fall for this nonsense is actually rather sad. In one devotee’s words:

‘Diksha’, or baptism as we know it in the West, is a hands-on transference of Divine energy that brings about a state of oneness, or enlightenment. In the past, only a very few have been blessed with this state. Now, for the first time in human history, enlightenment is being made available to everyone through the grace if Sri Bhagavan (See picture). Sri Bhagavan, or Kalki as he is often called, is an Avatar who has the mission of bringing enlightenment to the world at this critical time.

Bhagavan says that you cannot attain a full state of enlightenment through your own efforts, although you can get close. Full enlightenment is a state that must be given to you!

What happens to us when we receive Diksha probably cannot be understood by the human mind, but it can best be described as a neuro-biological shift in the brain. We become detached or de-clutched from our mind. We are still able to feel feelings and have old thoughts, but there is no charge there anymore, and we start to experience permanent peace and joy. It is not about becoming mindless, but rather ‘mindful’ and being totally present with reality as it is.

If you were a native African, for example, you could probably become enlightened after receiving only one Diksha. However, we in the West are holding onto so many emotional blocks and concepts about life, that it is not as easy for us to attain this state.

Here is a different perspective:

I am having a hard time getting my money refunded from the people at the Oneness Movement. They have been extremely “nice” but they are basically charging me in order to refund the money. God, I wish I never gave them the fucking money in the first place. It’s another expensive lesson, but the same one over and over – listen to myself, not any one else who claims to have some kind of “answer”.

It seemed so appealing, the thought of all my Issues dissolving after three weeks of deeksha. But the warning signs were there. Signing the waiver saying I could withstand sleep and food deprivation, the high fee and the inability to leave the ashram, being told everyone has the same questions as me so I should just go with the flow and ignore what my inner voice was saying…I am grateful for my rational over-thinking mind coming in to save the day!

But now I have to deal with these mo-fo’s to get the money back. And I am learning about cults and mind-control as I try to navigate through their system of niceties and bullshit. They have me by the balls. I want to write an expose on them before they get much larger, but who the hell has heard of deeksha? Or, as they call it now, Oneness Deeksha or Oneness Prayer. That edict came down from on high last week – maybe the authorities are getting on to the deeksha name.

It turns out many of the early devotees were likely dosed with hallucinogenic leyham without their consent, leading to the extraordinary experiences they shared together. After leaving the Oneness University many of the devotees experience withdrawals and psychosis. Some have committed suicide.

As to where all the money is going. Part of it is going to build this temple:

The rest is being invested in personal properties and businesses owned by cult leadership.

Read more:

Website of the Global Oneness Commitment, “Co-creating a happy world.”

Guruphiliac:

Deeksha is a Sanskrit word meaning “benediction;” one “Deeksha giver” explains that deeksha “initiates a neurobiological change in the brain that when complete enables the senses to be free from the interference of the mind. When the senses are unclouded by the mind’s interpretations, a natural clarity of perception occurs with accompanying spontaneous feelings of joy, inner calmness and connection to the Oneness in everything.” Ahh, smell the bliss!

[Comments are now closed. This post is five years old.]

Terror Attack in Ahmedabad (India) Kills at Least 45

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At least 45 people have been killed in the latest terror bombings to hit India. This time the target was Ahmedabad in the northwestern state of Gujarat. Hospitals, markets and busy intersections were targeted. Car bombs were used against hospitals but the majority were much smaller, simpler devices (bags of ammonium nitrate packed with ball bearings), placed in tiffins on bicycles. Seventeen separate blasts have been recorded and police continue to defuse bombs across the city.

A group calling itself the Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility and sent emails to television channels minutes before the blasts. The Times of India reports:

The targets were selectively chosen, with the focus of attack being chief minister Narendra Modi’s Maninagar assembly constituency. Four blasts took place in this area. Also targeted was VHP leader Pravin Togadia’s cancer hospital in the Bapunagar area as a bombs went off on either side of his hospital. There were two blasts near assembly speaker Ashok Bhatt’s house in Khadia.

The Hindu notes:

The reports pieced together by the police indicated 17 blasts in 10 different areas and all, except the minority-dominated Sarkhej and Juhapura, were in the labour-dominated eastern parts of the old city. Most of the blasts occurred in crowded and congested areas during peak evening hour traffic. About 40 minutes after the first round of blasts, bombs went off near the trauma centre of the civil hospital and the main portico of the L.G. General Hospital in Maninagar, even as the injured were being rushed to the hospitals.

Abdul Halim, an activist of the banned Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), wanted in the 2002 Gujarat riots, was arrested for his alleged connections to the Ahmedabad blasts. Ahmedabad Joint Commissioner of Police Ashish Bhatia claimed Halim was part of network sending potential terrorists across the border into Pakistan for training.

Regarding SIMI, South Asian Terror Portal describes the organization as:

[A]n Islamist fundamentalist organization, which advocates the ‘liberation of India’ by converting it to an Islamic land. The SIMI, an organisation of young extremist students has declared Jihad against India, the aim of which is to establish Dar-ul-Islam (land of Islam) by either forcefully converting everyone to Islam or by violence.

More on SIMI from The Hindu:

Gujarat has been a high-priority target for SIMI jihadists and affiliate organisations like the Lashkar-e-Taiba ever since the 2002 communal pogrom in the State. Most SIMI cadre involved in these operations could never be arrested, raising the prospect that some, or all, are involved in Saturday’s bombings in Ahmedabad.

Maharashtra-based SIMI bomb maker Zulfikar Fayyaz Kagzi, for example, is thought to have built a sophisticated suitcase-bomb planted on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad express train in February 2006. However, an error in the timer circuit resulted in the bomb exploding only 12 hours after the scheduled detonation time, by which time train cleaning staff had deposited the suitcase in an empty corner of the Ahmedabad station.

Fayyaz is known to have caught an Iran Air flight to Tehran on May 9, 2006, and is thought to have escaped across the Zahedan border into Pakistan.

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