The first in this series may be read here - Pandits in Captivity.
The second essay may be read here - CPs : Course Participants or Captive Pandits.
The TM Organization focuses upon FUNDRAISING for Pandits, while promising magic. Despite TM's assertion, there is no evidence that Pandits' impact global harmony. After years of fundraising for world peace through chanting Pandits, neither Maharishi's Global Country of World Peace nor other TM nonprofits disclose finances related to these captive Indians.
* The first phase of the kitchen expansion to accommodate the new Pandits has been completed, and the next phase is well underway.
* More than 1/3 of the funds needed to bring all 556 Pandits to the U.S. has been raised.
* The arrival of these Pandits will secure the daily Super Radiance numbers in Fairfield and Maharishi Vedic City at more than 2,000. Closing in on the Goal”
Donations are designated for “Increased harmony, peace, invincibility and prosperity for the nation and its citizens; AND increasing the number of Pandits in Maharishi Vedic City to our desired goal as quickly as possible.”
Since 1979's first "World Peace Assembly" in Amherst Massachusetts, Maharishi and the TM Movement promoted the idea that a small percentage of the population could influence world peace, weather, crime and the economy through group meditation. This would create "The Maharishi Effect" to bring heaven on earth, or so Maharishi and the organization's retroactive selective studies claimed.
The goal of changing the world was and is used to inspire, or pressure, TM-Sidhi practitioners to devote their lives and funds to Maharishi's plans. This also feeds the narcissism of people who would believe their thoughts alone are powerful enough to influence government decisions and weather patterns.
Per their own counts, the TM Movement repeatedly fails to realize the mystical 2000 meditator/Sidhas for twice-daily Program attendance. Other TMers must be making similar choices about responsibilities, personal and family needs, thereby decreasing Program attendance.
To solve this problem, Maharishi came up with the brilliant idea of raising funds to import professional meditators from India. This idea was proposed as early as November 2001.
Note : Maharishi's idea is FUNDRAISING for Pandits, not to really improve the world through mystical practices.
In January 2002, after coming out of his annual silent retreat to begin the new year, Maharishi proposed that for a mere $250 Million, the world’s problems could be solved by establishing a permanent community with 10,000 Pandits.
Maharishi's fundraising scheme to support a group of meditating Pandits provided, then and now, a means for TM's wealthy donors to assure spiritual good karma, enlightenment or entry to heaven by donating large sums of money for others meditate in their stead.
This is remarkably similar to the Medieval Catholicism when noblemen paid servants to make spiritual pilgrimages for them, thereby gleaning heavenly accolades for both the nobleman and the pauper who made the pilgrimage.
I doubt the Movement will attain the 2000 which they claim necessary for a Super Radiance effect. This dream is an eternal carrot-on-a-stick, never to be achieved. After all, the Movement would lose credibility with its followers if 2000 Pandits meditate twice daily, and the world inevitably continues with political travails, natural disasters, environmental carcinogens and economic vicissitudes.
Being a practical Guru, Maharishi established nonprofit corporations so that donors could receive tax deductions while profiting their Guru. Despite public perception, a "nonprofit" organization does not have to meet any ethical qualifications. The primary difference between a nonprofit corporation vs a for-profit is the stated purpose of the organization, how funds are dispersed and taxed. Nonprofits are allowed to generate revenue surpluses (er, that would be synonymous with ‘profit’).
In 2003, the Program "8000 Now" was created to fundraise for a Pandit program. Their website cleverly does not initially reveal their true intentions, until one clicks about on various links.
TMFree readers may enjoy videos on the "National Yagya Program" website. Among highlights, see Raja Dr. John Hagelin explain how important it is to “engage the power of natural law at a very deep level” through the performance of Yagyas to help Japan after their tsunami and nuclear crisis. Japan's Raja also reads aloud a letter of gratitude for Pandits he credits with helping Japan..
In his documentary film David Wants to Fly, David Seiveking interviews Earl Kaplan. Earl admits that he is not proud of his former TM-alliance and donations exceeding $150million to Maharishi. Earl also says he asked Maharishi about the promised Pandits; despite Earl's large donation for this purpose, none had been gathered together. Earl says that Maharishi told him "I don't know if it will work." In his former brainwashed state, Earl was shocked that his Guru had been recruiting for a cause that he was not sure would work. Earl, his twin brother David, and their wives then left the Movement.
In late October 2006, shortly after Howard Settle granted $600 per person monthly scholarship to hire pandits, up to one million dollars monthly, an initial group of Pandits arrived from India. The Movement announced "A permanent group of 1,000 Maharishi Pandits has been established in America”. Photos here show TM Movement dignitaries (note their requisite beige/gold themed suits) greeting Pandits at the airport, and chatting at the Pandits' welcome dinner.
The Pandits are hired to save the world by meditating en masse.
For obscure reasons, the Movement still fails to have the requisite number of Pandits together. Looks like stalling tactics to me, to keep donations flowing.
For those with special needs and the ability to make tax deductible donations, the Organization states Pandits can customize mystical Yagya ceremonies for special purposes. Even my late-father had purchased several custom Yagyas for himself.
Lacking foresight, when the first Pandits arrived to Iowa in autumn of 2006, they lacked proper clothing for Iowa’s subzero winters. Local meditators in Fairfield and Vedic City created a coat drive to garner winter wear so these thin Indian men could survive their first subzero winter. Many Pandits had arrived from India to the United States with only simple kurtas and shawls.
One year after their arrival, Maharishi approved the provision of winter coats in October 2007, for the Pandits. Separate fundraising efforts were conducted to purchase these coats,
Interestingly, Vedic City has an identity crisis about their Pandits.
Official Vedic City maps, provided by The Raj Spa's receptionist, do not identify the location of this fenced, guarded compound. Still, it’s easy enough to find. Just drive north in front of The Raj along Jasmine Ave., turn left, west, at 170th street at toward their touted luxury Rukmapura Park Hotel. The fenced Pandit compound is almost directly across 170th street from the hotel’s gravel driveway, conveniently outside the official grid of Vedic City's Master Plan, at the intersection of 170th Street and “Invincible America Ave.”
While not listed among Vedic City's attractions, a small image of meditating Pandits appears in the upper banner of Vedic City’s website.
Vedic City wants tax benefits for the Pandits, according to a February 2011 story from Iowa’s Heartland Connection, channel 3 KTVO posted on February 17th "Can Census Make 1000 Iowans Disappear? ”
Vedic City officials claim the US Census miscounted their residents, neglecting to include over one thousand residents of the pandit compound at 1675 Invincible America Drive. According to the 2001 Boundary and Annexation Survey file, the Pandit compound lies within Vedic City's boundaries.
Are the Pandits actually Iowans as claimed by KTVO news? Are they legal residents of Vedic City, Iowa and the USA? Are they guests, or students? Only their US State Department Visas know for sure.
As expected by anyone familiar with the TM Movement, Vedic City claims or disavows the Pandit presence according to what is most advantageous at any given moment.
“Funnily enough” (one of Maharishi’s phrases), 2010 tax returns for only one fundraising arm for the pandit and yagya donations can be viewed here - 2010 Exempt Organization Tax Return "Brahmananda Saraswati Foundation". And an overview of the financial status of Maharishi's Global Country of World Peace can be viewed here.
On a human note - One wonders if the fenced Pandits know their rights as foreign nationals within the United States. Human rights agencies queried in Chicago and elsewhere require a complaint filed by one of the Pandits themselves to initiate an investigation about unlawful restraint, confinement, or anything else.
How would an imprisoned person, with neither English language fluency nor outside access, inquire for assistance or file a complaint?