Thursday, June 27, 2013

The lull before the storm

It's been a long, hot summer. Brains have been boiled and many hardcore Tiru-ites have collapsed into a permanent state of delirium ...

So it is with trepidation that we report dark rumours that our favourite pet monster, Mooji, may be returning to Tiru. The Rice Mill, scene of his previous visitations, has been refitted and freshly painted. Have Mooji's cronies paid for this refurbishment and will the Lumpy Leviathan be returning to our shores? The last year has been blissfully idyllic without him and his avaricious plague of locusts (or errr ... "devotees" depending on your level of delusion!) Unfortunately it's only been a temporary remission from a fatal disease: Mooji is a parasite who will return with greater virulence to kill its host. No one who lives in Tiru wants him to come back and top of the list of disapproval are the bigwigs at Ramana Ashram. But for Mooji, his attempt to appropriate Ramana's legacy and lineage is what gives him legitimacy. His is a dubious addiction that covers up his profound absence of authenticity and originality. The bottom line is that Tony Moo ain't got no soul!

And then we come to that harbinger of hell, the bypass, which is apparently a done deal and will be finished by Deepam (as predicted by local astrologer, Richard Clarke). Fat chance! - but it will come soon enough, bringing congestion, pollution and more building, which will place greater stress on the infrastructure and resources of the area. Projects like this never resolve the inherent problems. They only inflame them and make the core issues worse. The new road will make Tiruvannamalai bigger, open to more visitors and traffic, further ravaging the landscape and bringing environmental destruction and mayhem in its wake. As it is, at night machinery can be heard grinding away as construction workers illegally plunder the bedrock in the neighbourhoods alongside the road. They have ravaged the plain around the Lake: every morning yet more massive holes appear that have been gouged out of the ground. The area has become a pockmarked abomination, which until only very recently, was a wide expanse of pastureland for the local goat herders. The company overseeing Project NH-66 is Transstroy, which local wags have taken delight in renaming, De-stroy, in homage to the great Johnny Rotten.

The Tiruvannamalai section of the ring road encircles the south side of the town - stretching from the Vellore Road in the north to the Bangalore Road in the west. Easier access to the town promises huge development opportunities. Carloads of Indian real estate prospectors have been seen sizing up the back field due east of the Bund where plots have been pegged out since plans for the bypass were first announced. Unlike Adiannamalai on the west side, where there has already been a huge amount of building, the south side of the mountain remains relatively undisturbed. With the advent of the road, a whole new suburb will spring up. Ideally positioned for direct access to Ramana Nagar and the Ashram area, the mud track alongside the Lake has already been widened and compacted. But there is a problem. No water. The place is drying up and we have been told that in only 5 to 10 years, the whole of Tiru will be a desert. Already a victim of the ongoing Kaveri River water dispute with Karnataka state, this month the Cauvery Panel rejected Tamil Nadu's latest demand for water because of the shortage of inflows after last year's almost non-existent winter monsoon. Rain-bearing winds meant to hit the Indian subcontinent every year between May and September (the summer monsoon) and between October and November (the winter monsoon) are bringing progressively less precipitation to Tiruvannamalai ...

This summer for example, locals in the Lake area have been desperately contracting borehole companies to come to their plot to search for more water because their wells have dried up. All to no avail. Multiple test points have yielded nothing and early morning, villagers are forced to bicycle water in huge plastic containers to their houses from further away. Once again the Lake itself has disappeared (up to 2009 everyone was happily swimming in it and catching leptospirosis from the rat urine!) and locals recall how only 30 years ago, they were able to catch eels in the marshland near the soap factory (now designated Paurnami Nagar-II). Local floral fetishist and author David Godman (otherwise known as Godot) residing due south of the Lake has no longer being able to drench his exotic botanical garden because his compound is running dry. Houses at the back of Ramana Nagar close to the Perumbakkam Road have had no water at all for the second year in a row. In both May and June, long lines of women were observed queueing up at the standpipe near the Animal Shelter having walked in from their villages to meet basic drinking and cooking needs. And perhaps most prophetic of all, this season the well at Ramana Ashram filled to the lowest level ever seen.

Local government officials have made assurances to those eager to invest in bricks and mortar here, that water can easily be brought in by tanker. (You can just imagine the chaotic dogfight that's going to break out over the ever-spiralling prices!) The last ten years have seen an unprecedented real-estate boom that has spread like a virus across all areas of India. It's a global phenomenon that has finally brought rapid urbanisation to our dusty temple town and pushed land prices through the roof. The most grotesque example of this morality tale was the suicide of Radha Ma after Vijay of Dreaming Tree fame exposed her fraudulent land deals. Speculators know that if they buy the plots situated close to the bypass now, later they will be able to sell them on to property developers at vastly inflated prices. But it is actually the Indian middle classes from Chennai and Bangalore (many of them Arunachala devotees) who are coming en masse to Tiruvannamalai. They are looking for cheaper land than in the cities for their retirement or a second home. Meanwhile despite the noise and pollution, the Tamil families already living close to the new road are pleased, because the value of their house will rise. The logic of capitalism is more production and more consumption, but we live in a world of finite resources. In T.V.Malai the basic fact is that water is running out. No water; no life. End of story!

Until that moment dawns, every willing shark will try and screw the last shekel out of a game that will inevitably go bust. The sad thing is that no one has an economic Plan B and only catastrophe will force change. As usual our glorious leaders are drunk at the wheel. It's a pyramid of corruption where everyone has their hand in the cookie jar and they will continue looting the store until the lights go out. All that will be left is desolation and a wasteland. It is indeed a strange and savage irony that so many who come to pay homage to a simple man clad only in a loincloth (Ramana Maharshi) end up building temples to their own egos and feeding a cycle of greed. In Mooji's case, it is the adulation of his gullible and naive congregation that he needs for his fix. For others it is the actual buildings of sand, cement and high fashion design. But if you're a simple sadhak, do you really need to spend endless lakhs constructing a fantasy home, all for a premium view of Arunachala? And is Tiru really the best venue for an economic diaspora from India's urban centres, merely in search of investment opportunities?

Everybody assumes that it is the spiritual tourism that is ruining Tiruvannamalai. It definitely is - and for most of us it is obvious that the invasion of bikini-clad bimbos and their stoner boyfriends straight from the beaches of Goa is not sympatico with the deep religious conservatism of Tamil Nadu. But this is only a cultural invasion. It is the cherry on top of the cake: Mooji, Madhukar and their ilk are just the symptomatic rash of a much deeper malaise (the syphilisation of spirituality!) There are several convergent strands feeding into this equation. Tiru is a microcosmic melting pot of the religious and socioeconomic contradictions currently challenging Indian society. In its rush to modernise and exploit its resources, India has succumbed to the fatal embrace of neo-liberal capitalism. But at the same time the religious culture of India despises the moral and spiritual values of the economic model it is aspiring to. Unfortunately these cannot be separated. Further, this is all happening at a point where the West is having to re-examine its economic foundations because its entire system is failing. It's a race headlong into the abyss!

In the quiet of this year's sweltering heat, there has been a long pause pregnant with possibility. There have been many waves of change here and the bypass is just the latest chapter in an ongoing story. We could be on the cusp of a seismic shift. Will Indians do something different with the Western economic model in Tiruvannamalai or will we see yet another round of development and desecration? This is the last moment before modernity and consumerism finally smash through the door. Is it just a disaster movie in the making?

It's that 1914 feeling: except this time it won't be machine guns and howitzers which are coming, but drought and mass migration. As Tacitus so wryly commented: "They make a desert and call it peace!"


  1. In my town, the only nice road with big trees had to be taken down ... Isn´t it always that one thing giving us some good old simple pleasure ... Used to enjoy walking under those trees ... Same with Thiru and its new Messiah Mooji ... I fell asleep twice at his sock-sang ... And I didn't want to hug him, like all the other crawlers ... Why can't they stay away? ...

  2. Hi Kevji, thanks for the update on Tiru ... quite revolting, the present news ... and sad ... Anyway my new mantra is FEEL IT TIL YOU HEAL IT!

  3. The Archangel GabrielJune 28, 2013 at 2:24 AM

    Very apocalyptic stuff there, Kev, me old chum.

  4. Good posting! There's been water shortages for years now, not to mention constant blackouts! Well, it looks like the water problem is going to get worse with the huge influx of pilgrims and carpetbaggers. Best not to even think of Mooji. We're giving him too much attention, too much oxygen!

  5. Apropos the dire water shortage in Tiru, would Kevji please spell out: 1/ His daily consumption in litres (excluding purchased water bottles, if any); 2/ Does he recycle the water he consumes for his varied uses? (In other words how water-aware is he, in doing his bit to conserve precious supplies); 3/ Would he be in favour of Mooji's legendary fortune being used to pay for the construction of a desalination plant in Pondy - to pipe potable water to Tiru? ... The real crunch-point however will be when constant power cuts mean that even posting about the vanishing water is impossible. Now, that's the perfect storm, so for now enjoy the lull!

  6. Desertification has been staring Tiru in the face for a long while. The precise reasons for the changes in the monsoon of the Indian subcontinent are still not substantified - though we all know it can be very unpredictable. What's particularly worrying is that this year the River Siruvani completely dried up - for the first time in 89 years. The river's sources lies in the Agali Forest (Kerala) and its volume is so plentiful, usually it can be used to supply Coimbatore downstream. 8 crore litres of water used to be collected from the dam linked to this river PER DAY. Now there is less than 1 crore litres per day and even this figure is rapidly going down. This has a big effect on Tamil Nadu for the future.

  7. Now that the Missus is away in the States for a weeks, do you know if Sister Didi is available for a little "voulez-vous"?

  8. All that is said in the post is more or less true, no complaints here! But to read these words with the knowledge I have, leaves a sour and foul taste in my mouth. Because ... It is indeed a strange and savage irony that the so-called humble Kevinanda and his Mistress have set up the Chi-Ting office in one of Tiru’s most luxurious mansions: a 150 lakh Greek temple devoted to debauchery and monstrosity with 2 swimming pools; multiple recreation rooms; and 5 bathrooms - surrounded by a lush garden and ponds - all consuming thousands of litres of water per day! Not to mention a staff cohort of 7 servants and several very strange dogs to fulfil their unlimited requirements and desires!

    Compare this to my very humble abode in Cave No.7 with neither bathroom nor electricity and you can see who is the real sadhak here. But the worst experience came a few months ago, when I was invited to a Chi-Ting Office Party at the aforesaid temple. When I entered the elaborate main door, I found myself in a scene straight out of Tinto Brass’ 1979 porn movie, Caligula. There was Kevinanda dressed up as Caligula, with his horse and his partner-in-crime, his adulterous wife - parading proudly and arrogantly through the fornicating crowd of well-known Western Tiru sadhaks. In one room, the Dinner Party Set from Adiannamalai was involved in the most revolting and disgusting, sadomasochistic tantric ritual. In a fishpond filled with champagne that notorious couple - Godot and Kali Baba - stood stark bollock naked like 2 blubbering walruses, “discussing” the pro and cons of shamanism and advaita while studying each other's arses. In their drunken stupor they could no longer distinguish a face from an arse. In a dark corner, a big hairy Teuton was licking vast amounts of mango compote from an unknown, but wildly screaming female body, while shouting: "wir haben es nicht gewusst!" The Archangel Gabriel was having it off with some freshly imported, silly buxom blondes straight from Manchester, yelling: "This must be Heaven!" Firefly and Pink Turban Master Aghori were having kinky sex with So Much Bigger and Scary Chum on the kitchen table, while stabbing each other with knives and forks. And just after I arrived, the great Myles O’ Blarney was flown in on a special helicopter from Tipperary County, balancing a large barrel of local stout on his majestic head. The first person he saw was Garbage Gal Bobby sulking in the corner with her pink garbage bin. The great Myles ripped off all her clothes without delay, while declaring: "a pint of plain is your only man!" - and shagged the poor bony woman till she was left unconscious in a delirious coma.

    That was the limit for me. I didn’t visit the other rooms where more atrocities and inhuman behaviour awaited me. It made me think of the horrors of Club Cthulhu ... Like Elvis I left the building, ashamed of and devastated by what I had seen: the crème de la crème of the Tiru sadhaks being unmasked and defamed as a bunch of dirty Berlusconi’s. What a blow in the face for a simple sadhak!

    I went back to my Cave No.7 and cried for a long time.

  9. You're just pissed off because Khal Drogo and Steffi got back together!

  10. That lumbering, meddling Richard Clarke is at it again! Taking pictures of sadhus with 'a right in your face attitude'. Some of the sadhus are smiling, hoping for a possible handout. Others look grim and even annoyed as the intrusive camera invades their space. Richard mind your own business and let others live in peace!

  11. At last inspection, the water level of the 2 wells inside Ramanashramam does not in any visible way seem to have dropped - so this anomaly is at odds with what is being described in the post - unless the spread of available groundwater in Tiruvannamalai is uneven. The broad thrust however is indisputable and the water wars of the future will be as ferocious as the events post 1914 that Kevinanda alluded to. Any one for a long cold shower??? A pretty costly luxury given that this scarce life-giving substance is now in the hands of private profit seekers, whose greed is unquenchable!

  12. The level of the water in the well (by the Samadhi Hall) at the Ashram was so low over the summer, the fish died. And see here what The Hindu says today about the water running out in Chennai. Very worryingly, the private tankers take 5 days to come and they extract their water from the main supply further away!

  13. Ah Kevinji, and in which episode of that dreadfully dull series, Game of Drones, does this happy reunion take place? Remember, I only saw the first episode, which was so appallingly bad, that I almost took off to Droneland to kill some of these bloody drones myself with my bare hands (including their Chief Commander Barack-Fucking-Obama). But your non-answer actually confirms what I saw on April 12 in the aforesaid Temple of Doom, in this very town. Film is film and facts are facts: don’t mix them up or you’ll end up living in Disneyland - which would actually be the perfect place for you to be, Kevinji. Or shall we just call you Berlusconi’s Bastard Son in the future?

  14. nice post, straight up tiru news, one of the pleasures of this blog when that is the content ...

    and my oh my, i sooooo hope mooji does not return to tiru ... crikey

  15. I wanna categorically state that I have never nor ever will step into the Cheating Master's palatial dungeon. The locals have filled me up with all the horrors that go on there. So I don't want to experience them myself. Also, leave Richard Clarke alone. He may be publishing those photos to raise money for his charity to feed the sadhus. Nothing wrong with that except that the guy who heads it - Dakshinamoorthy of Mooji fame - has told people that he too is poor. Does that mean the money is going to him and not the sadhus? Only a forensic audit by our very own Sister K will reveal the truth.

  16. Richard should not take pictures of these sadhus. Give them their privacy. Leave them with their dignity.

  17. A correction is long overdue in Tiruvannamalai.
    There is Richard and his inner path.
    There is Richard and his camera targeting the sadhus.
    There is Meenakshi mami photographing the lingas and the Gods. When priests object, she says she cares a damn for Hindu customs as long as she can make money off them.
    There are all these people with TV sets blaring and disturbing the peace in Tiruvannamalai. If you live in TVmalai, you should not have any more need for TVs.
    There are all these people with no respect for the quiet, for animals, birds and ecology.
    When Arunachala has had enough.... look what happened in Kedarnath. Don't blame Lord Shiva. It is people who are not living by His rules.

  18. Halo Gregory,

    I sympathise with your anxiety over the possibility that the rotund Mystic Rastafarian might visit Tiru along with his multitude of zombie minions this coming winter. There may, however, be a silver lining if the new "Religious-Action" movie which has been described is released.

    Click here to see a poster.

    Personally I am fed up with this whole water/political/property specualtion situation. I can't wait to have a little relief from the hyper-seri-oso gloom which has been spreading across Shiva's holy Arunachala.

    With cheers,

    Myles O'Blarney

  19. Stellar post: it's still hard to come to terms with hapless pilgrims on char dham yatra bearing the brunt of Lord Kedarnath's fury. Are they also responsible for the ecological degradation as much as the organizers and fee collecting officials? It seems the aptly named Rudraprayag (district) has lived up to its name with the devastating lashings it has received ... Kedarnath and Arunachala are the same so it's like a shot across the bows to warn one and all.

  20. .

    ====== BROKEN LINK Repair ======

    Apologies to those reading my post to Gregory above. Here is a fresh link to the Tamil ACTION Movie.

    Yours faithfully,

    Myles O’Blarney

  21. Sorry Myles, more doom and gloom - read this from The Guardian - especially the bit about Tamil Nadu. Looks like Godot's roses are gonna wither on the vine!

  22. To Anon at 9.27 a.m.

    Lord Shiva's world is perfect. Whatever He does is perfect. We don't know the karma of these hapless pilgrims from previous lifetimes. We dont even know our own. All we can do is do the spiritual practices and hope for the best and not get depressed reading the Cheating Master's blog. One way to remain depression free is to not read this blog. Hee! Hee!

  23. .

    My Dear Kevji,

    Sorry to see you saw fit to post a link to Lester Brown, a loathsome, biased, opportunistic, scare-mongering, new age, pseudo-intellectual charlatan.

    Oh yes, we do realize we are now headed for maximum temperature levels on the planet. These we can accurately extrapolate from our position on the current interglacial cycle of freeze-thaw, freeze-thaw, etc. that we have seen occurring every 100 thousand years or so for the past 600 million years. Whether our current cycle tops out a little quicker or not, owing to our use of fossil fuels is of marginal interest. Whatever we do or don’t do, we know that sea levels will rise and coastal cities will need to decide whether to use Dutch engineering to keep the sea at bay or to relocate themselves inland on higher ground. This will usually mean simply shifting to other inland cities and abandoning the old ones.

    If Lester Brown wants to worry about something important he should work out how the poor 99% of humans will survive the coming glacial age. Mass migrations to equatorial regions is one option. The world's 1% will, of course, be able to carry on as usual from their climate controlled living suites in the Shard, Ontario Point, or overlooking Hyde Park, as the case may be.

    And yes. There will never be a “water shortage” on earth. Have a look at the surface. There may be a temporary shortage of completely free, fresh clean water in some locations, but an unlimited amount of fresh water can be made inexpensively from sea water, for instance by the construction of inexpensive condensation tents over the oceans. These are large arrays of clear plastic sheeting which allow the sunlight to enter and strike the surface of the ocean and then waft up moist warm air which deposits fresh water drops on the inner surface of the plastic sheet from which it runs down and is collected and pumped to land. The cost of this ultra-pure distilled water is pennies per gallon.

    Mr. Brown, why not work on projects that fit in with the known fluctuations of the Milankovitch_cycles rather than spurious half-baked notions that are flimsy extensions of Al Gorean inconvenient "truths".

    I think I’ll amble downstairs now and pour myself another jar of the Black and Tan.

    Yours ever,

    Myles O’Blarney

  24. Dear Myles
    The point we're making is that water has already run out in several places in Tiru with many more soon to be affected. On Facebook, we recently posted just this extract about Tamil Nadu:

    "In Tamil Nadu, a state of 72 million people, falling water tables are drying up wells everywhere. Kuponlari Palanisamy of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University reports that falling water tables have dried up 95% of the wells owned by small farmers, reducing the irrigated area in the state by half over the last decade.

    India's grain harvest has been expanding rapidly in recent years, but in part for the wrong reason, namely massive overpumping. A 2005 World Bank study reports that 15% of India's food supply is produced by mining groundwater. Stated otherwise, 175 million Indians are now fed with grain produced with the unsustainable use of water. As early as 2004, Fred Pearce reported in New Scientist that "half of India's traditional hand-dug wells and millions of shallower tube wells have already dried up, bringing a spate of suicides among those who rely on them. Electricity blackouts are reaching epidemic proportions in states where half of the electricity is used to pump water from depths of up to a kilometre.

    As India's water table falls, well drillers are using modified oil-drilling technology to reach water, going down a half mile or more in some locations. In communities where underground water sources have dried up entirely, all agriculture is now rainfed and drinking water must be trucked in. Tushaar Shah, who heads the International Water Management Institute's groundwater station in Gujarat, says of India's water situation: 'When the balloon bursts, untold anarchy will be the lot of rural India.'"

    In Tamil Nadu there will be no seawater conversion technology or water pumping initiatives for the poor or anybody else. Increased development and demand on the back of limited resources equals social and economic meltdown.

    Simple innit?!

  25. Are you not seeing?!?! It has been raining already three times! I have been raindancing every free minute those little dragons give me.

  26. Wow looks like there's a REAL storm coming ...