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Travel Hazards and Issues India Nepal Bhutan
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 04, 2013 04:47AM

An overview here by people who live there.



India Syndrome? A Mental disorder? | The Debater's Den | Forum

Tamasha the Choto Rani

Post edited 9:09 pm – October 18, 2012 by Tamasha the Choto Rani



You do realize I'm NOT a psychiatrist? I'm in OB/GYN, the other end of the stick so to speak

Anyhooooo……you want my opinion? OK, here goes.

'India Syndrome' – Yes, in my opinion there is such a thing- but it is not unique to India.

Allow me to explain.

I've seen many a foreign visitor to India & Nepal completely 'lose it' & become a babbling incoherent mess. About once a week in the tiny touristy town I live in some gori or gora just flips out. Haloperidol to the rescue!!!!

Here's my take on what's going on with these people- India is so completely overwhelming on a sensual, spiritual, & psychological levels their brain hits 'overload'. Think about it-

Visually India is overpowering to a westerner- colorful clothes, scenes of abject poverty, human & animal suffering, chaos, disorder, beggars, cows, filth, dust, smoke, people everywhere, rubbish everywhere, soaring temples, vivid idols & iconography, etc.

The smells you encounter in India are far more intense than what westerners experience in their own countries – burning incense, stale urine, rotting garbage, cow poop, sweaty bodies, the scents of unfamiliar foods & spices, heavy ittar, etc.

The constant noise in India – people, animals, horns honking, speakers blaring.

The emotional/psychological barrage of touts trying to sell you crap, nothing is ever 'on time', beggars pleading with you, extreme animal neglect, displays of human suffering, the frustration of just getting a train ticket/taxi/transportation without getting cheated, having to 'bargain' with people for services & items, exotic & intense religious rituals – In the west we are all so isolated from interacting with people & avoiding/hiding suffering & poverty this can be an emotional 'shock'.

The physical strain of being exposed to new bacteria, viruses, parasites & microbes.

The physical strain of the extreme heat & humidity in monsoon & the dryness & biting cold in winter- most people don't realize dehydration can make you act nutty sometimes. Deplete your potassium, calcium & sodium levels (through vomiting, diarrhea or just not eating & drinking enough fluids) and your brain & or heart won't work properly.

Lets also not forget when travelling from Europe & the US the time change- your sleep is screwed up from the time change, night is now day so your cortisol levels are all 'out of whack'.

I think even the 'high carbohydrate/low protein' rice & dal diet most goris/goras try in India for the first time while visiting India probably fools with blood sugar/insulin regulation & affects thinking & behavior.

Soooooo…all this adds up to OVERWHELM!!!!


We are not in Kansas anymore, Toto!!!

A bolus dose of a strong anti-psychotic medication, bed rest in a quiet isolated room & rehydration either orally or intravenously – they'll soon be 'sane' again. If all this doesn't help, then remove the patient from all the hyperstimulation (India) and they generally return to 'normal'.

Let me post this before the 'load shedding' kicks in here again.

-To be continued…………..

Note this comment about vipassana


Sharell शारेल

Mumbai, India

Tamasha the Choto Rani said:

Here's my take on what's going on with these people- India is so completely overwhelming on a sensual, spiritual, & psychological levels their brain hits 'overload'. Think about it-


And you know what's so fascinating about the brain is that it can go haywire in the opposite circumstances too. On those 10 day vipassana courses, where you're not allowed to speak or communicate with anyone the whole time, people flip out on every course. It happened to a couple of people on the course I did (in Australia).
.10:31 pm
October 18, 2012

Tamasha the Choto Rani
. .

I can imagine during the 'sensory deprivation' of the Vipassana courses coupled with as yet uncontrolled 'mind chatter' it would send some predisposed individuals 'over the edge'.

Practicing meditation (sensory deprivation & hyperfocus) allows you develop control over the 'mind chatter' & ignore what your senses are telling you= 'mindfullness'.

If you really push them in a corner, most psychiatrists will tell you that beyond all the meds & therapy -'Mindfullness' is the cure for nearly all forms of mental illness. (Except for true biochemical imbalances as in schizophrenia & certain forms of major depression.)

The rest of the discussion is very interesting. Someone wrote in askign for help because a daughter in India had had a serious problem. This person told the discussants


Yes, she admitted to doing something called a "Psy Trance". I looked it up and it's very popular in India. It's full name is Psychedelic Trance, where they take drugs to attain a higher level of consciousness.

Yes, she was into the Ayurvedic yoga.

Issues to consider if you want to go to India or Nepal on a quest.

Lack of privacy. Lots of people loitering at hotels, motels internet cafes who can find out your hopes and dreams and edge you toward the guru they are touting.

Spiritual tourism destinations such as Tiru Rishikesh, Hardwar, Dharamsala are full of touts looking for people to recruit.

And, if you are from a background where it is a matter of shame to be taken advantage of, this can make you more vulnerable. Any one, even the toughest, most street wise Israeli, can be conned. But if you dont feel able to admit you have made a poor decision, that, ironically can make it much harder to cut ones' losses and get out and get away.

India Syndrome

Michael Spollen


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/07/2015 10:29PM by corboy.

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Re: Travel Hazards and Issues India Nepal Bhutan
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 05, 2013 03:14AM



Essentially, this man showed that the blessed weeping statue in India caused by a blocked pipe from a nearby bathroom, thus making the statue drop contaminated water which was then eagerly drunk by believers. As a result, he had to flee India to avoid prison for insulting religion.




About the only thing that one should take seriously on this forum is to enjoy interacting with others. Educating them or being educated by them, may happen, but better for that goal to go to school. It is also useful to be able to laugh at oneself as readily as at others.
- See more at: []


Posted: 21 July 2013 05:11 AM [ Ignore ] [ # 1 ]

Sr. Member



Total Posts: 6214

Joined 2010-01-29

Well, TECHNICALLY, he broke a law: “According to Slate, the 56-year-old rationalist has been accused of insulting religion (a charge akin to blasphemy) under Section 295A of the Indian penal code, which charges a person with “deliberately hurting religious feelings and attempting malicious acts intended to outrage the religious sentiments of any class or community.”

Atheists beware!
- See more at: []

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Re: Travel Hazards and Issues India Nepal Bhutan
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 05, 2013 10:05PM

Behind the Pretty Pictures - Bhutan's Refugees

Before you get too enthralled by the PR for Bhutan and its Gross National Happiness measures, have a look at this. Refugees.


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Re: Travel Hazards and Issues India Nepal Bhutan
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 05, 2013 10:07PM

Domestic Violence in Bhutan



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Oakland Domestic

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Re: Travel Hazards and Issues India Nepal Bhutan
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 05, 2013 10:12PM

Why bring this up?

A lot of money comes into countries which can sell themselves as 'spiritual' 'idyllic' 'unspoiled', or as destinations for spiritual travellers.

Fully understood, Buddhadharma is about investigating delusions and dispelling them, not creating more illusions in the name of P.R. and money making.

But, that's depressing. Most of us prefer variations on the Disneyland/Magic Kingdom story.

Disneyland isnt problem free, either. But -- at least it is reported in the news and on public record.


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Re: Travel Hazards and Issues India Nepal Bhutan
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 05, 2013 10:19PM

Final good reason to ponder PR and mythologisation that seducative, glamorous stories are what are used to move us, get us through the door and to listen to people we might otherwise give no time to.

There are times when we feel troubled, stressed, even the strongest of us.

Times when a tiny part of ourselves wishes that a Magic Mommy or Daddy could take care of things.

Or, when we are hanging on by our sore, tired, bleeding fingers, a part of us believes that there is a 'somewhere else' where problems do not exist or where the problems can be easily solved.

Shangri-la is one of the Somewhere Else scenarious.

When we want these stories to be true, that puts us in danger. We are in a state of mind where we do not want to fact check a person or group offering a seductive dream.

When one doesnt want to fact check or background check because a story seems too wonderful to deflate -- DANGER.

You (or a lot of refugees and employees) may end up paying for a lovely dream that conceals cruelty and exploitation.

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Re: Travel Hazards and Issues India Nepal Bhutan
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 10, 2013 09:39PM

Missing Person: Jonathan Spollen

Quote from below:


The picture that has emerged is that Jonathan was mostly travelling in the Rishikesh area in January 2012, near the German bakery area. He was on a trek from 14 to 28 January. His trip to India was recreational and he had previously been travelling with a friend. He came back from this trek with a tummy bug and a slight limp after a tumble near a waterfall.

Jonathan’s Indian visa would have expired on 21 February 2012, which is relevant, given that as a journalist working abroad he would have been conscious of ensuring that his visa situation would not be prejudiced by passing the expiry date. His last telephone call home was in the early morning, Indian time, of 3 February 2012. He had at that time been planning to go to Delhi but had changed his mind and seemed to be intent on going on another trek in the Rishikesh region

Unless one does a certain amount of reading on travel health, one may not appreciate that in India and South Asia, one may easily become infected with various parasitic and protozoan diseases -- and not be aware of this.

One may feel reasonably well, despite carrying a burden of parasites, but unless one is eating an excellent diet, rich in protein and the entire array of nutrients, ones parasites may compete with the host for nutrients and the host may eventually become deficient, anemic, immune compromised and less able to heal effeciently from injuries. The host may also become more susceptible to further illnesses, such as malaria or upper respiratory infections.

One may go into a downward spiral of debility and be unable to extricate oneself unless exceptionally fortunate to have insight and sympathetic persons who will find competant medical attention.


More about Michael Spollen here


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Re: Travel Hazards and Issues India Nepal Bhutan
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 10, 2013 10:09PM



Less discussed are the disorienting and damaging side effects of meditation. Neophytes have reported seeing walls move or rooms change color. The introspective state that is one of the goals of meditation can induce feelings of paranoia and terror.

According to Willoughby Britton, a neuroscientist at Brown University who studies the effects of meditation on the brain, practitioners can perceive small sounds as cacophonies and lose the sense that they are in control of their own actions. Britton has claimed that this experience, which some refer to as the "dark night," has caused numerous people to wind up on psych wards under suicide watch.

Guided visualizations like the one Emily underwent can produce even more profound reactions. These meditation techniques are "designed to completely psychologically rearrange you," says Paul Hackett, a lecturer in classical Tibetan at Columbia University. In a foreign setting, that kind of experience can be even more traumatizing, especially when you take into account the way some Westerners in India tend to snack at the country's spiritual smorgasbord—a little Ashtanga yoga here, some Vipassana meditation there. "People are mixing and matching religious systems like Legos," Hackett says. "It is no surprise that people go insane

--Corboy note: That is one reason I am reluctant to get involved with meditation leaders and teachers who list a long menu of different spiritual traditions on their resumes -- each one which, if practiced in depth, would occupy and enrich a lifetime.

I also take it as a personal turn off if someone claims expertise in disiciples with incompatible doctrines. In advaita vedanta, an Absolute is postulated. Buddhadharma, properly taught and understood, postulates no Absolute, no First Principle, no Essence.

Sufism derives from Islam (anyone who says otherwise is a victim of bad scholarship and wishful thinking) and to profess Islam one confesses the Unity of God and that Mohammed is the last and final prophet. Sufism is to practice sharia and adds additional devotions and commitments.

So some teacher who claims proficiency in Advaita and Buddha dharma or Buddhadharma and Sufism, or all the above, is combining incompatibles.

(And those who claim a perennial or primordial wisdom are relying on authors whose wishful and elitist thinking overrode textual and historical evidence. Follow them at your own risk. These groups tend to become elitist and secretive and one risks plateauing in one's social and intellectual development. One also cuts oneself off from humble practitioners of these religions who would find the notion of perennial or primordial wisdom an exploitative notion cooked up by Westerners and then used to justify looting diffent spiritualities, rather than respecting them.)

As a humble analogy, one budget restaurant in our area serves both Japanese and Chinese dishes. A man who works in the neighborhood says, 'They cannot do a good job at both. I found that out the hard way. Order their Chinese specialities and avoid their Japanese items. If you want good Japanese food, go to a place that doesnt try to have it both ways."

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Re: Travel Hazards and Issues India Nepal Bhutan
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 10, 2013 10:10PM

Full article from Details

PostSubject: India Syndrome - death on the path to enlightenment Sat Oct 06, 2012 7:01 am



OCTOBER 2012 ISSUE - Details Magazine

Jonathan Spollen, a 28-year-old Irishman with long brown hair and a delicate brogue, was at a crossroads in his life. He'd embarked on a career as an overseas journalist, working first as a reporter at the Daily Star Egypt in Cairo and then as a foreign editor at The National in Abu Dhabi. But now he was a copy editor for the International Herald Tribune in Hong Kong, approaching 30, and wondering if he liked where his life was going. In October 2011, following a split with his girlfriend, he bought some trekking gear, sent his laptop home to Dublin, and booked a flight to Kathmandu, Nepal. From there, Spollen made his way to India. He had visited before, spending time with an octogenarian yogi named Prahlad Jani—who claims his mastery of the ancient arts has allowed him to live without food for 70 years—and had come away entranced with the country. This time, Spollen roamed the subcontinent for several months, visiting the holy city of Varanasi, India's oldest inhabited settlement. In early February, Spollen called his mother, Lynda, to tell her he planned to spend two or three weeks hiking in the Himalayas near the pilgrimage site of Rishikesh, the yogaphilic city on the Ganges where the Beatles visited Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. She reportedly asked him not to go alone, but he told her that was the whole point. "It's a spiritual thing," he explained.

He was never heard from again.

A little over three weeks after that conversation, his parents were worried enough to post to, a forum for Western travelers to the subcontinent. Their message contained a picture of Spollen, the details of his last known sighting, and a plea: "Please, all of you, keep in regular contact with your families. Even if they don't say it, they care for you and worry about you!" A few days later, Spollen's father, David, flew to Rishikesh to organize a search party. In mid-March, local authorities found Spollen's passport, rucksack, bedroll, and cash beside a waterfall near the village of Patna, a few miles outside Rishikesh. From there, however, the trail went cold. Members of the IndiaMike community circulated missing-person posters that travelers hung along the Banana Pancake trail, a network of backpacker routes that stretches from Goa to Hanoi, but there were no new leads.

Today, the thread on Spollen's parents' initial post has grown to more than 1,700 responses. Some commenters believe he's dead, while others have speculated that he chose to renounce his previous life and is still living in the mountains somewhere, alone or with some cloistered sect. Many presume that whatever happened to him, his "spiritual thing" is responsible. They've seen it before: Some remember Ryan Chambers, a 21-year-old Australian spiritual seeker who visited ashrams before vanishing from Rishikesh in 2005, leaving his passport, wallet, and cell phone behind in his hotel room, along with a note that read, "If I'm gone, don't worry. I'm not dead, I'm freeing minds. But first I have to free my own." Other pilgrims have been taken in by false gurus who lure them with sham spirituality, then drain their bank accounts and sometimes imprison them; in March, just weeks after Spollen's disappearance, Nepalese police freed a 35-year-old Slovakian woman who'd reportedly been held captive for two months by the followers of a man claiming to be the reincarnated Buddha. Neeru Garg, the district police chief of the nearby city of Dehradun, says of his ongoing investigation into Spollen's disappearance, "We are concentrating on the ashrams and holy men in the area."

Stories like Spollen's feel like Eastern versions of Into the Wild, the 1996 book about a young adventurer who died after trying to live off the land in Alaska: They're tales of willful idealists whose romantic notions of remote lands lead them to embark on quixotic journeys. In April 2010, Spollen wrote a travel story for The National, about spending time with a peasant family in Kashmir, that supports that interpretation: "The simplest things became fascinating," he wrote. "I found myself becoming enthralled in their lives. And strangely, I felt part of it all." The region's spiritual underpinnings appear to have factored into its appeal for Spollen. "He did have a strong interest in spirituality," a college friend remarked on IndiaMike. "It doesn't explain . . . why he's been incommunicado, but it could be an indication that people are searching along the right lines." Although Spollen's parents have stopped commenting on his disappearance, his father told an Irish newspaper in late April that visiting India was an eye-opening experience. "I have, at times, thought I was looking at somebody completely different to the son that I knew," he said. "To suddenly discover that there may be a whole spiritual aspect to his life that we hadn't really touched on is astonishing."

Of course, Spollen is not here to describe the role that devotion played in his disappearance. But he fits the profile of the fervent young enthusiast of yoga, meditation, and Eastern thought who becomes lost—or worse—on a journey of spiritual self-discovery.

• • •
India today is a burgeoning global superpower, a place of outrageous poverty, and a land of tech-support call centers. But many still think of it primarily as the birthplace of yoga and meditation. Westerners have been exploring Indian spirituality since the late 19th century, but they started traveling to the country in large numbers after the Beatles visited Rishikesh in 1968 to study under the maharishi. In 2010, nearly 5.8 million people, including about 930,000 Americans, traveled to India. Roughly a quarter of those who visit the state of Uttarakhand, where Rishikesh is located, go for spiritual reasons—to attend a meditation seminar or go on a religious pilgrimage.

Some are drawn by accounts of the powers of dedicated practitioners—yogis who can levitate, breathe for months while entombed underground, melt giant swaths of snow with their body heat—believing that they too will be able to accomplish extraordinary things. This quest to become superhuman—along with culture shock, emotional isolation, illicit drugs, and the physical toll of hard-core meditation—can cause Western seekers to lose their bearings. Seemingly sane people get out of bed one day claiming they've discovered the lost continent of Lemuria, or that the end of the world is nigh, or that they've awakened their third eye. Most recover, but some become permanently delusional. A few vanish or even turn up dead.

This psychosis has a name: India syndrome. In 2000, the French psychiatrist Régis Airault wrote the definitive book on the phenomenon, Fous de l'Inde, which means "crazy about India." It relates his experiences as the staff psychiatrist for the French consulate in Mumbai, where he treated scores of his countrymen whose spiritual journeys had taken tragic turns. "There is a cultural fantasy at play," he explains. "[India syndrome] hits people from developed Western countries who are looking for a cultural space that is pure and exotic, where real values have been preserved. It's as if we're trying to go back in time."

Unfamiliar environments have long been known to bring on episodes of short-term delirium. In 1817, the French writer Stendhal described being physically overcome by the experience of viewing Florentine art; a century and a half later, the psychiatrist Graziella Magherini coined the term Stendhal syndrome (also called Florence syndrome) after treating patients who'd become dizzy and confused, even hallucinating or fainting, while visiting the Italian city.

Neither Stendhal syndrome nor India syndrome is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV, the bible of psychological illnesses, but 25 "culture-bound syndromes" are. One is called Qigong psychotic reaction. A psychosis whose symptoms include paranoia and visual and auditory hallucinations, it has been observed among practitioners of the ancient Chinese breathing-and-movement discipline Qigong and of extreme variants of yoga like Kundalini. When the intense cognitive effort required in these practices is combined with a strange, possibly frightening new place, it's more likely to result in a mental break.

India syndrome may not be an officially recognized disease, but many doctors are convinced it's real. Kalyan Sachdev, the medical director of Privat Hospital in New Delhi, says that his facility admits about a hundred delusional Westerners a year, many of whom had been practicing yoga around the clock. "There's the physical side of yoga and the psychic side, and sometimes people get it all out of order," he says. "Peaceful people can get aggressive even if they haven't taken any drugs." His treatment tends to be simple: Send them home as soon as possible. "People come to us with acute psychotic symptoms," he says. "But you put them on the plane and they are completely all right." Sunil Mittal, the head of the psychiatric unit at Cosmos Institute for Mental Health & Behavioral Sciences in New Delhi, recently had to send police to retrieve a California woman who'd overstayed her visa and refused to leave an ashram outside Rishikesh. There, Mittal says, she danced erotically in the courtyard each night for the yogis and was often observed in a "trancelike state." His prescription for her was also a return flight home.

Often, however, more than just a plane ticket is indicated. Airault, who currently practices in Paris, recently treated a well-traveled, seemingly stable French optometrist in his thirties who'd begun having feelings of persecution after visiting the holy city of Pushkar—according to him, after drinking a bhang lassi. From there he fled to the countryside, then to Mumbai, where he was found babbling about how the Church of Scientology was telling him to cut himself off from society. Back home in Paris, he was twice institutionalized and spent four years refusing to leave his house. "He was completely crazy, in a state of delirium, a psychosis that was set off by his trip to India," Airault says, adding that, through consultations, the man's condition has improved enough that he can hold down a job at a clothing store. The psychiatrist brushes off the suggestion that the patient might have developed the same problems even if he'd never left France. "It's important to understand that sometimes we go crazy in India because it's a culture too different from our own," he says. "It doesn't mean that we're mentally ill."

• • •
Beginning in 1997, I lived in India off and on for more than a decade. Westerners whose journeys had taken a wrong turn were commonplace there. The most notorious was Gary Stevenson, a Texan supposedly descended from Robert Louis Stevenson, who, after joining the Aghori—a group of wandering holy men who demonstrate the renunciation of physical and material attachments by covering themselves in cremation ash—could often be seen on the streets of Rishikesh begging for alms, using a human skull for a bowl.

Did India make him come unglued, or was he already unstable? There's no way to know for sure. But in 2006, I met a Westerner who I'm certain did suffer from India syndrome. I was guiding a group of American college students on a trip through the spiritual centers of Delhi, Varanasi, and Dharamsala (where the Dalai Lama lives in exile). The highlight was a 10-day silent-meditation retreat in the town of Bodh Gaya, where the Buddha attained enlightenment two millennia ago. The lectures were based on the Tibetan tradition of Lamrim, or "steps on the path." One student, whom I'll call Emily, was a preternaturally calm 21-year-old from an upper-class Catholic family who'd practiced yoga since high school. At the retreat, she sat in a flawless lotus position during three-hour daily meditation sessions led by a bald Swiss-German anee, or nun, in crimson robes. Emily maintained her vow of silence without apparent difficulty, spending much of her free time writing in her journal.

The first seven days of the retreat consisted mainly of breathing exercises and lectures about the karmic cycle of death and rebirth. On the eighth day, the experience turned dark. The instructor told her pupils to imagine that they were decaying corpses and that the bodies of everyone they knew were bags of human [banned term]. The exercise, which is meant to help the students develop psychic tools that they can use in facing their own death, might sound extreme, but Tibetan meditation can get even more far-out: A practice known as Chöd involves meditating over actual decaying corpses in a graveyard.

After the silent retreat ended, the only thing Emily said was, "Maybe more silence would have been better." That night, while the other students chatted enthusiastically in the meditation room, she climbed to the roof, wrapped a khadi scarf around her face, and jumped. A student on his way to bed found her facedown on the pavement. According to the coroner's report, she had died on impact.

I was charged with returning her remains to America. Somewhere along the way, the Indian police gave me her journal. On the eighth day of the retreat, she'd written in flowery, well-constructed cursive, "Contemplating my own death is the key." Then, a few paragraphs later, "I'm scared that I will have this realization and go crazy." One of the last things Emily wrote, in the same steady hand, was "I am a Bodhisattva"—an enlightened being. She believed she was well along the road to transcendence.

Why would a smart, seemingly grounded person like Emily suddenly become so delusional that she would take her own life? Any uncertainty she felt about being in a strange new place may have been compounded by the intensive silent meditation. The principle behind nearly every form of meditation is that by focusing on breathing over an extended period of time, a person can quiet his mind and uncover hidden elements of experience. This is generally regarded as a good thing. These techniques have become so mainstream that most bookstores carry meditation manuals in the self-help section. Many cite the extensive body of research on the benefits of meditation, like MRI scans of Tibetan monks in deep trance states that show how the exercise improves cognition. Dr. Oz and Oprah have both endorsed meditation, and some physicians recommend it as a method of combating hypertension.

Less discussed are the disorienting and damaging side effects of meditation. Neophytes have reported seeing walls move or rooms change color. The introspective state that is one of the goals of meditation can induce feelings of paranoia and terror. According to Willoughby Britton, a neuroscientist at Brown University who studies the effects of meditation on the brain, practitioners can perceive small sounds as cacophonies and lose the sense that they are in control of their own actions. Britton has claimed that this experience, which some refer to as the "dark night," has caused numerous people to wind up on psych wards under suicide watch. Guided visualizations like the one Emily underwent can produce even more profound reactions. These meditation techniques are "designed to completely psychologically rearrange you," says Paul Hackett, a lecturer in classical Tibetan at Columbia University. In a foreign setting, that kind of experience can be even more traumatizing, especially when you take into account the way some Westerners in India tend to snack at the country's spiritual smorgasbord—a little Ashtanga yoga here, some Vipassana meditation there. "People are mixing and matching religious systems like Legos," Hackett says. "It is no surprise that people go insane."

• • •
India syndrome might not even exist if not for the concerted marketing of Eastern religion to the West, and for that we can thank a 19th-century Russian-born mystic named Madame Blavatsky. In 1875, she founded the Theosophical Society in New York City (it later moved to colonial India), using a quasi-scientific methodology to construct a new school of religious thought by packaging ideas and texts from disparate faiths, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Zoroastrianism, for enthusiasts in Europe and the United States, making a fortune in the process. A quick inventory of American approaches to Eastern religion—from Emerson and the Transcendentalists to the Beats and the Beatles to David Lynch's Transcendental Meditation foundation—shows the same tendency to bowdlerize enlightenment philosophies to suit Western tastes.

To be sure, many contemporary practitioners of meditation really are seeking inner peace. But some of them may also be looking to unlock something akin to the Jedi powers of Luke Skywalker (many Star Wars aficionados believe Yoda to be based on the Dalai Lama). The Yoga Sutras, a more-than-2,000-year-old text that can be found in almost every yoga studio in the world, devotes an entire chapter to cultivating supernatural abilities. Other books tell not only of yogis' physical feats but also of mental tricks like conversing with the dead and seeing into their students' past lives. Transcendental Meditation promises that, with enough concentration, earnest practitioners can levitate. At Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, followers have spent nearly 40 years practicing "yogic flying," which involves hopping into the air while cross-legged in an effort to become permanently airborne; the maharishi once claimed that thousands were successful.

So it's easy to understand how a novice might take the experience of walls moving as a sign. Perhaps he's been endowed with the powers described in books—or even become a divine being. That could certainly explain Emily's "I am a Bodhisattva" declaration. As cultural observers going back to Shakespeare have noted, there's a fine balance between spiritual growth and madness; those who lack a solid spiritual foundation could tip more easily toward the latter. The pressure on gurus in India and elsewhere to deliver profound experiences to eager Western pupils can lead them to offer techniques their students may not be mentally prepared for. Silent-meditation retreats like the one Emily attended have become popular around the world. So have even more demanding monthlong Vipassana seclusion programs consisting of daily 10-hour silent-meditation sessions, which are open to practitioners of all levels of experience.

Jonathan Spollen's father returned home after several weeks in Rishikesh, but he and his wife haven't given up the search, maintaining a website and a Twitter feed (@FindSpollen) dedicated to locating their son. The frequency of posts on the IndiaMike thread has slowed, but in June one commenter expressed his conviction that Spollen remained "holed up somewhere in the Himalayas with some sadhus and saints in search of spiritual salvation" and would return to his family once he'd found what he was looking for. For now, though, all that's left of Spollen are stories he's written online and the missing-person posters tacked up around Rishikesh, which can still be downloaded at They show two images of the young Irishman. One, labeled 1 YEAR AGO, is of him smiling, fresh-faced and goateed, dressed in a shirt and jacket. The other, labeled 3 MONTHS AGO, shows the same man looking weary and gaunt, his features set, his expressionless eyes locked on the path ahead.

Scott Carney ( is a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism.

• • •
The Mad Lands: Places That Can Make You Crazy
India isn't the only destination that's been known to affect visitors' mental stability. Here are four more location-based psychological disorders.

1. Florence Syndrome
Also known as Stendhal syndrome, this illness afflicts visitors to cities with rich concentrations of art, like Florence. Sufferers become so overwhelmed by the beauty around them that they hallucinate, experience accelerated heart rates, become dizzy, and faint. Some require hospitalization and even antidepressants.

2. Paris Syndrome
The Japanese are most vulnerable to this condition, which arises when tourists discover that the City of Light isn't all it's cracked up to be and that Parisians can be utterly indifferent to outsiders. The physical symptoms resemble those of Florence syndrome but also include acute feelings of persecution.

3. Jerusalem Syndrome
In a 2010 episode of The Simpsons, a visit to the Holy City convinces Homer that he is the Messiah, who will unite Christians, Muslims, and Jews (whom he collectively calls ChrisMuJews). Real-life tourists can actually become similarly delusional, certain that God is talking to them or that they are the chosen one.

4. Stockholm Syndrome
This condition, named for but not specific to the Swedish capital, describes any situation in which someone who has been abducted (most famously, Patty Hearst) becomes sympathetic to his or her captors. There's also an inverse, Lima syndrome, in which kidnappers develop warm feelings toward their hostages.

• • •

Also on
The Overheated, Oversexed Cult of Bikram Choudhury
How Transcendental Meditation Returned as the New Status Symbol
Leaving Om: Buddhism's Lost Lamas


Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Travel Hazards and Issues India Nepal Bhutan
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 24, 2013 09:26PM


Surely, when it comes to the rich, powerful and privileged, especially fake babas with a passive following which can turn into potential vote banks, there seems to be a tacit consensus to brazenly subvert the law and defuse the case. Similarly, this is a pattern when powerless or poor people are involved.

Key terms

Asaram Bapu Indore Jodhpur

BJP stands for Bharata Janataya Party



Now, Rapists come in Robes
While there is legitimate national outrage against the gangrape of the photo journalist in Mumbai, what about the trauma of the little girl, and her quest for justice?

Amit Sengupta Delhi

As we go to press, it’s been almost a week since a minor girl of 15, a child, accused Asaram Bapu of sexual assault in his (un)holy chambers in Jodhpur, one of the several swanky ashrams among the insatiably huge real estate he apparently controls in India and abroad. Her father, we are told, is a devout follower of Asaram. (So this is what he does with the little children of his followers, does he? And what do they do and teach the little children in his ashrams/schools?)

She was studying in a Chhindwara school run by the self-styled ‘godman’ and she seemed to be in perfect health, until her parents were summoned and told that she was not well. In a dubious move, she was transported from Chhindwara and taken to the Jodhpur ashram of Asaram, ostensibly to be treated with some mumbo jumbo rituals by the ‘great helmsman’ himself. There, while the mother waited outside, the ‘sant’ reportedly assaulted her in his inner chambers and indulged in perverse actions with the hapless girl for almost 90 minutes. Certainly, his closest aides too must be fully in the know of this ritual of perversity.

That the child was able to express herself after undergoing the trauma, and that her parents believed her, and that they were able to muster courage to lodge a police complaint, is itself a miracle, considering the powerful social and political networks controlled by this godman. That the little girl was the first to complain, is an uncanny conjecture, and perhaps points to darker, dirtier, untold narratives.

Indeed, what happens in the secret sanctum sanctorum of these luxury cult fortresses of this mushrooming ‘baba industry’ remains a closeted mystery, and this is the case with most of these multi-millionaire businessman babas who have turned fraudulent spiritualism into a lucrative industry, operating from their diabolical dens. Cheating vulnerable and crisis-ridden people through dubious and hypnotic traps of religious consent and fake miracles has been turned into a dangerous art-form by these charlatans and fraudulent gurus.

On August 27, the Jodhpur police apparently had to wait eight hours outside the Indore ashram of the accused, even while it was announced that Asaram was ‘meditating’. Even in this ashram, the police was reportedly ‘escorted’ by BJP leaders

The girl filed the case on August 22, 2013. An FIR was registered by the Delhi police which asked the Jodhpur police to follow up. The crime was committed in Jodhpur. The police substantiated the claims of the girl, both in Chhindwara and Jodhpur. Her version was found to be correct, including the location of the inner chambers where the crime was committed by Asaram, and the movement and location of the godman as well. Cases were registered against Asaram.

The FIR, her categorical statement under Section 164 of the CrPC, and the ‘medical examination’ corroborate the allegations that some form of sexual assault had taken place. Asaram has reportedly been booked under Section 8 of POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act), apart from Sections 376/506 of the IPC. Besides, it has been proved that he was present on the day of the assault in Jodhpur – August 15.

Asaram and his followers have earlier been accused of organized land-grabbing, goondaism and public violence. His Motera ashram in Ahmedabad is steeped in controversy, including land-grabbing charges. In August 2008, the bodies of two children, students of Asaram’s gurukul, were found near the Sabarmati Ashram. It took almost 17 days for Modi’s government to order an inquiry. There were allegations that the children’s organs were missing and that they were victims of a ‘black magic’ ritual.

Almost a week had gone by and the police of four states – Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat – simply refused to move against Asaram, who was hopping on his private/chartered aircraft from Jodhpur to Ahmedabad to Indore. His main ‘controversial’ ashram is in Ahmedabad, where he was based after the crime in Jodhpur, but, ironically, Modi maintained a deafening silence, not moving one inch against the godman who is openly patronized by top politicians of the BJP. The Jodhpur police took their own prolonged time to investigate, even while a hesitant Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot, kept on fudging.

Earlier, summons were issued to the accused. This was a total departure from precedence. They issued no summons to the accused in the Mumbai rape case, or in the Delhi gangrape case in December last year. The accused were immediately arrested and then sent to police remand, while the law took its course. Surely, the law was being subverted and preferential treatment was given to the godman to protect him despite the crime and the evidence. If the police found the child’s version to be correct, then why were they protecting Asaram?

On August 27, the Jodhpur police apparently had to wait eight hours outside the Indore ashram of the accused, even while it was announced that Asaram was ‘meditating’. Even in this ashram, the police was reportedly ‘escorted’ by BJP leaders.

Quote[] BJP’s position seems even more brazenly shameful. BJP leader Uma Bharati and others came out openly in Asaram’s support, suggesting it was a “political plot”. A top BJP leader from Madhya Pradesh too put his foot in his mouth. Modi, whose PR machinery gets him to tweet or comment on everything with a high moral ground (including Sonia Gandhi’s illness during the Food Security Bill debate in Parliament), refused to utter a word. Sushma Swaraj and other BJP leaders who went to town after the Delhi gangrape protests chose to remain mum.

The Congress regimes in Rajasthan, and at the Centre, too, chose to play their cards much too close to the chest. It reeked of opportunism and complicity. Asaram was yet again given time to report for interrogation. This is in brazen contrast to the manner in which the police and government treats, for instance, other rape accused or young men flaunted before the media as ‘terrorists’, often with no evidence to show, or individuals picked up and detained endlessly for being Maoist couriers, carrying ‘suspicious’ literature. Even those who are encounter specialists (real or fake) – do they really give their victims so much time to do ‘meditation’, and that too, in ‘ekaantvaas’?

So, why this preferential treatment to Asaram Bapu, even after the massive national protests against rape, unprecedented outrage in civil society and in the media, agitations by united women’s groups, political consensus across the entire spectrum, and the JS Verma Committee’s path-breaking report with the stringest conditions against rapists in all forms of sexual assault and violence?

The Congress regimes in Rajasthan, and at the Centre, too, chose to play their cards much too close to the chest. It reeked of opportunism and complicity. Asaram was yet again given time to report for interrogation

While there is legitimate national outrage against the gangrape of the photo journalist in Mumbai, what about the trauma of the little girl, and her quest for justice? Even as the family has been threatened by Asaram’s goons.

Be it Dalit women, construction/migrant workers, little children/women in the invisible ghettos and suburbs of big cities, or marginalized sections in rural India, this is a dominant pattern in this organized system of injustice. Indeed, the rape case of a ‘meditating’ Asaram is another test for the system of justice in Indian democracy.

From the print issue of Hardnews :


From an Indian newspaper biographical info




Name - Asumal Sirumalani or known as Param Pujjya Sant Shri Asaram ji or Asaram Bapu
Profession – spiritual guru, self-styled philosopher,
He is an excellent orator
His father had a coal and wood business, which he took over for a short time after his father's death. He turned from a coal seller into a spiritual guru
As per media reports Asaram worth is more than Rs 5,000 crore

Born - 17 April 1941 Berani, British India

Residence - Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

Nationality – Indian

Religion – Hindu

Spouse(s) - Lakshmi Devi

Children - Narayan Prem Sai (Son) and Bharti Devi (Daughter)

Parents - Mehangiba (Mother) Thaumal Sirumalani (Father)

He was born in the Berani village of the Nawabshah District before Partition (present day Pakistan), to Menhgiba and Thaumal Sirumalani.

Asaram Bapu is a Self-Realized Saint from India

He is India’s best known spiritual gurus, self-styled philosopher

At young age, he lost his father

Later on, he left his own and traveled all over India.

He preaches the existence of One Supreme Conscious in every human being; be it Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh or anyone else.

He represents a Confluence of Bhakti Yoga, Gyan Yoga & Karma Yoga

After partition, the whole family of Asaram had to migrate from Sindh in Pakistan to Mani Nagar near Ahmedabad, in Gujarat India.

After traveling in India many places Asumal then went to the Ashram of the Swami Shri Lilashahji Vrindavan

Asumal stayed in Ashram after that Swami Lilashahji Maharaj asked him to go back to home and continue his spiritual practices at home.
He came back to his Ahmedabad home

After this, again he left his home.
At Moti Koral, a local saint Shri Lalji Maharaj made arrangements for Asumal to stay in Datt Kutir of Ram Niwas (Lalji Maharaj's Ashram).

When Asumal's wife and mother came to know that he was staying at Moti Koral they visited him. They requested him to come back. But Asumal told them he could not come.

Later on, he agreed and boarded train to Ahmedabad. As soon as the train started moving from Miyagaon junction, Asumal jumped out and boarded a train towards Bombay.
Asumal reached Bombay (Mumbai)

Then he went to Lilashahji Maharaj.
Asumal was 23 years old he stayed there with Lilashahji Maharaj.
Later Swami Lilashahji blessed Asumal with ultimate knowledge,
Asumal was transformed into Swami Shri Asharamji Maharaj by the touch of Gurudev (master). Asumal got enlightenment.
He attained enlightenment on October 7, 1964.
And Asaram was born which is a blessing to the world at large. Pujjya Lila Shahji Maharaj instructed Asaram ji to serve the humanity by staying as a householder.

Asram Babu meditated in Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India, in various places like Disa, Naareshwar Dhaam, and Himalayas

Asharamji Bapu started living in the Ashram of Deesa village near Palanpur in Gujarat.
(more here-read link above


Asaram book says A devotee should hand over his wife to his guru
Book of Asaram, ‘Shri Gurugita’ has a controversial 38th verse.
This book is published by Asaram’s ashram only.
It is written in the verse that a devotee should donate his body, life and even his wife to his guru.
Published on behalf of Asaram Ashram, on the 14th page of this book, the 38th verse is written is Sanskrit, which means a devotee should sacrifice his body, senses, life, money, family, kin, and even wife to his guru.
The Sanskrit language has also been translated in Gujarati.

News results for "asaram" "indore"

Madhya Pradesh court stays demolition of Asaram's ashram buildings near Indore - 5 days ago
The trust's counsel Rahul Sethi said that the court granted stay on Tuesday after he contended that the Panchayat had given permission to ...India Today

Asaram Bapu arrested from his Indore ashram - Times Of IndiaSep 1, 2013 ... BHOPAL/INDORE: Asaram Bapu, accused of sexually assaulting a minor, who
was was arrested by the Jodhpur police from Indore has landed ... jodhpur-police - 40k - Cached - Similar pages

Police descend on Asaram's Indore ashram - The HinduSep 1, 2013 ... My father has been suffering a neurological disorder for past 13 years, says
Asaram's son. - 64k - Cached - Similar pages

Where is Asaram? Indore police say he's not in his ashram in the cityAug 31, 2013 ... Self-styled godman Asaram now seems to be playing hide and seek as the
Jodhpur police continue to search for him in connection with the ... - 92k - Cached - Similar pages

Asaram Bapu unwell, not missing, says son in Indore; bodyguard ...Aug 31, 2013 ... Asaram Bapu, who has been accused of sexually assaulting a schoolgirl, today
evaded a Rajasthan police team that travelled to Madhya ... bodyguard-surrenders-in-jodhpur-412671 - 98k - Cached - Similar pages

Asaram Bapu's arrest looks imminent, supporters gather as police ...Aug 31, 2013 ... So far, Asaram has changed his location repeatedly over the last 24 hours, in
what is being seen as an attempt to hoodwink the police. Earlier ... - 46k - Cached - Similar pages

Asaram`s Indore ashram gets notice for violating rulesSep 10, 2013 ... The district administration on Tuesday issued a notice to self-styled godman
Asaram Bapu`s ashram here for allegedly violating several ... _875642.html - 84k - Cached - Similar pages

Raid conducted in Asaram's Indore ashram - YouTube
Raid conducted in Asaram's Indore ashram. ... Indore woman alleges, Asaram's son ...
2 min -

Jodhpur police reach Indore ashram to question Asaram Bapu - DNASep 1, 2013 ... There was no immediate official word as to whether the religious preacher was
questioned after the Jodhpur police team reached his ashram. question-asaram-bapu - 84k - Cached - Similar pages

Asaram Bapu arrested from Indore ashram - NewsAug 31, 2013 ... Hot on the trail of Asaram Bapu, the Jodhpur Police has said that the self-styled
godman, who is currently at Indore ashram, is medically fit for ... - 83k - Cached - Similar pages

Ashram silent as Asaram spends night in VIP lounge of Indore airportSep 1, 2013 ... Asaram, who kept the Jodhpur Police waiting for eight hours at his ashram before
finally surrendering around midnight on Saturday, spent the ... aspx - 72k - Cached - Similar pages

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