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Radha Soami, A Mix Of Money And Spirituality

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RSSB, as a branch of the Sant Mat ("Path of Saints") religious philosophy, is led by a guru who is considered by the faithful to be God in human form. Or at least, as divinely realized as any human being can be.

The current RSSB guru is Gurinder Singh Dhillon. He has two sons, Gurpreet Singh Dhillon (age 26) and Gurkirat Singh Dhillon (age 20). Gurpreet and Gurkirat are substantial shareholders in a company calledReligare. Religare and Fortis, another large Indian company, are part of a family conglomerate headed by Malvinder Singh and Shivinder Singh.

[update: a commenter on this post wrote, "Malvinder Singh and Shivinder Singh of Ranbaxy are the grandsons of Charan Singh, which makes the current Guru their uncle." This casts a somewhat different light on the facts below, but doesn't affect a central point: spiritual and financial affairs have become intimately intertwined in RSSB.]

Malvinder Singh, who will earn some Rs.100 billion ($2.4 billion) from selling his family's stake in the pharmaceutical firm to Japan's Daiichi Sankyo, is now planning to make huge investments in Religare and Fortis, the family's financial service and healthcare companies. Healthcare and financial services are two areas where we have existing businesses, where we will make investments, Ranbaxy CEO and managing director Malvinder Singh said Sunday.

For some perspective, the average per capita income in India is about $1,000 (U.S.), while in the United States it is about $39,000. So millions and billions that seem like a lot of money here are considerably farther out of the ordinary for most Indians.

Malvinder Singh, an initiate of RSSB, is deeply involved in the Radha Soami Satsang Beas organization, as is the rest of his family.

This helps explain why the RSSB guru's sons, Gurpreet and Gurkirat, each ended up with about 10% of the shares in Religare according to a 2007 prospectus. On page 25 it says that Malvinder Singh and Shivinder Singh were allotted 49,575,000 equity shares in Religare at 10 rupees (about 23 cents) a share.

Malvinder then transferred 6,250,000 shares to Gurpreet Singh, and Shivinder transferred 6,250,000 shares to Gurkirat Singh under guardianship of Ms. Shabnam Dhillon — almost certainly because Gurkirat is only twenty years old.

The cost also was 10 rupees a share. So the guru's sons each got 6,250,000 shares of Religare for $1,437,500 or thereabouts through an insider deal. The share price on April 6, 2010 was 395.80. Thus, converting into dollars, 6,250,000 shares of Religare currently are worth $55,716,271 (today's exchange rate shows 1 rupee = .022523 US$).

This explains how Gurpreet and Gurkirat appear on a 2009 "Billionaire Club" list of wealthy Indians. They're ranked near the bottom at 364 and 365.

The guru's sons seemingly acquired even more Religare shares recently, according to this insider trading report. It appears that each son got 6,183,000 additional shares (for a total of about 12,400,000 shares).

And the RSSB guru himself — Gurinder Singh Dhillon — got 26,333, leaving him with a total of 65,833 (or about $587,000 worth).

I've been told that almost all members of the board of directors of Religare are Radha Soami Satsang Beas initiates, or "satsangis."

Also, that the RSSB guru literally runs the company — he makes all the important decisions and spends a considerable amount of time driving the business. The children of high-ranking satsangis, along with family members and friends of the guru, work for Religare.

Charitable activities of RSSB reportedly have been cut back considerably, with the guru being quoted as saying, "We are a spiritual organization, not a charitable one." This strikes some initiates as hypocritical, given how busily the guru and those close to him are acquiring wealth through RSSB connections.

Apparently now the only organized RSSB charitable activity for the poor is the Beas hospital that was built many years ago, when Charan Singh was the guru. The annual "eye camps" that provided free medical care for cataracts and other problems have been discontinued. (Another guru's "dera" offers them, though.)

Sunil Godhwani, Religare's Chairman and Managing Director, is a Radha Soami Satsang Beas follower and the guru's closest aide. Malvinder and Shivinder Mohan Singh, the brothers (nephews of the guru) who founded Religare and transferred millions of shares in the company to the guru's sons also are RSSB initiates.

There's something strange about the sons of a guru, who is considered by disciples to be "God in human form" and master of their spiritual destiny, becoming some of the richest people in India after being gifted millions of shares in Religare without ever having worked for the company.

Here's another view of dual relationships:

Dual relationships between psychotherapists and their clients/patients are in the most general sense considered inappropriate or unethical. In nearly all situations a dual relationship involves a risk that treatment may become biased or influenced by a non-treatment relationship between the professional and consumer.

I've seen destitute Indians happily placing a rupee (23 cents) or two into a "seva" (donation) container. I've seen initiates working tirelessly without pay for hours, days, and weeks in a spirit of service to the guru. I've seen disciples jump at the chance to do the most dirty or difficult volunteer work if this would further a project ordered by the guru.

It's well known that when people are in different positions of power (such as boss/employee or teacher/student), different interpersonal dynamics come into play. The lower-ranking person really isn't "free" in the usual sense of the word.

This is why psychotherapists are so concerned about the dangers of dual relationships.
Power imbalances can easily result in people being taken advantage of, even when they appear — and may even feel themselves — to be acting voluntarily.

All I know is that philosophically and ethically, there are reasons for concern here. The RSSB guru, his family, and high-ranking members of the RSSB organization are so deeply involved in the business of Religare. Should a religious group whose aim is release of the soul from the bonds of worldly attachment be so heavily focused on materialistic corporate goals?

It's also important to keep in mind that relationships between people in a guru's family can be quite different from the usual sorts of familial ties.

So when profound religious faith in a guru is intertwined with business transactions that involve him, there's a strong possibility of spirituality becoming strangely mixed up with material concerns and desires.


Truth about Radha Swami Blog,

Sebi Report about Religare, 2007

Hinessight Blogs

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damn.. very good journalist article.. Also, not very well known but once the head of radha swami more than 6 or 8 decades ago was the cousin brother of Akj jatha founder, Bhai Sahib Bhai Randhir Singh ji. Bhai sahib jee broke all relationship with him after having religious practice differences.

I heard that Malvinder/Shivinder's dad was a nice person... Also, it was one of their wives who was very attached to beas dera and got ranbaxy family into supporting dera in huge huge financial sector..

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In order to make religious in-roads, you've gotta have the money behind you. Whether you agree with these Radhasoami's religious ethos or not, that's how progress is made in this day and age.

The difference is that these Radhasoamis wish to propagate their brand of religion and increase their followers, and they wouldn't think twice about investing that money into swelling their ranks. Whilst our lot back in Panjab keep every single rupee under tight lock and key.

Ultimately this kind of greed and direction-less thinking on the part of our leadership will prove to be our downfall. The enemy from within.

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^^ But they are making personal wealth, on individual's name (exploiting sect links) not on the Radha Soami Sect or NGO name.

Running an NGO associated business, operating and making money to sustain it is fine, but heading an NGO and exploiting its links to make personal wealth is immoral & unethical (dual relationship).

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^^ But they are making personal wealth, on individual's name (exploiting sect links) not on the Radha Soami Sect or NGO name.

Running an NGO associated business, operating and making money to sustain it is fine, but heading an NGO and exploiting its links to make personal wealth is immoral & unethical (dual relationship).

Yeah I get that. I was assuming they would plough some of that cash into furthering their cause. Unless I'm being naive?

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Personally I feel there is nothing wrong in making honest personal wealth, and is really good to use that personal wealth to drive some social cause. But making personal wealth out of social cause is unacceptable.

Secondly, my purpose of sharing this article is just to let the people know that these Baba's who are assumed liberator by many people are deeply involved in money matters. It's onto them to decide about right or wrong. they have to decide whether to go again to these Dera's and contribute to the personal wealth of these people.

I shared my opinion. Thanks for taking time to read.

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