Jan 30, 2014

How to be Helpful: The Importance of Information

Joseph Kelly; Patrick Ryan; Amanda van Eck Duymaer van Twist
June 29-July 1, 2007 ICSA Annual International Conference - Brussels, Belgium

This session will compare and contrast INFORM’s approach to information with the approach of two exit counselors.

The main aim of INFORM, described by Ms. Van Eck Duymaer van Twist, is to help inquirers by providing information about a wide range of minority religions that is as reliable and up-to-date as possible. This can be very challenging, considering the wealth of contradictory claims to knowledge that are “out there.” We get information from all sources, including scholars, the media, former members, current members, relatives and friends of members, the
religious groups, other organizations, etc. INFORM attempts to analyze these data by drawing on the methods of social science in order to distil them into a coherent, summarized form that is accurate and relatively easy to comprehend. Parents are likely to benefit from information about the beliefs, practices, and history of the group their young daughter or son has joined. It might be helpful as well for these parents to know about current developments in the group and recent controversies. Furthermore, they may want to be aware of what we know about the authority structure and group dynamics of a particular group, as well as changes people may go through as a result of converting to a religious movement and the kinds of pressure they may be under. When asked for suggestions for future action, we can help by offering recommendations on how to best stay in touch and by making suggestions on how to communicate in new ways with the convert. Of course, this process involves a lot more work, thought, methodological issues, battles,
ethical considerations, and other problems.

Exit counselors Joseph Kelly and Patrick Ryan will explain how the information gathered by INFORM and other organizations can be useful to parents. They will also explain why parents also need other information, particularly information relating to their child’s personal history, psychological issues, family relationships, and specific ways of relating to group members and the leader. Information that is both broad and deep can enable parents to understand how their group-involved child sees the world. This understanding permits parents to formulate an ethical and informed strategy for improving their relationship with their child possibly helping him/her reevaluate a group involvement.

Jan 23, 2014

Dharma Pratishthanam vs Income-Tax Officer on 21 August, 19 ( Age of Enlightenment Trust, Channel Islands)

Income Tax Appellate Tribunal - Delhi Dharma Pratishthanam vs Income-Tax Officer on 21 August, 1984 Equivalent citations: 1985 11 ITD 40 DelhiBench: G Krishnamurthy, S Vice, S Kapur

G. Krishnamurthy, Senior Vice President

1. In this appeal filed by the assessee, a charitable institution, the question that arose for our consideration is whether the donations received by this charitable institution could be deemed to be the income liable to tax under any of the provisions of the Income-tax Act, 1961 ('the Act').

2. This Dharma Pratishthanam is a society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, on 29-3-1979. As seen from the preamble of this Dharma Pratishthanam, the importance, significance and benefits of bringing about universal peace, spiritual regeneration by the technique of transcendental meditation is sought to be brought about so that by the practice of this technique, the mediators developed in them the experience of transcendental consciousness, which is supposed to be the field of all possibilities, home for all the law of nature, and the state of infinite correlation. It is claimed that with this great benefit in the field of physiology, psychology, sociology and ecology were noticed, and that they were substantiated by the scientific researches carried out in more than 200 universities and research institutions all over the world. Inspired by this phenomenal success of this technique, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi inaugurated in 1975 what is described as the age of enlightenment, to usher in and perpetuate the age of enlightenment. Maharishi founded the world Government of the age of the enlightenment in 1976. Inspired by the success of this movement, a global plan was formed to establish Sidha Land in every one million population of the world, where 100 people will participate and do some activities to make themselves sufficient, giving preference to unemployed people and unused or underused land and other resources. It is also proposed to intensify the Yoga Shakti, whose ultimate aim is to generate truth in the atmosphere. This movement has grown in 114 countries of the world with approximately 25 lakh meditators. With this background, it was proposed to bring the achievements of Vedas and science in the field of dharma, the eternal principle that upholds the existence of the universe, for the benefit of mankind and in particular to bring enlightenment, peace, prosperity, progress to the people of India, the land of Vedas. It was for this purpose that this society was registered under the Societies Registration Act with Registrar Office at B-IV/59, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi. The main objects of the society are:

1. To establish dharma through the practical application of the wisdom contained in Vedas and Vedic literature and thereby unfold the full human potentials for the integrated development of mankind and its environment, and thereby maintain high degree of coherence in the collective consciousness of India and the world and thereby usher in and perpetuate the sunshine of the age of enlightenment for all mankind.

2. To propagate and apply the science of yoga through the science of creative intelligence and, its practical aspect, the transcendental meditation and TM-Sidhi Programme as propounded by His Holiness, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
3. To conduct and promote the science of yagyas as prescribed in Vedas and Vedic literature and to create facilities, whereby the yagyas could be performed throughout India and abroad.

3. That this is charitable institution, the income whereof is exempt under Section 11 of the Act is not an issue in dispute. But during the assessment year under appeal, the assessee received donations from the Age of Enlightenment Trust, Channel Islands, as per details given below:
(i) 25-1-1980 20,000
(ii) 26-6-1979 25,000 pstl. (iii) 25-6-1979 3,30,000 (iv) 13-12-1979 1,00,000
The assessee claimed exemption from tax on these donations on the ground that they did not partake the character of income under the provisions of Section 2(24)(iia) and also under Section 12 of the Act. The ITO allowed exemption only in respect of the donation of 20,000 received on 25-1-1980 and levied tax on the equivalent of the balance. The reasons given by the ITO for the rejection of the assessee's claim may better be quoted in his own words:
The assessee-trust has credited its capital fund with Rs. 52,45,214. The said donations are received from the Age of Enlightenment Trust, Jersey. The assessee-Pratishthanam was asked to file the confirmation letters and Form No. 

3. The scrutiny of the same reveals that U.K. Pound Sterling 20,000 are towards the corpus of the society and the balance amount equal to Rs. 48,83,550 is for general and running expenses on Veda Yoga and Udyog Vibhag. These activities cannot be treated as corpus. Moreover, the scrutiny of Form No. 3 which was filed with the Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India, reveals that the purpose of donations is for spreading T.M. & T.N. In view of these facts, the balance amount of Rs. 48,83,550 is treated as income of the assessee-Pratishthanam as the conditions set forth in Section 2(24)(iia) are not fulfilled.
The main emphasis of the ITO in levying tax on the equivalent of the other sums received by way of donations appears to be that that amount was received for general and running expenses on Veda, Yoga, and that they could not be treated as corpus. It would also appear that had there been proof to show that those amounts also were received as and by way of corpus, the ITO would not be levying tax on it treating it as income.

4. Aggrieved by this treatment, appeal was filed before the Commissioner (Appeals), who substantially agreed with the ITO's view. Before him, the assessee produced letters obtained from the donors showing that those amounts were donated towards corpus. Based upon this clarification, it was contended before the Commissioner (Appeals) that the exemption contemplated in Section 2(24)(iia) was available to the assessee but the Commissioner (Appeals) was not willing to accept the contention because those amounts were not utilised for the purpose of creation of any capital assets but were used towards running expenses of the trust. According to him, if any donation, though received towards corpus, if utilised otherwise than for the purpose of creating a corpus, it loses the exemption. No amount received by way of donation towards corpus, according to the Commissioner (Appeals), should be spent for the running expenses of the institution. Before the Commissioner (Appeals), reliance was placed on the decisions in Sri Dwarkadheesh Charitable Trust v. ITO [1975] 98 ITR 557 (All.), CIT v. Bal Utkarsh Society [1979] 119 ITR 137 (Guj.) and Chairman, Andhra Pradesh Welfare Funds. CIT [1983] 143 ITR 82 (AP) as well as CIT' v. Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council [1983] 143 ITR 579 (Bom.). The Commissioner (Appeals) declined to apply the law enunciated in these decisions on the simple ground that those were the cases decided before the insertion of Section 2(24)(iia) and Section 12 by the Finance Act, 1972, with effect from 1-4-1973. The specific reason of the Commissioner (Appeals), which weigh with him in rejecting the assessee's contentions is:
The contributions were not separately invested, they were not retained in fact, they were in fact applied in the day-to-day activity of the foundation. They were not used for acquisition of any specific capital asset for the foundation. It is, therefore, not possible to hold that these receipts were towards the corpus merely because the donor chose to add these words in two of its letters.
It was against this order of the Commissioner (Appeals) that the present appeal is directed.

5. The contentions raised by the learned Counsel for the assessee, Shri Gauri Shanker, before us now is very succinct and simple. He submits that neither in the language of Section 2(24)(iia) nor in Section 12, is there any stipulation that the amounts meant for forming part of corpus, if spent otherwise than for that purpose, but essentially for the purpose of the furtherance of the objects of the trust, the trust would lose the exemption. After tracing the history behind the introduction of Section 2(24)(iia) and after taking us through the Wanchoo Committee report on the Direct Taxes Enquiry, based upon which the above section was stated to have been inserted, the learned Counsel for the assessee submitted that the authorities below have proceeded on a total misconception of law, which resulted in the miscarriage of justice and virtually turning against the assessee what was in effect meant to confer benefit. He originally opened his arguments by formulating four propositions, which are:

1. Even if the income is spent for the purposes of the trust, still the receipt retains its character as non-taxable.
2. Under Section 2(24)(iia), read with Section 12, the voluntary contributions having been specified to form part of the corpus did not constitute income at all.
3. The amount was received towards corpus, though it was stated by the department to be ambiguous as to its nature at the time of receipt.
4. Lastly, even assuming the direction, still under the circumstances, it is to be disregarded and it continued to remain as part of the corpus, irrespective of the fact as to how it was spent and continue to enjoy the exemption from tax, all because they were invested for the furtherance of the objects of the trust.
But as the arguments have developed, Shri Gauri Shanker emphasised that part of his argument, which related to the contention that the contributions though formed part of the corpus but were spent for the purpose of the objects of the trust the contributions did not lose the exemption (sic). He also filed before us a statement showing that even as per the ITO's order, the income that was taken as per income and expenditure account was Rs. 26.81 lakhs. Adding thereto donations credited to capital account of about Rs. 14.37 lakhs, it gave a total of Rs. 41.18 lakhs out of which the amount spent for the furtherance of the objects of the trust was Rs. 46.34 lakhs besides capital expenditure of Rs. 6.33 lakhs giving a total of Rs. 52.67 lakhs which at once meant that all the money received was spent for the purposes of the trust. Even if the entire income is taken as income within the meaning of Section 2(24)(iia), still the amount, having been spent, satisfied the requirements of section 11 and viewed from that angle also, the contributions had to be exempted from the levy of tax. The learned Counsel for the department in a lucid way submitted that the requirements of Section 2(24)(iia) have to be scrupulously satisfied and any deviation in the requirements of the law will render the contributions liable to tax. Relying upon the orders of the authorities below, he submitted that the amounts were not stipulated as towards corpus. Even assuming that the contributions were towards corpus, they must have been accumulated and not spent. Section 2(24)(iia) contemplated that any amount received towards corpus is to be exempted solely because that amount would be retained as corpus for ever, invested in such a way as to yield income and only the income would be spent for the furtherance of the objects of the trust. It is not in the contemplation when Section 2(24)(iia) was enacted that the corpus would be spent for day-to-day expenditure. Since the trust violated that basic requirement of law, it forfeited the claim for exemption. Developing this argument further, the learned departmental representative submitted that the statement filed showing the computation of income does not advance the case of the assessee any further because when nothing was to be spent out of corpus, showing that the corpus was spent towards the objects, the trust would not convert the case of the assessee from that of taxability to non-taxability.
6. We have carefully considered the arguments addressed to us at some length and have gone through the relevant provisions of the Act as well as the paper book filed before us and we are of the view that there is a misconception of the legal proposition. Section 2(24)(iia) is the relevant section, which is in the following terms and which needs to be reproduced here:
(24) 'income' includes--
** ** **
(iia) voluntary contributions received by a trust created wholly or partly for charitable or religious purposes or by an institution established wholly or partly for such purposes, not being contributions made with a specific direction that they shall form part of the corpus of the trust or institution.
An analysis of this section shows that (a) there must be a trust created wholly or partly for charitable or religious purposes, or (b) by an institution established wholly or partly for such purposes, (c) such a trust must receive voluntary contributions, and (d) the exception is that those contributions, if made with a specific direction, they shall form part of the corpus of the trust or institution. Then such voluntary contributions are considered as income for the purposes of the Act. In other words, voluntary contributions towards the corpus are not regarded as income, the object being that they shall form a fund, which is not an income under the Act. In this context we may also refer to the recommendations made by the Direct Taxes Enquiry Committee popularly known as Wanchoo Committee, where in paragraph 3.62 after noticing that there was a certain abuse of Section 11 in that even trust which do not enure for the benefit of the public are getting exemption in respect of their income received by way of voluntary contributions and observing that there was no justification for exempting from tax any income, by way of voluntary contributions, of private religious trusts and charitable trusts affording benefits to the relatives of the author, founder, etc. It recommended that Section 12 be suitably amended to provide that the benefit of tax exemption in respect of income received by way of voluntary contribution will be available only to charitable and religious trusts which enure wholly for the benefit of the public, that the voluntary contributions received by religious and charitable trusts will be treated as income of such trusts for the purposes of Sections 11 and 13. It also recommended at the same time that voluntary contributions in the nature of endowments or for specific projects related to the objects of the trust may be allowed to be accumulated or set apart. It is this recommendation, which was acted upon by the Government and as a consequence, Section 2(24)(iia) came to be enacted with effect from 1-4-1973 and Section 12 was also substituted with effect from the same date. It is also necessary to notice what exactly it provided for:
12. Any voluntary contributions received by a trust created wholly for charitable or religious purposes or by an institution established wholly for such purposes (not being contributions made with a specific direction that they shall form part of the corpus of the trust or institution) shall for the purposes of Section 11 be deemed to be income derived from property held under trust wholly for charitable or religious purposes and the provisions of that section and Section 13 shall apply accordingly.
It, therefore, follows by a combined reading of Section 2(24)(iia) and Section 12 that voluntary contributions received by a trust created wholly for charitable or religious purposes other than contributions made towards the corpus will be deemed to be the income derived from the property held under trust and the provisions of Section 11 and Section 13 are made to apply. Now even if voluntary contributions are received by a trust which are not specifically earmarked for the corpus, if they satisfy the requirements of Section 11, they continue to enjoy the exemption provided for under Section 11. To put it simply, a voluntary contribution received by a charitable or religious trust will earn exemption (a) if it is received with a specific direction that it forms part of the corpus of the trust, or (b) it satisfies the requirements of Section 11. If either of these conditions are satisfied, the exemption from the levy of tax is available. As the department in this case has, as we see from the orders passed by the authorities below, approached the problem only from the point of view as to whether the contributions received were towards corpus or not and not from the standpoint whether, even if they are to be taken as income within the meaning of Section 2(24)(iia), it still satisfies the requirements of Section 11. It is to satisfy us that this requirement is fully met and that the statement had been filed before us at the time of hearing which helps the assessee's case almost in a full way. Assuming for the sake of argument that the amounts received by the assessee are voluntary contributions not with a specific direction that they shall form part of the corpus, then it becomes the income liable to be processed under Section 11. Section 11 says that subject to the provisions of Sections 60 to 63 of the Act, the income derived from property held under trust, to the extent to which such income is applied to such purposes in India or any such income is accumulated or set apart for application to such purposes in India, to the extent to which the income so accumulated or set apart is not in excess of twenty-five per cent of the income from such property, will not be included in the total income of the person. Now the voluntary donation, which is to be treated as income within the meaning of Section 2(24)(iia) by the injunction of Section 12, is to be treated as income derived from the property held under trust wholly for charitable or religious purposes for the purposes of Section 11 and if we apply Section 11, we find that that income was spent for the purposes for which the trust is established and this is an admitted fact. Therefore, the entire contributions, though regarded as income, becomes eligible for exemption and no part of it can be said to be income which forfeited the claim of exemption. This is the clear outcome of reading of Section 2(24)(iia), Section 12 and Section 11 together as applied to the facts of the present case. When this situation was pointed out, the learned departmental representative did not have much of argument.

7. That apart we find that out of the four donations received, the first donation received on 25-6-1979 of 3,00,000 was received for the purchase and investment in Sidha Land Project which is a capital project and thus formed part of the corpus. The last one received on 25-1-1980 of 20,000 was also received towards the corpus of the society. That these two amounts were received towards the corpus, clearly emerged out of the discussion that took place during the course of hearing. Once it is shown that these two amounts were received towards the corpus, it ceased to be the income within the meaning of Section 2(24)(iia). They are clearly out of the purview of taxation. The long arms of tax law cannot reach them. That leaves us with the other two items of 25,000 received on 26-6-1979 and 1,00,000 received on 13-12-1979, which were claimed by the department to have been received without specification that they were towards corpus but spent for expenses though later clarified to be towards corpus and whether the later clarification converted them into corpus. This controversy also is to be resolved in favour of the assessee for more than one reason. Assuming in favour of the revenue that these contributions were to be treated as income for non-specification, still these were to be treated as income derived from a trust wholly and exclusively for charitable or religious purposes for the purpose of Section 11 and since that amount was also spent, it became eligible for exemption under Section 11, read with Section 2(24)(iia) and Section

8. That leaves us with the question whether any amount received towards corpus can be spent for running expenses and if so spent, whether it loses the exemption from the levy of tax. We have read the relevant sections carefully and we find nothing in those sections even remotely suggesting the above view. Section 2(24)(iia) when it provided that the voluntary contributions should be made with a specific direction that they shall form part of the corpus of the trust or institution, in order that it is not to be treated as income, it was laying emphasis on the wish, will and desire of the donor. The donor must grant it with a direction that it shall form part of the corpus. The section did not either by implication, or overtly or otherwise, enjoin upon the trust that the trustee shall retain it for ever as corpus, even if when an occasion arises that in order to keep the trust alive and to prevent it from failure, it should not spend any amount out of it. If a donor donates money with a specific direction that it shall form part of the corpus, the trustee is expected to honour the wish of the donor. But if the trustee utilises it for a different purpose, then it is a simple case of breach of trust for which delinquency, the trustee can be proceeded against under the Indian Trusts Act, 1882, or other appropriate legislation but that is not to say that for the misbehaviour of the trustee, the trust loses exemption under the Act. This kind of inflexibility, as contended for by the revenue, is difficult to see or comprehend from the language of Section 2(24)(iia) or section 12. The requirement of Section 2(24)(iia) is that the voluntary contribution, when received, should contain a stipulation that it shall form part of corpus. The trustee cannot possibly influence the donor at that time, except that the trustee should act in accordance with the confidence reposed in him by the donor. Take an example, where A makes a voluntary contribution of Rs. 1 lakh to a trust created wholly for charitable or religious purposes and it has no other income. The object of the trust is to promote education or relief of poor. How can the trustee utilise this money without buying the books, if it is for the purpose of education, or necessary utensils or provisions, if it is for providing relief to the poor by way of providing food and if the money is spent out of the donation of Rs. 1 lakh for the purchase of books, utensils, etc. Would it mean that the sum of Rs. 1 lakh would become taxable as income of the trust? We do not think that this is the object of the legislation. In any case, this is contrary to what is recommended by the Direct Taxes Enquiry Committee, which was accepted by the Government. What is earmarked for corpus is not to be treated as income not because it is spent for the purpose of the trust but because that forms the fund of the trust. It is nowhere laid down that the funds of the trust should never be spent for the purposes of the trust unless it is a direction of the donor that the fund shall be invested in such a way as to produce income and only the income shall be spent for the purposes of the trust. Even so, if a departure is made by the trustee in the implementation of this wish of the donor, the trustee is to be penalised and not the trust. Looked at from any angle, we find it difficult to subscribe to the view so forcefully put forward before us by the learned departmental representative and so explained in the orders of the authorities below.

9. We, therefore, accept the contentions raised on behalf of the assessee and hold that the voluntary contributions are not to be treated as income. In the view that we have taken, we thought it unnecessary to go into the question whether a voluntary contribution received initially without a specific direction that it shall form part of the corpus could be converted into a specific direction making the voluntary contribution a part of the corpus even though, prima facie, we do not find any suggestion to the contrary from the language of the sections.

10. In the result, the appeal is allowed.

The Maharishi Years - The Untold Story: Recollections of a Former Disciple

Deepak Chopra
The Huffington Post
February 2, 2008

August 1, 1991 saw the publication of my book, Perfect Health, a popular guide to Ayurveda that came at the height of my involvement with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Although I had been meditating less than a decade in comparison with TM meditators who went back to the '60s, my association with Maharishi quickly became personal. He felt comfortable around other Indians and had a special regard for trained scientists and physicians. In return I had a deep fascination with enlightenment and the almost supernatural status of gurus. A few days before the book's publication, I was in Fairfield, Iowa, to participate in a meditation course. Maharishi was supposed to address the assembly on speaker phone from India, but the phone call didn't come through at the appointed time. We all dispersed.

A couple of hours later when I was in meditation I had a vision of Maharishi lying in a hospital bed with intravenous tubes in his body breathing on a respirator. I quickly got out of the meditation and phoned my parents in New Delhi. My mother picked up the phone and told me that Maharishi was very sick. "They think he's been poisoned. Come quickly," she said. I asked to speak to my father, who was a cardiologist. She said, "Your father isn't here. He's taking care of Maharishi." This began a journey that took me to the very heart of who the guru is and who he is expected to be. The two can be in jarring opposition.

I immediately left Fairfield for Chicago, where a wealthy TM donor had been kind enough to charter a plane for me. When I arrived in Delhi, it was past midnight. I first went home. My father was not there, and my mother told me he was still with Maharishi in a house in Golflinks, a private reserve in the city. One room had been converted into an intensive care unit presided over by my father and other doctors. I arrived at the house at 2:00 am, and when I entered the makeshift ICU I saw Maharishi lying unconscious in a bed with IV tubes and a respirator just as I had foreseen. My father informed me darkly that after drinking a glass of orange juice given to him by "a foreign disciple," Maharishi had suffered severe abdominal pain and inflammation of the pancreas, along with kidney failure followed by a heart attack. Poisoning was suspected. Over the next few days Maharishi's condition worsened. The pancreas and kidney functions continued to deteriorate, and his heart didn't improve. My father was of the opinion that Maharishi should be taken to England for a course of kidney dialysis. The Indian TM organization, centered around Maharishi's nephews, Prakash and Anand Shrivastava, were adamant that no one in the movement should find out that Maharishi was grievously ill. The rationale was that his followers would panic and lose faith.

I found myself torn, because Maharishi had long presented himself as being far from the typical Hindu guru. He did not assert his own divinity. He credited his entire career to his own master, Guru Dev. He seemed indifferent to the cult of personality and the aura of superstition surrounding gurus, which includes the notion that they have perfect control over mind and body and hold the secret of immortality. But deeper than that, Maharishi wasn't a religious figure. Although he had taken vows as a monk, he brought a technique to the West, Transcendental Meditation, that was entirely secular and even scientific. Indeed, his lasting memory will probably be that he convinced Westerners of the physical and mental benefits of a purely mechanical non-religious approach to consciousness. I was troubled that his falling ill had to be hidden essentially to preserve the image of a superhuman being who couldn't get sick like mere mortals.

There was one person the Indian inner circle chose to trust, however. He was Neil Paterson, a Canadian who had been chosen by Maharishi as chief spokesman and de facto head of the movement. Neil and I flew to England and made arrangements for Maharishi to be admitted to a private hospital on Harley Street. My father and two other doctors chartered a plane and brought Maharishi to London. I remember standing outside the London Heart Hospital, watching an ambulance navigate the snarled traffic, sirens wailing. Just before it arrived on the hospital's doorstep, one of the accompanying doctors ran up with the news that Maharishi had suddenly died. I rushed to the ambulance, picking Maharishi's body up -- he was frail and light by this time - and carrying him in my arms through London traffic.

I laid him on the floor inside the hospital's doors and called for a cardio assist. Within minutes he was revived and rushed to intensive care on a respirator and fitted with a pacemaker that took over his heartbeat. The attending physician felt that Maharishi was clinically dead. My father suggested that we keep him on life support, however, until the family gave permission to take him off. As fate would have it, after 24 to 36 hours the attending informed us that Maharishi was recovering miraculously. His kidney function was returning to normal, his heart was beating independent of the pacemaker, and he had started to breathe on his own. Within a few days he was sitting up in bed, drinking milk with honey. The doctor could not explain this recovery; everyone in the hospital, including his nurses, were awestruck, not just by the turn-around but by his presence, which induced a sense of peace in anyone who came near.

Let me pause here to reflect on the strange juxtapositions at work. I genuinely felt in the midst of the crisis that I was fulfilling a purpose beyond myself. A series of circumstances had brought me to the very moment when someone had to intervene to save Maharishi's life, and it was as if the universe had conspired to carry me to that moment. At the same time, he exhibited both the all-too-human qualities found in every holy man and other qualities one associates with the superhuman. I had the distinct sensation of standing on the border between two worlds, or should one say two versions of the human condition? It was easy to believe that other disciples in another time felt much the same in the presence of Jesus or Buddha.

Maharishi's complete recovery happened slowly. There was a point where the doctor informed us that he had severe anemia and needed a blood transfusion. When they typed and cross-matched Maharishi's blood, I turned out to be the only match - this, of course, only increased my sense of being a participant in a drama shaped by forces outside myself. When he was informed about the situation, however, Maharishi refused to accept my blood but would give no reason. Considering that much had been made of how he had studied physics in college and had insisted on the scientific validity of TM, this was a baffling decision. Then I had a sudden insight. He didn't want my blood because he didn't want my karma. After all, I had been a smoker, had indulged in alcohol and sex and had even experimented with LSD years before. I went to Maharishi and confronted him with my realization. I asked if he believed that karma could be transmitted in the blood. He responded reluctantly, "That's true." I told him that red blood cells do not have a nucleus and therefore contain no DNA. Without genetic information my blood would only be giving him the hemoglobin he needed without karmic infection. At first he was suspicious, but I had the hematologist explain to him that memory and information is not transferred through a red blood transfusion. Eventually he accepted my blood. As he regained strength, we removed him from the hospital, and he was brought to a London hotel to continue recuperating. 
This began a period of increased intimacy between us. We would go for long walks in Hyde Park, which felt strange given the complete blackout of news to the TM movement, which was told that Maharishi had decided to go into silence for the time being. On one occasion, a stranger ran up to us in the park and asked, "Aren't you the guru of the Beatles?" My wife Rita, who had joined us that day, quickly interjected, "He's my father-in-law. Please leave him alone." In the end we felt that staying in London risked unnecessary publicity. So Maharishi was moved to a country home in the southwest of England where I spent hours personally nursing him. He took the occasion to give me deep insight and knowledge about Vedanta. He also gave me advanced meditation techniques. Those languid weeks and months alone with Maharishi, except for the servants who cooked and served his meals, were the most precious days of my life. I grew very fond of him and he evoked a love in me that I had never experienced before. In turn, I realized that he was also getting fond of me. We discussed just about every topic in the world from politics (on which he had very strong opinions) to human relationships (which he thought were full of melodrama) to the nature of consciousness (his favorite subject). Yet I still remained on the cusp of an uneasy truce between the physical frailty of an old man who at times could be fretful and worried and a guru whose mortality was like an admission of imperfection.

In all, Maharishi was out of circulation for almost a year; few in the TM movement knew where he was, and almost no one was willing to concede that he had been sick. After he was fully recovered we flew him via helicopter back to his chosen residence, which wasn't in either India or the U.S. but the obscure village of Vlodrop in Holland. It would be impossible to calculate how many disciples and even casual TM meditators would have given anything for personal time with Maharishi. Because of his mass appeal and his undeniable presence, there were many who cherished a moment with him as the most precious in their lives. Yet I was growing increasingly disturbed by contradictions I couldn't reconcile.

Maharishi had spent decades traveling the globe to promote TM; now he remained permanently in Vlodrop while I was sent, as one of his main emissaries, on a routine of almost constant jet travel. He aimed at ever-increasing expansion. Eastern Europe and the Soviet bloc were opened up to meditation. Gradually so was the Islamic world, which resisted TM in large part because the initiation ceremony included a picture of Maharishi's teacher sitting on an altar, which went against the Muslim prohibition over depicting God or holy men. Everywhere I went I was given the respect accorded to my guru, bringing with it a level of pomp and ceremony that verged on veneration. Not only did this make me uncomfortable personally, but I wondered why Maharishi, the first "modern" guru, allowed and encouraged it. It seemed inconsistent with Vedanta's central theme that the material world is illusion, not to mention the freedom from materialism that is expected of one who is enlightened.

Ironically, the respect shown to me in his name came to be my undoing. Maharishi started to give me the perception (perhaps that was my own projection) that he felt I was competing with him in a spiritual popularity contest. On more than one occasion, he casually mentioned that I was seeking adulation for myself. This was odd considering that he had been the one who thrust me forward in the first place, and who insisted on piling tributes on me that I had no choice but to accept whatever my embarrassment. The situation came to a head. In July, 1993, during the celebration of Guru Purnima, I went to see Maharishi in his private rooms to pay my respects. It was close to midnight after all the day's public ceremonies had ended. Rita and I entered the room in near darkness. Besides Maharishi, the only person present was a TM higher up, Benny Feldman, who kept silent as Maharishi said, "People are telling me that you are competing with me."

At that point I had only heard indirect reports about his displeasure; this was the first time, in fact, that Maharishi had shown anything but the highest trust in me. It was true that after his medical crisis he refused to discuss his health and took pains to indicate that where once I had been his physician, now I was to consider myself in the former position of disciple. Actually, I admired him for this. It would have been impertinent for me to take any other role. To be in the presence of someone like Maharishi is to realize an immense gulf in consciousness. His physical status continued to be amazingly strong considering what he had been through.

Here he was now, in my eyes, playing the part of an irascible, jealous old man whose pride had been hurt. For my part, I was dismayed that he might believe the rumors. Then he made a demand. "I want you to stop traveling and live here at the ashram with me." He also wanted me to stop writing books. After delivering what amounted to an ultimatum, I was given twenty-four hours to make up my mind.

It was a critical moment. Then and there I had to consider the entirety of the guru-disciple relationship. To anyone outside India, much misunderstanding surrounds the whole issue of taking on an enlightened teacher. To begin with, there is a Western predisposition to doubt that enlightenment could be real except as personified in Buddha or a limited number of saints and sages who existed centuries ago. There is also a sense in the West that following a guru is tantamount to surrendering your personal identity, your bank account, and your dignity. None of these issues concerned me, however. In the role of guru Maharishi was authentic, dignified, respectful, and accepting. In addition, he was personally lovable and a joy to be around (even if one had to suffer patiently through discourses that lasted many hours and that circled around the same basic points.) The dilemma I faced was more fundamental: Can a real guru be unfair, jealous, biased, and ultimately manipulative?

For a devotee, the answer is unquestionably yes. The role of a disciple isn't to question a guru, but the exact opposite: Whatever the guru says, however strange, capricious, or unfair, is taken to be truth. The disciple's role is to accommodate to the truth, and if it takes struggle and "ego death" to do that, the spiritual fruits of obedience are well worth it. A guru speaks for God and pure consciousness; therefore, his words are a direct communication from Brahman, who knows us better than we know ourselves. In essence the guru is like a superhuman parent who guides our steps until we can walk on our own. Was Maharishi doing that to me?

I never found out, because practical considerations loomed large at that moment. I had a family with children in school, a wife who decidedly did not want to live an ashram life, and no visible means of support if I stopped producing books and giving lectures. I told Maharishi that I didn't need twenty-four hours to make my decision. I would leave immediately and not return. With some surprise he asked me why. I told him that I had no ambitions to be a guru myself - the very idea appalled me. I was dismayed that he would believe such rumors. It was beyond my imagination for anyone to compare me to him or that I would have the gall to do the same.

It's only after his death that I feel free to divulge this final parting of ways. To outsiders it will seem like a tempest in a teapot, but in my leaving the TM movement it was widely rumored that I wanted to be the guru of my own movement. While the media casually refers to any spokesperson from the East as a guru, but that doesn't diminish the fact that Maharishi actually was a guru and great Rishi of the Vedic tradition, while I am a doctor who loved the philosophy of Vedanta and also loved articulating it for the man on the street. I said goodbye to Maharishi, took Rita's hand, and walked away. We drove from Vlodrop to Amsterdam in the middle of the night and took a plane to Boston. When we arrived home in Lincoln, Massachusetts, the phone was ringing. A contrite and forgiving Maharishi was on the line. He said, "You are my son, you will inherit all that I have created. Come back and all will be yours."

I replied that I didn't want what he was offering. I loved the knowledge of Vedanta and wanted to devote myself to it. By the end of the conversation, however, I relented and told him that I would think about it. In the ensuing months I was approached by medical institutions and universities to introduce Ayurveda and TM as part of their programs. However, when I contacted Maharishi and the movement with these promising prospects I was told that I shouldn't pursue these offers. At the same time decisions were made to raise the cost of TM astronomically, putting it out of reach for ordinary people. On January 12, 1994 I went back to Vlodrop for the annual New Year's celebration and told Maharishi that I was leaving permanently. I expressed my immeasurable gratitude to him and told him that I would love him forever. When we parted, he said, "Whatever you do will be the right decision for you. I will love you, but I will also be indifferent to you from now on."

At first his being indifferent felt very hurtful, but then I realized that Maharishi was offering love with detachment, the mark of a great sage. I remembered one of his favorite remarks, which he once directed to me: "I love you, but it's none of your business." What followed for me was the arc of a public career that became more acceptable to the outside world once I was no longer aligned with a guru. In some people's eyes I dropped Maharishi in order to launch myself. This perception has led to recriminations in the TM movement. One is faced with the sad spectacle of people striving to gain enlightenment while at the same vilifying anyone who dares to stray from the fold. Nothing I did after leaving Maharishi was premeditated. I later visited the Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math and told him about my situation. His response was sympathetic: he told me that I remained an exponent of Vedanta for the West and was therefore true to the tradition.

I believe that Maharishi would have been the first to agree. It's not possible to stray from the one reality, and if Maharishi the personality couldn't give his blessing, at a deeper level Maharishi the guru was doing his job of coaxing consciousness to expand. There was no way for me to reconcile the two opposites back then, but I have come to realize that I never needed to. All opposites are reconciled in unity consciousness, the state that Maharishi was in and the state I aspire to every day.

Tax raids put a spoke in Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ambitious plans

David Devadas
India Today
November 19, 2013

Followers of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi celebrated the end of the International Year of Peace, declared by him a year earlier, on January 12. The year, however, was anything but peaceful for the jet age yogi. Ambitious plans to build the world's biggest - and best - theme park did not get off the ground owing to a variety of problems.

The troubled year was capped by income tax raids on his establishments in and around Delhi and at Jabalpur, from where the yogi hails. Though officials were cagey, investigations reveal that they seized cash, jewellery, shares and fixed deposit receipts worth more than Rs 50 lakh. Foreign currency alone was worth something near Rs 2 lakh. Seized documents also indicate investments running into crores of rupees and that expenses supposedly incurred by trusts run by relatives and other followers of the yogi were not actually made.

If the last cut of the year was the deepest, the earlier ones were no less painful. Controversy broke over the ashram's efforts at promoting ayurveda when a 14 - year - old student, Lav Kumar Chaubey, died on June 21 after a gastric problem was treated by ayurvedic doctors. Earlier, low - paid teachers of Sanskrit and Vedic ritual at the school in Maharishinagar near Delhi formed a union and demanded better pay and working conditions.

The school was closed for three months and its 2,000 students sent home or to another ashram in Rishikesh. The yogi himself moved, for some time, out of his luxurious kutir at the ashram to the Mahila Dhyan Vidyapeeth at Golf Links, New Delhi's posh colony.

Though ashram officials insist that all these moves were normal, there is a definite air of caution among them. The ashram outside the New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (NOIDA) near Delhi is surrounded by 10-foot-high walls topped with barbed wire. Security is strict at the iron gates.

Possibly the biggest among the ashram's many headaches is the land on which it stands, it happens to be right in the green belt earmarked as an agricultural border around the burgeoning NOIDA. The green belt is a crucial element of this showpiece of modern urban development, designed to house five lakh people and numerous industrial units by the year 2000.

Various trusts and followers of the yogi began to acquire land in this fertile belt near the junction of the Yamuna and Hindon rivers in the late '70s until they had hundreds of acres. In 1983, government authorities woke up to the construction of the sprawling ashram and sought to stop it.

Local government notices were repeatedly met with assurances that construction would stop. However, after a series of such notices and reassurances, the Government sought to acquire the land. Ashram authorities countered with a request for exemption from the land use laws and moved petitions in the Allahabad and Lucknow benches of the high court. Pending judgement, the Government order was stayed.

The question mark over this land has put the brakes on the pet project of the ashram, Vedaland. While most theme parks such as Disneyland are entertainment, pure and simple, this one is to combine "enlightenment", knowledge and entertainment.

Doug Hennning, a Canadian magician who is here to create this phantasmagoria, is optimistic about the project. "They're all very excited about it," he says of government agencies, adding: "We hope to get approval any day now." Other ashram officials say they will definitely go ahead with the Rs 220 - crore project. If not in NOIDA, it will be elsewhere, but within 30 km of Delhi.

After all, tourism is what it's all about. With entry tickets priced at Rs 5, they hope to draw anything between 7,000 and 15,000 visitors daily. Foreigners are expected to spend about Rs 250 per head on various attractions at the park, while the somewhat poorer "Delhi market" is expected to cough up about Rs 80 per head.

On offer across 200 acres of the park will be a host of breathtaking simulations of Hindu motifs. The entrance will be through Mount Kailas after which the starry - eyed can take the Gem Ride and see the rubies and emeralds embedded in caves. On the way up the mountain, visitors will ascend through the seven states of consciousness.

"Then your little boat comes down this rainbow, mist and light, down the mountain," says Henning. "And that simulates the descent of heaven on earth, because Maharishi says once you've become enlightened, you come down to earth and you spread enlightenment all around."

Indeed, the whole show is about enlightenment. Asserts Henning: "Maharishi is telling us what it's like in these higher states of consciousness and we create a room using high technology." For instance, in the God consciousness room, he says, the visitor's nervous system will be so refined that he will have celestial perception, and will be able to see the devas and the gods.

To create all this, "we'll have hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of the best computographics", says the Canadian. "They can generate 3-D figures that look real," he adds.

The money for all this "is not a problem", ashram officials affirmed just a few days before the income tax raid. But whether the raids and other problems created by ashram staff and local government agencies will stall the project is a question that is yet to be answered.

The Use of the Philosophy of Martyrdom within Religious Cults for Acts of Terrorism

 Masoud Banisadr (UK) 

Author and formerly of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran/sāzmān-e mojāhedin-e khalq-e irān 

FECRIS Conference
London April 2010

Abstract: In this speech I will argue; first there is a difference between Terrorism as an isolated violent act committed by an individual, not related to any terrorist group, or as one of many different activities or tactics of a popular or political organisation from one hand with a Terrorist organisation on the other hand. Then I will argue that any terrorist organisation either is a destructive cult or to survive has no option but eventually to change into one. Finally I define a destructive cult and conclude by explaining that facing a terrorist organisation is completely different from facing the problem of terrorism and violence and if we are serious to get rid of this ugly phenomena we have to understand destructive cults and through that understanding face terrorist organisations.

Terrorism in my view is a social disease like any other, such as murder, rubbery, rape or theft; cause to its existence not only lies in social problems such as poverty or unemployment, but injustice in any form and shape. It has been with us since beginning of civilization and unfortunately will remain with us as long as there is any kind of injustice in any society.
It disgusts us to remember it, to think about it, and even more, if anyone tries to understand it and find the logic behind it.

Like any other disease; for terrorism, we either can fight symptoms, prescribing a very strong pain killer that can harm healthy part of organism as well; or we can try to understand it, to find the cause of it and seek to find a real and long lasting solution for that.

Unfortunately as usual governments have a habit of going for the former one and only when they are forced by public opinion and demands will go for the latter one. This is why most of government’s policies toward terrorism are aiming to face terrorists, rather than cause of terrorism.

Well my talk today is not about terrorism in general but terrorist organisations in particular and their metamorphosis into destructive cults.

Organised crime versus isolated crime:

Importance of doctrine or cause for an isolated crime versus organised crime:

When a crime changes into an organised crime; not only it will mature and will intensify but its nature and its attributes will alter as well, sometimes into even opposite of its original form. For example if poverty and unemployment are the main causes of theft and rubbery; therefore facing poverty and unemployment might diminish or at least lessen those kind of crimes; in organised crime, although still existence of these problems helps new mafias to recruit new members, but facing poverty or unemployment can not resolve the problem of organised crime, as now its strength depends to its leader and sophistication of its organisation and not original causes of its existence. Well I am sure most of you have seen the movie ‘The God Father’ and have enjoyed it and there is no need for me to elaborate more on this point. What I conclude is that, although cause for an isolated crime is the main reason for its existence and resolving it will diminish or at least will lessen it; in organised crime, cause will loose its importance and will not play the same decisive rule in existence or none existence of the organisation.

Back to terrorism; let me give you an example: Although MEK that I was member of born with an ideology based on Islam and Marxism and recruit with anti Imperialism and anti Zionism and social justice slogans; and later after the revolution, when I along tens of thousands more students of schools and universities joined it, used any ills, any injustice or lack of freedom that existed in Iran, to recruit; but after it changed into a terrorist organisation and then into a destructive cult, its survival, its internal strength had nothing to do with either of causes of its existence, its original slogans, or what was happening in Islamic world or in Iran. To survive and to fulfil the leader’s dreams, contrary to their nationalistic slogans; during Iran-Iraq war, they collaborated with Sadam Hussein and hand in hand with Iraqi army they fought with Iran. Sadam’s generous assistance to MEK; financial help, free land to build their bases in, sophisticated armament etc; didn’t mean that MEK will be loyal to their host, when they saw American army, they announced their readiness to help Americans and fight along side of new victorious army[i].

All said it doesn’t mean that MEK now is going to be loyal toward American; because cults are not loyal to any partner or friend, ideology, policy, slogan, agreement but only those that help their survival and their goal’s advancement.

As matter of fact for me as for almost all members, after MEK’s ideological revolution (the name they gave to their brain washing techniques[ii]), Iran and Islam where not important any more; or at least not nearly as important as the existence and success of the organisation and its leader. Then in a letter to the leader I explained this change in myself and other members by admitting that if they ask us to choose between happiness and success of Iranian and Muslims in one hand and victory of our leader any where around the world even if he becomes president of Zimbabwe, we all will choose the latter one. Of course then our logic was based on this assumption that if our leader finds a foothold anywhere in the world, soon he can expand his influence and can save the whole world and change the history. Yes MEK was and still is using any ills that might exist in Iran to recruit, for propaganda purposes and for legitimisation of its existence, but for its members what is happening in Iran or as matter of fact in the whole world outside, is not slightly as important as their internal relations, their absolute loyalty and obedience toward the leader.

In case of Al-Qaeda, I can claim the same thing. If the misery and hardship of Palestinians, the existing injustice against them and unconditional support of the United States for actions of Israel is one of the main causes of dissatisfaction of Muslims toward west in general and the United States in particular and as a result this is one of the main effective tools of recruitment by terrorist organisations; still in an imaginary situation, if this problem can be resolved, in my view we might be able to stop Al-Qaeda to recruit more, but we can not claim victory over the organisation. As the only way destructive cults such as MEK or Al-Qaeda can for good leave violence behind, is either due to their victory over the whole world or their total annihilation. Cult of personality of Hitler is an example that the world has not forgotten yet. 

Terrorist organisations to survive have no alternative but to change into a destructive cult:

I will call an organization a terrorist organization if its only tactic, or at least its main tactic, for reaching its goal is an act of terrorism. According to this definition, I will not call any government or popular political organizations, even if they use terrorism to deal with their enemies, terrorists because they are dealing with other problems of the society as well; terrorism is not their sole tactic or the pillar of their actions in dealing with their daily problems and objectives.

In a paper recently published by Cultic Studies Review[iii]; I argued: ‘If the organization’s sole or main tactic is terrorism, sooner or later it must begin changing the morality of its members because it cannot match the morality of the society from which they have come. The organization must either change the member’s morality and belief system or accept factions within and defections from the group on a large scale.’ Therefore soon or late, to hold on to their members, to keep them away from emotional and moral influence of family, friends and society, Terrorist organisations have no choice but to isolate their members at least psychologically and if they can physically from wider society and start the process of mind manipulation of members under different name and pretext. This is the path toward changing completely into a destructive cult.

As an example of how morality and rule of conduct of a terrorist organisation contradicts the society’s customs, culture, faith and ideology, I can mention suicide operations of MEK that started on summer 1981, for example the killing of Ayatollah Madani, a religious representative of Khomeini in Tabriz,[iv] and another suicide operation, the killing of Ayatollah Dastghayb, a religious representative of Khomeini, in Shiraz.[v] By the way, if I am not mistaken, these are either the first or among the first suicide operations of Muslims in modern times.[vi] Another significance of this operation at Shiraz was that, for the first time, a female operative and not a male had performed a terrorism act in a Muslim country. Other significant aspects of these operations that were totally against morals of the society, included:
  • Breaking the taboo of suicide. Muslims, like Christians, believe suicide is a great sin, and the one who commits it is worthy of going to hell.
  • Breaking the principal related to taking no action in public places. Other innocent people were among the deaths.[vii]
  • The fact that many suicide bombers killed their victims during Friday sermons, where the Mosque and any place in which people pray traditionally are considered as sanctuaries. According to the religious rulings, even churches and synagogues are safe from violence.
  • The fact that they killed a member of the clergy, an Ayatollah, an old noncombatant person—again, along with women and children, all prohibited by Islamic law and principles.[viii]
As you can see, when your tactic and strategy changes to solely terrorism, you cannot be bound by popular morals and tradition, or rules of conduct of any faith or culture. Ironically, although I can not disagree more with many of statements of President Bush and Mr. Blair, still I have to say that I agree totally with them in claiming that Terrorist organisations (but not all those who use terrorism as one of many of their tactics) are against our way of living, our democracy and our freedom. Although I have to add that terrorist organisations as well as almost all destructive cults not only are against Western values but they are against morals and values of all modern, civilized societies, to be Eastern or Western doesn’t make any difference. Of course they benefit fully from advancement of science or any existence of freedom and democracy or any avenue open to them in different societies to recruit and to advertise themselves, as Al-Qaeda and MEK benefit fully from modern technology such as Internet, Mobile phones, … for propaganda purposes. They might even go as far as introducing themselves as champion of modern values including democracy, freedom or equality, as MEK does. But when it comes to their internal relations, they easily show their real colour and how much do they hate these values. And if God forbid they reach to power using the same democracy as Hitler did, they will create kind of dictatorship and atrocity unseen in any civilization.

When a group due to bypassing people’s moral and values, loses the support of wider society, its members and organizational supporters become more important.[ix] Then the organization faces this dilemma: What should it do with the morality and beliefs of its members and supporters? After all, they are, or were, ordinary individuals from the same society, bound by the same code of morality and beliefs, and responsible at least in front of their family and friends.

The answer for any organization at this point of transition is obvious: “Change them or lose them.”’[x]

To change morality, set of beliefs, character and personality of members; terrorist organisations have no alternative but to start the process of mind manipulation of the members. Either they can do that, which in this case they will have all essential elements of being a destructive cult or they can’t and they will faction, face major defections, and eventually have no choice but to change their tactics and therefore transform themselves from a terrorist organisations into something else, perhaps a political one such as IRA in Ireland or disintegrate completely like Pykar; a Marxist organisation, an offshoot of MEK that could not change into a cult and eventually had to publicly announce its dissolution.

Terrorist organisations versus destructive cults, which one is worse?

Yes in my view Terrorist organisations have no choice but to change into a destructive cult, but will they change into something better, more acceptable or worse? Which one is worse to be? A terrorist organisation or a destructive cult? In my view a destructive cult; because of two main reasons:
  1. when an organisation changes into a destructive cult, it is not any more abided by any norm, morality or rule. Its doctrine and rule of conducts can change easily at any minute to serve two essential goals of the cult; survival and materialization of leader’s childish dream. Therefore even if a cult forced to leave violence as its main tactic behind, as MEK disarmed by American forces had to do so[xi]; still they can switch back to terrorism at any time they can and they need to. In contrast, organisations of any type, even terrorist ones (before changing into a cult) are loyal to set of idea and principles or at least aims and objectives, as for example IRA’s goal was to unite Ireland, therefore in some extent they are predictable, reachable, dialog-able and perhaps even it is possible to influence their policies and change them into more peaceful and democratic type of groupings.
  2. The second reason why I think it is more difficult to face destructive cults rather than any other type of organisations is due to change of character of members of destructive cults. One of the slogans of MEK’s leaders was that we have to change into an ant, learn from ant to be selfless and act instinctively as our leader wishes so without any doubt or question. If MEK’s leaders openly and bluntly were mentioning and demanding this ancient desire of all tyrants from their members; it doesn’t mean that those who don’t mention it don’t pave their way to achieve it. In my view this is the goal and objective of all destructive cults and this is why it is too difficult to face these groups.
It is very difficult for us in wider society with normal life to understand a suicide bomber In London, Madrid or New York; as it was difficult for tenth century Iranian people, Western Crusaders and rulers of that time to understand suicide actions of cult of Assassins. Then their rationalization for Assassin’s actions was that they have been narcotised by perhaps Hashish where their given name comes from. And these days I am hearing from some experts that suicide bombers kill themselves to go to paradise for perhaps beautiful Hories. In my view both are wrong; perhaps assassins were using some sort of narcotics or  some modern suicide bombers think they can satisfy their sexual desires more after death than while they are alive but the main reason is that members of destructive cults change; they gradually loose their selfhood; their individuality, their instinct for self preservation and even self production; they loose their personal character, principles, and even emotions; and instead of all that, they become absolute loyal and obedient follower of the leader. And in my view this is why it is too difficult to face them and stop them. They will become like one of those shape-shifter characters of some fiction movies. One minute they are smiling, kind, happy person and minutes later they can change into an angry, violent and merciless individual, able to harm anybody and kill even innocent children. They are not predictable and recognizable. They don’t have set of believes that we can understand them as a basis for discussion and perhaps negotiation. They don’t have personal desire and weakness that can be used to change them. They seek pain, hardship, and even death therefore they can not be threatened as they welcome to be a ‘victim of the wider society’s atrocities and Martyr for the leader and his slogans. Therefore none of conventional method of dealing with criminals is useful in facing members of destructive cults. Later I will try to explain my answer to this problem.

Terrorism - resurrection of an ancient feature of destructive cults

Above I argued; all Terrorist organisations to survive as ‘Terrorism’ pillar of their strategy or their only or main activity have no choice but to change into a destructive cult. But opposite is not always true. Not all destructive cults are a terrorist organisation.

While destructive cults are not necessarily terrorists; still terrorism is not new feature of them. Perhaps the oldest one recorded in history are Zealots who fought against Romans in 48 AD[xii]. Zealots perhaps were also pioneer of mass suicide action. When Eleazar Their leader found out that there is no way that he can win, asked all members to kill themselves. Centuries later we could see repeat of their action in Waco and Jones Town. Another example or perhaps one of the long lasting terrorist cults was Thuggee; Thuggee stranglers preyed upon India until finally suppressed in the mid nineteenth century by the British.[xiii]

But perhaps the most famous Terrorist cult, ancestor of MEK and Al-Qaeda are Assassins[xiv], who gave us the word Assassination[xv]. As MEK and Al-Qaeda that start recruiting with anti American slogans, Assassins recruited their members with excuse of occupation of Iran first by Arabs and then by Turks in tenth century AD.

While they used nationalistic slogans for recruiting, as a cult they soon showed that nothing is important for them but the survival and progress of the cult. As MEK to survive and progress, collaborated with the enemies of Iran such as Sadam Hussein of Iraq; Assassins too, to survive and progress they were prepared to work along side any body including working with Arabs against Turks; with crusaders even ‘god-less’ Mongols against Arab Muslims and then easily change side again for cause of the cult and not people or country or faith[xvi].

As other cults their doctrine, in this case Islam was as important for them as it was useful to recruit, and when it wasn’t, they could change it in any way they wished[xvii].

To change their members into a killing machine, again the same as MEK and Al-Qaeda they used only two concepts of Islam; Jihad and Martyrdom with their twisted interpretation and ignoring Islamic rules of conduct[xviii]. The same as MEK and Al-Qaeda they showed they have no respect for human life and to pursue their goals they killed any body on their way, anywhere, even old religious men[xix] during pray time in a mosque[xx].

As MEK and perhaps Al-Qaeda and all other destructive cults; to brainwash their members and to alter them from an individual into a killing machine; following leader’s order instinctively, without slightest question or doubt; they had to have full control over sexuality of their members. While MEK or David Koresh ordered all members to divorce their spouses and forget about sex for life and after life; Assassins used to castrate their young suicide killers.

How do I define destructive cults?

At this point I would like briefly explain how do I define destructive cults:

Destructive cults according to my definition have four essential ingredients or elements:

1 charismatic leader: 

Unlike some experts who define cults and categorise them according to their ideology or doctrine, my definition of cults starts with its leader, rather than its doctrine. This is the leader with his childish ego and Narcissist character, who cannot fulfil his unrealistic needs and materialise his gigantic ambitions in the real world that creates his toy-like mini-world in psychological or physical isolation of members from the wider society within a destructive cult. In my view cult leaders are completely different from ordinary political leader because of their attributes such as: Charisma and charm, narcissism or childlike ego, their superiority complex, their need for worshippers and their loneliness.

This is the leader, who to attract and recruit disciples, needs to have a cause, a doctrine or an ideology. Cause or doctrine for a cult leader is a mean and not the aim or objective. He or she chooses his or her doctrine according to the public beliefs, needs, injustices, existing ills of the society, or groaning of the pool that he wants to fish from. Their objective is to find worshippers, toys of their dream childish world, to create that world and unite their internal ego with the external one. What they choose as ‘cause’ or ‘doctrine’ is not important and no cult leader feels obliged to be loyal toward his primary messages or objectives.

2 Black and white doctrine, objective or cause:

Unlike some expert explaining doctrine or ideology of destructive cults, I will not name or define them according to their superficial and if I may say hypocritical common factors with popular beliefs such as Christianity, Islam or even ideologies such as Nationalism or Marxism[xxi].

Therefore according to my definition of destructive cults, what they choose to call their doctrine, however they define it, and no matter how loyal they seem to be toward it, or how steadfastly they seem to observe the faith’s ethics, are not as important as the common factors of doctrine in all destructive cults. Attributes such as believing in the world of black and white; their exclusiveness; (versus inclusiveness of other social groupings; who might have some dogma but their members and followers are free to do anything even though there are guidelines to observation of a few things; even dogmas of most extreme religion’s followers are limited and can be numbered while destructive cults have dogma on everything except perhaps a very few aspects of life. In other words all aspects of life of a destructive cult’s member are decided by the leader. The member has no freedom of choice on anything beyond a few very limited aspects of their lives. Other common factors in their doctrines are: Their stealth and deception or belief in the idea that the end justifies the means.

3-Totalistic organisation:

While the organisation is not even as important as doctrine of the cult and not certainly as important as method of mind manipulation that cult leaders use to change their disciples from who they are into their ideal worshipper, and though they can easily due to size and circumstances change the shape of their organisation, still we can see some similarities between different destructive cult’s organisations. Similarities such as that all are totalitarian, therefore there is no room for democracy, serious questions or doubt or criticism toward the leader and his or her orders; Ironic discipline; Hard work; autonomy from wider society; secrecy and surveillance; membership for life or closed exit doors. In case of Al-Qaeda; although it has changed into some sort of franchise, still in every little cell of Al-Qaeda franchise we can find this common elements of the organisation of destructive cults.

4-Mind manipulation

Cult leaders, in order to build their childish world and to satisfy their tendency toward ‘all or nothing’, have no choice but to isolate themselves and their little world psychologically and physically (if they can) and find ways to change free men and women recruited from the wider society into toy like objects of their dream world. These kinds of gurus have no choice but to use some sort of method of mind manipulation if they are to keep their toy like disciples in a very narrow and absolute line, without any question, any doubt, any restraint or contradiction, any private or personal belief, principle, desire, hope, dream or thought and even emotion and feeling; to change them so they can be flexible enough for their game or their play.

Whenever we talk about mind manipulation, suddenly we face two extremes; on the one hand those who deny the existence of any such methods; and on the opposite side those who call simple influence techniques of recruiting ‘brainwashing’; they call members of any cults, even non-destructive ones ‘Zombies’ or ‘machines’. I personally don’t believe that there is any method in existence that can totally brainwash a person, overcoming the effects of gene or early education by parents and society that shape the core character and personality of a person. That being said, I have seen changes of my own personality and hundreds if not thousands of other members of MEK through the use of different methods of mind manipulation; therefore I am a strong believer in the existence of methods that can change character, personality, the system of beliefs and the perception of selfhood, in a person. These methods can push a person out of the driving seat of his or her own will into passenger seat, and force  a surrender to the leader, almost completely. As I mentioned, I don’t believe that a person can change into, for example, a ‘Zombie’ or a ‘machine’, but at the same time I have to say that comparing those who use these kinds of words in describing cult members with those who deny the existence of mind manipulation methods, the former view in my opinion are much closer to the reality than the latter. Yes, I believe real, loyal, obedient members of destructive cults are much closer to an ‘ant’ that Rajavi wanted us to be, or a ‘Zombie’ or a ‘machine’ than the free men and women that we see in a wider society, even in a dictatorship, despite all the constraints that might exist on their free will. 

To explain mind manipulation I have divided it into three different categories or phases. Firstly, use of rational and influence techniques for changing new recruit’s beliefs, as well as a tool for recruitment. After changing recruit’s beliefs, the cult leader’s main task will be how to stabilise or freeze new beliefs, and how to neutralise the new recruit’s tendency to return to his previous system of beliefs due to the pressure of his personality and his feelings toward his old way of life, family and friends. This is achieved mainly via isolation and change of behaviour that I call mind control. Next, in order to fulfil his desire to change free men and women into fully transformer-like toys that can be bent and shaped as he wishes, a destructive cult leader has to change the disciple’s individual personality into the collective cult-personality; this is carried out mainly by the use of emotion that I call brainwashing[xxii].

Facing Terrorist cults is different from facing terrorism:

As I explained, when a terrorist organisation changes into a destructive cult; its original doctrine, ideology or cause is not nearly as important as it was for members when they were recruited, this is the main difference between individual terrorists, or organisations that use terrorism as one of many of their tactics in one hand and Terrorist organisations on the other hand. Two decisive elements for survival of destructive cults are: 1- the leader and 2- the system of mind manipulation. Therefore while in one hand to deal with individual terrorists and other type of organisation we can reason, educate, deal and even negotiate, in short use all political and rational means to persuade them to leave violence and terrorism as one of their tactics behind and use political means to pursue their goals; on the other hand in dealing with destructive cults including terrorist organisations use of these means are in vain.

Again while in former ones we have to recognize their commitment to their doctrine or goal and use it as a strong and decisive base for education, reasoning, showing the contradictions, and even negotiation; in latter ones the biggest mistake is to recognize them for example as Muslim,Christian Nationalist or Marxist, especially publicly and even worse to accept them as NRM or new spokespersons of those faith, ideologies or even causes. Unfortunately this was the biggest mistake of Western politician, media and even some academics and intellectuals after 9-11 who recognized Al-Qaeda as Muslim and worse those who labelled them as Islamist or even some who equalled their propaganda and their actions with Islam. I strongly believe that these people with calling Terrorist organisations, Muslim and not a destructive cult have advocated and helped them, in a way that they couldn’t even dream of it. They could gain sympathy of many Muslims who were unhappy with for example policies of west toward Israel-Palestinian conflict; Osma became the second most named of new born boys in Arab countries, and Al-Qaeda recruited as many young unsatisfied, confused Muslims as they didn’t know how to educate, organize and use them. I hope one day at least those who equalled Al-Qaeda with Islam realise what have they done and how they have changed into biggest advocates of terrorist organisations and hopefully are forced at least to apologize from hundred of thousands of victims of recent terrorism around the world.

To face terrorist organisations we have to research, learn and understand their strong points, the most important of all to understand how they manipulate mind of their disciples and neutralize them. In my view the most important elements of their mind manipulations are 1-psycological and perhaps physical isolation of new recruits from wider society. 2-And use of strong emotion of Muslims in general and young Muslims in particular toward what is happening in the Islamic world.

  1. Psychological isolation: In above mentioned paper[xxiii]I have tried to show how destructive cults in general and Terrorist cults in particular create phobia, paranoia, hate and disgust toward outside world and in this way psychologically isolate their new recruits from wider society and dehumanise or sub-humanise none members. Unfortunately again after 9/11 Western governments, and media not only didn’t try to neutralize this elements but on the contrary to satisfy public opinion that they are dealing with the problem, in a way, they even greatly helped Terrorist Organisations in isolating their members from wider society.  To face these elements we have to understand, realise, and recognize that within any members of a destructive cut, there is a dying individual thirsty of a little encouragement, kindness, understanding, and helping hand to survive and to save itself. Let me give you two examples of my own. When after being awake for more than 24 hours, I was travelling from Paris to Washington; in the plane an old lady sitting beside me when saw how tired I am, showed a little kindness and understanding toward me and for example kept my lunch for me till I woke up. Another example when I injured myself by falling from a step, because of my back problem, a friend who was not a member of MEK helped me and cared about my wound. You can not imagine these two little genuine understanding and kindness how much helped me in breaking the idea of that we as members of MEK are above all and helped me to neutralize the idea of dehumanisation or sub-humanisation of outsiders in my mind. Imprisoning, insulting, beating, water-boarding, torturing, members of destructive cults, will weaken those dying individual and will strengthen his or her cultic or collective personality, making him more steadfast in whatever he or she is doing. Perhaps for the safety of general public we can not avoid random stop and search policy, perhaps we have to arrest and imprison some even by mistake, but these are not as important or as damaging as what do we do after stopping or arresting a potential recruit of a destructive cult. If we educate public in general and the police and the politician and the media in particular that members of destructive cults are victims and not criminals, in need of psychological help and not punishment, then we can face this problem without creating new victims and martyrs for destructive cults to recruit and brainwash their members even more.
  2. Emotion: Yes in the west we might not be able to do much about Muslim’s feelings and if I may say Human feelings toward what is happening around the world, injustices, discriminations and atrocities. We cannot stop our media to show these news and if we do as sometimes our media does, in my view we make the biggest mistake of all as not only we acknowledge terrorist organisation’s arguments, but we ignore our own values and discredit ourselves as free, democratic and fair society; as a result we encourage not only potential young recruits of terrorist cults toward alternative information sources, but we will push them even more toward  being educated and attracted toward violent means of facing their emotions. In my view we have to be at least advocate of our own values, our liberty, our democracy, our freedom, and our fairness. We have to diminish any need for alternative terrorist or cultic source of information by giving first hand real news of injustices ourselves. We have to understand, and recognize emotion of people especially young Muslims toward injustices, discriminations, and atrocities then educate them, show them, and facilitate them toward alternative means for directing their emotions. Recently I saw a documentary in Channel Four under title of ‘Britain’s Islamic Republic’[xxiv]; in this documentary producer and presenter of the program while in my view had some right and just and correct point of view, unfortunately at the same time was trying to ‘reveal’ and ‘discredit’ those who are trying to find their voice in British parliament by arguing that they are trying to infiltrate or influence Labour party or introduce their own candidate for parliamentary election. Well I hope I am wrong and discrediting actions of those who seek to find a political avenue as an answer to cry of these young people, was not the intention of producers of that program as I believe this is exactly what we have to do, encouraging and showing young Muslims how can they direct their emotion, their feel of responsibility, their need of doing something against injustice toward peaceful and political means and prove to them that this can work and is the right path toward.
[i] In RAND report; Pages 10 and 11; it has been stated: ‘The MEK insisted that it dispatched a letter to DOS (U.S. Department of State) in February 2003 declaring its intention to be a neutral party during the impending invasion of Iraq and stating that it would not fire on coalition forces, even in self-defence. It also claimed to have offered to fight on behalf of the coalition. (RAND; National Defense Research Institute; is a non-profit research organisation providing objective analysis and effective solution that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors around the world. Its report; titled: 'The Mujahedin-e Khalq in Iraq; A Policy Conundrum 2009' was sponsored by Office of the Secretary of Defense of the United States of America. The full report can be found in:http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG871/;)

[ii] To learn more about MEK and their ideological revolution you can refer to either MASOUD; Memoirs of an Iranian Rebel; Published by SAQI Book; 2004. The unedited version of my memoirs also can be found on my website: http://www.banisadr.info/mylifestory.htm Or you can read ‘The Iranian Mojahedin’ published by Yale University press New Haven and London – 1989 written by Ervand Abrahamian; professor of history at Baruch College, City University of New York.

[iii] ‘Terrorist Organizations Are Cults’; Masoud Banisadr; Cultic Studies Review, Vol. 8, No. 2, 2009, PP: PAGE 3. You can also see this article on my website at: http://www.banisadr.info/ICSA2009.htm

[iv] MEK’s publication, Nashrieh … December 11, 1981.

[v] MEK’s Publication, Nashrieh … December 18, 1981.

[vi] “Suicide terror predates the modern manifestation of car bombs that began in Lebanon. It is neither unique to the modern period nor confined to any single region or religion. The early historical antecedents of terrorism include the Jewish zealots and Sicarii in the first century AD, during the time of the Second Temple until its destruction in 70 AD, The Hindu thugs in India from the time of Herodotus until 1836, the assassins of the twelfth century, anti-colonial movements in Malabar, and the Japanese Kamikaze during World War II. By examining these early examples of terrorism we can deduce certain general patterns that emerged and draw similarities between these early illustrations and the more recent phenomena. The common themes that emerge from the early case studies provide a template of what is happening today: the role of early education in creating adherents, the appearance of charismatic and ambitious leaders, disputes over occupied territory, and the ways in which religion was manipulated to induce followers to kill in the name of God” (from Dying to Kill by Mia Bloom, p. 4).

[vii] Of course, whenever ordinary people were among the deaths, they used to name them as agents or spies of the regime, or Basiji (members of the mobilization teams)…” Interesting, that among their terrorist activities at the time, they claimed the explosion of three bombs close to where Khomeini used to live (MEK’s publication Nashrieh, April 23, 1982) but denied other bombs that were exploded and included casualties of ordinary people, which could not be accepted even among MEK’s own organizational supporters. They claimed the acts were done by the regime itself, (MEK’s publication Nashrieh,September 10, 1982) or by another one (MEK’s publication Nashrieh, October 8, 1982). But they were not hesitant of even killing the manager of a state agency that by law had to give a rental report for all tenancies (MEK’s publication Nashrieh, May 14, 1982), or the head of a local organization for helping farmers (MEK’s publication Nashrieh, July 23, 1982). As a matter of fact, in the view of MEK and its supporters, whoever was supporting the regime was criminal and worthy of being killed. Later they changed very much as they started considering people were either with them or with the regime; therefore, whoever is not with them is collaborating with the regime and worthy of being killed. Therefore, within one year, they killed more than 2,000 people and proudly announced it themselves (MEK’s publication;Nashrieh number 55; 24/9/1982 also in MEK’s publication Mojahed Number 163; 4/8/1983 the number of killed by MEK between 20th of June 1982 and 20th of June 1983 was announced as 2800 people.). Of course later, as they gradually lost all their supporters in Iran due to their being killed either by execution or during armed struggle, they had to send terrorist teams from Iraq; therefore, it was not so easy to target high officials, and so they started exploding oil pipe lines (MEK’s publication Mojahed, June 14, 1993) or putting bombs in places like the tomb of Khomeini, which could result in the killing of ordinary people. (MEK’s publication Boltan, October 16, 1992).

[viii] The Rules of Jihad: Muslims generally realize that Jihad has its rules and conditions. In the Quran, God has emphasized that no one should violate these rules and overrule them. Abu Baker, the first Caliph after the prophet, referring to the Quran and the prophet’s sayings, instructed those who wished to consider themselves Muslim soldiers, “Do not betray; do not carry grudges; do not deceive; do not kill children; do not kill elderly; do not kill women; do not destroy beehives or burn them; do not cut down fruit bearing trees; do not slaughter sheep, cattle, or camels except for food. You will come upon people who spend their lives in monasteries; leave them on what they have dedicated their lives…” (from Heirs of the Prophet Muhammad by Barnaby Rogerson, p. 162). Furthermore, Ali, the fourth Caliph, set out more rules to put a stop to killing, including safeguarding POWs. He says, “No one turning his back shall be pursued; no one wounded shall be killed; whoever throws away his arms is safe.” Ali had pardoned with goodness. The dead from both sides were buried; only captured arms and animals could be held as war booty (from Heirs of the Prophet Muhammad by Barnaby Rogerson, p. 298).

[ix] “[when] Mojahedin realized that the second revolution was not at hand, and so began to prepare for a prolonged armed struggle, organizational militancy now took precedence over political expediency. Hard-core militants became more important than “fair-weather friends” and “fellow travelers”; the “quality” of members more important than quantity of sympathizers, organizational discipline more important than the appearance of internal democracy, and ideological purity in the rank and file more important than frequent contacts with outside sympathizers, especially if such sympathizers could contaminate the ordinary members. Thus, the outward-reaching attitude was replaced with an inward-looking attitude that treated allies as if they were potential enemies. The new view perceived those who were not fully for the Mojahedin as being against it. Having reached those conclusions, the Mojahedin began to squeeze “half-hearted friends” out of the National Council—some former members of the National Council believe that the Mojahedin could have ironed out its differences with Banisadr and the Kurdish Democratic Party. It destroyed Iranshahr when that paper [the Mojahedin] dared to publish a series of interviews with prominent exiles mildly critical of the organization. It freely accused critics of being SAVAK agents.” (from Ervand Abrahamian, Iranian Mojahedin, p. 249)

[x] Terrorist Organizations Are Cults’; Masoud Banisadr; Cultic Studies Review, Vol. 8, No. 2, 2009, PP: 164, 165

[xi] In RAND report we read: ‘After the 2003 invasion of Iraq by United States and United Kingdom and overthrow of Sadam Hussein’s regime; MEK was forced to surrender all its weapons. Since then the MEK claims that it formally rejected the use of violence. ‘Although there is limited documentary proof of this decision in either English or Farsi.’ (RAND report 2009: http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG871/; The Mujahedin-e Khalq in Iraq; P: 66) In the same report we read also that MEK’s leaders when ever they felt their relation with Americans is in good shape, they asked for return of their arms.

[xii] Zealots: ‘Beginning in 48 AD, the Zealots carried out terrorist campaigns to force insurrection against the Romans in Judea. These campaigns included the use of sicarii (dagger-men), who would infiltrate Roman-controlled cities and stab Jewish collaborators or Roman legionnaires with a sica, kidnap the staff of the Temple Guard for ransom, or poison their enemies. The Zealots' justification for their killing of other Jews was that their acts demonstrated the consequences of the immorality of collaborating with the Roman invaders, and exposed the fact that the Romans could not protect their Jewish collaborators.’ (Rex A. Hudson, 'The Sociology and psychology of Terrorism: Who Becomes a Terrorist and why?' Report prepared under an Interagency Agreement by the Federal Research Division, Washington DC: Government Printing Office, Library of Congress September 1999, 14. Cited from Mia Bloom; 'Dying to Kill; The Allure of Suicide terror'; Columbia University Press/ New York; 2007; P: 8) ‘Zealots saw themselves as revolutionary catalysts who moved men by force of their audacious action, exploiting mass expectations that a cataclysmic messianic deliverance was imminent. To generate a mass uprising, they escalated the struggle by shock tactics to manipulate fear, outrage, sympathy and guilt. Sometimes these emotional affects were provoked by terrorist atrocities which went beyond the consensual norms governing violence; at other times, they were produced by provoking the enemy into committing atrocities against his will (David C. Rapoport, University of California, Los Angeles; 'Fear and Trembling,' Terrorism in three religious traditions. The American Political Science Review, Vol. 78, No. 3 (Sep. 1984) page 670 Cited from Mia Bloom; 'Dying to Kill; The Allure of Suicide terror'; Columbia University Press/ New York; 2007; PP: 9, 10.) Zealots and the Sicarii had designed their actions to deliberately provoke a massive uprising. 'Consecutive atrocities narrowed the prospects for a political, or mutually agreeable, solution serving to destroy the credibility of moderates on both sides while steadily expanding the conflict, which enlisted new participants.’ (David C. Rapoport, University of California, Los Angeles; 'Fear and Trembling,' Terrorism in three religious traditions. The American Political Science Review, Vol. 78, No. 3 (Sep. 1984) page 672 Cited from Mia Bloom; 'Dying to Kill; The Allure of Suicide terror'; Columbia University Press/ New York; 2007; PP: 9, 10.) ‘Zealot leaders even burned the food supply of their own forces during Jerusalem's long siege as a show of religious dedication and in an attempt to force God's hand to act against the Romans. God would have no choice but to intervene to preserve his adherents. Divine intervention was not forthcoming and many of Jerusalem's residents starved to death. Josephus' position was that the Zealots' tactics were to blame for all the calamities that befell the Jewish people including their exile, expulsion, the massacres of Jewish communities in Egypt and Cyprus, and the destruction of the Second Temple. Finally, Josephus blamed the mass suicide at Masada on Zealot intransigence. When Roman general Flavius Silva decided to attack Masada at the end of 72 AD, there were 960 insurgents and refugees in the fortress including men, women, and children. Silva surrounded the mountain with the tenth Roman legion plus auxiliaries. Once the fortress' fall was inevitable the following year, Eleazar, the leader of the zealots, persuaded Masada's defenders to engage in an act of mass suicide. (Two women and their five children survived to describe the events by hiding in a cave.) The Zealots on Masada preferred to die by their own hand rather than be captured by their Roman enemies. (Josephus, The Jewish war, volume 7, 252 - 404; Paul Johnson, A history of the Jews -New York; Harper and Row, 1987- , 139-140; David Rapoport, personal correspondence with the author, April 8, 2004. – Cited from Mia Bloom; 'Dying to Kill; The Allure of Suicide terror'; Columbia University Press/ New York; 2007;P: 10, 11)

[xiii] for more on Indian cults see Lung, Haha and Christopher B. Prowant. Black Science: Ancient and Modern Techniques of Ninja Mind Manipulation. Boulder, Colorado: Paladin Press, 2001

[xiv] ‘"Assassin" (Hashishins) cult founded in Persia in 1090 by Hassan ibn Sabbah ("The old Man of the Mountain") . From his impregnable "Eagle's Nest" (Alamut) castle hidden in the mountains of Persia, Hassan loosed wave after wave of suicidal agents -spies and assassins - upon the world. Hassan’s assassin cult was the template for all secret societies, spy net works, and terrorist groups that followed - down to the present day. This was the original al Qaeda! In his time, Hassan used every conceivable tactic, torture, and tool, from magic to murder, hashish and harlots, to dazzle and dirk enemy and initiate alike into doing his bidding. For Hassan and his assassins, the end justified the means. The means are terror and treachery and the end was power. Master shape shifters, whenever expedient, the Assassins made unholy covenants with heathen Hindus and allied themselves with infidel Christian crusaders against their Muslim brethren. For Hassan, and the Assassin Grandmasters who continued his lethal legacy, Islam was but a convenient black curtain behind which to hide. Hassan's assassins ruled by subterfuge and slaughter for over two centuries, until invading Mongols broke the cult's back in Persia in 1273. … After the destruction of their Persian HQ, the Assassins continued to survive and thrive from India to Syria, spawning "spin-off" groups and imitators, some as far -flung as Europe.’(Dr. Haha Lung; Mind Control; The Ancient Art of Psychological Warfare'; Citadel Press Kensington; 2006; P:194)

[xv] ‘ by the 13 century, the word Assassin, in variant forms, had already passed into European usage in this general sense of hired professional murderer. The Florentine chronicler Giovanni Villani, who died in 1348, tells how the lord of Lucca sent 'his assassins' (i suoi assassini) to Pisa to kill a troublesome enemy there. Even earlier, Dante, in a passing reference in the 19th canto of the Inferno, speaks of 'the treacherous assassin' (lo perfido assassin); his fourteenth-century commentator Francesco da Buti, explaining a term which for some readers at the time may still have been strange and obscure, remarks: 'Assassino e' colui che uccide altrui per danari' - An assassin is one who kills others for money. Since then 'assassin' has become a common noun in most European languages. It means a murderer, more particularly one who kills by stealth or treachery, whose victim is a public figure and whose motive is fanaticism or greed. It was not always so. The word first appears in the chronicles of the Crusades, as the name of a strange group of Muslim sectaries in the Levant, led by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man of the Mountain, and abhorrent, by their beliefs and practices, to good Christians and Muslims alike. ... ‘ (Bernard Lewis; The Assassins; A Radical Sect in Islam; Poenix publication; 2003; P: 2)

‘Marco Polo, who passed through Persia in 1273. Speaking of the Assassins chief; Polo wrote: 'He had caused a certain valley between two mountains to be enclosed, and had turned it into a garden, the largest and most beautiful that ever was seen … flowing freely with wine and milk and honey and water; and numbers of ladies and the most beautiful damsels in the world, who could play on all manner of instruments and sung most sweetly, and danced in a manner that it was charming to behold, For the Old Man desired to make his people believe that this was actually Paradise .... So when the Old Man would have any Prince slain,' Polo continues, 'he would say to such a youth: Go thou and slay so and so; and when thou returnest, my Angels shall bear thee into Paradise. And Should' st thou die nevertheless even so, I will send my Angels to carry thee back into Paradise. ... ‘And in this manner the Old One got his people to murder any one whom he desired to get rid of. (Philip K. Hitti 'The Assassins,' in George Andrews and Simon Vinkenoog -eds.-, The Book of Grass: An Anthology on Indian Hemp -London: Peter Owen, 1967-) Cited from: Mia Bloom; 'Dying to Kill; The Allure of Suicide terror'; Columbia University Press/ New York; 2007; PP: 5, 6)

[xvi] ‘Over the years, the Order of Assassins had, at one time or another, made pacts and treaties with (or at least had been accused of making pacts with ) rival Muslims, opportunistic crusaders, and godless Mongols. … In 1174 Sinan leader of Aleppine Assassins proposed an alliance between Christian King Amalric I of Jerusalem and the Assassins against Nur ed - Din Muslim Egyptian ruler. The Assassins would provide intelligence on Nur ed-Din's forces , as well as Assassins sappers should Amalric need them. In addition, Sinan would train a select cadre of Amalric's own troops in the tactics and techniques of the Assassins. To sweeten the pot, Sinan hinted that his branch of the Assassins sect might convert to Christianity en masse. Knowing the Assassins were fierce and fearless fighters and had the best intelligence network in Syria, Amalric agreed to the alliance.’ (Dr. Haha Lung; Assassin; The deadly art of the cult of the Assassins; Citadel Press; 1997; PP: 37,40)

[xvii] ‘Hassan II removed Islamic ritual obligations from the Assassins sect, even to the point of permitting the consumption of alcohol’ (Dr. Haha Lung; Assassin; The deadly art of the cult of the Assassins; Citadel Press; 1997; P: 36)

[xviii] To know more about how this organisations are using these concepts and how far their interpretation is different with what Islam says you can see my speech on this issue ‘The Use of the Philosophy of Martyrdom within Religious Cults for Acts of Terrorism’ at: http://www.banisadr.info/LSpeech050507.htm

[xix] In Islam there is no profession as holly men or priests, instead those who are expert in the religion call themselves as ‘Olama’ (knowledgeable people) or ‘Fagieh’, those who know rules of conduct within Islam and can judge (Qadi).

[xx] Assassins broke few Islamic rules of conducts including not killing an un-combatant and unarmed old man, especially during pray time and in a Mosque that was considered as centaury as other places of worshiping; by killing of Ubbayd Allah al Khatib, a Qadi (Judge) of Isfahan, during the Friday prayers in the mosque of Hamadan. Also Qadi (Judge) of Nishapur who was murdered during the celebrations at the end of Ramadan. (Bernard Lewis; The Assassins; A Radical Sect in Islam; Poenix publication; 2003; P:57)

[xxi] This is why I totally disagree with those who call destructive cults NRM (New Religious Movement), in my view The main difference between two is that a destructive cult from beginning to end is leader based whereas in a religion or a faith, or even an ideology, though its followers might at first rely more on the teacher, ideologue or messenger of that faith, idea or religion, in the end they relate to ideas rather than leaders. For them the important factor that takes precedence over all else are ideas such as the uniqueness of God, the existence or non-existence of God, Resurrection, Socialism or Capitalism, believing in transmigration or metempsychosis, struggling for social justice and an egalitarian society. They have dogma, but their dogma is idea-based rather than leader-based. On the opposite, destructive cult’s dogma and their fundamental principles are leader based rather than idea based. They can change all their principles, ideas, and fundamentals but cannot change two, therefore the real principles that their followers have to adhere to, till death, are 1-survival of the cult and 2- loyalty and obedience toward the leader of the cult.

While destructive cults might have some similarities with idea based groupings, as indeed all existing phenomena have some similarities, though cults might be offshoot of an ideology or as matter of fact eventually change into a NRM, still as long as they have characteristics of destructive cults, in my view they should be called as such, and of course when they change, their categorization can change accordingly. In Farsi we say not any sphere shape object is an apple; flower of apple because it can change into apple is not apple and apple pie because it has been made or has ingredient of apple is not apple too.

[xxii] If you like to know more about my view toward Mind manipulation, you can look at my speech in INFORM’s seminar November 2009, at: http://www.banisadr.info/London2009.htm

[xxiii] Terrorist Organizations Are Cults’; Masoud Banisadr; Cultic Studies Review, Vol. 8, No. 2, 2009, PP: PAGE 9

[xxiv] Dispatches; ‘Britain’s Islamic Republic’; Channel four TV of UK; first of March 2010.