Jun 28, 2015

Now's the Time To End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions

Mark Oppenheimer @markopp1
June 28, 2015

Mark Oppenheimer writes the biweekly “Beliefs” column for The New York Times and is editor-at-large for Tablet. He also reports for The Atlantic, The Nation, This American Life, and elsewhere.

The Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage makes it clearer than ever that the government shouldn't be subsidizing religion and non-profits

Two weeks ago, with a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges on the way, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah introduced the First Amendment Defense Act, which ensures that religious institutions won’t lose their tax exemptions if they don’t support same-sex marriage. Liberals tend to think Sen. Lee’s fears are unwarranted, and they can even point to Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in Friday’s case, which promises “that religious organizations and persons [will be] given proper protection.”

But I don’t think Sen. Lee is crazy. In the 1983 Bob Jones University case, the court ruled that a school could lose tax-exempt status if its policies violated “fundamental national public policy.” So far, the Bob Jones reasoning hasn’t been extended to other kinds of discrimination, but someday it could be. I’m a gay-rights supporter who was elated by Friday’s Supreme Court decision — but I honor Sen. Lee’s fears.

I don’t, however, like his solution. And he’s not going to like mine. Rather than try to rescue tax-exempt status for organizations that dissent from settled public policy on matters of race or sexuality, we need to take a more radical step. It’s time to abolish, or greatly diminish, their tax-exempt statuses.

The federal revenue acts of 1909, 1913, and 1917 exempted nonprofits from the corporate excise and income taxes at the same time that they allowed people to deduct charitable contributions from their incomes. In other words, they gave tax-free status to the income of, and to the income donated to, nonprofits. Since then, state and local laws nearly everywhere have exempted nonprofits from all, or most, property tax and state income tax. This system of tax exemptions and deductions took shape partly during World War I, when it was feared that the new income tax, with top rates as high as 77%, might choke off charitable giving. But whatever its intentions, today it’s a mess, for several reasons.

First, the religious exemption has forced the IRS to decide what’s a religion, and thus has entangled church and state in the worst way. Since the world’s great religion scholars can’t agree on what a religion is, it’s absurd to ask a bunch of accountants, no matter how well-meaning. You can read part of the IRS’s guidelines for what’s a bona fide religion here; suffice it to say that it has an easier time saying what’s not a religion. The site gives the example of the rejection of an application from an “outgrowth of a supper club … whose primary activities were holding meetings before supper, sponsoring the supper club, and publishing a newsletter” but which professed a religious doctrine of “ethical egoism.”

On the other hand, the IRS famously caved and awarded the Church of Scientology tax-exempt status. Never mind that the Scientology is secretive, or that it charges for its courses; or that its leader, David Miscavige, lives like a pasha. Indeed, many clergy have mid-six-figure salaries — many university presidents, seven-figure salaries — and the IRS doesn’t trouble their tax-exempt status. And many churches and synagogues sit on exceedingly valuable tracts of land (walk up and down Fifth Avenue to see what I mean). The property taxes they aren’t paying have to be drawn from business owners and private citizens — in a real sense, you and I are subsidizing Mormon temples, Muslims mosques, Methodist churches.

We’re also subsidizing wealthy organizations sitting in the middle of poor towns. Yale University has an endowment of about $25 billion, yet it pays very little to the city of New Haven, which I (as a resident) can assure you needs the money. At the prep school I attended (current endowment: $175 million), faculty houses, owned by the school, were tax-exempt, on the theory that teachers sometimes had students over for dinner, where they talked about history or literature or swim practice.

Meanwhile, although nonprofits can’t endorse political candidates, they can be quite partisan and still thrive on the public dole, in the form of tax exemptions and deductions. Conservatives are footing the bill for taxes that Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit, doesn’t pay — while liberals are making up revenue lost from the National Rifle Association. I could go on. In short, the exemption-and-deduction regime has grown into a pointless, incoherent agglomeration of nonsensical loopholes, which can allow rich organizations to horde plentiful assets in the midst of poverty.

Defenders of tax exemptions and deductions argues that if we got rid of them charitable giving would drop. It surely would, although how much, we can’t say. But of course government revenue would go up, and that money could be used to, say, house the homeless and feed the hungry. We’d have fewer church soup kitchens — but countries that truly care about poverty don’t rely on churches to run soup kitchens.

Exemption advocates also point out that churches would be squeezed out of high-property-value areas. But if it’s important to the people of Fifth Avenue to have a synagogue like Emanu-El or an Episcopal church like St. Thomas in their midst, they should pay full freight for it. They can afford to, more than millions of poorer New Yorkers whose tax bills the synagogue and church exemptions are currently inflating.

So yes, the logic of gay-marriage rights could lead to a reexamination of conservative churches’ tax exemptions (although, as long as the IRS is afraid of challenging Scientology’s exemption, everyone else is probably safe). But when that day comes, it will be long overdue. I can see keeping some exemptions; hospitals, in particular, are an indispensable, and noncontroversial, public good. And localities could always carve out sensible property-tax exceptions for nonprofits their communities need. But it’s time for most nonprofits, like those of us who faithfully cut checks to them, to pay their fair share.


Jun 23, 2015

Jehovah's Witness sex abuse claim sounds warning note for Churches

Ruth Gledhill
23 June 2015

Religious and other institutions are increasingly being held vicariously liable for historic sexual abuse committed not only by their employees but also by laity and other non-employees linked to the institutions, according to a leading lawyer.

Frank Cranmer, author of the Law and Religion blog, spoke after a woman abused for five years by a Jehovah's Witness won £275,000 damages at the high court.

The sexual abuse of "A", aged 29, began when she was just four. Her abuser was Peter Stewart, not an employee of the church but a ministerial servant at Limehurst Congregation in Loughborough. The abuse took place at least once a week during Bible study in the victim's living room or the perpetrator's loft.

It came to an end when Stewart was jailed on other child abuse charges at the Limehouse church.

"A" told her mother about the abuse shortly before Stewart was due to be released after serving his sentence. She spoke to an elder in the congregation but no action was taken so she went to the police. Stewart died in 2001, a month after he was interviewed by police. "A" went to the high court seeking vicarious damages from the Jehovah's Witnesses and from two congregations, Blackbrook and Southwood, that succeeded Limehurst. She claimed successfully that they negligently failed to take reasonable steps to protect her from Stewart once they knew he had sexually assaulted another child in the congregation.

Mr Justice Globe said last Friday: "In my judgment the relationship between elders and ministerial servants and the Jehovah's Witnesses is sufficiently close in character to one of employer/employee that it is just and fair to impose vicarious liability."

He added: "Throughout, he told the claimant it was their secret and that she should say nothing about what was happening. He told her that she would be damned as a sinner if she said anything to anyone."

Franks Cranmer, a fellow at St John's College Durham and secretary of the churches' legislation advisory service, told Christian Today: "In cases, particularly sexual abuse, the courts seem to be taking the view that if someone was abused as a child and the abuser is dead or without means then there ought to be compensation. The organisation with which the abuser was associated is held vicariously liable."

On his blog he wrote that A v Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is the latest in a line of recent cases in which religious organisations have been held vicariously liable for historic sexual abuse.

He wrote: "Increasingly (and, in my view, rightly) the courts are taking the view that sexual abuse is such a serious matter that where the abuser has disappeared or died, the institution with which he was associated – even if not as an employee (which Stewart was not) – should compensate the victim. A v Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is in line with that way of thinking."

Jun 21, 2015

Church of Scientology Lobbied Hillary’s State Department

Political Reporter
June 21, 2015

The Church of Scientology started a big-money lobbying relationship with the U.S. State Department during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.

Greg Mitchell, proprietor of The Mitchell Firm, is Scientology’s official Washington lobbyist. A church member, Mitchell works to help the church gain mainstream credibility and to lobby on behalf of issues the church cares about, like criminal justice reform and religious freedom in foreign countries.

Mitchell features a photograph on his firm’s website that shows him posing with Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Church of Scientology International spent $80,000 over three quarters to have Mitchell lobby the State Department in 2011, during Clinton’s tenure as the head of the agency. The church had never lobbied the State Department before the second quarter of that year.

The church’s lobbying continued in 2012, as it spent a total of $80,000 ($20,000 per quarter) to lobby Clinton’s State Department.

Scientology lobbied for religious freedom issues, opposing efforts by foreign governments to stifle minority religions like Scientology.


Jun 17, 2015

Religious group blames 'deprogrammer' for arrests in alleged kidnapping

Los Angeles Times
June 17, 2015

Vista religious group says member was victimized by 'cult experts' who 'prey on the fears of families'

After the supposed victim declined to press charges, San Diego authorities decided not to prosecute three people arrested on suspicion of kidnapping a relative from a religious commune, according to commune leaders.

The Twelve Tribes Community/Church in Vista, in a statement Tuesday, blamed the June 6 incident not on the three people who were arrested but on "so-called cult experts" who had promised to "deprogram" 24-year-old Robert Martinez, a member of the group for five years.

The San Diego County district attorney's office announced Monday it had decided not to file charges in the case. When arrested, the three had said they wanted to prevent Martinez from being brainwashed.

The "cult experts" are "known to prey on the fears of families of those who get involved in new religious movements," according to the Twelve Tribes statement.

An unidentified man "assisted with the abduction" but fled before sheriff's deputies arrived, according to the statement.

"There were also two other vehicles in our driveway that also seemed to be connected with the incident," the group said. "This was not just a family affair."

Martinez has rejoined the Twelve Tribes group, along with his wife, who is expecting their first child, the group said.

Twelve Tribes is a religious community whose members live in a house in Vista, which also serves as a church. Others live on a 66-acre avocado ranch in Valley Center. The group also runs the Yellow Deli in Vista and its members are often seen at farmers markets selling produce.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to Robert's family," said the Twelve Tribes statement. "We know this must be a painfully difficult time for them."

Jun 15, 2015

Little Known Characters in America: Leo Ryan

Journal-Gazette and Times Courier
By Cal Campbell
June 15, 2015

Leo Joseph Ryan, Jr. served as a U.S. Representative from California’s 11th congressional district from 1973 until he was assassinated in Guyana by members of the Peoples Temple shortly before the Jonestown Massacre in 1978.

Perhaps his “true grit” came from being a submariner in the United States Navy from 1943 to 1946. Ryan’s inspiration to serve his country was “triggered” by listening to John F. Kennedy’s call to service in President Kennedy’s inaugural address. It was after hearing Kennedy’s speech that Ryan decided to run for higher office.

His political career started by his being elected mayor of South San Francisco. He served less than a year as mayor, before taking a seat in the California State Assembly’s 27th district.

In 1972, Ryan was elected to the United States House of Representatives. He was successively elected three more times to the United States Congress.

On November 3, 1977, Ryan read into the United States Congressional Record a testimony by John Gordon Clark about the health hazards connected with destructive cults.

It was Ryan’s dogmatic determination to rid the country of cults that led to his death in Guyana. Ryan’s style of investigation was

to see for himself what was going on at the Peoples Temple in Jonestown.

On November 1, 1978, Ryan announced that he would visit Jonestown. He did so as part of a government investigation and received permission and government funds. He was authorized to make this trip in his role as chairman of a congressional subcommittee with jurisdiction over U.S. citizens living in foreign countries.

After Ryan received notes from several members of the cult asking that they be allowed to leave Jonestown, Ryan and a group boarded a plane and attempted to “free” the grip of Cult members.

Unfortunately, several devoted members of Jim Jones’ group opened fire on the plane resulting in the death of Congressman Ryan, three journalists and a defecting Temple member.

The departing plane radioed the attack and stated a few individuals on the plane survived and that U.S. Ambassador, John R. Burke be notified. Ambassador Burke reported to Guyana’s Prime Minister Forbes Burnham.

It was not until the next morning that the Guyanese army could cut through the jungle and reach the Cult’s settlement. Upon arriving at the site the soldiers found 909 of the inhabitants dead. It was determined that they had died in what the United States House of Representatives described as a “mass suicide/murder ritual.”

For his tireless work in exposing the “wrong-doings” he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously in 1983.

Jun 11, 2015

Children of Satan: What do their disturbing tales of bloody rituals mean?

JUNE 11, 2015

IT WAS the chilling story that horrified affluent families in a leafy north London suburb.
Two young children, known as P and Q, appeared in a disturbing YouTube video, describing satanic rituals performed by a shadowy cult.

In hours of footage, they talked about how the devil-worshippers preyed on the wealthy community, holding pedophilic orgies and murdering innocent people. They said the Satanists abused and tortured babies, slitting their throats, drinking their blood and dancing while wearing their skulls.

They named teachers and parents as being part of the cult, led by their father. Four million people watched the footage, campaigners called for the Satanists to be stopped and police were deployed to the children’s primary school.

But after two police interviews, the pair admitted they had made up the accusations, under pressure from their mother Ella Draper and her new partner, Abraham Christie.

High Court Justice Pauffley ruled in March that there had been no satanic cult, blaming “emotional and psychological pressure as well as significant physical abuse”.

She said the long-term damage to the children was “incalculable”, adding: “Their innocence was invaded. Their grip on reality was imperilled. Their minds were scrambled.”

They are part of an appalling history of vulnerable youngsters having sickening ideas implanted in their heads.

In October 1990, hitchhiking teenagers Fiona Burns and John Lee were found stabbed to death beside the Western Highway in Victoria near the border with South Australia.

Social workers said Fiona, of Melbourne, had feared for her life because of her association with an occult group. The 15-year-old had reportedly been counselled over claims she took part in a Satanic ritual in which a dog was skinned alive and beaten to death before those present drank its blood.

Fiona’s family said those claims were the product of an overactive imagination.

But relatives of John, a 14-year-old of Adelaide, said a Satanic group could have been responsible.

The dark, and most probably fictional, tales recall “the satanic panic” of the 1980s.

In 1973, Flora Schreiber wrote a book called Sybil, the best-selling true story of Shirley Mason and her therapist Cornelia Wilbur, which became a TV adaptation that gripped the US in 1976.

During their sessions, Shirley revealed what were apparently repressed memories of terrible childhood abuse. She described how her mother sexually assaulted her with torches and bottles, conducted gothic orgies in the woods with teenage girls and buried her alive.

She had as many as 16 personalities and was instrumental in creating a new psychiatric diagnosis: multiple personality disorder, now known as dissociative-identity disorder.

But other psychologists, including Herbert Spiegel, who occasionally treated Shirley, cast doubt on Wilbur’s findings, The New York Times reported. They accused her of manipulating her patient using the power of suggestion and a “truth drug” called sodium pentothal, later found to induce false memories.

Sybil was followed by a wave ofbooks on patients with repressed memories and multiple personality disorders.

In 1980, psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder and his patient (and later, wife) Michelle Smith wrote Michelle Remembers, an account of how 600 hours of hypnosis therapy with her husband extracted her experiences of being tortured, locked in cages, sexually assaulted and forced to take part in Satanic rituals by her mother’s cult.

The book was thoroughly discredited by subsequent investigations, which pointed out major inconsistencies in their narrative and raised serious questions over the reliability of hypnotically enhanced memories.

In 1983, Judy Johnson, of California, accused a teacher at her son’s preschool of raping him, said faculty members had sex with animals and even claimed the teacher could fly.

Johnson was hospitalised with paranoid schizophrenia and died before the end of the preliminary hearing from problems related to alcoholism. But LA’s Children’s Institute International then interviewed several hundred children about the alleged incident.

The students were coerced through suggestive interview techniques into making bizarre claims including the existence of secret tunnels under the school in which the alleged abuse took place; orgies supposedly conducted in car washes and airports; disturbing games in which children were allegedly photographed nude; mutilation of corpses; blood drinking; baby sacrifice and a flying teacher.

Pazder was consulted by the prosecution as an expert on Satanic ritual abuse and corroborated the claims. All parties in the McMartin preschool trial were acquitted of all charges in 1990.

The popular explanation of repressed trauma suggests that because children need to see the people they depend upon as safe, they may maintain that relationship by denying abuse, a splitting of emotions that may develop into alternate personalities.

Some psychologists do not believe it is possible to forget past abuse and remember it in adulthood, instead suspecting that some therapists take patients’ “most cherished childhood memories and change them into diabolical abuse”, according to Princeton paper “Sybil, Satan and Science”.

The paper looks at the evidence of Dr Richard Ofshe, a University of California social scientist who studies how guided imagery and coercion can create morbid imaginings. It also uses the research of Dr Elizabeth Loftus, professor of psychology from the University of Washington, who says memories can be changed simply by the way questions are phrased in court.

FBI special Ken Lanning says that while there is a growing number of accusations of Satanic ritual abuse, there is little evidence to support it.

It’s unnerving to hear such extreme stories in relation to young children. But it seems Satanism remains for the most part the strange work of minds distorted in ghastly ways that do not require any actual drinking of blood.

Jun 6, 2015

Religious devotees worry about the yogaization of meditation in the U.S.

By Michelle Boorstein
June 6, 2015

Inside the newly opened Meditation Museum in Silver Spring, exhibits refer to the pursuit of "God," the "Supreme Soul" and often "The One." A constant visual theme is ­orangeish-reddish light emanating from a vague, otherworldly source. The message is clear: Meditation is about connecting with the divine.

"If the mind can be in a state of experiencing the energy of God's light or presence," said Sister Jenna Mahraj, a nightclub owner turned ­spiritual teacher whose organization opened the museum this year, "it's like everything we tend to find so disheveled — it starts to find its own purpose."

Yet in gyms, businesses and public schools in every direction from the museum — which sits on busy Georgia Avenue — meditation is often presented as something akin to mental weight-lifting: a secular practice that keeps your brain and emotions in shape. Gyms list it alongside Zumba classes, and public schools say it can help students chill out before tests by calming the mind and training it to look upon disruptive thoughts from a non-judgmental distance.

This rough juxtaposition between the religious and secular versions of meditation epitomizes a key debate about the ancient practice as it explodes in the United States: What is the purpose of meditation? And who decides?

To Mahraj and her community, called the Brahma Kumaris, promoting the religious component is part of the purpose of the Silver Spring center, which is more about spiritual advocacy than a museum in the classic sense.

"This country needs to stop thinking meditation is about emptying your mind," she said during a recent tour. "I respect all meditation practices, but I don't necessarily believe in a practice that tries to 'empty' your thoughts. . . . I don't think that's normal."

Mahraj is not alone in her concern that meditation might be getting too secular, which can be shorthand for saying that today it is often taught value-free — unattached to a philosophy or worldview. Hindu and Buddhist leaders in particular have raised concerns that meditation may be going the route yoga has in the West, where it has largely morphed from being a tool for enlightenment to one for a firmer tush.

"What are we teaching? That's a very serious question for anyone who is taking these techniques out of a religious context and into the secular world," said Clark Strand, a former Zen Buddhist monk who now writes and lectures on spirituality and the way Eastern philosophies are transformed in the West.

"Once you remove them from the spiritual context, then goals default to those of the culture, and that could be to win a war, or make money, or to self-medicate so you can do a job you hate or for which you aren't paid enough," Strand said. "Who does [meditation] serve today? Who does it belong to? Is its purpose spiritual or just a commodity?"

Ironically, when meditation began its expansion a decade or so ago from Buddhist retreats and alternative communes to the American mainstream, institutional religion was wary that the practice was too religious — but not in a sufficiently monotheistic Judeo-Christian way.

"The biblical worldview is completely at odds with the pantheistic concepts driving Eastern meditation. We are not one with an impersonal absolute being that is called 'God.' Rather, we are estranged from the true personal God" because of our inherent sin, evangelical philosopher Douglas Groothuis wrote in Christianity Today in 2004 — a piece typical of what was found in religious media as meditation began its ascent. "The answer to our plight is not found in some 'higher level of consciousness' (really a deceptive state of mind), but in placing our faith in the unmatched achievements of Jesus Christ on our behalf."

But meditation has spread too far and too successfully into areas such as the treatment of depression, addiction and post-
traumatic stress disorder for the debate to remain simply: Is it too secular or too religious? This is because meditation's boom comes at a time of remarkable openness to questions about religion itself, with people — particularly young ones — probing much more about what, exactly, constitutes a "religious" practice, belief or prayer.

For example, while some say meditating for stress relief is "secular," doesn't that address a very modern-day type of suffering? Or is something else theologically meant by the word "suffering"? If you practice a type of focus meditation that involves, for example, chanting a basic word such as "love," is that secular or religious?

And what is really meant by meditation leaders who tell students to practice "emptying their mind"? People such as Mahraj would see such a phrase as devoid of any philosophy, but others would say secular-sounding phrases aren't necessarily "empty."

"That's a straw man," prominent brain-science writer Daniel Goleman said of the idea that secular practice teaches nothing in particular. "It pays to stop your stressed-out mind state, let your psychology calm down and your mind clear, that's just human engineering. In the Buddhist context that's a preliminary state to a spiritual journey."

Goleman is the author of "A Force for Good," a book due out this month about pragmatic — one might say secular — applications of the Dalai Lama's teachings.

The blurry lines between religious and secular are at play in Mahraj's work, too. The Brahma Kumaris, an 80-year-old spiritual movement with roots in India, teaches that meditation and prayer are about coming closer to God and "that each one of us is an eternal spirit or soul." In an effort to spread its teachings in the Washington region, the group opened its museum in downtown Silver Spring six years ago. It relocated to the new space in April.

But in addition to espousing the beliefs of those behind the center, the museum offers a broad range of more secular self-help activities such as courses on vegetarian cooking and budgeting. Mahraj, whose parents were Hindu and Catholic, speaks in area schools, to challenged youth in particular. She hosts a Web-based talk show called "America Meditating."

But Mahraj says that the purpose of the meditation her group teaches is religious. The regular practice of the Brahma Kumaris is to meditate at home for 45 minutes at 4 a.m., then attend a class together at 6 a.m. that is part silent meditation and part teaching, she said.

"We're not teaching people to empty their minds," she said. "We're teaching them to fill their minds with the right kind of things."

The soaring interest in meditation has prompted many religious groups to revive their own ancient meditative practices. Jesuit meditation retreats and church-run classes on "centering prayers" — a contemplative Christian practice — are popping up everywhere, as are programs on Jewish meditation. Muslims are discussing more if the classic practice of reciting many names of Allah is a type of meditation.

But the secular-religious debate is appearing among faith groups, too. Some find centering prayers — which call for the practitioner to focus on a general word such as "mercy" rather than liturgy — too secular, said the Rev. Jim Martin, a popular Catholic writer on spirituality who leads retreats in Catholic contemplative practices.

"Some Catholics are suspicious about centering. They'll say: 'That's so Buddhist, is that a mantra?' " he said.

Martin and others see meditation as perhaps a secular society's way of tiptoeing back to God.

"Some say the Christian of the future will be a mystic or not a Christian at all," he said. "You have to have a spiritual life."

Michelle Boorstein is the Post's religion reporter, where she reports on the busy marketplace of American religion.


Jun 5, 2015

Maharishi Group (wikigrain.org)

The Maharishi Group also called  Maharishi group, Maharishi Group Venture, Maharishi Group of Companies and TM organization was established by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1960s.[1] The Maharishi group was reported in 2009 to be worth $700 million[2] and to have operations in over 120 countries.[1]
The Maharishi Group calls itself "India’s leading International group with diversified interests".[3] According to one of the group's entities, it is active in "Education, Housing Finance, Solar Energy, Ayurvedic Products, Printing and Publishing, Granite, Software Development and Systems Integration, Aviation, Gems, Gold and Diamond Jewellery, IT turn key projects, Digital Animation, Clothing and many more areas."[4]Another entity says that the group "covers most aspects of modern human needs" and is based on the Maharishi's vision of "ridding the Society from sufferings ... by re-enlivening the body's intelligence through connecting it to the bountiful and perpetual reservoir of Nature's Intelligence".[5]

Health products

Anand Shrivastava is president of Maharishi Ayurveda Corporation. It was founded in 1987 and is ISO 9000 compliant. It markets over 900 products to 37 countries; exports which account for 60% of its output.[6]
Maharishi Ayurveda Products Pvt Ltd. (MAPPL), also run by Anand Srivastava, announced in a 2010 press release that it had been in business for three decades, that it operated 13 clinic in India, and that it was seeking the advice of a franchise company regarding further expansion[7] A 2011 press release, announcing franchise opportunities, says it markets over 1500 products.[8] MAPPL was sued in 2008 by a resident of Maharishi Vedic City, Iowa when she discovered that she had received lead poisoning after using their products. One herbal supplement was tested and reported to contain 3% lead by weight.[9]

Solar energy

The group includes Maharishi Solar Technology (MST), an ISO 9001:2000 accredited company which produces solar water heaters for home and industrial use as well as solar pumps and lanterns for areas that don't have electricity.[10][11] MST is run by Ajay Prakash Shrivastava brother of Anand Shrivastava. Prakash Shrivastava is also the 2009–2010 president of the Solar Energy Society of India and the Vice-President of International Solar Society.[12] MST has a vertically integrated facility for producing photovoltaic panels at Kalahasti in Andhra Pradesh,[3] and is a core producer of the multicrystalline siliconwafers used to make them.[13] In 2009 it announced an agreement withAbengoa Solar Inc for the production of solar thermal collectors that useparabolic trough mirrors to produce steam. MST said that it would investRs 300 crore to acquire the technology and to build a factory in Noida to make the collectors.[11] Maharishi Renewable Energy Ltd (MREL) announced a plan to invest Rs 70 crore in a solar thermal electric generating plant in Rajasthan to be completed in 2011.[2]


Maharishi Vidya Mandir Schools is an educational system with 148 branches in 118 cities. The chairman is Ajay Prakash Shrivastava.[14][15]
Picasso Digital Media, headquartered in Delhi, provides education in digital animation in conjunction with Toronto's Centennial College.[16][17][18] Picasso Animation College held its first convocation at its Hyderabadcampus in 2010, hosted by its director general, O. P. Sharma.[19]
Other educational franchises include the Cosmic Institution of Neo Entertainment, Media and Arts (C.I.N.E.M.A.) and the Cosmic Business School (CBS).[20] Many CBS graduates are hired directly into Maharishi Groups businesses or are recruited by other business partners.[21][22]Started in 2004,[22] its president is Ajay Prakash Shrivastava and the director general is O.P Sharma.[23] Cosmic Academy, affiliated withManipal University, offered the first-ever MBA in Business Process Outsourcing in 2004.[24]


Maharishi Information Technology Pvt. Ltd. (MITPL) was founded in 1999.[25] Cosmic Softech Limited is a software development company in New Delhi, one division of which is Cosmic Integrated Technology Services (CITeS).[5][26] Founded in 2000, it seeks to provide "comprehensive e-commerce solutions, web based technologies, enterprise business solutions designed around multi-tier architecture and telecommunications software development."[27]


The Maharishi Housing Development Finance Corporation (MHDFC) was established in 1993 in New Delhi. By 2000 it offered seven and 15-year loans and proposed a plan for 40-year mortgages.[28] By 2003 it had 15 branches across India, a loan portfolio of Rs104 crore, and the Maharishi University of Management of UK was listed as a promoter.[29]The sale of the controlling interest to ICICI Bank was initiated in 1999,[30][31] and the negotiations continued through 2003.[29] In 2009 it was announced that Religare Enterprises was planning to acquire a majority stake in MHDFC.[32]


  1. a b Das, Sandip (12 October 2009). "Harnessing solar power for industrial use.". The Financial Express.
  2. a b Mahalakshmi, BV (12 November 2009). "Maharishi to acquire tech from German co"The Financial Express (New Delhi).http://www.financialexpress.com/news/Maharishi-to-acquire-tech-from-German-co/540299/.
  3. a b "Maharishi Solar Technology announces tie-up with Abengoa Solar" (Press release). Global Solar Technology. 15 September 2009. Archived from the original on 8 September 2010.http://www.webcitation.org/5sbikWwqJ. Retrieved 5 April 2010.
  4. ^ "Maharishi Group". Picasso Digital Media. Archived from the original on 8 September 2010.http://www.webcitation.org/5sbinCRGJ. Retrieved 5 April 2010.
  5. a b "THE MAHARISHI GROUP". Maharishi Ayurveda Products Pvt. Ltd.. 2007. Archived from the original on 8 September 2010.http://www.webcitation.org/5sbipx5z9. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  6. ^ "Chennai". The Hindu (India): p. 1. 13 September 2000.
  7. ^ "Maharishi Ayurveda consult Francorp to advice for its expansion Pan-India" (Press release). Free-Press-Release Inc.. 8 March 2010. Archived from the original on 8 September 2010.http://www.webcitation.org/5sbitElKf.
  8. ^ "Maharishi Ayurveda Products Pvt Ltd announces the launch of its franchise model" (Press release). 4 January 2011. Archived from the original on 20 January 2011.http://www.webcitation.org/5vtN5CUJl.
  9. ^ Binegar, Erika (8 March 2008). "Title:Vedic City woman charges herbs caused lead poisoning.".Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa).
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