Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Several years ago when I was not associated with the Art Of Living, a friend from Mumbai who was quite active but a little dismayed by what he saw as "advertising" of AOL courses wrote me an email that went something like the following :

"A good product should sell itself, don't you think ? Something that is inherently good does not need promotion, people will understand it without being told"

Back then I agreed with him completely. Stark irony is that he is today employed in the ad industry :-) . Recently too a friend accused me (in jest) of advertising Guru Poornima on this blog. Which had me thinking : Is advertising really a BAD thing ?

Advertising According to Wikipedia :

Advertising is a form of communication that typically attempts to persuade potential customers to purchase or to consume more of a particular brand of product or service. ......

Many advertisements are designed to generate increased consumption of those products and services through the creation and reinvention of the "brand image"

Advertising is a powerful medium. Used too often to spread the wrong message. The biggest spenders of advertising money these days are the wrong people - cigarette/liquor companies, sellers of carbonated drinks and junk food. All this targeted at the most vulnerable audience - children, teens and youth - the future of tomorrow's world.

And they are all too successful. Just look around at what kids eat and drink today. Look at a group of young kids on bikes gathered at a corner and one sees columns of smoke emerging . Advertisers know their target audience and its vulnerabilities - only too well. Make something hip and happening, find a film star or music icon to endorse the product, throw in a slick ad campaign and they will fall for it - hook, line and sinker.

On the other hand, talk to a youngster about yoga, pranayam or spirituality and what you get back is bemused stares. This is the whole problem - IMO.

The effects of bad advertising stare us in the face.

It has become cool to burn your lungs out using Malboro Lights (even though the manufacturer tells you you are going to die from its consumption) , uncool to strengthen them using yoga and pranayam. Cool to party hard and get high on liqour and other substances, uncool to find the same high in a bhajan satsang. Cool to watch movies, hang out and waste time, uncool to do service. Cool to read pulp fiction - uncool to read knowledge(after all it is PHILOSOPHY) .

I was just driving and saw an ad for a tobacco based chewable product that was displayed on the back of a bus : Only Rs 1 !! How slick ! Just Rs 1 to get someone addicted to a dangerous, toxic substance that may result in anything from mouth, tongue or throat cancer not to mention a foul smelling mouth and destroyed public hygiene.

In this commercial busy world, with ads such as the above being blasted at us through every possible avenue including newspapers, TV, radio, the Internet, where is the hope for messages that extol the virtues of vegetarianism, regular exercise, doing yoga, pranayam, kriya, meditation, service etc. Does anything good stand a chance in this deafening din made by advertisers ?

Therein lies the mistake that many have made and continue to make. It is often though that one should keep such practices and ones own religious/spiritual beliefs to oneself. Talk about a movie you just saw or food you just ate but don't talk about your meditation practice !

As Guruji says often, we need to take take the message of peace, meditation to all. Not because we want to benefit from it - but because we want society to see and experience the benefits of our age old traditions that are being fast forgotten and abandoned in favor of a fast paced materialistic existence that will bring nothing but a diseased body, confused intellect and a troubled mind.

Sorry dear friend - but I stand corrected. Advertising is just a medium. Its whats advertised that counts. In fact all that should NOT be advertised, is advertised way too MUCH. The only option left for "inherently good things" is to shout even LOUDER- otherwise the precious message spirituality has to offer v.i.z the benefits of yoga/pranayam/meditation/Ayurveda/peace of mind - will stand subdued and stifled - much to the detriment of society.

Advertise the living daylights out of it I say :-)

And such advertising is a GOOD thing ! Opinions welcome.

Jai Guru Dev,


  1. Bang on RR..the criticism that comes along when talking about anything spiritual can be really harsh..i had this friend who visited me a couple of weeks back..she saw a book by my bedside and immediately concluded that there is something wrong with me..Maybe there is, but I have been trying to get some sense to my mind with that book..people do not think at all before labeling things as spiritual and therefore not meant for people our age (and times?)..it is just in their system to call it crazy stuff..

    having said that, a little talk about the stuff can also help people to think about things they never thought about before..this same friend registered for part 1 and all she needed was a little talk..i am sure this post of yours will also make a few people think about these things..

    i can tell you that your blog is a big inspiration for me..I like reading it, i loved all the posts related to Guru Purnima and I am registering for the adv course right now with Guruji.. :-) Many thanks for putting it up on your blog and urging me (and others) to not miss this wonderful opportunity..


  2. Super Anusha ! So glad you are going to Guru Poornima. Wish I could be there ! The only goal of this blog is to play a small role in bringing the message of Guruji to my readers.

    You are absolutely right when you said "a little talk" goes a long way. It has helped get two of my friends into YES+ courses recently and they LOVED it. Thanks for your comments about the blog - they inspire me to share more.

    Jai Guru Dev,

  3. Well, Fact is Evolution..
    I don't agree that AOL need advertising.. but the fact is.. nobody is ready to take thing if it is not advertised..

    Next thing i would like to say about India.. is that its slowly patching up with the western trend.. and they are yet to realized that Western world is actually trying to patch up with our Your and Spirituality...

    Jai Gurudev!

  4. @apu : IMO the word "advertising" has taken on a negative connotation owing to "whats" blatantly being advertised. If the intention behind it is good, then advertising is simply spreading awareness about the right things.

    totally agree with your comments about the westernization of India and the increasing awareness abroad about indian spirituality ! GO Art Excel/YES/YES+/Part I !!


  5. I really like your blog, though this is the first time i am commenting :)

    Jai Gurudeva :)


  6. @siddharth : Thanks ! Loved you sharing on your blog about meeting Guruji recently.

    Jai Guru Dev

  7. You ROCK TOTALLY!!!!!!! Just read it more closely. and of course you are right and you wrote it well!!! Yes, and I still hope I was not the one you said jestfully talked about advertising. Coz it was advertising -- but then I never said advertising is wrong, bad or anything and I definitely like advertising of guru purnima -- it's a good thing! Okay take care.

  8. Advertising is showing the good things and making people aware that there is something like this for them to consider..

    Please do not stop advertising. We need it..