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26 Jan 2021, Edition - 2023, Tuesday

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Coimbatore

Former employee accuses Isha Foundation of slavery

Covai Post Network

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Jaggi Vasudev’s Isha Foundation in Coimbatore has forced volunteers as many as 1,000 into ‘slavery’ to run its daily affairs and activities, and has committed fraud by using its brand name to collect money for non-existent public welfare programmes, V R P Senthil, former organizer of Isha Forum Pollachi and Isha Public Relations Committee member, has alleged at a press conference.

“I was in charge of the Pollachi affairs of the foundation, and can confirm as much as Rs2.5 crores was collected to plant trees under the Maha Satsang programme, but not a single tree was planted.”

However, an official source of Isha Foundation denied the allegations as baseless and told The Covai Post, “We have planted 2.8 crore saplings under an initiative called ‘Pasumai Karangal’ and we have receipt for the collected money for this purpose.”

Heaping more accusations against the foundation that runs the Isha Yoga Centre, Senthil said, “As many as 10 foreign volunteers out of some 200 at the ashram during various periods, never left the ashram raising questions of overstay.”

Denying this, the source said, “Out of the 10 foreigners at the ashram, two of them have lifelong visas and the visa for the remaining two will expire only on October 22.”

Senthil said, “The school the foundation runs has no government recognition and doesn’t even have an established curriculum.”

The Isha source said: “The foundation is running the school based on the Gurukulam model of education approved by the Madras High Court.”

Senthil said, “Many of the volunteers live under mental strain at the centre, and I personally know of many who had to take psychiatric treatment due to stress.”

He said Prof Kamaraj’s fight to get back his daughters kept captive at the ashram sparked my intention to share what he knew with the world.

“Isha has denied all allegations of Kamaraj, but the truth is volunteers are forcibly kept in the ashram, and when they show signs of stress and despair, they are ‘counselled’ into remaining there, but I do not know if I can call it brainwashing.”

“For instance, when they feel distressed the volunteers are asked to take a vow of silence for an unspecified period (maun vrat),” Senthil alleged.

The Isha source said, “No one at the ashram is forced into bramacharyam. Every one practices it on their own free will.”

Senthil said, “Isha Foundation uses its brand name and influence to wriggle out of tight corners. I myself have represented the foundation and committed mistakes, and left when my conscience pricked me – and the reason why I decided to now come out into the open,” he further alleged.

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