Seeking - A new beginning
by Suma Varughese
An interview with Krishna, founder of One World Academy, a breakaway group from the humongous Oneness organisation
A few months ago the spiritual world was rocked by news of a massive split in the Oneness
organisation, founded by Amma and Bhagavan in Vardiapalem (see cover story, Life Positive, September 2006). Krishna, the son of the founders, along with the three principal teachers (called acharyas in their lexicon), and about 20 teachers had quit the organisation. The controversy raged on Facebook,
Twitter and in real life. Confused
followers expressed their disquiet
and anxiety to each other and to the
organisation. Like all splits much
heat was generated. And then followed
silence. Evidently a creative
silence for out of it was born One
World Academy. The whole process
invited some interesting questions.
How can an organisation
whose founders all belonged to
an earlier one, be much different
from the one they emerged from?
Would the approach be original or
reactive? And for an organisation
focused on supporting the individual
to transcend conflict, how were
they dealing with the conflict they
had generated when they opted
out? To answer these questions
and a few more, a skype interview
was set up with Krishna. Affable,
good looking and absurdly young,
Krishna came across as candid
It is part of the lore of Oneness
that the whole phenomenon began
when Bhagavan ran a residential
school called Jivashram in Andhra
Pradesh. At one point Krishna confided
to him about seeing a golden
man seated in his heart. Bhagawan
asked the boy to place his hands on
the head of others and soon most of
the children were in a state of altered
consciousness. That was the beginning
of the Oneness movement,
and in that sense, it was spawned
by Krishna. The three former acharyas
who have followed him to
OWA, Samadarshini, Anandgiri
and Vimalakirti were also products
of Jivashram and belong to his
The One World Academy team
It would be a safe bet to infer
that there is no one in that group
of roughly 25 people who are
older than 35. Perhaps that is
why it emanates freshness.
In the website of OWA, Krishna
spells out his manifesto: “The
longer I live, the more I realise the
importance of the word ‘right’.
Life is not about doing what I
want or what someone else wants;
it is about doing what is ‘right’.
Life is not about doing what is
believed to be ‘good’ or avoiding
what is accepted to be ‘bad’. It
is about doing what is ‘right’.
Right thought followed by right
action, performed in awareness is
growth, is joy”.
Excerpts from the interview:
What is the mission of One World
The mission of One World
Academy is to help the individual
move from conflict to joy.
By joy, do you mean enlightenment?
We would rather not call that state enlightenment.
What is your view on 2012, which
according to Oneness, is the harbinger
of a higher world consciousness?
Basically, I am not convinced about
it. Because I don’t believe in a date
and a time when man will make it
into a particular state. If it happens
I would be very happy. I strongly
believe that for millions of years the
universe has been evolving and it
will continue to evolve. If there is
no growth, then there is death. If
we say there is an end point, then
there is no growth beyond that.
This is an area (in which)I strongly
disagree with Bhagavan’s view.
Doesn’t the focus on the date
also create a hurry that is actually
In fact, a sense of urgency is the
opposite of the spirit of enlightenment
The birth of OWA is not something
that happened on the basis of
a fight. I had a series of discussions
with my father, presented to him
many options in which we could
run the movement. But he did not
agree to that.
He said, “In Oneness there can’t
be divisions. You believe in something
and I in something else. So
found something and do it on your
own. I have no objections to it.”
How different will the courses offered by OWA be from those offered by Oneness?
The problems that all of us face aremuch the same. They aren’t very different. The solutions we are
working for through these courses
are also the same. We all are looking
for love, happiness, awareness.
but the ways the various courses go
about them are different. Unlike
Oneness, I believe there’s a place
for human effort in one’s spiritual
growth. There is a need for action.
You can’t simply do nothing and
expect divine grace to do everything
for you. Yes, divine grace is
part of our programme too and we
teach people how to connect to it,
but that is not all.
But Oneness also spoke about effort,
Probably that message went out
only in the Breakthru programme.
Elsewhere the message is clearly
sent out that human effort plays
no role at all. However, instead of
effort, I would like to use the word
Right action is born of right
thought. And right thought is
born of awareness. Action that is
not born after a process of selfinquiry
could be unintelligent
So, the process that OWA offers
is very simple. Ideas, opinions,
views, beliefs, ideologies – all of
these are our mind. And these
ideas and ideals control us and
take away our freedom. That is
the reason for our unhappiness.
If we find that any of these ideas
or ideals are causing us trouble then
we need to go through a process of
enquiry. Once we see the origin or
the root of it and also realise that
these mental structures are only
meanings we have given and that
there is nothing real to them, they
can no more control us or hurt us.
For instance, at one of our programmes
a man was governed by his
idea of discipline. To him it meant
staying away from all pleasures and
on insisting that his family follow
his rules. He faced a lot of conflict
in the family because of this.
Our programme will also help
you to use your ideals and ideas and
act or also have the freedom to act
differently from them. Your actions
don’t always come from the past.
Isn’t that the definition of dharma? Appropriate action?
Yes, that is what we are focused
on. Right thought + right action
+ flexibility or intelligence. That
is the formula.
Our focus is on helping people
get over their problems as much as
possible in the programme itself.
Right there and then.
How feasible is it to solve a problem
right there and then?
It seems to be feasible. In the last close encounter
two months we have conducted
22 programmes. Each programme
has had approximately 30 people.
On an average at least five to six
participants have had a major
breakthrough in the programme
itself. They had fundamental shifts
in relationships and could also
make right decisions for their profession
also. They are also taught
self-inquiry so they could apply it
to any life situations thereafter.
Awareness is such a difficult
thing. How much can actually be
communicated in two days?
What we mean by awareness is to
bring conscious attention to life.
We are not referring to an irreversible
state that will stay with
you independent of any causes.
To move on to a different tack,
I was told that OWA is not
interested in followers.
That is true. I am not a guru;
none of us are gurus. We are an
academy, an institution that
focuses on helping people move
from conflict to joy. People who
attend our programmes can go
anywhere; learn from anyone. We
do not ask for allegiance.
Organisations by nature are structured,
based on ideals and ideologies.
They stifle freedom. How
will you be able to prevent such a
thing from happening to you?
Through awareness we can see to
it that our ideas and ideologies do
not make use of us. While in the
external world we will use these
structures to help us follow the
norms of civilised society, internally
we will not allow them to
divide us or create conflict in us.
This danger can happen only if
we are unaware. As an organisation
we are focused on creating
a culture of awareness. If a division
does happen, I think it will
come from a place of self-inquiry.
If any of the faculty feels they
have other needs they can make
the choice. I don’t think it will
come from a place of conflict,
where we are mutually blaming
Do you think OWA will succeed?
I feel OWA will succeed, because
we are addressing practical problems;
we are also using contemporary
language to teach eternal
What do you think is the fundamental
Fundamentally I think people’s
problem is conflict.
For a spiritual seeker, it is conflict
around enlightenment. A
divide between where they are
and where they want to go. For an
entrepreneur or professional it is
conflict born of competition. But
underlying it all is division and
conflict. Conflict at various levels
is also the cause of war between
nations. That is why we want to
teach self-inquiry to people so
they can move from conflict to
joy. It can give them great fruits
even if they can use it in moments
of conflict only.
How do you face the conflict generated
by your shift from Oneness?
With complete patience. We all
are focused on the good we have
received from Bhagawan all these
years. We are deriving our strength
and calm from gratitude.
What lies ahead for OWA?
Our first programme is called A
New Beginning. We want to help
people have new beginnings in
their lives. We have New Beginning
programmes for corporations,
for schools and universities, for
parents, teachers and seekers.
We will have these five courses
ready by the end of this month.
By the end of the year we should
have our campus ready near
Mahabalipuram, Chennai. It will
be on the sea. We have already
There we will be offering a
six-day advanced programme
for seekers. It will be deeply
contemplative and help people
live happily, in the now.
The more I hear about the course,
the more I feel J. Krishnamurthi
has influenced it a lot.
Yes, Krishnamurti has influenced
us a lot. So have the Upanishads,
Buddhism, Taoism. Bhagawan too
has influenced us to a great extent.
Most importantly, it is our own
life experience. We have seen that
it is these teachings and processes
that have helped us come through
very turbulent times.
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