Commercialisation of spirituality

Ever since the Beatles starting chanting Om and Madonna started doing yoga, eastern spirituality has been quite fashionable and has been becoming even more so in recent years. While it’s no doubt good that people are taking up positive spiritual practices like yoga-asanas, the commercialisation of spirituality is undesirable and even potentially dangerous.

With the proliferation of information through technology, people who have read bits and pieces of books and websites are easily able to scrap together a book or scramble together a website and claim to be a spiritual guide. I recently came across a website by a supposed ‘awakened’ spiritual guide offering 13 steps for a ‘guaranteed’ amazing/ successful/ wonderful life. As far as I know, not even Krishna, Jesus or the Buddha came up with such offerings and I find it hard to imagine that a blogger has outdone them.

Many times advertisements for yoga-asana classes focus more on the good hair of the yoga teacher than on any spiritual merit. Often spiritual merit is not only lacking, but the teacher is also mis-informed about his/her subject. An Ashtanga yoga class I attended in Paris, almost ended up injuring me because the teacher apparently thought that yoga was some form of exotic gymnastics. Then there are the bizzare new inventions such as beer yoga classes and yogic tour packages offering a chance to meditate inside pyramids that showcase nothing more than wild creativity and entrepreneurial enthusiasm.

Ayurveda too has not escaped the clutches of commercialisation. Distorted offsprings of this ancient science take the form of brands offering strange, unwholesome-sounding concoctions of natural ingredients like thyme and vanilla body lotion (maybe with a bit of chocolate thrown in, I forget).

While intentions may be good and sharing tips, advice and experiences is helpful, one needs to be responsible in matters of spirituality. A practice that the Living-Wise Project tries to follow is to provide the source and further reading on any profound piece of knowledge shared so that readers can refer to the source for further context/information and make up their minds about the teaching/teacher.

It would be nice if people stop developing their own new-age theories, taking on the title of spiritual guides and marketing their half-baked ideas around to gullible folk looking for solace. The fact is that no true spiritual master offers seekers something new to believe in and in fact, no true seeker is looking for something new to believe in either. Replacing one belief with another is not going to get anyone anywhere. The search for Truth should be supreme and the Truth is not a belief.

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Shruti Bakshi
Shruti Bakshi is the Founder of the LivingWise Project. She has worked for several years in banking and financial services in London, Paris and Mumbai. Shruti writes about life at the intersection of spirituality and modern society. Her debut novel 'From Dior to Dharma' was released in May 2017. International link: From Dior to Dharma
India link:

4 Replies to “Commercialisation of spirituality”

  1. Tony

    Hi Shruti. Haven’t seen such sites but sounds a bit nasty! I suppose we can trust the discrimination of the seeker? If the thirst for truth is not fulfilled?
    Love the book. It arrived just as I left to catch plane so v inspiring to read. Thanks. I’ve been thru some similar stuff so could relate a lot. Tony

    • Shruti Bakshi

      Hi Tony, thanks for commenting! Yes, I was pretty upset to come across this one website by a self-proclaimed ‘awakened guide’ who appeared to have a strong following but hopefully people know what’s what or will find out eventually anyway. And I’m really really glad you enjoyed the book !! I went through a period of panic thinking noone would actually read it to the end but have been encouraged by a couple of comments recently, including, most definitely, yours! 🙂 It’s awesome that you could relate. If you wouldn’t mind, could you paste this review onto Amazon whenever you get the time? Apparently it counts for everything, given as marketing rules the world (and which I unfortunately suck at)…Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts and hope you’re enjoying your time in Africa ! All the best, Shruti

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