Global Country of World Peace clarifies on missing vedic pandits
Global Country of World Peace Clarifies on Missing Vedic Pandits. With Reference to the following news articles published in our publication, the...
With Reference to the following news articles published in our publication, the following clarification has been given by the Global Country of World Peace:
- Indian Vedic scholars in Chicago missing
- 163 Indian pandits go missing in US
- Missing NRI vedic pandits in US: No clue on whereabouts
The Maharishi Vedic Pandit Program in Iowa and Recent Issues
Recent press articles which were based on a piece initially published in Hi India on January 24, 2014 contain much false and uncorroborated information on the Vedic Pandit program in Iowa. This Memo seeks to correct this and provide relevant background information for a follow up article. If you have further questions, please contact Bill Goldstein: email@example.com, 641 472 1183, Mobile 641 919 7899.
I Introduction to the Program
The Global Peace Initiative of the Maharishi Vedic Pandits commenced in Maharishi Vedic City and Fairfield Iowa in October 2006.
The purpose of this program is to create harmony for America and peace for the world. The program includes two components from the Vedic tradition of India:
(1) Yog—the group practice of the Transcendental Meditation program and its advanced techniques. Extensive research, including 50 scientific replications and 23 studies published in peer-reviewed journals, indicates that the TM practice, and in particular group TM practice, is an effective and highly cost-effective approach for reducing societal stress and associated violent crime and social conflict.
(2) Yagya—Traditional Vedic recitations by a large group of Maharishi Vedic Pandits to create an influence of peace.
Since its inception in 2006,approximately 2500 Pandits have come under sponsorship of the Global Country of World Peace (GCWP), a US non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, from their home organization Maharishi VedVigyanVishwaVidyapeetham (MVVVVP), a non-profit organization established in India in 1983, where they have served and were trained since an early age in the authentic Vedic tradition performances.
These Pandits have been supported by MVVVP in India and GWCP when in the US, being provided, room, board, clothing, personal supplies, health care, travel expenses, stipend and bonuses (when appropriate) in compliance with all laws and the co-operation of all government authorities.
The Pandits are in Iowa after having made a commitment to the program and in consideration for that they are given the above benefits. It is agreed by GCWP to return them home at its expense to continue their work with MVVVP at the end of their 2 or 3 year commitment, or prior if they express an emergency need to return, all at GCWP expense. They are strictly limited in their activities when in the US under the terms of their visa, i.e., to engage in their spiritual Vedic vocation and only on the approved premises of GCWP in Iowa. This is a strict requirement of the US immigration law. Their engaging in other activities or outside the approved campus is a violation of the immigration law and the commitment they made to the US State Department when they were interviewed for their visa in New Delhi.
II Departing Pandits
The vast majority of the Pandits take this moral and legal commitment very seriously and participate in this program with great success, residing on the campus for their 2 or 3 year stays, and a many of them, after a return home, return for a new 2 year tour thereafter. A small number of the Pandits request to be returned home early: either for family emergencies, or in some instances they may feel that they wish to return to the Ashram or may be having some difficulties properly adjusting to life on the campus away from home in the US. To accommodate them in all these circumstances they are provided a free return ticket to India and transported to the Chicago airport.
A small percent of this group of “returning” Pandits on occasion, leave the campus early on their own or evade boarding the plane and disappear at the airport without GCWP’s advance knowledge. The total number of Pandits who have ever left the program in an unauthorized way is only about 5% of those who have come to the US, but this behavior is of concern to GCWP. ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has been advised of these Pandits by GCWPto seek to locate them and properly deal with their situation. These Pandits are not in lawful status in the US when they engage in such behavior and are at risk for deportation. They may be,we understand, taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers who pay them minimal unreported wages and hide them in substandard housing. GCWP does not know where these Pandits are, except for rare exceptions, and when we do them we provide them return airfare to India. We have provided whatever information we have on these employers to ICE.
If a Pandit leaves the airport without taking their flight this results in the full or partial loss of the airfare to GCWP if tickets are purchased in advance, except in some cases where GCWP has purchased a refundable ticket. If a Pandit checks their luggage and then does not take a flight and the luggage is returned to their campus or if they abandon their luggage at the airport, it is placed in storage at the campus. All Pandits are placed on flights the day transported to Chicago in any event unless they flee at the airport.
As to the age of the Pandits, we reviewed all the Pandits who have ever left the program. The youngest was age 20, the oldest age 42 and the median 26.5 years of age. No Panditis admitted to the program unless they are over the age of 18 and the average age of Pandits in the program in Maharishi Vedic City is mid-20s.
The number of Pandits in the program in Maharishi Vedic City is about the same as it was in early 2008 at the time of Maharishi’s passing. We have had the opportunity to have more Pandits at times and hope that will happen again in the future. The number of Pandits changes over time depending on availability of donations and availability of Pandits to come.
III The Campus and the Pandits Training
All of the Maharishi Vedic Pandits in this program live on a modern campus in Maharishi Vedic City that was built especially for them from 2007 to 2009. See the aerial photo attached. All of the buildings on the campus are built according to Maharishi Sthapatya Veda® design—VastuVidya. All the dimensions are carefully laid out as well as the orientation and the placement on the site. All the building materials are carefully selected and non-toxic and the buildings are well insulated and individually heated and air-conditioned.
The Pandits have special Vedic cooks and have three full meals a day plus snacks. Special attention is put on buying the highest quality food ingredients, all fresh produce, no GMO and great attention on buying organic food. The Pandits have 2 chapatti machines from Chapatti Queen in India that make thousands of chapattis a day.
In addition to housing, classrooms, mandap halls, programs halls, dining halls, etc., the Vedic Pandits also have indoor and outdoor recreation facilities including for soccer, cricket, volleyball, walking trails, etc.
The Maharishi Vedic Pandits have all been trained through a program of MVVVVP through which 50,000 Vedic Pandits have been trained. This program begins with training part-time in their local villages by Vedic elders at the age of 8 or 10 years of age and then at age 14 in one of 42 residential campuses around India. The Pandits can also continue their education through Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Vedic University (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Vedic Vishwavidyalaya) an accredited public university where they can earn their Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees. Their primary and secondary education is in the specially government recognized track of Vedic Education and is a very focused program of authentic education in the Vedic tradition and practices as revived by Maharishi.
All of the support for the Maharishi Vedic Pandits including their education, all their expenses and support for their families comes from donations. Funds are raised from donors through non-profit organizations around the world. As his final act in 2008 Maharishi established the BrahmanandaSaraswati Foundation and Trust to raise funds and a permanent endowment to support the program perpetually.
We are most grateful for MVVVP and the Pandits great contribution to the Peace and Harmony of America due to their participation in their group meditation and Vedic performance program. We consider this behavior by this very small number of Pandits in this very large project a small blemish in a great and historical project.
Some of the Pandits who have left have since returned to the campus. If you are in touch with any of those Pandits, please let them know that they can return to campus and then to India by calling the following phone number: (641) 919-9710.
Note: Below please find specific bullet points in response to the article published in Hi India on January 24 which certain publications have reproduced in some form, without apparent investigation or corroboration from GCWP or other sources. If you are one of those publications we request that a corrective article be promptly published. We invite you to the Pandit campus in Iowa at your convenience, and if you wish, to the facilities of our Indian organization in India. You may interview the administrators and Pandits directly at that time. The information contained in the January 24 article is false and quite damaging to the reputation of GCWP, the Pandits, and our Indian affiliates and its uncorrected republication without the information provided above and below would be defamatory.
V Specific Reply to Points inHi Indiaand related Articles
1. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been given information concerning Vedic Pandits leaving their USCIS and State Department approved program at the campus in Iowa, and ICE has been given passports, when not in the Pandits possession.
2. The Pandits who leave the program without returning to India are in violation of US Immigration Law and it is therefore a Federal matter, beyond the legal jurisdiction of local officials in Iowa or the Indian Consul General in Chicago (though the prior Consul General visited the Pandit campus in Iowa and expressed great pleasure at the program and facilities). Therefore, information that GCWP has or develops concerning the AWOL Pandits’ possible whereabouts, which is scant, has and continues to be provided to ICE for their investigation, which we presume is ongoing. As neither the local authorities in Iowa nor the Counsel General in Chicago have the proper resources to investigate these matters or the responsibility to enforce the immigration laws that may be violated by the Pandits and by the employers who may be employing them, they are not the authorities who have been contacted.
3. The Indian organization has been advised of the Pandits who leave in this fashion. ThesePandits, who are adults, have the responsibility to advise their families of their departure from the program (which we understand they have done). Their departure has occurred without any prior notice to Global Country of World Peace (GCWP), the US organization sponsoring them in the US.
4. All Pandits at the Iowa campus who are at the end of their two-year stay or who express a need to visit family in India and take a necessary leave, are transported to O’Hare airport with their luggage by campus staff, assisted with check-in and placed on the plane to India on that very day, at no expense. This is either by virtue of pre-purchased tickets or tickets purchased at the airport on previously known available seats. They all travel to India on the day taken to the airport and are not returned to campus, except for any Pandit who leaves on his own without notice before ticketing or boarding.
5. Only a small number of the over 2,600 Pandits, or about 5%, who have come on this unprecedented Vedic program to the US have left in this fashion. For the first four years of this program, it was a very small number. In recent months this number has been unfortunately increasing. It appears they have been induced by individuals providing false information of high (and unlawful) earnings, or by unscrupulous employers taking advantage of them. ICE may be identifying them but we are not privy to the details of their investigations. We understand from those who have left who returned to GCWP in Iowa, that they have been living in very unfortunate circumstances. Those Panditswho have left and then returned have been sent back to India immediately at no expense. The Pandits are, however, not forthright in providing any information on other Pandits whereabouts to GCWP as there is a strong code among them against doing so.
6. The Pandits leave in Chicago at the airport and some walk off the campus in Iowa. Those who go to Chicago do so after purportedly saying they have a family need to return to India. Sometimes this occurs when departing from the van at the airport, even before having their luggage unloaded, and sometimes after having gone through airport security. GCWP cannot force them to get on the plane or talk sense into them (they are of adult age), and that is when their travails begin.
7. There is a specified program and qualifications that the Pandits must have and engage in to qualify for their visa. This includes: the detailed Vedic activities of their spiritual vocation. This has all been thoroughly reviewed and approved by USCIS and the Department of State over the last 8 years through their extensive regulatory review processes. Four years of preparatory work with the US State Department prior to the commencement of the program was engaged in by GCWP.
8. Only those individuals who have many years of training in the Vedic performances by our Indian affiliate are accepted and qualified. The Pandits come from several states in India and from Nepal.
9. They are on R-1 visas. They are not in possession of a visa to be day laborers nor are they equipped to be such. Their visa only entitles them, and they are solely qualified to engage in, their spiritual vocation of meditation and Vedic performances. This involves morning meditation, morning Vedic performances, afternoon exercise and study and evening meditation and study. They are not subject to minimum wage laws in this spiritual or ministerial vocation, like monks in a monastery.
10. The Iowa campus has been specifically inspected and approved for this precise purpose by USCIS, for use as a site for R-1 Pandits (and visited by the prior Indian Consul General in Chicago with much appreciation).
11. The Pandits are thoroughly briefed on the terms of their engagement in India in Hindi in writing and orally and in the US upon arrival and are provided their benefits and care on those same terms.
12. No Pandit has ever come on the program under 18 years of age. Their average age is approximately 25, with the ages of those leaving ranging from 20-42, with the group generally being in the 20’s and 30’s
13. All of the Pandits’ housing, food, clothing, winter coats and boots, personal supplies, medical insurance and other needs are provided to them at no charge. It has been agreed with the Pandits that of the $200 per month base cash compensation, $150 will be transmitted to their families in India. It has been paid. Additional bonuses are paid based on longevity and status, and upon return to India those additional amounts are paid. In some cases, when the Pandits hurriedly leave in Chicago prior to their luggage being unloaded from the van, they may not have their clothing with them.
14. The Iowa campus is outfitted with a medical clinic staffed by two Western M.D.’s and a registered nurse. All inpatient and outpatient costs, and drug and hospital care for any and all needed treatments, are 100% covered at no cost to the Pandits. The medical care costs provided to the Pandits over the last 5 years have been in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
15. The Pandits all reside in modern, fully heated and air-conditioned comfortable modular homes, with an indoor and outdoor athletic facility and a large organic vegetarian kitchen and cafeteria, along with their meditation halls, classrooms, and Vedic performance halls. The conditions, they would all agree, are superior to those in India. You are invited to visit.
16. The Pandits are individuals of the Vedic Brahman tradition, many of whom come from small villages. The tradition in India is that young Pandits in training, between the years of 8 or 10 to 12 years old, receive their initial training in their villages with traditional Vedic teachers in Gurukuls. For those who wish continued training and education with the affiliated Indian Maharishi organization, they may study in residence at one of over 40 Vedic schools throughout India beginning at age 12-14 through age 18. After that, as they continue their training they move to progressively larger facilities, all at no expense to the Pandits or their families. This includes the ability to enroll in Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Vedic University, a public university in the state of Madhya Pradesh, where, if they wish, they can pursue their bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Those who wish, after they attain the age of around 20, but in no case under 18, may come on the US program if they agree to the two-year minimum term of the program. Many of the Pandits who have come for two-year terms to the US campus, ask to extend or return to the US after leave back in India.
17. The younger Pandits who enroll with the Indian organization’s schools receive a traditional Vedic Education, a type of education recognized and approved by the Indian educational authorities. This is not the conventional mainstream education, but rather focuses in great detail on the various branches of the Vedic knowledge, with Pandits typically choosing a specialty in a particular branch of the Veda, i.e, Rig, Sama, Yajur or AtharvaVed, to properly engage in the Vedic performances associated with a given branch. This system of traditional education has been revived by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in unparalleled scope and authenticity throughout these schools in India, for tens of thousands of students over the last 30 years to reinvigorate this great spiritual tradition of India. You are invited to visit these schools in India at your convenience.
18. Please Note: The Hi India report was replete with falsehoods and ignored several pages of information provided them, nor did the publication seek corroboration on many of the false statements contained therein; it should not be relied upon in any form. It is defamatory and very injurious to the reputation of GCWP and the Indian organizations.
For further information, or should you have any questions please contact Bill Goldstein: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone 641 472 1183, mobile 641 919 7899.