Hafta letters: Jaggi Vasudev, Mayawati jokes, contrarian voices on Hafta

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

WrittenBy:NL Team
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Dear All,

In the last Hafta discussion, there was a question about whether your reporting on Jaggi Vasudev will ever make him pay in front of the law, to which Abhinandan had replied that your job is limited to reporting the facts.

As a PhD researcher studying guru discourses in the public sphere, I can very confidently say that you are doing much more than that. As a part of my PhD project, I stayed in Germany and attended the flagship courses by the Isha Foundation (for almost 200 Euros!). I remember many Europeans were quite curious about the guru’s image in India, and back then there was nothing on Jaggi in terms of investigative reports in the public domain. As I spoke to a few participants, I remember some of them telling me that they did look out for critical reviews of the guru before paying up for the course.

Despite being a star of an urban guru, Jaggi is really understudied, and your pieces will be extremely useful not only for potential and current followers, but also for other researchers and journalists working on the Isha Foundation. On a more optimistic note, one may expect foreign governments being more conservative about the organization building huge ashrams on their land. Besides, it is often journalists who are the first to contribute towards major changes taking place. Remember it was a brave journalist’s work that played a huge part in bringing down Ram Rahim. For the curious, I am also sending a link to the story of one of the bhakts of Ram Rahim who was castrated and ended up being an unpaid slave for decades, until he got the courage to come out. If it wasn’t for journalists like these, we would never know the extent of the harm that the excesses of these gurus can lead to!

I congratulate Prateek Goyal for his brave reporting and I can imagine the pieces will already be irksome to the founder leader. As such media savvy “hyper” gurus have huge PR teams working for them, you can expect a response from his side soon!

On a different note, since I am studying guru discourses like that of Jaggi Vasudev, I could send in a long list of various dubious claims that he has often made in his publications and monthly journals. Please let me know if such a contribution would be helpful in your next piece on Jaggi!

The story of Hansraj Chauhan.

Thanks again for the brave reporting!

Himani Kapoor


Hi NL Team,

Pinarayi Vijayan is not from a Scheduled Caste. He is an Ezhava. The Ezhavas are the politically dominant and numerically largest Hindu community in Kerala. They are classified as OBC. Pretty disappointing that your guest from Kerala did not know this.

Harish Nair


Thanks for getting back to me.

I know that NL Hafta is debating without any filter, but I just pointed out how Mehraj and Jayashree keep on repeating the same thing again and again.

I hope being a subscriber my mail will be read out on NL hafta and my viewpoints regarding Mehraj, Jayashree and others will be heard on Hafta.

Thanks and Regards,

Dave Chintan


Hey Newslaundry team,

Congrats for pushing out the sole contrarian voice on NL Hafta, Anand Vardhan. Now Hafta sounds like a perfect happy family where everyone agrees with everyone and discusses millionaire Japanese American Naomi Osaka's tantrums for 18 minutes on a show of an hour.

Firstly, I would like to bring to light the fact that Ms Jayashree clearly said, "Hinduism is a part of an oppressive system while Christianity is not so. Christian prayers in school are okay but prarthana is not.” I can't believe if the opposite would have been said, everyone on Hafta would have chewed the person alive. Also, the discussion on jokes about Mayawati was disappointing. I have always respected Mayawati but all politicians are cracked jokes on and they take it head on, including BJP’s former national president who was from the Dalit community, Bangaru Laxman whom Abhinandan Sekhri has made countless vulgar jokes about. Can you look outside of your woke cacophony?

Dev Mishra


Hello everyone,

This email is to point out Anand Vardhan's frequent attacks on his listeners disguised as self-deprecation. I just couldn't wrap my head around it when I heard Anand calling himself a failure. When I first heard this, my dumb response was that of sympathy. But when he repeated this many times in subsequent Hafta's, I understood there is more to it, which my little mind is not able to grasp. After much thought I am convinced he is extremely proud of himself. But this is Anand's way of belittling and Alphaing listeners like me. A well-informed man who presents such well-thought-through views, teaching IAS students calls himself a failure. Then what chance do people like me have of success? And if he is being honest, then when is life ever good?

Hafta is my favourite. You guys are doing a fabulous job. Keep well and stay safe!

Kind regards,

Prasad Vasudevan


Hi NL Hafta,

I tend to agree with Manisha's conspiracy theory that the government is purposely spreading vaccine hesitancy. In fact, I have heard this from several people, including a brother-in-law of mine who is a journalist and runs a local daily.

That Ramdev has been "sent" to scare people away from vaccines so that they don't ask for them makes sense even though there isn't any proof of it. But that's what conspiracy theories are. The fact that he stands to make money out of it also adds to the suspicion of collusion between him and the government.

On a side note, I had NL mirror my subscription to this email so now I don't know which address I should mail you guys from. When I sent in something to A&A months ago, it got ignored so I think it was because of this technicality.

Also looking forward to reviewing the app!

Best regards to everyone because it's hard to pick favourites from this team, whether it's the ground reporters, the editors, or the panelists.

Sania Aziz


Dear all,

Please keep my mail anonymous. I have been a regular of Hafta since its inception. I have found that the quality of conversation on Hafta has been deteriorating with each week. Moreover, I can predict every time what panelists like Abhinandan and Mehraj would have to say on a particular topic. Manisha surprises me sometimes, but she is also becoming predictable. Only Anand and Raman sir I feel have something relevant to say on issues of the week. Moreover, NL interviews and your opinion pieces have become boring and one dimensional. I feel that publications like the Wire and the Print are really giving you guys tough competition in terms of reportage, interviews and opinion pieces.

For example, I recently saw this interview on the Wire which had a fresh take on the RSS’s functioning and ideology. Sorry to say, I do not see NL ever calling such a guest because your thinking has become a little rigid.

Moreover, I found something problematic in Newslaundry's series on Jaggi Vasudev. I found very similar reports on Jaggi Vasudev's land grab on the Wire done four years ago. These articles have links to other reports in other publications. If this information was already in the public domain before Newslaundry's series, what new information have you come up with in your investigation?




Although I agree with you that casteism is really the biggest issue we face in our society, I would like to disagree a bit on some jokes made about Mayawati. Although she is Dalit, she is also a public figure and former chief minister of the largest state. A lot of jokes on her looks stemmed from her decision to use public money to erect her own status. A self-statue is one’s statement based on their looks and also a reflection of self-delusion. The counter argument that asks why lower caste leaders cannot erect monuments is half-baked. In my mind a park was a great idea ruined by narcissistic tendencies.


Ashish Chaudhary


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