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From Skype satsangs to YouTube samadhis, your guide to armchair mysticism

Spiritually once belonged to those who braved the thin mountaintop air and punishing solitude. In the age of social networking, though, fulfillment comes as fast as your broadband speed. Holy men are conducting satsangs on Skype, uploading aphorisms on Twitter, lecturing on YouTube, and dispensing wisdom on spiritual networking sites. And their followers like it.

And ‘like’, they do incessantly on Speaking Tree, a spiritual networking website launched by the Times Group last year. Members are divided into Enlightened Souls and their followers, Wandering Souls and Awakened Souls, the latter reduced to caps lock-and-ellipses addicted rapture by the dizzying possibility of private-messaging their gods. ‘O MY DEAREST PARAMATMA...’ begins one message with multiple likes on Sri Sri Ravishankar’s wall. ‘I KNOW THAT YOU ARE MY ATMA.. PLEASE ACCEPT MY INFINITE LOVE AND THANKS AGAIN AND AGAIN.’

Walls also reverberate with desolate cris de coeur: ‘y i loose control.....y i go to extream..y i cross d limit.....which result me 2 left me alone..lonely..sad....’ goes one message on Sri Sri’s wall. The site has an indisputable advantage: affording contact with leaders like Osho and L Ron Hubbard, despite their passing.

Yogiraj Siddhanath, coiffed like William Blake’s God, is accessible through every interface you can dream of. He lectures on YouTube, is prolific on Twitter and has his own networking site. His disciples faithfully re-tweet his whereabouts as he flits between Europe, America and his Himalayan forest retreat, as well as the ecstatic declarations he dispenses along the way. Such as: ‘Open the petals of your heart and let the light and love pour through.’ “It’s all outreach to the masses,” Yogiraj declares grandly, on a brief visit to Delhi. “Through YouTube, about 10,000-20,000 people have experienced my samadhi.” Many more, he says, have experienced startling coincidences. “One blonde Spanish lady with an LV bag came to me once,” says Yogiraj, “and thanked me for the wonderful experience she’d had while watching my talk on YouTube, when a hand came out of the screen and slapped her to a higher consciousness.” But there’s another gentler kind of high-speed communication that Yogiraj eventually hopes to switch over to: “God thought,” he says. “Spiritual energy is faster than light. It’s a means of developing future telepathy.”