Mumbai is once again in the throes of a gripping criminal investigation. This time, it’s targeted against Sunil Kulkarni, founder of ‘Shifu Sunkriti’, an organisation that operates mainly off Facebook, and promises to “connect people to their brain and neural capacity for harmony” to “touch their inner animal, show its extreme and drag their souls.”
On Thursday, Mumbai police arrested Kulkarni after three sets of parents approached the Bombay High Court with a plea against the police for not filing an FIR against Kulkarni for brainwashing their children, despite their repeated efforts.
The Quint dives deep into the murky digital footprint of the alleged sex and drugs cult, Shifu Sunkriti and the man behind it all, Sunil Kulkarni.
Healing Through ‘Neuroplasticity Resilience’?
In an interview with Mumbai Mirror, Kulkarni clarified that “Shifu Sunkriti is not an organisation; it is [his] mystic name. Shifu means master, Sunkriti means Sun (reason) + Prakriti.” To propagate his ideas, he has created a Facebook page (and a less regularly updated Google+ page) of the same name through which he trains people on “neuroplasticity resilience”.
This practise is at the centre of Shifu Sunkriti, or at least that’s what every other post suggests. However, in neuroscience, while the two concepts of neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to rewire itself) and resilience (the ability of the brain to bounce back from adverse emotions) are significant, the two put together do not a known scientific process make. And even if one were to assume that Kulkarni helps people rewire their brains through experience and training to cultivate resilience – as the name suggests – that’s not what he claims ‘neuroplasticity resilience’ is or does.
“It is a total connect of a brain to the body through the spinal chord through the electrical energy through the endocrinal glands that is basically the chemical energy. When all this is brought together, we get connected to ourselves. To do that, you have to physically get naked before yourself and then look at your body, get friendly with your body, then you actually get emotionally naked,” Kulkarni explained to Mumbai Mirror on Thursday.
Interestingly, Sunil Kulkarni’s Linkedln profile suggests he is the Chairman of a Neuroplasticity Resilience Centre, with no address or digital sign of existence. The Shifu Sunkriti Center for Self Resilience, where some events are held, has the vague address of “Bandra, Mumbai Suburban”, but yields no results when traced through GPS. Police officers at the Bandra Police Station also deny having any knowledge of any such centre in the area.
The imagery on the page is trippy at best, and disturbing at worst. All of it – hallucinatory pictures, pop psychology-heard-before quotes, infographics on mental health – is picked up from Google image searches.
Most of the provocative images are followed by long (often cliched) photo captions about love, sex, sensuality, romance, relationships, chakras, mental health, existentialism, the soul, the brain, ‘neuroplasticity resilience’ (again), sexuality and even a whole five-part series for men on how to pleasure the five different types of yonis (vaginas) women have (they’re all named after flowers).
The page’s language is obfuscated. Big words, put illogically and repeatedly together and mumbo-jumbo mixed with pop psychology seems to be the tone of the page. For example: “I have been always reading the life of many people for making them aware of their own self and force them to accept realities of their life. Connect them to their inner hidden truth. Then let them accept the restrictive character. Then open their wild instinctive genetic character.”
Some important concepts such as equal treatment of women and mental health disorders come up every now and then, but they’re problematic in their own ways.
Every now and then, there is a call for applications to workshops, none of which have a public point of contact for further information. The only way to register for one is by either messaging Shifu Sunkriti your phone number or by emailing to a given ID.
Some workshops advertised were on finding a woman’s G-spot in ‘Andheri West’; on talking about ‘sexpectations’ humorously to remove the taboo around it (“Especially animation that features naked people with their private parts covered by those little leaves you see all the time in paintings of Adam and Eve, trying to figure out how to have sex”) in an address-less centre in Bandra; and of course, on “neuroplasticity resilience training” to learn about “life awakening” and “soul making” in just ‘Mumbai’. Go figure.
The Case Until Now
A Malad-based chartered accountant and his wife have come in the limelight after their two daughters, aged 23 and 21, left home to live with Kulkarni in January this year, and also accused their parents of domestic violence and confinement when they tried to stop them from meeting Kulkarni. The HC dismissed the girls’ statement that they left by their own choice, saying it was clear they had been brainwashed by Kulkarni.
“Kulkarni attracts girls in the age group of 18-25 years and captures their mind to such an extent that they cannot possibly think beyond him [...] After joining the group, youngsters are administered drugs, hypnotised, and made to have sex with Kulkarni and others,” said the plea.
On Thursday, Kulkarni was booked under various IPC sections including 370 (trafficking of persons), 328 (causing hurt by means of poison), 420 (cheating) and 292 (sale of obscene books) and under IT Act sections 67 (publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) and 67(a) (publishing or transmitting in the electronic form any material which contains sexually explicit act or conduct).