Mar 16, 2014

Response to SYDA's letter denouncing the article about Eat Pray Love and Siddha Yoga

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I personally knew many of the people who have commented on this letter, and who were and are trustees. I personally know that they know the facts about Siddha Yoga. I know that they know the following:

  • that Swami Muktananda was a sexual predator who molested scores of women, including minor girls, lied about it, and threatened those who told the truth with violence;
  • that Gurumayi, Muktananda's successor after his death, encouraged and enjoyed a campaign of harassment and violence against her brother when she wanted to remove him from power within the organization;
  • that Gurumayi routinely lied to her followers, had her followers spied upon, and publicly humiliated followers by revealing information they had shared with her privately;
  • that Gurumayi blamed young women in the ashram for what happened to them when they were seduced and molested by male leaders there, and protected and defended the molesters.

These are just a few of the more concrete abuses that can be cited. More difficult to describe is the environment of intimidation, the belligerence, the control over every aspect of the followers lives, the exploitation of workers who are expected to work endless hours without pay or benefits and yet made to feel guilty and ashamed for never giving enough.

Additionally, the premise that there is a human being, in this case Gurumayi, who is self-proclaimed to be a "fully realized master" means what? that everyone else who is not a "realized master" is inferior to her? Such a premise is simply a means by which Gurumayi profits through the subjugation of others who have come to believe that they too can have a little piece of that superior status. All you have to do is follow the leader, no matter where she leads.

Sure, VIPs, or SCs as they are known in the ashram (Special Consideration guests) like Elizabeth Gilbert, wouldn't see any of this or have a clue. They do not have exposure to the hidden world of the inner circles around Gurumayi. The rich and famous get the sanitized Siddha Yoga. Folks without money willing to devote their lives to what they think of as a true religion get a very different experience.

I know that these trustees and many of these followers personally know of all these abuses and so much more deception, corruption and abuse, from the earliest days of Swami Muktananda, to the present. That they continue to choose to deny these facts is tragic, but also despicable. SYDA sells spiritual enlightenment through devotion to the guru, at a very steep price: your integrity, your moral values, and your independent and critical thinking. And after you give all those things up, and delude yourself into thinking you are still aspiring toward enlightenment, your only choices are either to tell the truth and leave Siddha Yoga - or stay and become a denier and defender of abuse, exploitation and corruption.  The facts that SYDA and its apologists want to deny are readily available in media articles and personal testimonies. See the website that I maintain at

Since I left Siddha Yoga, I receive an endless stream of hate mail from the deniers - I'm sure more of that will follow this post. That's what Siddha Yoga spirituality is about - vilify critics, deny abuse, and keep filling those Swiss bank accounts. Caveat Emptor!

Daniel Shaw Nyack, NY