I would like to share the following brave post by Amit Surana questioning Swami Satyananda’s involvement in the sexual abuse and abuse and manipulation of his disciples that have been brought to light in the recent hearing through the Royal Commission in Australia who are investigating this.
The following post does contain some triggering issues about sexual abuse and brings the guru – disciple relationship into question, so please do be aware. If you are questioning the involvement of Swami Satyananda and also Niranjan I would encourage you to read the first 3 comments on this post that are links to statements people have made with regards to this question.
Personally, I think the ashram has handled this situation shockingly and I am increasingly shocked by the lack of true and responsible acknowledgement and accountability by many Satyandanda organisations who continue to use his name. While there may be some value in the teachings, they do not belong to Satyananda and do not require his name to continue to benefit people, nor do they need to be attached to any system or dogma. They were never his to begin with. It does not take a genius to link body movement with the breath and other yoga practices predate his teachings and his life. He deserves no name and no respect in my eyes. None.
Furthermore, the ashram in India continues to fail to acknowledge what has happened and further investigation into what is happening in the present day remains undone. The sheer lack of acknowledgement and accountability represents nothing to do with yoga as far as I am concerned. People in India are being sheltered from the truth and told that the people who are now reporting the child and sexual abuse through the ashram are lying. The power that a guru can have over a disciple is strong and many are willing to believe what their guru says because they have been fed with a lot of fear about their karma if they don’t. This is a huge manipulation of power that, I believe, we are close to maturing out of as a culture and through our evolution as humans.
I do not stand for sexual abuse nor manipulation or abuse of power when in a position of authority. I have and am withdrawing myself from any organisation that supports this tradition (Satyananda Yoga) through the sale of their books, products or name. I urge anyone who is part of the ‘yoga world’ to do the same. Every time you buy one of their books you give money to the organisation that supports it to continue. The knowledge is widely available elsewhere so there is no need to get it from their books. There are many teachers out there today who come from a much less self interested perspective, why not support them as oppose to famous ‘gurus’ who abuse their position?
I trained with the Satyananda yoga academy and spent time at the ashram in Mungher and in Rikhia before I knew anything about this. I can not change the past. I have gained a lot of ‘knowledge’ and experience through my time there… and I am deeply disappointed and feel betrayed by their actions past and present. I disassociated with the school internally many years ago. I stepped away from gurus quite a while back now as I wanted to listen to my own inner voice, to be able to hear it clearly as it is the one the guides me with the greatest integrity. This voice can become clouded over by the voices of others to the point where it can become hard to hear. To anyone who is finding it hard to hear, hard to let go of this tradition, I truly suggest seeking support during this time. It may take some unraveling if the grooves are deeply ingrained.
We are human beings and we all have within us all the wisdom and all the answers that we need in any given moment (even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time). If there is an ethical guru out there, they will not let you become dependant on them, they will not play power games with you that mimics co-dependency, they will not give you all the answers and disempower your journey to find them for yourself.
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” – Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903
It is never too late to change the direction of your path. It may take some time and feel uncomfortable in the process of unraveling, but this is the journey into what is true. It was never going to be a delicious, delicate journey wrapped in cotton wool. Brushing up upon our edges help us to see where we are stuck and so make space for growth. In the same respect, there is no use in beating ourselves up about our past actions. Sure, feel remorse, make amends, apologise where needs be and most importantly, breathe, turn courageously towards it and gently, slowly, compassionately allow it to unfold, feel those uncomfortable feelings and allow yourself to integrate and evolve. (This is where support is helpful – there are so many resources through somatic psychotherapy, body based practices that are not driven by dogma, close friends, shadow work etc – something that actually faces the issue as oppose to dampens it down with ‘niceties’ ).
If this does mean anything to you, please do take some time to read and to consider the choices you make when signing on to a workshop / buying books using under the ‘Satyandana “Yoga” ‘ name.
All thanks and much love and may we live with integrity, in truth and with the deepest respect for each other and our planet.