Swami Satyananda Saraswati was just another evil pervert
While he preached abstinence, a Yoga guru who founded the global Satyananda movement raped and assaulted teenagers, an official inquiry was told .
Swami Satyananda Saraswati engaged in “aggressive, violent sex” with numerous women and may have raped a seven-year-old, despite preaching chastity, an Australian inquiry has heard.
Bhakti Manning, who belonged to a Satyananda ashram in Australia as a child, told Australia’s royal commission into child sex abuse that Swami Satyananda Saraswati subjected her to degrading sex in front of strangers when she was 16 during a visit to India.
In Australia she was abused by the global yoga guru’s disciple Swami Akhandananda Saraswati, who led the Mangrove Mountain retreat in Australia.
Manning said the Indian guru, who died in 2009, was aware that she had been made to have sex with a series of spiritual leaders.
“That made me realise that he had been already targeting or grooming me, and I realised he knew what Akhandananda … had done to me,” she told the commission.
“You were told what positions to assume, what to do. I remember one occasion when I was told to go and wash myself afterwards, I couldn’t walk … aggressive, violent sex… There were women in the room when he had sex with me.”
Satyananda was “worshipped like a saint” and ashram residents would have regarded the abuse as a privilege rather than a crime.
“The only person who was going to be considered criminal, if I reported it to the people at the ashram, was me, for being a bad disciple and not accepting what the guru had chosen to do to me for my own good,” she said.
Another woman told the commission that she was sexually abused by several men at the ashram in the 1970s.
“There were a group of five or six male swamis in the room. I was held down by my arms and legs and Akhandananda had sexual intercourse with me,’’ she said.
The woman said that she may have been raped by Satyananda at age seven when he visited the ashram.
“I have impressions of him being on top of me. It makes me nauseous, but for years I have swatted away the thought that he raped me as my entire childhood I was raised to believe he was like a god,” she said.
“It was not just the times, it was not just the 70s, the adults need to own the choices that they made — they were the ones who put us kids in that situation.”
The organisation itself does not appear to be taking any responsibility for its founder’s antics and appears to think it is all a local problem made by Saraswati.
The Bihar School of Yoga, founded by Satyananda sent a sharply critical email to the Australian Ashram slamming them for not taking responsibility for the sexual abuse allegations and potentially tainting the Satyananda name.
“From our perspective, there is no accountability or concern for yoga in Australia,” the email read. “No one is prepared to take responsibility for the situation. After a lifetime of support for Australia, Swami Niranjan and the Bihar School of Yoga in disgust withdraw their support.”
However some members of the global yoga community are calling for a full on Satyananda boycott, including the methods, its books and its literature.
Blogger and author Matthew Remski, in a recent blog post, lends his support to a boycott and touches on a pivotal breaking point we’ve reached in modern yoga – the need for transparency and the dangers of cult-like yoga faiths where power is too commonly abused.