Gangaji is a neo-Advaita guru that teaches the self-inquiry method of realizing your true nature, much akin to Ramana Maharshi and her own guru, Papaji. She was one of many Westerners authorized to teach by the latter, though this is disputed by some.

Her experience with Papaji led to her spiritual enlightenment when, at his prompting, she stopped pursuing the matter. In the depths of silence, she became self-realized and continues to be so. That’s the official story, anyway. Her own master disputes her spiritual enlightenment — see the video below.

Spiritual enlightenment on the cheap

While Papaji may have been spiritually enlightened, he had a knack for gifting questionable spiritual teachers to the world, including Mooji and Andrew Cohen. Like Gangaji, they both advocate the Advaita path to liberation.

Gangaji with her guru, Papaji

Gangaji with her guru, Papaji

“One of the tragedies of Poonjaji’s teaching ministry is that he either told, inferred, or allowed hundreds of individuals to believe they were fully enlightened simply because they’d had one, or many, powerful experiences of awakening. These “enlightened” teachers then proceeded to enlighten their own students in a similar way, and thus was born what is known as the “neo-Advaita“, or “satsang” movement in western culture.” – Eyes Wide Open: Cultivating Discernment on the Spiritual Path.

The unfortunate consequence of the influence of these neo-Advaita teachers is that they have discouraged spiritual practices which have helped students bridge the gap between the mind and Spirit for aeons. You’re simply meant to “get it”. The mind, however, can easily deceive itself.

How many thousands of students have stayed exactly where they are, deluding themselves into believing they are enlightened by simply thinking along certain lines? Many of these same people have gone on to teach others. It’s a perpetual cycle.

In the meantime, Gangaji and her husband, Eli Jaxon-Bear, a fellow spiritual teacher, have grown wealthy and run their organization like a business. That’s in spite of her husband admitting to cheating on her for 3 years with a younger disciple. Yes, this same husband was also proclaimed enlightened by Papaji and asked to teach Westerners. Doesn’t say much.

The bottom line

Last we checked, self-inquiry does not necessitate a guru. Be discerning in where you place your time, energy and money. These gurus talk a good game, and this may be helpful as self-inquiry is a proven method, but it is doubtful that they have achieved any lasting spiritual enlightenment beyond the experiences they had at the feet of their own guru, Papaji.

“Self-realization is the willingness to stand as the Buddha, as the Christ, as every great icon we have had throughout time. Self-realization is not for the faint of heart.” – Gangaji.


  1. Gangaji is amazing!!! One of the greatest teachers I’ve ever seen in my entire life!!!

    • How can she be a great teacher if she doesn’t even have a teaching? Simply being charismatic and lovely doesn’t make someone a good teacher.

      • What is Eckhart Tolle’s teaching? Not sure I understand why you say Gangaji has no teaching?

    • For me, the teaching – or message or idea – that resonated most with me was the idea that it is a mistake to take a concept like enlightenment and turn it into an object that can be “got”.

      I don’t understand the purpose of this website. If it’s an attempt to warn people about predatory ‘gurus’ I’m all for that. Where’s the article on Sogyal Rinpoche?

      But if it’s just a ranking of gurus, I find that a strange approach to spirituality. There are many paths, many teachings and many teachers. Two people might have exactly the same teaching but one may use words that resonate with some people while they mean nothing to another person.

      It is interesting to note you don’t rate any female teachers very highly.

  2. I have listened to Gangaji, and she strikes me as a MESSENGER – not a teacher – as Papaji himself has said (see above video – Papaji Satsang: The fake messengers). Listening to her one hears a message of the possibility of liberation, but if ego inserts itself then a hypnosis takes over the messenger and the listener – then both believe they are on a privileged path of liberation.

  3. This review demonstrates a fundamental ignorance of Gangaji’s teaching (an yes, she DOES have a teaching, though she prefers to call it an “invitation”, because she doesn’t want to play the role of guru.) The Diamond in Your Pocket is by far the best distillation of her teaching. ANYONE who presumes to “rate” Gangaji, and hasn’t read this book in its entirety, is offering nothing but ignorant, journalistic blather. For example: contrary to what the reviewer claims above, Gangaji is only discouraging of spiritual practices that are undertaken in a such a way that the practitioner presumes the existence of an “un-enlightened” self, which is somehow going to become “enlightened”, and thereby encourages all the tail-chasing mind-activity, associated with the “eternal seeker” … on the contrary, she is totally in favor of practices (of which there are many, she affirms) which quiet the mind and its constant chatter around the belief in the existence an un-enlightened self, which is somehow going to attain something called “enlightenment”. Practices of that sort are like trying to clear muddy water by doing a lot of stuff to it, in an effort to get rid of the mud… which only stirs it up more. Practices of the authentic sort are analogous to letting the mud settle, and thereby revealing the pure water that was always there. Nowhere does she ever say that this only needs to be done once! ( It’s true that there is a serious semantic problem with the word “practice” … do you mean it as in “I practice medicine”? Or do you mean it as in “I practice the piano, to become a better player.”? I tend to use the former meaning, and Gangaji often implies the latter meaning… but once I get how she’s using it, I have no problem at all with what she’s saying… and my daily practice is entirely in accord with her teaching … which is very profound. Check it out, and read (or listen to the audio mp4 download) The Diamond in Your Pocket, instead of listening to half-baked opinions about Gangaji. She’s not a “neo-Advaita” at all in my opinion.

    • Perhaps the last couple of sentences about “practice” need to be cleared up: according to Gangaji, if our spiritual practice is of the type as in “I practice the piano, to become a better player,” then it’s not a true spiritual practice — perhaps it’s about the future, and about obtaining future power, but it’s NOT about Realization. (Not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with power in itself … but beware of confusing it with spirituality!). True practice is NOT about becoming something in the future, it’s about being who you are, here and now… it’s more like the usage of the word as in “I practice medicine.”

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