GURU RATING: 1 / 5 (AVOID)
She has been hounded by controversy ever since she won a power struggle with her brother, Swami Nityananda, which was well documented in this New Yorker article, for control over a wealthy sect of Western and modern Hindus known as “Siddha Yoga.”
She has ashrams, or places of worship, gathering and service in New York state, the San Francisco bay area and outside Mumbai, India, all of which profess to be serving humanity through Gurumayi’s direction and wisdom.
Many people have left this guru and claim she is nothing more than a cult leader who drains people of their time, money, energy and self-dignity. See more at Leaving Siddha Yoga.
Most humorous is the idea that many former members have claimed that Gurumayi confers the path to enlightenment to disciples through sex, in an initiation called shaktipat. While this is a Hindu tradition, Gurumayi has brought some Western ideas into what was originally an innocent and grace-filled gift from guru to student. This history of sexual abuse was supposedly initiated by Swami Muktananda, a famous Bhakti guru who passed away over 50 years ago.
Among the more famous followers of Gurumayi have been the actors William Hurt, Barbara Streisand and Melanie Griffith.
Definitely AVOID this one.
- Leaving Siddha Yoga – The Stories
- Official website
- New York Times article about sexual abuse in yoga communities.
If a cult-of-personality is dependent upon widespread propaganda and deception, then, the problem with yoga is not just the teachers that fall susceptible to the lure of power. Rather, the problem is that people believe the lie that yoga is somehow categorically different than all other systems. The reason people believe this lie is because the charismatic leaders discourage critical thinking in favor of submission and acceptance, which is reinforced by the benefits that come from being in the good graces and high favor of the leader. Further, because the followers have raised the leaders to such a high position, thoughtlessness now permeates a community that could be vibrantly creative, a community that could significantly contribute to the world in general.” ~ Jennifer Richard