GURU RATING: 1 / 5 (AVOID)
Nithyananda spent time training as a yogi with his master, Yogiraj Yoganandya Puri. Years later, on the auspicious date of January 1st, 2000, he experienced an explosion of enlightenment.
He claims to be able to do levitation, teleportation, and materialization. The swami also writes that he’s cured a variety of chronic diseases by simply touching the afflicted.
The controversial guru
Swami Nithyananda has been tainted by a variety of scandals, including being videotaped having sex with one of his disciples, an Indian actress. The local media and police were all over it.
The Swami claimed that he was not in a full state of awareness at the time, and that he had asked the disciple to stop.
Was the supremely enlightened guru with a variety of siddhis to his name raped by his student? The recording does not confirm this.
The guru later stated that he was practicing a tantra spiritual technique. With tantra, traditionally taboo acts, like sex, are used to reach greater spiritual heights.
Other disciples have said that they signed tantra sex contracts with the guru, which only furthered the controversy.
Either way, no charges were pressed by the woman and, according to reports, she remains a disciple in his Ashram.
An assessment of the Swami
What are we to make of this guru’s behaviour?
Is Swami Nithyananda really an avatar with special powers? He certainly does not act like one.
Would an avatar need sexual intercourse to reach greater spiritual heights? Of course not. An avatar is a living embodiment of the Divine on Earth.
If the Swami was having sex for the benefit of his disciple, then he would not have put out a statement about her taking advantage of him.
If he was merely having consensual sex with a woman, then he could have simply said so. This would have been unpopular with the mainstream Indian culture as gurus are expected to behave according to certain traditional standards, but at least it would have been honest. Why should a spiritual master, an avatar even, be beholden to tradition?
On top of this, he spent days actively evading the local police. Why would an avatar run away from law enforcement? Could police really intimidate an immortal being?
Even Jesus encouraged his followers to pay their taxes… “Give what is Ceasar to Ceasar’s…and what is God’s to God.” Nithyananda, instead, would have you run from the law. That’s his demonstration.
It is telling that his organization is now stepping away from his leadership. They’ve found another photogenic guru to take the helm.
Update December 2019:
Indian border officials and embassies have issued an alert for a fugitive guru accused of rape, the government said, days after the holy man announced the creation of his own “cosmic” country. – Indian border officials on lookout for fugitive cosmic guru
The bottom line
We recommend avoiding Nithyananda. Smoke does not always indicate fire, but one would be foolish to ignore it.
“You always see the world the way you are, not the way the world is.” — Swami Nithyananda