The History of Siddha Yoga
What they don’t want you to know.



NOTE: Siddha Yoga has recently released their new history in a book called: Meditation Revolution: A History and Theology of the Siddha Yoga Lineage.They breify discuss Nityananda's 'fall from grace', but leave many interesting details out. A through discussion of that book is in the works. Stay tuned.

Jan 98


As a participant of Siddha Yoga you quickly learn that the lineage of Siddha Yoga goes back to the beginning of time, to Shiva himself. What I hope to do here is provide an alternative view of what we and thousands others have believed for years. Much of what I have gathered here is not verifiable as it taken from word of mouth. Some of it is so obvious that it is not even commented upon by the populace; unable to see the forest for the trees. As this is meant to be a dynamic report, if you have something that is not reported please send it along.

First, I’ll start with a brief history of Siddha Yoga as given to the public by SYDA. But that’s where the trouble starts. What you are told today, is not what you were told before the split between Nityananda and Chidvilasananda. So, to start we have two SYDA versions.

bulletSYDA claims that Muktananda was given the lineage by Swami Nityananda (c.1900 – 1961) of Ganeshpuri. Muktananda (1908 – 1982) gave the lineage to Swami Nityananda (1963- ) and Swami Chidvilasananda (1955 - ), brother and sister. Nityananda of Ganeshpuri was said to have been born enlightened and his guru was in a prior life.
bulletCurrently, people are told the above except that the brother, Nityananda is left out. If you ask, you will be told that he was given the lineage but couldn’t hold it. He broke his vows and left.

So here’s the rest of the story.

First a note on the phrase "Siddha Yoga". While it is a 'registered trademark' of SYDA, Nityananda of Ganeshpuri nor the current trust that runs his Samadhi shrine have ever used that term. There are others outside of South Fallsburg and Ganeshpuri though that do. The Spiritweb Org, promoting spiritual conscience on the Internet by Kurt Keutzer has a section called Siddha Mahayoga FAQ in which he describes the different variations of Siddha Yoga and those who have taught it. He mentions several other Indian guru’s who practice this tradition in addition to Muktananda.

Muktananda traveled India for years, spending time with many guru’s some of them revered in Siddha Yoga history as enlightened beings.

We do know that Muktananda went to Ganeshpuri and spent time with Nityananda. Muktananda claims lineage to Nityananda of Ganeshpuri. Nityananda himself NEVER made a public announcement giving the lineage to Muktananda or anyone else for that matter. Nityananda did not leave his ashram to Muktananda. Rather there is a trust1 that governs the shrine and ashram. The only written recordings2 of Nityananda are owned by people other than Siddha Yoga.

In fact there are several others, up to 10 by one account, who also claim lineage to Nityananda. Two of these "successors" have their samadhi shrines in Ganeshpuri. A comic book called "Gurudev Nityananda" 1990 published by the trust, which is the only found written publication from the trust addressing the issue, lists Muktananda as one of three "disciples of sri gurudev". (That it is in comic book form should not dismiss the validity of the document. Their intent was to reach as many people as possible). They do not collaborate Muktananda’s and SYDA’s claim to a lineage. In fact, they do not use the phrase "Siddha Yoga" at all to describe themselves or Nityananda. This is what it states at the end of the publication:

Disciples of Sri Gurudev

Sri Jananand Swami

Though he spent many years with Gurudev, Sri Jananand Swami lived most of his later life in the Kanhagad cave complex built by Gurudev during His days in Kerala and South Kananra. Sri Jananand Swami took his Samadhi in 1982.

Sri Shaligram Swami

Sri Shaligram Swami lived in Ganeshpuri for many years. He took this Samadhi in Ganeshpuri only a few months before Gurudev Nityananda. His Samadhi shrine is in Ganeshpuri, a few feet away from Gurudev’s shrine.

Swami Muktananda Paramahamsa

Soon after Gurudev Nityananda took Mahasamadhi, Swami Muktananda Paramahamsa, who had lived many years with the great Master, began to spread the Master’s name and teaching not only all over India but also all over the world. For twenty years, Swami Muktananda traveled extensively founding meditation centres, where people could pursue spiritual practices, and building temples dedicated to Gurudev Nityananda. His main ashram is Gurudev Siddha Peeth in Ganeshpuri. After his Mahasamadhi, it is his disciple, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, she passes on the Siddha Yoga experience to the devotees.

Several years ago Chidvilasananda tried to gain control of the trustees of the Nityananda Samadhi Shrine. She was partially successful.

Nityananda is described by SYDA as an avahudt, an enlightened guru who is not in touch with conventional society. He is described as someone who communicated with grunts and looks. Actually as already mentioned, Nityananda did speak and those words are recorded. However, as Nityananda did not seem to speak much in his later years and since Muktananda didn’t lay claim to the lineage until after Nityananda died, there was / is no way to verify the claims. What we do know is that the ONLY claim to the lineage comes from Muktananda himself.

During his years as head of Siddha Yoga, Muktananda is known to have asked a swami by the name of Prakashananda, also a devotee of Nityananda, several times to take the lineage. Prakashananda was regarded by all as an enlightened being, because Muktananda said he was. Prakashananda, recently deceased in India, refused each time. After Chidvilasananda took over she condemned Prakashananda and claimed he was doing black magic and forbade any one to see him.

In about 1978, in Ganeshpuri, there was a great deal of controversy about a young charismatic sadhu who lived on a nearby mountaintop. He was seen by Siddha Yoga devotees in town. Many said he was a reincarnation or successor to Nityananda and his photos were sold in many of the local shops. At that time Muktananda forbade anyone from his ashram from shopping where these photo's were sold.

One account from an ex Siddha Yoga person reports his conversation with an Indian devotee of Nityananda in Ganeshpuri who was at Nityananda's death bed. That person stated that Nityananda made no mention of passing the lineage on to Muktananda at his death.

It was a surprise to everyone, including Nityananda himself, when in 1980, Muktananda announced that he was passing the lineage to him. Muktananda did say that Nityananda was entering the "university" and time would tell if he graduated or not. Granted Muktananda gave Subash Shetty his guru’s name and many people wondered what that might mean. It wasn’t until after that first announcement, that under pressure from Chidvilasananda herself, she was named as co-successor. So, on that fateful day, in May of 1982, both Nityananda and Chidvilasananda were placed on the throne in a special ceremony.

(That ceremony was on video tape called "The Passage of Power" but was recalled by Siddha Yoga for re-editing. They never sent them back, rather they gave people a free intensive).

Thirty days or so after Muktananda’s death, another ceremony was held formally installing them as the co-guru’s of Siddha Yoga. I remember that day. I was in Ganeshpuri. I remember Nityananda’s rather emotional speech when he stated that people were trying to split the two of them. The handwriting was on the wall.

A side note: George Afif, a devotee from Ann Arbor who ran many construction and decorating projects at the ashram plead no contest to statutory rape in 1983. The victim was a teen aged girl of a high placed devotee of Siddha Yoga. At the time Nityananda pressed for his banishment from Siddha Yoga. After a time, Afif came back. Allegedly involved romantically with Chidvilasananda before and after her being named as the guru, it is thought that George may have played a role in the ousting of Nityananda.

Flash forward a few years, October 1985. I remember sitting in one of the Siddha Yoga ashrams at a special community meeting when we were all told that Nityananda was going into retirement. He had gone "into silence" just before this announcement was made in Ganeshpuri. (This period of silence seems to correspond with the time that he was being held against his will by Chidvilasananda). Needless to say everyone was shocked.

By this time, people generally preferred one guru over the other, as their styles were / are quite different. We were told that Nityananda’s tenure was temporary, for 3 years, and he was going into a recluse type of spiritual life. The problem is that no one except the people running Siddha Yoga can remember Muktananda saying it was only a 3 year period.

We were to burn all his pictures immediately. Something about breaking the attachments to him and helping us to focus on the "real guru", Chidvilasananda. Many of us were quite suspicious of this obvious manipulation.

Suddenly, we were being told that there was more to it. Nityananda had been sleeping with some women, some of them swami’s, and had broken his vows. He had agreed to step down and then he wanted to come back and Chidvilasananda said no. This coincided with an article in an Indian newspaper where Nityananda claimed to have been assaulted and held against his will by his sister, Chidvilasananda.

Much of this was documented in a series of articles and releases from SYDA themselves and may be found on this site. (See the articles section). It was at this moment that Siddha Yoga came crashing down for thousands of devotees. While the allegations (see the Rodamor article on the site, under articles) of sexual abuse were even more damaging, for the most part many people simply didn’t believe them and Muktananda was dead. But when we received the 3/23/86 message from the foundation and Chidvilasananda herself telling us how messed up Nityananda had been even prior to his sexual liaisons. This was meant to show how unenlightened Nityananda was and why he didn’t deserve to come back as the guru. What it also showed was Chidvilasananda trying to convince him to stay on as the guru prior to all of this. Obviously it wouldn’t have looked good for him to step down. But when it had gone too far and the pressure came on, they had no choice but to try and get him out in the least damaging way possible. He of course didn’t cooperate.

Nityananda then, with the support of several ex-Siddha Yoga swami’s, began to travel and hold programs. Eventually, he restarted an organized group, Shanti Mandir, after much negative pressure from Siddha Yoga (the stories of assaults and harassment are documented in the O Guru, Guru, Guru article by Lis Harris, published in the New Yorker in November 1994 - press here to read that article).

Since the split with her brother, Nityananda, Chidvilasananda has chosen to sever all contact with her family and continues to run SYDA.


  1. Bhimeshwar Sadguru Nityananda Samstha
  2. Nityananda - The Divine Presence by M.U. Hatengdi; Rudra Press 1984 and Nita Sutras – The Revelations of Nityananda from the Chidakash Gita; Rudra Press 1985. (Press Here to return to top).

Sep 97