Swami Shankarananda

Swami Shankarananda

 

 

Swami Shankarananda, Russell Kruckman, was given sannyas by Muktananda and was considered one of the more 'advanced' swamis and helped to full the rumors that he was to be Muktananda's successor. He was married to Joanne Moran, AKA Girija, AKA Mother Girija before becoming involved with SYDA.

Shankarananda ran the Ann Arbor Ashram for many years in the late 1970's. It is said that he was quick to share aspects of his astrology chart to those who would listen, reinforcing his claim to being named the  successor.

He ran the SYDA ashram in Melbourne Australia for a few years in the early 1980's. 

In early 1997 an ex siddha yoga devotee from Australia stated the following about Shankarananda:

Apparently, the Melbourne Ashram became really cliquey when he came to stay after Baba died. There was an in-crowd, and if you weren't in the in-crowd you were unimportant. I know that Sw Shanks had an affair with one of the  devotees, and I think what happened is he got challenged by GM about it, and admitted it and left.

However, I think his leaving was at a similar time to the split between GM and her brother, and so in the process of his leaving I think Sw Shanks took quite a few of the devoted with him.

These days a significant number of people in Melbourne have a chanting group, with Baba as their Guru. They are openly critical of GM, and are always "gossiping" about what is going on in SY. They are not well respected within the community, though I think people have managed to go to both that chanting group and the Ashram, but they are always whispered about. I think Sw Shanks has on occasion turned up and joined them and perhaps   (though I'm not sure) seen as some kind of leader.


After an affair with two women swamis, Yogananda and Lalitananda both of whom later stopped being swamis and left for a while then came back, he was confronted by some upper level SYDA staff, at Chidvilasananda & George Affif's direction in Atlanta in about 1985 or 1986. He was told to marry Devi Greenberg, (Devi had been married to Dan Greenberg, a SYDA swami for some years) another woman he was to have been involved with. His position as a swami was taken away by Chidvilasananda. After leaving SY, he joined with Nityananda.

After helping Nityananda restart his organization, Shankarananda, started the Shiva Ashram in Santa Monica. He eventually moved to Australia and runs a small ashram there.

Below is a summary of a series of Email correspondence that took place with him over a period of several months, starting in February 1997.

Following this report is a comment from an Indian, an ex-siddha yoga devotee. Shankarananda's racism is addressed.

In early February of 1997 I sent an email to Shankarananda inquiring as to his views of personal responsibility regarding his participation in Siddha Yoga.

Shankarananda admits to Muktananda's sexual activities and takes no personal responsibility for helping people into or to stay in Siddha Yoga. A reported master chess-player by some and a "silver tongued devil" by others, he did try to sell me his version of the "Truth" and invited me to his ashram as a means to that end. I declined, the price is much too high. I found Shankarananda racist against Indians and needing to minimize the actions of Muktananda to keep his view of him intact.

What follows is a summary of several months of communication with my comments.

I'll start with initial email to him from in Feb 97:

Pendragon:

"A teacher or swami, such as yourself, had a great deal of influence bringing people into SY and helping the powers that be, keep people in. It would seem, that since you have come to the obvious conclusion that SY is not for you, that you might use your current position (as an ex sy swami) to bring the truth to light for those who are still in SY and for those who are "on the fence".

Shankarananda responded stating that he had left Siddha Yoga in 1986 and spent four or five years clearing himself from feeling "bitterness and enmity" before he moved on. He worked for a few years in the late '80's in Nityananda's "return to action". (I remember going to a program at Stanford University in 1987. I remember being struck that Shankarananda really seemed to be the main push behind the program. Nityananda while there as a drummer, seemed almost secondary to Shankarananda's enthusiasm).

Shankarananda reports that they created a "westernized "yoga" called "Recognition Dynamics" with Nityananda. Without saying why, he left Nityananda in 1991. At the invitation of devotees in Australia he returned there. He had run an Australian Ashram for Muktananda from 1980-83 and was well liked by many of the devotees. Now Shankarananda has a "beautiful little ashram" south of Melbourne and teaches mediation and self-inquiry under the title of the "Shiva Process".

He reports that while "furious" at Chidvilasananda for several years he did "let the anger go" and "I am restored to affectionate feelings towards Gurumayi, as I used to have."

About Chidvilasananda, Shankarananda takes a middle of the road view:

Shankarananda:

"I also see clearly her good points and her bad points. There is no doubt in my mind that her devotees get something from her. There is also no doubt in my mind that they are generally in deep denial about some of the seamier aspects of her ways. On the other hand, it is my observation that her enemies are in complete denial about her level of shakti and spirituality."
 

It appears that Chidvilasananda may not hold the same affection for him, "They (referring to SY) won't even let me sell their books."

Regarding Muktananda and Chidvilasananda:

Shankarananda:

"I can't say that Baba did not engage in sexual activities. I also can't say that during GM's reign violent and highly objectionable actions where directed against Nityananda, myself and others. But I also can't say that there was no Shaktipat, no divine presence, no spiritual power there--even now."

"I don't mean to pardon any of the bad actions that were performed. One of the fallacies is that Gurus or Siddhas are beyond normal human standards. I think they can be challenged as anyone else would be challenged."

"I don't know why Baba engaged in sexual activity. It didn't touch me personally as much as the successorship."
 

Shankarananda believes he reached self-realization from Muktananda.

Shankarananda:

"I went to Baba for self-realization. At the same time I was unconsciously seeking a perfect father. I attained the former but not the latter."

Regarding the process of leaving Siddha Yoga, Shankarananda seems to be taking a view that negative feelings are "bad" (my word) and one should not act on them. Rather wait for them to change and then you won't want to act. The problem with this stance, is that in the end, nothing gets done. Feelings, are always changing. If no one acted when they were angry (I'm not taking about revenge or actions that break the law, Shankarananda seems to put these in the same category as anger) little would be done when it comes to confronting injustices in the world. If I would have listened to him, I would have never started this web site. Then where would we be? Siddha Yoga of course would have a thorn removed from their side and hundreds of others would not have all the information that exists to make an informed decision.

Shankarananda:

"I have observed many, many people dealing with leaving SY over a number of years. This includes ex-swamis and others. I have noticed that their ideas about what happened change during the course of time. I have mentally and even physically written numerous letters to GM and not sent them. A few months later I no longer feel that way. Yogically I am very reluctant to act when the motivation is bitterness, anger or revenge. That seems to increase suffering all around. However, if I were clear that a certain action should be performed and I felt that I was in a clear space, connected to the Self, then I would do it."

My response to this was strong. It seemed that he was addressing the issue of forgiveness.

Pendragon:

"Forgiveness is an interesting concept that I have been pondering since you last wrote me.

What exactly is forgiveness? The dictionary says: "To excuse for a fault or an offense; pardon". So, am I to pardon Muktananda for his human weaknesses when he denied that he was faulted? This raises an interesting point. Do you forgive someone who shows no remorse or admission of error? I am so very reluctant to do this. I have always felt more compassion for Nityananda than Chidvilasananda or Muktananda because he did admit to his errors (granted it was only under the pressure of his trying to come back) eventually. He also humbled himself when he went to talk to Ammachi several years back seeking her counsel about the problems he was having from SYDA. (This was prior to the O Guru publication). This touched me in a way that Chid and Muktananda have never been able to do.

I think in trying to forgive someone who takes no self responsibility for the matter at hand is dangerous and in part delusional. To think one's act of forgiveness is going to effect the other (and this raises the question: do we forgive for ourselves or for the other person or for both?) who is locked in their own sense of righteousness only clouds the issue. To ignore that person, or to challenge that person, if one is so inclined, may be of some benefit.

Actually, I think forgiving the person who has not repented can add to the problem. A person thinks they have done no wrong and the victim (if you will) forgives them. Actually the first person likely is to look upon the victim with distaste for not standing up for themselves OR if the first person truly believes in what they are doing, you have simply reinforced that persons thoughts and behaviors.

Also to think that we might influence or touch someone (again I assume that forgiveness is generally a two way street in that we are doing this in interaction with another person; not that we may be expecting a particular response although generally I think we do despite of what we think but there is an interaction of thoughts and feelings that is part of any interaction, even with a person that we are dealing with inside ourselves) with our "forgiveness" who is not open is a bit deluded don't you think?

I've noticed in SY specifically and spiritual communities in general that people go to great lengths to avoid uncomfortable feelings. Instead of feeling the hurt and vulnerability they will use many different means, including chanting and platitudes to avoid it. (I am not against chanting by any means but rather it seems that we should feel the feelings and then move on to the chants. We are human beings that have feelings; to deny them by any means chanting, drugs or denial only pushes them underground for them to cause more problems).

Then there is forgiveness of self. I think this is really much more important. Can I forgive myself for believing that someone was God when they were not? Can I try and understand why I needed to do that and continue to do that when the evidence suggested otherwise? This I believe is the true challenge of forgiveness. Whether I ever forgive Muktananda or Chid is secondary to this point. Until I can understand my errors in judgement I will certainly not be able or be developed enough to try and understand others errors . To the degree that I can accept myself will be to the degree that I can honestly accept another.

Anger I think can be a healthy reaction to an unhealthy situation. I also think there is a relationship to the amount of anger we feel to the amount of hurt we have felt. Anger though is just one step in the process of loss that we all face when something or someone does not meet our expectations.

I do think that we all hold some degree of culpability when it comes to SY. If we did not actively recruit or encourage people to stay then what of the responsibility that comes when we become aware that there are problems and we choose to ignore them?

What is also necessary in healing is the recognition of what was positive about any given relationship. The very issue that Muktananda and Chidvilasananda both presented with a noticeable degree of spiritual energy is the very confusion that keeps many people in denial about the problems in SY. Despite the fact that Muktananda was lying to us and put himself on a pedestal when he was having sex I did feel and receive a great deal from him. (I can say the same about Chidvilasananda but to a lesser degree).

That you consider Muktananda "the greatest human being I ever met" would certainly bother the young girls and older women he abused. Can you allow yourself to really see him for what he was? Or is there a need to keep him on a pedestal as well? That he is dead makes it all the easier to keep him out of the current problems. That he needed to lie to us (again he claimed to be celibate and he was not) bothers me greatly. Once a person decides to lie and to protect themselves in the process doesn't everything else have to be questioned as well?

Since leaving SY I have visited other spiritual teachers from India and it was in part the vast differences between other traditions and SY that helped me to see the problems in SY. Muktananda placed just a little too much emphasis on the Guru and the need not to see other teachers. It's almost like he was continually reminding us (and himself) of the lineage to convince us (convince himself?) that it was as he said. (Of course while he didn't always say it himself that would have been too obvious but the MC almost always did). I've always wondered why Nityananda of Ganeshpuri did not publicly appoint Muktananda as the successor. Seems like it would have been a simple thing to do. Another way to look at this is that Muktananda picked a saint to follow who didn't talk much making it easy for him to claim something that wasn't necessarily his. I've heard from a friend who spoke to the source that Muktananda actually didn't get shaktipat from Nityananda of Ganeshpuri but from another Guru in India. I don't have a problem with this except that Muktananda decided to claim that he got it from Nityananda. Why not talk of all his spiritual practices in all the traditions unless of course he wanted people to focus only on him and Nity SR keeping it in the family. How many more secrets are there about Muktananda that are kept to protect the devotees? How condescending!

That Muktananda made mistakes and was human is so very clear. That he pretended to be more than he was and reinforce peoples thinking of that is just as clear. That we may choose to continue to do that, is now the issue at hand.

What would it mean to see him as he really was? A flawed man who gave people spiritual experiences at the expense of abusing others? If we can see him for what he was, do we not then claim our own sense of our self in the process? And isn't that really what it is about? If we can not claim our sense of material self how can we ever expect to claim our sense of spiritual Self ?"

Shankarananda's response ignored most of what I asked regarding feelings and the responsibility of forgiveness. He completely ignored the issue of the lineage from Nityananda to Muktananda. Rather he attempted to educate me as the true nature of Guru. Ironically, he continues to acknowledge Muktananda's humanness:

Shankarananda:

"I have always felt that a lot of the problem with the Guru comes from our misunderstanding of Indian culture. I was in the first wave of Western seekers. We took everything that was said literally. They would say, "The Guru is God" and we believed that Baba knew every detail of your life. I spent enough time with him to learn that while he was a very intuitive great being he often got information by ordinary means i.e. somebody told him.

I noticed that the Indians would say, "He is omniscient. He knows the past and future. He knows your mind completely. He is Shiva Himself!" But then I observed that they would treat him like an ordinary person like keeping things from him and even lying to him. I began to understand that the Hindu mind loves to milk the highest rasa from a situation and then has a separate standard for practical reality. Their conversation and language always moves towards the highest. They love to speak expansively to create great feeling in the moment. Yet they would often not act on how they spoke. In other words they knew that Baba was a human being at the same time knowing he performed a divine function."

"I think I wrote you about the East/West communication problem. I really think this is an essential part of the SY problem. The Indian value system teaches to always make statements that create positive expanded feeling. Literal truth is much less important. Westerners give enormous value to literal truth and generally very little value to expanded positive feeling. Hence, Indians have no problem at all with what looks to a Westerner as very dubious morality. Baba would have no problem at all telling his audience to behave a certain way if he felt that was good for them and meanwhile behave in an entirely different way himself for whatever reason. Don't forget that we are the first Westerners to sit at the feet of Eastern masters en masse. As the teaching gets translated into Western values and language some of these things will get solved. This dialogue (not just yours and mine) is part of this translation function."

And here comes the sales pitch and a referral to a "channeled" book:

Shankarananda:

"The Shiva Process work that we do here is an antidote to some of the problems we both acknowledge in SY. The Shiva Process validates whatever feeling a person holds rather than making it wrong with scripture, the guru's word, or the SY course. It is always okay to make a clear statement of present thought and feeling. Even statements like, "I hate Baba". "I am angry at Baba's sex life". "I am angry at GM". We take such statements deeper until the Self emerges. Very often the effect is magical. I feel moved to invite you to visit here and spend a couple of weeks and do some of this work. I think you would find this community very open-minded and congenial. Excursion fares to Australia are reasonable this time of year.

It occurred to me that you might enjoy looking at a book that I highly recommend here and people have gotten a lot of value from: The Pathwork of Self-Transformation by Eva Pierrakos. It is an interesting--even profound--mix of spirituality and psychology. East and West. The only (possible) drawback is that it is "channeled" if that is a problem for you. Let me add that it is very, very different from New-Age channeled material I have seen."
 

Excuse me, but if I've been burned with the guru's of siddha yoga, I am hardly likely going to pick up a book that is "channeled".

Shankarananda also expands upon what fallibility might mean for a guru such as Muktananda. He admits that someone as Muktananda might be able to make a mistake for just a brief moment. We might disagree strongly on how long those moments of indiscretion were. Seems like levels of rationalization:

Shankarananda:

"A quick answer to your quick question. Do I consider Muktananda fallible? Yes. Do I consider myself fallible? Certainly.

Now a small elaboration. From the point of view of spirituality fallibility involves acting out of harmony with the Tao or divine will or the Shakti. Why would one do that? Either out of desire, pride, fear, or some similar negative emotion or out of confusion or ignorance or inattention. This last category could probably be resolved into the former category. People believe that a realised being would never have any of these movements. It may be more realistic to expect a realised being to quickly notice a jarring disharmony and do self-inquiry, discover the source, and then make the necessary adjustment. All this happens inside the person. From outside, his choices and actions might look spiritual or not. It's hard to tell.

Let's suppose that Baba's sexual desire clouded his judgment and he indulged himself in highly questionable ways. Let's also suppose that Gurumayi's ambition similarly clouded her judgment and led to questionable actions. Where does that leave us? It leaves me still respecting their powerful spirituality. How about you? I think your struggle is more with your own preconceptions than with Baba."
 

Feeling frustrated that he had not really answered my concerns, I responded. First about his statements of Muktananda. Then I also took his comments, and spoke to a well respected Vedic Astrologer from India. I wanted the opinion of an Indian familiar with spiritual issues.

Pendragon:

"It's refreshing to hear that you see Muktananda as fallible. That we agree on. And with all relationships, that bring us 'mixed results' there is a process of coming to terms with it. The more information that is available, the clearer and cleaner the process becomes. All the feelings are dealt with and no feeling is better or worse than another. Anger, disappointment, grief, shock etc are all natural reactions to learning that someone you trusted and loved was not whom you thought. I'm wondering if you had any of these reactions when you found out about Muktananda's sexual practices?

I've discussed this with other swami's and it seems that whether they've remained in SY or not there has been a tendency to come to a place of what I would call rationalization of his behavior. Clearly the swami's are not alone in this practice. I know many folks in and out of SY who believe that Muktananda was sexual and have simply accepted it, seemingly ignoring the fact that he lied and that he was abusing his position of power.

One ex-swami told me:

"I was angry and shocked when I began to realize his actions with women, because I felt he had put those of us who were responsible for the public interaction with people in a difficult position" and "I have had to expand my understanding of sexual interaction to be able to come to terms with it, and still have not."

What do you think?

Taking it a step further, regarding the Indian Vs. the Western perspective. You said:

"I think I wrote you about the East/West communication problem. I really think this is an essential part of the SY problem. The Indian value system teaches to always make statements that create positive expanded feeling. Literal truth is much less important. Westerners give enormous value to literal truth and generally very little value to expanded positive feeling. Hence, Indians have no problem at all with what looks to a Westerner as very dubious morality. Baba would have no problem at all telling his audience to behave a certain way if he felt that was good for them and meanwhile behave in an entirely different way himself for whatever reason."

As a westerner yourself, it seems that you are trying to use this rationalization as a way to continue to accept Muktananda and perhaps your own existence as a Swami. I took your quote and presented it to an Indian who has a spiritual basis and is a Vedic astrologer. I gave him the background, but used no names. Not completing trusting your western view, I went to an authentic Indian one.

He disagreed with everything you said. That you had an incorrect understanding of Indian culture and values. Is it possible that your need to justify Muktananda's existence and thereby your own is getting in the way?"
 

And now the racism and continued levels of rationalization. It seems things are starting to repeat themselves:

Shankarananda:

"Your Indian informant: frankly, an Indian may be the last person to ask about Indian culture. I've noticed that they generally don't have an "anthropological view"--an ability to step back and dispassionately analyze their culture. I stand by my main idea--that a large percentage of the problem is explained by the clash of cultures. Maybe it isn't Indian versus Western so much as Western liberal values versus "guru culture". The culture of "surrender to the Guru" flies in the face of every Western democratic notion. Also, Eastern cultures don't have the value that what is thought must be the same as what is expressed or enacted. Often the opposite--it is an affront or insult to express everything that is thought."
 

Shankarananda then tries to bring me out of my errors:

Shankarananda:

"1. Baba was once a divine access for you. You loved Baba.

2. You learned certain (perhaps true) things about him that made #1 no longer true.(i.e. you got angry at him.)

3. If you want to have him once again be #1 for you forgiveness and understanding (entertaining a new perspective) is the only path. (i.e. returning to loving Baba.) I would say that no where do I get the feeling from you that this is a practical possibility.

4. If the relationship is irrevocably spoiled why not move on--either search for a new more satisfactory teacher or find divine access in Self or in God. Question: Do you feel that there may be a purer teacher than Baba or do you feel that the whole institution of Guru is a sham? If the former, go find him. If the latter, I'd guess that your problem is more with the language around the institution of the Guru (i.e. "The Guru is perfect. The Guru is God. Obey the Guru".) What language would you design that would be more appropriate and more true?

5. If you feel it is your divinely appointed task to bring down Baba and GM then go ahead. I would carefully examine my motives, however, making sure that anger and revenge were not driving me. My yoga has convinced me that when I act out of these kinds of motives it has a bad and painful result for me."
 

It appears he is very invested in my either accepting Muktananda again as a loving being in my life ( #3 but realizes that this is not going to happen) and/or continues to urge me to let go of all of this and move on. I struggle with understanding his need for me to move on. Why should he be so concerned about this? Is he trying to help me? Or perhaps trying to protect the image of Muktananda for himself and others. The more I push about this, the more he wants me to move on. How is it that he knows what is best for my emotional health?

Shankarananda does then go on to explain that his understanding is that the person is separate from the Guru principle. For Siddha Yoga, this is dangerous ground because once you are able to question the actions of the individual, guru or not, all things can be questioned. This is not what Siddha Yoga wants. Rather blind obedience is required. However by doing so he does not go far enough in my opinion. Shankarananda would have us believe that office of the guru is alive and well. But then I guess he is on the way to being his own guru.

Shankarananda:

"Let me suggest that you separate the human being from the Guru principle. I agree with you that no human being will be 100% free of flaws. There will always be a lack, a bad tendency, an insufficiency. It is inherent in the limitations of embodiment. Nonetheless, highly evolved beings will be able to channel the divine power. Their ability to do this will of course, be compromised by how serious their flaws are. Very possibly their particular kinds of flaws will make them not the right guru for certain types of people, while it will not affect discipleship in others. . It seems to me that you got angry and disappointed by the persons Baba and GM (I'm not sure which one first). You have moved from that to anger at the Guru principle. I think this part is destructive. It seems okay to me to be angry or have reservations or be realistic about the person Baba and still be able to use him for divine shakti. It is also okay to graduate yourself from his school and make an independent relationship with the divine shakti."

Basically I learned that Shankarananda would have us ignore the mistakes a person under the guise of guru would make because the connection to the shakti is more important. This sounds very dangerous to me.

Shankarananda:

"Let me try a new language: "The Guru is a highly developed human being. He has through an arduous path of yoga made a powerful contact with the higher power called the Self, the Shakti or the Guru principle. As a human being he is subject to human law. His body gets sick and will die (some guru cults expect their gurus to be immortal in the body and disease free). He has tastes, he has preferences. He has personal values. He is just like you. He can make mistakes. He may occasionally lie. He may get angry. He may become afraid. He may do things that can be criticized by some moral standards. What makes him special? It is his connection with the Self. He will be able to constantly return to the experience of the Self even if his karmic tendencies temporarily sway him. On the positive side because of his strong connection with Self he is very likely to be brilliant, charismatic, full of love, full of wisdom and full of energy and creativity. If you find such a one learn the secret of his inner connection and don't imitate his weaknesses and don't feel disempowered by his strengths. He has something of the greatest value to teach".

That's it for now."

This ended our conversations. There was really no further place to go. He did later send me a short piece trashing the new Siddha Yoga book, "Mediation Revolution - A History and Theology of the Siddha Yoga Lineage". This was strange as he assured me that he was no longer angry at Chidvilasananda and did want to sell the Siddha Yoga books at his ashram.

Shankarananda:

"Siddha Yoga has produced a massive document establishing their claims, their theology and all their agendas. I am sure it will be hotly debated on the Internet. It is written by a group of scholars all devotees which includes Swami Durgananda. Its style is scholarly but its agendas are fairly obvious. True, it is a step up from the naive revisionism of the past (simply deny that certain things happened). This could be called medium sophisticated revisionism. Now you admit certain things happened but glide over them. Of course, some things still haven't happened.

It is called Meditation Revolution. Have you seen it? You'll "love it". Give me your book report. It is a weighty tome, full of churchification, turning Baba's teaching to something remarkably dogmatic."

In the end Shankarananda takes no responsibly for his role in Siddha Yoga. He responds, "I never thought of myself as "bringing people into an organization". I thought of myself as encouraging people to know their own Self and as serving God and my Guru." By doing so, he neatly avoids any culpability for the problems in Siddha Yoga, including Muktananda's lies about his sexual activities.

By wanting to avoid any uncomfortable feelings Shankarananda seems content to go on with his Shiva Process. Interestingly, as he described the "Shiva Process" it sounded identical to several of the courses I took in Siddha Yoga shortly before I left.

Pendragon
11 Jan 98


The following was received from an Indian, an ex-siddha yoga devotee.

“Swami” Shankarananda’s cynical and illogical contentions would have been laughable if they were not so maddening to me as a former SY devotee who happens to be Indian.

Shankarananda is typical of the racist SY devotee who thinks that the only good Indian is a realized one. This allows him to worship his beloved Swami Muktananda as an anomaly - he would otherwise have to despise him.

The image of the sneaky, unreliable Indian whose idea of truth is “changeable” is one of the oldest of Orientalist conceits, and reflects an unsophisticated and uninformed world view. This depiction of the non-European people has been done to death by everyone from Rudyard Kipling to the racist travel writer Paul Theroux. It is neither original nor accurate. In his refutation of your Indian friend’s point of view, Shankarananda takes another cheap shot that reflects his own ignoble agenda. He believes that Indians have trouble taking the “anthropological” point of  view. In the first place, it is unclear that the “anthropological point of view is such a desirable thing. Isn’t the “anthropological” point of  view essentially one of a presumptuous European outsider interpreting a non-European culture? There are Indians at the cutting edge of just about any area of endeavor, that you might care to name-secular or spiritual, academic or applied. This hardly needs stating.

As for Indians being unable to see their own foibles, one need only look at the variety of self-mockery found in any Indian political cartoon, many Indian authors of fiction and non-fiction and countless other sources to realize that Indians are self-critical to a fault.

If it were not for Indian and other ancient civilizations, self-proclaimed new age gurus like Shankarananda would have no critical mass of original thought on which to base their watered down, culturally appropriated versions.

Shankarananda, take your turban envy and stick it up your Shiva process.

13 Jan 98

http://www.leavingsiddhayoga.net/

 

 

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The following was received from an Indian, an ex-siddha yoga devotee.

“Swami” Shankarananda’s cynical and illogical contentions would have been laughable if they were not so maddening to me as a former SY devotee who happens to be Indian.

Shankarananda is typical of the racist SY devotee who thinks that the only good Indian is a realized one. This allows him to worship his beloved Swami Muktananda as an anomaly - he would otherwise have to despise him.

The image of the sneaky, unreliable Indian whose idea of truth is “changeable” is one of the oldest of Orientalist conceits, and reflects an unsophisticated and uninformed world view. This depiction of the non-European people has been done to death by everyone from Rudyard Kipling to the racist travel writer Paul Theroux. It is neither original nor accurate. In his refutation of your Indian friend’s point of view, Shankarananda takes another cheap shot that reflects his own ignoble agenda. He believes that Indians have trouble taking the “anthropological” point of  view. In the first place, it is unclear that the “anthropological point of view is such a desirable thing. Isn’t the “anthropological” point of  view essentially one of a presumptuous European outsider interpreting a non-European culture? There are Indians at the cutting edge of just about any area of endeavor, that you might care to name-secular or spiritual, academic or applied. This hardly needs stating.

As for Indians being unable to see their own foibles, one need only look at the variety of self-mockery found in any Indian political cartoon, many Indian authors of fiction and non-fiction and countless other sources to realize that Indians are self-critical to a fault.

If it were not for Indian and other ancient civilizations, self-proclaimed new age gurus like Shankarananda would have no critical mass of original thought on which to base their watered down, culturally appropriated versions.

Shankarananda, take your turban envy and stick it up your Shiva process.

13 Jan 98

www.LeavingSiddhaYoga.net

 

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