Agama Yoga Founder Swami Vivekananda accused of sexual assault
More of the same from the Saraswati Lineage along with the predictable attempts by Agama Yoga to salvage the situation by using carefully crafted softening language in their “open letter to the community”. Compare the experiences as described by “Kelly Anne” in the article above to Agama Yoga’s letter available here. They are also claiming to be the victims of a “media war” (read smear campaign) exactly like the claims made by The Sri Nityananda Ashram in Mount Eliza.
Agama Yoga was apparently trying to keep a lid on the situation by framing it as an “internal investigation” but their attempt failed; the women went public because they were dissatisfied with the Soma being offered to them in the form of “healing” or “guidance”. Agama’s letter aims to cast doubt on the validity of the testimony of the women, which was the same strategy used by the Management Committee at The Sri Nityananda Ashram from the outset.
Yoga communities that are based around the worship of an allegedly “enlightened” charismatic leader are incapable of conducting any kind of impartial internal investigation because the abuse will be as hierarchical as the group itself. Hence the victims are expected to trust that the often narcissistic abusers and their committed zealots will now conduct an honest investigation into their own abusive culture and sociopathic behaviour. FYI, not very likely.
This new article by Body & Soul asks “Has the yoga community enabled sexual predators?”
In our experience at the Sri Nityananda Ashram in Mount Eliza, it wasn’t the community that allowed the abuses to occur (because for the most part people were unaware of what was going on), but rather the people who were responsible for providing a Duty of Care towards the community, namely the Management Commitee. Furthermore, they didn’t just passively allow it to occour; in the case of some indiviuals they were actively involved in enabling it.
As Australian yoga teacher and author Alice Williams wrote on her blog, “match a charismatic teacher with eager and often vulnerable students, add a touch of human ego and just enough mysticism that students won’t question any dodgy practices too closely. Wait a few years, then watch the whole thing end up in court cases and recriminations.”
A long-serving devotee of Swami Shankarananda Saraswati (a.k.a Russel Kruckman) of the Sri Nityananda Ashram in Mount Eliza recently decided to leave the community and share her story on her blog.
As usual the ashram’s policy and that of the few remaining hardcore devotees is to vilify and threaten the victim:
“They stick by him and deny he has done anything wrong even though they have heard many stories like mine .. “I don’t believe he abuses women and that’s an allegation you should be very careful about making” said one of the other women high in his circle after I told her my story .
Having spoken to many people who have left, it appears to be a common theme that one of the most difficult things to come to terms with is this complete dismissal and lack of concern for the impact of the abuse demonstrated by the people who choose to stay.
We are glad that this woman eventually found her way out of the Sri Nityananda Ashram in Mount Eliza and commend her bravery for speaking out.
The legal case is still ongoing.
The world seems to be waking up to these false gurus and how they exploit their devotees.
The legal case against Shankarananda / Shiva Yoga (The Sri Nityananda Ashram) is still ongoing.
We recently received a forwarded email thread that contained a dialogue between the Mount Eliza Ashram (now calling itself the Sri Nityananda Ashram) and a member of the public that concluded with the following response to their enquiry :
“Perhaps you have received some misinformation about Mahamandaleshwar Swami Shankarananda.
Swamiji and his community were the victims of a vicious smear campaign last year. Many people became very confused and hurt in the process. Thankfully, Swamiji and his ashram have survived and his spiritual community is thriving.
Please let me know if you need any more information.”
To be telling members of the public that what happened at the Mount Eliza Ashram was the result of a “vicious smear campaign” is dishonest and deceptive. If this were the case, then how do they account for their two “letters to the community” seen here, in which Kruckman laments the “disastrous effects” of his “tantric activities” (a dishonest claim in itself which we discuss in-depth here)? How do they account for the many support groups offered by Integrative Psychology in Melbourne specifically for ex-members? The extensive involvement of CASA (Centre Against Sexual Assault) and the police investigation that ensued, or the legal case currently ongoing?
Their own mismanagement of the situation resulted in the loss of many long-term members of the community, garnered the interest of the national and international media and ultimately resulted in the liquidation of Shiva Yoga Inc. Obviously their policy remains unchanged; they continue to whitewash and lie to the uninformed, as evidenced by the email above.
The Shiva Ashram (now calling itself the Sri Nityananda Ashram in Mount Eliza) has started marketing itself on the internet again with no less than 3 new websites seen here:
Naturally there’s no mention of the on-going legal case against the ashram / Kruckman or any hint of an apology or responsibility for the many people harmed by this abusive group. Their method, as always, is to act like it never happened.
The Mount Eliza Ashram has rebranded itself yet again in an attempt to make itself sound legitimate by using the name “Sri Nityananda Ashram.”
Kruckman is still very much in charge and as their latest newsletter shows he is still selling himself as a God-Man to anybody willing to listen : “Swamiji emphasised that the ‘Guru is an opportunity’. He went on to say that even though the Guru is a human being, he or she is more than just a person.”
Many people are still in therapy and counselling a full year after leaving this abusive group.
The property the Shiva Yoga community used to call Kailas Nivas now stands empty and ready to go under the hammer this month as the liquidation process forges ahead.
You can view the pictures of the empty property here:
The full article that featured in Australian Yoga Life Magazine has been re-printed on the Elephant Journal website. For those that missed it, you can read it here:
“The list of gurus accused of sexual misconduct is like a roll call of the who’s who of the yoga community…”
How, we ask, in yoga communities built on the tenets of non-violence (Ahimsa), truthfulness (Satya) and sexual ethics (Bramacharya), can abuse still occur, let alone remain hidden for decades?
As mentioned in the previous post, the ashram does indeed appear to be setting up shop again using the name “Maha Yoga”. A quick DNS search shows that Valerie Angell purchased the URL mahayogaashram.com on the 10th of July, suggesting that a new website will probably soon appear online. That information can be found here: