Ashram trying to rebrand?

The ashram appears to be in the process of trying to rebrand itself using the name “Maha Yoga” – they recently renamed their Flickr website to reflect this change here:

Ex-members should be aware that the ashram is still using the full gallery of photos that were taken prior to December 2014. If you don’t want this group to promote itself using a photo of you, email this website and we’ll tell you what you can do. We are currently discussing the matter with Flickr and the OAIC.



Ashram starts marketing again

We recently received a number of emails from people who feel outraged and distressed by the fact that the Mount Eliza Ashram (formerly Shiva Yoga) is attempting to market itself to the public again (despite Shiva Yoga Inc. being officially liquidated).

The following newsletter was recently sent out:

Of course there is no mention of any of the recent events that happened there, no acknowledgment or apology given to the hundreds of people hurt by this organisation or its leaders – simply a continuation of the “business as usual” policy they applied throughout the whole episode.

Some of the questions people have asked are: who is running the ashram and / or giving Satsang as no names are mentioned? Has Kruckman stepped down? Is the Mount Eliza Ashram still collecting tax free “donations” and if so under what legal body as some of the programs advertised have prices attached, including a $10 entry fee to Satsang and $95 for a meditation program.



Book added to Recommended Reading section


Daniel Shaw is the current admin of the Leaving Siddha Yoga website and his book Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation was developed from an earlier essay entitled Traumatic Abuse in Cults which he wrote after leaving Siddha Yoga. Due to his personal familiarity with Siddha Yoga and consequently Shiva Yoga and it’s leaders (which is an offshoot of Siddha Yoga), his book is highly recommended. Available on, excerpt from Chapter 3 below:

“For those not familiar with cult phenomena, it can be quite astonishing to learn how exactly similar from group to group the relational dynamics of leader and follower are, regardless of how outwardly different the group, its ideology, leaders and followers, may be. The following are some of the most common dynamics:

1. Purification of “ego.”  The follower’s deficiencies are grouped under the umbrella of “the ego,” the “monkey mind,” or a similar idea using different words, which is regarded as a harmful appendage or blockage of the true self, and which must therefore be “purified” by the leader for the follower to reach her potential. Purification in the case of cults typically means being subjected to various forms of sadistic belittling and humiliation, including in some cases accepting beatings. Purity may also be judged by one’s willingness to give over most of any money one might have; and/or willingness to be subjected to sexual abuse. Leaders do not have to be grateful for anything they are given or for anything they take from followers – when taking, the leader is understood to actually be giving. George Orwell (1949) identified this sort of mental gymnastics as “Doublethink” and “Newspeak” in 1984, his vision of a world ruled by Stalin-like leaders.

2. Only Perfection is Good Enough. One’s “potential” is defined in any way the leader chooses, but in one form or another, cult leaders are always demanding perfection, in the form of devotion, loyalty, willingness to obey, and willingness and ability to recruit others. By demanding perfection, the leader makes it impossible for the follower to fully succeed at anything, including devotion, and therefore it is impossible for the follower to avoid the leader’s abusive criticism. The follower’s status can be raised, at least temporarily, when he demonstrates his willingness to act, abusively and criminally if need be, in accordance with the principle that whatever end is specified by the leader always justifies any means.

3. Incessant Urgency. The more successful and powerful a particular cult becomes, the greater the risk of public exposure, and therefore, the more urgent and hysterical the culture becomes. Anxiety mounting, the leadership of the group becomes more shameless and without boundaries, demanding more and more time, money and energy of the followers, defining enemies of the group to eventually include anyone not in the group, and becoming increasingly punitive of deviance within the ranks.

4. Violation of Boundaries as a Norm. As followers discover that no effort they make is ever good enough to earn the leader’s full recognition, or to make them exempt from the leader’s destructive attacks, they become more and more desperate to please the leader, becoming willing to let down their own boundaries, and to violate the boundaries of others at the leader’s behest.

5. Inner Deviance Must Be Eradicated. Ultimately, followers act on the belief that only the leader’s thoughts and feelings matter and have validity, and the follower must exist only to serve the leader’s aims. The follower actively seeks to negate any aspect of his own subjectivity which the leader might disapprove of.

6. Defend the Leader No Matter What. To most outside observers, the leader’s aims are clearly nothing more than self-aggrandizement. Insiders, however, in spite of little or no evidence on which to base their assertions, cling stubbornly to the belief that the leader is actually pursuing lofty and noble aims. Asked to do anything to enrich the leader, including, in the case of some notorious groups, prostituting themselves, followers obey and find a way to believe that whatever they do is righteous. By remaining loyal to the leader, the followers persuade themselves that their own existence is given meaning and validity by their support of the leader’s mission.

A cult then can readily be understood as a variant of the traumatizing narcissist’s relational system, in which the leader presents herself as the living embodiment and ultimate master of the principles of her own ideology. Her mission and her ideology are formalized in ways that will vary in the details from one group to another. The group’s goals frequently shift, are proclaimed to the followers with grandiose pomposity, and are often connected to a demand for payment for the privilege of being granted access to the esoteric wisdom. The unstated and disavowed actual goal of any group led by a traumatizing narcissist is for the leader to keep herself in a state of narcissistic hyper-inflation; and the actual job of the follower is to do whatever it takes to help the leader to achieve that aim.

Followers in cults are traumatized in various ways by the different kinds of abuses they are exposed to as they accept the leader’s control over them. Abuse in these situations typically includes intimidation, belittling and humiliation, and more concretely, severe overwork and deprivation of sleep and proper nutrition. The follower’s rewards, which are recognition from the leader and the ensuing prestige they gain within their group, are bestowed and rescinded at the leader’s whim, keeping the follower in a state of instability and fear about displeasing the leader and thereby losing status and favor.

What is often most traumatic for followers who leave cults is the realization that what led them to blind themselves to the sadistic cruelty and the selfishness of the traumatizing narcissist leader was how desperately hungry they became – how willing they became to abandon their own subjectivity and allow themselves to be violated – for any bit of recognition they could get from the leader they idealized. One of the reasons why many of the people who leave cultic groups choose not to identify their own experience as abusive is because to do so would mean acknowledging an extraordinary degree of grief over the loss of a deeply cherished idealized attachment, connected to their most cherished hopes about themselves and about life; along with the unleashing of an extraordinary degree of shame about their own self-deception and gullibility; and shame and rage about the amount of abuse they were willing to endure for the sake of maintaining their tie to the leader. Eventually, the realization that their devotion and labor in the group led to no real personal growth, and to no significant contribution to society, will also become a source of deep shame and regret.”

New document added to resources

Integrative Psychology in Melbourne recently released a detailed document that reviews the treatment options for people that are recovering from high-control abusive groups like Shiva Yoga (Mount Eliza Ashram), entitled “Recovery from Church, Institutional and Cult Abuse: A Review of Theory and Treatment Perspectives.”

Some of the chapters discuss the common characteristics of abusive groups and how they operate, the characteristics of cult leaders as well as a review of effective exit counseling options. It is highly recommended reading for ex-members of Shiva Yoga (Mount Eliza Ashram). You can access it here and from the resources page:

Recovery from Church, Institutional and Cult Abuse


New article in MP News

A new article appeared yesterday in MP News that hints at a possible reassessment by the ACNC of Shiva Yoga’s tax free status:

The article states: “A former member of the ashram has previously told The News that when filling out an application form seeking tax exemption “we all looked at each other when it came to filling out the marked religion, and then someone said Hindu, so that’s what we put”.

Many old-timers reading this might recall the “what religion shall we be?” discussions that were the main topic at the dining table before the group decided that it was going to become Hindu. Undoubtedly this was done to achieve the appearance of legitimacy to organisations such as the ACNC in order to maintain it’s tax free status following the audit that preceded it.

Hindu Scholar disputes Tantric Practices claim

Hindu scholar having direct lineage to the late Bhagavan Nityananda, Harendra Kottyam, wrote in this week to offer his objections to Shiva Yoga’s “Tantric practices” claim relating to the sex scandal at the Mount Eliza Ashram. Email shared below at his request:

Dear Leaving Shiva Yoga members, my greetings and respects to you.

My name is Harendra Kottyam and I am the author of the book Sayings of Lord Siva. This is regarding ALLEGATIONS of sexual impropriety which have shaken the usual calm surrounding the Shiva School of Meditation and Yoga at Mt Eliza. Whatever Swami Shankarananda may have done is not for me to judge, however he seems to imply that this is due to his Tantric activities, which he is implying is part of the Tantric Doctrine.

His management committee has stated:

“It is well-known that our lineage is a Tantric path, involving worship of the Goddess with strict disciplines.”

Tantra and Hinduism have a strict guru-shishya tradition, teacher disciple relationship dating back several thousand years and nowhere is sexual impropriety behaviour between them acceptable. Similarly the Goddess referred to by the management of Swami Shankarananda is Goddess Parvarti or Goddess Maa Kali, which is also the wrong example as the worship of Goddess Parvarti or Goddess Maa Kali does not accept any sexual impropriety behaviour between the Guru and his student/students.

In fact the Goddess Parvarti or Goddess Maa Kali is the best example of the dedication and loyalty she has for her husband Lord Shiva and her children and she is worshiped because of this by millions of her devotees worldwide.

Thanking you,

Harendra Kottyam.

Other objections to the “Tantric Practices” claim that were raised by the community were compiled on this page: the-claim-of-tantric-practices

What now for the Guru Model?

The Shiva Ashram features in this month’s edition of Australian Yoga Life as Melbourne’s Alice Williams looks at the recent investigations into ashrams in Australia.

Australian Yoga Life

“How, can we ask, in yoga communities built on the tenets of non-violence (Ahimsa), truthfulness (Satya) and sexual ethics (Bramacharya), can abuse still occour; let alone remain hidden for decades?” (Australian Yoga Life Issue 47, pg 34).

Another interesting article also appeared this month on the Maddypap website entitled  “Swami’s secrets dividing opinions of yoga but not the Mount Eliza name.” – You can read it here:

Ashram reopens despite liquidation.

Barely a week after the official organisation Shiva Yoga Inc. went into voluntary liquidation, a senior leader of the group announced on social media that the Shiva Ashram would reopen and begin offering programs to the public again, causing confusion and anger among the many ex-members still grappling to come to terms with recent events there.

Predictably, the remaining members have vowed to continue despite the liquidation process and have set up several Facebook Pages in recent weeks and also sent letters to a local newspaper suggesting that the Shiva Ashram and its leaders are the victims of a conspiracy organised by “a few disgruntled people with an agenda to close the Ashram.”

In response, we would like to invite readers to review the article posted by The Age newspaper, dated March 18, 2015, and in particular to note the number of alleged primary and secondary victims mentioned by Helen Last, chief executive of In Good Faith and Associates:

Alleged victims of Shiva School were previously sexually assaulted

Many ex-members of the Shiva Ashram that we have spoken to believe that they suffered emotional and psychological trauma as a result of their involvement with this group and are now receiving regular counselling with CASA and other services, including a special support service offered by Integrative Psychology in Melbourne specifically for people trying to leave the  Shiva Yoga group.