The rate at which the leading Yoga Gurus in America are falling from grace is not only disconcerting but scary too! What is it that makes these so-called Masters so susceptible to indulging in sexual relationships with their students? One wonders if the entire Master-Student relationship is flawed; especially in today’s context – given that most of these teachers are surely not ‘Masters’ of themselves!
The Guru-Shishya (Teacher-Student) relationship is one of the most sacred relationships; and in the context of Spiritual instruction, it is an absolute necessity. For Millennia, the most important knowledge that Man has pursued has been passed on via this Teacher-Student relationship – and it is an integral part of Indian (rather, Eastern) culture. The Guru is revered in India. And yet, the number of Indian Masters, whose missions have ended in disgrace in the West is appalling. It seems that modern times are finding Masters inept!
On closer inspection we find that these Teachers have one thing in common – they are terrifically Charismatic. And that seems to be irresistible to doting female students! So the women are attracted to these ‘free’ men – yes, adept Meditators have a sense of composure and freedom that is very desirable. However, it has to be the Teacher’s role to realize that the student is infatuated and to ensure that sexually charged vibes are non-existent. That’s where so many of the Teachers have failed their students and the lineage that they represent. It’s a Power equation – and honestly, the nature of the relationship means that the Teacher is held is such high esteem that it invariably boils down to a misuse of power! The list of such transgressors is endless it seems.
So far Bikram has been accused by two former students of rape. This comes a couple of months after Sarah Baughn, long time student, filed a court case alleging sexual harassment. Of course, its still only an allegation but if convicted, Bikram will join a list that recently included John Friend (founder, Anusara Yoga). What is shocking is that such luminaries as Swami Rama, Swami Kriyananda (born J Donald Walters), Amrit Desai (Kripalu Yoga Center) have also been tainted. (More on this)
The Big question then is: Should we stop judging Yoga Teachers by the high moral standards reserved for Yogis and Saints? And can we conclude that modern Yoga is churning out unfinished products as ‘Masters’? Sad, but true…