An Australian Royal Commission aims to find out how sex abuse in the yoga cult founded by Swami Satyananda Saraswati flourished so heinously.
Indian guru Swami Satyananda Saraswati is celebrated in the yoga community as the founder of the international yoga movement Bihar Yoga and the purveyor of popular Tantric-based meditation techniques.
But few know that his Mangrove Mountain ashram in New South Wales, Australia, was a cloistered den of systemic sexual and physical abuse in the 1970s and 1980s—and is now at the center of a Royal Commission inquiry.
Most of the alleged abuse occurred at the hands of Satyananda’s disciple, Swami Akhandananda Saraswati, a convicted pedophile and sadist who was masquerading as a peace-promoting, celibate leader of the Mangrove Mountain spiritual community.
Akhandananda was sentenced to prison for more than two years in 1989 for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl follower at the ashram, but the conviction was overturned in 1991 due to legislative changes at the time. He died from excessive alcohol consumption in 1997.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Sexual Abuse will hear testimonies through the end of this week from eight women who were children when they were allegedly sexually assaulted by Akhandananda (many testified in the trial that led to his 1989 conviction). Continue reading >>