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 Disturbing rape claims being made against the millionaire guru who invented the stars' favourite yoga

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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Disturbing rape claims being made against the millionaire guru who invented the stars' favourite yoga   Fri Dec 13, 2013 5:30 pm

Disturbing rape claims being made against the millionaire guru who invented the stars' favourite yoga

    Bikram Choudhury founded 'hot' yoga, where practitioners assume a series of poses in 105f rooms
    Fans of Bikram yoga include George Clooney, Lady Gaga, David Beckham   But several women accuse the yogi of sexual offences against them
    Choudhury denies the allegations

By Tom Leonard In New York - Daily Mail - UK - PUBLISHED: 20:28 EST, 11 December 2013


He has convinced devotees from Hollywood stars to U.S. presidents that yoga should be performed in very hot temperatures by very sweaty students.

But Sarah Baughn has claimed she knows from bitter experience that multi-millionaire guru Bikram Choudhury can become fired up in a very different way.

The pretty 24-year-old alleges he pursued her for years and had implored fellow attendees at one of his training camps in 2008 not to leave her alone with him.

Fired up: Sarah Baughn, right, has accused the millionaire founder of 'hot' yoga Bikram Choudhury of sexual offences and is suing him

But one night when, as usual, they all had to stay up with Choudhury and watch his favourite Bollywood films, she nodded off. She says she awoke to find her friends disappearing out of the door.

'I grabbed my shoes and the door went click. I remember the click,' she says.

'I ran to the door. When I got to the door, he was on me. He was all over me.'

She is one of four former students suing Choudhury, accusing him of sexual offences - rape in the case of three of the women.

They claim the internationally renowned founder of Bikram, or 'hot', yoga took advantage of the 'cult-like' atmosphere in which they say he holds sway over his acolytes.

Bikram denies the allegations and has described the charges as 'false'. As yet, no court date has been set when he will defend his name.

The women claim most of the alleged abuse took place at one of Choudhury's twice-yearly teacher-training retreats, which are compulsory for anyone who wants to teach Bikram yoga.

'Cult-like' atmosphere: Devotees pay nearly £8,000 for a nine-week boot camp with Choudhury, who has compared himself to Jesus, Buddha and Superman

Devotees pay nearly £8,000 for a nine-week boot camp, staying at a California hotel and undergoing a regimen so gruelling that some people vomit, break down in tears or pass out.

On top of that, they have to listen to rambling monologues from the man who, at 67, conducts classes wearing tight black Speedo swimming trunks and a jewel-encrusted Rolex watch.

Bikram yoga consists of a series of 26 postures and two breathing exercises performed in a precise sequence for 90 minutes in a room heated to 105f.

Choudhury, who says he saw the benefit of intense heat while teaching in his native Calcutta, maintains his yoga can even cure cancer and Parkinson's disease.

The yogi, who claims to have been invited to the U.S. in 1973 by President Richard Nixon to help him improve his health, says he has even taught Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

Star fans of his form of yoga include Gwyneth Paltrow, George Clooney, Benedict Cumberbatch, Andy Murray, David Beckham and Lady Gaga.

His global empire (more than 600 yoga schools in 220 countries) has made Choudhury a multi-millionaire, and a very flamboyant one at that.

Misogynistic: Choudhury's former legal adviser claims the guru routinely referred to women as '[banned term]'

No loin cloth and bed of nails for him. He lives in a gaudy, 8,000 sq ft Beverly Hills mansion and owns dozens of Rolls-Royces and Bentleys.

The diminutive yogi's sartorial taste is pure Bollywood:  tailor-made white leather  suits, industrial quantities of bling and an obligatory entourage of stunning girls in  skin-tight clothes.

Witnesses say he only needs to enter a room and his acolytes will bow down and put their hands together in prayer.

Miss Baughn started Bikram yoga in 2004 and, according to her lawsuit, was initially flattered by Choudhury's attentions (he told her they knew each other in a past life).

He pursued her for years, eventually sabotaging her yoga career by discouraging studios from hiring her after she rejected him, she claims.

On the night of their final encounter after the film screening, he pinned her against the door and groped her, she says. She escaped, but others, it is claimed, were not so fortunate.

Larissa Anderson, from Washington state, started Bikram yoga when she was 22 and became close to Choudhury because her boyfriend was one of his chief disciples.

'Witnesses say he only needs to enter a room and his acolytes will bow down and put their hands together in prayer.'

In her own lawsuit, she claims that one night after dinner, when Choudhury's wife and business partner Rajashree had gone to bed, he tried to kiss her.

She rebuffed him but claims he raped her, causing her to go into 'trauma shock' and simply freeze, unable to cry for help. She says she was terrified that her 'life would be over' if she left Choudhury's close-knit community, so she remained but tried to keep her distance from him.

In 2011, she finally left the community after claiming he assaulted her again, this time trapping her against a wall as he pressed his body into hers.

He got his revenge for her departure, she says, by refusing to recognise her studio as part of the Bikram movement.

Two other women, identified in court papers simply as Jane Doe 1 and 2, have made similar accusations against Choudhury.

Jane Doe 1 alleges that, during teacher-training in 2011, he told her he had a 'gift' for her because they 'thought the same' and she had been 'touched by God'.

One morning, when she was performing her assigned task of cleaning his hotel suite, he surprised her and forced her on to the bed, she claims.

As she told him to stop, he repeatedly called her '[banned term]'. She then makes an allegation that Bikram forced her to perform oral sex and raped her.

The woman said she had invested everything, financially and mentally, in becoming a Bikram teacher and couldn't afford to leave his community.
Pure Bollywood: The yogi, pictured with his wife Rajashree, left, enjoys tailor-made white leather suits and industrial quantities of bling

Pure Bollywood: The yogi, pictured with his wife Rajashree, left, enjoys tailor-made white leather suits and industrial quantities of bling

She says he attacked her again in his room days later and 'remembers feeling that his sexual assaults were incestuous'.

She eventually left with money lent by her mother and reported him to police three weeks after Miss Baughn filed her lawsuit.

Jane Doe 2 was 21 when her boyfriend paid for her to attend a training retreat in 2010.

When Choudhury started making sexual innuendos, she says she was offended but didn't want to waste her boyfriend's hard-earned money by dropping out.

She claims she rebuffed Choudhury's repeated attempts to seduce her until one night, as trainees sat through one of the mandatory Bollywood film screenings (anyone who fell asleep was shaken awake by staff), he asked her to come up to his room to discuss her career. 'Don't worry, we won't be alone,' he allegedly told her.

Accuser: 24-year-old Sarah Baughn was once an acolyte of Choudhury's but is now taking action against him

Too late, she discovered he was lying and started to walk out. He implored her to stay, saying he needed to 'spiritually enlighten' her, but to do that, they needed 'to become one', she says.

The woman alleges he then raped her, even as she pleaded with him to stop.

She says she considered going to police immediately, but her room-mate persuaded her to stay in training.

The day after the attack, she says Choudhury regaled his class with a story about how women would rape him when he first moved to the U.S. She ran out of the tent in tears.


Additional lawsuit: Larissa Anderson says the yogi raped her

She says Choudhury later insisted she sit next to him and his wife at her graduation dinner, taking her aside afterwards and warning her in no uncertain terms against crossing him.

Inevitably, questions have been asked as to why these women stayed in the community.

'What did you think would happen in his hotel room? You think he was going to help you with your standing-bow pose?' asked a Bikram teacher who suggested the women used sex to get what they wanted.

But the yogi's woes are piling up. Choudhury is also being sued by his former legal adviser, Minakshi Jaffa-Bodden, who claims he threatened to have her deported after she insisted on investigating  the allegations.

She claims Choudhury is homophobic, racist and misogynistic, routinely referring to women as '[banned term]'.

Neither Choudhury nor any of his official representatives have commented on the latest accusations, though in March he responded to one of the first lawsuits by saying he was 'disappointed by the false charges'.

Devotees say he has a superhuman ability to understand their past and see their future, and he has compared himself to Jesus Christ, Buddha and Superman.

Whether Bikram's Karma - good or otherwise - will be much use in a court of law, however, remains to be seen.
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PostSubject: "I am your god"   Fri Dec 13, 2013 5:38 pm

12:00 AM, December 5 2013

Bikram Yoga’s Embattled Founder: The Alleged Rapes and Sexual Harassment Claims Against Guru Bikram Choudhury

by Vanity Fair


Photograph: Left, by David Strick/Redux; right, by Rebecca Greenfield/Polaris.

Bikram Choudhury’s eponymous brand of hot yoga has drawn thousands of fans. But in just the last year, writes Vanity Fair contributor Benjamin Wallace in the January issue, five women have filed lawsuits against Choudhury, with charges ranging from rape to sexual harassment.

Most of the plaintiffs tell similar stories. Choudhury allegedly singled out a naïve young woman for attention, groomed her with talk of her cosmic specialness, made progressively more sexual overtures, and responded to rejection with angry threats:

Jane Doe 2 tells Wallace that at first she was flattered that Choudhury DH paid her special attention when she attended one of his twice-yearly teacher trainings in September 2010, for which her boyfriend had paid $10,900. Choudhury told her after one class, “There were hundreds of bodies in that room tonight but you were the only one that listened to me.” But she says his advances quickly escalated: he held her after class one day and asked her to move to L.A. to work at his studio. “I can see something inside of you that no one else can,” he allegedly told her. “You will be greater than Mother Teresa, but you have to follow me. You have to do everything I tell you to do.” He gripped her hand and stared at her. “I am your guru,” he said. “I am your god…. Without me, you will be a piece of gold undiscovered and covered in dirt.” Another night, according to her lawsuit, he again pressed his case for her to come and work for him, asking that she come up to his room to talk. He assured her they would not be alone, but as soon as they entered his room, she realized her mistake. They were alone. When she started to walk out, according to her suit, he began crying and begging her to “save” him, and forced himself on her.



Sarah Baughn tells Wallace that she took her first Bikram yoga class in 2004, and made a rapid ascent in the competitive-yoga world, placing second in both the nationals and internationals in 2006. When she attended Choudhury’s teacher training, she was flattered by the guru’s attention, but also found it uncomfortable. She says he kept her after class, told her they knew each other from a past life, and kissed her on the cheek. On the fifth day of training, according to the lawsuit filed this past March by Baughn, Choudhury called her into his office and said, “Should we make this a relationship?” Shocked, she says, she protested and made her way out of the office. Later, at the 2008 national championships, she tied for first place, but at the internationals the next day, she came in second, despite what she believed was a clear victory. According to the lawsuit, one of the judges told Baughn that all the judges had scored her as the winner, and another judge told a teacher who frequently volunteered at Choudhury’s headquarters that Choudhury had overruled the judges’ decision. Baughn was later offered the opportunity to assist at one of the 2008 training camps, where Choudhury’s harassment became physical as he pushed her against a door and groped her. Despite her abilities, Baughn alleges that Choudhury wouldn’t permit her to teach advanced seminars, and that his office contacted studios that had scheduled her to teach and discouraged them from allowing it.

Larissa Anderson found Bikram yoga emotionally healing, she tells Wallace, and through her then boyfriend grew close to the Choudhury family. One night after dining with the family at their home, Anderson says, Choudhury asked her to give him a massage while he watched a Bollywood movie. Eventually, she says, she started to nod off from fatigue, but Choudhury asked her to stay, then tried to kiss her. She said no, but Choudhury persisted and raped her, according to her suit. Over the next five years, she remained in the Bikram community and came to believe that “her life would be over” if she left. But she kept her distance from Choudhury until she assisted at a teacher training in 2011. While giving him a massage in his suite, Anderson found herself suddenly left alone with him, and her suit alleges he kept asking her to massage higher up his leg, eventually saying, “Are you sure you don’t want to sleep with me tonight?” Her suit also claims that he pressed his body into hers against the wall as she repeatedly rebuffed him. Finally, she was able to leave. According to her lawsuit, after that, he wouldn’t list her studio on his Web site or otherwise promote it, in violation of the affiliation agreement she’d signed. Anderson says she has experienced “PTSD, anxiety, and depression” as a result of Choudhury’s actions.

Choudhury’s former in-house counsel, Minakshi Jafa-Bodden, filed a suit earlier this year alleging, among other things, discrimination, sexual harassment, and defamation. Jafa-Bodden alleges that before firing her Choudhury intimated that she should pressure a witness in a suit to stay silent, discussed having a federal judge who’d ruled against Choudhury “taken out,” and wanted her to falsely accuse a male studio owner of sexual misconduct, including being a “rapist.”

Jane Doe 1, like Jane Doe 2, filed suit early last May. Choudhury insisted at the fall teacher training in 2011 that he had a “gift” for her, a “transmission,” because they “thought the same.” Another night soon after, she says, he told her, “I have never met someone who had a mind quite like my guru. You have the divine in you. You have been touched by God.” One morning, according to her suit, while doing her duty of tidying his suite and making sure there was fresh fruit, Choudhury surprised her and forced her onto the bed, then raped her.

In outward appearance, Choudhury is a flashy showboat who wears crocodile shoes and gangster fedoras. He owns dozens of Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, and the like (including Howard Hughes’s Royal Daimler, with a toilet in back), and lives in an 8,000-square-foot Beverly Hills mansion seemingly built entirely from gold, stone, and mirrors. He claims to sleep only two hours a night, and he is given to swaggering pronouncements—e.g., “I have balls like atom bombs, two of them, 100 mega-tons each. Nobody [banned term] with me.”

Choudhury regularly makes outlandish, non-F.D.A./F.T.C.-approved claims for his yoga. Wallace reports that in a 2012 sworn-testimony video, and therefore under penalty of perjury, Choudhury claims that Harvard University is erecting a “Bikram building in their campus.” Kevin Galvin, a spokesperson for Harvard University, responds, “We checked with our capital-projects group and can confirm that no new ‘building’ in the usual sense of that term is under construction funded by Mr. Choudhury or by a donation in his name.”

A handful of studios, including Larissa Anderson’s, have dropped Bikram from their names. “It’s just really clear that there’s some serious issues going on, and I didn’t want to be part of it,” says one studio owner who says she found it distasteful to brush Choudhury’s hair when she attended teacher training, and who decided to rename her studio after the Baughn suit was filed. Then, when the three other suits were filed, she decided to phase Bikram yoga out of her curriculum altogether.

“When more of the sexual allegations came out, I couldn’t teach the series anymore and so I started slowly taking the classes away. I can’t call myself a yoga teacher and then protect Bikram and put money in his pocket.”

Tony Sanchez, an original Bikram protégé who now teaches his own brand of yoga outside Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, takes a longer view. “I think Bikram was a different person at the beginning,” Sanchez says. “He had a lot of intentions to help people. I believe what happened is, along the way, he had too many disappointments with people who were not loyal to him, including me. After he dismissed me, and I didn’t grovel back and cry, he was disappointed. And I believe it’s like the skinny person who finds himself eating a lot of junk food, and eventually that person becomes an obese person. Bikram was spiritually pure and all of that, and then he found himself with so many opportunities to fail, to succeed, and he took them all, and eventually he became an obese person with all his karmic [banned term] that he has to deal with.”

(Choudhury declined to be interviewed to respond to questions.)
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PostSubject: Re: Disturbing rape claims being made against the millionaire guru who invented the stars' favourite yoga   Fri Dec 13, 2013 5:45 pm

Yoga guru Bikram Choudhury 'raped students in cult-like training'

Bikram Choudhury, the founder of the Bikram school of hot yoga, told a student "I need to spiritually enlighten you" as he raped her, according to one of a blizzard of lawsuits against him
The Calcutta native founded the Bikram Yoga system in the early 1970s and is practiced by millions across the world Photo: GERARD BURKHART


By Raf Sanchez
7:49PM GMT 05 Dec 2013

The 67-year-old Indian yoga master is being sued by five different women in the California courts, alleging that he used his guru status to lure in victims and then "crush anyone who speaks against him".

Mr Choudhury's method of Bikram Yoga, practiced at 105F (41C) heat, has become wildly popular in Britain and the US and its celebrity devotees include Jennifer Aniston, Lady Gaga and David Beckham.

Yet court documents describe a cult-like atmosphere where the charismatic Mr Choudhury would tell young women training to be instructors they had been "touched by God" before forcing himself upon them.

He "used his status as a guru to identify and victimise the most vulnerable women from among his flock, grooming them, breaking down barriers, and ultimately assaulting them when they were at their most physically, emotionally, or financially vulnerable," according to court papers.

The lawsuits - which contains allegations of rape, sexual battery, fraud and false imprisonment - are also levelled against 25 unnamed members of Mr Choudhury's inner circle who allegedly knew of his behaviour "yet did nothing to prevent this from happening".

Mr Choudhury has previously denied the charges but neither he nor his staff responded to a request for comment.

The Calcutta native founded the Bikram Yoga system in the early 1970s and is practiced by millions across the world, generating a fortune that Mr Choudhury has turned towards Rolexes and Rolls Royces.

Among his fleet of cars is a Royal Daimler he said once belonged to the Howard Hughes, the reclusive millionaire, and includes a toilet in the back seat.
But his yoga empire is now under siege in the Los Angeles courts, where four former students and his ex-legal advisor are pursuing him.

One woman, named only as Jane Doe 2 in court documents, said she enrolled in a $13,000, nine-week instructor training course taught by Mr Choudhury, where he insisted students wear "tight, skimpy clothing" and banned them from having green clothes.

Students were allegedly taught that Bikram Yoga could "cure cancer" and "enable practitioners to live to be 100 years old" and that Mr Choudhury "is on the same level as Jesus Christ or the Buddha".

Mr Choudhury allegedly singled out Jane Doe 2 among his students, telling her: "You will be greater than Mother Teresa, but you have to follow me."

On the night of November 18, 2010, Ms Doe alleges that the guru invited her to come to his room to discuss a job offer at his headquarters.

Moments before raping her, Mr Choudhury said: "I need to spiritually enlighten you. In order to do that, we need to become one," according to court documents.
Larissa Anderson, another of the plaintiffs, claimed she "found herself drawn into a cult and made a victim of gender violence".

Ms Anderson claims that Mr Choudhury sexually assaulted her on Halloween, 2011, and "subsequently retaliated against...her business as a result of refusing his advances".

The Bikram Yoga school is tightly-controlled and has filed lawsuits against yoga studios that it believes are copying its methods.

Ms Anderson alleges that after she resisted him, Mr Choudhury refused to endorse her studio or allow it be listed as an official Bikram Yoga practice, causing damage to her business.

In June, Minakshi Jafa-Bodden, Mr Choudhury's former legal advisor filed suit against him, saying he presided over "a hyper-sexualised, offensive and degrading environment for women".

She alleged he was ordered not to investigate claims that a student had been raped during one of the teacher-training courses.

During a separate investigation of alleged sexual assault by male trainers, Mr Choudhury allegedly told her "those boys didn't do nothing to that stupid girl"
.
Mr Choudhury released a statement in March in response to one of the first lawsuits, saying he was "disappointed by the false charges" but would not comment further.
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Carol

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PostSubject: Re: Disturbing rape claims being made against the millionaire guru who invented the stars' favourite yoga   Fri Dec 13, 2013 7:40 pm

Thanks, Josh. His conducting is disgusting. However, the yoga system he invented works well if you can stand the hot room. I did his yoga for several years. But it shows what can happen when an organization  has no checks and balances.

I am amazed to learn that the OBC has a Board with one member only -- the head of the Order. What are they thinking????
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PostSubject: Re: Disturbing rape claims being made against the millionaire guru who invented the stars' favourite yoga   Fri Dec 13, 2013 8:34 pm

the one-member board is a kind of California non-profit entity called a "Corporation Sole" - not sure this a common thing anymore, but that's how Kennett set it up in the early days.  When she had her breakdown and resigned and put me in charge, I dissolved the corporation sole and created a standard non-profit corporation with a board.  No doubt, after I departed, she returned to the earlier set-up.  Most sane religious organizations have a multi-member board - and really healthy groups have a functioning board, a real oversight group - not just a rubber stamp situation.  Of course, many guru-based groups do not have a functioning board, just a bunch of wowers and bowers, who say yes to everything and turn a blind-eye to any thing that doesn't fit the fantasy.  For example, most Jewish temples are run by a strong board that hires and fires the Rabbi.  The Rabbi does not run the show and is accountable. 

In actual fact, a strong board of smart and engaged members can really help an organization in many different ways - raise money, expand, create new initiatives, correct problems, provide guidance and advice.
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PostSubject: Re: Disturbing rape claims being made against the millionaire guru who invented the stars' favourite yoga   Sat Dec 14, 2013 6:09 am

I remember the original corporation sole being set up. The model that was being followed was that of a Catholic bishopric which I believe are all corporation soles so that the assets of the church are held in trust by the bishop.
If I remember rightly Throssel was set up similarly.
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PostSubject: Re: Disturbing rape claims being made against the millionaire guru who invented the stars' favourite yoga   Sat Dec 14, 2013 7:05 am

What a prat,I hope one of these predators gets done for it.

Interestingly Josh you say Kennetts breakdown was it widely accepted at the time that it was a breakdown?
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PostSubject: Re: Disturbing rape claims being made against the millionaire guru who invented the stars' favourite yoga   Sat Dec 14, 2013 10:06 am

Mmm... 
Quote :
Miss Baughn started Bikram yoga in 2004 and, according to her lawsuit, was initially flattered by Choudhury's attentions (he told her they knew each other in a past life).


Now where have I heard that line before!
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PostSubject: Re: Disturbing rape claims being made against the millionaire guru who invented the stars' favourite yoga   Sat Dec 14, 2013 10:20 am

"Jane Doe 2 tells Wallace that at first she was flattered that Choudhury DH paid her special attention when she attended one of his twice-yearly teacher trainings in September 2010, for which her boyfriend had paid $10,900. Choudhury told her after one class, “There were hundreds of bodies in that room tonight but you were the only one that listened to me.” But she says his advances quickly escalated: he held her after class one day and asked her to move to L.A. to work at his studio. “I can see something inside of you that no one else can,” he allegedly told her. “You will be greater than Mother Teresa, but you have to follow me. You have to do everything I tell you to do.” He gripped her hand and stared at her. “I am your guru,” he said. “I am your god…. Without me, you will be a piece of gold undiscovered and covered in dirt.” Another night, according to her lawsuit, he again pressed his case for her to come and work for him, asking that she come up to his room to talk. He assured her they would not be alone, but as soon as they entered his room, she realized her mistake. They were alone. When she started to walk out, according to her suit, he began crying and begging her to “save” him, and forced himself on her."

and let we not forget:

"It should be remembered that the mind of the master is ever pure... and even if the master tells lies, steals, and chases women..., he is still to be considered a true master as long as he scolds his disciples for their transgressions." -- --Sheng-Yen


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PostSubject: Re: Disturbing rape claims being made against the millionaire guru who invented the stars' favourite yoga   Sat Dec 14, 2013 10:27 am

these guru pick-up lines are unfortunately so common -- they are not the weird rare exception - it's like they all went to the same college fraternity or guru training camp - and attended the same workshop - ten simple ways to seduce your disciples. 

But I think these strategies are easy to figure out once you convince yourself and your students that you are divine, enlightened, superman, beyond normal rules and karma, and that now your thoughts and feelings are without question pure expressions of the absolute reality - and that everything you say or do is teaching.  Once the story is set - once you and your students are living in the same enchantment - and followers give up their critical thinking, the ability to question, and the right to say the word "no" -- it's easy pickings.


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PostSubject: Re: Disturbing rape claims being made against the millionaire guru who invented the stars' favourite yoga   Sat Dec 14, 2013 10:40 am

Sex and the Single guru - by Robert Forman - from 2011
It's happened again.  Another guru's been caught with his pants down!


I needn't go into names or gory details. This one was Jewish, but no matter the flavor, we all know the story:  charismatic spiritual leader.  Attractive woman.  Bingo-bango-boggin.

I assume the spiritual leader in question has gained something like enlightenment.  Let's hope so.  But his silence certainly doesn't seem to have cured his sexual perturbations!

And his behavior is all too typical.  Tibetan Lama Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, for example, who was reported to got so drunk sometimes that he had to be helped off the stage, was said to have slept openly with female disciples.  His “dharma heir” Osel Tendzin’s not only had frequent sex with his students, but also supposedly hid from them that he had the AIDS virus and could infect them.  The abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center, Richard Baker Roshi, lost his job over reports of repeated affairs with female disciples. The founder of the Hindu Siddha Yoga movement, Swami Muktananda, reportedly slept with some of his pre-pubescent disciples.

Out of 54 Buddhist, Hindu and Jain teachers in the United States, according to Buddhist teacher and  psychologist Jack Kornfield, only 15 had lived up to their tradition’s proscriptions of celibacy. Of the sexually active 39, some 34 had affairs with current students.

And we cannot forget the 4,392 men, a remarkable 4% of American Catholic priests, who were accused of being pedophiles.

It would be too easy to answer that these sexual mis-adventures are just the fault of a few bad apples. That would be true, as far as it goes. But the failure here is deeper, and it’s time to say so.

Just what's going on?

Spiritual enlightenment, religious transformation, being twice born just may be, with reference to sexual issues, incomplete.

Enlightenment or being saved by God is important.  It is the great unmingling, a revelation of our connection with the divine or some underlying energy: Brahman, Buddha-mind, Tao, God, the ultimate.  I believe this was what our traditions were celebrating.  And it was, apparently enough for most of history.  But in our highly sexualized, post pill, post feminine liberation world, it is no longer enough.

After all, gurus, rabbis and ministers in 1150 or 1850 or even 1950 didn’t face what we must on a daily basis.  They had to confront their own sexual urges, for sure. But, occasional stories like David and Bathsheeba notwithstanding, opportunities for sexual adventurism were relatively limited.  The sexual urges of monks and nuns were encountered largely in the privacy of their own cells and single-gendered monasteries.  Although the sexuality of the religious was probably always an issue, for most of history one’s personal issues with sexuality probably wasn’t the dominant life-issue.

But for us, sexuality has become a key challenge. Our gurus' and ministers' deep inner shifts do not lead to transparent and healthy enough sexual lives.  Enlightenment or being twice born is just no longer enough.

Spirit and psyche address different aspects of the complete life: the unconditioned and inward is not the same as the personal and conditioned.

Spiritual practice, especially mysticism, points toward a timeless trans-human reality, while psychological work addresses the evolving human realm, with all its issues of personal meaning and interpersonal relationships.  Curing the one doesn't automatically cure the other.

The complete life, the good human life, must, I’m coming to see, include both a transformed inner life and a transformed outer life.  To be complete our spiritual goal must include both a deep inner freedom and enough self-awareness to recognize when we’re feeling or acting in ways that are stuck or corrupt.  And it must include the courage to actually change.

If we are to live a full, sane, complete life, we will have to heal both today.
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PostSubject: Re: Disturbing rape claims being made against the millionaire guru who invented the stars' favourite yoga   Sat Dec 14, 2013 11:29 am

Thoughts on Leaving Rigpa
January 16, 2013 by tenpel 102 Comments
http://buddhism-controversy-blog.com/2013/01/16/thoughts-on-leaving-rigpa/
http://downthecrookedpath-meditation-gurus.blogspot.com/

(This piece has been posted on a few websites. Do not know who "Tenpel" is.  Rigpa is an international Tibetan Buddhist organization founded by Sogyal Rinpoche who was sued many years back for sexual harassment. There may be a lot on line about Sogyal and Rigpa.)

After almost 20 years in Rigpa, I have left with a heavy heart and a wounded soul.

I still have huge faith and trust in the Dharma and have connected with my own wisdom in a real way. The allegations of abuse by Sogyal Rinpoche have been around for a long time and every now and again, they re-surface in the media and a whole new generation of Rigpa students become aware that all is not as it seems.

For my first few years in Rigpa, I was not aware of these issues at all and when I did become aware in some way, my mind compartamentalised these issues. I was so confused, I tried to rationalise it – so many people benefit from the teachings, this surely can’t be true and so on but there was always a niggling doubt.  Then people that I trusted in the Dharma assured me that this was all fine, it was allegations, it was crazy wisdom, this was my ego reacting and so on. However, this doubt got bigger and bigger and when I discussed the issues with senior students, some of whom were in blank denial and issued a party line, some of whom admitted the truth of the allegations but justified it by “crazy wisdom” approach. Both reactions only made my doubts bigger, I read as much as could, watched interviews and soon found myself connecting with other students who had left or were leaving. We were all fearful  as this was a taboo subject and had been taught that to speak or think badly about the master would be a terrible corruption of samaya and would send you to the vajra hells. These teachings in recent years in Rigpa on devotion and samaya have become more numerous and explicit – I believe this is deliberate.

Only after leaving Rigpa, did I realise how free I felt – no longer did I have to justify thoughts in my mind as bad or a corruption of samaya, I was recognising something wrong had happened. I had attended weekends where these issues were discussed in Rigpa but mostly how the issues could be managed in the face of questions from students or the public. It was effectively a re-education or PR training and it left me feeling deeply uncomfortable. Why  should I put out a party line? I remember how my skin crawled a little when one instructor referred to those making allegations as “these women”, it was how it was said, it was loaded with meaning – these woman who dare speak out, who make these allegations, these women who don’t know what they want. We were told Sogyal is not a monk, he is not celibate and is entitled to a private life and that many woman because he is a Rinpoche want to connect with him and have a relationship. This does not make it ok as many people project hugely onto Tibetan masters, in much the same way as those in psychotherapy in the West might do so with a therapist. A good therapist sees this immediately and uses it in the therapy in a healthy way to sort out real issues and the idea of a therapist sleeping with a client is seen as a huge betrayal of trust and breach of fiduciary duty.

Since leaving Rigpa, I am clearer and happier – I feel sick that I stayed there so long and didn’t see the reality, that I listened to the lies and justification. I sometimes now meet people from Rigpa and I know that a lot of people have left in the past year or two and there is a concerted campaign to re-connect with those who have left, wanting to know their reasons why, wanting to talk to them. I want to have nothing to do with this as I believe the allegations against Sogyal Rinpoche should be dealt with openly and honesty.

The complicity of many people in Rigpa in covering up these allegations, managing what can and can’t be said and so on is wrong and so sad. It is no different that the terrible behaviour of the Catholic Church in how they covered up abuses for years.

This whole experience has left me deeply wounded in ways I cannot describe – Buddhism has brought huge benefit and meaning to my life but this experience with Rigpa about Rinpoche’s abuse and the cover-up of same means there is a dark shadow over my experience. I feel by participating in such an organisation for some time, I was also complicit as first I didn’t know and then I did and didn’t say anything about my questions or concerns. This isn’t surprisingly as a very strong and distinct culture of silence, group think and constant activity has built up in Rigpa. It means people are afraid to speak out, afraid to be different and the constant activity means people are so busy and tired they don’t question the norms.

I am hopeful that in the coming year the issues in Rigpa will be exposed more and more and there will be a honest dialogue that benefit all those who have suffered at the hands of this organisation.  The really sad thing is there are many kind and good people in Rigpa, who lead lives according to the Dharma but there is this huge blindspot about the issues of the allegations about Rinpoche. Rigpa has also provided students in the west with access to extraordinary lamas such as Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, Garchen Rinpoche and so on but I also have questions why does no-one speak up. Surely these lamas also know about these allegations? it is all so sad and confusing and disheartening and I commend those who have the bravery to speak out from the bottom of my heart.
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PostSubject: Re: Disturbing rape claims being made against the millionaire guru who invented the stars' favourite yoga   Sat Dec 14, 2013 1:19 pm

Another common line taken from an old Guardian newspaper report:
The teacher told him 'that in order to develop spiritually he had to get over his anti-homosexual conditioning, which was blocking him from devoting his energies to the spiritual life. He offered to help'
and I'm sure there are many variants, both hetero- and homosexual.

It also reported another common controlling mechanism from the person:
'He represented Buddhist ideals. But he was petulant and controlling. He doesn't boss people about but suggests something isn't spiritually appropriate. I thought he was an important spiritual teacher and I ought to do whatever I could to help him.'
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Carol

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PostSubject: Re: Disturbing rape claims being made against the millionaire guru who invented the stars' favourite yoga   Sat Dec 14, 2013 7:26 pm

Josh correctly said:
"Spiritual practice, especially mysticism, points toward a timeless trans-human reality, while psychological work addresses the evolving human realm, with all its issues of personal meaning and interpersonal relationships.  Curing the one doesn't automatically cure the other."

The problem for someone who wants to develop spiritually in a spiritual community of some kind (rather than sitting alone on a cushion) is how to distinguish teachers who have developed a "timeless trans-human" reality from those teachers who may have developed spiritually but haven't evolved in the human realm.

Koshin used to say if anyone asks for your money, your mind, or your body, you should run. But it's not always to see whether a spiritual leader is asking for your money,mind,or body to help you develop spiritually or to gratify his/her own unresolved human hang-ups.

I always thought the precepts were a good guideline, but they are open to interpretation (which Eko apparently did) and don't really give a person the ability to discern spiritually desirable conduct from trash.
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PostSubject: Re: Disturbing rape claims being made against the millionaire guru who invented the stars' favourite yoga   Wed Dec 18, 2013 6:59 pm

another recent example in the news.  I have bolded the most relevant part.....  same circus, different clowns...

Famous Indian guru’s arrest on sex charges divides nation amid rise in ‘godman’ scandals
By Rama Lakshmi,September 24, 2013 - Washington Post

    An image of the guru Asaram Bapu, Asumal Harpalani, adorns the walls of the ashram in Motera. Harpalani is in jail, arrested last month on charges of sexually assaulting the 16-year-old daughter of two of his followers.

Men lie prostrate on the floor in front of the elevated seat of their guru — the man they call Asaram Bapu. Pictures of his avuncular face, with its flowing white beard, hang everywhere in this sprawling, 30-acre ashram in western India.

But these days, the guru’s enclosed wood-carved altar, where millions once worshiped him, is empty. All that’s left is a large photograph, an air purifier, blingy lights and fake red roses.

The guru, whose real name is Asumal Harpalani, is languishing in a Jodhpur jail, arrested last month on charges of sexually assaulting the 16-year-old daughter of two followers.

In recent weeks, the allegations against the mega-guru — who has a massive network of 20 million devotees and hundreds of ashrams worth an estimated $760 million — have stunned and split India.

The scandal has raised questions about the unprecedented boom in spiritual gurus in the world’s largest democracy — and the enormous power and wealth they wield. Harpalani is not alone among them in amassing riches or getting in scrapes with the law. One holy man, Sathya Sai Baba, died in 2011 and left behind nearly $8 million in gold, silver and cash. In recent years, other gurus have been charged with murder, sexual abuse, running prostitution rackets and illegal land acquisition.

Yet the guru phenomenon has continued to grow in India — buoyed by the 24-hour religious programming on television and an increasingly stressed-out middle class seeking easy, prepackaged bliss.

“He has blessed my family all these years. Now it is my turn to pray for him,” said Anjali Chand, 42, who brought marigolds to the ashram with her children. “He is like a beautiful lotus, and the allegations are like muck and dirty water.”

The faithful react

The ashram, once a place of peace, is now under siege. Devotees look at every newcomer with suspicion. The guards chase away television news crews. And there is talk of a grand conspiracy to defame their guru.

“Devotees are calling all day, asking, ‘What do we do, what do we do?’ We tell them to have faith and chant to get rid of the false allegations,” said Venkat Aravala, an Indian-born software engineer based in Nashville, who was giving a rare tour of the grounds recently. Aravala, 34, a follower of Harpalani’s since his teens, comes from the United States to volunteer at the ashram once a year.

Allegations of sexual abuse of female followers, shady land acquisition and even murder have dogged Harpalani for more than a decade, but he could not escape the most recent allegation. Two of his followers turned up at a police station on Aug. 18 and said he had sexually assaulted their daughter.

The teen, a student in one of the ashram schools, told the police that the “godman” called her into his room late one night to exorcize evil spirits. He gave her a glass of milk, switched off the lights and started molesting her, according to charging documents.


“I kept crying for about one and a half hours,” the girl told police, according to the documents. “He told me not to tell anybody or he would get my father killed.”


Police charged Harpalani with sexual assault of a juvenile, but bringing him in was not easy.

In a telling sign of his clout, Harpalani avoided arrest for days. He made the police trying to serve him with summons wait while he meditated and gave sermons and media interviews. He skipped out on interrogations by hopping between some of his more than 400 ashrams.

Finally, it took about 300 police officers in riot gear to arrest him at his ashram in the central city of Indore. Angry devotees blocked rail and road traffic in protest and beat up journalists.

Harpalani has maintained that he is innocent.

“Bigger allegations have been made against me in the past; they didn’t stick,” Harpalani said in an interview with the ABP TV channel. “But this is a dirty allegation, and a baseless one. I am so old, the girl is like my granddaughter.”

A new kind of guru

In the past two decades, spiritual life in the country has undergone a transformation as Indians embrace hectic urban lifestyles and move away from their cultural roots of village-based worship.

The result is that many have sought solace by flocking to the ashrams of gurus who offer spiritual truisms, chanting routines, yoga lessons and herbal cures — or by watching them on TV, where they appear on shows like the ones that televangelists have in the United States.

These modern-day mega-gurus are nothing like the wandering saints of ancient Hindu religious texts, who meditated and lived on alms, renouncing all worldly possessions.

Today’s gurus have built hundreds of ashrams across the globe and run flourishing businesses in everything from herbal medicine to meditation and yoga workshops. They travel in luxury cars, glide past airport security and are guarded by gun-toting police officers and bouncers. Some have criminal pasts.

“There is a mushrooming of these gurus who offer black-and-white spirituality without much depth to people who want short cuts in their fast-paced, urban lives,” said Katharina Poggendorf-Kakar, an anthropologist and scholar of comparative religion in Goa, India, who has studied controversial gurus.

Harpalani, 72, is no different, she suggested. He was born in a village that is now part of Pakistan and spent time working in a tea stall and as a bootlegger before founding his ashram in 1971, according to local reports.

His empire eventually grew to millions of followers, including high-profile businessmen and politicians. But for some who grew disenchanted, the allegations of sexual dalliances are not a surprise, even though the best-selling item in his ashram’s bookstore is his booklet on celibacy, “The Secret of Eternal Youth.”

“I saw him with my own eyes in a sexual position with a female disciple. Otherwise, I would not have believed it, either,” said Amrutbhai Prajapati, who was Harpalani’s personal physician for 12 years. “The women are told that they are lucky to be touched by him, that he is an avatar of Lord Krishna and the women were his consorts from a previous birth.”

Other, darker charges dog him.

In 2008, the bodies of two young students at the ashram — cousins, ages 9 and 10 — were discovered lying disemboweled on the banks of a nearby river. The boys’ relatives accused the guru of practicing a black magic ritual; he suggested that the boys had drowned. A judicial report on the deaths has not been made public.

‘Truth is fearless’

In the days since the arrest, worshipers are still flocking to the ashram here, and faith remains high.

Inside the complex, devotees sit with their string of prayer beads and chant, pray to a holy fire with fragrant camphor and flowers, or walk barefoot around the wish-granting tree.

Conversations with these followers are sprinkled with tales of how Harpalani’s teachings and herbal medicines have cured them of a variety of ailments, ranging from indigestion to cancer.

On the recent morning tour, Aravala, the Nashville-based software engineer, said this was a moment of immense pain for the followers.

“I am not stupid,” he said when asked about the charge of sexual assault. “Would I leave everything, give up business contracts worth $200,000 in the United States, for a guru who indulges in all this?”

But for now, text messages from the ashram are about as much communication as Harpalani’s followers can hope to receive on him, except for a note released Friday that was written from jail.

He cautioned his followers not to do anything illegal and asked them to keep chanting, stay peaceful and have faith in the Indian legal system.

“The truth is fearless,” Harpalani wrote, somewhat inscrutably. “Lies are without legs. May God bless you all.”
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PostSubject: Re: Disturbing rape claims being made against the millionaire guru who invented the stars' favourite yoga   Sun Jan 19, 2014 11:54 pm

February 2011 Issue- Details Magazine

The Overheated, Oversexed Cult of Bikram Choudhury

At an advanced teacher-training session in San Diego, the inventor of "hot yoga" instructs a new generation of gurus. Is he leading them to enlightenment—or hosting a giant hookup party?
By Clancy Martin,



In a white circus tent heated to 105 degrees, 600 not-quite-naked people contort their bodies into positions you never knew were possible. The men have perfect, rippling muscles. The women (and the majority of students here are female) are long and taut, with fatless stomachs curved just enough to be erotic and breasts that perk cheerfully upward. They sit with their legs tucked behind their heads, bodies arranged like pretzels, then gracefully deploy their arms, hips, hands, and legs to open like Georgia O'Keeffe flowers into variations on the split. The mats beneath them are damp with sweat. Overhead, great white plastic ventilating tubes, 70 feet long and 5 feet wide, pump humidity into the air. The vinyl of the tent drips with condensation, and a locker-room aroma hangs in the air.

I've only just arrived, but this bacchanal of bare flesh has been going on for two months. These men and women have come to the sprawling Town and Country Resort Hotel on the outskirts of San Diego to become certified instructors of Bikram Yoga, the controversial American variant that is performed at extreme temperatures. Each has paid $7,000 in tuition and $3,900 in residence fees (all students must stay at the Town and Country) for nine weeks of study, six days a week. This includes two daily 90-minute yoga sessions, as many as five more hours of posture clinic (where they learn to correct their spine or shoulders in particular asanas, or postures), and evening lessons in anatomy and Hindu philosophy followed by Bollywood movies and Indian soap operas until 2:30 or 3 in the morning. When they leave, they will be certified to teach at one of the 5,000 Bikram Yoga studios worldwide.

That's assuming they're able to execute the demanding series of postures that make up Bikram. Right now, the students are in head-to-knee pose, or dandayamana-janushirasana: From a standing position, lift one leg so that it's at a right angle to your body, keeping your knee locked, then bend your upper body forward toward the lifted leg. Imagine the tableau, the kaleidoscope of slim, strong-hipped, bowed bodies, the scene multiplied by the mirrors lining three of the four walls. Now it's camel pose, or ustrasana: On your knees, hands on your hips, bend back until you grab your heels with your hands, then thrust your chest into the air. Before the session is over, 50 or so students have rolled up their mats and left, overwhelmed. I hear what sounds like the chop-chop-chopping of helicopter blades and realize it's my own heartbeat. The ceiling spins. I roll over, open my eyes, and watch the ballet of it in the mirrors. I see more than I bargained for. Because of the heat, everyone is wearing the smallest, tightest thing they can, and, especially with the sweat, the clothes do not cover so much as exaggerate.

Morning practice is bigger than usual today because this is "Intensive Training Week," when many come for the recertification required to maintain their teaching credentials. Most are working through the 84-posture intensive series, the two-hour-plus advanced routine practiced by the elite. This is the portion of the program that is personally supervised by Bikram Choudhury, the 64-year-old founder of Bikram Yoga. Only the best, bravest, and most beautiful practice at the feet of the guru, who sits cross-legged on a giant inflatable leather throne against the back wall. He's in a black Speedo, bare-chested, his hair tied in a topknot. His triceps stand out like pistons. Sometimes a woman will brush his hair or wash and massage his feet. He resembles a cartoon genie on his magic carpet. Between cell-phone calls, he barks Bengali-inflected criticisms and corrections into his headset. He speaks only in exclamation points.

"You, Miss Teeny-Weeny Bikini! Spread your legs! You, Mr. Masturbation! Until I say 'Change,' you do not move a muscle!"

It's hard to tell if these directives are intended for anyone in particular or if Choudhury is just working the crowd. He keeps up a patter of bawdy, sexually suggestive, often male-bashing banter throughout the session. Students—men, especially—have been known to complain, but for most, Bikram's commentary is part of the package. He's built his business, which has been estimated to earn him nearly $5 million a year, in large part by applying a veneer of eroticism to this ancient spiritual practice. For the women here, the "boss," as he calls himself (and everyone else), offers a path to sexual awakening. For the men, Bikram Yoga is a great workout, and maybe an opportunity to get close to a few kundalini-stimulated hard bodies once class lets out.

Choudhury hums "Killing Me Softly" into the mic of his headset as his pupils struggle to hold a posture, even the strongest among them trembling. At last he gives the signal to change.

"This posture called dirty old [banned term]! Because not even one more inch can you stretch!"

UNDER THE BIG TOP: Choudhury strikes a favorite non-yoga pose.
•••
Born in Kolkata, India, Where Yoga is a competitive sport as well as a spiritual practice, Bikram Choudhury claims to have become the All-India National Yoga Champion at the age of 13. He left in 1970 after his guru, Bishnu Ghosh (the younger brother of Paramahansa Yogananda, who is generally credited with bringing yoga to the West), instructed him to spread the practice throughout the world. Choudhury's principal innovation—heat—is supposed to increase flexibility and prevent injury, but he came to it by necessity. In Japan, where he first taught, he found himself shivering through his postures during winter, so he brought in space heaters. Suddenly it was easier for his students to lock their knees and touch their palms to the floor. As an added benefit, the saunalike temperatures heightened their sense of euphoria and purification after workouts. In 1972, when he launched Bikram's Yoga College of India in a tiny studio in the North Beach section of San Francisco, the heaters came with him. Bikram Yoga was born.

This is only the first part of the article.  To read the full story, go on-line.  The language is a bit racy for this forum - many of the words would be "banned"
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