Swami Satchidananda (1914 - 2002), arrived in West: 1966

Satchidananda In 1969, about 500,000 young, mostly stoned or wishing to be stoned or pretending to be stoned young Americans gathered for the rock concert near Woodstock. Opening the event with a brief speech and blessing was the tall, bearded, longhaired Swami Satchidananda in orange robes of the sannyasin. "My beloved sisters and brothers," he began, mimicking Swami Vivekananda's invocation at the 1893 World Parliament of Religions in Chicageo. "I am overwhelmed with joy to see the youth of America gathered here in the name of the fine art of music. The future of the whole world is in your hands. The entire world is going to watch this. The entire world is going to know what the American youth can do for humanity." Very little if Woodstock provided an example. Hanging around, doing little but listening to rock bands for a weekend while stoned or appearing so is doing nothing for humanity.

Eventually the entire world, or at least that part of it interested in Eastern spirituality and yoga knew that Swami Satchidananda was sexually abusing some of his students. In 1991, protesters waving placards ("Stop the Abuse," "End the Cover Up") marched outside a Virginia hotel where he was addressing a symposium. At least 11 women, including two of Satchidananda's former secretaries, have reportedly claimed that the swami used his authority as a spiritual leader to coerce them into having sexual relations with him. Susan Cohen, his former secretary whom he named Swami Atmananda confronted Satchidananda during a speech in Charlottesville, Virginia, by standing up and shouting, "How can you call yourself a spiritual instructor when you have molested me and other women in the community?" Satchidananda responded that he would not allow Cohen to upset his equanimity, "Should my ego be disturbed by it and miss the inner peace?"

Satchidananda at Woodstock

Satchidananda On ThroneJoy Zuckerman aka Swami Krupaananda left Yogaville after a friend confided in her that Satchidananda had made sexual advances toward her. Ms. Zuckerman organized the protest at Satchidananda's keynote address today at the PSI Symposium at the Omni Hotel in Charlottesville. Ms. Zuckerman, Ms. Cohen and other former followers staged a similar demonstration at a conference the swami gave in Montreal in May. "Initially, I felt he was the good role model I had needed," Ms. Zuckerman said. "He said he was just here to serve humanity and had no ego or selfishness. I think, very subtly, he switched the teachings so they were to serve him."

Sylvia Shapiro was a 19-year-old student of Satchidananda in California when he asked her to accompany him on one of his trips to visit followers around the world in 1971. "He was my guru and it was very exciting to be chosen for this," said Ms. Shapiro, now a New York lawyer who is married and has two children. On the trip, Ms. Shapiro was taught to wait on Satchidananda. She learned to cook Indian food, to photograph his public appearances and to give him his twice-a-day massages. "In Manila, he turned it from a massage into oral sex," Ms. Shapiro said. "I was very upset. He didn't want to talk about it. He said he knew best and I shouldn't worry about it." Ms Shapiro remembers it as a stressful time. The greatest influence in her life, her guru, who taught his unmarried followers to remain celibate, was urging that she have sexual relations with him, she said. Naturally the Swami denied any wrongdoing but what is it with these gurus and their desire for regular massages? Are they teaching non-attachment except for massages?

Two old lechers reminiscing about younger women. Satchidananda forgives Clinton his sins.

After the allegations became public many devotees abandoned Satchidananda and hundreds of students left Integral Yoga Institute schools, but the Swami never admitted to any wrongdoing. Satchidananda was simply a cult leader who left behind a legacy of personal pain. Like many cult figures, Satchidananda drew followers through their dreams of self-improvement through yoga and the teachings of an enlightened Master. Integral Yoga Institute and Yogaville were largely defined by his personality though they were mostly paid for by "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "Oh No Not My Baby." Swami Satchidananda taught obedience by asking his followers to kiss his feet and bow before him while sitting on a throne while forcing others into performing sexual favors. Is this really a Holy Man and a celibate Saint? Or was the Swami really a scandalous guru who used his authority to deceive and abuse his followers?

Satchidananda claims he does not look for praise or blame.

I believe that God is using me as an instrument. I am just there, like a river is there. Those who want to come and take a bath may do so. Those who do not want to do not have to."