Monday, September 7, 2009


Is it possible that both were true?

Is it possible that Guru both realized something profound in his silent meditation and was emotionally dysfunctional in his active life?

I think it is.

Over the remaining posts of this blog, I'll do my best to articulate how I've reached this conclusion. It will take a fair bit of deconstruction, not just of the myth of Guru himself but perhaps more importantly much of the language that permeated the Center-life.

We'll also have to think about ethics and yoga. Are the demands of ethics and yoga always, necessarily, the same?

We'll have to think about sex, too.

Let me first emphasize, however, that this conclusion of mine -- that Guru was both extremely advanced in some ways, and flawed in others -- is not for everyone. It's just the conclusion that works the best for me. I'm not putting forth this theory as the be all and end all assessment of Sri Chinmoy. How could it be? I only experienced a very thin slice of the human dynamo that was Guru.

It's just that neither of the other dominant takes on Guru -- that he was either a fraud (or a fraud "with powers," whatever that means) or that he was a celibate, virgin, God-realized avatar -- jibed with my own developing understanding. I needed some other explanation to make sense of what seemed to me to be the conflicting evidence.

Guru facilitated within me some inner development that, as I'll discuss in further posts, I couldn't have achieved without him. From my first meditation on his photo to my peak experience at Rutgers, Guru tended my growing psychic being until it could walk on its own -- and then he prodded me to leave the Center.

Does the fact that he was having sex with Sevika during that time period change that?

In essence, that's what initially led me to look for a theory that would explain both of these phenomena. It is simply my assessment as it stands today. It's the solution that has allowed me to square the evidence as I've experienced it.

Like with any other deconstruction, however, there's the risk that by breaking up the Sri Chinmoy experience -- my Sri Chinmoy experience -- into its component parts and analyzing them piece by piece, we may lose a more holistic, more complete mosaic of who Guru actually was. I'll try to avoid that.

There's also the risk that some of my readers -- whose experience in the Center was quite different from mine -- might misinterpret any discussion of Guru's good qualities (of which he had many) as an effort to downplay or justify his bad actions towards some. On this score, I can only urge my burgeoning critics to read. Though it sounds redundant to my ear -- read closely.

An explanation is not necessarily the same thing as a justification.

Finally, a word of explanation to some of my friendly critics who, while not necessarily disputing the factual bases for the negative allegations made against Guru, nevertheless think writing about the subject is unwise. On this score, I can only say that I write for myself.

As I've written this memoir, from time to time I've had to wrestle with how to -- or whether to -- write about certain subjects. In those circumstances, I've tried to imagine what I'd like to read in the much later future. If I were a young seeker in some future life, what would I like to read?

Honestly, I prefer the truth, unshaded by the well-intentioned ignorance of others.

Long ago, succeeding generations of Sri Ramakrishna's disciples decided it would be better for us later seekers if we didn't know that Thakur was a little odd. That he asked some young men -- boys really -- to stand before him undressed. The master, it was said, could divine the bent of a young man's mind by which side of his balls his johnson hung.

Or that despite the impression a reader might get from reading the translated and much edited Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna that Thakur never touched a woman and barely ever saw his wife Sarada Devi, he actually slept in the same bed with his wife for some period of time.

Then there are the geniuses running Paramahansa Yogananda's organization, SRF. They, too, think they know better. They edited photographs of the master to remove the crucifix he often wore in public.

I suppose it's easy enough to understand the impulse of some to want to hide the dirty laundry. And, perhaps, doing so helps the after surviving organization -- whether its the Ramakrishna Order, SRF, or the Center in this case -- build up the myth, which in turn brings in new seekers. I don't know. Ultimately, however, it's a disservice to those of us "grownups" who would just as soon know the truth.

So, on the off chance that in some future life I'm looking for a nuanced view of what it was like to be a direct disciple of Sri Chinmoy, I'll leave the hagiography to others.

In the end, reaching an objective truth about who Guru was and what his true motivations were in a way satisfying to all will be impossible. Ultimately, the path of yoga is a solitary, individual affair, and each of us -- as individuals -- must reach a conclusion that is satisfactory to each of us.

Perhaps all we'll ever truly be able to do is to look back in perplexity and wonder, as my friend Sudhir often did, and ask: "Who was that guy?"

The photo above is my favorite shot of Paramahansa Yogananda. It really has nothing to do with the subject at hand, but I had to find some way to use it.


Anonymous said...


I would like to ask you for the exact sources for these supposed facts about Sri Ramakrishna looking at boys and sleeping in the same bed as Sarada Devi, because by using the word "actually" you are assuming a definite proven stance on these observations without quoting sources. You are usually more meticulous than that.

Regarding the Yogananda photos, yes, I understand too that certain photos in Autobiography were later omitted or edited, but why would hiding a crucifix be such a crime. The SRF doesn't hide the fact that Yogananda considered Christ as an avatar.

I'm frankly uncomfortable with this stragegy which seems to be saying "Well, they all had their deviant behaviours", thereby excusing CKG for his.

Y. said...

Thanks for your comment and for keeping me honest! No excuse other than laziness on the sourcing.

As for Thakur examining the naked bodies of some of his young disciples, I remember first reading about it in "Sri Ramakrishna: The Great Master," originally written in Bengali by Swami Saradananda ("Sri Ramakrishna Lila Prasanga"). The version I read, obviously, was the English translation by Swami Jagadananda.

The story refers specifically to the young boy "Prasanna" and suggests that this happened to others as well. I'm sorry, I don't own the book and can't give you a page reference. (Though I'm not sure it will do you much good, I was able to find a cite for the story in the original Bengali text of Swami Saradananda Maharaj: 5.7.15.)

There are also numerous references to similar episodes in Sri M's original five-volume version of the "Gospel" -- Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamitra. See, for example, volume three at pages 99 through 125 (again, these cites are to M's original Bengali text). I don't now remember whether such stories made it into Swami Nikhilananda's great English translation of the Gospel of Ramakrishna.

The facts of these incidents -- though not well known -- are not really in dispute.

The MEANING of such events, however, are -- as you can imagine -- in hot dispute. See, for example, "Kali's Child: the Mystical and the Erotic in the Life and Teachings of Sri Ramakrishna," by Jeffrey Kripal, Ph.D. Boy, did this book drive the devotees insane!

As to Sri Ramakrishna sleeping in the same bed as his wife, that comes from a more obscure -- though no less reliable source: "The Apostle and the Evangelist," by Swami Nityatmananda. The swami was Sri M's devoted assistant until Master Mahasaya's death in 1935.

Originally written in Bengali, there are now at least 10 volumes (horribly) translated into English and available through the Vedanta Society or directly through the "Sri Ma Trust." In any event, they are essentially the "Gospel of M," in which the swami quotes M directly on the point in question.

Again, if you force me to, I'll try to dig out a page reference (please don't force me to!!). ; )

As to the crucifix, it's not a crime. It's just a simple example of disciples distorting the truth (no doubt with good intentions, and perhaps to no bad effect). The point, though, is: wouldn't you just as soon get an unadulterated picture of the master? (And, what else are they changing?)

Finally, there is no such strategy as you suggest. The problem, I think, is that I simply can't lay it all out in one blog post. First, I'm not saying that what Ramakrishna did was "deviant" at all. Far from it -- I feel closer to Thakur than I do to Guru (strangely enough).

Second, as I pointed out in this very post -- an explanation IS NOT a justification. Just hang with me for a couple more posts and I'll make that perfectly clear.

vindicreated vision said...

A classic look of immorality is the Mahabharata. Also the Bible. Though you don't see it in the life of the Christ(however false it may be), it can be pretty apparent in the life of Krishna. Because we cannot view spirituality and morality(or even ethics) on the same level, it makes it nearly impossible to judge from a moral standpoint. And that's the difficulty of pretty much all spiritual masters. Observe, explain, and understand, as it seems you're trying to do, is all that we can do.

To what then, do we measure a spiritual master? To me, the inner reality. And that's no easy feat!

Y. said...

@vindicreated: While we're on the subject -- as I coincidentally was discussing with another friend earlier today -- let's not leave out the end of Ramayana!

How conveniently people forget that the mighty Lord Rama dumped his wife, Sita, "for living in another man's castle" after having chastely surviving a kidnapping and imprisonment.

I think we should never hesitate to call a spade a spade -- there's no way to justify certain behavior, no matter who conducts it.

Anonymous said...

P*shpita says:
Thank You for your reference to the Mahabharata "vindicreated"
If one reads the deeper levels of the Mahabharata you see that "morality" and societal norms are still yet,all part of "Maya".
God/Krishna has favorites, God/Krishna is a cheater, God breaks the rules,God lies, God doesn't put his own most devoted first,he puts his "favorite" first. You see in it, over and over, that Passion and Love for God, far outweighs following God "correctly". Understanding God cannot be found in the mind. Passion for God is what it's all about. Quote from the Mahabharata:
“Fear not what is not real, never was and never will be. What is real...always was, and cannot be destroyed.” Peace.

Anonymous said...

Hey lawyer, did,nt they teach you in law school,"innocent until proven guilty"? In any court room there is usually one bullshit artist and one truthful person.As in the case of Ckg the lowervital slander just does,nt fit the decades of pure one of the parties is telling a lie! Somehow after years in the centre and seeing what disciples are capable of, i seriously doubt anything that comes out of a disciples mouth!

Niklas said...

Yogaloy: I know I keep sounding like a kiss ass when I keep thanking you for your courage to ask these tough questions and seek answers in public. But thanks. Essentially what you are proposing in "Paradox" is the same conclusion I came to. That is that guru was very developed in some realms and less so in others.

I want to emphasize that your spiritual experiences are your spiritual experience. They might have been inspired, brought on, induced, or whatever by ckg but they are yours and they can't be rescinded. You met him there, and to what ever degree those experiences were able to stabilize within you, they are yours to keep.

Again thank you for writing so cogently and honestly about what is a very controversial topic for many.

I also believe that whoever "that guy was" can best be answered by all the souls that encountered him, and that all points of view if truthful to the experiences of the experiencer paint a brush stroke of the complete picture which may not be understood in its totality by everyone. That is we can only perceive one facet. The dual and the non-dual are hard to maintain in one perspective.

Shine on brother! Your truth is fascinating....

Niklas aka Nimagna

ps What does Anonymous above know about courtrooms?

Y. said...

Hey, thanks Nik!

First off, we'd probably all be better off if we didn't know anything about courtrooms ... it's a place of last resort for our "civil" battles.

I agree wholeheartedly that the ultimate answer about Guru will come from the collective answers we -- as the individual brush strokes -- all give.

So, keep posting your comments brother!


Anonymous said...

question:.....why did no one take legal action against CKG......i,ll tell you why, because they did,nt have the balls to stand in a court room, look him in the face, and tell the judge a bunch of lies......not one of the people who are making the acusations took legal speaks volumes.

Y. said...

I think that's a little simplistic.

To begin with, I don't buy the premise (i.e., that the ability and willingness to file a lawsuit in and of itself lends credibility to the allegations of that lawsuit).

That premise, on its face, is mistaken.

As a practical matter, it takes more than "balls" for a lone individual to sue a public figure who could marshal significant resources to defend himself.

It takes money. Lots of it.

It's hard for me to imagine any of my former sister disciples -- after having surrendered decades of their lives to Guru and the Center -- having the cash to even have a complaint drafted and filed, let alone enough to actually litigate the case through discovery and trial.

On a more fundamental level, however, the desire of women in these types of cases (by which I mean sexual harassment cases, which seem to be the most analogous to the facts alleged here) to move on, rather than fight, is common if not typical.

In fact, in criminal cases of rape, oftentimes the biggest hurdle prosecutors face is getting the victim to press charges.

Why? Because the victims -- almost invariably women -- know that to bring such allegations against men will bring the most vicious misogynist attacks on their character (typically painting the victims as sexually promiscuous, as having "asked for it," or deserving the treatment they received).

As the underlying emotion of your comment demonstrates, female disciples who bring these types of allegations must be prepared to withstand the most callous treatment from their former spiritual brothers and sisters (on top of the breach of trust visited upon them by their guru).

I think Sevika, Suchatula, and the others have demonstrated significant courage simply by publicly speaking out.

The decision to file a lawsuit is not one to be taken lightly and there are lots of rational reasons (e.g., money, opportunity costs, stress) to forego such an action, even a bona fide one.

So, perhaps a little sympathy is in order.

Finally, assuming you find my response to your comment unpersuasive, why don't we try putting the shoe on the other foot.

Why didn't Guru sue Sevika for defamation?

Elizabeth K. Kracht said...

Comment Part 1

Wow. What a post. And what a discussion forum.

I asked myself the same questions anonymous did in terms of why no one took guru to court, as though that would have convinced me the stories might have some credibility. I even posted that anonymously years ago to the Yahoo! forum.

But as you point out, it's not quite that simple. And that's what is interesting about your blog to me; for those of us who tend to think in black and white and massively oversimplify things, your blog brings us over to more of a balanced viewpoint--the gray area. The gray area might not be all that comfortable, but I think it's more realistic.

Until I heard Suchatula's story, I was still on the fence, and not thinking much about anything since those other stories have been circulating for about eight or nine years now. I figured either I would just never really know, or that something would happen to give me a more clear understanding with the passage of time.

Suchatula's story did that for me. I knew her personally before the Centre. We weren't always the best of friends, but I think I can honestly say that she wasn't a person that lied. I worked with her closely at Ananda-Fuara in San Francisco for about 12 years, and lying wasn't something that she did. Most people that worked closely with her will agree that she was a model disciple, and although not perfect--we all had our problems, i.e., crushes on boys/girls, problems with co-workers, lust for cigarettes...or whatever it might be--she had a lesser drama-filled discipleship than many. Let's face it, even the best of us, the seemingly most exemplary disciples, had problems from time to time.

I now know more about guru and his actions than I previously did, but as you point out in your post, it's about me and my spiritual journey. Knowing that information is about how I apply it to my own journey as I go forward. And as Suchatula puts it, the truth is the truth. She's not angry, but she is putting the truth out there. Each one of us will take that information and apply it to our own journey and understanding of things.

For some people, believing Suchatula's story, or any of the stories, is unbearable. Your paradox offers some respite in a way. For those of us who feel guru having sex with disciple women is a deal breaker, it forces us to really question ourselves ultimately, and our faith, which is very painful; it knocks at the door of your identity and the stronghold that a life of faith has held, for many of us.

Personally, I'm willing to go there with you in terms of the paradox, because the jury continues to be out for me on "who that man was"--and I do want to understand that in a mature way. But I do believe that guru had a sex life, and I do believe that what he was doing was wrong. And I say that only because the lines of power, abuse, psychology...are too unclear in those kinds of situations. Guru was gambling.

Elizabeth K. Kracht said...

Comment Part 2

There are those women that were part of that ring of women, according to Suchatula, who clearly did believe that what they were doing with guru was a divine opportunity. But what about the ones that were blindsided and whose faith has been derailed as a result? There is clearly something wrong with that. A person could argue karma, could argue naivete, could argue whatever, but that's the easy way out.

The disciples are constantly in danger of oversimplifying things as a way not to feel. In fact, all of humanity suffers that. It's easier to throw out the notion of karma or some other similar notion at a situation to avoid feeling and having sympathy for a person. The idea of guru being a celibate or non-celibate, forces this challenge on so many levels.

I think your blog is offering an opportunity for a lot of us to expand the higher mind in some fashion. And I don't mean that by acceptance or rejection of what you have to say or the information you are putting out there, but by simply allowing ourselves to open up to the reality that things may not have been what we thought. And yeah, it sucks and its painful, but ultimately, we are growing out of that black and white thinking that wants to blame a victim, remain naive and blindly do shit that we may or may not feel is right action, aka gaining spiritual independence.

The other thing to keep in mind, is that we all come from such different places and different backgrounds, that none of us are going to see things in exactly the same way. Psychologically, all of us are so different. We may come to similar understandings, but how we've bounced that information off our internal beings to come to that understanding, given our own personal history, is likely so very different.

I think the discussion of these topics is good. I appreciate having this alternative. It's like a watering hole of sorts. All of my favorite people on this planet come from the Centre, and certainly that does say something about guru, or perhaps more about us, or both. But I think we can all agree our experience in the Centre touched our lives at a pretty deep level, and it's only natural to want to understand that experience in a deeper way.

AM (Europe) said...

Other Masters/teachers who have shown a paradox/ light/shadow-aspect are amongst many others Sathya Sai Baba and Swami Kriyananda (the direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda who still travels and gives talks at age....?) They have both been accused by numerous followers of sexual misconduct. Even Yogananda (nice/powerful picture by the way) has a strange story attached to his name: According to a story some of his followers went to a single woman in California who had a little child and they folded their hand to the child, then left.

Well ment editing: The people at SRF (Yogananda organisation) even changed Yogananda's autograph !? They had an idea that Paramhansa was more correct than ParamAhansa, so nicely changed his signature after his passing. Swami K brought this to light after he left the group and started his own Ananda group. Swami K has a free online edition of "An autobiography of a yogi" that he thinks is more true to the original version than the printed one from SRF.

Anonymous said...

Also, don't forget these girls reported that CKG gave them a choice not to do this, and also not to feel bad about it if they did say no.

Y. said...

@Anonymous 5:56: Jeez ... if these comments keep streaming in like this, I'll soon have nothing left to blog about!

But yes, the issue of consent -- and whether or not a disciple striving to make unconditional surrender to her guru can truly give such consent -- is an important issue.

If I ever get around to actually finishing my next post, we'll discuss it! ; )

vindicreated vision said...

One other thing thats got me much of this is about sex and how much is it about trust/authority/abuse? Here's a question: If Sri Chinmoy were married, and continued to allow his disciples to marry, and was open that he had sex, yet claimed to be a God-Realized Avatar, what would you think? I'd believe it, so the issue for me lies more deeply with the latter issue.

Y. said...

That's a very good point, VV.

I agree.

(Like much of the rest of the commentariat, you're stealing my thunder!)

Kalyan said...

I apologize up front for being crude, but does an enlightened being burp! We are asking questions as to how high experiences change behavior, and at a certain level it doesn't. If you have a body and it is stuck with a pin you say ouch and pull away no matter how enlightened. If you eat the wrong food - you burp. What changes is perception and awareness. This is all speculation on my part as I am not aware or that perceptive. So how does high experiences and the new perceptions that comes with it changes behavior? I don't think there is a hard and fast answer. I do feel that the human body has its own agenda and to be on Earth and say you are beyond the body while still breathing is silly.

Samuel Bradshaw said...

Actually, a number of the women did look at suing Chinmoy and have spoken to lawyers. Fundamentally, what do you sue about/for? How do you prove damages, what do you ask for, how do you prove it (easily)? It is a legal question if it is worth it in the long run. Most just want to start a new life and not look back.

I personally had the opportunity to speak to the women before they had the chance to speak to each other -- so I am quite convinced. I won't bore people with the details or why I was certain of that. In fact, the women did not usually know that there was more than 1 or 2 involved. It was very much done in silos, except for those "in the know". This was before there was dialogue on the Internet. This is not a situation of just a few "women" though. This wide spread abuse of female disciples by "Guru's" is a pretty common situation in most "eastern Guru based groups" that have a strong presence in western countries. I have spoken to at least 5 women and have cross-checked their stories. I stopped at around 5, but that is just the tip of the ice-berg believe me. To me it does not matter after a certain point, a lie is a lie..even if the lie is bigger than you can imagine. Think many dozens and you might be headed in the right direction..Sorry to break the bad news to anyone who thinks this is all a hoax. I spent a few years doing detective work and really digging into this.

Typically, SCC ex-disciples would just "slink" off (banished, etc) and never have anyone to share their story with. Most of the women lived on different parts of the world, etc. The later major change where ex's started communicating via the Internet really changed "the ex community". The Internet also started to brake-down the secrets and control of truth by "banishing people".

Just look what the Internet did for Scientology. Trying Googling "Xenu" sometime. That is a fun read..

Anyway, the conversation if certain allegations are "true or not true". That is besides the point. Certainly anyone who has not done serious research and interviews should keep an open mind. I am never here to convince anyone. I personally have started to believe less and less in "higher" and "lower" concepts when it comes to spiritual advancement. I think anyone of us has the capacity to find what someone else has. It is no secret that religion has exploited "height" and "closeness" to God for less than pure reasons. That is an old "hat trick" and I hope we can learn from that. The east is not immune. Having said that, there is serious work and dedication in achieving a connection to the truth. ..but for anyone to take "personal/ego credit" for getting a sign that they may not be reliable in every sense of the word. Just my opinion after my journey. Does that mean I believe any "less" than I did when I was in the center? No. I still pretty much believe in the same core concepts that most religions and philosophies prescribe to.

All the best to everyone who may have read my comment! Free speech and considerate, articulate, sensitive, and respectful debate is great and I am happy to see many exercising their rights here without "flaming" ea. other.. Be happy you can write without fear.

Y. said...

Here's another interesting take on the paradox of yoga and bhoga (enjoyment) from the Washington Post.

Anonymous said...

The Buddha once told his disciple, "When I point out the path, why do you focus on my finger?" You've fallen into the same trap most westerners do. Always analyzing. Leads to small minds. Ramana Maharishi had one message "Go within."

The point is to transcend the mind, not run it in circles. Interesting that the mind loves to focus on perversities and scandal. There may be some guilt and conflict in your own mind about sex, which makes you rationalize actions about the gurus.

Y. said...

Whose "point" is it to transcend the mind?

Certainly -- and I've written about this elsewhere on the blog -- if your goal is to be mindless, to live out one's life in a trance state (e.g., the Buddha's Nirvana), then I think you're right.

But as I've experienced on a much more mundane level and have written about, I'm not sure what objective value there is to such a life.

Aside from the bliss of trance experienced by the individual, what good is such a life?

While Ramana Maharshi was wandering around Arunachala in his underwear, millions of Jews were being exterminated in Europe. Whatever power or illumination he or other saints have or had, it isn't enough to actually get things done in the real world.

From my point of view, you're advocating for the path of rejection. That's your prerogative, of course, but it's a path I gave up long ago.

I'm much more inspired by Sri Aurobindo's idea of engaging the world through the illumined life, of which the mind (in all of its aspects) is of chief importance.

I suspect your last sentence was just thrown in for good measure; a personal barb that evinces some defensiveness on your part. If I'm wrong about that, then please explain what you mean.

In other words, in what way have I "rationalize[d] actions about gurus." I think I've worked out my thoughts on this subject in a pretty straightforward, very public, and guilt free way.

Anonymous said...

Ramana Maharishi was doing more than wandering about in his underwear. He was called "the silent teacher" because he could send messages and teach his disciples through his thoughts. Thousands of people who came to sit near him were uplifted by his vibrations and teachings, without ever having communicated verbally.

I understand the frustration of hours spent in meditation with nothing but calm vibrations as a result. However, this process is much more than 30 min every day. Krishnamurthi has written wonderful books on the subject if you're interested.

I don't claim to be an expert on anything, so feel free to not listen. To receive the messages, powerful forces, and gifts of the guru, your mind must be open to receive such light and not conflicted. Not wavering in faith because of someone's story of some woman in some city who had an affair. The last sentence about one's own mind feeling guilty about sex was not a personal barb. It is a fact. All people go through it. It is not specific to you or me. It is a natural phenomenon we are told to ignore and overcome. I agree that we should have an illumined mind. Yet focusing on indescrepancies, spreading doubt about the people put on this earth to lead us, is not illumined. It is small. It's a product of a non-illumined mind.

You seem very bright and have done extensive research to back your points. You should be proud of your work. Now how can we be more like Sri Aurobindo? What will we do to unite the world?

Y. said...

Thank you for clarifying, and I'm sorry if I was rather flippant with my remark about Sri Ramana. But let me push back a little more.

I do love our spiritual forefathers, and as perhaps you have discovered in some of my other posts, I'm particularly enamored of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Yogananda, Sri Aurobindo, and my own guru, Sri Chinmoy.

I detect, however, in your post the suggestion that perhaps they should either (1) be beyond our scrutiny or (2) that scrutiny itself is somehow not spiritual or is "small minded" by definition. If that's your contention, it's not one I can agree with.

My guru held himself out as a lifelong, celibate yogi and, frankly, claimed to be an avatar. As it turns out, however, he was sexually preying on his female disciples.

I'm curious how you'd suggest I -- or really others -- should process this information. Surely, I suspect, you wouldn't actually advocate that the information be swept under the rug or otherwise not be addressed.

Now, if you personally don't believe the allegations made against Sri Chinmoy, then that's of course an entirely different matter (and it's your prerogative not to believe the allegations).

But since I do believe the allegations, then as a truth seeker I'm bound to try to make sense of it. How was it that this person I took as my master was able to guide me inwardly and open up various spiritual experiences to me AND, at the same time, was fucking his spiritual daughters (women who I knew personally and are not just some anonymous women in some other city)?

That's a seeming paradox and it's the subject of this very post.

Finally, I'll quibble with what appears to be part of your premise (at the end of your second to last paragraph) -- i.e., that we shouldn't spread "doubt about the people put on this earth to lead us...."

I no longer accept that premise, that I'm somehow disabled from leading myself or that I in some way must defer to my spiritual forefathers.

I've never been satisfied with being a disciple or with accepting the notion that there's some class of beings that will always be superior to me. That's a really disabling assumption for a seeker to hold over the long run (though I admit that in the early stages of yoga, such superficial humility probably serves the neofyte seeker).

Being a disciple is a means to an end, not the end itself.

I remember an anecdote about Sister Nivedita, widely assumed to be Swami Vivekananda's favorite disciple (who also later supported Aurobindo's efforts at violent overthrow of the British Raj).

Anyway, the story goes that Nivedita, Swamiji, and a second female disciple were riding in a carriage together.

The other female disciple -- in an apparent jab at Nivedita, an educated woman -- said that she never suffered from or engaged in doubts about Swamiji or the spiritual life. Whereupon, Swamiji -- noticing Nivedita's pique -- quickly whispered to Nivedita that he, too, challenged his guru every step of the way.

As a result, Swamiji said he knew by heart every stone, every turn, to his spiritual journey and encouraged Nivedita to do the same.

In the end, reason is our friend. How to be more like Aurobindo? Embrace reason and an exacting mind and engage the world, the good and the bad. There's nothing to fear.

rahul s. said...

@ Yogaloy:
First of all, you don't have accredit proof of what you are talking about. And secondly,
Ok, If I assume that the two things you said about Sri Ramkrishna are true, what then? It doesn't and shouldn't make any difference to the respect I owe to such Great master.

You have to understand two important things here. If Master had asked some young kids to get them uncovered jokingly, then I find nothing wrong. Not that he had any interest in seeing them uncovered. And second and important thing is there is nothing wrong to sleep with your wife as long as two consenting adults are involved and participating in it with their will. So it is my sincere opinion to stop doing propogandas and writing on the wall. And I don't agree with your any comment...Rahul..

Y. said...


Thanks for reading and commenting. Even if we disagree, I appreciate you taking the time to give your input.

On the first point, about "proof," I can only say what I read. None of us were there (at least not in this incarnation!). If you want the written citations, look above at the first and second comments to this post where this issue is discussed.

On the second point, about what if it were true -- I think I agree with you. I don't assert that Sri Ramakrishna had any evil intent in examining some of these boys this way. By modern standards, it's a little odd, but nothing untoward is reported in the reports I read.

Same with sleeping with one's wife -- absolutely nothing wrong with it. But here's the main point of me bringing up these stories: if that's what happened, why do the later disciples -- the one's who control publications -- make such efforts to hide these things?

I think it's done with benign intentions -- they think it's better to hide the master's little quirks or inconsistencies. But it's really not better. The fact that Thakur slept next to his wife and told off-color jokes to his close disciples makes him all the more approachable to me.

In fact, Rahul, wasn't that the very attitude the master himself had? He himself prayed to the Mother to make sure that he had a dull appearence, lest throngs of people came to worship him. When he broke his arm, he was happy that so many stopped coming to him because he didn't want those interested in miracles and conventional ideas about spirituality -- he wanted god lovers and people who could accept him unconditionally.

By hiding his human side and making him out to be more than he appeared to be in real life, the later disciples do a real disservice to Thakur's memory (one Swami Vivekananda worked so very hard to solidify).

Don't you agree?