Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bihagee - A Guest Post

I do not wish to recount the details of what happened to me.

It is the same story as Suchatula’s, who is one of my best friends and with whom I have been suffering through all this. How things might have been different had one of us just shared our story with the other?

That is what I would like to write about here.

For those who do not believe our stories, I want to explain my feelings. So much has been written already.

It has taken me almost three years to leave the center. Even this I did not do on my own. Before I even managed to share my pain with my parents, Ashrita had informed them that their daughter was out of the center.

Because of my complete faith in Guru, I did my best and accepted that, somehow, what he had asked me to do was okay. But it wasn’t easy. I had to fight so hard with myself. I had to convince myself that this thing Guru asked of me, which was so against my spiritual, religious, mental and human views, was okay.

At the same time, I felt so bad, so guilty for doubting my spiritual master. I was punishing myself for not having enough surrender. No matter which way I looked at it, I was always somehow a culprit.

In spite of all that, when I weighed the beautiful moments and experiences I had on the path, all that my spiritual life had given me, all of my sweet spiritual family members, against the pain I was feeling, the balance still tipped in favor of my disciple life.

I couldn’t share my secret turmoil with my parents, who were on the path. I couldn’t tell my few best friends, and to be honest, I did not want to. How could I share something like this? How could I possibly betray my Guru, my spiritual master?

Would my friends believe me?

Maybe I was the only one.

I wanted to walk into the sea and just have it over with. In the end, I decided I would have to quietly accept what Guru had asked me to do and somehow continue with my spiritual life, the life that had shaped me into a much better person, the life that had helped me find out so much about myself.

Oh, but it was not so easy.

Believe me, I did my best. I tried so hard that almost nobody thought I was troubled. But it was difficult. There I was, spending my time with my friends, working, going to the center, doing all a good disciple is expected to do and at the same time feeling bad for not doing it 100% the way I had done done it before 2007.

I was having a hard time and blaming myself for having a hard time. The guilt and secrecy really pained me. I was hoping for an answer from Guru, who then suddenly passed away. That did not help things.

Then one of my brother disciples in San Francisco, Viddyut, told me about Suchatula’s story. As a good disciple, I had never read Suchatula’s story, despite the fact that we had been such good friends before she had left the path.

My world completely felt apart.

Guru had asked me to do the same thing. If in any way I had been defending what had happened to me, now that I realized that others were also involved, I simply couldn’t handle it anymore.

All my fears were confirmed.

It was so painful, standing in front of Ananda Fuara, trying to assimilate it all, while Viddyut patiently tried to help me recover from the shock. At the same time, I will admit it, I felt relieved that all was out in the open. I can finally share, talk about it and receive understanding, belief, and care.

A load was off my heart.

Oh, only if all was so easy. The realization of it all was excruciating. My head would not stop aching, thoughts too big and heavy for my little brain to handle were pushing their way in. I felt as if someone heavy was sitting on my chest and would not move.

I couldn’t breathe, I had no desire to eat or sleep.

The only person I told was Donka, one of my best friends. Even then it took a while for me to start explaining what had happened to me. So judge me if you want, but I had to tell someone, and better someone that was far from San Francisco.

Next, I was finally able to call my other best friend, Suchatula, with whom I had not spoken to since she herself had left the center. We talked for hours and hours. If only one of us had shared with each other earlier…

She came and picked me up. After a day together, she drove me to the airport.

If only this was the end. It was not easy for me to be in the center struggling with this secret, but it sure is not easier now either.

I had to call to my parents, knowing that they would not only suffer as disciples, but would naturally blame themselves for not protecting their child (as any good parents would). They are not to blame though. I have always made decisions for myself.

I am now dead to my many friends in the center.

They have not called me or contacted me in any way. I am suspected of being hostile and mentally ill. But believe me, I do not blame them, because I know how the center works. I know how they have to protect themselves, even if it means considering me dead, so that they can protect the precious, beautiful life we all had.

My world has been shattered. Now, I have no desire of joining any other spiritual group. Everything I gave heart and soul for has been stained. But again, I do not regret my years as a disciple. If I had the chance to go back 10 years and make the choice over, I would take the same road.

I only wish to share that it has not been easy, and it certainly is not easier now.

Just telling this story to one person has been such a painful experience. I do not have the strength to tell other disciples, as I have been blamed of doing. I did not call New York and never tried to convince people to leave the center. I simply could not do that.

I have decided, though, that I cannot and should not continue blaming myself anymore.

Thank you all for your support and love. I know that things will get better. Let everyone decide what’s best for themselves.

Just do not accuse us of writing lies.

I so wish all of this was a lie.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

The truth sets us free, even when it's hard. Thank you for being so open and brave. You are truly an inspiration and you are now opening the doors to an amazing future. Lots of love and best wishes to you Yana. Charlie

Viddyut said...

I hope Bihagee doesn't mind me saying this...

Watching her emotionally unfold as she unveiled her experiences to me was tragic. Witnessing the shock and pain ebbing to the surface after years of suppression was something I wont forget. This wasn't someone I just met, this was someone I worked with on a daily basis.

At a time when she needs her friends and family most, they were cut off. Ashrita never even spoke to her.

Elizabeth K. Kracht said...

Thank you for sharing Bihagee. I hope the coming days get easier. I know how difficult it is to start life over again.

David said...

I've been out of the center for 17 years or so. I am moved by Bihagee's story, and by the stories of the many other women, many of them little more than young girls, who suffered very deep wounds to their bodies, hearts and souls at the hands of someone who should have shown the utmost care and caution in their company. I am grateful they have shared their stories and I wish them peace, healing and a deeper joy in days to come.

Amba said...

Hello Bihagee!

So sad to hear your story. I left the center after I learned these stories about guru. I did not know yours at the time of my leaving. After I explained my centre leader why I left, all the contact to me is now forbidden, whoever keeps the contact to me will be off path! But as we all know the TRUTH will prevail... I guess these revelations are causing a great fear in the center now. I am sure the commitee members are following this blog and the comments.I want to say to them: Please be wise and tell the world what has happened, then the people can decide whether they would like to stay or not. But to react under panic and fear will only fasten the destruction of the center.. And please STOP calling the people hostile and DO NOT cause more pain....There is enough unbearable pain for all of us.

Patricia said...

Thank you, Bihagee, for being so brave. I felt much empathy reading your story. Don't worry, your sincerity shines forth through every word of yours.
So many hearts are now going to you.
May this help you find the peace, healing and joy you rightly deserve.
Amba is right, TRUTH will now prevail,and although it may be very painful it will also be very healthy as it will restore for many the most precious human right which is called FREEDOM.
Subala (as I left in 1998 I don't think you know me)

Benjamin Spector said...

Bihagee,

Your story has made me cry. You have suffered tremendously and your only crime was to try to please your Guru.

I cry too for all the other female disciples who have gone against their spiritual instincts because they also believed in their Guru.

And,I cry for all the young disciples who gave up their education for a Guru who told them not to go to University.

I also cry for all disciples who have left their country and their jobs to come to New York at the request of their Guru.

And, I cry for those who are reaching the Golden Years of their life, who look back at their disciple life, and despite many good feelings and experiences, wonder what it would be like if they had never been influenced by Sri Chinmoy.

Ben (formerly Kangal)

JEEVAN said...

I had a great time in the center. I am grateful to the god who leads my life for my time in the center and for Guru's influence. I am extremely saddened by the experiences of Bihagee, Sundari, Suchatula and the silent others. But they now are free of the center, free to create their life, to pursue their own joy. The surrender devotion and hard work that these and others have shown in their center and devotional lives is their treasure. As the poet Mirabhai said: "These are my pearls and carnealians"
The world is exciting! Dont let guru rob you of even a moment of the future joy.

Anju said...

Hi Bihagee,
I want to sincerely thank you Celia and Sundari for your brave revelations. I am an exdisciple who was in the English part of the childrens group before your time and was kicked out by guru in 2001. I still deal with the effects of being devoted to him, even now and I think that knowing the truth about him will be a really significant in my healing. It has been a huge shock and shatters my memories and image of (who I thought was) my father. It will take time to absorb.
I feel it has been a wonderful thing that you have all been able to be so incredibly brave to reveal this and I hope you all realise just how hugely significant this will be for many of us in our journeys. I am so sorry that you had to experience what you did and I hope you can know that your self doubt and terrible struggle was caused entirely by his innapropriate actions. I wish you much love and support,
Anju / Jolene, New Zealand

sunirmalya said...

Bihagee, Sundari and Suchatula - you are all saints and i am in awe of what you have done. Congratulations!!! One thing that is coming out of this is the disciples (in and out) will all come together again. It is inevitable .. and for that i am truly grateful as they are still the most amazing people on the planet..

We will help you heal... There is not a single one of us that does not want to help, just as we all need help. And the healing of every disciple will be what will bring us all together again. This is not in blaming, it will come in us moving forward and upward.

Patricia said...

This is a comment to Jeevan's message.

Hi Jeevan (here I greet you with all my heart),
your message is positive and encouraging. Of course most of us (some more than others) still have to deal with having in one hand a lot of Wonderful Memories and now in the other hand the increasing weight of shock and anger at the thought of the this monstruous Deceit and Abuse which has been perpetrated by the same man whom we considered as a divine being (not to say the Highest Avatar ever).
So when you say "The world is exciting! Dont let guru rob you of even a moment of the future joy", I say, yes, sure. But not so easy.

Before the future Joy can dawn, all these young or mature women will have to go through a process of healing which won't take place in the twinkling of an eye. See how difficult it has been for Anju (post above) who did not have to suffer the same type of abuse.
Also think of all the other girls who were/are involved in this thing and haven't yet come out, in what state of mind are they right now?
And their parents, they must be going through excruciating worries.

The situation is very different from one ex-disciple to another. In my case, having left (being thrown out of) the centre was never painful and what remained of all that was a bunch of good memories, indeed, and also a lot of questioning. This questioning is now finding new answers, sadly, with these new truths that are coming out almost everyday.
Sadly, but also with hope, for I am – as we are all – a Truth-seeker.

A lot of love and compassion to all those who read these lines.
subala

Anonymous said...

Where O Where are the likes of "Concerned Citizen," Eamon from Australia, and other pro-Guru "Anonymous" posters NOW???

Surely Bihagee is merely another one of those frustrated, frantic, and phony "girls" who just want to destroy Guru's "World Wide Mission" b/c he did not give them the attention, both divine as well as human, that they craved from him, and blah blah blah and ALL the rest of those totally UNFOUNDED and UNSOUND accusations.

How long can Ranjana, the Good Boys Manifestation Committee, Ashrita and the rest of the powers that be in what is left of the Sri Chinmoy Centre CONTINUE to go down this increasingly Rocky Road of Total Denial that Guru was not only the Strongest Avatar of All Time, but one who was COMPLETELY Celibate as well?

ave they NO INTEGRITY at ALL??

I guess not.

Swadhin aka Deano (1970-1980)

Joe said...

Hi Bihagee :o)
Thank you for being so courageous and sharing your experiences here, which i'm sure will provide a comfort and solidarity to others who like yourself, felt so alone with their pain.
In spite of everything I have such fond memories of secretly trying to make better cakes than you at Ananda Fuara (and failing miserably ;) But it makes me so sad to realise that it was in this time that you were wrestling with so much. And still you were the most fun, crazy (good crazy ;) and approachable waitress with the mostess - you have a much stronger mind than me (I left the centre because I found it boring! - and yes, a bit weird), and i'm sure this will serve you well in your new and exciting life. I really believe that from here on you have so much to look forward to.
You rock, sister
Love Joe :-D
x

Niklas said...

Bihagee: Thank you for your courage to tell your story. I don't know you as I left the Centre in 1986, but I still have family members on the Path (that you probably know).

Although I in no way suffered as much in the hands of CKG as you did, I do hope that at you are able to put this most difficult time for you into some perspective, as I was able to do after a painful journey of my own. This blog is an integral part of my journey of gaining perspective on my years in the Centre, and I thank-you for adding so much to this forum that Yogaloy has created. Your courage and authenticity is what is needed for each of us to gain understanding, to heal ourselves, and eventual to embrace the light.

Your Courage and Authenticity inspire me to be true to myself, regardless of what winds are blowing.

God Bless,

Niklas aka Nimagna
Seattle/SanJose?Santa Cruz

Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to you. As somebody who was in the Centre for 30 years, the thing that saved me was a sustained faith in the spiritual. Even if you decide that a Guru path is no longer for you, don't throw away everything you have learned - rather adjust you inner life in a way that feels right for you.

Follow your heart - your deepest feelings. As you stated, you gave your all to Sri Chinmoy, and despite the trauma, hold on to your faith in the spiritual life - that will keep you in a good place, and see you through difficult times and adjustment.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Bihagee for telling your story. Your time in the Centre allowed you to develop devotion and purity of purpose.

Your time outside the Centre now is for the development of strength and independence. Don't be afraid of the truth, but you don't need to deal with it all at once.

Terra.

terraaustralis01@yahoo.com.au

Anonymous said...

I am very sorry you were subjected to this double betrayal. First the sexual abuse by Chinmoy then the shunning by the center.

I hope you are reaching out for support and help at this time. You deserve so much better.

Ashrita was wrong in this event and others. Did it ever occur to you that he may have participated in any of the sexual activities? He is continuing to protect a perpetrator in many ways. We have a saying, he is laughing all the way to the bank. Ashrita has directly financially benefited as a result of disciples loyalty and keeping keeping secrets as the is the treasurer of the organization.

I was wondering when the words rape and incest would be used by any of the other victims and yourself to describe how Chinmoy proceeded?

Rape and incest are crimes in the US. Chinmoy was a rapist. The Sri Chinmoy Meditation Center Church, Inc allowed him to continue to harm women over and over again.

Anonymous said...

Your time in the Centre allowed you to develop devotion and purity of purpose.
I disagree, it was mind control you were subjected to.

Y. said...

@Anonymous 2:38: There has been no allegation that I'm aware of that Guru raped anyone.

It's important not to conflate Guru's abuse of power and sexual misconduct (civil wrongs) with the much more serious charge of criminal rape.

There's a difference between the two and it's an important one. Rape, as far as I know, is not committed by coercion.

It's committed by force.

By overstating the charge, we risk undermining our own credibility.

Anonymous said...

Damage control response by an apologist drone!

Anonymous said...

Ashrita was a bouyant, fun-loving 16 yr. old exhuberant teenager when he bounced onto the Jamaica Queens scene in the early 1970s shortly after I arrived in Queens myself.

What he has become as the World's Greatest Lollipop maker and Guru's divine Grim Reaper, is totally open to speculation, but I for one would HARDLY call it Spiritual Progess.

From where to where, good boy?

Oy. Oy. Oy.

BTW, I had fun in the Centre too, even LOTS of it, but then again, Guru did not press me into sexual service, and Thank God for that.

I probably would have gone along with it myself, just to "please Guru in his own way."

How sad and tragic the great promise of Chinmoy's bringing "Easten spirituality to Western dynamism" has come down to this.

Oh well, live and learn.

And above all, Move On, Cherai Veti!

What choice is there, after all.

Swadhin Gary, Ringmaster Supreme ('70-'80)

Amba said...

I just want to ask Ashrita @ Co. to do something. Right know look again at the above picture... Look at her eyes, look again and again and put your right hand on your heart and ask yourself "which is hostile, she or my behaviour?" and give the answer immediately.

Anonymous said...

The nervous rush by the blog owner to make sure all is forgiven is a bit suspect.

the slant, party line of this blog is to excuse away the behavior of a deluded psychopath.
once the tears are dried, lets all go back to saying what "a wonderful spiritual time we all had in our very own personal heaven w Sri Chinmoy. this is your personal problem, lady, that has nothing to do with Guru, Ashrita, Chidanada, Lavanya, Pranika, Shephali, Arpan or what's the sister of Pranika's name?"

sometimes the writing on this blog and the information site is stilted, the way Chinmoy used to talk. sounded insincere, fake, autocratic. no one I know speaks like that, not even the highly credentialed.

has the owner of this blog ever entertained the possibility that they were mind controlled and programmed? what steps have they taken to address that?

I will sit back and wait for some inappropriate LONG LONG response intended to bring me into the fold and around to the cult's view point today's' direction on what/ how to write is an example.

typical cult tactics. this is meant to waste your time, energy and have you give up crucial information that will then be used against you. ie, to get you to shut up and continue to do nothing in real time.

this is my suggestion:
Ladies, strike while the iron is hot.

you can make their dam heads spin if you really want to.

stop running to people who are sympathetic to the cult
they will give you advice that benefits them not you

Y. said...

Ah yes! The very hard labor of reading a "LONG LONG" reasoned response.

Well, I'll spare you the "typical cult tactics" of responding to emotion with reason this time, Anonymous 10:54.

I am curious, though, just what it is you'd have these "ladies" do? What do you mean "strike while the iron is hot"?

And I wonder, too, whether you -- "Anonymous" -- would have the courage to take whatever action you so stridently urge?

Silviya said...

I want to give you my support. I believe these stories are true since the posting of Yogaloy's sister, but I hoped nothing similar had happened with someone I knew.
We'll see what will happen in San Francisco and in Sofia.
Bihagee, you can write to me, if you wish, on silvia-at-hotbox.ru .
Silviya, Sofiya(Bulgaria), 1998-2003

sara said...

The original group that Sam started held the fort inspite of repeated attempts to stop the truth.

To hear these new testimonials is always difficult, but not surprising. And as time goes on there will be more I'm sure as the censorship of the center will not be there to try and harrass and intimidate.

To the women who have recently been brave enough to come forward I give you all my love and respect for your courage. It is not easy.

Sara/Udita

Svanwith said...

Dear Bihagee

thank you so much for sharing with me, in such openness and wonderful honesty, about your very, very difficult times.

How much deep value your words carry for me!

Reading what you share, guides me to new and important insights, helping me to become ever more aware, of that I was not alone in struggling so hard, while entering times of extreme loneliness and desperation for years. Although many of us were travelling together in the same 'boat', we still knew so very little about the true feelings and thoughts breathing within our brothers and sisters. Which was most sad indeed!

Finding space where we can express freely and all subjectively, what we sense, think and perceive, without fear of punishment, neglect or minimization, life finds to such new meaning for me... and this blog is a truly inviting, wonderful space to meet - I wish to congratulate the one who started this blog!

Seeing your name Bihagee astonished me, as CKG gave me the same name though written differently: Bihagi

I would love to share much more with you in private - if that is okay for you here is my email: svanwith@gmx.net

Gifted with warmth and strength I say good-bye to you for now.

Svanwith

Anonymous said...

As one of the commentators said, Chinmoy Ghose was a rapist. See my own comment on the Religious Dispatches blog, 'Cartwheels in a Sari: Growing up in the Sri Chinmoy Cult'. Ghose raped the bodies, minds and souls of the young women in his care. He left lives in ruin. Women are battling depression and self-loathing because of his perverted desires. It is now time for men and women to leave the centres, close them down for good. Writers like Alan Spence should be speaking out at a time like this. The years have not all been a waste. Many of you have admirable spiritual qualities. You have a contribution to make to our troubled society in which women and children get abused by domineering men. You can continue to meditate, using ancient Western and Eastern traditions. You can re-form, using all your valuable experiences. Listen to Father Thomas Keating on YouTube, 'Legacy of Wisdom'. I am an Evangelical Christian and disagree with Father Keating over a number of things. But I can see he has much to offer seeking souls. JACK HAGGERTY, GLASGOW, SCOTLAND.