Recent events surrounding the video scandal involving the guru Paramahamsa Nithyananda invoked anger, frustration, and outright condemnation from various sectors of the population including some of his former and present devotees. Other devotees of his are calling this a conspiracy against their guru. Some are still in a state of shock.
One of my friends, who only knew Nithyananda through his YouTube videos, said to me, “Though I am not his devotee and never met him in person, his talks on YouTube deeply resonated with me. Those talks really helped me in the past couple of years. What happened is unbelievable! I’ve still come to terms with the fact that a person who can talk and make deep observations, is a charlatan of monumental proportions.”
Note that I have never met Nithyananda and I never really resonated with his talks on YouTube which on couple of occasions I watched when my friend forwarded me the links. I have a few friends who took Nithyananda as their guru. My observations are based on what I learned by observing my friends.
What follows is a reply that I gave him. With his permission, I am reproducing that here with a few changes/additions.
People would not have reacted the way they reacted to the episode, if Nithyananda did not claim to be a celibate, a sanyasi, who has renounced all that is worldly. He called himself Paramahamsa; and initiated people into monk-hood insisting on celibacy. Many of my friends who work for a big software company in the Seattle have donated thousands of dollars to his ashram.
I think this is a case of suppressed desires. That is why Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita tells Arjuna not to run away from his desires, for any suppression or running away from, will only strengthen them. It is only a matter of time before they hunt down and take over the person completely. Krishna further says that we have to act until the desire burns itself out or transmutes. That is the way of karma yoga. One can also work on desires through intense meditation via various forms of Raja Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Siva Yoga, Kriya Yoga, etc. However, one cannot stop until the final dissolution happened.
I always had this odd feeling that Nithyananda might have had some spiritual experiences and some minor siddhis; but got caught up in the siddhis and did not go beyond that. That’s only my opinion and completely based on what happened. Ego may have found the backdoor, using his spiritual experiences, to take control. In my opinion he is no different from Tiger Woods, except that Tiger Woods did not demand obedience and celibacy from his fans.
This is one of the reasons why the greatest of saints in India were married at one time or the other. Even Lord Krishna who was and is still considered a great yogi and Jagadguru (World Teacher) was married. They knew the power of this primal urge and used it as a tool in their spiritual quest. That helped their wives also to rapidly advance on their spiritual paths. Don’t get me wrong there were also celibate yogis who were not involved in scandals like this, but they were quite few.
Tragedy is that there were families who sent their teenage children to India to study with him in his ashram. There were many more who put their whole lives in his hands. Imagine what is going through their families right now. So, be comforted that you did not loose your ability to discriminate and your personal power like these people have.
As you mentioned to me earlier, I don’t think we will ever know The Truth, but only know a personal truth which constantly changes as we evolve consciously. Many of the disciples in the forums are still saying that it is a big conspiracy against their guru. So, that is their personal truth and just that. We don’t need to pass a judgment. We know our personal truth and we are all evolving. You have been your own master as far as I gathered from our conversations–you have the ability to glean information from wherever it came from and make it your own. That’s all you need. It does not matter if it came from Nithyananda’s YouTube video, Ramtha, Ramana Maharshi, or a Hollywood/Bollywood movie or a cartoon. Even a stone, a tree or an animal can be our teacher. Nithyananda was just quoting from ancient Vedic scriptures in his videos; those scriptures themselves are not bad. If you resonated with those messages, then find the same scriptures from alternative sources. So, let your bad feelings go and make peace with the whole episode.
One can treat this whole episode as a teaching. Never to give away your personal power into the hands of another. In ancient times, teachers used to put the potential students through rigorous testing to know if the student is capable of critical thinking, self-reliance, emotional stability and self-motivation. If the teacher finds that student lacks any of these qualities, then he would give the seeker a technique or two, and send him away to practice for a while and then come back. The student is again tested. Once accepted by the teacher, student would be taught by the teacher only as long as necessary as not to cause any dependency—physical, emotional or otherwise—of the student on the teacher. The teacher would then tell the student to go to a far away place and practice until mastery is achieved. These teachers always encouraged their students to look within for answers and not depend on external sources like the teachers. These teachers never had more than a handful of students in their lifetimes because of their stringent requirements. This is what is lacking in present day gurus who value their own worth based on the number of dependent devotees they have.
It is said that a guru or teacher can take the student only as far as the guru has gone. This applies to all fields including spirituality. So, if any of Nithyananda students feel cheated, they don’t have to (even though have the right to). They can just thank him for helping them evolve as far as he has done, and move on to become their own masters. If somebody feels that they still need him, then it is fine. It is their wish; may be they still are in need of him as they are probably not yet ready to become their own masters. I hope this helps to put your mind at ease.