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Standing against something, and the way you do it, is as important to dharma as standing for something.
This blog is critical of Swami Nithyananda. However, we have done our best to ensure that everything on this site is factual. If you find something that you believe is incorrect we welcome your feedback so long as it contains evidence to the specific objection(s) you have.
Similarly if you have further supporting evidence against Nithyananda then we also would like the opportunity to examine it and if it withstands scrutiny to use it. If you provide something that you wish to only share privately, please make this clear also so we do not use it publicly.
If you are a critic of Nithyananda, whether Hindu or otherwise, please read this post. We feel it is important and worth your time. It’s about understanding devotees of gurus like Nithyananda and other socalled spiritual organisations that fit the criteria to be called a cult. It is necessary to understand that we are not against most of the devotees of Nithyananda and believe they are victims. As such compassion is called for.
We are against the minority of adult devotees that are aware of, and promoting, fraudulent claims, such as fake blindfold reading, fake diamond manifestion and more adharmic actions.
Please show common respect and empathy for the other devotees who don’t behave like trolls and liars. Be dignified, and be factual, or don’t speak at all. Yes, Nithyananda devotees are most often responsible for starting the fight or overreacting, then they spread misinformation about how it started. They cannot tolerate even one critical word. We have experienced this also. But not all devotees are like this. Yes, this is frustrating. However, being visibly angry or hurt and showing emotional outbursts will not help get you point across to the real victims.
Treating people who need help with hate is not correct dharma.
If you do, you will be failing the ethics of whatever dharma, religion or spiritual mission you belong to. The goal of criticism is help those who hear it.
The devotees are well-known on the internet for their delusional claims, aggressive hustling and PR, ignorance, lack of self-awareness, misinformation, hatred, and uncouth insults, but by stooping to their level you misunderstand both the issue and your potential role. Most of them are victims, just not in the way they think. Most of them are intelligent, good people.
Please do not make the mistake of assuming that cult victims lack intelligence. Anyone who has studied into cults know that frequently very intelligent people become victims at least as much as unintelligent people.
They are there because they are suffering, or struggling with something, and nothing they tried before in their lives helped them. Even if they do not seem these things to you. Sometimes they themselves do not know it.
Nithyananda preys on their problems, like all charismatic sociopaths do. Do not believe you are a better person because it didn’t happen to you. We all like to believe we are immune to sociopaths, but we are not.
Those that become victims do not realise they are victims. They have the misfortune of meeting the sociopath usually at a time in their live when they are emotionally vulnerable. The sociopath then proceeds to ruin their lives without them realising — they realize they were victims only after they wake up. We, too, only generally realize a lie in retrospect, after going through the pain of a realization.
The devotees and program attendees voluntarily sign up for schedules involving textbook cult techniques*: sleep-restriction (often just 2-3 hours a day), high-carb low-protein diets, love bombing, inappropriately advanced meditations, an atmosphere of brutal honesty and relentless bombarding with a mixture of well-worn wisdom (new only to them), self-serving falsehoods and spiritual promises, that even the best of us would not be able to fully resist once we are inside.
They work constantly, for no pay. Whether they are working or performing any other activity they are required to have their focus on Nithyananda, it’s worship of Nithyananda or his ideas or gods he approves of.
There is a strict hierarchy in practice, it is only a flat structure on the surface. There is a reason even the military uses the same techniques to break your will and build you back up into someone who follows orders (though even the military doesn’t it take it anywhere near this far and does not nearly as many cult indicators as this cult).
Even the strongest people can crack under such compulsion. When a charismatic authority figure shows you tough, parental love and attention in this context, it creates a bond too strong to resist, especially when it comes to you at an emotionally vulnerable time in your life.
And when one enters a cult, with difficult unresolved issues and questions, one usually enters with the intention to break themselves and build back up. One seeks a flawless, caring mentor or father figure in a place where they can feel like they belong.
This makes one even more vulnerable. Their immersion is 24/7, 365 days a year. Nithyananda is all they think about, in some form or the other.
Even if they have a problem with Nithyananda or the ashram, they only have the tools and techniques Nithyananda or his ashram has provided them to solve that problem. This is why they do not need physical walls or fences to keep them where they are. He does not need to force anything in any obvious way.
That’s why they brainwash others, and recruit new people aggressively. They aren’t being malicious. They misguidedly think they’re helping the world.
Their stressful lifestyle and beliefs make them dedicated and hard-working, but also insular, paranoid, delusional and aggressive.
This sense of purpose makes them feel “happy”, and their spiritual practices convince them that it is a unique happiness or bliss. They do not realize it’s fake. They do not recognize that they have built their hard-earned happiness on a false structure. They do not realize it’s never too late, and there are many other, better ways and better acharyas. They walk around on a constant buzz, not realizing this is a mask over their dulled senses.
So when they hurl insults on you, threaten you with things like curses and legal action, it is counter-productive to show them hate in retaliation.
It only makes them feel even more threatened and dig their heels in further. Don’t worry, their curses have no real power, so try to understand where they are coming from emotionally.
They need to see that there is good in the world outside the ashram. Hopefully they will remember your plain talk and kindness when they are ready to realize it for themselves. It will make it easier for them to learn from their mistake and reintegrate into society without feeling like outcasts. Knowing the world won’t meet them with hostility when they come out will make them much more likely to do it.
Show your dedication to unbiased evidence, dharmic principles, understanding and empathy.
Do not incite others against them, do not gang up on them as if it’s sport. This is a common, disgusting behaviour on the internet, and it will add to the mob mentality and violent tendencies already present everywhere in India, including with them.
Imagine if it was one of your loved ones, would you wish bad things on them? Would you consider it safe and justifiable to incite hate towards their group and incur the risk of collateral damage? There are those who have, and those actions have simply validated their false perception of persecution.
These are real people, and in line with Sanatana Dharma and humanitarianism, where you can help, it is your duty to do so.
Where you can’t, leave it be, focus on what you can do.
Most of all, understand that the target of your criticism and ire must be Nithyananda himself, not those he has trapped.
It is all his plan, all his doing and all in his sociopathic power.
Nithyananda is ironically one of the biggest anti-Hindu elements, because through his lack of character, misleading lies about his legal issues, co-opting of the current Hindu trends and mood, and self-serving misuse and obfuscations of Hindu scripture, he’s making an insulting mockery of us, our history, and our philosophies.
With people like him at the lead, does Hinduism even need actual enemies and conspiracies to worry about? He and people like him have given any vested interests all the fodder they need to foster anti-Hindu sentiment and jokes at the expense of Hindus.
Perhaps even he is not aware of what he has become, perhaps he never planned for it to turn into this. Yet, many smart, knowledgeable, influential Hindus have been misled, simply because he has preyed on their instinct to trust gurus and suspect conspiracy and vested interests.
His devotees are too invested in him to realize how clearly they’ve been lied to, and how they’ve been made to lie for him.
They do not know how much they have to be angry and even hurt about.
When devotees do finally realise and leave they often undergo years of deconditioning from his cult techniques. And it is at this time they will especially need support and understanding.
Nithyananda must either go to jail, or go into exile somewhere to rethink his life for many, many long years.
There are many victims and him going to jail and losing the ill-gotten fortune he alleges he has will be one of the best medicines for them.
Do not hate the confused, well-intentioned souls he’s brainwashed into willingly doing his bidding and calling him a god.
They can be woken up, and they will wake themselves up, with a little help and a kind and sane world to come back to.
Whatever you might believe they deserve for their foolish actions and proselytizing, it does not need to come from you. They have already more than paid a heavy price with their loss of time, money, health and careers.