Muktananda, Swami (1908-1982)
Muktananda, Swami (1908-1982)
A Hindu spiritual teacher who was an exponent of what he termed siddha yoga, a variation of kundalini characterized by the demand that followers give over the guidance in their spiritual development to their teacher. Muktananda was born May 16, 1908, at Dharmasthala, South India. In 1964 he received his master's degree from Jabalpur University and became a lecturer in Hindi at W. M. Ruia College, India.
In February 1966, he first met Swami Nityananda of Ganeshpuri, who became his guru. Swami Nityananda had the power of shaktipat, the imparting of spiritual force through touch, thus arousing the kundalini energy believed to be latent in the human organism at the base of the spine. Through initiation by his guru, Muktananda experienced kundalini and its manifestation in various chakras or psychic centers of the body, accompanied by strange visions and enhanced consciousness. He described his remarkable experiences in his book Guru (1971), which were similar to those reported by Pandit Gopi Krishna.
Muktananda became spiritual head of Shree Gurudev Ashram at Ganeshpuri, near Bombay, and attracted followers from all over India. He taught a traditional Hindu mystical doctrine of sadhana or spiritual discipline, enhanced by his ability to awaken spiritual force in others through shaktipat.
He first visited the United States in 1970, and four years later made a triumphal tour in California, where he gave an address to a convention of 500 psychologists and psychotherapists in San Diego. Charles Garfield, clinical psychologist at the University of California, described Muktananda as "a highly developed being."
American ashrams were established across the country and additional followers emerged in Europe after Muktananda's successful visits to Britain. Known affectionately as "Baba" to his devotees, he was also given the honorific title "Paramahansa," indicating the highest type of Hindu holy man.
After his death on October 2, 1982, Muktananda was succeeded by a brother/sister team, Swami Nityananda and Swami Chidvilasananda; however, they had a break and Swami Chidvilasananda emerged as Muktananda's primary successor as head of the Siddha Yoga Dham Associates. After a period of inactivity, Swami Nityananda founded a rival organization, the Shanti Mandir Seminars. After Muktananda's death there were also serious charges leveled by a number of former disciples that in spite of his claim to be celibate Muktananda had engaged in sexual activity with, and at times sexually coerced female disciples. More positively Mukatananda is revered for his influence on many American spiritual leaders.
Muktananda, Swami. Guru. New York: Harper & Row, 1971. ——. In the Company of a Siddha: Interviews and Conversations with Swami Muktananda. Ganeshpuri, India: Gurudev Siddha Peth, 1981.
——. Kundalini: The Secret of Life. South Fallsburg, N.Y.: SYDA Foundation, 1979.
——. The Perfect Relationship: The Guru and the Disciple. South Fallsburg, N.Y.: SYDA Foundation, 1980.
——. Play of Consciousness. New York: Harper & Row, 1974.
——. Satsang with Baba. Oakland, Calif.: S.T.D.A., 1975.