16 May 1908|
Mangalore, present day Karnataka, India
|Died||2 October 1982(aged 74)|
Swami Muktananda (16 May 1908 – 2 October 1982) is the monastic name of an Indian Hindu guru and disciple of Bhagavan Nityananda. Swami Muktananda was the founder of Siddha Yoga. He wrote a number of books on the subjects of Kundalini Shakti, Vedanta, and Kashmir Shaivism, including an autobiography entitled The Play of Consciousness.
Muktananda was born in 1908 near Mangalore in Karnataka State, India, into a well-off family. His birth name was Krishna Rau. At 15 he encountered Bhagavan Nityananda, a wandering avadhoot who profoundly changed his life. He studied under Siddharudha Swami at Hubli, where he learned Sanskrit, Vedanta and all branches of yoga, and took the initiation of sannyasa, becoming Swami Muktananda. He then began wandering India on foot.
In 1947 Muktananda went to Ganeshpuri to receive the darshan of Bhagavan Nityananda. He received shaktipat initiation from him in the early morning of 15 August of that year. Swami Muktananda often said that his spiritual journey didn't truly begin until he received shaktipat from the holy man Bhagavan Nityananda. According to his description, it was a profound and sublime experience.
August 15, 1947 Nityananda stood facing me directly. He looked into my eyes again. Watching carefully, I saw a ray of light entering me from his pupils. It felt hot like burning fever. Its light was dazzling, like that of a high-powered bulb. As that ray emanating from Bhagavan Nityananda's pupils penetrated mine, I was thrilled with amazement, joy, and fear. I was beholding its color and chanting Guru Om. It was a full unbroken beam of divine radiance. Its color kept changing from molten gold to saffron to a shade deeper than the blue of a shining star. I stood utterly transfixed. He sat down and said in his aphoristic fashion, "All mantras... one. Each... from Om. Om Namah Shivaya Om... should think, Shivo'ham, I am Shiva... Shiva-Shiva...Shivo'ham...should be internal repetition. Internal...superior to external".
Muktananda spent the next eight years living and meditating in a little hut in Yeola. He wrote about his sadhana and kundalini-related meditation experiences, in his autobiography published in 1970 as GURU, by Harper & Row and as Play of Consciousness in India in 1971. In 1966, Swami Nityananda gave Muktananda a small piece of land at Ganeshpuri, near Bombay on which Muktananda developed an ashram.
Muktananda established Gurudev Siddha Peeth as a public trust in India to administer the work there, and founded the SYDA Foundation in the United States to administer the global work of Siddha Yoga meditation. He wrote many books; sixteen are still kept in print by the SYDA Foundation.
In May 1982, Muktananda appointed two successors as joint leaders of the movement, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, his former translator, and her brother Mahamandaleshwar Nityananda, who later resigned and formed his own group. Muktananda died in October 1982 and is buried at Ganeshpuri, where the Gurudev Siddha Peeth ashram houses his samādhi shrine.
According to the Siddha Yoga organisation,
A Siddha Guru is a spiritual teacher, a master, whose identification with the supreme Self is uninterrupted. The unique and rare quality of a Siddha Guru is his or her capacity to awaken the spiritual energy, kundalini, in seekers through shaktipat.
Swami Muktananda's teaching can be summarised in two quotations:
- Honor your Self, Worship your Self, Meditate on your Self, God dwells within you as you.
- See God in Each Other.
Although many of Muktananda's followers thought he had mysterious powers, Muktananda never allowed adulation to get the better of him. When a student asked "Baba, do you know what I am thinking?" he replied, "Yes, you are thinking, 'Does he know what I am thinking?'"
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who made Transcendental Meditation popular in the West in the 1960s praised Muktananda stating, "In him, consciousness is in its own place. Not only does he flow within himself, but the world also flows with him. Consciousness constantly flows from him." He was also recognized by Shiv R. Jhawar in his book Building A Noble World where Jhawar gives a detailed account of his Kundalini awakening experience in the presence of Muktananda. Recognized as a rare master of meditation and a yogi of extraordinary attainment, he was visited by many leaders in different fields including Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, psychologist Karl Rogers, and California Governor Jerry Brown. He was also labeled as "The Guru's Guru" by Time Magazine  and has received respectful visits from such celebrities as California Governor Jerry Brown, Singers James Taylor and Carly Simon, Anthropologist Carlos Castaneda and Astronaut Edgar Mitchell."
Says Russell Kruckman, who once taught literature at Northwestern: "I don't think people come here looking for a religion. What they come for is an experience that will give meaning and substance to their lives. You don't have to believe or profess anything to be a follower of Baba. We don't become Hindus. People get whatever it is they get from Baba, and their lives are changed."
Says Muktananda of his own mysterious powers: "I am however you see me. If you see me as a saint, I am a saint. If you see me as a fool, I am a fool. If you see me as an ordinary man, I am an ordinary man." Asked how he sees himself, he answers, "I see myself as myself."
Some former members of Siddha Yoga have accused Muktananda of abusive behaviour which is at odds with his teachings. Stan Trout (Swami Abhayananda) repeated a story told to him by Anne Hamilton-Byrne in an open resignation letter in 1981, that Muktananda had molested women on the pretext of checking their virginity. William Rodarmor published an article in CoEvolution Quarterly of winter 1983. In his article, Rodarmor includes accounts from anonymous young women who claimed to have been raped by Muktananda at the Ganeshpuri ashram.
Sarah Caldwell suggests in 2001, in the academic journal Nova Religio, that Muktananda was both an enlightened teacher and a secret practitioner of an esoteric form of Tantric sexual yoga, and that he also engaged in actions that were not ethical, legal, or liberatory with many disciples.
- Light on the Path (1972), Siddha Yoga Publications, ISBN 0-914602-54-3
- Mukteshwari: The Way of Muktananda (1972), SYDA Foundation
- Getting Rid of What You Haven't Got (1974), Wordpress ISBN 0-915104-00-8
- Ashram Dharma (1975), SYDA Foundation, ISBN 0-911307-38-9
- I Love You (1975), SYDA Foundation
- Selected Essays (1976), Siddha Yoga Publications, ISBN 0-911307-37-0
- God is With You (1978), Siddha Yoga Publications ISBN 0-914602-57-8
- I Am that: The Science of Hamsa from the Vijnana Bhairava (1978), Siddha Yoga Publications, ISBN 0-914602-27-6
- I Welcome You All With Love (1978), Siddha Yoga Publications, ISBN 0-911307-65-6
- In the Company of a Siddha: Interviews and Conversations With Swami Muktananda (1978), Siddha Yoga Publications ISBN 0-911307-53-2
- The Nectar of Chanting: Sacred Texts and Mantras Sung in the Ashrams of Swami Muktananda (1978), SYDA Foundation, ISBN 0-914602-16-0
- Play of Consciousness: A Spiritual Autobiography (1978), Siddha Yoga Publications, ISBN 0-911307-81-8
- Satsang with Baba : questions and answers between Swami Muktananda and his devotees (1978), Volumes 1 – 5, SYDA, ISBN 0-914602-40-3
- Kundalini: The Secret of Life (1979), Siddha Yoga Publications, ISBN 0-911307-34-6
- To Know the Knower (1979), Siddha Yoga Publications, ISBN 0-914602-91-8
- Meditate (1980), State University of New York Press, ISBN 0-87395-471-8
- Kundalini Stavah (1980), SYDA Foundation, ISBN 0-914602-55-1
- The Perfect Relationship: The Guru and the Disciple (1980), SYDA Foundation, ISBN 0-914602-53-5
- Reflections of the Self (1980), Siddha Yoga Publications, ISBN 0-914602-50-0
- Secret of the Siddhas (1980), Siddha Yoga Publications, ISBN 0-911307-31-1
- A Book for the Mind (1981), SYDA Foundation
- Does Death Really Exist? (1981), Siddha Yoga Publications, ISBN 0-911307-36-2
- Lalleshwari (1981), SYDA Foundation, ISBN 0-914602-66-7
- Where Are You Going?: A Guide to the Spiritual Journey (1981), Siddha Yoga Publications, ISBN 0-911307-60-5
- I Have Become Alive: Secrets of the Inner Journey (1985), Siddha Yoga Publications, ISBN 0-911307-26-5
- From the Finite to the Infinite (1990), Siddha Yoga Publications, ISBN 0-911307-31-1
- Mystery of the Mind (1992), SYDA Foundation
- The Self is Already Attained (1993), Siddha Yoga Meditation Publications, ISBN 0-914602-77-2
- Bhagawan Nityananda (1996), Siddha Yoga Publications, ISBN 0-911307-45-1
- Nothing Exists that Is Not Shiva: Commentaries on the Shiva Sutra, Vijnana Bhairava, Guru Gita, and Other Sacred Texts (1997) Siddha Yoga Publications, ISBN 0-911307-56-7
- "Baba Muktananda's Meditation Revolution Continues Ten Years After His Passing". Hinduism Today. October 1992. Retrieved 1 June 2006.
- Muktananda, Swami (1978). Play Of Consciousness. Siddha Yoga Publications. ISBN 0-911307-81-8.
- "Muktananda's Legacy". Hinduism Today. April 1995. Archived from the original on 22 May 2006. Retrieved 1 June 2006.
- "The Guru". Retrieved 5 October 2008.
- Yoga Journal: 40. March 1977.
- Jhawar, Shiv (2004). Building a Noble World.
- "Baba Muktananda: Mediation Revolution Continues Ten Years After His Passing". The Blog Of Peace. 3 January 2011. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- "Religion: Instant Energy". Time Magazine. July 26, 1976.
- "Swami Abhayananda". Retrieved 31 October 2012.
- Rodarmor, William (1983). "The Secret Life of Swami Muktananda". CoEvolution Quarterly.
- Harris, Lis (14 November 1994). "O Guru, Guru, Guru". The New Yorker.
- Sarah Caldwell (2001). "The Heart of the Secret: A Personal and Scholarly Encounter with Shakta Tantrism in Siddha Yoga" (PDF). Nova Religio 5 (1): 9–51. doi:10.1525/nr.2001.5.1.9. Retrieved 15 January 2008.
- Official SYDA website
- Official Leaving Siddha Yoga Website
- Media related to Siddha Yoga at Wikimedia Commons