Shankarananda (Shiva Yoga)

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Shankarananda in Ganeshpuri, 2016

Mahamandaleshwar Swami Shankarananda (born Russell Kruckman in 1942) is an American-born yoga guru[1][2] in the lineage of Bhagavan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri. Swami Shankarananda is the author of several books on meditation and the philosophy and practice of Kashmir Shaivism. He emphasises spiritual practice (Sadhana), especially meditation, mantra and Self-inquiry. In Australia he founded a residential spiritual school (Shiva Ashram) in Australia, now called The Ashram Mount Eliza[3] where about 20 seekers live and members of the wider public visit for programs, retreats and courses. Since 2015, there have been repeated allegations of coercive "secret sexual relations" between Shankarananda and women in the ashram community.[4][5]

Biography[edit]

Russell Michael Kruckman was the son of artist Herbert ("Herb") (1904–1998) and school teacher Selma (1908–1998). He studied at Columbia University, New York, where he played on Columbia's US Champion intercollegiate chess team.[6] In 1970 he went to India where he met his guru, Muktananda, the disciple of Bhagavan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri.

In 1991, as Shankarananda, he founded the residential Shiva Ashram on the Mornington Peninsula in Australia.[3] He has held events with other teachers in his lineage and, in 2009, launched a website that documents the gurus Nityananda and Muktananda.[7] He has participated in interfaith events.[8] He was the patron of the Hindu Community Council of Victoria (HCCV),[9] and he spoke at the Parliament of the World's Religions held in Melbourne, 2009.

Shankarananda came into contact with Kashmir Shaivism through his teacher, Muktananda. He teaches the "Shiva Process of Self-Inquiry, an inner dialogue in which students ask precise questions of the Self," realizing their true Self as pure consciousness or awareness.[10] Muktananda emphasised the importance of a self-realised guru who can awaken and guide the kundalini energy of a seeker.

Alleged abuses[edit]

In 2015, newspapers began reporting on allegations of coercive "secret sexual relations" between Shankarananda and women in the ashram community. Shankarananda apologised, claiming that he'd not considered the ramifications of his sexual 'tantric' practices.[11] Yoga Australia suspended its accreditation of Shiva Ashram programs, and the organization went into liquidation. Shankaranda resigned as director but remained as spiritual head,[1] as well as retaining the main ashram property.[12][2][13] The property is now called The Ashram Mount Eliza, and as of 2022 Shankarananda continues to run regular programs for residents and the public.[14]

In February 2021, the Australian journalist Dan Oakes published the results of his investigation into the allegations against Kruckman, recording multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and abusive behaviour.[15]

Works[edit]

  • Happy for No Good Reason, Information Australia, Melbourne, 2000. ISBN 1-86350-314-5
  • Consciousness Is Everything: The Yoga of Kashmir Shaivism, Shaktipat Press, Melbourne, 2003. ISBN 0-9750995-0-7
  • Carrot in My Ear: Questions and Answers on Living with Awareness, Shaktipat Press, Melbourne, 2004. ISBN 0-9750995-2-3
  • Self-Inquiry: Using Your Awareness to Unblock Your Life, Shaktipat Press, Melbourne, 2008. ISBN 978-0-9750995-3-7
  • Ganeshpuri Days: Memoirs of a Western Yogi, Shaktipat Press, Melbourne, 2019. ISBN 978-164669081-7

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Guru sex scandal at Mt Eliza yoga retreat" Miki Perkins, The Age, 20 January 2015. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Yoga school to be wound up", Keith Platt, Mornington Peninsula News, 27 April 2015. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  3. ^ a b "The Ashram Mount Eliza | Swami Shankarananda - Meditation and Yoga". The Ashram Mount Eliza. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  4. ^ "'Secret' sex shakes yoga school", Keith Platt, Mornington Peninsula News, 20 January 2015. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
  5. ^ Dan Oakes (27 February 2021). "Mount Eliza ashram guru Russell Kruckman accused of sexually abusing multiple women".
  6. ^ "Chess Club wins Ivy League Crown", William D. Schwartz, Columbia Spectator, 23 February 1962. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
  7. ^ Nityananda; The Living Tradition (http://www.nityanandatradition.org)
  8. ^ Tantra, consciousness and reality seminar, October 2004
    Third Catholic Interfaith Symposium, June, 2005
    Celebrating Rumi and Mystics of East and West, 2007
  9. ^ Clarification re Ganesh Play Controversy
  10. ^ "Energy Rising", Yoga Journal Kathy Wyer (http://www.yogajournal.com/article/practice-section/energy-rising/)
  11. ^ "'Secret' sex shakes yoga school", Keith Platt, Mornington Peninsula News, 20 January 2015. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
  12. ^ "Yoga school to be wound up", Keith Platt, Mornington Peninsula News, 27 April 2015. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  13. ^ "Ashram could wind up amid sex abuse allegations", Jane Lee, The Age, 28 March 2015. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  14. ^ "The Ashram Mount Eliza". TheAshram.com.au. 2022. Retrieved 14 March 2022. The Ashram is a mystery school of meditation and inner wisdom on the Mornington Peninsula. Home to kundalini master, MM Swami Shankarananda.
  15. ^ Oakes, Dan (26 February 2021). "Mount Eliza ashram guru Russell Kruckman accused of sexually abusing multiple women". ABC. Retrieved 18 November 2021.