||A major contributor to this article appears to have a close connection with its subject. (October 2015)|
1 January 1978 or 13 March 1977 |
Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, India
|Titles/honours||Mahamandaleshwar of Nirvani Akhada|
|Founder of||Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam|
|Quotation||I am not here to say I am God—Aham Brahmasmi. I am here to prove that you are God—Tat Tvam Asi.|
Swami Nithyananda is a controversial spiritual guru and Mahamandaleshwar of Maha Nirvani Akhada. He is also the founder of Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam headquartered in Bengaluru, India. His organization spans 50 countries with 10 million followers worldwide.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Teachings and Meditation Programs
- 3 eN education
- 4 Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam
- 5 Finance and management
- 6 Controversy
- 7 Awards and honours
- 8 Works
- 9 References
- 10 External links
According to Nithyananda, he was born as Rajasekaran on 1 January 1978 in Thiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu. His date of birth according to the US visa issued to him from the US Consulate in Chennai in 2003, was 13 March 1977. He was the second child of Arunachalam and Lokanayaki. Nithyananda claims to remember his birth: "It was neither dark nor light-filled; an indeterminate color covered planet Earth. Suddenly a bright and brilliant light appeared from a region, which I now see as Southern India. I entered into that light in the form of a brilliant meteor. The very next sight that I perceived with my inner eye was Arunachala, and I knew that I had assumed the body once more; I had entered the womb of my mother. It was a conscious birth. I entered into the body at 11:45 pm. I took a muhurta, which is a period of about 45 minutes in the Hindu system of time measurement, to settle into the body."
Nithyananda says that when he was around 9 years old he regularly met Arunagiri Yogiswara, an incarnation of Lord Shiva, at his Samadhi within the premises of Arunachala temple at Tiruvannamalai and that they talked for hours day after day. According to Nithyananda, Arunagiri eventually told him, "Dear one, you and I are one. We can never get separated. But the play is over. You will not miss me any longer. We are one" and the form of Arunagiri Yogiswara merged into his body and disappeared.
According to Nithyananda when he was about 12 years old a meditation technique given to him by Annamalai Swamigal resulted in his "awaken[ing] to the realization that I was one with the whole of Existence and everything was I!" Nithyananda says that the effects of this experience, that he now calls satori, lasted for about three days and was the beginning of a new phase of spiritual development in his life. He says that it has enabled him to see all around him whenever he wishes.
According to Nityananda, he changed his name from Rajashekar after a mystical experience in which Mahavatar Babaji appeared to him in a darshan and gave him the name Nityananda. Responding to the question, "who called you Paramahamsa?", (a Sanskrit religio-theological title of honour applied to Hindu spiritual teachers of lofty status who are regarded as having attained enlightenment), Nityananda said "The Mahavatar Babaji in his mystical darshan".
Teachings and Meditation Programs
Nithyananda's teachings are based on the advaita vedanta, bhakti, yoga, meditation and kriyas. His discourses on Indian scriptures include Shiva Sutras, Jain Sutras Brahma Sutras, Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads.
Nithyananda conducts meditation programs spanning 1 to 21-days. His discourses are available through live internet video streaming, through Nithyananda TV and also broadcast by selected television companies.
Nithyananda's organisation includes a number of "Enlightening Nithyanandam based Spiritual Education" (eNBSE) programs and schools with the stated mission "To create a quantum intelligent civilization based on consciousness, compassion, creativity and confidence in at least 10 million children".
Nithyananda Gurukul is a residential school within the ashram in Bidadi. According to nithyananda.org, the curriculum includes "standard academics", "brain yoga for balanced neurological growth", "Vedic mathematics", an "Emphasis on Ecological awareness and connection with the planet that sustains us" and an "Awareness of beauty cultivated through creative performing and graphic arts".
In October 2013, the school was accused of rights violations and running the gurukul without any accreditation. The district administration was asked by the women and child welfare department of the state government to rescue the children after a complaint that the ashram was violating rights. Following notices issued by the administration, the ashram had written to the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) expressing willingness to produce the children before it or the Ramanagaram child welfare committee (CWC).
Nithyananda established an Ashram at Bidadi, near Bangalore on 1 January 2003 called Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam, with the stated mission of reviving Vedic tradition and sharing his enlightenment experience. The ashram offers programs on meditation, yoga and healing which are often conducted by Nithyananda.
The ashram has been involved in a number of social initiatives including disaster relief activities for hurricane Thane, relief work during the floods in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in 2009, donations for victims of fire accident at the fireworks factory in Sivakasi in 2009 and deaths of pilgrims at Amarnath in 2012.
Finance and management
In December 2010, India Today reported that police planned to conduct an investigation into the wealth of Nithyananda and the ashram. He was alleged to have accumulated ₹1400 million (~ US$ 23 million) in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Nithyananda's younger brother manages his finances and those of the ashrams outside India as well as the Nithyananda Imports and Exports business. In June 2012, India Today reported that Nithyananda "heads 20 foreign trusts and nine Indian trusts that call themselves charitable institutions and pay no taxes". It described his website, www.nithyananda.org, as "a full-fledged e-commerce site" and said that the Karnataka Police and district administration are not "willing to put a figure to Nithyananda's wealth yet".
Sun TV scandal
A video that apparently showed Nithyananda engaging in sexual acts with women, allegedly Tamil film actress Ranjitha, was broadcast on the Tamil television channel Sun News on 2 March 2010. This incident also resulted in protests outside the ashram during which a fire broke out. While the channels stand by their claim that the film clip is original, Nithyananda and his followers point out the video is clearly contrived and faked: using actors and deliberate blurring and obscuring faces with the intent to deceive the viewer regarding the actors. Nithyananda's followers maintain he is innocent and the video was morphed. Forensic tests by the government recognised laboratories confirmed that the video was real and authentic and thus exposing the false claims by Nithyananda and his followers. On 4 March, Nithyananda made an application to a civil court in Chennai, seeking an injunction blocking further broadcasting of the video material. Responding to the media reports, Nithyananada said that he was in a "state of samadhi" (trance) when the video was made and that the tape had been "misinterpreted, morphed and manipulated" during an interview with Times Now on 13 March 2010. In another follow-up interview to Outlook magazine, he claimed that an earlier mutation had rendered him incapable of sex. After release of the video, Bidadi police registered cases under Indian Penal Code sections 376 (rape), 377 (unnatural sex), 120B (criminal conspiracy), 506 (threat to life) and 420 (cheating).
After evading summons for 49 days, Nithyananda was arrested on 21 April 2010 in Arki in Himachal Pradesh by Bangalore Police with the help of the police of Himachal and the interrogation was done in Bangalore by the CID of the Bangalore Police. On 11 June 2010 Nithyananda was granted bail, and was released from judicial custody after 52 days in Ramanagaram sub-jail. In October 2010, the releaser of the video who worked as Nithyananda's driver was charged by Bidadi police under several sections of the IPC with accusations of defaming Nithyananda through distributing the video. Subsequently, in July 2011, Nithyananda's ashram filed a complaint against Sun TV Network, claiming they were the agents behind what the ashram alleged was a morphed video and the repeated telecasting of it. Both Nithyananda and the actress had insisted that the video was morphed, a claim that was later repeated by an ex-COO of Sun TV.
On February 2013, the High Court of Karnataka quashed two FIRs against Nithyananda, one pertaining to his activities at the ashram and the other over alleged assault on a pro-Kannada leader
Accusations by Arathi Rao
Arathi Rao, a former follower of Nithyananda, gave a detailed account of her five-year experience with the guru. She alleged that Nithyananda repeatedly raped her and threatened her with dire consequences if she revealed it to anybody. Arathi also claimed that it was she who had secretly filmed Nithyananda's sex tapes with a Tamil actress. The ashram held a press conference which ended abruptly, the devotees and some journalists had heated arguments and they even exchanged blows. Later, activists of the Nava Karnataka Nirmana Vedike stormed the ashram to protest against the alleged attack on the media. Karnataka Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda ordered the police to arrest the guru and seal his ashram. On 13 June, Nithyananda surrendered himself before a court in Ramanagaram. He was released on bail the next day and the ashram was unsealed a few days later. In August 2012, after failing to appear for a court-directed sexual potency test, passports of Nithyananda and 30 of his associates were seized at Delhi Airport. Following this event, widespread resentment of Nithyanandas was reported at Madhurai Adheenam by various section of the media. On 6 August 2014 the United States District Court Southern District of Ohio issued a judgment against Mrs. Aarthi S. Rao and in favor of Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam of Columbus in Delaware, Ohio (NDC) (Case No. 2:13-CV-00526) fining her nearly half a million dollar for false public statements.
In 5 August 2014 the Supreme Court of India stayed order on medical test of Nithyananda. The case has been pending since 2010 in Ramanagaram Court. The bench expressed its displeasure, at the speed with which the investigation was proceeding. In September 3, 2014 the Supreme Court of India ruled that Nithyananda will take potency test. In a separate case, Mr. Vinay Bharadwaj filed against Sri Nithyananda Swami and several U.S. non-profits but this was dismissed in favor of Sri Nithyananda Swami and the other defendants (Case No. CIVRS 1013793) by the US Appellate Court who also denied any and all appeals by Mr. Bharadwaj on this matter.
In Nov 27 2014, reports of the potency tests that were conducted on Nityananda were released to the media, it was found that Nithyananda is a physically healthy male with no signs of being incapable of having sex.
Nithyanada's council and followers interpreted these reports as claiming that he was incapable of sex, pointing to his hypogonadism that resulted in him having 12.50 mg/dl of testosterone, which is 5 per cent of lowest level in adult males (aged 31–49) which is 249 mg/dl, and is also 16 per cent lesser than the lower limit of testosterone observed in healthy adult women. These claims have been countered by the mainstream media, as the reports indicated that the low testosterone levels could be a result of outside factors. Nithyananda refused an intracavernosal injection, which might have been useful in determining the reason for vascular impotency, claiming the possibility of a cardiac arrest. Additionally, medical practitioners explained that potency tests are not fool proof and are violation of the dignity of a person.
Mahamandelshwar, Madurai Adheenam and other controversies
In June 2012, a political party Hindu Makkal Katchi in Tamil Nadu, filed a petition in Madurai court against Nithyanada alleging misuse of Madhurai Adheenam mutt for practicing immoral activities and for serving holy water laced with drugs. On 12 October 2012, Arunagirinatha Desikar, the 292nd head of Madurai Adheenam mutt, who had earlier anointed Nithyananda as his successor in April 2011, an appointment widely condemned at the time by Hindu religious bodies and the government, sacked him after pressure mounted from the state government and other Hindu religious and charitable organisations. Following this decision, Sri Arunagirinathar sought police protection, citing threats to life from Nithyananda disciples. In another related incident, pursuing eye witness accounts alleging widespread usage of tiger pelts and elephant tusks within the ashram, Madurai police opened cases against Nithyananda under the Wildlife Protection Act. Eventually these charges had been dropped.
In February 2013, Nithyananda was conferred the title of Mahamandaleshwar of the Mahanirvani akhara during the Kumbh Mela in Prayag. The event was a closed ceremony and the Deccan Herald described it as "clandestine". The appointment met with protests from some other akharas and saints as traditionally the Mahakumbh officials are invited as are other akharas. Narendra Giri, the mahant of Niranjani akhara, was quoted as saying "Though it is the prerogative of the akharas to confer the title of Mahamandaleshwar, one has to see whether the person is fit for the same. The title is given to the saints, who have selflessly served the mankind. Nityananda does not deserve the title." Ravi Shankar also criticised the conferment. The Mahanirvani akhara defended its action. Mahant Ravindra Puri was quoted as saying "Nityananda may have been facing charges, but it is his personal life and we have nothing to do with that. We should keep in mind that the charges have not yet been proved."
Awards and honours
- In 2007, he was elected chairman of the Hindu University of America, also known as the International Vedic Hindu University, an institution in the US state of Florida. The University is accredited by the National Public Schools Alliance, which is not recognised as an accrediting agency by the US Department of Education.
- In 2012, Paramahamsa Nithyananda featured in the Watkins' list of the top 100 most spiritually influential living people in the world.
- In April 2012 appointed 293rd head of Madurai Adheenam. In October 2012 removed as head.
- In February 2013 during the Maha Kumbh Mela, Nithyananda was bestowed the title of Mahamandaleshwar by the head of Panchayati Akhara Mahanirvani.
- Nithyananda, Paramahamsa (2008). Living enlightenment. Life Bliss Foundation. ISBN 978-1-60607-048-2.
- Nithyananda, Paramahamsa (2008). Guaranteed Solutions for Lust, Fear, Worry ... Life Bliss Foundation. ISBN 978-1-60607-031-4.
- Nithyananda, Paramahamsa (2004). Meditation is for You: An Introduction to the Science and Art of Meditation. Life Bliss Foundation. ISBN 978-81-902437-4-2.
- Nithyananda, Paramahamsa (2004). Open the door... let the breeze in!. Life Bliss Foundation. ISBN 978-81-902437-1-1.
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- About the Master and Mission (Self Published)
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- Thane Cyclone Relief Works
- Flood Relief Charitable Services by Nithyananda Global Initiatives
- Nithyananda Pledges 5 Million Rupees To Sivakasi Fire Accident Relief
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- "Defamation case filed against Swami's ex-driver". The Deccan Chronicle. 3 October 2010. Archived from the original on 27 December 2010. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
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- "Godman passport seized". Deccan Chronicle. 3 August 2012.
- "Nearly Half a Million Dollar Judgment in Favor of Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam of Ohio Issued by U.S. Federal Court". Prweb. 16 August 2014.
- "Supreme Court stays order on medical test of Nithyananda". dnaindia. 5 August 2014.
- "'Sex Swami' Nithyananda Will Take Potency Test, Rules Supreme Court". NDTV. 3 September 2014.
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- "Swami Nithyananda earns another title at Mahakumbh". Lucknow, India: India Today. 13 February 2013. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
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- "Hindu University in US expands Vedic base". Rediff News. 20 November 2007. Retrieved 11 January 2010.
- "Institutions that may be operating illegally in South Carolina Or operating illegally elsewhere and enrolling residents of South Carolina (updated 03/04/2014)" (PDF). South Carolina Commission on Higher Education. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
- Watkins' Spiritual 100 List for 2012, Mind Body Spirit, Feb 2012
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