For the next few weeks, I'll publish excerpts from my soon to be released book — Sex, Lies, and Two Hindu Gurus, about my life in the cult of the conmen Prakashanand Saraswati and Kripalu Maharaj. I would love to know what you think. Please feel free to comment.
This first excerpt is Chapter 15. It appears in Part One.
See No Evil – The Guru Plays Favorites
After becoming part of Swamiji’s group of followers, I realized that they were not like the people I’d met in Christian churches.
Instead, there was a constant air of competition among his followers for the title of holier-than-thou. This rivalry was pervasive as we prepared for his visit. The “top-dog” climate went into overdrive once Swamiji arrived. Everything was fair game, from a person’s proximity to him in the prayer hall to being chosen to personally serve him in his bedroom.
Every evening there was a race to secure the space closest to his couch on the floor of the prayer room. The most coveted seats were directly in front of the loveseat. Serving him personally was not as egalitarian. Karen L. dominated on that front for three reasons. She had gained the upper hand due to her senior status among us new devotees, the fact that Carla was busy dealing with everything else, and, probably most importantly, because her daughter, Christi, was Swamiji’s undisputable favorite.
Christi had recently started studying to become one of his preachers, joining the ranks of the other women who wore orange and proselytized his message of divine-love-consciousness. Swamiji fawned over her constantly. Whenever he was driven anywhere in Michael’s BMW, he always singled her out to ride with him.
He also called Christi into his bedroom on a regular basis, especially in the evenings after the rest of us left for home. Karen L. would often join them, watching movies, eating snacks, and generally having a grand old time with Swamiji. One morning I noticed Karen L. and Christi bustling around the kitchen, smug and secure in their roles as teacher’s pets.
Swamiji’s personal assistant, Vishi, also spent a lot of time alone with him. One day as I passed by his open bedroom door, I saw Vishi standing next to his bed. He had one hand on her body in what looked like an intimate touch of some sort. Her back was to me, however, so I could not see clearly what was going on without stopping to stare.
The fleeting image startled me. Later that night when I was alone in bed, I felt a niggling suspicion: “Is this really the spiritual path I think it is, or is it something else?” I felt a bit sick to my stomach. But I tamped down my negative thoughts and reassured myself that whatever I had seen was innocent.
After all, Swamiji was a saint, right?