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Swami Nithyananda

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Swami Nithyananda

For other uses, see Nityananda (disambiguation).
Swami Nithyananda
Born (1978-01-01) January 1, 1978 (age 36) or (1977-03-13) March 13, 1977 (age 37)
Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, India[1][2]
Nationality Indian
Titles/honours Mahamandaleshwar of Nirvani Akhada [3]
Founder of Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam
Philosophy Advaita Vedanta
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 godman,[4][5] Mahamandaleshwar of Maha Nirvani Akhada [3] and the founder of Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam headquartered in Bengaluru, India.[6]

Biography

Early life

According to Nithyananda, he was born as Rajasekaran on January 1, 1978 in Thiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu.[1] His date of birth according to the US visa issued to him from the US Consulate in Chennai in 2003, was March 13, 1977.[1] He was the second child of Arunachalam and Lokanayaki.[1] 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."[7] As a young boy, Nithyananda learned how to make little idols from wood, soft-stone and wet earth from temple sculptors, some of which are on display at his ashram near Bangalore.


When Nithyananda was about three years old, a relative brought home Raghupati Yogi, a practitioner of Patanjali's Ashtanga Yoga and Nithyananda became his student. Nithyananda also claims he received instructions in Vedanta, Siddha, Tantra and other eastern metaphysical sciences from Maataji Kuppammal, Annamalai Swamigal, Yogi Ramsuratkumar, Narayanaswami Thatha and Isakki Swamigal.

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.[8]

Name change

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.[9] Responding to the question, "who called you Paramahamsa?", (a Sanskrit religio-theological title of honor applied to Hindu spiritual teachers of lofty status who are regarded as having attained enlightenment), Nityananda said "The Mahavatar Babaji in his mystical darshan".[9]

Teachings and Meditation Programs

Nithyananda's teachings span advaita vedanta, bhakti, yoga, meditation and kriyas.[10]. His discourses on Indian scriptures include Shiva Sutras, Jain Sutras Brahma Sutras, Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita.

Nithyananda conducts meditation programs spanning 1 to 21-days [11]. His presentations are available through live internet video streaming and also broadcast by select television entities.

eN Education

Nithyananda's organization 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".[12]

Nithyananda Gurukul

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".[13]

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).[14]

Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam

Nithyananda estbalished an Ashram at Bidadi, near Bangalore on Jan 1, 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,[15] relief work during the floods in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in 2009,[16] donations for victims of fire accident at the fireworks factory in Sivakasi in 2009[17] and deaths of pilgrims at Amarnath in 2012.

Controversy

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.[18][19][20] 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 Dhyanapeetam's website insists that the videos are morphed and defamatory in nature.[21] On March 4, Nithyananda made an application to a civil court in Chennai, seeking an injunction blocking further broadcasting of the video material.[22] 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.[23][24] In another followup interview to Outlook magazine, he claimed that an earlier mutation had rendered him incapable of sex.[25] 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).[26][27]

After evading summons for 49 days, Nithyananda was arrested on April 21, 2010 in Arki in Himachal Pradesh by Bangalore Police with the help of the police of Himachal[28] and the interrogation was done in Bangalore by the CID of the Bangalore Police.[29] 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.[30] 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.[31]

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[32]

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.[33] 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.[34] Karnataka Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda ordered the police to arrest the guru and seal his ashram.[35] On June 13, 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.[36][37] 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.[38] Following this event, widespread resentment of Nithyanandas was reported at Madhurai Adheenam by various section of the media.[39]

Mahamandelshwar and Madhurai Adheenam controversies

In June 2012, a Hindu organization 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.[40] On October 12, 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.[41] Following this decision, Sri Arunagirinathar sought police protection, citing threats to life from Nithyananda disciples.[41] 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.[42]

In February 2013, Swami 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 criticized 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 ye been proved."[43][44]

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 U.S. state of Florida.[45]
  • In 2012, Paramahamsa Nithyananda featured in the Watkins' list of the top 100 most spiritually influential living people in the world.[46]
  • 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.[43]

Works

References

External links

  • Official website of Paramahamsa Nithyananda
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