Muktananda, Swami (1908–1982)
A Hindu spiritual teacher who was an exponent of what he
termed siddha yoga, a variation of kundalini characterized by
the demand that followers give over the guidance in their spiritual
development to their teacher. Muktananda was born May
16, 1908, at Dharmasthala, South India. In 1964 he received
his master’s degree from Jabalpur University and became a lecturer
in Hindi at W. M. Ruia College, India.
In February 1966, he first met Swami Nityananda of
Ganeshpuri, who became his guru. Swami Nityananda had the
power of shaktipat, the imparting of spiritual force through
touch, thus arousing the kundalini energy believed to be latent
in the human organism at the base of the spine. Through initiation
by his guru, Muktananda experienced kundalini and its
manifestation in various chakras or psychic centers of the body,
accompanied by strange visions and enhanced consciousness.
He described his remarkable experiences in his book Guru
(1971), which were similar to those reported by Pandit Gopi
Krishna.
Muktananda became spiritual head of Shree Gurudev Ashram
at Ganeshpuri, near Bombay, and attracted followers from
all over India. He taught a traditional Hindu mystical doctrine
of sadhana or spiritual discipline, enhanced by his ability to
awaken spiritual force in others through shaktipat.
He first visited the United States in 1970, and four years
later made a triumphal tour in California, where he gave an address
to a convention of 500 psychologists and psychotherapists
in San Diego. Charles Garfield, clinical psychologist at the University
of California, described Muktananda as ‘‘a highly developed
being.’’
American ashrams were established across the country and
additional followers emerged in Europe after Muktananda’s
successful visits to Britain. Known affectionately as ‘‘Baba’’ to
his devotees, he was also given the honorific title ‘‘Paramahansa,’’
indicating the highest type of Hindu holy man.
After his death on October 2, 1982, Muktananda was succeeded
by a brothersister team, Swami Nityananda and Swami
Chidvilasananda; however, they had a break and Swami Chidvilasananda
emerged as Muktananda’s primary successor as
head of the Siddha Yoga Dham Associates. After a period of inactivity,
Swami Nityananda founded a rival organization, the
Shanti Mandir Seminars. After Muktananda’s death there were
also serious charges leveled by a number of former disciples
that in spite of his claim to be celibate Muktananda had engaged
in sexual activity with, and at times sexually coerced female
disciples. More positively Mukatananda is revered for his
influence on many American spiritual leaders.
Sources
Muktananda, Swami. Guru. New York Harper & Row, 1971.
———. In the Company of a Siddha Interviews and Conversations
with Swami Muktananda. Ganeshpuri, India Gurudev Siddha
Peth, 1981.
———. Kundalini The Secret of Life. South Fallsburg, N.Y.
SYDA Foundation, 1979.
———. The Perfect Relationship The Guru and the Disciple.
South Fallsburg, N.Y. SYDA Foundation, 1980.
———. Play of Consciousness. New York Harper & Row,
1974.
———. Satsang with Baba. Oakland, Calif. S.T.D.A., 1975.

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