Because of so many unfair accusations made by Steven Maldekar (aka Rudra) I have decided to share my knowledge and experiences I have had over the years with my dear beloved teachers and friends –Marshall Govindan and Durga Ahlund.
First of all I have known Marshall Govindan since 1992 and his wife Durga since 1996. I never had the impression that Marshall Govindan has ever, presented himself as a Guru. When asked, I have heard him say on numerous occasions that his role is just to be Babaji’s postman, delivering his Teachings. Govindan constantly emphasizes that the true “Guru” is not a person, but the Teachings. The Guru, he says, is a principle of nature, by which truth, beauty, love, goodness is revealed He also says that the Guru may manifest anytime through any experience that touches the soul with these qualities. When these soulful experiences are expressed consistently through a particular individual, we need to be careful not confuse that individual person with the “Guru.” The person is just an envelope, a vehicle. It is the teachings that are important.
I believe that Steve, “Rudra” may have confused a need for a personal relationship with Marshall Govindan with a need to know the Guru. If so, he needs to let go of his disappointment, and resentment, and realize that it is by doing the Kriya Yoga sadhana, and by studying the teachings of the BKY and the Siddhas and by changing his own thinking processes, that he may find what he is looking for.
One of the things I like about Govindan’s presentation of Kriya Yoga is that he gives the training in the techniques and continued support over the years without conditions, other than a commitment by the students to do the practices sincerely. Most Indian gurus require their students to slave away for years in their service, and then give very little in terms of teachings and techniques. Nor does Govindan ask his students to commit themselves solely to Kriya Yoga. Babaji’s Kriya Yoga, he says, is a big vehicle, that can accommodate and complement many teachings and methods.
Regarding the issue of money, if you visit the website where Marshall Govindan’s seminars and publications are described, on the page “Events and Schedule/First level initiation” it states:
“1. Initiation into Kriya Yoga is taught in an intensive weekend seminar. The suggested contributions will, however, cover the average cost involved…The suggested contribution is $300. At the Quebec Ashram this includes the cost of lodging and meals…”
And “6. Suggested contribution: initiations and other activities are given on a suggested contribution basis only. We never allow money to become a condition or obstacle to learning Babaji's Kriya Yoga. Where interested persons do not have money, it is given free.”
Where is the evidence that this policy regarding donations, has not in fact been respected? If Steve considers where he took the initiation, it was probably only $250 for first or second level weekend training. That is a very modest amount for a full weekend course packed with material. The review sessions he had with other acharyas were free of financial obligation. So was the training he had in India. He has not considered the very real cost involved in Govindan’s and other acharya’s travel expenses, to India, Japan and Hawaii, where he received his training, and the cost of renting a center, publicity, among other things. I have personally seen many people over the years who only offered a donation, an amount that they could easily afford. I have also seen that many people given the training for free. As acharyas we are always advised to give the training freely to all sincere aspirants. No one is ever turned away because they could not pay the suggested donation. All students receive a clear and concise training and are offered on going support over many years. No question or doubt goes unanswered, unless the questioner is not sincere and is just lodging complaints and not practicing.
Some people have taken all three initiations without paying anything, but do offer some seva, like some gardening at the ashram or some kitchen duty or some simple office tasks at the Ashram in Quebec. One man I know paid with a granite birdbath he had made. Shouldn’t there always be some exchange of energy? Also, the fees for all the trainings and that includes the Hatha Yoga Teacher Training vary according to a particular country. In India, the fee was about $100 for a 200 hour year long training. Sri Lankan students were given scholarships and even had their travel reimbursed, and they were given free lodging and meals. The amount of the suggested contribution is very low in poor countries, and reduced in East European Countries and in South America. The seminars are sometimes given without a suggested donation…these are sponsored by his organization, Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Order of Acharya. Furthermore, students are encouraged to repeat the first level seminars as often as they like, for free.
Govindan returns annually to most of the places where he has taught, to encourage and support his students. His site lists about 20 teachers who also teach and support students in over a dozen countries. He and Durga also offers a lot of support to students through a journal given for free after you take the 1st seminar, at least for a year or so…The Quebec Ashram offers regularly scheduled silent retreats and regional gatherings, and a 200-Hour Hatha Yoga Teacher Training, given at very reasonable rates. Kriya Yoga Publications has come out with amazing publications on Yoga, including the writings of the Siddhas.
All BKY publications were given to the Indian Ashram for distribution and reprinting, free of any fees or royalty. All the income from seminars and books in India stays in India to support the ashram and students there. The same support exists for the beautiful new ashram in Sri Lanka, which was rebuilt after the tsunami with the funds Satchidananda raised in a special fundraising effort.
Babaji’s Kriya Yoga is affordable and available to anyone who seeks it out. Many of my friends have visited the BKY ashrams in Bangalore, India and Sri Lanka, and attest to regular classes that are offered there several times per week to the public. These classes are well attended, and are offered free of charge. They are advertised on the same website. These ashrams are doing wonderful work in publishing the books written by the scholars associated with the Yoga Siddha Research Project, which is sponsored by Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Order of Acharyas, founded and lead by Marshall Govindan.
The complain that Govindan and his wife, Durga do not respond to emails is silly and illogical. How could he possibly know whether Marshall Govindan replies to anyone but himself? I correspond regularly with Durga and Govindan. They both receive an enormous amount of emails. At times, Govindan may not send a reply immediately. Durga always responds within a day or two. If “Rudra” (Steve Mandelker) has a complaint that his emails were not answered he need only take it up as an issue with Govindan. I could actually imagine that Govindan might not give someone the answer he was looking for. He might even stop responding to a student who won’t listen to his advice. I have witnessed that Govindan has little patience for laziness or incessant questioning.
If Steve’s evident anger and resentment is due to disappointment in the response that Marshall Govindan and Durga Ahlund and other acharyas that I know of made to him regarding his desire to continue his immoral pastimes in Bangkok, where he resides, he needs to understand that whatever they said, it was in the context of Babaji’s Kriya Yoga. They are teachers, not therapists, and not friends. As teachers, they need to draw a line in their relationship with students if they are to respect the ethical code of Yoga teachers, and to continue to empower students to make their own choices. His friends or his therapist might condone such immoral activities. But they have told him that when he does so, he opens himself to a big current of negative energy. I understand that after hearing this, he stopped communicating with them, and started his one-man campaign of slander under various pseudonyms and on various slander sites.
As a general rule, acharyas do not attempt to answer questions which are unrelated to the practice of Kriya Yoga. They do not attempt to tell students what to do in their personal affairs. But if someone has doubts about the practices, and they express these doubts in the form of polite questions, they will receive helpful, detailed replies as to the practice of the techniques and how they will help one to resolve their issues.
As for the alleged lack of response from persons listed on his website, I know many of them, and to my knowledge, there is no one listed there who will not respond, and does not continue to sincerely practice Babaji’s Kriya Yoga. If someone did not get a response, it may be that your insulting questions did not merit a response. The website is updated regularly, and it impressively reveals the engagement of a large number of sincere volunteers.
But why criticize Marshall Govindan because students evolve and move on? As with any tool, technique or skill which is learned, most persons move onto other things. Relatively few persons continue to practice it or use the tool every day. Even teachers who have practiced it for many years move onto other disciplines, become independent, or have to stop teaching for reasons of health, family, finances, or careers. To label Marshall Govindan as a “fraud” is ridiculous. Steven received every thing anyone could expect to receive and much more: careful training in the wonderful techniques of Babaji’s Kriya Yoga, in 3 great seminars, detailed replies to your numerous questions, most of which were unrelated to the techniques taught in the seminars, free review seminars, and much personal encouragement from several Kriya Yoga acharyas in California and Hawaii, as well as from Durga and Satchidananda.
If someone purchased a set of woodworking tools or attended a series of classes in oil painting, or any other seminar where one is taught techniques which require practice and skill in order to realize their potential benefits, but then refused to practice them, one cannot blame the tools or techniques as being ineffective, as you have done, much less the teacher!
It would be very unlikely that one would injure oneself practicing the 18 postures taught in his or Durga’s classes, or as presented in their books and DVD. This is not a competitive Yoga. The goal is deepest relaxation and increased vitality and physical wellness. Every pose is taught in stages, with relaxation after each posture. Furthermore, in my experience, any posture can cause injury to someone who is out of shape or who has had an earlier injury of if he pushes too hard.
The Grace Course, the correspondence course is wonderful. I have taken both years and many of my friends also have taken it and have been inspired by it. I found that what the course magically addressed precisely what I was going through in the particular month. It is a course in self study and might get under someone’s skin if he was not willing to work on himself. To attack the course or the one who developed it, is an immature response.
Steve complained that Marshall Govindan did not give adequate individual attention to students during an initiation seminar. He failed to mention that this was an exceptional situation, a free seminar in Bangalore, where more than 100 persons attended, and that the typical class seminar size is on the average only 15 persons. Nor did he mention that when he received his initial trainings the classes were even smaller.
I have never heard anyone express anything but the highest praise for Durga. She is an excellent teacher of Yoga. I like her other books. She also walks her talk, and is an example for all who know her. Steve may have met her, but I can’t imagine that he knows her at all.
I have never seen any evidence that Marshall Govindan promotes “miracles” or raises false expectations among his students. This is just another false statement. He has a remarkable ability to clearly communicate the essence of Self realization, without jargon. He uplifts and inspires us. But he always says our process and growth is up to us. It is always a matter of doing the work.
Govindan’s biography “How I became a disciple” clearly indicates why he left the organization of his teacher, the late Yogi Ramaiah. There is no evidence whatsoever that he has modified the techniques that he was taught. I have seen that these have been published on the internet by a student of Yogi Ramaiah. His presentation of these is consistent with what appears there. If anything, he has presented them much more clearly. He has also certainly made them very accessible to anyone who wishes to learn them. He removed them from the narrow, Indian cultural context which Yogi Ramaiah kept them from most aspirants, and made them accessible to all sincere seekers.
Steven has complained that Yogi Ramaiah treated him unfairly. The biography of Yogi Ramaiah which he has written in an article on his website, may help Steven to understand why Yogi Ramaiah acted towards him as he did. Yogi Ramaiah’s preferred relationship with students was to work on “crushing their ego’s” by creating situations wherein the student would feel uncomfortable, and either have to quit the relationship, or “let go” of their own egoistic reactions. That is the method of the “crazy-wise adepts” described in Georg Feuerstein’s book, "Holy Madness.” Other controversial teachers including Georg’s teacher the late Bubba Free John (a.k.a. “Adi Da), and Gurdjieff, used this method. Very few students, and especially very few Westerners, are prepared to work with a teacher who does that. It is too difficult.
Furthermore, everything that Marshall Govindan has evidentially done for the past 40 years related to the practice and teaching of Babaji’s Kriya Yoga demonstrates not only his belief in it, his love and devotion to his Guru Babaji, but the guidance, grace and support which Babaji has showered upon him. Steven’s claim that Marshall Govindan does not even believe in Babaji is simply absurd, and without any basis.
I have admired Marshall Govindan’s ability to answer questions in a very helpful and patient manner. However, he also emphasizes the fact that the truth cannot be realized merely by intellectual gymnastics, and that if one does practice quieting, then silencing the mind, there is no use in simply asking questions endlessly. I suspect that Steve "Rudra" avoided doing the practices, and that he allowed his intellect to get carried away with itself. I have often heard Govindan say to others that many questions can only be answered by going deep within.
Even though Steve chooses to take the alias “Rudra,” is an obvious attempt to confuse students. He has some axe to grind against Marshall Govindan and Durga, but it is not because of what he accuses them of in his posts. His allegations are completely at odds to what I know as a fact about both of these modest people, who have the deepest love and respect for the heritage of Yoga. All they seem to want to do is to empower others with an understanding of the force and transformational potential of Yoga.
I suggest that Steve goes back to the BKY website www.babajiskriyayoga.net and the new website www.tirumandiram.net and read and study the amazing new publications of the writings of the Tamil Siddhas, which this couple have made available. On January 17, 2010, in Chennai India, at the gala release of their latest publication, the monumental work, the “Tirumandiram,” in front of an audience of more than 1,000 persons, they were praised by a dozen dignitaries, leading spiritual luminaries, scholars and heads of the government. Professor Georg Feuerstein also recently reviewed this work and wrote: “Yoga-loving English speakers and the academic community owe an enormous gratitude to Marshall Govindan (Satchitananda) for initiating and sustaining this mammoth project, to his wife Durga Ahlund Govindan for her unstinting editorial and other support, and to Prof. T. N. Ganapathy and his team of translators and editors for successfully completing a truly monumental undertaking. One can only hope that the release of this complete rendering of the Tiru-Mandiram will end the relative neglect of the Tamil spiritual literature at the hands of Western scholars. The immense value of a careful study of this literature is overwhelmingly clear from the present work.”
Finally, I would like to add that Babaji’s Kriya Yoga techniques have had a great impact in my life. My life is now a continuing events of miracles, as I have learned to detach and surrender to the flow of His Divine Grace and Light.
One of His gifts that I have come to understand is the one of “free will.” That every moment gives me the opportunity to choose either love or fear.
When I choose fear , My ego takes over and it leads me to take the “Victim role,” which includes blame, resentment, judgment and suffering. When I am in this unconscious sate, I refuse to take responsibility for my actions because it is much easier to blame someone else for my misery. This creates a hell of a life.
When I choose Love : I remember that I am God’s (Spirit’s) Divine creation. When I become conscious or awakened to this state, I take the role of “Spiritual Warrior,” which includes taking responsibility for my actions. The Siddhas said that our happiness is proportional to one’s discipline.
When we become disciplined in our practice, we begin to remember that we are a piece of God’s creation. This process brings a feeling of peace, joy, love and connectedness, because we are able to detach, trust and surrender to His Divine flow of Grace.
Babaji said that through the practice of these techniques we are able to experience Heaven right here on earth, because through our spiritual transformation we become aware of the choices we have and we begin to let go of our false self (ego) and begin to integrate our True Self (God).
I have come to realize that nobody can make me happy or unhappy, it is all based on my perception and choices I make that can create the feeling of connectedness (love) or of separation (ego).
I know that Babaji’s Kriya Yoga techniques are the daily tools I plan to use till the day I die to support my spiritual transformation. My Sadhana continues to be a light in my path. It reminds to be aware that my life is the result of my choices and attitude that I take in every step and moment. My daily practice allows me to remember that I am a spiritual being having a human experience.
The Siddhas said our happiness is proportional to one’s discipline…. Our daily practice reminds us of our Divine connection with Spirit. This brings a feeling of joy, peace, love and connectedness with all life. So, I have learned that there is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.
At every moment of our lives we can either be the Host to God or the Hostage to our ego, it is all up to the choices we make.
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