Baba left his body 33 years ago, on October 2nd, 1982. At the time, I was seven months pregnant with Ian, my first son. Ganeshpuri had been swirling with conflict and controversy. Because of my pregnancy and my job as librarian of Baba’s closed library, I did not have much contact with all that was being said. Also, people tended to shy away from me. I, too, had been a controversy and was not much liked. Never was the popular kid.
I stuck to what I knew. Baba had always been unfailingly true for me. Did I deny the rumors? No. Neither did I embrace them and act on them. All I had was my facts. Could Baba have done something wrong? Of course he could have. Had he? Yes, according to a lot of people. Did that change my relationship with him? No. I had lived and seen too much to change my relationship with Baba.
So for some, I am the disciple of a bad True Guru. I cannot defend Baba, nor do I need to. Dada Yende, another close disciple of Baba, defended him one day in the courtyard so many years ago. Still, people were hurt. People were offended. People felt betrayed. I did not—not because I was insensitive to their pain, but because I didn’t presume anything anymore. So many things I had been so sure of had turned out not to be the way I thought they were.
Using all kinds of approaches to label what Baba did or did not do does not resolve the pain felt by many people. For this I am sorry. The problem for me is that in all my years working closely with Baba, I never saw him be malicious, cruel or abusive. I know there are people who will say his actions were abusive, and that I am being blind. Baba was a True Guru who did things that left people feeling damaged and betrayed, and he remains my Guru.
Recently someone looked up Baba on the internet and found all the stuff about the scandal. It followed for this person that because people said Baba had done wrong, I must be wrong. To avoid facing similar criticism, many of my Guru brothers and sisters have erased Baba out of their personal narratives. I have been shocked to see people I know who got so much from Baba now deny they ever knew him. Unwilling to face and wrestle with all that had come forth, they threw everything out. Baba was a True Guru who did things that left people feeling damaged and betrayed, and he remains my Guru.
Do I condone what he did? The truth is I do not know what he did; I only heard what he did, in some cases directly from people involved. I have written about my one encounter with anything of this sort (“Respecting Lineage”); I took it to be a test and answered “no” by my actions. Baba never then shunned me or treated me with anything other than respect and Love. But in many people’s imaginations Baba has been defined completely by one set of stories. Baba was a True Guru who did things that left people feeling damaged and betrayed, and he remains my Guru.
So today I will accept that Baba did everything that people say he did. Today I will not rationalize or give any scriptural or tantric explanation. Though I did not see any of it, I will not deny what people have said, and I am sorry they were hurt. As for me, I owe Baba everything, and I love him with all my Heart. I am so happy to be the disciple of Swami Muktananda. Baba was a True Guru who did things that left people feeling damaged and betrayed, and he remains my Guru.
I separate the man from the Guru and the teachings. But I loved both the man and the Guru. The man had all the complexity and karma that we have. I am sorry that, for some, the man let people down. He never let me down. For me there is no difference between Baba and the Guru. The Guru, His teachings and His inner practice cannot let any of us down. I pranam to my Guru, Swami Muktananda. Because of him and what he taught, I am where I am, and for that I am most grateful.
Baba, I Love you with all my Heart and wish you were physically here now. I miss your physical presence in the midst of my turbulent sādhana. Right now, I am in the midst of an intensive śakti change, and I would give anything to sit with you and receive your help and direction. I relied on you, and I still rely on you. You never fail me.
I know how hard it can be to understand how someone in Baba’s position might operate. I understand also how hard it must be for some people who feel damaged or betrayed, and I pray for their healing and resolution. But at the end of the day, my Baba is the Baba I knew and know, and in all my years with him I never saw him be abusive, coercive or anything other than full of Love.
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