Is Sadhguru a Cult Leader – and Did He Murder His Wife?

Sadhguru, pronounced by some as Sad- Guru.

The website Infocatolica, a Spanish Catholic news site, published an article by José Antonio Gómez Castro for the Ibero-American Network for the Study of Sects (RIES). accusing a Hindu man of being a cult leader and possibly murdering his wife.

The Hindu, Jaggi Vasudev, better known as Sadhguru, operates the Isha foundation.

Sadhguru

Frank Report will analyze the accusations, especially the allegation of murdering his wife, to consider whether this Hindu warrants further scrutiny.

Ries writes:

Jaggi Vasudev, known as Sadhguru, [is] a character who has built a ‘mystical’ persona: intelligent, non-threatening, charismatic and funny, the same persona any Hindu guru wants today. Hinduism provides the perfect framework for its teachings, … like a twisted, amorphous spiritual amoeba.

A non-spiritual amoeba

 

Frank Parlato responds:

This is an ugly dose of religious bias but does not necessarily negate the entire article. Let’s continue.

Ries writes:

But behind that smile hides some things that new Sadhguru followers and supporters of his videos are unaware of:  His Isha Foundation is no different from any other exploitative sect. It makes its members swear to secrecy, and they have to pay a small fortune for enlightenment.

In fact, if you happen to attend one of their weekend events,  a mini yogic retreat in a kind of pop-up ashram, like the one that took place at the ExCel Center in London, it will cost you 650 pounds per ticket (about 713 pounds euros). [$903 US dollars].

Caveat Emptor

Frank Parlato responds:

It appears that the price is not hidden.  Prospective students know in advance the cost, and that no one is compelled to attend a seminar or retreat and no one apparently is admitted who does not pay in advance, making it a seemingly legal arrangement.

If it is a bad bargain, that seems as much the fault of the buyer as the seller. It is generally good advice to do your homework when buying spiritual products just as you would for any $900 sectarian product.

Sadhguru has been accused of teaching material at high prices which he merely stole from others  – many of who died centuries ago.

It is likely that nothing is quite new under the sun  – or to paraphrase Dr. Johnson, “If a teaching is good, it is not likely to be new and if it is new it is not likely to be good.”

What one learns in Sadhguru’s intensives could probably be gleaned from books costing perhaps a total of $100, or online for free. But he is not just selling the teachings, he is selling faith: that he knows or has realized what he is teaching and, thus, you can trust learning it from him and perhaps can even imbibe something directly from hearing and seeing him.

This is what people, for the most part, are buying and because this is subjective, it cannot be easily judged.  In fact, he might be the rogue of all times, but if people believe he is a saint, then it might be true that they improve in ways that no book – even if written by a saint  – could help them achieve.

I am reminded of the story of a thief who dressed as a monk being pursued by the police – and not only fooling the police but soon attracting a large contingent of followers impressed with his sincere countenance.  The thief became so enamored with this new lifestyle that he actually gave up stealing and began to believe in his own saintliness – and if the old yarn is true, became a saint himself.

Labor slavery and other accusations

Once inside the Isha Foundation, many of its followers realized the mental control that exists, and later they revealed their experiences. Like working for free in the guise of volunteering: there are testimonies, like that of a follower who described being forced to work ten hours a day, seven days a week, receiving nothing more than a straw mat to sleep on.

Frank Parlato responds:

This sounds horrifying, but the allegations are not backed up with evidence that anybody was forced to volunteer. The idea of conflating volunteers who consent to work into forced labor victims got a huge boost in the Keith Raniere prosecution. But it might be a dangerous precedent. Hindu monks and, for that matter, Catholic ones have been living on straw mats and begging for their food for centuries.

All of this, of course, doesn’t sound spiritually enlightening or particularly legal.

Frank Parlato responds:

I do not believe it is illegal to volunteer to work in exchange for perceived guidance or the opportunity to be near a so-called spiritual leader – even if his guidance is not good. Only in a victim-centric society could this be considered illegal. And the more victims – the more we encourage victims – the worse for society – not because these are true victims necessarily but because the more we take self-responsibility away from people, the more we weaken the people.

In other words, we want a society where people are encouraged to think for themselves and blame themselves for their errors instead of blaming others – not because there are not evil people but because people will be better suited to judge them if the onus is on themselves to make these judgments.

RIES writes:

But for this Sadhguru follower, the problem increased:  “Things came to an end when a sanyasi (older monk) molested (sexually harassed) me when I was alone in the dining room,” as he complained.

Frank Parlato responds:

The Catholic Church is an odd one to publish complaints from an anonymous source about a cleric molesting someone. At least this individual appears to have been over the age of consent.  This appears to be a problem wherever power and opportunity combine. One allegation of sexual molestation does not make for a corrupt organization. I would want more than a single incident as evidence of this kind of harassment in order to assume the organization is rife with it.

Killed His Wife?

Sadhguru was also accused of murdering his wife.

It might be thought that this would discourage people who follow him as a close deity. However, the leader has explained the death of his wife as a case of Mahasamādhi, which means leaving the physical body during meditative enlightenment, which makes it perfectly acceptable.

Frank Parlato responds:

This is a grossly improper allegation. It says he was accused of murdering his wife but does not say who accused him. He was not convicted and it appears he was never charged.

Sadhguru says his wife died from spiritual causes – a kind of suicide of highly exalted Hindu saints – called Mahasamadhi. This is described as an act where an advanced yogi can leave their body at will – through yogic techniques that appear to be associated with controlling the breath and the raising of energy in the spine [kundalini] and out the body through a portal between the eyes called the third eye.

Sadhguru’s wife, Vijayakumari, died in 1997, purportedly through this act of Mahasamadhi according to Sadhguru.

Below is a picture of him with his wife.

  1. There were hundreds of witnesses to Vijayakumari’s death [by Mahasamadhi] since it happened in a program conducted at the Isha Yoga Center in Coimbatore.
  2. A case was filed in Bangalore seven months after her death.
  3. The case was transferred to Coimbatore police from Bangalore.
  4. After an investigation, the police decided not to charge Sadhguru.

Sadhguru’s Isha Foundation posted their position:.

“On 23rd January 1997, Vijji Maa attained Mahasamadhi — the coveted goal of many a spiritual seeker…. a practice where accomplished yogis with mastery over their life process consciously choose to exit their physical body at an auspicious time. At an appointed time that she had chosen — which everyone in closer circles was made conscious of, including her own 7-year-old daughter — she exited effortlessly, at will.

“Eight months later, those who were set against Sadhguru’s work at the time used Vijji Maa’s Mahasamadhi as an opportunity to file a police complaint, claiming that foul play should be suspected in her passing, the main accusation being that the cremation was hush-hush.

“The fact is the cremation happened 12 hours following her passing in the presence of over 2,000 people.

“To expose these shamelessly false allegations, we requested a full investigation from the police and judiciary, who found there was no substance at all in the complaint other than an intent to malign, and as per Court Order issued on 8/1/1999, the complaint was dismissed.”

Supporters of Sadhguru further argue that his daughter, Radhe Jaggi, who was seven at the time of her mother’s death and was raised by her father, continues to support her father and his claims about her mother’s death.

 Radhe has made a video about her mother’s death.
Here are photos of Sadhguru with his daughter.

Sadhguru himself has been quoted on the death of his wife:

It has always been hard for me to explain to people what Vijji is. When I say Vijji, I am not referring to her as my wife or as a woman. Even as a being, she has always been truly wonderful in my experience. But, as many of you know, she was a person of very intense emotions. In her childlikeness, whatever emotions were within her always found expression, irrespective of the situation. Now she attained Mahasamadhi — the ultimate aim of all spiritual seekers — with such effortlessness, and has proved her worth.

This is not child’s play. Even accomplished yogis who spent their lives in spiritual sadhana struggle to attain this. To throw one’s life out of the body without injuring the body takes something else. One has to generate tremendous amount of energy, which requires intense sadhana. She knew the methods to achieve this and she was working towards this. But, at this stage, we never imagined that, without my assistance, she would be able to generate the necessary energy. Anyway she would have trodden this path, but the swiftness with which she achieved this is too much. She just made this possible with her love, probably the only thing she knew.

Let us examine claims more closely.

It is claimed that Vijji passed away at a gathering at the Isha Yoga Center as hundreds of people watched. There do not appear to be any photos or videos of this event. I could not find any online purported witnesses to the death. If they were there, they would have witnessed Viji sitting in front of them in meditation then dropping dead.  Did anyone see this?

Questions have been raised by a skeptic and former follower of Sadhguru, a man named Shanmugan.

His points are:

  1. Viji was cremated, not buried, as is her family custom, and she was cremated within hours of her death.
  2. Sadhguru declined to wait for his father-in-law to arrive, in spite of his request to halt the cremation until his arrival.
  3. His father-in-law made a police complaint that he was suspicious about Viji’s death alleging she might have been murdered.
  4. Sadhguru said Viji planned her Mahasamadhi months before her death.
  5. Vijji’s daughter was seven years old. Why did the mother leave her child an orphan?
  6. In a fantastic claim, Sadhguru said he has spent three lifetimes [reincarnation] to complete the consecration of Dhyanalinga [a consecrated sculptural stone structure 4.3 meters tall which is an image of the power, or, as some say the spine, or penis, of Shiva]. Dhyana Linga is also the name of the temple or meditation space.
  7. In another fantastic claim, Sadhguru claims he decided where and in which womb his wife Viji and others close to him, including his alleged mistress, Bharti, should be born. In short, he picked the parents of his associates in advance of their birth, he claims.
  8. He said his sole reason for being born in this life as Sadhguru was to consecrate the Dhyanalinga.
  9. Yet his wife left her body before the consecration was complete though she knew she played an important role in the consecration by purportedly forming an energy triangle with Sadhguru and his alleged mistress Bharti.
  10. Sadhguru claims he had control over which womb Bharti and Viji should be born, yet apparently had no control over her Mahasamadhi.
  11. According to Sadhguru, Viji was not an accomplished yogi so, assuming that it is true that an advanced yogi can leave their body at will, it is a mystery how she learned to do it.
  12. According to Sadhguru, he has the power to hold exalted people on earth if they are about to leave their bodies through Mahasamadhi and other causes. Yet Sadhguru did not prevent Viji from leaving her body.
  13. Sadhguru said, I have lots of people around me … [that] are in a certain exalted state…. one more step means they will leave [their body], but we will always hold them down there, so that their physical bodies run their full course. They have much more sense than other people, they are good manure for the world so we want them to be useful in the world. We want to enslave them and use them for everybody’s wellbeing, otherwise all the beautiful people will leave. (Laughter). So we don’t let them go, climb the final step, until their bodies wear themselves out through the natural process of living. When they go beyond a certain age, then we take off the peg — then it is up to them. Until then we fix them down, because if full Enlightenment happens they will not know how to sustain the body unless they put in an enormous amount of study. You don’t like that? Personally, even I don’t like it, but I have some social responsibilities. (Laughs).
  14. The question Shanmugam raises is “Why wasn’t [Sadhguru] able to stop Viji from leaving her body when he is able to stop everyone else in the ashram from doing so?
  15. Sadhguru claims that after Viji died, he had to perform the role assigned of Viji as well as his own role and that not only delayed the consecration of the temple stone for another two years but it also caused severe damage to his own body, which almost killed him.
  16. Why didn’t he avoid this by ‘pegging down’ Viji?
  17. Shanmugan alleges that Viji was unhappy with Sadhguru’s association with Bharti.

Shanmugan got a copy of the police report and suspects that Sadhguru may have killed his wife [poison?] because of his relationship with Bharti, rushed the cremation so there would be no autopsy, then bribed police to dismiss the case and created a fake story of Mahasamadhi.

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Shanmugam has another website http://nellaishanmugam.wordpress.com where he writes about Sadhguru, raising questions about his spiritual teachings and fabulous claims. And also this: Shanmugam P’s answer to Can anyone tell about their experiences with Jaggi Vasudev aka Sadhguru?

The voice of victims

RIES writes:
His movement has the same characteristic techniques of any sectarian group where mind control is used. This can be found in the testimony of his former followers:  “I went to a three-day intensive with Sadhguru and it  was the worst experience of my life, “ says a former follower.

“My mind was questioning everything. I felt so alone and  wondered many times if this was brainwashing . I feel like I haven’t been the same since then and I have persistent anxiety and worsening depression. I refused to come back the next day and they were at my hotel door knocking to enter. I spoke to Sadhguru and told him that it was okay, not to be afraid and that I did not like the change. I realized that he  knew that he did not believe in anything he was selling ” , laments this victim.

Frank Parlato responds:

This could hardly be more biased. It starts off with the notion that mind control is real without a doubt – and then moves on to prove it with a single, anonymous student [mistakenly called a former follower] who attended one day of a three-day intensive then went into a breakdown.

How he knows that Sadhguru does not believe anything he was selling is not explained. And why this individual is labeled a victim because he went to a retreat and did not like it is hard to comprehend.

Infiltration in international organizations

RIES writes:

But it’s hard to really attack something as nebulous as the Isha Foundation.

Frank Parlato responds:

It is not explained why it is nebulous. Why is it nebulous?

RIES writes:

Sadhguru has shown that he is more than capable of deflecting any complaint or question with spiritual affirmations and charming humility. “All I know is this piece of life,” he says. He claims that he has not read the  Bhagavad Gita  (a 700-line sacred text that is part of the great Hindu epic  Mahabharata ).

He has been a delegate to the United Nations Millennium Peace Summit, has participated in the World Economic Forum in Davos,  and has seeded numerous successful charities through his organization, but all of this is masking his public relations.

Frank Parlato responds:

If he has funded successful charities [not named by the writer], this is something admirable. It reminds me a little of the charlatan guru Satya Sai Baba who used to fake the production of gold watches from the ether [actually slow-motion videos showed they were tucked up his sleeve] who funded free hospitals and free schools that appear to have done some true service to humanity.

RIES wrote:

The Isha Foundation is a kind of 21st century sect . Despite the attendees bowing to Lingams, singing songs about the Hindu god Shiva, and fainting when their leader enters the room, Sadhguru claims that it is all science with no religious affiliation.

Frank Parlato responds:

Hindus have been singing songs to Shiva and bowing before the lingam for as long as Catholics have been kneeling in front of crosses with a man in a loincloth with nails in his hands and feet and blood dripping and singing to various entities of gods and/or goddesses/saints or trinities. Cults and religions are marvelously similar.

RIES writes:

As with the Dianetics of Scientology, the Isha Foundation “Inner Engineering” sells itself as a spiritual “technology” for wellness . Of course, it is an expensive technology: 650 pounds (about 713 euros) for premium seats in a Shambhavi Mahamudra program (as in the weekend that was in London, already mentioned), plus 95 pounds (about 105 euros) for the “ online lighting course”, a prior requirement to attend the program.

Frank Parlato responds:

The language is a little culty – but, then again, all religions have their own jargon.

In the wake of Osho and other eastern leaders

Harvard Medical School psychiatrist Robert J. Lifton offers three defining characteristics of a destructive cult: a process of coercive persuasion or “thought reform,” a charismatic leader who becomes an object of worship, and an exploitation, economic, sexual or other types of group members by the leader and his group.

The Isha Foundation hits all the marks, but the guru’s extortion game is nothing new.

Forty years ago, “the orange people” was a common sight in Totnes (Devon, UK). They were the followers of  Osho, a guru who established a colony in Oregon (USA), where he housed a fleet of Rolls-Royces and committed bioterrorist attacks against locals who opposed him.

Frank Parlato responds:

RIES is conflating Sadhguru with Osho. His story needs further investigation to determine whether he was involved in the bioterror attacks. And, of course, how he died.  But there is no evidence that Sadhguru and Osho are connected.  Or for that matter this Vishwananda dude.

RIES writes:

What appeared to be a video of Sri Swami Vishwananda, a guru living in Germany, “vomiting gold” in front of an ashram of crazed Western devotees became even more horrible when it came to light in 2008 that he had been using his brahmacharis (monks novices) as personal sex slaves.

Frank Parlato responds:

The vomiting gold is, I believe, a trick meant to fool gullible followers that their guru can create gold within his body and spit it out. It appears to be a fraud. The secret, I believe, is that these gurus learn how to swallow, then expel various substances through a hatha yoga technique called dhauti. I read of one guru who could ingest food from his anus and expel it through his mouth.

RIES writes:

Despite all that, both Osho and Vishwananda still have a large following, so in Sadhguru’s case, having killed his wife and ruined people’s lives probably won’t be much of a problem for him.

Frank Parlato responds:

This article takes a huge leap now when it says he killed his wife.  This is not journalism. It is not logical. It is patently unfair. We need proof that he killed his wife and, for that matter, proof that he ruined people’s lives.

RIES writes:

The Isha Foundation has yet to make headlines, but it is following a familiar path: “the mystic” on its way to becoming the Osho of our times.

Frank Parlato responds:

Well perhaps it is time to explore this – but it is hard to imagine a less persuasive article.

***

There are  YouTube videos of Sadhguru.  He has almost 8 million subscribers but, curiously, some of his videos only get from 50,000 – 100,000 views while others get over one million and one got more than 11 million views.

Video of Sri Swami Vishwananda “vomiting gold.”

 

Let’s see what happens next on this. I would venture someone or a number of people will provide some info and this story may have a sequel.

 


About the author

Frank Parlato

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  • It is entirely possible that his wife died from something living in his disgusting beard.

    I may have caught something just by looking at his repulsive photo (thanks, Frank).

    Rest in peace, dear lady.

    And you, Weirdo! Shave that COVID-20 lab on your face!

      • Any person of any race can have a gross beard.

        Zero was said about race. That’s a prejudice you brought to the comment.

        Women. Santa. Snow White’s dwarves.

        And, of course, cult leaders.

        All capable of dirty looking beards.

        Which I find germy. And that is my phobia and cross to bear. I’m sure that you have your own preferences.

        But you should not be calling pigs racist.

        That’s bigotry on your part to assume that if someone is a racist they are also a pig.

        Your comment will be shared with PETA and the Association of Pig Prejudice.

        Please consider how you are condemning all pigs in your future slurs.

      • So if someone doesn’t like a nasty unkempt beard, they’re racist?

        Let me guess……you are a wok white lady. Go back to the coffee house from whence you came. Like Ilan Omar?

        I like dead terrorists

  • Brainwashing: A process of manipulating and modifying a person’s emotions, attitudes, and beliefs.
    Cognitive Dissonance: Stress, anxiety or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more
    contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with
    existing beliefs, ideas, or values.

    Crazy-making: A form of psychological abuse, where the abuser sets the victim up for failure, as nothing the
    victim ever does is right. Crazy-making behaviour is also due to “gaslighting,” and can also involve “word
    salad”.

    Dosing: Small and temporary revivals of the idealise phase where the abuser gives his/her victim “doses” of
    attention, affection (love bombing) and hope to keep them in, or suck them back into, the relationship.

    Gaslighting: A form of abuse in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favour the abuser,
    or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and
    sanity.

    Grooming: A calculated and predatory act of manipulating another individual into subtly and slowly taking
    on a set of behaviours and actions that makes the victim more isolated, dependent, likely to trust, and more
    vulnerable to abusive behaviour.

    Hoovering: A manipulative technique named after the Hoover vacuum, and used by abusers to “suck” their
    victims back into the relationship. Hoovering consists of any attempt to communicate with the victim. It is
    often done in the form of text messages, phone calls, emails, through mutual friends, family or “accidentally”
    bumping into the victim. Multiple forms of manipulative messages can be used, from just saying hello, to I love
    you, or more aggressive or provoking messages such as suicide threats, outright lies.
    Love Bombing: Phase one of the cycle of abuse. This stage often involves constant communication and
    compliments and is designed to lure the victim into (or back into) the relationship.

    Normalising: A tactic used to desensitise an individual to abusive, coercive or inappropriate behaviours.
    Once the behaviour is seen as normal, then the victim is more prone to taking part in it.

    Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): According to the mental health charity MIND, PTSD is a type of
    anxiety disorder that you may develop after being involved in, or witnessing, traumatic events. The condition
    was first recognised in war veterans and has been known by a variety of names, such as ‘shell shock’. But it’s
    not only diagnosed in soldiers – a wide range of traumatic experiences can cause PTSD.

    Silent Treatment: A manipulative and emotionally/psychologically abuse technique where one partner cuts
    off verbal communication with another for more than a reasonable amount of time where one would need
    to “cool off”. An abuser will often give the silent treatment as a result of a fight with the victim. The silent
    treatment can range from days to weeks (or longer) and is used to communicate the abuser’s displeasure,
    disapproval and contempt toward the victim. During this time the victim becomes so uneasy that they are
    walking on eggshells, and will do just about anything, including forgiving the abuser of whatever event
    triggered the silent treatment to start.

    Stonewalling: Is a general refusal to communicate or cooperate and is sometimes accompanied by the
    “silent treatment”. The act of stonewalling is emotionally exhausting for the victim, as they are the ones left to
    do all the work (emotionally or physically).

    Triangulation: Creating some form of drama or chaos, with the abuser in the middle, generally involving two
    rivals, and manipulating them into a conflict with each other. This either done for the entertainment of the
    abuser or to deflect blame/accountability from themselves.

    Walking on Eggshells: Watching what you say or do around a certain person because anything might set him
    or her off.

    Word Salad: Is recognisable through circular conversations and repetition, lack of logic, sweeping
    generalisations, use of words that are disjointed or unrelated to context, and contradictions. Essentially, it
    consists of a lack of semantic fluidity. The rationale with this strategy is to demonstrate that there is no solution
    the abuser can be a part of because, the victim is the problem. Repetition eventually wears the victim out and
    they give up in exhaustion.

  • SAGE Journals

    American Sociological Review

    The Sociology of Gaslighting

    Paige L. SweetFirst Published September 20, 2019 Research Article

    https://doi.org/10.1177/0003122419874843

    Article information

    Article has an altmetric score of 426 No Access

    Abstract

    Gaslighting—a type of psychological abuse aimed at making victims seem or feel “crazy,” creating a “surreal” interpersonal environment—has captured public attention. Despite the popularity of the term, sociologists have ignored gaslighting, leaving it to be theorized by psychologists. However, this article argues that gaslighting is primarily a sociological rather than a psychological phenomenon. Gaslighting should be understood as rooted in social inequalities, including gender, and executed in power-laden intimate relationships. The theory developed here argues that gaslighting is consequential when perpetrators mobilize gender-based stereotypes and structural and institutional inequalities against victims to manipulate their realities. Using domestic violence as a strategic case study to identify the mechanisms via which gaslighting operates, I reveal how abusers mobilize gendered stereotypes; structural vulnerabilities related to race, nationality, and sexuality; and institutional inequalities against victims to erode their realities. These tactics are gendered in that they rely on the association of femininity with irrationality. Gaslighting offers an opportunity for sociologists to theorize under-recognized, gendered forms of power and their mobilization in interpersonal relationships.

    https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0003122419874843

  • Leaders…have argued that if their followers or subjects are not strong enough to stick to the
    resolution themselves, they—the leaders—ought to help them avoid contact with the misleading
    evidence. For this reason, they have urged or compelled people not to read certain books, writings,
    and the like. But many people need no compulsion. They avoid reading things, and so on.

    — Saul Kripke, “On Two Paradoxes of Knowledge”

  • I agree! Good article, Frank! Interesting read.

    Just one thing, though. While I also do not believe it should be illegal to volunteer one’s time, the organization for which one is volunteering still owes a duty of care. This means the organization must take reasonable steps to avoid foreseeable harm, injury or loss to the volunteer.

    Just wanted to point this out.

  • Good article!

    Regarding cults — every cult leader ends up banging his flock. It’s such a cliché!

    Mormon cultists, every guru cultists, etc., etc. all end up with “personal sex slaves”.

    Rather interestingly, they’re all ugly men who couldn’t score attractive women, unless, of course, they were running a cult!

    In addition, cult leaders always seem to have a former lover or wife die or disappear under mysterious circumstances. The chief example being David Miscavige’s wife hasn’t been seen in decades……

    \\\\\\\\\\\
    I’m starting to wonder if there is a correspondence school for cult leaders…
    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

  • What is the saying? Something like “If it looks like a cult, talks like a cult, and leads like a cult, then it’s probably a cult”?

    Also why nations have always had a problem dealing with cults. Technically, everything they do is legal (until it’s not) because everyone that gets hurt by it volunteered for the pain. Again, NXIVM could be coasting along just fine, ever-growing if Raniere had controlled his fetishes betters. The classes, the essentially slave labor, the worshipping of a psychopath, even the whole slave/master thing, are not illegal. Morally repugnant, but not illegal (This too is a sign of a cult, group of people doing things you know are wrong but can’t do much legally to stop).

    The Atlantic posted an article on 7 signs of a cult. I suspect Frank and others here have the experience now to add a few entries to this to make it more universal and accurate (cheap/free labor seeming to be a constant too) but this is a start:

    1. Opposing critical thinking
    2. Isolating members and penalizing them for leaving
    3. Emphasizing special doctrines outside scripture
    4. Seeking inappropriate loyalty to their leaders
    5. Dishonoring the family unit
    6. Crossing Biblical boundaries of behavior (versus sexual purity and personal ownership)
    7. Separation from the Church

    Don’t know enough to see if this list applies to Nxivm but it smells like it does.

    As for murdering her, yeah I wouldn’t be surprised. It’s no accident that most cult leaders are single or “married” to whatever force they claim to represent. Makes it easier to tag that tail and, even better, don’t have to share the income. Sadly, we will never know as police in India, especially in 1997, view any crimes against women as a nuisance. Women are, in effect, property of the man so if he kills hers, it’s almost treated no different as putting down the family dog. Wish I was exaggerating. Even now, decades later, a significant portion of India still give woman barely even second class status. Rapes, for instance, usually end in the arrest of the woman, if she isn’t killed by the police or others for daring to attempt to report it (Again, I wish I was exaggerating). So, yeah, if dismissive of rape as basically not being possible, it’s not really much of a reach to believe murder is no biggie. Likely the “investigation” was moving the paperwork from the In-pile to the Out-pile. Do agree the manner of death followed by cremation strongly suggests poison was used.

  • It seems weird, but I was laughing at this throughout. I’ve seen so many of these stories.

    You can accuse people of murdering somebody without any evidence because they have religious beliefs different than you do.

    And you can get other people, who also believe differently, to agree with you.

    You can whip each other up into a maelstrom of screeching ninniehood about all the EVIL of those who believe differently than you do.

    But in the end, until someone comes up with some evidence to support the histrionic screechings, it’s just intolerance and mistrust and persecution of people who believe differently than you do.

    Well done, Frank.

    This was a great deconstruction of anticult hysteria.

    Alanzo

    • Alanzo, were you kicked out of Scientology? Tell the truth!

      I believe…Either you were brainwashed into believing you were doing good…
      …Or if that isn’t true, it means you were too [redacted] or enjoyed your position and power, too much until it was taken away from you, and then you left out of spite.

      So, were you demoted or fired?

      • Although I was demoted once when I was on staff early in my Scn career for writing serious disciplinary reports on David Miscavige and every member of international Scientology management, that’s not really how it works when you leave Scientology.

        People do get kicked out, but I was not kicked out. I left when I found out much of the information that was being hidden from me, and rose high enough to see the abuse and criminality of the people at the top of the “Sea Org” – which, again, was all being actively hidden from me. And then I got onto the internet, which was new at that time, and helped to expose them. They got me fired from my job, followed me with private investigators, sent people in on me to try to befriend me, sued clients of mine, and tried to destroy my family.

        To this day, 21 years later, they still follow me and consider me an enemy. They look for any discrediting information they can find, or better yet, anything they can to get me framed or arrested. They run back-channel whispering campaigns about me on the internet because I’m one of the few critics of Scientology left who talk about their murders made to look like suicides, such as Kyle Brennan, Ken Ogger, and David Miscavige’s mother in law, Flo Barnett.

        My time on staff was spent in low level missions where you couldn’t be crazy or fanatic or you’d run everyone off. You had to work hard and genuinely try to help people get “wins” in their own lives so that they’ll become Scientologists.

        It was learning about the criminality at the top that I was recruiting people into that fueled my activism against Scientology, and, along with them trying to destroy my family, that fuels my activism against them to this day.

        Alanzo

    • Hmm. Interesting comment, Alonzo, but I don’t think this guy murdered his wife because I have different religious beliefs.

      I think he might have murdered his wife for 3 main reasons:

      1) The probability of Mahasamadhi seems incredibly slim. Not saying it’s impossible, but definitely not an everyday occurrence.

      2) She chose to leave her 7-year-old daughter. This happens more frequently. While mothers who make this choice have their reasons, the majority do not do this.

      3) The body was very quickly cremated. If her Mahasamadhi was so remarkable and the group ideology was “Not religious but scientific”, you’d think they would want to back this phenomenon with some proof?

      I also think it’s possible she killed herself. Maybe she did it because she wanted to die. Maybe she did it because they threatened to maim her daughter if she didn’t? Many explanations are possible.

      The bottom line is something about the story seems off. And I don’t feel this way because of his beliefs. I feel this way for the reasons I stated above.

      Besides, murdering one’s wife is infinitely more common than reports of Mahasamadhi and that’s just a fact.

      • I can accept that your suspicion that this person murdered his wife doesn’t arise from your difference in religious belief.

        I’d just ask you to inspect why the article that Frank is deconstructing here was written in the first place. Who was the audience it was written for?

        It wasn’t a group of law enforcement officers being alerted to a potential murder.

        Why was it written?

        Did they hope to solve the murder?

        No.

        They simply wanted to remind their readers of who their ideological enemies were. And accusing them of murder, without providing any evidence of murder whatsoever, was perfectly fine with them.

        I only ask that people critically examine the claims of hysterical anticultists. I was an AntiCultist for as long as I was a Cultist.

        And I’m telling you: question all sides.

        Alanzo

        • Alonzo, thanks for your response and sorry for the late reply.

          Just my opinion, but I think Frank might be trying to share some information that might help expand the readers’ minds on the topic of coercive control.

          Obviously, a suspicious death in a foreign country is beyond the reach of a national government. If her body was destroyed without examination and the local government there can’t take any action, it just might be an example of what to look out for on home soil. In case a similar thing happens in a place where we have greater jurisdiction.

          I wholly agree people ought to question all sides. But I also believe that human beings also have a capacity for discernment. To know when things seem questionable and should be questioned.

          To be honest, I didn’t fact-check the Sadguru story. I saw him on YouTube once upon a time and thought his talk was a little boring. I don’t really care that much. People kill people every day.

          Also, Frank seems like a pretty good journalist and while maybe the piece was meant for a bit of really creepy entertainment, he’s probably also gathered more facts than I could do in an hour.

          I enjoyed the story.

  • This is so great, Frank, that you, with all of your faculties for figuring things out and sticking so determinedly to studying what is true or untrue, are taking a look at Sadhguru. I am so happy that today, you are looking at the famous Jaggi Vasudev, the “Sadhguru” at Coimbatore locale, South India.

    It’s funny that only two days ago, I put the Isha Foundation’s cookbook into the trash. For heaven’s sake! And I still have so much Sadhguru stuff around,(and all of it was given to me, unsought): books written about many different Sadh-guy topics, CDs, his bio and whatever the heck else.

    For Sadhguru helped me to D-I-V-O-R-C-E a dear fellow who wanted to go and to live with him and who has indeed lived with him, by now, for at least fifteen years.

    What happened with Vijji, the late wife, is something that I have studied, along with many other facets of both the movement and even more so, this (self-appointed) guru fellow.

    Personally, though I used to listen to the Sadhguru talks peppering youtube for evaluative reasons, I am not at all attracted to Sadhguru or to Isha as a so-called spiritual movement, with a quite large commune at Coimbatore. Initially, I thought he seemed all right. Butt. Um. However…

    It’d be fun, nevertheless to visit the big Dhyanalinga temple he has erected and perhaps, to feel the atmosphere. Over the years, more gossip is bound to come out about this movement. The man Jaggi Vasudev has charisma, sells techniques for meditating which I have witnessed being practiced, and from my perspective, he has zero to say or to sell, with any originality. I do not know exactly who he is vs. how he wants to appear, if that makes sense.

    By the way, they have a place (an ashram selling group participation) in Tennessee, too.

    Here is its phone# and its address, Justin Case, Frank doesn’t already have this info.

    Isha USA
    951 Isha Lane, McMinnville, Tn 37110
    phone: 931 668-1900.

    Jaggi Vasudev was born in Mysuru, India
    on September 3, 1957. Interestingly, he says that he caught, played with, and kept venomous snakes at his home while a little boy and as a teenager.

    Naga baba? Back for more, be it sweetness or venom?

    And here you are, Mr. Parlato, going at it again and communicating about whatever can or cannot be discovered. This is exciting. It is!

    As for me, I do think of Vijji, of her father and her family. I have wondered if she wanted to die, and just send her heartfelt care, love. Not knowing, Frank, and not comfortable with what I have learned, as yet.

  • Frank Report does 1 thing well: ESP/Nxivm/Raniere.

    Other topics are liking fishing bait attached to the hook. There are not enough bites, and no intimate knowledge base to provide more than an overview. I admire Frank’s willingness but providing an overview is what Wikipedia does.

    • Frank squandered what I thought was his next best story, which is the LeBaron cult. He scooped every media outlet on the planet during the awful murder massacre. Probably should have submitted for Pulitzer for real-time reporting. We were basically getting as it’s happening reports. It’s related to NXIVM and he’s got contacts. Who knows maybe he will go back to it. After that, it should be the corruption in the NDNY.

  • Yoga is a great way to build and maintain flexibility.

    As for all the spiritual nonsense, it’s superstitious foolishness often paired with fraud.

    As for this guru clown, sure sounds to me like he’s running a cult.

    • Yoga is a gateway to cults. Women who believe a guru’s bull sh*t are very easy targets for cults.

      Most of the young women who got snared in Keith’s sex cult also took yoga classes. Edmondson, Mack and Kreuk all were into the yoga lifestyle too.

About Frank Parlato

Frank Parlato Investigates

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg; “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson; “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been featured prominently on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and acted as lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” He was credited in the Starz docuseries, 'Seduced,' for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Parlato has appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest, which was ironic since many credit Parlato as being one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

If the whole world stands against you sword in hand, would you still dare to do what you think is right?

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