Swami Muktananda “authorized” J. Michael Shoemaker to say Muktananda made him a swami.
He called it initiation.
Of course, it was only bargain and sale. We do not know how much Shoemaker paid to become Swami Chetanananda, but it was likely substantial.
Neither of these two flim-flam artists were ever monks.
They both used the orange robes to become wealthy, spout bullshit, and enjoy adulation for it.
And, of course, seduce women.
Anyone can put on an orange robe, but Shoemaker felt he needed the imprimatur of a famous swami. This way, he could claim the wisdom of the guru and pass that on to other suckers.
We have heard stories from some of the women who Chetanananda abused. Here is a slightly edited and abbreviated story from a woman who was a disciple of Muktananda.
By Joan Radha Bridges
I was on Swami Muktananda’s staff for eight years, beginning in 1974. I was 21 years old when I joined the tour. The events I will recount occurred after about 5 years on tour with Baba. So I was around 26; Muktananda was around 73.
The tour stopped in Miami, where I went in advance to set up the bookstore. I was surprised to find that I was put in a room on the top floor near Muktananda’s penthouse quarters.
All the young girls were in the rooms closest to Muktananda, and the older girls were further away. We would meditate in our rooms every morning and listen to Muktananda walking up and down the hall. I personally witnessed young girls coming and going from Muktananda’s quarters.
A few months into our stay, I was alone in my room when Muktananda came in, closed the door, grabbed me, and gave me a big kiss on the mouth. I was both thrilled and confused – I didn’t know what to think.
Shortly after, Malti invited me to the Boston Ashram with a small entourage. This was a privilege – I was thrilled to be included.
Baba would roam the halls at night in Boston. I would run into him in the dark on the way to the bathroom. He continued to hug and kiss me. I didn’t understand, but told myself that Baba was God, so it must be very special; it must be a good thing.
On returning to South Fallsburg, I was back at my usual bookstore seva without special privileges or contact with Muktananda.
Then one evening, I returned from the bookstore with my cash box. That day, I had prayed to Muktananda to help me understand my true path – whether I was meant to have children or become a Swami.
Muktananda appeared in the lobby and pulled me behind a long curtain in front of his house door. The curtain ran the length of the lobby and had holes in it that people said were made at Muktananda’s request. The holes allowed Muktananda to watch people without them knowing.
When he got me back there, he began to speak to me, mainly in Hindi, with some short English phrases, “Chota, chota” which means something like “little ones,” as he pointed to my stomach.
I was happy with this direction.
Then he shocked and startled me: he grabbed my breasts and twisted them tightly, reached under my dress, and felt my vagina. I didn’t know what to think or do – I was stunned.
He sent me away with my head spinning about how to explain to myself the Guru’s actions. After all, this was the Guru, the same as God, so why was he doing this? He told us to be celibate, so how could this be sexual? I had no answers.
The following night again, he appeared and motioned me to come.
I again did not question his directions, since I was surrendered to Muktananda as my Guru.
Surrender to the Guru was a principal part of the Siddha Yoga chants and teachings I ascribed to.
Muktananda took me back to his quarters and had me lay down on a large ottoman. This time he inspected my vagina. He said, “Good yoni.”
Muktananda brought me to his quarters again the next night. All the while, he told me, “Don’t tell anyone” and “Don’t tell your husband.”
Muktananda put me on a high table, pulled my legs back to expose my vagina, and pulled out his flaccid penis. Then, he placed his penis as far inside me as possible, and remained in that position for a long time.
During this time, he said phrases such as “Baba urevetta” (semen goes upward); “Baba Yogi.”
He kept repeating, “No sex, tantra,” “No sex, tantra,” and “long time.” (“He seemed to tell me he did this tantra a long time, although I wondered what was so special about just standing there a long time)
I felt he was trying to convince and coerce me to believe this was not sex. I felt doubt and distress that I have buried for many years. I had to keep telling myself that Baba is doing the right thing. He is God. I must be very special and important. I decided to be loyal to Baba.
And so, for all these years, I have kept this secret. I have stayed quiet, confused, and silent.
Now I am 50 years old and ready to face and share the truth of my experience with Muktananda. I want to be finally released from these events, so that I can move forward with my life without the burden of them.
In 1986, I tried to talk about my experience with people I thought might help me understand it. One woman and I acknowledged our mutual experience, but she could not fully talk about it…
In 1994, long after Muktananda died, I shared my experience with a close friend who had guessed the truth.
Shortly after I did that, an old friend with whom I did seva, now Gurumayi’s assistant, called me at my home in Atlanta. She interrogated me on what I said to my friend about the experience, and had me give her a detailed account.
This was embarrassing, but I felt I was finally going to talk about it with someone close to Gurumayi. When I finished, she scolded me, saying, “Didn’t Baba always tell you ‘top secret?'” That was the end of the conversation – no help, no explanation, just the strong message to keep quiet.
Finally, at age 50, through my own exploration, experience, and insight, I can no longer deny that what happened to me with Baba was wrong.
This understanding was heightened through my therapy with a gifted professional who is profoundly spiritual both in practice and training. I finally got the courage to share what had happened to me with her. After I described all of Baba’s actions, she asked me whether, knowing what I had been through, I would take my daughter by the hand and send her through the door to experience the same thing. The answer was emphatically no – absolutely not. At that moment, I clearly understood Baba had sexually abused me…
Because of fear, no one before has put a name to their story of sexual abuse by Swami Muktananda. But I will so that it can no longer be said these are made-up stories.