Thursday, 11 October 2012

Updated: Board of trustees, Committee, Family? Varying allegations of sexual, mental and emotional abuse against Dr. Kaustaub Desikachar OF KHYF, Sannidhi of Krishnamacharya Yoga and SKY YOGA

I've thought long and hard about posting on this topic, whether it had anything to do with me as a predominantly home practitioner, and besides, Ashtangi's tend to keep their drishti and don't seem to be that concerned with what happens outside their style of practice, not necessarily a bad thing.

But I keep coming back to one aspect of the story, 'five young woman came forward and spoke up' and yet when I look at the response it seems a modern exercise in damage limitation. I find I'm still not satisfied and wonder what would satisfy me, a Mea culpa from Kausthub himself perhaps.

Ongoing updates added to the bottom of this post as any relevant information comes in, see also here http://yogasentinel.wordpress.com
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Having a blog that's been around for a while, I do tend to get passed certain things, these can be exciting, Krishnamacharya's Yogasangalu, the 1930's Krishnamacharya heart stopping article, Krishnamacharya's lecture notes (?)  Salutations to the Teacher and the Eternal one, Nancy Gilgoff's 1970's Ashtanga Syllabus.... but there are also disturbing things too, pictures, video's, anecdotes, letters etc. What to do with these, many are old news that have been dealt with in the past but some...?

When I received information on the recent "varying allegations of sexual, mental and emotional abuse against Dr. Kaustaub Desikachar" my first inclination was to post, my second to wait and see if KYM and KHYF 'cleaned house' my third inclination, when it seemed that the issue was being handled, managed, behind close doors' on members-only private sections, was to pass the information I had along to sites with more experience dealing in such allegations and with a broader readership, Huffington Post, Elephant Journal, Yogadork etc, others it seems did the same.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this story is that  the current allegations against Kausthub Desikachar do not seem to have been an isolated incident, the letter A Ranganathan includes with his own by Saraswathi V dates back to 2007 and yet Kausthub Desikachar was allowed to continue teaching one on one and to control and guide the direction of KYM and KHYF

If it's true that In the practice of yoga we put ourselves in vulnerable positions, whether it be in allowing physical hands on adjustments to postures, or in stripping away layers of our ego structures, as we question who and what we are or even what it means to ask such questions, how do we ensure the integrity of the environment in which we do so? 

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Kaustaub Desikachar

I came across this notification on the KYM (Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram) website this morning  and was wondering about the benefits of a board of trustees over centralised control.

I'd thought for sometime that perhaps something similar to the KYM Trustee structure might have been an option for Ashtanga and KPJAYI with the passing of Sri K Pattabhi Jois given the growth of the 'style' and the growing number of Authorised teachers and International visitors to the Mysore shala. Would a board of trustee structure more or less effectively ensure and protect the future of Ashtanga?

If we look at the letter dating back to 2007 that A Ranganathan includes with his own below, A board of trustees doesn't seem to have been that effective in the case of KYM. How do you ensure a strong Board of Trustees that wont be bullied, intimidated or manipulated, it's members forced out or pushed to one side. Is a Steering Committee (post John Friend Anusara) more or less effective, can we merely rely on family and friends to advise us, how do we ensure that we listen, that we will always listen?

Here's the notification on KYM's website



And the earlier notification from KHYF concerning the "varying allegations of sexual, mental and emotional abuse against Dr. Kaustaub Desikachar". Published on yogadork and it's all yoga baby blogs plus responses ay YogawithNadine and at AdoreYoga, comment threads are on going on all these posts.



And also this letter from A Ranganathan, a student of Sri Desikachar's  since the 1960's posted on Adore yoga that reveals concerns going back as far as 2007 bringing into question the effectiveness of a Board of Trustee structure but offers some suggestions on how to move forward.

A. Ranganathan 24rd September 2012 
A student of Sri. Desikachar from the late 1960s.

I am writing this letter with disappointment and pain that the rich tradition of Yogacharya T. Krishnamacharya has been tarnished by his grandson, Kausthub Desikachar.

On 22nd September 2012, KHYF sends out a news letter with the following statement:
The Krishnamachraya Healing and Yoga Foundation has been made aware of the varying allegations of sexual, mental and emotional abuse against Dr. Kausthub Desikachar .

Upholding this tradition and approach in the field of Yoga and Therapy, The Krishnamachraya Healing and Yoga Foundation are taking these allegations very seriously

The admission of guilt of Kausthub Desikachar was forced out because of the following: 

1.The recent letter sent by Sriram, one of the seniormost teachers of yoga

As you may be already aware, 5 young women from different European countries and the USA have lodged a complaint with the police in Austria, charging Kausthub with sexual, mental and emotional harassment and of misuse of his offices as yoga mentor in private 1 to 1 sessions. They are part of a Therapist – training programme being conducted by KHYF in Austria.The entire group of 49 participants is uniformly and unitedly backing the 5 women, four of whom have laid the complaint with the police. The complaint has now also gone to the Interpol as well as to the police of the European Union.

2. This was followed shortly by a newsletter in UK:

Dear KHYF UK members
It is with deep sadness that we are sending this email
. A scandal is breaking - has broken - around Kausthub. He has been accused of abuse, sexual, emotional and spiritual. He is full of remorse and shame and is seeking help from different directions, to change his behaviour.
Sd. Gill and Sarah


3. And a newsletter in North America:

Dear KHYF-NA Members,
As KHYF Teacher Trainers and long term direct students of Mr. T.K.V. Desikachar, we feel a responsibility to address
the situation that has recently occurred in Europe involving Kausthub’s behavior with female students.
Last Friday, four women from the European KHYF Yoga Therapist Training filed formal complaints with the police in Austria accusing Kausthub of sexual, mental and emotional abuse. The allegations include the misuse of his position as a yoga
Upholding this tradition and approach in the field of Yoga and Therapy mentor by utilizing his knowledge of personal histories of sexual and emotional trauma in an attempt to initiate sexual relations.
Sd. Sonia Nelson, Chase Bossart, Kate Holcombe and Dolphi Wertenbaker

I would like to repeat the sentence from the KHYF newsletter ( apart from the fact that they have mis-spelt Sri.Krishnamacharya’s name twice ):
Upholding this tradition and approach in the field of Yoga and Therapy, The Krishnamachraya Healing and Yoga Foundation are taking these allegations very seriously
This is what they should have done in July 2007, when V.Saraswathi wrote a detailed letter to Sri.Desikachar. I have copied the entire letter at the end , but I would like to highlight very serious and important points raised by Saraswathi:

1. At many points in these 17 years I have been confronted with dishonesty, lies, lack of transparency, control, authority, and immense fear!

2. MANY people have been brainwashed to believe and blindly follow this young, reckless "saviour of lives" whose behaviour is a perfect antithesis to the tenets of yoga.

3. – in the guise of a teacher trying to "solve" their emotional problems. These poor, gullible students have been forced, manipulated and seduced to believe that all that he did to them was in their best interest.

4. By condoning his actions, I have also been responsible for perpetuating the suffering of so many students, especially women! I have so often questioned my own value system and even felt a loss of self-respect and dignity.

5. I am writing this with the hope that some change will come, for the good of this Institution, your father's teachings, your reputation

Saraswathi has had the courage to speak out and risked being ostracized. I have heard that several teachers have suffered this over the years.
Having been one of Desikachar’s oldest students and having helped out with the start of KYM, I felt it is my duty to speak out. I was not aware of Saraswathi’s letter until a few days back. When Kausthub plagiarized the English translation of Yogamakaranda, done by Lakshmi and Nandini, he was forced to withdraw the first edition after he was confronted with evidence. In a meeting in a former trustee, Suresh Rao’s house, Kausthub, put on a show of remorse and begged for forgiveness. We realized his deceitful nature when he misrepresented facts on the KHYF website.
It hurts me that Sri. Desikachar, a stickler for discipline and ethical behaviour among his students and teachers, turned a blind eye to his own son’s unpardonable misdemeanors.
He and the trustees of KYM who were ALL aware of the despicable behaviour, let Kausthub ruin the traditions and teachings of Sri.Krishnamacharya.
Kausthub’s behaviour is not new and it is ingrained in him, going by the letter of 2007. A person of this nature should not be permitted to teach Yoga , let alone represent an institution that bears Sri Krishanamarya’s name.. Sri. Krishnamacharya’s teachings belong to the entire yoga community and not just to the family. Merely asking Kausthub to step down but control the working of KYM, would not solve the issue. It is important to help out all the women who have suffered from his ruthless exploitation and abuse and his other forms of deceit. Only then will the statement “Upholding this tradition and approach in the field of Yoga and Therapy” have any meaning.
Kausthub does not require sympathy, having direct access to Krishnamacharya’s traditions and teachings. All those women students who were exploited and abused by him are the ones who need the support and sympathy. It is a pity that the other women teachers and trustees of KYM, who were aware of the happenings in 2007, remained silent spectators and not support a brave woman, Saraswathi when she spoke out.
A.Ranganathan

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Saraswathi’s letter written to Sri Desikachar in July 2007 included as an attachment by A Ranganathan to the letter above, "I have copied the entire letter at the end ", circulated and sent to the press with, I'm assuming, her permission. 

My Most Respected Teacher,

It is with much pain I write this letter to you, to the person I hold in such high esteem and reverence ever since I met you as a twenty one year old novice seventeen years ago. But things have come to a point that I have to speak my heart. I hope my teacher will reflect on this deeply because it concerns the future of KYM, KHYF and the future of your father's teachings.

I have decided to leave KYM and this tradition. I made this decision about 10 days ago. I had submitted my resignation to Kausthub and SS Sir citing reasons for doing so, largely based on my family circumstances. While all that I communicated at that point is the truth, the real reasons for my wanting to leave this tradition after 17 years of 200% loyalty to the teacher and teachings was not revealed because I was not ready to do that yet. Now I am ready to speak, from my heart, for myself and for so many people who have been loyal to this tradition and you, and who now feel completely disillusioned and cheated.

Sir, you have always said that you are proud of the KYM team that is so dedicated and strong. I have been a member of this team till today and feel privileged to have been a channel of healing for many people while healing myself and evolving as a better human being. The abundant care and generosity you embody, the valuable teachings you have shared with us, and the strong example of Vairagyam you stand for have actually kept all of us bound to you, as if, for eternity. But there comes a point when the very teachings
and practices you have empowered us with have woken us up from a very deep slumber... Many people in this tradition, just like me, have woken up to a very harsh reality - in the form of your prodigal son. This may also be your wake-up call.

I come from a humble background but my parents taught us to live a life of honesty and integrity. At many points in these 17 years I have been confronted with dishonesty, lies, lack of transparency, control, authority, and immense fear! Perhaps that was the way it was meant to be in this tradition – a teacher student relationship where Sraddha is rooted in fear and attachment. We were taught not to question the teacher, we had to "demonstrate" loyalty and Sraddha and believe that WHATEVER the teacher does to you is for your good. Every action of your teacher is going to take you to less Avidya and more clarity. The teacher is always right and if we question or doubt it, our perception is faulty or we do not have enough Sraddha! I have lived my life in KYM for these long years following this dictum to the letter. I do not regret my decisions or beliefs because what I have gained from you in the form of teachings and healing is immeasurable. But looking back, I do see some very dark holes... and there is so much pain because I have been in a spell of illusion, especially in the recent years. I now choose to disbelieve the "belief" that "the teacher is always right", "the teacher can never be questioned".

I have now come to understand - the unarguable truth – from many people who have been exploited by Kausthub in the Sanga. Actually there is no Sanga! The real connection in this Sanga is based on fear and delusion. The truth is that this Sanga has some of the most unhappy people who feel trapped in the "Spider's Web", full of fear, insecurity and rage. Some are still so blind and deluded to believe that with all the "pushing of the buttons", "all the pressure", the carbon will one day turn into diamond! Stepping back, I am able to see the extent to which SO MANY people have been brainwashed to believe and blindly follow this young, reckless "saviour of lives" whose behaviour is a perfect antithesis to the tenets of yoga. Have I misunderstood the meaning of the Sutra "tatra dhyanajam anasayam"?

I have been listening to some of the women students of Kausthub and the atrocities committed by him, to what extent he has transgressed their personal boundaries and invaded their lives – in the guise of a teacher trying to "solve" their emotional problems. These poor, gullible students have been forced, manipulated and seduced to believe that all that he did to them was in their best interest. I have seen you "demonstrate" Aparigraha but Kausthub has clearly demonstrated "parigraha" and is reinventing the meaning of the word "Brahmacarya".

Some have woken up and some are still in a slumber. Perhaps, they have much in stake: fear of authority, financial entanglements with KHYF, true thirst for knowledge which they still "believe" can come only from being in Kausthub's Sanga and above all, blind faith in this teacher because he is Sri Krishnamacharya's grandson and Sri Desikachar's son!!

What I see in all this is that Kausthub needs HELP! He, more than any of his sick students, needs therapy. Please help him Sir, refer him to a good therapist who can save
him from moving at raging speed in this path of self-destruction! He is so young; the mantle is too heavy for him. Thirst for money, power and women are ruining him. His shadow is now overpowering his light. Save that brilliant mind and save this great lineage. World over, people have so much respect for these teachings, and it is this respect that has earned him so many wonderful, faithful students. It is indeed very unfortunate that while so many of us have been inspired by your teachings to walk in the path of truth, honesty and integrity, you have not been able to inspire your son in any manner.

I also take responsibility for this situation. People like me have often felt uncomfortable with the very obvious inconsistencies in Kausthub but remained silent with a hope that he will one day become more mature and evolve! But how long can students wait for the teacher to evolve? By condoning his actions, I have also been responsible for perpetuating the suffering of so many students, especially women! I have so often questioned my own value system and even felt a loss of self-respect and dignity. Probably it is the fear that has been so deeply instilled in all of us, or the attachment to you, my teacher. Also, Kausthub has always treated me with great love and respect and I have always treated him like my younger brother. But that is not an excuse for me to remain blind and silent.

Today, many people like me feel disappointed, manipulated and a deep sense of despair. I am moving out. I may even be blamed and branded as an "unfaithful", "ungrateful" student. You may even want to send me on a pilgrimage for the sacrilege I am committing by writing this letter. But I am writing this with the hope that some change will come, for the good of this Institution, your father's teachings, your reputation and for Kausthub. I feel the future of this living tradition lies only in your hands, your discretion and fair judgment.

You may want to consider these suggestions:

Taking moral responsibility for all that is happening (in the name of teacher-student relationship & "heart-to-heart" connection), you may want to consider whether Kausthub should continue as Executive Trustee. KYM is a 31 year-old healthy adult, well nourished by you and the excellent team of teachers and staff. KYM can continue independent of KHYF and evolve as a model Institute for this tradition.

Evolve strict codes of conduct for all teachers and students of KHYF that has to be communicated to all the KHYF members. Very specific rules that cannot be twisted or turned in any manner by whomsoever concerned.

Ensuring the one-to-one healing environment is absolutely safe for a female student if the mentor is a man.

Demystifying the concept of "rituals" that is so much used and misused in this tradition.

Contextualising healing – to happen only in class room situation.

KHYF should have a Redressal Forum consisting of senior members of this tradition who have clean reputation, high level of honesty and integrity, who can address any issues brought to them by any member of the KHYF with fairness; where people can seek justice without fear.

Decentralisation can be the only solution if authority cannot be handled with responsibility and maturity.

These are only my humble suggestions. You may be aware that things have gone too far, and will take their own course. Before you take any action, you may want to reflect and see what you would do if any teacher belonging to KYM or KHYF is alleged of such a behaviour. As a person coming from this tradition, I would not want people to point fingers at you for following double standards.

I thank you for all the generosity and care you have showered on me through all these years. My path is now different; my conscience does not permit me to stay here any longer. I will continue to allow myself to be guided by the teachings and practices I have received from you Sir and remain, forever, grateful to you.

In deep gratitude, 

Saraswathi V
July 24, 2007

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UPDATE 1. 12/10/12

My follow up post
Kausthub Desikachar's KHYF sexuality course condemned by AG Mohan
http://grimmly2007.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/kausthub-desikachars-khyf-sexuality.html

UPDATE 2. 17/10/12


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Below is a public letter from Sriram a long time student of TKV Desikachar and KYM, outlining details concerning the current allegations against Kausthub Desikachar. 


Before reading that letter however you may like to take a look at this post by Scott  Thotts, a former student of Kausthub Desikachar and the KHYF

http://scottsthotts.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/yoga-sex-scandal.html

And the letter from Sriram
http://www.yogastudies.org/wp-content/uploads/Of_Yoga_and_KHYF.pdf

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UPDATE 3. 18/10/12
And this blog post from someone within KHYF, discussing how this could have been allowed to happen, as well as relating the how the news began to break.

Awakening is not Genetic
http://sitiaswindow.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/awakeningisnotgenetic/

The most disturbing section of the post perhaps, is this email


"Then recently all Mentorees received a letter from Kausthub’s personal email, which states that he has taken a ‘break from teaching.’

Dear Mentorees,

Owing to present circumstances,  I have decided to take a break from teaching.  With this in mind, you might wish to consider an alternate mentor from the KHYF registry to continue your yoga journey.

However, the other option is to wait and as soon as circumstances become clear then I will be in contact again to further discuss mentorship.

I regret the inconvenience and concern this has caused.

Sincere regards,

Kausthub

Not only did this reveal that the Kausthub still has some power, enough for the school to let this email slide through.  As well, this letter made it obvious that in his illness, he remains in denial of the whole issue, thinking he’ll be back teaching, and unaware of the detrimental consequences of his actions".

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UPDATE 4 
When I did finally decide that I wanted to post on this, that there seemed to be an exercise in damage limitation going on at KHYF and KYM,  and that Kausthub Desikachar would be seeking to return to teaching when things had died down ( I was correct in this, see Update 3 above).  I contacted Elephant Journal again, because of their broader readership, to see if they would like to publish this post as an article. Below is the response from Waylon Lewis of Elephant Journal

"So this has already been all over Yogadork or other sites for more than a week? No need to publish on elephant, then? We're a far larger site than Yogadork, and far less concerned with gossip...if we published this, it would be with responsible reluctance and careful positioning of facts and allegations. If it's already out there, elephant's not necessary to this. We do not consider ourselves to be grouped with sites that revel in this kind of thing. 

This is a serious situation and should be handled responsibly."


Instead they decided to go with stories like "Should my yoga teacher get a boob job" and "Yoga for hangovers".
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UPDATE 5 19/10/2012

Email update from KHYF this morning


UPDATE 6 19/10/12

NEWS FROM THE KYMOCTOBER 2012
Dear Friends, Colleagues, Patrons and Well-Wishers.

Warm Greetings from Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, Staff and Teachers of the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, I wish to express KYM’s deep condemnation of the alleged misbehavior of Mr. Kausthub Desikachar. Our deepest sympathies lie with all the women who have been affected in this issue. Since these allegations have been brought to light, the Board of Trustees has obtained Mr. Kausthub Desikachar’s resignation from the Board and severed all ties with him.

We wish to reiterate that the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, since its inception in 1976 has been functioning as a Public Charitable Trust under the direct supervision of not any one individual but a board of carefully selected trustees who are each distinguished professionals in their own right and most of whom are direct students of Yogacarya T Krishnamacharya and/or our founder, TKV Desikachar.

The Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram has never had and never will have any involvement with any activities of the KHYF.

Every one of the Trustees is deeply committed to taking forth the valuable teaching legacy of T Krishnamacharya as handed down to several generations of teachers by his son, TKV Desikachar. The Board of Trustees firmly believes that the institution and the teachings themselves are far greater than any individual and all efforts will be made to ensure the transmission of these teachings as envisoned by our founder, TKV Desikachar.

In the context of the current situation, it is our deepest wish to carry forth the commendable work, especially in the realms of health and healing, done by the teachers of the KYM over the years. Hence, we are giving the greatest impetus to the uninterrupted transmission of these precious teachings and will ensure that all our activities – yoga studies programmes, teacher training programmes, chanting programs with a thrust on health and healing, individual therapy sessions, individual yoga studies lessons and individual chanting sessions will proceed as before.

Several new programmes will also be announced shortly on our website. We shall also establish a strong support network of old students of T Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar who have expressed their willingness to sharing their invaluable knowledge, so that there is continuity and growth in learning for students of this tradition worldwide.

As always we seek your continued support and patronage. We value your feedback and suggestions so that we may carry on our work of spreading the healing message of T Krishnamacharya in a transparent and positive manner.

Best Regards

Dr. Latha Satish
Managing Trustee

UPDATE 7 31/10/12


On 31 Oct 2012, at 15:08, Chase Bossart wrote:

Dear Friends,
Thank you for supporting the letter that was sent to the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram (KYM).  Altogether, 134 of us signed the letter!
It was good to see the announcement from the Mandiram (KYM) explaining that the organization:
- is a Non-Profit, Public and Charitable Trust,
- has cut all ties with Kausthub, and
- has not had, and never will have, any involvement with any activities of the KHYF.
It was also useful to see the Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation (KHYF) email stating that it is a private business and explaining its ownership. Both emails are attached to this email.
As teacher trainers and mentors, we have been in communication with many of you privately and it appears that the distinction between the KYM and KHYF as well as the steps each has taken to address the current situation was not clear to everyone. In response to the kinds of questions we have been asked on an individual basis, we felt the need to present the following clarifying information to the larger association of KHYF North American students and teachers.
The difference between the Mandiram (KYM) and the KHYF is that the former is a non-profit clinic and the later a for-profit certification body. The Mandiram (KYM), which has been a charitable trust since its founding by Mr. Desikachar in 1976, is primarily a yoga therapy clinic where the majority of the classes are one-on-one yoga therapy sessions. In addition, the Mandiram also offers individual yoga & chanting classes, educational programs including teacher trainings, clinical internships, and publishes a few books.
The KHYF, which was created as a private business in 2006, primarily serves as the body issuing KHYF certifications, overseeing the accreditation of yoga teacher training programs and providing yoga therapist and vedic chanting teacher trainings. It also publishes a number of books under its publishing division, Media Garuda.
Kauthub has been the executive director and owner of KHYF since its inception. In light of the serious allegations against Kausthub, many people expressed concern that their KHYF certification and training monies may be financially supporting Kausthub (no monies paid to the Mandiram go to Kausthub). Accordingly, the KHYF announced a number of administrative steps attempting to alleviate these concerns (email announcements are attached).
Some of the steps that have been taken by the KHYF are:
Kausthub has stepped down from his position as executive director of KHYF, and in his place appointed his secretary, Anupama Das, as the director in-charge. (September 21st)
Kausthub transferred ownership of the KHYF from himself to his mother and his father who, due to an ongoing health condition, is unable to actively participate in any aspect of the KHYF administration or teaching. (October 19th)
Kausthub sent an email to his mentees notifying them that he had “decided to take a break from teaching… and [they] might wish to consider an alternative mentor…” but that “…as soon as circumstances become clear that [he] will be in contact again to further discuss mentorship.” (October 9th)
These steps leave the relationship between Kausthub and the KHYF basically intact and we have no assurance that Kausthub’s influence on the organization or his financial benefit from it will be lessened. Unless further concrete steps are immediately taken toward this assurance, the KHYF will not be capable of providing education, oversight and certification that reflects the high standards and international reputation of the teachings of Śri Krishnamacharya and Mr. TKV Desikachar. Consequently, at this time, KHYF is not a viable professional organization.
At the same time, we, as well as others, remain committed to passing on these wonderful teachings and to supporting each other and our community as we move forward. The Mandiram (KYM) is also currently discussing ways that they can provide support to the members of our tradition. We appreciate that support and will continue to maintain close ties with the Mandiram and will continue to support and help the Mandiram in anyway that we can.
In the long term, we recognize the need for a new organizational structure that preserves and passes on the tradition of Śri Krishnamacharya and Mr. TKV Desikachar’s teachings, issues certifications, determines accreditations, etc. We would like the input of all the members of our community in North America to help decide how to proceed. We would like to suggest the creation of a committee to begin this discussion. If you are interested in organizing or serving on this committee, or would just like to be informed of the work of the committee as its proceeds, please send an email toHealingYogaAmerica@gmail.com. Please include any comments and also tell us your location.
In the short term, we recognize that some of you have concerns regarding your current certification. If you are currently a KHYF certified teacher or teacher trainer, you can be certified by Yoga Alliance through the Healing Yoga Foundation in San Francisco. If you would like to know more about this, please send an email toHealingYogaAmerica@gmail.com.  This will also be possible for those in the middle of a KHYF accredited training program which is not directly administered by the KHYF but taught by KHYF Teacher Trainer(s), once you finish the program. The Healing Yoga Foundation in San Francisco is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Corporation under the governance of the Tides Center Foundation and has no affiliation to either the KHYF or the Mandiram.
We are also investigating a similar possibility through the Healing Yoga Foundation’s association with the IAYT for those who have completed the KHYF Yoga Therapy training. We are in the beginning stages of gathering information for setting up the procedures required to implement this process and we will keep you informed of the progress as it happens.
We look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
Best regards,
Chase Bossart, Kate Holcombe, Amy Wheeler, Anita Claney, Dolphi Wertenbaker & Sonia Nelson
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More details being uploaded, seemingly daily, at http://yogasentinel.wordpress.com, if you can stomach it.

14 comments:

  1. Hi Anthony

    as you know, I am currently in a KHYF teacher training and I received the KHYF letter on that Saturday morning.
    It sort of shocked me to be honest, I knew nothing about this. It shocked me not so much because I thought that such a thing could not happen, but because;
    1. I thought that after the recent John Friend Anusara business, people would think twice about doing such stupid things at least at an international school level
    2. I somehow thought this tradition would be better than that... haha. It served to remind me of the huge differences that there can be between teaching and teacher and how silly we are in thinking that what we choose should be any better than what other people choose! Asmita creeps up in all the weirdest places I guess!
    Anyhow, as I follow directly the TKV Desikachar lineage through other students of his, I guess I could somewhat hypocritically feel less damaged by these news. If this was just happened...
    ...but then you discover that things were already happening long ago, when K. was put in charge, that many people knew and said nothing, or left the arena quietly. Or were perhaps made to leave since they were not willing to suffer this behaviour? Still they did not speak out, apparently...
    This is actually what I find more disturbing. How many respected teachers knew, through their students' comments that this was going on, and did or said nothing? Was Saraswathi's letter the only formal complaint? If so, this is terrible. Really.
    I makes you think. I'd say even this could be seen as kleshas acting.
    How sad it is that the greed to be able to display a logo (Anusara, KYM, KHYF, etc etc) would quiet dissent.
    How strongly is corporativism affecting our decisions?
    Do I still want to have a KHYF badge when I complete my teacher training? Not sure. I need to think about it, and a lot will depend on how openly and rapidly KYM/KHYF will deal with this.

    I am not sure I would be happier with a mea culpa from Kausthub.
    In fact, I would be much happier with a mea culpa from all the respected teacher around the world who knew and did nothing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Grimmly

    Thanks for posting everything related to this issue here .KYM is just 3 Km away from my apartment in Chennai but I never took any Yoga Classes there but I read all the publications of KYM by Deskicharya and Kausthub related to Yoga in general and Krishnamacharya in Particular and have been highly benefited by it . I am not surprised by what happened in KYM ,it was a time bomb waiting to explode .They are very smart in handling these things . There is a bigger issue here which I will share it later and many western people are not aware and they are intoxicated by the "Krishnamacharya" tag .It is a sort of Intellectual Monopoly / Intellectual Control and many western students fall in to this subtle trap and now the bubble has burst . I still admire Krishnamacharya and Desikacharya and the wonderful work they have done in bringing Yoga to the world outside . I do not want to abuse and Organziation / an Individual when they are down and will talk about it later . I feel KYM will work smartly to deal this issue behind doors as this incident has so far never been reported in any Indian Media house either in Print /TV .Such is their hold on the power structure here . Anyway let us see how things progress in this issue . Thanks for publishing the other letters of ex KYM staff .

    ReplyDelete
  3. Do you reckon they allowed Kausthub to continue teaching, knowing he would eventually be outed? Perhaps there was no way to "banish" him without having him first caught in the snares of his own "karma." Perhaps this was the board's plan, perhaps they set him up.

    Anyway, Grimm, an amazing and thorough post as usual.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Actually, I feel like adding another comment, which returned to mind after looking at the comments of some of your old posts. I was going through the review of various books (Health Healing and Beyond, The Yoga of the Yogi, etc) and I saw that Claudia posted on the Krishnamacharya facebook page the info about ayoga Makaranda and that it was deleted. Well.... when the Roots of Yoga crowdsourcing effort was ongoing, I posted the link on the KHYF page. I thought that someone in the yoga community could wish to contribute and maybe they had not heard of it... well, a couple of hours and it disappeared. As first I thought I had made a mistake in posting it, but then I had a bitter aftertaste and now! More bad behaviour. And when Ryan Leier asked for some help in retrieving texts..... absolute silence!
    Thinking more about this, not sure what to think!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi chiara, yes I remember that, did not know you had tried too... Eye opening that was...

    I ve been thinking a lot about what you said and what everyone says, it is difficult to come to terms... I alwaysnfelt something was off, even had written a post in regards to a newsletter he sent once, by mail, which arrived in my home. In it a student wrote about a class he directed and how Kausthub was humiliating the students pert much, laughing at them, telling them they were wrong. Not a very conducive air for learning.

    I thought about why I did not publish it too, about a year ago msybe one and a half... I guess it is difficult to make the call when seeing things from a distance, but I am beginning to think that even for those that were closely involved it must have been hard too... I guess not all of us have enough strength to stand up all the time, I am glad however that Saraswati did, and these five women too..

    Like with everything I suppose it is never black or white, it is good we are reflecting on it, and of course, itnis good he is not leading the institute now...

    I hope we all find healing, especially those directly affected.

    Sorry Grimmly to go a bit manifesto here in your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  6. this is a long comment that must be posted in parts....

    As you may know, I have studied yearly at KYM since 2005 (and have written in my own blog about the lineage since 2005.) I was shocked (but not surprised) when this came out. I have no allegiance to Kausthub, he was never my direct teacher. As an advocate for trauma survivors, I believe KYM must be open and transparent about this. What made me angrier than Kausthub's actions was that they were ignored by those in charge, including his father (with whom I have studied.)

    I heard about this about a week before it hit the yoga blogs and was asked whether I wanted to speak or write about it. People expected me to write about it because of how many times I have studied at KYM. I decided not to because it was too soon and my feelings were too raw. I had planned to take a group to KYM for private classes next March and seriously reconsidered my group trip.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The first person I asked for advice was Ramaswami, whom you know I've studied with 2003-04. I also study with Ganesh Mohan, whose father I am sure you know also studied with Krishnamacharya. They are the two I know who are closest to the lineage -- they gave me good advice that I will keep private because it is between teacher-student....as is Saraswati's letter to Desikachar. I also know Saraswati and I wonder if any blogger who has written about this asked her permission to publish her letter. I don't think there is anyone who would want a private letter passed around via emails and made public in a blog without prior permission. She might not mind, but did anyone ask her?

    After MUCH consideration and literally sleepless nights about this, I decided to continue with my group trip to KYM. Why? Because I received advice from J. Brown, whose essays and opinions on modern I deeply respect. He is familiar with the lineage. He told me that he thinks the situation is different then the Anusara thing because there is no "spiritual head" of the tradition. In fact, it is by Desikachar's example that there is no brand name for the approach. This means that no one person can lay claim to it and, therefore, no one person's bad behavior can diminish the power of the teachings. He told me, "If I were you, I would carry on as planned. Stay true to your practice and the experience you were hoping to provide the people joining you and it will be good enough. The experience of going to India and studying at the Mandirim is not contingent on one particular teacher."

    ReplyDelete
  8. I also received advice from one of my favorite teachers at KYM, Sangeetha, whom I have known since 2005. She told me that it's always about the teachings and what we learn from it, that the essence is important and nothing else.

    Finally, it was hearing the Vedic chant to Patanjali every morning in my training with Ganesh Mohan that helped me decide. The chant told me what it's all about. That, and the fact that the people who have signed up for my trip told me they don't care about what happened, they want the teachings and they trust my judgment and wisdom.

    Krishnamacharya's teachings belong to the yoga world, they don't belong to the institutions or any one person whether it's Desikachar or his son.

    While KHYF is the money-making part of KYM, the two have always been separate entities. Although international students attend classes at KYM, it was primarily for Indians with Indian teachers. KHYF was always geared to bringing yoga therapy training to the West with Western teachers (in fact, KHYF did not exist when I first went to KYM.) And therein lies the problem, as I see it.

    Frankly, from what I know about the situation, I think nothing short of an exorcism can help Kausthub. But nothing is either black or white and there are many levels to this situation, including culturally. One thing I have learned after 6 trips to India is to not view things in India through a Western lens -- and I know that is something that is very hard to understand and it is also something I will not write about.

    All that being said, I am wise enough to not let Kausthab's personal failings get in the way of my love for the Krishnamacharya lineage. As I heard Kausthub himself say this year, "If the spiritual teachings are valid, yoga will sustain; if yoga is merely a fashion, it will not sustain. The teachings are much larger than any crisis modern yoga is currently experiencing."

    When he said that, I thought he was referring to John Friend, but I know now he was predicting his future."

    ReplyDelete
  9. teachers are starting to take a firm position...
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=F1HLVVK468E

    Thanks Linda-Sama and Claudia. I agree with staying true to the teaching lineage in the face of less worthy teachers, but it will be interesting to hear more from Khrisna when he/she is ready!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Chiara, thanks much for pointing out A.G,. Mohan's video. It's sad to see the need at this time for distance and apologia but I'm really looking forward to hearing his forthcoming discussions on the topic. I also really like what he says at the 11:48mark, namely:

    “Unfortunately, yoga practitioners who question things outside never question when it comes to the practice of yoga. They think yoga is mystical, whereas yoga is totally rational and logical.”

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank-you everyone for commenting, I've just put up a follow up post based on AG Mohan's video. It would be nice if the board of trustees of KYM would follow suit. I knew when i posted this that it would probably mean I'd not be able to visit KYM in the future, something I had always hoped to do, the lack of response and seeming damage limitation control we're seeing makes me regret it a lot less.

    ReplyDelete
  12. if the western teachers of KHYF, of which there are many, knew of this and did nothing, they are just as culpable as Kausthub is. don't think for a minute this is all about KYM. it's not.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I agree Linda-Sama. This is what I meant in my first comment when referring to 'respected teachers around the world'.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I have found this blog which apparently has been created to let people express their feelings/opinions/information anonimously. There are a few emails from people close to Kausthub and from KHYF to teachers and mentors

    http://yogascandals.wordpress.com/about/

    It will change name soon but ai guess we will be redirected

    ReplyDelete

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from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included. "So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta

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