Reality Test for Sahaja Yogis

by Simon

The following post takes a critical look at Sahaja Yoga according to the format of external linkSteve Hassan's external linkSpiritual Responsibility: Avoiding Abuses and Pitfalls Along the Path - Questions to help the assessment process

1.Who is the leader?

Mataji Nirmala Devi

What are his/her background and qualifications?

Daughter of wealthy family, married to Indian diplomat.  No qualifications apart from incomplete medical education
and honourary doctorate in Parapsychology from an East European 'university'.

Have you relied solely on trust that all of the information you were given is true or have you done independent investigation?

Most Sahaja Yogis will do no independent investigation.  I checked out the religious history and found it was all false.

Do you feel pressure to accept and not question at all?

Yes, there is strong pressure in Sahaja Yoga for this.

Is it possible that there are misrepresentations or falsehoods?

It is a fact. Mataji has lied about many things including her relationship with Osho/Rajneesh.

Is there external corroboration for extraordinary claims of accomplishment or are they simply his/her say-so?

I've not come across any external corroboration.

If "miracles" have been performed, can they be replicated under open observation or even under scientific conditions?

Mataji has been challenged in this respect by B Premanand. She made various excuses such as saying that Premanand - India's
foremost skeptic - is not important enough and that he had not gone through 'proper channels'.

Are there other explanations for the "miracles," such as magic tricks, hypnosis, etc.?

Yes, even mataji has explained away the sensation of 'vibrations' as due to hypnosis where it does not support her views. Some of the photographs that mataji has proclaimed to be 'miracle photos' are known 100% to be nothing miraculous at all.

If there is a former leader or member, have you sought him or her out to hear for yourself critical information? If not, are you afraid to trust your ability to discern the truthfulness of what you learn?

Anybody who is critical of Sahaja Yoga is deemed to be negative.  Sahaja Yogis believe that contact with them would be detrimental to their spiritual purity and evolution.

If you find yourself saying that you don't care if there are major deceptions, ask yourself if you knew this information before you became involved, would you have even bothered to make a commitment of time and money?

Sahaja Yogis say they are not worried about the deceptions that have been exposed because of what they 'know in their hearts'.  Nor do they want newcomers to have the chance to make these decisions before being committed so they have threatened to beat up those who would make them aware.

2. Are there exclusive claims made to wisdom, knowledge, love, and truth?

Yes. Mataji claims to be the embodiment of Divine Truth - the one and only Divine Incarnation on Earth. She claims to be all-knowing and all-compassionate.

If so, the burden of proof is on the leader to demonstrate his or her superiority, not on members to disprove it.

The unusual experiences people have in Sahaja Yoga is claimed as proof that Mataji is God and that Sahaja Yoga is the True Way.

A truly "developed" spiritual being exudes love, compassion, and humility.

Mataji admits that she has no humility because she is the Creator of the Universe. Sometimes she appears compassionate, especially at public recruitment meetings, while at other times she is very cruel.

Any person who claims to be "superior" but does not practice what they preach is of questionable character.   There is never incongruency between words and deeds.

Her prescriptions only apply to us humans, she is supposedly the Goddess.

A person who uses fear and phobia indoctrination to control followers demonstrates insecurity and lack of spiritual maturity.

Mataji induces fear by her practice of throwing people out of Sahaja Yoga and condemning them as negative. Sahaja Yogis also believe they may get incurable diseases by going against Mataji's wishes.

3. Is total submission and obedience required?

Yes, Mataji demands complete surrender and complete obedience.

Any relationship that demands giving up one's personal integrity and conscience is dangerous and leads to totalitarianism.

Sahaja Yogis refuse to judge mataji, they consider themselves to be to much inferior to her. Thus they give up their own
conscience and rely on her.

Be wary of those who advocate "the ends justify the means," especially when it clearly serves their own self-interest.

Sahaja Yogis regularly deceive newcomers, government bodies, NGOs, courts of law, police, customs officials, tax and immigration authorities, etc. This and other immoral acts such as threatening to beat up opponents are justified by the ends.

Also, make sure that your desire "to believe" doesn't simply activate the common psychological defense mechanisms: denial, rationalization, justification, and wishful thinking. If a doctrine is true or a person is truly spiritually advanced, they will stand up to the scrutiny of objective evaluation. If they do not prove themselves, they are probably not worthy of your commitment and devotion.

4. Does he/ she have a criminal record, a legacy of allegations against him/her or a history of misconduct?

A legacy of misconduct and allegations, yes.

If there are allegations of misconduct against the leader, the responsible follower must seek out the negative information and the sources of that information to evaluate the truth.

I don't believe that many committed Sahaja Yogis have ever actively sought out contrary information on Sahaja Yoga and

If a leader claims to be celibate and allegations are made that the leader engaged in inappropriate sex, this is an extreme violation of integrity. It must be investigated vigorously. It is never appropriate for teachers, therapists, or spiritual masters to take advantage of a power differential over followers. This is especially true in the area of sexuality. It is grossly unethical to engage in sexual relations with someone who has placed their trust in as a teacher/advisor/master. Many followers are incredibly vulnerable to this and unable to resist sexual intimacy. Anyone should be able to say "no."

Mataji is not a sexual abuser herself although some of her top leaders have been. Saying 'no' to Mataji is not acceptable
in Sahaja Yoga.

Is he or she a "trust bandit," stealing hearts, souls, minds, bodies, and pocketbooks for his or her own ends?

She has refused to give back money to those she has borrowed from, yes.

5. Does the leader demonstrate psychological problems and awareness of their existence?

She demonstrates a delusion that she is God. She shows no awareness of any mental problem. Even her physical problems
are blamed on other people.

Does the leader have addictions to power, drugs, alcohol, sex, even television or shopping?

Yes, shopping. She also like to watch slushy Indian movies but this isn't necessarily an addiction. Unfortunately she does like
to create unnecessary dramas and tradgedies in real life by breaking up families etc.

Does the leader have emotional outbursts?

Yes, outbursts of anger.

Does the leader physically abuse followers?

No, although she has recommended that husbands hit their wives.

Does the leader drive expensive cars and wear expensive clothes while extolling the virtues of renunciation?

Expensive clothes, yes. When I was in Sahaja Yoga she didn't have many cars. I only knew of two Mercedes and a Lincoln Continental.  She prefers houses, stately homes, palaces and castles. This is a girl guru, not a boy guru.

Does the leader financially exploit followers by expecting them to live in poverty while he or she indulges in luxury?

She indulges in luxury but the Sahaja Yogis only have to live in relative poverty for the most part.

Is the group or leader's driveway habitually filled with luxury cars while ordinary people find him or her inaccessible and unreachable?

She won't see you if you have a child with Downs syndrome or if you have AIDS.

Does the leader ever encourage deception or use deception as a "technique" to trick followers into so-called correct thinking and understanding?

Her followers explain away some of her deception with this excuse. She also advises her followers to give newcomers only a partial view of Sahaja Yoga.

Codependent behavior by a spiritual teacher should be a warning sign of danger. Codependency includes: obsessively trying to control others;

Yes, including marriages, divorces and schooling of children.

allowing people to hurt and use them;

Yes, tolerating sexual abuse by her top leaders.

lack of clear boundaries; being reactive, not proactive; tunnel visioned; obsessive worrying and denial; expectations of  perfection and suppression of human needs. (Beattie, Beyond Codependency, Harper/Hazelden, 1989)

6. Are questions and doubts permitted within the organization?

No, doubts in Mataji are seen as negativity.

A healthy spiritual environment must engage individual followers at their level of experience and should encourage them to feel and think and therefore question their beliefs and exercise good decision-making.

Sahaja Yogis are not encouraged to think, they aim to be thougtless at all times.

In this way, the follower can investigate, discriminate, and test the dogma and the environment they are being asked to accept, between what his or her personal issues are and what might be an unhealthy environment.

Sahaja Yogis even try to deny they have a dogma.

If intense pressure is used to dissuade people who wish to talk with former members or critics, it is a clear sign of information control. Controlling information is one of the most essential components of mind control.

Critics are said to be bhoots (evil spirits) and can be threatened with violence if they try to inform newcomers.

7. Is the organization open or closed?

Are there organizational secrets?

Yes, the finances.

Are there "in" groups and "out" groups?

The out group is called 'the periphery'

Are there restricted teachings for initiates only?

Are there secret texts and publications "for your eyes only"?

One talk on the muladhara chakra was only distributed to leaders.  Much information is held back from newcomers.

Is there real financial accountability?


If a group says that you can look at its accounting records, does it actually provide access?

I've never heard of anybody asking for, or being given access to, the accounts.

The only way to know is to ask to see the records. If you are afraid to ask, what does this say about the atmosphere of the group?

If you asked to check the accounts, your request would be refused and you would be stigmatised.

8.What structural checks and balances exist within the organization to prevent abuse of power?


Are there divisive sectarian biases, even in the name of interdenominational ecumenicism and universality?

Mataji condemns most other religions.

Is there an independent "ethics" committee to challenge and change policies of the group?


If there are abuses or injustices, what structure exists to correct them?

Only appeal to the hierarchy or mataji herself. Mataji discourages complaints against leaders.

Can anyone legitimately question the actions of the leader without threat of emotional withdraw or fear of expulsion to "hell"?

Yes they can question but they risk being thrown out of Sahaja Yoga which is a hell for Sahaja Yogis.

Do the rich and powerful get preferential treatment?


Are "indulgences" (spiritual pardons) sold?

Yes. One Sahaja Yogi who was thrown out asked for the money back that he had lent to mataji and her husband. He was invited back and told that he wouldn't even have to meditate (de rigeur for everybody else).

Mataji also overlooked the fact that one of her close followers owned a string of 'hotels' (ie with extra services) in exchange for a cash donation.

Is there a "Sicilian" code of silence against unethical behavior of leaders?

Sahaja Yogis are not supposed to talk about such things, it is considered to be negative. After a short while it will all be dismissed as "in the past".


For more information on mataji and her Sahaja Yoga, see:

Web SiteSahaja Yoga: Facts



Note by Alan: all of the above very pertinant questions can also be applied to the follows of any religious, cultic, or guruist sect or movement.  A great many of them would fail the test as completely as Mataji's Sahaja Yoga has done.


Sahaja Yoga page
Sahaja Yoga page

this page uploaded 14 September 1999