Monday, June 27, 2005

Guru Left Lives Made And Broken

File under: Gurus Clockin' Dollars and Gurus To The Stars

Vijayadev Yogendra was a bit of a family wrecker like Amadon Amadon, a bit of a success counselor like Deepak Chopra, and a lot of a money collector like almost all the rest of them. Recently killed by cancer, a disease he claimed he could cure; Yogendra's wife, younger by 33 years, was next by way of suicide. In a stunning case of co-dependent narcissism, former party girl Kate Ellis followed the source of her self-acceptance to the grave.

A fixture in Australia's upper echelon, Yogendra's Rasputinish charms had found a fallow field to furrow:
He had the sort of self-regard that could... convey eternal reassurance. Like [Fitzgerald's] Gatsby, the guru had a smile that "concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favour, understanding you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believ(ing) in you as you would like to believe in yourself".
Apparently, Vijay has made and broke the fortunes of a number of his devotees over the last 40 years, all the while being a typically naughty guru:
There was no room to disagree. Anyone who did was told their ego was obliterating the guru's higher purpose... Covertly he was conducting affairs, several women claim. One, in his inner circle, says he initiated midnight trysts, saying it would free her from her "sexual demons".

While followers were encouraged to live simply, he drove the latest Range Rover, began wearing expensive cologne by Paco Rabanne, and flew first class, always in seat 1A.
Here's a man who worked his way through the money and power of Australia's elite like a hooker at a butchers' convention. A vivid and telling illustration of an essential truth many sham gurus make use of: as long as you say what they want to hear, they'll always believe you are telling them the truth.


At 5/31/2007 7:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree. I met VJ in the 80's he was a repulsive sleaze. God knows what his deperate devotees saw in him. He was a self serving man living in an abound of wealth from other peoples money. Most of his foundation members had been desperate addicts of drugs or alcohol or from prison easily preyed upon.

At 12/15/2007 8:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would appear from all I can listen to,read and research that as one of vijays acquaintances said he was a victim of his own success.I knew vijay not closely ,read all his writings ,he was in my opinion very wise yes some would say cunning and it would seem also very human to the point of egotistical maniac.
Those who know the revered Shri Yogendra,Vijays father,would be well aware where Vijays wisdom come from.
There is no doubt Vijay helped many including myself.It would also seem hurt many and lost his way.
I suppose the only defence one could offer is Vijay and others know something we are not aware of.
Maybe lifes a sick joke or maybe he was just a bastard of the human kind.
As his father says yesterday is gone.
lets get on with it and love one another.

At 2/02/2008 8:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just remember people the internet is for use and abuse.
Let people make up there own minds about Vijay.
Vijay helped a bloody lot of people and i think made a lot of enemies simply because their egos were tested and they did not like it including some journalists.
The vested egos have attempted a hatchet job .
The mind is a powerful tool and Vijay used it with excellence.
Dont judge people with respect on internet this or that. Keep the mind open.
From my experience he was a good bloke.
Rest in Peace Vijay.

At 6/17/2008 11:52 PM, Blogger Soph said...

I met Vijay in 1969, at a time when I was in great need to get control of myself - I was hyperactive and after 2 years of medical treatment, surgery was prescribed as essential. I knew that my mental and physical state was a result of my own doing and I was determined to overcome my behaviour patterns. Vijay was the one to show me the technique to attain my aim. This was not an easy task. It required a great effort from me and knowledge from Vijay.

Over the years I managed to reform my behaviour and have not had a relapse in almost 40 years although the physical fault still remains.

I can understand the attitude of those who write against Vijay. I was considered by him as a "senior student" but had my own falling out with him and with the organisation.

Vijay was a man with undoubtable ability and wisdom, but what counts more than these is the strength to apply ones wisdom to life. I think Vijay lost his way although it is not for me to condemn him. I am thankful to have had him for a teacher. He made me think and this is the mark of a good teacher.

I still love him and wish him well but the mistake his students in the main have made was to have faith in him. I always followed the principles and not the man.

At 10/06/2008 7:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When this story first broke in 2005 I was in agreement with what was said about Vijayadev Yogendra. It sounded pretty bad. However, 3 years on after the dust has settled, it seems not all that was alleged was right.

I have seen the school he set up and spoken to its students and graduates. Wonderful open and positive young people. There are no statues or photographs of the so-called guru. Apparently he didn't want them. I have spoken to the quite level headed and ordinary folk who have continued his work. Very sincere and decent people.
On the other hand, some of the things I have observed and learned about some of his critics are not so pleasant.

Now, I think Keiran Perkins was the one that got him right - a wise and unselfish man who just wanted to help people, without wanting any reward.

It looks like his life's work is blossoming and bearing fruit. Goodness knows our strife torn world needs it.

At 7/02/2009 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have also practised in the Yogendra system and have found it to be just as everyone else, full of vulnerable dependent lonely people who have been seduced by the idea of love that they themselves have never had. My husband was seeing one of their therapists unknown to him for anger and stress management????? I was requested to go in and meet his therapist. upon meeting her, she found out I was doing Yoga at home, she then introduced both of us to Yoga and placed us into marriage guidance counselling we are now divorced. I find it a curse that I live with everday and have to see a counsellor for the problems that have been caused by my teacher jan Dugan.....

At 8/05/2009 7:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There have been many terrible things said about Vijay, many of which have not been explained by his followers. However it is very important to remember the huge amount of amazing work he did gratis for over 35 years for countless people, and the quiet, unassuming good work many of his students continue to do. His school in rural QLD is one such example.

At 1/16/2011 2:15 PM, Anonymous Apprentice Mike said...

Followers of any religion or spirituality form an emotional attachment because of their insecurity and dependence. This is the problem of those who still follow their deceased guru.

These people need your prayers.

At 2/04/2011 6:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I read all your comments, I appreciate the contradictory experiences and emotions. However, I do not believe that any one should set themselves up as higher than everyone else. And this man did, as I know to my personal and sorrowful cost.

Follow the principles, not the man, as an earlier respondent said.

The world is bigger than us all.

At 1/18/2012 9:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I met Vijay over the 1980's and so on before he moved to Queensland and found him to be a sincere,dedicated,selfless humanitarian who contributed greatly to many areas of human need.If this approach was practised widely by society today there would not be the problems that are evident today.Undoubtedly a highly ethical humanitarian ethos was apparent in Educational and psychological and other contributions.Many,many years of sincere altruistic service ....was was provided.Vijay did eventually retire ..I think we need to affirm the good he has done....The world needs more of the good this man has done!That's for sure!

At 5/04/2012 6:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked with Vijay for over 30 years and was always amazed at his capacity for continuous work and service. I saw him deliver wise guidance to many many different types of people and contribute his time and ideas selflessly. The so called extravagant lifestyle is a gross exaggeration. - just because someone likes quality products doesn't make them greedy or corrupt. As you inevitably find with strong personalities, he did fall out with a lot of people who inevitably also had strong personalities. He was of course not perfect - and he no doubt made some bad decisions in his time. I think it's called being human. His good work easily outweighed any mistakes 10 to 1. Let's give the man a break and acknowledge the good he has done - which lives on with many many people.

At 5/25/2012 8:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have recently read his book entitled "Overcoming Negative Feelings" and have returned to the practice of yoga that I learnt in the 1980's.From experience I have discerned the incredible value of these practices in enhancing resilience,equanimity,focus and in generating positive energy.Experientially it is highly beneficial in creating a buffer between oneself and the stress of the world.If people diligently and consistently practised the meditation approach suggested in his book they may find that it is immensly positive and perhaps the answer to dealing with the overwheming stresses of the modern day.If these methods were practiced excellent results can be obtained.Thankyou Vijay for this grat contribution to humanity.

At 6/19/2012 9:58 PM, Anonymous Sniffy said...

I was a student of Vijay's and I think both sides of the story are true. he did help a lot of people, including me, and for that he deserves praise. He also had a large ego made mistakes. My mistake was to listen to him uncritically. When I realise I needed to take responsibility for my decisions I no longer need to idolise or demonise him. It did all end a bit sadly unfortunately.

At 7/15/2013 6:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do Viyay's children might remain so silent ...?

You can't say someone is wise and corrupt at the same time--that may be 'true' but is ultimately corrupting and I imagine it's his children that are on the front line of this.

(And his first wife. ... And the second, perhaps. I'm not going to judge.)

He appalled and angered me with his narcisstic ways and how they bent and bowed others in his latter years ..

(Which is why I'm prepared to cross a line and maybe hurt his family to say ... what a misguided and ultimately sad trajectory.

At 7/25/2013 3:24 AM, Anonymous Paul Stokes said...

I was a student of Vijay. I attended the Yogendra System of Healthy Living classes in Brisbane from about 1992 to 1997. I also participated in a few of the charitable projects Vijay sponsored. My experience of Vijay was that he had a rare insight into people and life, he was an inspiration, a source of wisdom; and he contributed significantly to my life in a positive way. He also stated that he knew his own limitations. I agree with the published comments of Prominent Brisbane architect Graham Bligh who said the attacks by “a handful of people with axes to grind” are obscene. “I was privileged to be an independent student of Vijay for over 20 years,” he says. “He was one of a handful of people for whom I would stand on his entering a room, such was my respect.” R.I.P. Vijayadev Yogendra.
Paul Stokes, Singapore, 25/07/2013

At 12/12/2014 7:34 AM, Blogger Fred Rowan said...

Vijay was definitely dodgy. There were two episodes. I'd like to hook up with other "survivors". Anyone out there?

At 7/02/2015 5:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

30 years of involvement with the group, 12 of which were living closely deeply involved and my experience has been that although there was and appears to be good work done by the guru and the group, that there is equal amount of damage, upset, harm and bother. The main people involved are power hungry out of fear and weak need - without their roles they don't know who they are or how to implement all that knowledge that the guru attempted to teach them. I have been hurt and stressed and understand that I learnt from the experience - so I made the best of the situation and know my own weaknesses at the times contributed. I see clearly now and breathe relaxed away from the insular community. Two generations of involvement with the school and community and I observe the school is good enough but behind the scenes is difficult and stressful and oh so political in many ways. Keep an arms length and enjoy the benefits of the school but don't get too involved in anything - yoga classes included. In reply to Fred Rowan I am a survivor of their latest guru, yep they replaced their first and totally are justifying it as they do, and sweeping what they don't want to know under the rug as they do. Excuse me not disclosing my name, it's to protect my relationship with two people still involved there who are not quite seeing the light and who we are being clear and strong for rather than attacking for they are not ready and we don't want them to dig their heals in out of some false need to justify their being there still - rest of the family and friends have left any involvement. Big move for some who are caught up - I know that one! But oh there is life on the other side and there are great people living honestly and spiritually great and all the rest that that community arrogantly think only they do. Silly people who would be ok if they left others alone but they affect badly and are judgmental so I here relieve myself of upset that lingers and dump on those foundation members back.

At 10/25/2015 5:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too had a long involvement with the group. I attended yoga classes in Melbourne at the Yoga Education Centre, in Chapel Street and was invited to join a young peoples group that was associated with the Yoga Centre and The School Of Total Education.
I married someone also involved and moved to Queensland where our children attended the school. We lived in the community for 20 years. On a day to day basis the community provided a lot of support and friendship amongst like minded people.
I agree with previous posts that a mistake many of us made was to follow the man and not the principles. A hierarchy built up around Vijay. Some students were very close to him and became like an inner circle. They reported back to him and people were either included in a positive way or excluded in a subtle way, being made to feel as though they were not measuring up and feeling as though they were on the outer. Vijay did not welcome criticism and if someone doubted him and questioned a decision it was often suggested that you could always leave if you were not happy living in the community.
This is a difficult step to make when you have settled with friends and employment nearby, and your children are happy at the school. He made it known that to have blind faith in a teacher was the relationship that would allow him to pass on his teachings. The unfortunate affect was to make people behave in a way to gain his approval and had a divisive affect in the community.
There was much secrecy surrounding his marriage breakdown, remarriage and relocation to Port Douglas. Some students relocated to Port Douglas with him and left the community in secrecy explaining to friends that they were leaving to live somewhere else but not saying where they were going.
His adult children were estranged from him and his first wife and his former assistant had left the community under great stress as members of the community close to ViJay remained blindly loyal to him, turning their back on her.
Vijay's death in Port Douglas and his young second wife's suicide some days later was also cloaked in secrecy.

People who questioned were treated as disrespectful troublemakers leaving much confusion. Some parents were asked to take their children out of the school if they supported others on the outer.
It was a horrible, traumatic time, for many people in the community.
Most who stayed seemed unable to even contemplate that there was any problem and refused to believe any stories that they considered negative about Vijay.
Most who left the community went through a very traumatic time getting their lives back on track, often receiving counselling, and feeling angry that everything had turned out the way it had.
People who were members of the community were idealistic and young when they joined, many were respected professionals most had put in a great deal of voluntary work to establish the school. While many struggled financially themselves Vijay did live a comparatively comfortable life often financed through voluntary work.
Those who left felt betrayed and often angry with themselves for having believed in someone who in the end turned out to be as fallible and human as anyone else.
I now believe that the yoga taught to me at the yoga centre in Melbourne is really something very helpful and have again started practising it. I stopped for many years as the difficult experience of having been part of the community made me reject nearly everything associated with it. Those who stayed appear to do so out of their friendships and feelings of security of belonging.
It has been quite a journey for all involved.

At 8/09/2016 8:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's great to read all these comments. I left the organisation (?Cult? Centre? School? I don't know what to call it) at the age of 23. I started lessons when I was 16. I was a lost soul. Depression kicked in at around the age of 17 and I glided/drifted into "The Yoga Community." University Yoga society etc. During the first meeting with good ol' Vijay in 1976 he asked me if I masturbated. I was frightened of him. When I got my hand crushed working in one of the bakeries in the early eighties within a day or two he rang my! I was so scared that he rang. He gave me breathing exercises to help me heal the broken hand. I wasn't able to write down or remember his instructions. Looking back it's embarrassing that I did nothing. I will now. I must make the note, though, that the exercises were very helpful and still are. They don't heal you. If you have extreme anxiety as I had it doesn't help in the long term, just for an hour or two. It helps relax the body. Helps concentration, focus. I'm grateful for that. He didn't teach me. His students taught me. But the rest? It needs to be investigated. I'm amazed that it's not been followed through. I know others must have had similar experiences.


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