Siddha Yoga

Siddha Yoga

Siddha Yoga is a new religious movement [cite web|url=|title=The New Religious Movements Homepage @The University of Virginia|accessdate=2007-03-18 "Religious Movements in the United States" by Timothy Miller of the University of Kansas. The Watershed of 1965 - "In the early 1970s Swami Muktananda began visiting the U.S. to teach the followers who had sought him out in India, and soon his Siddha Yoga was a thriving American movement."] that is based in part on the Hindu spiritual traditions of Vedanta and Kashmir ShaivismAccording to the organization itself: Quote|The Siddha Yoga tradition draws many of its teachings from the Indian yogic texts of Vedanta and Kashmir Shaivism, the Bhagavad Gita and the poet-saints.cite web|url=|title=The Scriptural Tradition|accessdate=2007-04-27] It has ashrams and meditation centers (meeting places) in a number of countries, including India, the United States, Australia, Great Britain and Japan. [cite web|url=|title=Centers and Ashrams|accessdate=2007-05-15]


Siddha Yoga's teachings are summarized in 4 aphorisms: [cite web|url=|title=SY essential teachings|accessdate=2007-03-18]
#Honor your Self, Worship your Self, Meditate on your Self, God dwells within you as you.
#See God in each other.
#The heart is the hub of all sacred places; go there and roam.
#Nothing exists that is not Shiva.

The name

Since 1977, Siddha Yoga has been a registered service markcite web|url=|title=United States Patent and Trademark Office - Trademark Electronic Search System|accessdate=2007-05-04] of the SYDA Foundation (a domestic non-profit corporation registered in New York State). [cite web|url=|title= New York State's Division of Corporations Entry for SYDA Foundation|accessdate=2007-03-18] The SYDA Foundation was founded in the early 1970s by Swami Muktananda (1908 – 1982) to administer the global work of Siddha Yoga. [cite web|url=|title=Swami Muktananda -Siddha Yoga|accessdate=2007-05-08] As a service mark, Siddha Yoga® is an educational service used in teaching and conducting workshops in furtherance of individual spiritual development.

An editorial in "Hinduism Today" in November 1990 objected to the registration of the phrase by the SYDA Foundation, claiming that Siddha Yoga was previously used as a Sanskrit term.cite journal|last=Palani|first=Sivasiva|url=|title=The Trademark Wars|journal=Hinduism Today|month=November|year=1990] A prior use of the term "siddha yoga" is documented in 1948 by Swami Vishnu Tirtha who used the term in the following passages:

Quotation|Therefore the yoga of Kundalini, is known as Mahayoga. It is also sometimes called Siddhayoga because it can be acquired only through the favor of a perfect master (Siddha Guru) without any effort on the part of the initiated. [Tirtha (1948), p. 79.]

Swami Shankar Purushottam Tirtha wrote several books on Siddhayoga around the early 1900s. Swamiji is from the dual Tirtha/Siddhayoga lineages. He was sanyas guru of Swami Vishnu Tirtha. His books, "Yoga Vani: Instructions for the Attainment of Siddhayoga" and "Guru Bani: 100 Ways to Attain Inner Peace" have been published in Bengali, Hindi, and English.

From "Yoga Vani:" Quotation|The easy way of attaining it (salvation) is said to be Siddhayoga...Siddhayoga or Siddhimarga is that means by which yoga can be attained without difficulty...Siddhayoga is attained by the infusion of spiritual force through the good grace of a saintly preceptor...Siddhayoga or Siddhimarga is nothing but the knowledge of the unity of Self and Brahma... [Yoga Vani: Instructions for the Attainment of Siddhayoga by Swami Shankar Purushottam Tirtha's (1990 English translation), pgs. 2-4.]

Muktananda recommended "Yoga Vani" and several other books as helpful resources for meditation. [Harvard citation|Muktananda|1978|p=99]

A reference to the compound Sanskrit term; "Siddha Yoga" can be found in an English translation of the Third Tantra of the Tirumantiram of Tirumular. [Natarajan (1979), p. 92.] Tirumūlār was a Tamil poet, classified as 7th or 8th century AD by Maurice Winternitz. [Winternitz, p. 588, note 1.]


Bhagawan Nityananda was viewed by many devotees as a Siddha Guru or Avadhut. He first visited Ganeshpuri, a village located 82 kilometers north of Mumbai in 1936. In Ganeshpuri, Nityananda lived in a small hut built for him by the caretakers of the local Shiva temple. As visitors and devotees of Nityananda increased in number, the hut expanded into an ashram. A frequent visitor to Nityananda's ashram was a wandering yogi named Swami Muktananda. In his autobiography, "The Play of Consciousness" published by the SYDA Foundation, Muktananda describes how on August 15, 1947, Nityananda gave him shaktipat transmission. According to the same source, Swami Muktananda attained God-realization or mukti after nine more years of sadhana and discipleship. [Muktananda (1971) Page number]

Nityananda died in 1961. Muktananda continued the shaktipat tradition by passing on initiation to many people in India and other countries. It was through his widespread extension of the little known Shaktipat experience that Muktananda became a well-known figure. Among his teachings, Muktananda expressed his view of what the Guru really is: "one who awakens the inner shakti Kundalini through shaktipat". [Muktananda (1971) Page number] Muktananda's fame as a Guru increased to the point of being made the subject of a "Time" magazine article in 1976. [cite journal|journal=Time Magazine|title=Instant Energy|date=July 26, 1976|url=,9171,914413-1,00.html|accessdate=2007-04-25]

Under Swami Muktananda's leadership, the ashram at Ganeshpuri grew substantially and became known as Gurudev Siddha Peeth. [cite web|url=|title=Hinduism Today, "Baba Muktananda's 'Meditation Revolution' Continues"|year=1992|month=October|accessdate=2007-03-18] As Siddha Yoga expanded beyond India, Swami Muktananda established a large ashram in the Catskills area north of New York City. He named this ashram after his guru, Nityananda. One of Muktananda's devotees was a young Hindu woman named Malti Shetty, who came from Mumbai. She accompanied Muktananda on his world tours and was given the role of his English-language interpreter. In May, 1982, Swami Muktananda installed Malti Shetty — now known as Gurumayi Chidvilasananda — and her brother Subhash Shetty — now known as Mahamandaleshwar Swami Nityanand— as co-Gurus and spiritual leaders of Siddha Yoga. Swami Muktananda died on October 2, 1982 (known in India as taking mahasamadhi).

In 1983 William Rodarmor made public the accusations of some former members that the Siddha Yoga leadership engaged in behavior at odds with its teachings and wider accepted norms, including accounts by several anonymous young women of sexual encounters with Muktananda. According to Rodarmor, one of the young women told him that Muktananda had tried to convince her that she was being initiated into tantric yoga.cite journal|last=Rodarmor|first=William|title=The Secret Life of Swami Muktananda|journal=CoEvolution Quarterly|year=1983|url=|format=Reprint]

The woman also told Rodarmor that she told Swami Chidvilasananda.Quotation|"She told me people had been coming to her with this for years and years," Mary said. "She was caught in the middle."

Swami Nityananda stepped down in 1985 amid controversy about breaking his vows. [cite web|title=Former SYDA Co-Guru Explains |year=1995|month=April|url=|accessdate=2007-03-18] He has since started his own group, Shanti Mandir. Chidvilasananda continued in her appointed role and has been the sole leader and guru of Siddha Yoga since then. In 1992 she founded the PRASAD Project. [cite web|url=|title=PRASAD Project|accessdate=2007-03-18] Lis Harris repeated and extended Rodarmor's allegations in "The New Yorker" of November 14, 1994. [cite journal|last=Harris|first=Lis|authorlink=Lis Harris|date=November 14, 1994|journal=The New Yorker|title=O Guru, Guru, Guru|url=|format=ReprintPage number] The 'Leaving Siddha Yoga' website was started in July 1996 to provide information about alleged problems in Siddha Yoga. [cite web|url=|title=Leaving Siddha Yoga website|accessdate=2007-03-18] In 1997 Chidvilasananda founded the Muktabodha Institute with its own publishing imprint, Agama Press. [cite web|url=|title=Muktabodha Webpage|accessdate=2007-03-18] Sarah Caldwell stated in 2001, in the academic journal "Nova Religio", that Muktananda was both an enlightened teacher and a secret practitioner of an esoteric form of Tantric sexual yoga. [cite journal | author= Sarah Caldwell | title=The Heart of the Secret: A Personal and Scholarly Encounter with Shakta Tantrism in Siddha Yoga| journal= Nova Religio | year=2001 | volume=5 | issue=1 | pages= 9–51|url=|format=Reprint | doi= 10.1525/nr.2001.5.1.9 ]


The main practices of Siddha Yoga include meditation, chanting, seva, dakshina, satsang and intensives. [cite web|url=|title=The Siddha Yoga Practices|accessdate=2007-03-18] The form of meditation practiced is the silent focusing on a mantra and/or on the flow of breath. The mantra used for meditation is the mantra Om Namah Shivaya.

Students chant Sanskrit mantras which can either be Nama Sankirtana (chants that consist of short Sanskrit phrases, typically names of God) or swadhyaya (chanting of longer texts). The texts include the Guru Gita, morning and evening Arati, Shree Rudram, and the Kundalini Stavaha.

Students can practice seva (selfless service) through volunteer work at either an ashram or a center in their city. Seva can also mean any service done as an offering to God.

Dakshina is a financial offering or gift to the Guru. Traditionally, when students seek the teachings or blessings of a saint, they make an offering of dakshina. The practice of giving dakshina is an expression of appreciation for what has been received on the spiritual path.

Satsang refers to group meetings or programs, usually held weekly, at the ashrams and Siddha Yoga meditation centers. Satsang includes talks, meditation and chanting. [cite web|url=|title=Siddha Yoga Glossary page|accessdate=2007-03-18]

Intensives are gatherings in which devotees are said to receive shaktipat, the awakening of the shakti, or spiritual energy, within the devotee. Intensives are usually held twice a year and are significant in Siddha Yoga because the "bestowal of shaktipat" is a core element of the Siddha Yoga philosophy. [Meditation Revolution, Brooks (Agama Press) 1997, pp.140-141]

Holy days

Siddha Yoga celebrates two common Indian religious holidays Maha Shivaratri (celebrated in February) and Guru Purnima (celebrated on the first full moon in July). They also celebrate the birthdays of Swami Muktananda and Swami Chidvilasananda as well as Swami Muktananda's divya diksha day (the day he received initiation). They also observe the anniversaries of Swami Muktananda's and Bhagawan Nityananda's deaths. [cite web|url=|title=Siddha Yoga Holidays and Observances|accessdate=2007-03-18]


The Siddha Yoga literature states that it draws many of its teachings from the texts of Vedanta, Kashmir Shaivism and the poets of India. From Vedanta it mentions the Upanishads, the Vedas, the Viveka Chudamani and the Yoga Vasishtha. From Kashmir Shaivism it mentions the Shiva sutras, the Prataybhijnahridayam, the Spanda Karikas and Vijnana Bhairava. In addition the literature states that many of the teachings of Siddha Yoga are contained in the Bhagavad Gita, the Jnaneshwari, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the Bhakti Sutras, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and the Guru Gita.

ee also

*Shree Muktananda Ashram
*Oakland Ashram



* Also cited as: Publisher=Siddha Yoga Publications; ISBN=0911307818
*cite book |series= |last=Tirtha |first=Swami Vishnu |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Devatma Shakti (Kundalini) Divine Power |year=1948 |publisher=Yoga Shri Peeth Trust |location=India |isbn= 1st edition (in English)
*cite book| author =Tirumular |title =Tirumantiram |year=1991 |publisher =Sri Ramakrishna Matt |location =India, Second edition. (in Tamil, translated to English by Dr. B. Natarajan)
*cite book |series= |last=Winternitz |first=Maurice |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=History of Indian Literature |year=1972 |publisher=Oriental Books Reprint Corporation |location=New Delhi |isbn= Second revised reprint edition. Two volumes. First published 1927 by the University of Calcutta.
*cite book |series= |last=Tirtha |first=Swami Shankar Purushottam Tirtha |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Yoga Vani: Instructions for the Attainment of Siddhayoga |year=1990 |publisher=Sat Yuga Press |location=New York |isbn= First English edition. First published the early 1900s in Bengali and Hindi.
*cite book |series= |last=Tirtha |first=Swami Shankar Purushottam Tirtha |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Guru Vani: 100 Ways to Attain Inner Peace |year=1995 |publisher=Sat Yuga Press |location=New York |isbn= First English edition. First published the early 1900s in Bengali and Hindi.

Further reading




* Professor Paul Zweig writes of his experience of receiving Shaktipat from Swami Muktananda in this anthology.

External links

* [ Official site of the SYDA foundation]
* [ Leaving Siddha Yoga]

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