Editor's Note: This is a copy of a letter sent by the SYDA Foundation Center's Office, dated April 23, 1986. It was sent to all Center Leaders and Siddha Yoga Teachers. We reproduce it here unedited.

Letter from Center's Office, dated 23 April 1986



April 23, 1986

Dear Center Leader,

People have probably come to you with questions about the recent events in Siddha Yoga. We thought it would be useful for you to have the basic information you need to answer those questions.

Enclosed you will find a four-page outline which covers the main events surrounding Venkateshwar's retirement and his recent claims to the throne, as well as a few of the most frequently asked questions.


It is just for the Siddha Yoga teachers and Center Leaders so that you are prepared to deal with people's questions.

We hope that you have also attended one of the panels and read Gurumayi's letter carefully, because the information enclosed is not complete. If you have any questions or difficulties with this matter please do not hesitate to call the Centers Office.

Sincerely yours,

The Centers Office



Information for Centers concerning Venkateshwar

In November, 1985, the former Swami Nityananda announced that he was retiring from his position as Guru of the Siddha lineage. He met with the Trustees, and, over a period of several hours, convinced them that Baba had told him that he would sit on the chair for only three years. The three years were up. On November 10, 1985, he made public this information. During this time, also, after a two-hour argument, he persuaded the Mahamandaleshwar that he should be relieved of his vows of sannyasa. He took the name Venkateshwar Rao and declared himself a devotee of Gurumayi's and appeared to be sincere for a time.

In December, 1985, Venkateshwar gave a public talk in which he denied his brother-in-law's charges that he had been abducted and coerced into retiring. In January, 1986, when he left Hawaii he wrote Gurumayi a sweet letter expressing gratitude for the compassion she had shown him.

Venkateshwar's retirement was obviously voluntary, and yet he has recently charged in a newspaper interview that he was coerced (despite earlier protests that he was not). He also announced that he will try to resume the position of Siddha Guru.

Many people ask why Gurumayi did not reveal this information to us before. Gurumayi wanted Venkateshwar Rao to be able to leave the Guru's seat with dignity, out of respect for the seat and in order to avoid disturbing the minds and hearts of devotees unnecessarily. However, his recent actions make it necessary to disclose the facts which led to his voluntary retirement. There are well documented facts about Venkateshwar's life-style which inevitably resulted in his retirement as a Siddha Guru.

As Gurumayi has said, a Guru, above all people, must observe the laws of dharma and be completely surrendered to the divine will for which he or she has been chosen as a vehicle. Venkateshwar knew this and knew that his past actions had destroyed whatever Baba had given him. This was the primary reason for which he decided he had to leave the Guru's seat.

You should be very clear that the following facts are not derived from hearsay or gossip but are supported by sworn affadavits, documents in Venkateshwar's own handwriting, and video-tapes of his own talks.


1. Venkateshwar's private life-style was not that of someone who was dedicating his life to others' upliftment. He pursued sense pleasures, rode around in cars for hours on end, played with all kinds of expensive toys late into the night, and even, occasionally, visited casinos and discos. He did not apply himself to carrying out Baba's work.

2. Venkateshwar had an attitude of disobedience to Baba in many areas. Baba told him not to play the drums: he played them frequently. Baba told him not to drive cars: he drove them constantly and had serious accidents. Baba told him to remain celibate: he repeatedly broke that command. Baba told him to study the scriptures: he did not carry out this command.

3. Venkateshwar himself expressed serious doubts about his own Guruhood to Gurumayi on at least three occasions. He repeatedly stated, publicly and privately, that he did not want to be a Guru.

4. Venkateshwar proved to be indifferent to his own devotees, and betrayed a number of them. For example, one swami who served Venkateshwar closely spoke with him about a relationship he was involved in. Venkateshwar later denied he had been told the details of this relationship. When confronted with this matter, Venkateshwar wanted to get rid of this swami and kick him out of the Ashram. Due to Gurumayi's compassion, this swami was allowed to stay and do sadhana in the Ashram as a devotee.

5. Venkateshwar did not fulfill his dharma as a Guru or a swami in the relationships he had with women. He broke his vows of celibacy and at the same time misled a number of women devotees including married women and two women swamis. Also, he made a girl pregnant and asked her to have an abortion.

6. Venkateshwar was arranging to have a book written about his life. The author was to talk about Venkateshwar as an incarnation of Bhagawan Nityananda. Venkateshwar admitted, when asked about the book, that he didn't really believe this, but was using it to increase his fame.

7. When Gurumayi began to find out about some of this information she sent a group of trustworthy devotees and swamis to ask Venkateshwar if these things were true. He denied the information or evaded the questions. But afterwards, he phoned Gurumayi and told her he couldn't continue as Guru. He later did admit to these actions, and to additional ones of a similar nature.


Frequently-asked Questions

Q. Why did Baba choose such an unqualified person to be his successor? Did he not foresee what would happen?

A. It is very difficult to answer that question; it was not Baba's way to explain everything he did. However, there were many instances in which Baba's actions were understood in the course of time, and recent events will certainly reveal their significance in time. Baba did give Venkateshwar an opportunity to attain a high state, but Venkateshwar voluntarily chose not to pursue sadhana and destroyed Baba's gift through his own actions. A disciple has free will to follow the Guru's command or reject it. In this case, Venkateshwar chose to reject Baba's command.

Baba also wanted people to use their discrimination. The day after he named Venkateshwar his successor in South Fallsburg, he said: "I've just admitted him into my university, it's up to him to pass or fail -- and you should have some discrimination."

There are many instances in the lives of great beings where they chose to follow the course of destiny even though they foresaw future events. A prime example of such a situation is found in the life of Jesus Christ. Did Jesus Christ not know the character of Judas and that Judas would betray him? Yet he did nothing to prevent the betrayal and the crucifixion.

Q. Is it true that Baba told Venkateshwar he would be a Guru for only three years?

A. Venkateshwar Rao said in public and to Gurumayi that Baba had privately told him that he would sit on the Guru's chair for a period of three years only. Gurumayi herself never mentioned the three years: she said that Baba told her Venkateshwar would be on the seat "for a time."

Q. Was Venkateshwar a Siddha? And how can a Siddha fall from his state?

A. Venkateshwar declared publicly that he was not a Siddha, not a Guru, nor did he have the state of Self-realization. It had become obvious that he failed to attain the state of Siddhahood and because he was not in that state, he became a victim of his own actions. Baba never said Venkateshwar was a Siddha. He gave him the power of the lineage and it was up to Venkateshwar to use it in a dharmic way, to use it for his own and for others' upliftment. However, he chose to abuse it.

Q. I thought the disciple had to be perfect in order to become the Guru. What are the criteria?

A. It is true that the disciple has to be perfect to become the Guru and to maintain this perfection the disciple has to do sadhana. Only through sadhana can the disciple uphold this purity and this perfection. Until his last days, Baba did sadhana every day and Gurumayi also does sadhana every day. This is the path that is set for us by our Gurus and we should strive to follow it in our own sadhana.

Q. Didn't Gurumayi know about Venkateshwar's behavior? Why weren't we told before, especially at the time he retired?

A. At the time Venkateshwar retired, Gurumayi wanted him to step down from the Guru's chair with dignity and she also wanted to spare the devotees the pain and shock of having to know about Venkateshwar's unseemly behavior. Gurumayi has herself said that she had heard a few stories about Venkateshwar's behavior sporadically throughout the three years he was on Baba's chair. Out of love and respect for Baba, and because he had commanded Venkateshwar to sit on the Guru's chair, Gurumayi put a veil over her eyes and refused to believe the veracity of these rumors. She did, however, warn Venkateshwar many times to take heed of his actions and words, and to get back to the discipline Baba had taught him. When Venkateshwar had doubts about his Guruhood, and expressed the desire to resign, Gurumayi encouraged him not to doubt Baba's command because Baba's actions were impeccable. But Venkateshwar repeatedly ignored Gurumayi's advice.

When Gurumayi returned to Ganeshpuri Siddha Peeth in October, 1985, she gave a number of public talks in which she clearly warned people to open up their eyes and try to understand who the true Guru is, because she already foresaw that Venkateshwar's actions weren't leading to a good end. It was only later on during the celebrations in Ganeshpuri that Venkateshwar, as well as other people involved, finally admitted to all these actions.

Q. These events have brought about distrust for me. How do I trust Gurumayi? What is she and what isn't she?

A. Gurumayi has been faithful to Baba's command, and has pursued her sadhana thoroughly; and, as a result, has become the fit vehicle for Baba's shakti. This is why people continue to experience the truth of Siddha Yoga through her. However, some devotees who practice their sadhana and are loyal to their path have expressed doubts as a result of this event for the simple reason that they want Siddha Yoga to be pure. Siddha Yoga is pure, and this event has not created a dent in the teachings of Siddha Yoga. It is the greatness of our path that the power of the shakti will not allow an impure vehicle on the Guru's chair. Only someone who has merged with the Guru Principle and is totally pure can be the Guru, remain the Guru, and be a perfect channel for the power of the lineage.

Q. What about the accusations which have been made about Gurumayi and a few of the people close to her?

A. Many people in the Siddha Yoga community have received letters from Venkateshwar. The first letter was addressed to "Dear Gurubandhu" and signed "a member of Baba's spiritual family." This letter contains accusations concerning people who serve Gurumayi directly. The essence of these allegations is that "a gang of Americans headed by a criminal-minded person has been conspiring to wield power and authority over Baba's organization (and its spiritual head) so as to use it for their own ends."

These allegations are false. But they may create an atmosphere of doubt and fear in some people. Anyone who has concerns about Gurumayi's welfare should spend time with her and see for themselves that the only people close to her are those who work hard to carry out their seva. In any organization the size of ours, it is inevitable that some people will be entrusted with certain responsibilities. However, their authority always derives directly from the Guru. Baba used to say that "there have always been people throughout history who have attacked those who are close to great beings." To consider that anyone at all wields power over Gurumayi is to project a limited and dependent world view on to the Guru.

The second letter you have received is addressed to all SYDA devotees as a reply to Gurumayi's letter sent to you a few weeks ago. The essence of the allegations in this letter is that Gurumayi is breaking Baba's command by establishing herself as the sole successor. These allegations are also false. Baba did establish two successors but he always reminded us to use our discrimination. It was out of his own free will that Venkateshwar chose not to live up to the dharma of Guru and subsequently chose to retire. He was not coerced nor was his life ever threatened.

There's a good chance that you will receive other slanderous letters and you should realize that they are merely empty threats and lies. The important thing is to remain focused on your sadhana and not to let these things affect your practices and your experience of God's grace.