The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recently investigated the period in the 1970s and 1980s when shocking levels of abuse were deeply entrenched in the Satyananda Yoga ashram at Mangrove Mountain (Australia). Case Study 21 of the Royal Commission provided a critical cultural analysis of the practices and values held by Satyananda Yoga that served to foster, as well as mask, the abuse. The Commission concluded that Swami Satyananda Saraswati (b. 1923, d. 2009), the founding guru, had overarching authority at the Mangrove Mountain ashram (and its centres) in his role as head of Satyananda Yoga worldwide.
The Mangrove Mountain ashram, renamed the Academy of Yoga Science, has recently engaged in a reparation process, which reached a ‘Settlement Agreement’ that has resulted in the payment of compensation to the survivors of child sexual abuse at this ashram. However, multiple philosophical, ideological and pedagogical matters, which were highlighted by the Royal Commission as systemic at an institutional level, remain unresolved. The current head of Satyananda Yoga, Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati (b. 1960), has yet to engage in the evaluation of practices that were deemed problematic and unsafe. This article aims to highlight the potential risks that remain within the Satyananda Yoga institution as a result of this leadership silence.