My Life @ Isha Yoga Center

I stayed at the Isha Yoga Center for a year as a full time volunteer. It has been an ordeal and mentally scarring. I have tried talking to some other monks there, especially the ones I knew while I was staying there but those talks have not been satisfactory, often they have disturbed me even more due to their responses.

I was refused bedding by Swami Suyagna (the HR monk). So for the initial almost 6 months I was staying without any pillow, bedsheet from the ashram. I slept on a straw mat, with a thin sheet I had got from home. In the winters I couldn't sleep cause I kept shivering at night. I was alone in a room with tamilians many from villages. All English speaking volunteers had much better accommodations and facilities.

At my work area (temple) I was insulted, ignored, pushed around and rudely made fun of in my face. Monks who were in silence they did not speak, would come to the lotus stand and tell my coworker that I was crazy via sign language, for no reason I could fathom. So effectively there was no way for me to talk about my accommodation nightmares there.

On numerous occasions Swami Suyagna, Swami Udhava, Swami Shwetaketu, Rajarathinam and many other prominent, administrative people of the ashram stressed on the fact that the ashram was a place to 'work'. Not once did anyone suggest I do more sadhana. To the extent that I was even explicitly told that my practices were expendable but work was not by these people, and that working would be better a sadhna for me than my practices.

I am from one of the poshest areas of Mumbai, having studied in one of the best colleges in India. Moreover I had come to the ashram after talking to Sadhguru and he having really encouraged me to come. I had informed this explicitly to Swami Suyagna, yet no bedding, no better accommodations and no reasons for denying the same.

Despite not being in the temple team, whenever I went to the temple after dinner, I was still expected to join the work. So much so that I have been asked to get up when meditating and made to work by Swami Adirupa many, many times. Even if I said no, I was forced. The work would usually include washing the Teerthakund Bathrooms.

Effectively I was bullied into work for more than 10 hrs a day, 7 days a week for months. I barely had any time to sit in the temple, less yoga practices and no Silence break (I asked for silence but was refused by Swami Suyagna).

Things came to a hilt when I was eve-teased by a senior monk (sanyasi) there, when I was alone in the dining room. Many people there have complained that the monks flirt a lot, but as yet I had not come across such physical misbehavior!
What made this incident worse was not having anyone to speak to within the organization due to the above 'treatment'. The idea of complaining to my family back in Mumbai was something I did not think, partly due to shock and partly because I could not conceptualize such a thing. Definitely I have since then been wary of the safety of women in that place due to the monks.

Finally it was only through Sadhguru's intervention (I wrote him a letter which got passed through to him), that I was given some respite. He told me to stop most of my work and spend loads of time meditating in the temple, doing practices etc... Despite this I was told by many monks and senior volunteers to 'disregard Sadhguru and keep working.'

He (Sadhguru) kept going out of his way to speak to me and make me feel at home there, even talking to me in Gujarati, however the admin was still a nightmare.

This made me realize that being at the ashram seems to be more of a matter of garnering the administrations support rather than having Sadhguru's support. Moreover fighting and having an aggressive disposition seems essential cause otherwise one just gets completely walked over by Monks!

Going to a globally known NGO to help them with their work has gotten me these extremely disturbing experiences. They have made me aware of discrimination, bullying and abuse being rampant and done by its admin in one of India's most respected spiritual organizations.

Jai Ho!

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