What ‘Christian’ Leaders Say
ALSO SEE The Message of the Bible and The Warning of The Bible
Info at a Glance
Description: Eastern gurus constitute a large class of Hindu occultists who have come to America to spread the teachings of Hinduism, especially its necessary spiritual practices for achieving enlightenment.
Founder: Different schools of Hinduism have different founders. Shankara (9th C. A.D.) founded the advaita school, which is the teaching of most Hindu gurus in America.
How does it claim to work? Through practices such as altered states of consciousness, meditation, and yoga, disciples are told they will achieve a form of spiritual "enlightenment" and thereby realize their true nature as being one essence with the highest Hindu God, Brahman.
Examples of occult potential: Psychic development, spirit contact, and possession. The gurus accept a wide variety of occult practices.
Major Problems: The gurus’ claims to represent, or incarnate, God and to offer higher forms of spirituality, which they say are desperately needed in the West, is contradicted by their teachings. Collectively, the gurus are a powerful vehicle for spreading dangerous forms of pagan spirituality and practice in America.
Biblical/Christian evaluation: Despite their claims to represent God or Jesus, and to not contradict Christian belief, the gurus’ teachings and practices are implicitly hostile to biblical theology and instruction.
Potential Dangers: Social withdrawal, moral compromise, psychological damage, demonization.
Note: You can find out more about the goals and practices of the eastern gurus in The Facts on Hinduism in America. (See the On-line Product Catalog.)
What Eastern Gurus Say About Occult Practices Part 1
In earlier articles we examined some of the associations between Eastern religion and Satanism/witchcraft. Now we bring our concerns closer to home by examining the beliefs of some popular American gurus. Among Eastern gurus as a whole, occult practices are widely accepted. Typically, they include not only various forms of spiritism but also astrology, magic, sorcery, necromancy, development of psychic abilities, shamanistic practices, the transferal of occult power in initiation (shaktipat diksha), etc.
As veteran researcher Brooks Alexander observes of Rajneesh, Muktananda, and Sai Baba:
All of these gurus espouse a similar philosophy, and they all turn it into practice in a similar way. It is a pattern that we find not only in tantra (Indo-Tibetan occultism), but in European satanism, antinomian gnosticism, and ancient pagan sorcery as well. 
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, for example, states that witchcraft constitutes "one of the greatest possibilities of human growth." 
Part of the disciples’ required obedience to the guru is to follow the guru’s sadhana, or spiritual path. By definition, this places a person on the path of occultism. In fact, psychic powers and spiritism are to be expected.  For example, spirit contact frequently occurs with what are believed to be various Hindu deities, "nature" spirits, or the guru himself after death (or even while alive via his alleged "spiritual form." Thus, Muktananda tells his students they will encounter various Hindu gods and other spirits as well as the alleged dead. 
Paramahansa Yogananda’s spiritual autobiography, Autobiography of a Yogi, is replete with occult experiences: astral projection, psychometry, astrology, psychic healing, spiritistic materializations and apportations, amulets, etc.  For example, Yogananda teaches,
"True spiritualism [mediumism] is a wonderful science.... It is possible by meditation and spiritual [occult] development to contact departed loved ones." 
The text Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on Occultism claims that true occultism is "dynamic spirituality... an indispensable instrument along the spiritual path."  Aurobindo and the "Mother" emphasize that "to talk about occult things is of little value; one must experience them." 
Our research into some two dozen of the major gurus revealed that many of them were, in fact, possessed (defined as God possession or spirit possession, but not demon possession) and that their spiritual paths were often designed to lead to spirit possession, defined as a form of higher spirituality or enlightenment.
Thus, because Eastern gurus constitute a class of occultists, they, too, are familiar with the territory and warn of the hazards of occult practices. For example, medium Sri Chinmoy, a spiritual "adviser" at the United Nations, states:
Many, many black magicians and people who deal with spirits have been strangled or killed. I know because I have been near quite a few of these cases. 
He refers to deceptive spirits who will impersonate a person’s guru in visions and urge disciples to commit suicide. He also mentions several people who died from yogic breathing exercises. 
Meher Baba warned about the possibility of death or insanity from the Eastern path and, in fact, like other shamans, believed insanity was evidence of higher spirituality; he also accepted the possibility of suicide as a form of liberation, if it was done with the "proper" motive. 
Regardless, like psychic counselors in general, the gurus usually teach that given proper instruction and technique, occultism is safe. This is a bit ironic because most gurus have characteristically experienced a terrible insanity/possession on their own road to so-called "enlightenment." Meher Baba himself was seriously insane for a time; so were popular gurus Ramakrishna, Muktananda, Prabhupada, Rudrananda, Nityananda, Da Free John, and many others. 
Note for example the following description of events relating to Muktananda’s own spiritual enlightenment, a path he endorses for his disciples. During so-called kundalini arousal [See article on Kundalini], such experiences may last for months or even years, in which case a protracted insanity and/or demonization must be endured. We quote at length so the reader may have a better understanding of the frightening reality that is frequently involved on the Eastern path. In Muktananda’s own words:
I was assailed by all sorts of perverse and defiling emotions. My body started to move, and went on like this in a confused sort of way.... After a time, my breathing changed, becoming disturbed. Sometimes my abdomen would swell with air, after which I would exhale it with great force. Often the breath that I took in would be held inside me. I became more and more frightened... my mind was sick with fear....
My thoughts became confused, meaningless. My limbs and body got hotter and hotter. My head felt heavy, and every pore in me began to ache. When I breathed out, my breath stopped outside. When I breathed in, it stopped inside. This was terribly painful and I lost my courage. Something told me that I would die at any moment.... I could not understand what was happening, how it was happening, who was making it happen....
By now it was after 9:00. Someone had seated himself in my eyes and was making me see things.... It seemed that I was being controlled by some power which made me do all these things. My intellect was completely unstable.... I heard hordes of people screaming frightfully... and saw strange creatures from six to fifty feet tall, neither demons nor demigods, but human in form, dancing naked, their mouths gaping open. Their screeching was horrible and apocalyptic.... An army of ghosts and demons surrounded me. All the while I was locked tight in the lotus posture, my eyes closed, my chin pressed down against my throat so that no air could escape.
Then I felt a searing pain.... I wanted to run away, but my legs were locked tight in the lotus posture. I felt as if my legs had been nailed down permanently in this position. My arms were completely immobilized....
Then, from over the water, a moonlike sphere about four feet in diameter came floating in. It stopped in front of me. This radiant, white ball struck against my eyes and then passed inside me. I am writing this just as I saw it. It is not a dream or an allegory, but a scene which actually happened—that sphere came down from the sky and entered me.... My tongue curled up against my palate, and my eyes closed. I saw a dazzling light in my forehead and I was terrified. I was still locked in the lotus posture, and then my head was forced down and glued to the ground....
I started to make a sound like a camel, which alternated with the roaring of a tiger. I must have roared very loudly, for the people around actually thought that a tiger had gotten into the sugarcane field....
I am in a terrible state. I have gone completely insane. You may not be able to see it from the outside, but, inside, I am crazy.... My body began to twist.... Now, it was not I who meditated; meditation forced itself on me. It came spontaneously; it was in all the joints of my body. Then, suddenly, a red light came before me with such force that it seemed to have been living inside me. It was two feet tall and shone brightly....
Every part of my body was emitting loud crackling and popping sounds....
At this time, I understood nothing about the various experiences....
Only afterward did I learn that they were all part of the process pertaining to [spiritual enlightenment].... People who have experienced it call it the awakening of the Kundalini. The experiences I had had under the mango trees were due to the grace of my Gurudev Nityananda; they were all his prasad [blessing]....
Sometimes I would jump and hop like a frog, and sometimes my limbs would shake violently as though shaken by a deity. And this was what was actually happening; a great deity in the form of my guru had spread all through me as Chiti [consciousness], and was shaking me with his inner Shakti [power]....
The power of the guru’s grace enters the disciple’s body in a subtle form and does many great things.... Every day I had meditation like that. Sometimes my body would writhe and twist like a snake’s, and a hissing sound would come from inside me....
Sometimes my neck moved so violently that it made loud cracking sounds, and I became frightened.... I had many astonishing movements like this. Sometimes my neck would roll my head around so vigorously that it would bend right below my shoulders so that I could see my back. When the intensity lessened, I became peaceful again. But because I did not understand these kriyas [spontaneous yoga movements], I was always worried and afraid. Later, however, I learned that this was a Hatha Yoga process effected by the Goddess Kundalini in order for Her to move up through the spinal column into the sahasrara [upper psychic center]. 
See Kundalini and The Ancient Hindu custom of Shaktipat or Divine Touch
Unfortunately being "slain in the spirit" and "holy laughter" are only two more examples of doctrine that has been directly derived from occult sources... best illustrated by comparing the experiences and behavior of the people at Toronto, Brownsville, Lakeland and countless other Charismatic a churches with disciples of Hindu gurus, who have had a spiritual "power" or Kundalini awakening conferred on them. What is truly alarming is that the requirements for receiving are the same, the methods of transmissions are the same and the physical manifestations are the same.
Also Note Kundalini can be awakened by attaining perfection of certain hatha yoga postures called asanas [Dhyanivision. Shaktipat Initiation..Awakening The Kundalini. http://dhyanivision.org/path.aspx# Click on tab Shaktipat Initiation Awakening The Kundalini
Thus, as is true in some forms of Western mysticism, the Hindu path endorsed by the Eastern gurus offers the possibility of temporary insanity and outright spirit possession, together defined as expressions of one’s emerging spiritual "enlightenment." Unfortunately, Western gurus who imitate the East are not more encouraging. Ram Dass once said that psychosis is "far out" and that mental hospitals are "groovy ashrams."  The deceptions, follies, and other consequences of his own spiritual path are detailed in books such as Grist for the Mill.  Further, the "ascended masters" (spirits) who speak through "Guru Ma" (Elizabeth Claire Prophet) of the Church Universal and Triumphant admit that their spiritual instructions have caused the premature death of some students. 
What Eastern Gurus Say About Occult Practices - Part 2
Insanity or death [See Part 1] is not the only hallmark of what Eastern practices can offer sincere Western seekers. Possession is another. As we saw, Muktananda obviously was possessed by something, and most gurus admit to spiritistic influences and/or possession. Like mediums in general, they also attempt to make a distinction between "good" (i.e., voluntary) possession and evil (obsessional, involuntary) possession.
The Western Hindu sect of Da (Bubba) Free John and the Dawn Horse Community provides an example of deliberately cultivated possession for purposes of supposed spiritual enlightenment. Again, members do not view this as demonic possession (something evil or dangerous), but rather as God possession (that which is spiritually uplifting and safe). Thus, what is really demonic possession is now reinterpreted as divine possession. Some quotes by Free John show the results:
There is no madness like the madness of real freedom in God. 
Motherhood is just a binding archetype... and it binds you. It is an illusion. Giving birth is no more Divine than taking a crap.... Motherhood is garbage. Children are garbage. It is all garbage. It is all distraction. 
Morality is referred to as "the usual moralistic horse..." and his spiritual community had "marriages abruptly ripped to shreds"  because:
Spiritual life is leading to the absolute undermining of your separate existence absolutely. 
One of the secrets of spiritual life is continually to violate your own contracts [e.g., personal morality, standards, marriage bonds, etc.]. If you do that with intelligence, with understanding, you will continually be free. 
Possession, as in the following examples, was commonplace. Note that these people did not originally seek to become possessed; it resulted simply from joining the cult. The following examples only convey a small portion of the reality described.
Bubba’s eyes rolled up, and his lips pulled into a sneer. His hands formed mudras [yogic positions] as he slumped against Sal, who also fell back against other devotees sitting behind him. Almost immediately, many of those present began to feel the effects of intensified Shakti [spiritual power], through the spontaneous internal movement of the life-force. Their bodies jerked or shook, their faces contorted, some began to cry, scream, and moan. The whole bathhouse seemed to have slipped into another world.... I saw Bubba just enter into Sal, just go right into Sal. From there he went out over everybody else, and then everybody else started going crazy. Sal fell onto me, into my lap, and then everybody else started howling and so forth.  See Kundalini and The Ancient Hindu custom of Shaktipat or Divine Touch
In a later incident:
Then he turned to me, looked at me, and said, "You remember the agreement we made?" I said, "Yeah." So then he said, "Are you ready?" And I told him, "Yes," I was. At that point he entered the body completely, down to the cells, I could feel the entry taking place. It is a form of possession, only not by anything demonic, but by the guru. It is almost like anesthesia, or like a form of radiation. After the entry was complete, he put his head against mine, and went into a yogic process, and we drifted out of the body altogether. 
We started having Satsang [spiritual teaching] and the Force was manifesting through me. It was really strong. My hands and my feet were both manifesting the Force, and everyone in the room was freaking out. It was coming through my eyes too. I remember looking at one girl and not having any control. I didn’t want to do this to anybody.... I felt utterly possessed, my body was possessed, and my hands started to move, and I couldn’t control them. I had no control at all. My face started taking on expressions. 
Then Sal began to speak. The intensity rose: animal sounds, screams, kriyas. It was difficult to hear what was being said. The fear of insanity. The rain got harder, the wind rose.... People were screaming and howling and weeping, emitting strange grunts and snarls, their bodies jerking, writhing and assuming yogic mudras.  See Kundalini and The Ancient Hindu custom of Shaktipat or Divine Touch
Then Bubba put his hand on the top of my head and I felt the Divine Force, literally, this tremendous Light and Force, coming down and filling my whole body, consuming me, as if it was turning every part of me inside out. The Force of the Divine was so great, my body assumed tremendous force, there was this tremendous expansion of the chest, much more than I could probably ever attempt to do, and of the arms. It was as if I were fighting something, and I literally was. It was my psyche being ripped out. I was very reluctant, and I was holding on, and so the Divine Force was actually pulling it out from the top of my head. It was coming down and the psyche was trying to... it was like being exorcised. It was almost unbearable, but it was never painful. It’s just tremendous intensity. At that point I felt the psyche being drawn out. I knew that my marriage had dissolved. I also knew that my ordinary life, my coming from the ordinary point of view had absolutely dissolved. I knew there was nothing but the Divine.... I felt twitches, you know, like my mind was being dissolved at this time. Again it was very intense. It was so intense I kept pushing his hand like I wanted it and needed it on top of my head. And I pressed against his forehead. I felt like the top of my brain was being ripped off, and I needed more force to deal with this. Then the assumed region of my mind started to dissolve, literally dissolve. 26
What Eastern Gurus Say About Occult Practices - Part 3
Perhaps the most common practice advanced by Eastern occultism is some form of yoga and/or meditation. In our critique of New Age medicine, Can You Trust Your Doctor?, we have documented the multiple dangers of most meditation practice. Here, we will concentrate on yoga.
Although many Americans practice yoga as mere exercise, few have any idea of where such practice may take them. In the literature we have read numerous accounts of yoga or meditation-induced insanity and demonization even from seemingly innocent practice. But again, the altered states that yoga/meditation produce—even the periods of madness— are now frequently defined as positive spiritual experiences capable of leading one to religious enlightenment. 
For example, that yoga practice can break down the mind and body is not surprising. The true goal of yoga is to destroy the person (who is only a false self, an illusion) so that the impersonal Brahman (the alleged real self) may be experienced.
Yoga authorities Fuernstein and Miller identify "the Yogic path as a progressive dismantling of human personality ending in a complete abolition. With every step (anga) of Yoga, what we call ‘man’ is demolished a little more." 
Moti Lal Pandit observes:
The aim of Yoga is to realize liberation from the human condition. To achieve this liberation, various psychological, physical, mental, and mystical [occult] methods have been devised. All those methods are anti-social (sometimes even anti-human) in that Yoga prescribes a way of life which says: "This mortal life is not worth living." 
Because yoga is ultimately an occult practice (e.g., it characteristically develops psychic abilities), it is not unexpected that the characteristic hazards of occult practice — for example, physical diseases, mental illness, and demonization  —could be encountered. We believe that these hazards are encountered because yoga is an occult practice and not because yoga is allegedly performed in an incorrect manner.
Most people (including most Western medical doctors) wrongly assume that yoga is harmless. They rarely consider yoga per se as relevant to any illnesses they may encounter in their patients. But we are convinced that many perplexing physical conditions, including some deaths, are related to yoga. For example, Swami Prabhavananda warns about the dangers of yogic breathing exercises:
Now we come to breathing exercises. Let me caution you: they can be very dangerous. Unless properly done, there is a good chance of injuring the brain. And those who practice such breathing without proper supervision can suffer a disease which no known science or doctor can cure. It is impossible even for a medical person to diagnose such an illness. 
Shree Purohit Swami’s commentary on Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras warns:
In India and Europe, I came across some three hundred people who suffered permanently from wrong practices. The doctors, upon examination, found there was nothing organically wrong and consequently could not prescribe [treatment]. 
Perhaps such phenomena explains, in part, why many yoga authorities openly confess the dangers of yoga practice. As noted, these dangers are often said to arise from "wrong" methods. But, in fact, no one has ever objectively identified the specific mechanics of "correct" or "incorrect" yoga; "incorrect" yoga practice in one tradition is often "correct" practice in another. 
Below we cite some of the hazards of yoga as noted by yoga authorities.
United Nations spiritual adviser and spiritist  Sri Chinmoy, author of Yoga and the Spiritual Life, observes: "To practice pranayama [yogic breath control] without real guidance is very dangerous. I know of three persons who have died from it." 
Yoga authority Hans-Ulrich Rieker admonishes in The Yoga of Light: "Yoga is not a trifling jest if we consider that any misunderstanding in the practice of yoga can mean death or insanity," and that in kundalini yoga, if the breath or prana is "prematurely exhausted [exhaled] there is immediate danger of death for the yogi." 
Gopi Krishna, another yoga authority, also warns of the possible dangers of yoga practice, including "drastic effects" on the central nervous system and the possibility of death. 
The standard authority on hatha yoga, The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (Chapter 2, verse 15), cautions: "Just as lions, elephants, and tigers are tamed, so the prana [breath; actually prana is the alleged divine energy underlying the breath] should be kept under control. Otherwise it can kill the practitioner." 
Hindu master Sri Krishna Prem cautions in The Yoga of the Bhagavat Gita: "As stated before, nothing but dangerous, mediumistic psychisms or neurotic dissociations of personality can result from the practice of [yoga] meditation without the qualifications mentioned at the end of the last chapter."  He warns, "To practice it, as many do, out of curiosity... is a mistake which is punished with futility, neurosis, or worse [‘even insanity itself’]." 
Swami Prabhavananda’s Yoga and Mysticism lists brain injury, incurable diseases, and insanity as potential hazards of wrong yoga practice;  Ulrich-Rieker lists cancer of the throat, all sorts of ailments, blackouts, strange trance states, or insanity from even "the slightest mistake." 
In The Seven Schools of Yoga, Ernest Wood warns of "the imminent risk of most serious bodily disorder, disease, and even madness." 
In conclusion, those who practice the occultism of the East also warn of its dangers. This is why those who seek the so-called "wisdom from the East" frequently get more than they bargained for.
1 Brooks Alexander, "Book Review: Riders of the Cosmic Circuit," in SCP Journal, Vol. 7, No. 1, 1987, p. 39.
2 Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in Swami Ananda Yarti, The Sound of Running Water: A Photobiography of Bhagwan Sri Rajneesh and His Work 1974-1978 (Poona, India: Poona Rajneesh Foundation, 1980), p. 364.
3 Daniel Goleman, "The Buddha on Meditation and States of Consciousness" in Charles Tart, ed., Transpersonal Psychologies (New York: Harper Colophon Books, 1977), p. 218.
4 Swami Muktananda, Play of Consciousness (New York: Harper & Row, 1978), pp. xxiii, 155-161.
5 Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi (Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1972), pp. 16, 55-57, 132, 137, 190, 475-79.
6 Paramahansa Yogananda, "Where Are Our Departed Loved Ones?" in Self-Realization Magazine, Spring 1978, pp. 6-7.
7 Sri Aumbindo and the Mother on Occultism, compiled by Vijay (Pondicherry, India: Sri Aurobindo Society, 1972), p. 17.
8 Sri Aurobindo, A Practical Guide to Integral Yoga, compiled by Manishai (Pondicherry, India: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1973), p. 273.
9 Sri Chinmoy, Astrology, the Supernatural and the Beyond (Jamaica, NY: Agni Press, 1973), p. 62.
10 Ibid., p. 94, and Chinmoy, Great Masters and Cosmic Gods (Jamaica, NY: Agni Press, 1977), p. 8.
11 Meher Baba, The Path of Love (New York: Samuel Weiser, 1976), pp. 44,64,138; C. D. Deshmukh, Sparks of the Truth From the Dissertations of Meher Baba (Crescent Beach, SC: Sheriar, 1973), p. 45; Meher Baba, Listen Humanity, D. E. Stevens, ed. (New York: Harper & Row, 1967), p. 100.
12 John Weldon, Eastern Gurus in a Western Milieu: A Critique From the Perspective of Biblical Revelation, Ph.D. dissertation. Pacific College of Graduate Studies, Melbourne Victoria, Australia, 1988.
13 Swami Muktananda, Play of Consciousness (New York: Harper & Row, 1978), pp. 75-81, 84-85, 88-89.
14 Ram Dass, The Only Dance There Is (Garden City, NY: Anchor, 1974), pp. 74-75.
15 Ram Dass, Grist for the Mill (New York: Bantam, 1979).
16 Serapis Bey, Dossier on the Ascension, recorded by Mark L. Prophet (Los Angeles: Summit University Press, 1979), p. 167.
17 Bubba Free John, Garbage and the Goddess (Lower Lake, CA: Dawn Horse Press, 1974), p. 154.
18 Ibid., pp. 119-120.
19 Ibid., p. 4.
21 Ibid., p. 20.
22 Ibid., pp. 47-48.
23 Ibid., pp. 48-49.
24 Ibid., p. 263.
25 Ibid., pp. 71-73.
26Ibid., p. 82.
27Tal Brooke, Riders of the Cosmic Circuit (Lion Publishing, 1986), passim.
28 Georg Feuernstein and Jeanine Miller, Yoga and Beyond: Essays in Indian Philosophy (New York: Schocken, 1972), p. 8.
29 Moti Lal Pandit, "Yoga As Methods of Liberation," in Update: A Quarterly Journal on New Religious Movements (Aarhus, Denmark: The Dialogue Center, Vol. 9, No. 4, Dec. 1985), p. 41.
30 John Ankerberg, John Weldon, The Facts on the Occult and The Facts on Spirit Guides (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1991)
31 Swami Prabhavananda, Yoga and Mysticism (Hollywood, CA: Vedanta Press, 1972), pp. 18-19.
32 Bhagwan Shree Patanjali, Aphorisms of Yoga, trans. Shree Purohit Swami (London: Faber and Faber, 1972), pp. 56-57.
33 Ernest Wood, Seven Schools of Yoga: An Introduction (Wheaton IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), pp. 77, 79.
34 Sri Chinmoy, Astrology, the Supernatural and the Beyond (Jamaica, NY: Agni Press, 1973), pp. 53-68,87-89; Sri Chinmoy, Conversations with the Master (Jamaica, NY: Agni Press, 1977), pp. 9-20,26-33.
35 Sri Chinmoy, Great Masters and the Cosmic Gods (Jamaica, NY: Agni Press, 1977), p. 8.
36 Hans Ulrich-Rieker, The Yoga of Light: Hatha Yoga Pradipika (New York: Seabury Press, 1971), pp. 9,134.
37 Gopi Krishna, "The True Aim of Yoga," Psychic, January-February, 1973, p. 13.
38 Ulrich-Rieker, The Yoga of Light, p. 79.
39 Sri Krishna Prem, The Yoga of the Bhagavat Gita (Baltimore, MD: Penguin, 1973), pp. xv.
40 Ibid., p. 47.
41 Prabhavananda, Yoga and Mysticism, pp. 18-19.
42 Ulrich-Rieker, The Yoga of Light, pp. 30, 79, 96, 111-112.
43 Wood, Seven Schools, p. 14.