What are peoples opinions of Yoga groups that are considered Cults by Cult awareness groups, etc?
As Yoga practitioners & teachers would you recommend people to go to meetings/workshops with such groups or tell them though you do Yoga yourself what they are doing is very different and should be avoided like the plague? Should we distance ourselves from such groups as much as possible [I](much like a Christian Protestant or Catholic would distance themselves from a Mormon or Moonie-Unification Church), [/I]or merely say we do our thing, they do theirs and let people use their own judgement themselves if they want to get involved with them [I](though many intelligent people even using their own judgement aren’t fully aware of what they are getting into until they are really into it). [/I]
[B][U]Here are few such groups :[/U][/B]
Brahma Kumaris (Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University / Raja Yoga)
Siddha Yoga (Muktananda / Gurumayi Chidvilasananda)
Self Realization Fellowship (Paramahansa Yogananda)
Himalayan Institute of Yoga Science & Philosophy
Transcendental Meditation (based on Raja Yoga)
Elan Vital (Divine Light Mission)
Note - not my opinion all such groups are Cults though for some of them I would say they certainly are but it is a view shared by cult awareness groups that they are indeed cults & additionally all such groups have a lot of ex-members warning you all is not what it seems and they are indeed cults [I][in my opinion for example Sahaja Yoga is undeniably a Cult - you are gradually indoctrinated and not told anything like the full story when you first go to meetings, arranged marriages, rituals to banish demons, if you leave you are taught bad things will befall you, unquestioned loyalty and devotion to Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, ‘the cool breeze’ proof of spiritual energy, Shri Mataji quote - ‘‘Sahaja Yoga is different from other types of Yoga because it begins with self realization’’, etc]. [/I]
Here are just a few links that discuss the ‘Cult’ status of the afore mentioned groups :
[B]Sahaja Yoga [/B]- http://www.sahajacult.com/
[B]Siddha Yoga[/B] - http://leavingsiddhayoga.net/
[B]Brahma Kumaris [/B]- http://bkwatchers.wordpress.com/2008/10/13/Brahma-Kumaris-exposed/
[B]Self Realization Fellowship [/B]- http://oaks.nvg.org/fila.html
I’m sure there will be different opinions here regarding which of the above deserve the label - ‘Cult’ and which do not, though for certain many people regard all of the above as cults - cult awareness groups , general media coverage, ex-members, etc.
Most or nearly all of these groups do little physical Yoga exercises though some do, & there are also some Yoga groups that do a lot of physical exercising that are considered cults too. Worth noting too that though Brahma Kumaris claims to be Raja Yoga (‘the highest’) that does not obviously entail all Raja Yoga groups are Cults also. I’m sure some people may be thinking groups like Self Realization Fellowship, a cult no way - as they are well aware who Paramahansa Yogananda is (‘Autobiography of a Yogi’, etc) or see groups like Brahma Kumaris as harmless - though many people that have awareness of their teachings and practices view them as dangerous and definitely Cults.
Also worth noting that some people who do normal physical Yoga (Sivananda, Bikram, Iyengar, etc) which many incorporate some spiritual teachings or a philosophy you don’t have to believe in them and can just do purely physical Yoga if you wish as many do - and I’m aware of some people that do Yoga in classes physical exercises but then look to other groups such as SRF Self Realization Fellowship, Brahma Kumaris, etc for more spiritual religious awareness and teachings.