In other yoga news: Bikram accused of rape in pair of lawsuits

OK, enough folks are picking this up that it seems legitimately out there.

According to Courthouse News Service, Bikram Choudhury has been accused of raping two students in their separate lawsuits filed this week. Both are using the same lawyer. Here’s a link to the story, which has all the salacious details you could want.

These suits follow another filed back in March in which a student claimed Bikram made unwanted sexual advances on her. That plaintiff has been named: Sarah Baughn. The two students in these new suits are unnamed as they are victims of alleged rape.

Bikram Yoga College of India also is named in the suits. The suits were filed on Monday and Tuesday of this week.

So why pass this on? Well, we do try to keep you informed of major yoga news stories as well as more minor Ashtanga ones. We think it is useful to be aware of what’s going on in the wider yoga world, even if it is just so you can be an informed yoga practitioner. (But also so you don’t get blindsided by a friend with news you ought to have known!)

In Bikram’s case, in particular, the dynamic of the guru is so front and center that it is hard to ignore when such news happens. (Not to mention there is the whole string of other yoga teachers who have had some sort of “fall.” Not to say Bikram has fallen yet. These are just accusations.)

And you may have noticed the comment made on our last post, about how people are getting fanatical about Sharath. So I don’t think the whole guru thing isn’t relevant to Ashtanga. While I’ve heard overwhelmingly positive stories about Guruji, we all know some people didn’t react well to him. Problems evolving from the guru-student relationship happen so much it feels like it’s almost enough to say, “It’s natural.” One follows someone, trusts them, and that can either grow in good or bad ways.

The reason to keep people informed of when it does go wrong is to help others not get swept up into something that doesn’t serve them. It’s part of that discriminating mind we’ve talked about. It is important to surrender, to see what that is about and what the effects are, but it is equally important to maintain a sense of right and wrong.

The history of gurus seems to suggest that sense can get lost — as it can with lots of things.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

9 thoughts on “In other yoga news: Bikram accused of rape in pair of lawsuits”

  1. I saw you mentioned JF on your FB post… I am no JF apologist or even fan, but what did he do again? Had consensual sex with some married women right? Along with (gasp) smoked pot and a couple questionable business decisions… To equate what he did to the apparant pure evil of what Bikram is being accused of is just way way off base. Just wanted to put that out there. Not all “scandals” are created equal.

    1. Agreed; I was trying to emphasize the repeated tendency of this. Also, JF and Bikram are probably the two biggest yoga teachers in America. (Right?)

      And I might actually say that while I probably agree with you that JF’s “crimes” are not as serious as these allegations, we can consider him “guilty.” He admitted to things. We still don’t know anything except lawsuits have been filed.

      Also, I’m sure there are arguments to be made that the sex wasn’t exactly consensual, given the guru/student relationship — that of course is one of the central issues here.

      But no, not all scandals are created equal. But it could end up being that JF’s is worse — if it is the only one that’s true.


  2. Richard Freeman has some great thoughts on the guru/student relationship in the chapter “Cutting Through Fundamentalism” in his book “The Mirror of Yoga”.

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