Sat Chit Ananda Guru Ki Jay.
When I first heard of Sadguru Kedarji and this offering, “trust” was not the first word that came to mind, nor did I have any idea what a Guru was.
In fact, I was first introduced to the concept of a Guru back in 2010 by my old best friend. She and I had a falling out in 1999, during a time when she was extremely depressed, in an abusive relationship, refusing to take responsibility for her life, and blaming her circumstances on others.
Fast forward 11 years. I received a friend request on Facebook from this same individual who looked exactly the same—but had clearly changed her name to something completely unrecognizable. Both hesitant and curious, I accepted her request, and we rekindled our old friendship by chatting through social media, email, and phone for several weeks.
During these chats she told me about this spiritual path she had followed for the past 6 years. She had a Guru and lived in an ashram. She mentioned phrases I did not understand, like “serving” the Guru, receiving “Shaktipat,” and teachings of “Shaivism.” I had to Google what felt like every third word she wrote to even attempt to gain an understanding of what was going on in her life at that time.
Reviewing some websites she said would provide more information, I read names like “Bhagawan Nityananda,” “Muktananda,” and “Shiva,” who were part of the Guru’s lineage. Coming across even more terms, phrases, and concepts that made no sense to me at that time, I learned that these terms were written in Sanskrit, the oldest Indo-European language from which other languages are derived.
My friend explained that she legally changed her name to her “spiritual name” so that she could let go of the life she once lived, and the person she once was. She said that, at her request, her Guru (Sadguru Kedarji) had given her this new name, but she made the choice to legally and permanently use it.
Throughout these back-and-forth conversations, it seemed like she could not write more than 2 or 3 sentences without mentioning her Guru, and attributing her entire new life and lifestyle to “the Guru’s Grace.” She seemed completely obsessed with this Guru.
Quickly, I became convinced of only one thing: She’s in a cult. She was in a bad situation 6, 7, and 8 years ago that made her the perfect target for a cult, and now this Guru has her hooked. She doesn’t even realize it.
Despite all these odd terms thrown at me and chatter about the Guru, I noticed one main, irrefutable difference in her: she was happy—truly happy—and neither I nor anyone or anything else could shake that. All that anger, depression, blame, and haughtiness that she had both exhibited and attracted the last time I saw her 11 years ago seemed to have completely dissolved. She was a completely different person—more radiant and joyful than I had ever known her to be in over 20 years.
So, why was “cult” the first answer that came into my mind?
Well, look around you. There are so many different “spiritual teachers,” “enlightened masters,” and so-called “gurus” who have misled, or even harmed people. They have preyed on individuals’ vulnerability for their own personal gain, and/or to put themselves on a pedestal due to their egos. I won’t name names, because it’s not important to do so. These “false gurus” reasons that lead to misleading or abusive situations are the same in each situation.
Some characteristics of a false guru:
- False gurus believe they can teach without ever having followed a true Guru of their own. (This is equivalent to a doctor saying he/she can practice medicine without ever having gone to medical school.)
- Rather than sharing from their own attainment, they teach popular perceptions of what people want to hear. (This would be like a math professor telling you not to worry about those pesky calculus formulas, that you can use whatever formula you like to find an answer, and still get an A on your test, regardless of whether the answer is correct or not.)
False spiritual gurus are thriving, because more and more in this era, people want a notion of God that conforms to their limiting beliefs, tendencies, and desires.
For instance, there is a documentary about a supposed guru who built a huge following about 35 or 40 years ago. There were centers (some which still exist today) devoted to him, his teachings, and his meditations. Part of his “meditations” consisted of frequent and rampant, unrestrained sex among followers. He also taught very vague concepts.
For example, to attain “enlightenment,” one had to do nothing other than realize everything is beautiful and as it should be. While this individual taught, sold books, collected devotees, and ordered communes to be built, he simultaneously declared that in order to meditate (which seemed to be the solution for tendencies like anger and unhappiness), one needs no guidance—only personal centering and intuition.
He attracted people who were prosperous and intelligent. He attracted celebrities, attorneys, scientists, professionals, students, and blue-collar workers, to name a few. This person became a decorated multi-millionaire who flaunted his personal wealth, and yet, spent his most lucrative years in silence, teaching his followers nothing.
Although he wrote many books—to include his interpretation of quotes and passages from various sacred texts of different well-known religions—he never had a Master himself. He fostered a group mentality that his followers were superior, free, self-sufficient, and happy, and that they were setting an example that others should emulate. These devotees described that they lived in a perfect “Shangri-La,” where everything was shared and greed did not exist. Who wouldn’t want this carefree lifestyle?
At the same time, however, this person and his group—in quite a contrary fashion—attempted to gain more and more political power in local and state elections, using whatever means necessary, to include corruption and attempted mass murder. When there were individuals outside this group who were in opposition to, and who threatened the group’s rise to power, people within the group poisoned entire towns to prevent them from voting.
They brought in busloads of homeless people from around the country to register them to vote, under the guise that they were serving a common societal good. After this imported mass of people were declined the ability to vote, the group then abandoned the homeless people, kicking them out of the commune and leaving many of them on the side of the road in nearby towns that did not have the resources to accommodate them.
When the activities of the group triggered multiple criminal investigations up to a federal level, people with higher positions within the group were charged with a multitude of crimes, and the leader essentially turned against them to paint himself as an innocent victim; until he, too, was taken into custody.
In another example several years later, a different famous ‘teacher’ (with centers around the world) created a path that claimed people could experience spiritual enlightenment while embracing a modern lifestyle that thrived on monetary gain. Once again—spiritually enlightened AND rich? Who could turn that down?
However, former followers describe some practices that could only be defined as controlling, coercive, and manipulative. For example, every morning, followers were required to repeat specific exercises combined with phrases (e.g. “To be free is to have nothing”) approximately 400 times per day, up to 100,000 repetitions over time.
One individual in the group described that his role was to select movies for the leader to watch, and he would spend up to 10 hours per week reviewing and summarizing movies. If he chose a movie that the leader did not like, he would get in trouble, which meant that he was required to spend hundreds of dollars’ worth of flowers and gift baskets for the leader, spend an exorbitant amount of time writing apology letters, and speak with his spiritual peers to find ways in which he was lacking.
The leader himself later admitted that what he taught had nothing to do with anything objective, and that his teachings came from his own ego, feelings, personal preferences, fears, and desires.
He claimed that what qualified him to be a teacher was that during a visit to India, he had a spiritual realization while with a teacher, and then began teaching his own idea of a Utopian vision, which attracted followers. He stated that it felt “thrilling” to become a spiritual teacher and hold a position to inspire people in a way to which they felt drawn. Ultimately, his intention was self-grandiosity.
With that being said, what sets Sadguru Kedarji and this path apart? One word: Tests.
In His autobiography, Vibration of Divine Consciousness, Sadguru Kedarji Himself states that you should never trust a spiritual Master blindly, and should always test the Master in the laboratory of your own existence.
These tests should be based on your own experiences, the quality of those experiences, and whether or not they deepen over time by following the instruction of that Master. He has also made the same statement over and over again in public programs.
Several months later, I traveled to meet Sadguru Kedarji in person. On the first evening I sat in a program, completely convinced that this was all a scam, something happened that was not only completely unexpected, but was also so powerful, I could neither deny it occurred or fully comprehend it at the time.
I had an experience, from the moment the Guru walked in the room and began chanting, of his whole voice entering every one of my pores and surrounding and reverberating through every cell in my body, to the point where I felt I had the wind knocked out of me. There was some sort of power there that I can’t explain and I didn’t understand, but it was beyond anything I had ever experienced before. It was a little frightening to have this happening, but at the same time, it was incredibly peaceful.
Later, I would learn that in that moment, I had experienced the Guru’s Shakti, His spiritual energy, and Grace.
For the rest of the program, I listened. Sadguru Kedarji made a lot of good points—points that I needed to hear due to difficult circumstances going on in my life at that time. It was as though He somehow knew what I was going through, and had simple answers for how to begin overcoming them. I also noticed that at no point in this or subsequent programs did He take credit for anything He said.
Over the years, Kedarji has uttered the phrase, “I don’t have anything new to teach you,” more than I can count. He attributes every bit of knowledge and wisdom to the lineage of Sages and Saints of which He is a part, often quoting sacred texts that are anywhere from decades to centuries old.
When I traveled back to Texas, I tried to figure out what that power was that I felt in Sadguru Kedarji’s presence. Over a period of time, I looked at different meditation centers and programs locally to try to duplicate that same experience and serenity.
One center promised that by using their meditation techniques (established at some point within the last generation), I could be on a fast-track to enlightenment. Yet, when I went to a meditation program, I found myself in a room full of what seemed to be 8-10 people in their early 20s, sitting with their eyes closed and making a lot of different babbling sounds over and over again.
Someone who was the group leader that day said that people could just let themselves be carried away by the meditation in the way that was best for them. Not feeling inspired to make a bunch of odd noises, and not being in an environment conducive to a peaceful meditation, I got nothing out of this—certainly not the power I had felt in front of Kedarji.
I went to a beautiful temple where I observed people performing elaborate rituals and ceremonies, and where there were teachings of sacred texts. However, at no time did I hear anyone make mention of actually experiencing what was written in the texts. It seemed as though the primary basis of the teachings were worship and formalities. Although aesthetically pleasing, I had no experiences there either.
In a different place, where there was a big focus on kirtan chanting, I met a lovely group of people, one of whom offered classes. So, one time I went to a class, where I heard this gentleman teach from well-known scriptures to a room of people. He actually said some of the same things that I had heard Sadguru Kedarji teach, including the power of a lineage.
I asked the teacher outside of the class more about the lineage, and he continued to state how a lineage is absolutely essential for spiritual growth. Then, I asked him who his Guru was. He fell silent for a second, and responded with, “Well, he’s no one you would have heard of.”
I then asked who his Guru’s Guru was. Suddenly, he went from being very vocal and eager to continuously teach and impart knowledge, to changing the subject and turning to talk to someone else the minute a question about his guru was mentioned. His response seemed odd, since my old friend talked about Kedarji all the time, and Kedarji talked about his own Guru frequently with great love and reverence.
There was only one local place where I felt anything similar to the energy and power I had felt in front of Kedarji: at a center about 40 minutes away where there was a true Shaktipat Guru from the same lineage as Kedarji’s. Although the Guru was not physically present at the center, this did not inhibit the strength of the energy, or Shakti, that was experienced.
Here, too, people expressed a deep devotion to their Guru, and in recorded excerpts, the Guru spoke about her own Guru with humility and gratitude. The stories that people told about their inner experiences and Grace from following the Guru shared many commonalities with my own experiences and the experiences that—thousands of miles away—my old friend had shared over time.
It was incredible how only when I was in the presence of this lineage, were there actual experiences that mimicked what Saints and sacred texts have written about for centuries. (Keep in mind that at this point, I had not read a single sacred text, so in every way, I had the direct experiences first, and learned at a later time that many others had experienced the same.)
Then, I began hearing about what Sadguru Kedarji describes as the “false guru market,” and how to tell if a master is authentic. In order to make real spiritual transformation and progress, one needs an authentic Master from an unbroken lineage—not someone who devises their own technique that will seem pleasing to large numbers of people.
Think about it: If you need an attorney, are you going to seek out someone who has decided not to study the laws and regulations in place, and wants to instead stand in court and make up their own rules? Of course not.
Would you want your attorney to have gone to law school, studied under experts, and been tested (and passed those tests) over and over? Or would you prefer to hire someone who read a book or two on legal procedures, didn’t pass the bar exam, and decided they wanted to do things their own way regardless?
In any field, a true Master will test progress, so that students know what they still need to work on. A Sadguru, a true Guru, is no different. The authentic Guru will not tell people what they want to hear; but will tell them what they need to be taught and put into practice in order to make progress. The authentic Guru does not invent his own techniques; but continues to teach the techniques that have been proven to work and been passed down from Master to disciple for centuries.
In order to make spiritual progress, a true Guru is essential. Otherwise, it is no different than the example where I was in a room full of young adults making strange noises and calling it “meditation.” It is like the blind leading the blind, with no one really knowing where they’re going. An authentic Guru is someone who has fully passed all tests, and has reached the maximum spiritual attainment before being given the authority to lead others.
For lasting spiritual transformation, the following should be true of the Guru who is leading others:
- Must be part of a lineage. In almost every case of people being misled and abused, there was none.
- Must have served another Master in an unbroken lineage of true Gurus, over a period of many years. The Master must have been tested by his own Guru over a long period of time.
- Consistent public offering, praise, gratitude, and reference to the Master’s own Guru, giving glory to his/her own Guru and the lineage.
- Leads others in only proved methods and instruction of a lineage of Sages. In situations with false gurus, there will often be a mix of proved methods combined with other techniques or approaches that have not been passed down by the lineage of Sadgurus.
- Gives instruction based on the utterances of Sages from scriptures and sacred texts of the Sadgurus of the Master’s lineage, based on the direct inner experience of those utterances. The Guru’s behavior must also be in alignment with the utterances in the sacred texts of the lineage.
- Ability to give followers the direct inner experience of what is being taught. With false gurus, intellectual knowledge is often offered in a way that is purposely designed not to challenge people’s core beliefs. This amounts to robbing people of the Truth.
- Has been given the authority to lead by his/her own Master. It is common for false “spiritual teachers” to have turned away from the instruction of their own Guru, refusing to submit to the tests of their own Master.
- Providing followers with methods taught by the lineage for testing the Guru before taking a Guru, and insisting that devotees test the Guru over a period of months or years.
Because Kedarji is not simply a teacher, but a Shaktipat Guru, devotees should conduct additional testing, because just as there are “false gurus,” there are an increasing number of “false Shaktipat gurus.” As written in Vibration of Divine Consciousness, there are 5 additional primary tests of a Shakta Adept:
- After receiving Shaktipat, do you have inner experiences during the weeks and months after that are verifiable by the utterances of the Shakta Adepts, the Shaktipat Gurus, of our lineage? Did the receipt of Shaktipat catapult you into an experience of the inner Self that is worth pursuing further?
- Do you experience Kriyas, the purification of karmic tendencies that manifest as physical, mental and emotional movements/challenges, while in physical proximity to the Guru, or while engaging in the understandings and practices in which the Guru has instructed you?
- Does the Guru have the knowledge and ability to lead you in rooting out the Gunas and the Malas, the latent, karmic impurities? Do you observe/experience that these impurities been rooted out of the Guru who has been tested by his/her own Master?
- After following the Guru’s instruction for daily spiritual practice and addressing your karmas over a period of time, is your mind getting quieter? Are you becoming more content and experiencing a thought-free state on a more constant basis? Do the practices you have been taught by the Guru cause you to deepen your understanding of the inner Self, while experiencing Bliss?
- Has the Guru been invested with the authority and the Shakti power to initiate others by another Shakta Adept? Is the Guru able to transmit Grace?
As skeptical as I was at that first program, I continued to listen to webcasts and put into practice some of what Sadguru Kedarji taught. And over the course of less than 6 months, things in my life began to “fall into place.” I found myself experiencing more Joy. I was making better choices in my personal, work, and home life by listening to Kedarji.
Situations that would have previously caused a tremendous amount of stress had little effect on me. I wanted to know more about this path, and I became increasingly curious about Shaktipat.
When I crossed paths with Sadguru Kedarji, I was not seeking spiritual transformation, and I had no desire for a Guru. I tested Kedarji and this path before I knew there were even tests to give. Regardless of how much I tried to disprove the authenticity of this path, my skeptical mindset was proven wrong over and over again.
Eight years later, and I am well beyond testing the Guru. Now, the person being tested is me. The person receiving Grace is me. The more I am faced with tests showing me the best and the worst of my tendencies, the more I am able to learn ways to effortlessly sink into a state of unmovable content, peace, and joy that so many others over the course of centuries have experienced and exuberantly detailed in volumes of sacred texts and poetry.
“Your task is not to seek for Love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ~Jalal al-Din Rumi
Jamie Walker is a Disciple of Sadguru Kedarji and has been a student of Nityananda Shaktipat Yoga since 2010. She lives in Georgetown, TX and works as a supervisor in a local agency that addresses abused and neglected children.