Less than 24 hours after IAYB and YogaDork reported that Kausthub Desikachar has started teaching yoga again, his website (kausthub.com) became password-protected.
Perhaps he felt judged. But really, it shouldn’t be a surprise: this non-response is more silence and security, following a course of events that is already shrouded in silence and security.
I’ve been following the response from practitioners both here and on YD – as usual, there is a small contingent of dismayed and concerned folks calling out for an alliance of ethics or increased regulation and accountability. But there is a smaller, and rather alarming, group of people saying simplistic things like, “Don’t sign up for his classes! Unlearn powerlessness!” Which really annoys me, because it places the responsibility on the individual and not the institutions (in this case, the Krishnamacharya and Desikachar lineage).
Even more annoying are comments like, “Unless you were there, you really don’t know what happened…”
Fair enough, we don’t know what happened. And that’s actually the problem here. What we do know: five women in Austria went to the police and said Kausthub Desikachar sexually, emotionally and physically abused them. But we don’t know what’s happened since. There is a cloak of silence around this story. Has there been a trial? Were charges laid against Desikachar? What is happening? And now this man is teaching yoga again. Likely, to more women. The fact that this is permissible in the yoga world is highly problematic.
Everything that we know about this case emerged in October, in a letter from R. Sriram, a longtime student of TKV Desikachar and Krishnamacharya posted. Some key highlights, to refresh our memories (via YogaDork):
- Kausthub has systematically intimidated [these women] into believing that they are unwell and need his help and then sexually harassed them. If they did not comply, he has been abusive towards them and tried to instill greater fear into them regarding their own health and welfare or that of those close to them.
- The details lead us to the conclusion that Kausthub is developing psychopathically, needs perhaps professional help on a long term basis and should be stopped from further activity in the yoga world. It is awful to say this, since I have seen Kausthub’s astuteness in teaching theory. But his continuation poses a threat not only to women but also to the right awareness for the teachings of the two masters.
- We are called to advise people to boycott KHYF. I am in touch with several senior and long-time students of Sri Desikachar and active members of KYM and have taken their support in writing this letter. In Chennai there is an honest attempt to shut all teachers of KHYF out of the doors of KYM, the centre started by Sri Desikachar. This is a right effort for people to reinvest their faith in his life-project KYM, which is a non-profit organization. If it succeeds in shutting out the influence of Kausthub, there will be an authentic forum for students all over the world to learn yoga as the way it was envisaged by him.
For more details about what the women went through, see the full post on YogaDork. It may have been posted six months ago, but it’s apparently the most recent and relevant information available. The rest of it is covered in a cloak of guru delusions and deceit.
UPDATE: As of April 14, Desikachar’s website is back up and now includes a letter called “Positive Beginning.”