Swami Muktananda Paramahansa, one of India’s most serious teachers of Siddha Yoga and more recently a popular figure in the West, died this fall at his Ganeshpuri ashram near Bombay, India. Anticipating his death, the 73-year-old Swami (referred to as Baba by his 750,000 worldwide devotees) announced the names of his two youthful successors in May 1982. In the midst of funeral services and mourning, the transition of leadership for the 37 ashrams and 300 meditation centers around the world seems to be a smooth one.
Muktananda, whose own guru was the famous Swami Nityananda, taught the spiritual disciplines of Siddha and Kriya Yoga, both of which induce highly altered states of consciousness. Because Muktananda developed the Siddha Yoga power centers within the subtle, or spiritual, body, it was believed that he could deliver powerful blessings to his disciples through the Shaktipat. When Muktananda gave the Shaktipat (a touch with a black peacock feather), some devotees swooned, and all of them believed their bad karma had been removed. Several years ago, est founder Werner Erhard sponsored a worldwide tour for Muktananda which enabled the guru to establish international headquarters in the West (South Fallsberg, New York).The teachings of Muktananda will be passed on through Swami Chidvilasananda, age 24, and Swami Nityananda, age 20, as they make a tour of the meditation centers to consolidate their leadership positions. Muktananda began grooming the sister and brother 15 years ago, supervising their spiritual discipline so they could become his successors. One distinguished Muktananda disciple, Dr. Eugene Callender, who is a Presbyterian minister and professor at the Columbia Business School in New York has said, “I think we’re going to be spreading Swami Muktananda’s message even faster now. To me it’s like what happened after Christ died, when his teachings spread like wildfire. I think we’re going to have a similar pattern with all of Baba’s trained disciples going out to spread his word” (India Today, 31 October 1982).