How many years of complaints did it take? How many brave voices?
And how many women’s lives were damaged by Kausthub Desikachar’s unconscionable behavior? An email from a senior teacher when the news broke:
“When a few of us walked out… [years ago] making a very strong statement against the very same behavior of Kausthub, we were only rebuked, resisted, even threatened! If only people had taken those allegations seriously, and forced Kausthub to step down from his post and seek treatment, it could have saved so many more women from abuse and suffering. It could have also saved Kausthub from plunging head-long into this path of self-destruction. Even those women who could have come forward to provide evidence were silenced with fear and threats.”
“Nobody really thought of the plight of those women and their families who suffered silently. After 5 years, some of them are still battling with the pain and injustice meted out to them. If people don’t wake up even now, I don’t know if all that we are studying and practicing in the name of yoga has any meaning at all!”
“By not taking appropriate steps back [then], it allowed the inappropriate behavior of Kausthub Desikachar to continue and further women have been harmed (both directly and indirectly) in the process.”
Reports were made and ignored. Few felt empowered to speak out until the abuse escalated to public actions that simply could not be tolerated.
Kausthub’s return to official teaching took place in a matter of months. His return was apparently achieved through a “spiritual journey,” self-declared consultations and support, and prevention is through “dependable frameworks” which are unspecified.
Would this be tolerated in any other field? Would a doctor, after allegations of malpractice and sexual abuse on multiple patients, be back to doing the same work with similar patients, in a matter of months, with no further scrutiny? What is the likely outcome if we permit that? Please consider the recent cases that have come to light, like the highly publicized trial of Dr. Larry Nassar.
Will it take more abuse and many more women coming forward before people stop supporting such yoga teachers?
It is because of silence out of fear or misplaced support for the abusers that such abuse continues to happen.
If you can, please share this, and speak up. Prevent students and yoga from being hurt.