Kausthub Desikachar: “Modern Master” or Master of Deception?

When the scandal surrounding Kausthub Desikachar’s sexual misconduct broke in 2012, his organization was called KHYF (he is back to using the same name now).

Interestingly, the Krishnamacharya Healing Yoga Foundation is not a non-profit as the use of the word “Foundation” implies. Instead, it is a for-profit partnership according to its Deed of Partnership. One more pointer toward public image and private intention being quite different.

Soon after Kausthub’s public sex scandal, a new organization was started by his mother Menaka Desikachar in 2013.

(TKV Desikachar’s cognitive status at this time is unclear; by external reports, he was not capable of running an organization. As you can see in an earlier post, the most likely explanation from public records is that Kausthub Desikachar was directing everything from behind the scenes.)

The Sannidhi of Krishnamacharya Yoga (SKY Yoga), is a modern medium through which the whole range of teachings of T Krishnamacharya is extended into the current century in a traditional and authentic, yet relevant and modern manner.

Welcome to the Yoga Journey. Come be part of a collective consciousness.

We are pleased to announce the launch of our new website… Kindly visit here for more information.

Menaka Desikachar, Radha Sundararajan & SKY Yoga Team

(SOURCE:  Email dated September 18, 2013 from Sannidhi of Krishnamacharya Yoga <[email protected]>)

The name of the new organization was “Sannidhi of Krishnamacharya Yoga” and it prominently used the padukas (sandals) of Krishnamacharya in its logo and marketing materials. The “Sannidhi of Krishnamacharya” is a small place that the Desikachar family established in their property to keep the sandals of Krishnamacharya after his demise, as a shrine of sorts to Krishnamacharya.

The SKY Logo prominently uses a depiction of the sandals of Krishnamacharya.

What these sandals have to do with Krishnamacharya’s yoga tradition is an important question that deserves a detailed post.

But to explain in brief here, a simple search will show that “paduka” has much significance in Vaishnavite Hinduism and is regularly part of the worship and rituals. All evidence points to the conclusion that the padukas (sandals) that Krishnamacharya kept belonged to his Vaishnavite guru, not his yoga guru. After Krishnamacharya passed away the sandals were transplanted into a yoga setting from Vaishnavism, and the guru devotion of Vaishnavism was shifted to Kausthub Desikachar’s family, claiming this was all part of Krishnamacharya’s yoga tradition. This mythology was promoted particularly in Kausthub’s 2004 book, The Yoga of the Yogi.

Kausthub Desikachar took his own websites offline in the immediate aftermath of his sex scandal, offering no public response. He emerged with a new website for his personal teaching in just over six months and declared himself fit to teach again.

His new personal website was branded as “Yoga Makaranda.” This was the name of Krishnamacharya’s 1934 book that Kausthub would later publish a translation of, to the accusation of plagiarism by senior students of TKV Desikachar.

Using Krishnamacharya’s name and padukas as the face of the new organization, leveraging respect for the then ailing TKV Desikachar, SKY sought to convey the image that it was beyond question and separate entirely from the scandals surrounding Kausthub’s conduct.

Further, perhaps scrambling to reverse the complaints of control and abuse that KHYF faced under Kausthub Desikachar, SKY stated:

“SKY-Yoga will be different. SKY-Yoga will require no membership fees from trainers or students, no certification fees, no specification of CEU’s, or place any more burden on excessive administration or procedures. While SKY-Yoga upholds the concept of every student having a mentor there will be no rules over mentorship, enabling freedom to choose.”

(Source:  Email dated March 7, 2013 from Sannidhi of Krishnamacharya Yoga <[email protected]>)

If this is what KHYF/SKY actually believes in, would they still continue this policy? How does this so called vision of SKY compare with the licensing of Viniyoga under KHYF that Kausthub Desikachar seems to believe is so important to “protect” the teachings of Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar?

Or perhaps they would admit that SKY was one more in the line of cover ups until Kausthub Desikachar could takeover the institutions publicly again?

SKY, by their admission, continued to invite Kausthub Desikachar under the guise of “a guest faculty.” And little over a year later, SKY offered a “welcome” to Kausthub Desikachar as “permanent faculty” of “most of our future programs.”

We are happy to welcome Dr. Kausthub Desikachar to be officially part of Sannidhi of Krishnamacharya Yoga. Since 2013 Dr. Kausthub Desikachar has been functioning in independent capacity. However he was occasionally invited as a guest faculty to teach at some of the courses conducted by Sannidhi of Krishnamacharya Yoga.

Since 15 January 2015, Dr. Kausthub Desikachar will now be one of our permanent faculty and will part of the teaching team of most of our future programs. He will be teaching both group and individual classes at our center.

(Source:  Email dated January 20, 2015  from Sannidhi of Krishnamacharya Yoga <[email protected]>)

The current T. Krishnamacharya Facebook page that Kausthub Desikachar uses to promote himself and KHYF was originally operated under the name of SKY. In 2013, SKY sent out this email:

We are now on Facebook, and we will be posting exciting updates each day. Stay updated about our current and upcoming courses and training programs.

Kindly LIKE us by following this link – http://www.facebook.com/TKrishnamacharya

And please share this page with your friends and spread the word.

A WHOIS lookup shows that the domain of SKY (sky-yoga.net) is registered to Kausthub Desikachar.

Is it appropriate for a yoga teacher to use the name and sandals of Krishnamacharya, misrepresent his connection to the respected and ancient lineage of Vaishnavism, and bring in TKV Desikachar’s name to shield him from addressing credible reports of serial sexual abuse?

From the data on public record, this is what Kausthub Desikachar appears to have done using SKY as a vehicle.

In 2013, SKY had stated:

In the near future KHYF will cease to exist and in it’s place a new, and more user-friendly organisation called Sannidhi of Krishnamacharya Yoga – or SKY-Yoga for short – will commence to service our Teacher Trainers, Therapists and students wishing to learn and train, in the direct lineage of T Krishnamacharya and TVK Desikachar.”

But in 2015, continuing the smoke and mirrors act, when it appeared that it would be safe, KHYF re-emerged and took over SKY as “strategic restructuring!” So with this maneuvering, Kausthub Desikachar was back in action in exactly the same position as he held three years ago when the sex scandal became public in 2012.

Would Kausthub Desikachar step out from the cover of his family name, from deceptions surrounding Krishnamacharya’s guru lineage, and explain his conduct as a man, a yoga teacher, and as a “modern master” (as he has been depicting himself in his rebranding campaigns)?

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