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Kausthub Desikachar, Krishnamacharya’s Grandson, Accused of Sexual, Mental and Emotional Abuse

in World News, YD News

So, as you know, we do not take this stuff lightly.

Unfortunately the yoga world is served yet another scandal, this time involving Kausthub Desikachar, who also happens to be the grandson of Sri T. Krishnamacharya and son of TKV Desikachar (yes, that Krishnamacharya and that TKV Desikachar).  An official announcement from the Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation arrived via email September 22 informing the mailing list that due to “varying allegations of sexual, mental and emotional abuse against Dr. Kausthub Desikachar” he would be stepping down from both the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram and the Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation worldwide.

Click to enlarge.

The North American arm of KHYF also released an email shedding more light on the accusations:

Dear KHYF-NA Members,

As KHYF Teacher Trainers and long term direct students of Mr. T.K.V. Desikachar, we feel a responsibility to address the situation that has recently occurred in Europe involving Kausthub’s behavior with female students.

Last Friday, four women from the European KHYF Yoga Therapist Training filed formal complaints with the police in Austria accusing Kausthub of sexual, mental and emotional abuse. The allegations include the misuse of his position as a yoga mentor by utilizing his knowledge of personal histories of sexual and emotional trauma in an attempt to initiate sexual relations.

This behavior has not only hurt those who trusted him, but has also betrayed the good will and confidence placed in him by the organization and all of his colleagues.

Kausthub is not denying these accusations and has cancelled his current teaching schedule in order to return to Chennai.

This is a very serious breech of trust and we are advocating that he immediately stop all teaching, step down from the KYM, KHYF and all other advisory positions he holds, and seek the qualified, long-term professional help that he needs. This has been communicated to Kausthub and we await his response.

Please remember that there is a tremendous difference between the teachings and the teacher, and we are committed to doing all we can to clarify this distinction.

With best regards,

Sonia Nelson, Chase Bossart, Kate Holcombe and Dolphi Wertenbaker

As well as the UK branch, which also expresses that KD acknowledges wrongdoing and is seeking help:

We’ve been contacted by several people wondering why this hasn’t been public news and why those who have witnessed this behavior have not come forth to share their stories. Though we have word that some are surfacing.

Unfortunately, complaints from students in the form of letters and protests to KHYF date back to 2007 and 2009, which means it’s taken all this time for the organization to recognize this as a serious issue.

More on the story as it develops.



70 comments… add one
  • Anusour

    So, let’s recap. Muktananda, Amrit Desai, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi…

    John Friend, Michael Roach…and now this.

    Is anyone awake at Yoga Journal?

    • nope

      No one awake at yoga journal…Not for many years. They were the ones promoting Friend and he was to be the key note speaker at their conference in the spring. If you are looking for consciousness or anything similar from yoga journal, don’t hold your breath.

      • Indeed – well stated – the folks at Yoga Journal live in deep, deep slumber. They want money, not truth. They are drowned in materialism….


  • Let’s not gossip…
    That doesn’t help anyone I think….

  • Sara

    Why does something like this seem to happen every 2 years, without fail, like clockwork?

    I say we contact the bookies and start placing bets on who will be next.

    • git some

      My bet’s on M.S. Next hammer to drop. Gotta keep ‘m guessin’

    • David

      My bet is on BKS Iyengar.

  • I took bets on who was going to be the first yoga blogger to write about it….

  • This fits in with my theory that very rarely in history do two or more great “kings” emerge in one lineage. Usually you get a great one, and then it devolves into both rote and corruption the further away from the source things get.

    I like Sara’s idea “I say we contact the bookies and start placing bets on who will be next.”

  • Linda, I wondered whether you’d know about it. I had heard via via, but that didn’t give me enough info to take action. Extremely frustrating.

    I am glad this is all out in the open. Daylight is where healing happens.

    And arseholes, like vampires, tend to shrivel up in full like. Good work, YogaDork.

  • Oh, also?

    We, women, the bulk of the yoga practitioners. WE create the culture. We can change it:


  • nadine, yes, I did know all the gory details which I could have broke last week on my blog. I chose not to. for my own reasons that have to do with the yoga blogosphere in general.

  • None of these emails are making it clear that this has been going on for years! The tone of the writing makes it sound as though it’s only just happened and the rest of the KYM teachers are all being proactive in their response. If only that was really true.

  • my gut tells me this will be make John Friend’s shit look like kindergarten.

  • I’ve been studying and teaching in the tradition of Krishnamacharya for two decades and many of my students are bewildered and confused about the recent news concerning Kausthub. There has been a veil of silence drawn over this situation for many years and I, like many others who were directly or indirectly involved, feel partly responsible for that silence. How did this happen? I think the soul searching has only just begun. http://www.adoreyoga.com/_blog/Adore_Yoga_Blog/post/A_response_to_recent_events_concerning_Kausthub_Desikachar/

  • Gina Funke

    ‘We’ turn humans into gurus & godheads and then we are shocked when they fail!

  • Evelyn

    I agree with Anneke. Fueling the pain doesn’t help anybody. Sensationalism and gossip is never the way, psychologically it only enhances the pain of everyone involved. And it is certainly not the yogis way either.

    • Anneke


    • Frida_K

      So keeping things quiet so as not to muddy the waters IS the yoga way? Enabling via silence is the yoga way?


      That’s sad.

      • mendicino badass

        not only that, but spirit him outta the country so no investigation can happen. Get him out quick and off to india. Then see if the austrian authorities can do anything (good luck!!). KHYF must have gotten word that the women went to the cops and got him out fast. Would have loved to be a fly on the wall for that one. Hey, there’s money to be made for these folks and damn those women who dared to go to the cops. Dude’s off to Chennai for some hiding, er I mean “healing”. I wonder if they realize they’re aiding and abetting a fugitive. Now let’s help out by keeping it real quiet…

        • Sunyoga

          I ve been wondering about the same thing! KHYF sends an email out saying they are taking the allegations seriously – they had better if they re concerned about their own survival. but what does this mean for the students studying in this tradition? Does this mean the KHYF is going to investigate the possibility that this has happened before and come up with a system to prevent abuse from happening again? And what happens to K? Abuse is a criminal offence. What do you do with the alleged abuser? Remove him from the organization on paper, let him walk scot-free without an investigation, and perhaps allow him ghost-run the organisation, and dictate farcical official statements? I feel the organisation should be more open and responsible in addressing this situation, they are accountable to some degree for what has happened – and no, ‘hoping’ victims find ‘starting points to healing’ will not do. that’s just being evasive, and trivialising the implications of abuse for the victims. that does not close this chapter.

          • truthsayer

            Kausthub Desikachar ran the KHYF and KYM like a corporation; whomever did not agree with him or suggested instituting policies which might provide checks and balances was eliminated or castigated. This past May a large gathering of the tradition in North America demanded that he institute an ethics board, but he along with a senior teacher, resisted the demands.
            He is a product of three cultures: business school, the patriarchal society of South India and the lineage of his father. He is an intellectual genius and a deeply flawed individual, yet took on the continuation of a lineage as a means to fulfill his responsibilities and create an economic empire to give him the freedom he desired. He started with a good heart, but traded power for truth. This is the bottom line. And most people who remained in the tradition were in some ways seeking to maintain power and therefore were willing to turn their backs on his behavior. Anyone who stood up to him was cast aside.
            This is why this happened. Everyone who knew; knew it was only a matter of time. May the light shine on his darkness and on all of those who chose power over love and integrity. May the truth prevail and may those who have been wronged find peace at last.

          • Sam

            truthsayer has the inside scoop. we run-of-the-mill khyf students have been holding our heads in our hands wondering when the line would be crossed, when a law would be broken & this would take place. i refused to re-up my membership because i have seen numerous smaller instances of Kausthub’s bad character.

            and then there’s the not so small issue of his plagiarism of a translation of Krishnamacharya’s Yoga Makaranda. Paul Harvey made sure everyone knew about that … it turned my stomach and from that point on, I refused to attend his workshops, usually required under the terms of our membership.

            when we complained we were told repeatedly that he was merely immature, that mistakes had been made, he was on a learning curve. not true–he behaved like a gangster to the two female authors whom he plagiarized, and then he tried to wipe the evidence by recalling the plagiarized publication under false pretenses. he’s corrupt. period. even by south indian standards.

            it will take years to fix the damage to his victims, to his father, and to the tradition of therapeutic viniyoga in the West. sunyoga is correct– the victims must and should get compensation as well as apology–on this issue i will absolutely speak up to the leaders i know

      • chris

        l agree we do need to know and act on these things, but gloating is not very yogic either. Its tragic for all of them, and some people need to be less pious.a holier-than-thou,selfighteous, sanctimonious attitude what ever you want to call it is not very helpful. that’s probably what got Kausthub in the mess he is in now. And no l have never meet him, but l have his father who is a true gentle soul.

  • john

    I wonder how the “the John Friend scandal happened because he wasn’t Indian” brigade will play this one?

    I’m guessing it’s going to be due to the students being “westerners”…

    • Jill

      It’s not the students at fault here, irrespective if they are Western or not. *K was wrong to abuse students, ANY sort of abuse is wrong and he should have known better, but I suppose absolute power corrupts and power corrupts absolutely. It’s the yes-men and enablers around these leaders who are also responsible.

      • Hot Pants!!!

        women musta tempted him. it’s wut ah say…


  • “I wonder how the “the John Friend scandal happened because he wasn’t Indian” brigade will play this one?”

    who said that? I never heard or read anyone say that.

    Muktananda was India. Swami Nithyanada is Indian. Sai Baba was Indian. All Indians accused of sexual abuse.

    • john

      When the Friend thing broke you couldn’t shift for people banging on about how the problem was the way “westerners” “create gurus” or how it was all because of the way “americans” do yoga. Some of it would’ve been outright racist if nationality were the same as racism.

  • sara song

    I am very sorry to see this shit keep happening and happening and happening. I hope that the people who suffered from this get justice, and that the “yoga community” gets its head out of its ass, finally. Yoga seems to be becoming (and has been?) an enormous site for people to enact all kinds of depravities. We do have to change the culture. We do have to encourage skepticism and boundaries, insist on ethics. Sex between teacher and student is wrong.

  • just another yogini

    If the allegations are true, I am thankful to and grateful for the women who reported to the authorities. Like wayward priests, yoga teachers of either gender who engage in this type of behavior are abusing their positions of power and authority.

  • Be

    A classmate of mine studied in his Ashram and he said it is filled with large images of himself all over the place, with subtitles like “the Master sitting in the garden.”

    • First, the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram is not an ashram at all. It’s a yoga school. in the second place, the photos are of Desikachar, Kausthub’s father, photos that Kausthub took.

      If you’re going to diss someone, first get the facts straight.

      • M

        Not as much fun when it’s your guy, huh?

        • you talking to me?

          Kausthub isn’t “my guy.” I never studied with him and have no allegiance to him whatsoever. frankly, from what I am privy to, I think nothing short of an exorcism for K would suffice.

          so, your point?

  • dude

    Dude fled the country “to return to Chennai”. He knows his ass will be in an austrian jail, so he split the scene rather than face the damn music. Shows how full of shit the organization is. They present it like he cancelled stuff to “return to Chennai”. Shit man; he cancelled stuff to flee. KHYF prolly helped him get outta the country–gotta make the abused women seeking justice feel real good. These yoga organizations just can’t stop bullshitting, especially the desikachar crew.

    • Mangos

      Are you just here to spin news into sensational gossip? He was in South America when they cancelled the first events, not Austria. And I’m pretty sure that that he could use airplane tickets and passport to get out of the country like a normal person, there wasn’t a need for the KHYF underground railroad to smuggle him out to freedom. He’s not Julian Assange.

  • YogaDude

    Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  • I don’t think this qualifies as “gossip.” It’s informative, it gives the straight facts of the situation, and then — in op-ed normality of the blog — asks some questions (with a bit of wit/snark).

    I think that talking about it leads to awareness and solutions and — no matter how much people don’t want it talked about — is not necessarily gossip.

    And if you don’t want to talk about it — openly in terms of both the specific facts and the general ideas — go find a snail shell and practice in it, you know?

    • Awareness is really important in a positive evolution! I was reading about Sai Babba, and, if even HALF of that stuff is true the the vulnerable people visiting future gurus need to be warned. Or they need validation if they go off “seeking” and then wonder if they’re off to feel something was a violation.

      I personally never wanted a guru, and learned yoga asana and other aspects of the limbs from teachers. And while I’ve had the good fortune to meet, work with and befriend someone I often refer to as my “mentor”, it’s not like I ever fall any one person’s advice 100% in ANY area of life. (Of course, my chosen mentor would be someone who respects that.)

      • Follow not fall!

      • Yogini

        Kaustub doesn’t call himself a GURU.But a mentor and a teacher.

        • riiiiight

          Yogini, who fucking cares? That’s just semantics. Some one who is playing that shit is playing that shit, no matter what he calls himself.

          • Right! Because I’m pretty sure a good mentor isn’t a rapist either.

  • Sai Reddy

    Not too surprising, India is full of Swamis/Gurus who learn to parrot the Dharma and use it to get a large following and then of course acquire wealth, power, sex etc etc etc. The Indian puranas are full of stories about people who did many spirutual practises to may be gain some special abilities but still fall back into abyss by doing something evil or just plain inappropriate. The Ramayana and Mahabharata have cautionary tales regarding spirutual practises not really leading to light but to darkness if not done with the right intentions. So my suggestion is if you are into Indian spirutality then do some digging around, read a few ancient books, don’t just blindly worship the self proclaimed gurus. At best they can act as instructors who know a little bit more about this stuff than the others.

  • Mary Ann

    I am deeply saddened for the victims, K’ s father and family, and the yoga community. And. It is essential to have the facts in the light and dealt with in the light. This scandal is reflecting a sick internal structure at the Krishnamacharya org (as at the Catholic Church) that allowed the abuse to go on for years. A complete housecleaning is essential.

  • Ann

    I agree with a comment in an article I was reading somewhere else, asking the accusers of Kausthub to tell their stories. Otherwise we humans will make stories up, I am afraid. However that may be too hard for the women cited in the report to do–or maybe unhelpful to them. So, I hope we can extend charitable (Yogic) thoughts to ALL involved and not fill in the blanks with our own judgment. And we can insist on knowing details as they emerge….

    I am wondering what could protect people who become well-known in the yoga field from succumbing to the very tempting notion that they are adored and can do no wrong. I have observed several such teachers attracting large followings, and on at least one occasion found myself feeling quite sorry for the person involved as he clearly engaged in being thought wonderful and adored by often woman. Patanjali had something to say on the subject of these traps for the unwary. It takes two (or more) to tango……

  • Andyogi

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. I attended the intro night of his weekend seminar in Perth, Australia. He turned me off of the seminar altogether. My feeling walking away was that he was just another charlatan riding the coat-tails or his grandfather’s and father’s pristine reputation. Nor did he look like he practiced what he preached. After people had asked questions about his thoughts on heated yoga and so on, I asked a rather reasonable question about yoga history – to which he reverted back to the question on heated yoga – as in “Who needs hot yoga, you’re hot enough as it is” and then went on to comment that fewer men attend yoga classes because they are afraid of being vulnerable in front of women because women don’t like vulnerable men (very tangentially related to my question – but its a stretch). The rest of the people in the room chuckled, but I felt objectified and abused by this person that was selling himself as a master yogi. He never answered any questions directly, or with authority and I got the feeling that he didn’t really know how to answer the questions at all. I walked away feeling that Krishnamacharya’s lineage had fallen into the wrong hands. I got way more out of the movie Kumare than I possibly could out of this fraud.

  • Mark

    YouTube HD Video: Spirituality in Sexuality – Is this Krishnamacharya’s teachings? — A. G. Mohan


  • Bob Insley

    My thoughts are for the victims.
    I trust KD will return to Austria to face the allegations

  • “Please remember that there is a tremendous difference between the teachings and the teacher”

    This sound a lot like “hate the sin, not the sinner.”

    Nonsense. Yoga is as yoga does, and the yoga business is corrupt to its core — here and in India as well. Never give complete trust to any teacher who makes a living completely off of yoga.

  • kimberly

    It doesn’t sound as if he is sorry he did it, he is JUST SORRY HE WAS CAUGHT! He feels bad NOW, he is NOW realizing he was wrong?! Shame….

  • entinen joogaaja

    Olen osallistunut Kausthub Desicasharin kursseille Helsingissä.
    Olen tehnyt kurssin harjoituksia myös kotona.
    Mietinkin nyt olivatko ne oikeita joogaharjoituksia, menivätkö rahani hukkaan?
    Suomessa on tällä hetkellä erittäin huono kuva KHYF-organisaatiosta ja jotkut pitävät sitä mätänä.
    Suomalaisia opiskelee KHYFissä , mutta tullaanko heihin ja heidän opetuksiinsa ja healingiinsä koskaan luottamaan, epäilen.
    Minulta ainakin lähti joogahalut.
    Suomen joogaliitto saisi olla tarkempi kurssijärjestelyissään.


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