Read the book my ex-gurus tried to bomb, ban, and bury. Learn the dark secrets they are trying to hid — in Sex, Lies, and Two Hindu Gurus! Available in Kindle and soft-cover — updated with 5 new chapters!
In July 2013, one year after posting her book trailer to YouTube, Karen received an email with this note: "We have disabled the following material as a result of a third-party notification from Sapna Arora claiming that this material is infringing." Who is "Sapna Arora"?
On the morning of July 25, 2013, Karen’s RishikaXcult blog was cyber-bombed with the same force used to take down WikiLeaks.org — it was a DDoS assault firing at the rate of 10 gigabits per second. Who had the means and motive for such an attack?
On March 4, 2014, Amazon emailed Karen, including a copy of a letter her ex-cult wrote requesting Amazon ban her book. "The author is spreading illegal product via your website. We want you to ban this product from your website ASAP." Amazon declined.
Preview four chapters of Karen’s memoir — the only book that spills all of the dark secrets of her ex-gurus — and describes her transformational journey from wallflower to warrior.
The Case of the Disappearing Swami – Whereabouts Unknown
MONDAY, 7 MARCH 2011, HAYS COUNTY COURTROOM.
At 9:10 a.m., I noticed that Swami Prakashanand Saraswati (aka Swamiji), my former guru, was not in the courtroom for the sentencing phase of his criminal trial and that there were far fewer of his devotees in the courtroom than usual. On Friday at 5:05 p.m., he had been convicted on 20 counts of child sex abuse. Though all the seats were filled today, the crowd of his faithful followers was not spilling out into the courthouse hallway as it had during the previous nine days of his trial. Most of the people in the room were chitchatting as we waited, including all of the lawyers.
By 9:20 a.m., I began watching the devotees more closely. Some were talking to each other. Some were sitting quietly. A few were reading. Overall, their demeanor seemed odd, considering that today the fate of their guru would be decided, including the number of years he might spend in a state penitentiary.
At 9:35 a.m., the lawyers on the prosecution team started looking around the courtroom and realized the defendant hadn’t shown up yet.
By 9:40 a.m., it was clear Swamiji was not coming. Cathy, the lead prosecution attorney, walked over to me and said, “It looks like we are missing one swami.”
Hays County officials kicked into high gear, following their procedure for finding a missing convicted felon, including calling all the area hospitals and putting out a warrant for his arrest.
While we were waiting for Judge Charles Ramsay, I called Eric Dexheimer, the journalist covering the case for Austin’s daily newspaper. He was not in the courtroom that day, though he’d been at the trial every other day.
“Hello, this is Eric.”
“Eric, it’s Karen. I noticed you aren’t here today.”
“No, my editor thought two weeks was enough for one story.”
“Oh, because something is happening.”
“Swamiji is not here. He didn’t show up this morning and no one seems to know where he is.”
“Wow, you really know how to bury the lede! What’s going on there?”
“We’re waiting for the judge to arrive and make a decision.”
“Okay. Keep me posted.”
Then I called my main secret “insider” source, who told me there had been a meeting the night before at the home where Swamiji had been staying. All of the devotees had gone to his dinner at about 5:00 p.m. I passed this information on to the prosecution. This tidbit became a critical piece in the puzzle of his disappearance, because it provided his last known location.
Many times during the three-year wait for his criminal trial, I had imagined Swamiji not showing up. And now, on the tenth day of his trial, when he was a convicted felon, he was also a fugitive, on the run from justice. Swamiji had nine lawyers on his team. Curiously, none of them or any of his devotees seemed to know his whereabouts. Moreover, no one seemed to care that he was missing. I thought that was strange—and very telling.
Early in the search for Swamiji, the U.S. Marshals had evidence that, after his dinner on Sunday evening, he had crossed the border into Mexico at Nuevo Laredo. He was not alone, nor broke. Several of his devotees accompanied him into Mexico.
And then his trail went cold.
Desperately Seeking God – Fateful Attraction
I DECIDED AT THE LAST MINUTE to attend the lecture while eating dinner with Roy at a Mexican restaurant.
It sounded better than sitting around the apartment doing nothing. I dropped Roy off at our place in Fremont and drove to the bookstore in Wallingford.
It was the smallest bookstore I’d ever seen. The back right-hand corner had been walled off to make a tiny, windowless meeting room. Twenty or so folding chairs were positioned in two semi-circles pointing toward a slightly raised platform supporting a large, fabric-covered ottoman-type bench. But there were only a couple of people sitting there. Two middle-aged Western women dressed in prim midcalf-length skirts and blazers were walking back and forth between the shop and the meeting room.
As I waited for the speaker, a few more people entered and sat down. Several minutes passed. Then I overhead one of the organizers ask the other: “Where is she?”
The second woman rolled her eyes and said in a low tone, “She’s in the car praying.”
They exchanged frustrated glances.
About five minutes later, one of the women stepped up and welcomed us to the meeting: “We are pleased to present a preacher from a religious organization called the International Society for Divine Love, (later renamed Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat) here tonight to talk about the path of divine-love-consciousness. Priya Dasi is one of the few Western women to have taken the order of sanyasi, which means a renounced person who has dedicated his or her life to God. You can think of her as a Hindu nun. The program will include a few minutes of chanting the divine names of God in Sanskrit, a short lecture, then a few more minutes of chanting.”
The woman took a seat and we sat in complete silence for a minute.
Suddenly, the woman from the ad entered the room dressed in a bright orange sari with an orange shawl wrapped tightly around her shoulders. I noticed a red mark in the shape of an exclamation point in the middle of her forehead, just like the one I had seen in the photo of the guru. She paused before the platform for a second to slip off her orange Birkenstock sandals.
She sat on the ottoman, pulled her legs up into a relaxed yoga lotus pose, clipped a small microphone to the edge of her shawl, and began to speak. “I’ll start with a prayer. Then we’ll sing a simple chant for a few minutes. You can either sing the responsive line after me or listen silently. Then I’ll give a short talk about God realization and end with a few more minutes of chanting.”
She instructed us to close our eyes, and began reciting a prayer in a language I’d never heard. The acoustic two-minute prayer was enchanting, with several dramatic flourishes. Then she began to chant in Hindi, singing one line and waiting for the audience to repeat it. Only the two female event organizers and a man in the audience seemed to be familiar with the ritual, and sang along with every verse. I just listened, since I couldn’t understand the foreign words.
After a few minutes, I found the chanting tedious. Restless, I opened my eyes and tried to gauge the possibility of a quiet exit. But there was no graceful way out without disturbing the proceedings, so I sat with growing impatience, waiting for the chanting to end.
After a few minutes, Prabhakari started to speak and I perked up. Her spiritual message immediately captured my attention. It was simple, but profound.
“There are only three places a human soul can hope to go: to hell, back to this world in a reincarnated physical form, or to the divine world to live in bliss with God forever. Hell is not even worth talking about, and this world is the realm of pain and suffering. This leaves the divine world as the only worthwhile goal for a soul.”
She added that every soul longs for complete and permanent happiness, which is only available with God. She explained that to gain entrance into God’s divine world was easy, and required only three things: “a human body, desire, and a qualified teacher.” I already had a body and the desire, but I had never heard until that moment that I also needed a teacher.
The spiritual philosophy she described seemed magical, and resonated with my spiritual desires more than anything else I’d ever heard. Like precision missiles entering the gaping wounds of my heart, her words and simple speech brought hope to my troubled mind. For years I had felt a pressing need to find God. And now, with renewed hope, I believed this woman was opening a door to a path that would finally lead me there.
Halfway through her speech I had a profound experience. I felt the information she was delivering was the “inner circle” spiritual teaching I’d been hoping to find for years. I had once read in an esoteric book that Jesus had delivered a secret inner-circle message to his disciples who were “qualified to hear” it. At that time, I hoped to one day receive my own secret divine lessons that would accelerate my spiritual advancement.
Now, sitting in this tiny bookstore, listening to this young sanyasi in the company of a few lucky people, I felt God had finally sent me my inner-circle message.
Behind Closed Doors – The Guru’s Secret Sex Factory
KRIPALU’S LIFE BEHIND BEDROOM DOORS can best be summed up in three words: Secret Sex Factory.
From my research with victims and other sources, I discovered Kripalu was engaging in a wide range of sexual activities with women and underage girls several times a day, on a scale incomprehensible to the average person. Strangely, the sheer volume of activity helped keep his underground sexual lifestyle a secret, simply because no normal person could imagine such a massive sex operation, complete with every detail executed like clockwork, down to changing and washing his bed sheets several times a day. But, piece-by-piece, I put together an outline of this part of his life, which had been hidden from the majority of the devotee population for decades.
Kripalu had the perfect smokescreen. From the outside, he seemed to live an orderly life that included regular appearances in the prayer hall, daily walks around the ashram, watching TV, reading the newspaper, eating, and taking naps. The population of devotees not involved in sex acts with him, which included many female devotees and all the male devotees, believed when he was not engaging in his public activities, he was resting in his bedroom.
People like this anonymous commenter defended Kripalu: “Maharaji has a VERY strict schedule…and NO one enters the master’s room without permission, and Neelu his assistant is always there!”
It’s true. He did indeed follow a strict schedule in the public eye. However, he spent a lot of time out of the public eye, and that part was unknown to most people. One thing is for sure; he was rarely “resting,” as most people assumed. In fact, Kripalu lived a private life that would put most of most decadent hedonists to shame.
Kripalu’s bedroom activities started in the early morning hours, when most people were still sleeping, with the first of five daily rounds of charan seva and its requisite pressing and groping. Following each charan seva session, one of the women would stay behind or, if none of them were good candidates, another woman would be brought to him for “private time” to do whatever his heart desired from oral sex to intercourse. Just as there were definite time slots for charan seva, there were specific times for the one-on-one private time sessions, and women in-the-know could request a slot in the schedule.
A resident devotee who spent a lot of “private time” with Kripalu said the following about his 2007 trip: “If we wanted to go see him alone, we’d go ask Carla what times were available and she’d put our name on the list.”
New female recruits were given precise instructions and prepped for their first experiences by the guru’s helpers and female preachers. Women and young girls were told things like “expect anything to happen” and “consider him Krishna and yourself a gopi performing divine-love acts.” He would engage in anything from kissing to petting to getting or giving oral sex to intercourse. One of his favorites for a while was a young woman from Ireland. She told someone that one time, as she walked into his bedroom, Kripalu told her in English: “I’m going to fuck you.”
Another time he made a move to perform oral sex on her and she pulled him away. “No Maharaji, not that.”
She later told a friend: “I just didn’t want God to do that to me again.”
God or Psychopath? – An Accumulation of Evidence
AFTER LEARNING THE TRUTH ABOUT JKP, I started to wonder about Kripalu Maharaj—who was he, really?
Among his devotees, he is considered the incarnation of Radha-Krishna, the reincarnation of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and the fifth Jagadguru—all with some extraordinary mythology surrounding his birth and growing-up years. But, of course, it’s all a fairytale.
So who is Kripalu really? My first clue came when I began learning about a personality disorder called psychopathy or sociopathy. According to Wikipedia:
“Psychopathy is a mental disorder characterized primarily by a lack of empathy and remorse, shallow emotions, egocentricity, and deceptiveness. Psychopaths are highly prone to antisocial behavior and abusive treatment of others. Though lacking empathy and emotional depth, they often manage to pass themselves off as average individuals by feigning emotions and lying about their past.”
My studies led me to what is widely considered to be the seminal book for laypeople on the subject: Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us, by Robert D. Hare, PhD, the world’s leading expert on psychopathology. Dr. Hare created a list of characteristics used today by trained experts in law enforcement, prisons, and psychiatrists to identify psychopaths. In it, Dr. Hare identified the twelve most common characteristics. I am not a trained psychologist and cannot provide a definite diagnosis of Kripalu, but based on my years as a devotee, I can say with complete confidence that he exhibits all twelve characteristics, from being “egocentric and grandiose” to showing “poor behavior control” to displaying “adult antisocial behavior.”
What’s more, I learned something curious—and unsettling—about Kripalu in an article that talked about his arrest for the rapes in India. While he claimed to be the incarnation of Radha-Krishna, he had actually practiced under a tantric yogi in his youth. Here is part of the article’s translation from Hindi:
“Kripalu’s primary education was in Chitrakoot and further in Indore. At that time he met a swami and got to know him. He was impressed with him. He left his home and moved to his ashram. The swami knew tantric yoga. Kripalu did seva to the swami and learned tantric knowledge. Then he left and went to Vrindaban and started his own ashram (using his tantric knowledge).
“He gave eloquent speeches. Because of that people became impressed, and many went to his lectures and slowly his devotees grew. Word got out that if someone happened to get something that they wanted, they would credit him. For example, if a woman wanted a baby or a man wanted a job and they got what they wanted (by chance) after seeing Kripalu, they believed he caused it. Many started relying on him for their desires. Slowly people started believing he was a descended form of god and started doing puja to him. Whoever had blind faith on him, those people joined him. With the people’s money he made a big ashram in Mangarh.
“Kripalu is a different kind of sadhu. He was a married man with children. But he didn’t care for that. When he was young he married a very beautiful lady and honeymooned in Mangarh (note: not the woman, Ama, who was his wife in later years). Then he left and went back to Vrindaban. He kept going to Mangarh on and off to see her. But then she became fat and he didn’t like her anymore, and quit going to see her. He married a second time. Even though he married a second time, devotees still had faith in him. Time went on and he became more famous and he got many devotees in several places. Through donations he became a millionaire.”
Further, I learned several unsettling things about the real Kripalu from a distant member of the family. Through my connection to this person, I was told that Kripalu was what can only be described as a very disturbed person from a very young age. He allegedly had sex with “every female member of his family” and raped every female in the tiny Mangarh village. I had also heard rumors that he had sex with his own three daughters. Knowing what I do about him now, I believe these rumors are likely true. This is probably why the three women, although educated, never left their father to be married. And, in fact, they became significant figures in his con game over the years—as well as the primary beneficiaries of his kingdom.
Also, I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Gordon Warme, the psychologist who visited him in the 1990s. I asked him how he would classify Kripalu. He said: “I believe we should make a moral judgement about people like him. He’s evil. Judging him morally is the right thing to do. We should call evil, evil.”
Watch two videos about Sex, Lies, and Two Hindu Gurus — including the updated book trailer and an Austin television station’s expose about the guru — a fugitive from justice since March 2011.
Watch the book trailer Karen’s ex-cult tried to ban from YouTube — updated and now completely free of the ex-cult’s trademarked images.
In May 2014, a reporter who covered the criminal trial of Prakashanand Saraswati contacted Karen to do an update. The result is this riveting expose.
Learn how the cult operated — and hid — an around-the-clock secret sex factory.
Hear how mothers and grandmothers offered their girls to the guru to be raped.
Read about the mysterious disappearances and deaths — even of the head guru.
Guru’s Criminal Trial
It takes a village of blind-faith followers to help a guru escape from Texas to Mexico to India.
Hear how the cult tried to bomb, ban, and bury Sex, Lies, and Two Hindu Gurus!
Dozens of readers have shared their thoughts, insights, and support for Sex, Lies, and Two Hindu Gurus since its release. Here are just a few of the many reviews.
Karen has to be complimented on two virtues that stand out in her writing — her honesty and her sincerity. It leaves no doubt in the reader's mind that she is a sincere seeker of God and that's what made her susceptible to her situation. Her sense of humour is hard to miss and her lighthearted personality comes through in her writing. And finally she triumphs in the physical world as well as emerges spiritually enlightened. A must read for all seekers of the truth, religion, and spirituality.
I read Sex, Lies, and Two Hindu Gurus in two days – because I could not put it down. It’s so much more than just a story of gurus. I too suffered emotionally from my years of devotion. I hope that other ex-devotees and current devotees of these two fake gurus get a chance to read this book, so they’ll have a chance to know the truth. If it wasn’t for Karen’s book and Facebook page, I am not sure I would be healing as quickly as I am.
Sex, Lies, and Two Hindu Gurus is one of the most important books ever written on life inside of a cult by someone who lived it. Karen Jonson has made a substantial contribution to our understanding of cults. It is an insightful, even powerful account. Karen writes extremely well and pulls few punches regarding her reasons for remaining a true believer for more than a decade. This I think is one of the strongest of various memoirs from former cult members. It is an excellent read.