Statements from the Trustees and the Directors
of Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram Trust
Statement 2 | 3rd February 2023
The Executive Board Members (EBM) of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres (ISYVC) issued a statement on January 11, 2023 on their website (sivananda.org), of their decision to put on hold their relationship with Sivananda India, effective 1 February, 2023, based on a narrative that is misleading and untrue. The Indian Trustees and Directors wish to clarify various points made in that statement relating to Prahlada and his activities in India.
First, it must be clarified that Prahlada at no point resigned from the EBM in the manner being projected by them. The fact is that on February 18, 2020, Prahlada was temporarily relieved of his EBM position and of his teaching and administrative duties, pending the results of this independent, third-party investigation. This step was taken to avoid any possible interference or influence in the investigation process, with the understanding that Prahlada would return to his duties as before, upon conclusion of the investigation, and follow implicitly any recommendations made by the investigator.
[link to pdf of Prahlada’s communication/signed document to EBM – Feb 18, 2020]
As can be understood from the above communication, Prahlada’s resignation was not intended to be permanent. It must also be brought to public notice that upon his temporary stepping down from the EBM, a meeting of the Indian Trustees and Directors was held on Feb 29 & Mar 1, 2020. During that meeting Prahlada volunteered additionally to temporarily resign from his teaching and administrative duties in India. This offer was unanimously rejected by the Trustees and Directors. During the latter part of that meeting two EBM representatives (Swami Durgananda and Swami Sivadasananda) joined on Zoom and during that meeting they both agreed for Prahlada to continue his role in India.
[link to pdf of Cover page of Indian Trustees’, Directors, & EBM Meeting – Feb 29 & Mar 1, 2020]
[link to pdf of Minutes of Indian Trustees’, Directors, & EBM Meeting – Feb 29 & Mar 1, 2020]
Regardless of the outcome of that meeting, Prahlada went into a seclusion of 18 months in an independent location to respect the investigation and to fully cooperate by complying with everything asked of him by the EBM and the investigator. This was with the hope that a fair due process would be followed.
It is our understanding that the investigation was concluded by May 2021. Since this time Prahlada and the Indian Trustees and Directors have made repeated requests to obtain a copy of the investigation report and its recommendations. These requests have gone unanswered. Due to this lack of communication and transparency from the EBM, the Indian Trustees and Directors are left to conclude that the investigation may have been used to further the interests of the EBM to themselves control India, by making Prahlada a scapegoat. Our expectation from EBM has been truthfulness, transparency, and fairness throughout this process. The fact that the EBM continues to conceal this communication speaks volumes about their position on this issue.
In May 2021 the EBM verbally confirmed to Prahlada that the investigator’s report had been received by them. However, since then, the EBM has not only prevented Prahlada’s return but also built a false narrative of his temporary step down as being a permanent resignation. Requests made to EBM by the Indian Trustees and Directors to produce any unconditional permanent resignation signed by Prahlada have been ignored.
At this point Prahlada has come out of seclusion at the request of the Indian Trustees and Directors and has resumed his normal activities within the Indian Ashrams and Centres. The narrative presented by the EBM in its January 11, 2023 statement is misleading as it suggests that India is going against the EBM by isolating the Indian Ashrams and Centres in opposition to the guidance by the EBM. It should be noted that the Indian Trustees and Directors have exhaustively tried to obtain information from the EBM, before publicly reinstating Prahlada in his role in India and have at no point gone against the EBM in doing so.
We strongly believe that Swami Vishnudevananda’s vision of keeping East and West together should be our guiding principle. Swamiji’s teaching was always that of unity in diversity, united we live, divided we perish and we, from India, believe that all of us need to work together.
Within India, the charitable work and community development undertaken by the Indian Ashrams and Centres since Swamiji’s time, has had a profound effect on the local communities. India has continued to provide employment and housing repairs to locals, education for children, and medical assistance through both Ayurvedic and allopathic medical camps. We want to ensure that the impact of this work will continue with the support of the whole organisation and hope to re-focus our efforts to this goal in the future.
From India’s perspective the actions of the EBM at present appear colonial in mentality. The EBM has not taken any steps to date towards reconciliation with the complainants or implementing reforms within the Organisation to make it a safer place for everyone. We consider this to be a missed opportunity to become an example of right conduct and following the path of the teaching.
We will do anything in our capacity not to divide the organisation, even if it means actively defending against the bullying tactics of the EBM. We feel that the teachings remain powerful and beneficial to so many people around the world and we hope to continue sharing these teachings in a principled way as widely as possible, thereby realising Swami Vishnudevananda’s mission of spreading the teachings of Master Swami Sivananda.
Trustees and Directors
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram Trust
Statement 1 | 31st January 2023
We, the Trustees and the Directors of Sivananda India were disappointed to see the January 11, 2023 statement by the Executive Board Members (EBM) of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres on the website (sivananda.org), seeking to put on hold their relationship with Sivananda India, effective 1 February, 2023, based on a narrative that is misleading and untrue.
The International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres (ISYVC) was founded by Swami Vishnudevananda in the name of his guru, Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh to spread the traditional teachings of yoga as widely as possible. The ISYVC established its presence worldwide, including in India and Canada.
To sustain his mission beyond his own lifetime, Swami Vishnudevananda established the EBM to provide guidance and moral leadership to the ISYVC. However, recent events seem to have negatively impacted the ability of the EBM to fulfill these responsibilities. Instead of dealing with the allegations fairly and in accordance with the law, the EBM, led by certain vested interests, took the opportunity to create division within the ISYVC. They also resorted to maintaining complete silence for over 3 years instead of working towards a reconciliation and introducing stronger policies that would make our Organisation a safer and more comfortable place for everyone.
In India we have already implemented the POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) policies in accordance with the laws of India. These policies aim to create awareness about such issues and also provide a clear and transparent process to resolve complaints which may arise going forward.
The Sivananda India Trustees and the Directors have made multiple attempts over the last three years to communicate with the EBM and to obtain copies of the so-called independent investigation and its recommendations, and also the communication exchanged in relation to Prahlada’s resignation, as claimed by the EBM.
Additionally, in the course of our attempts to remedy the situation, it was found that the EBM lacked legal legitimacy and that its members continued to hold their positions, without re-election, contrary to the law in Canada and the Organisation’s bylaws. This issue of legal legitimacy and the need to conduct elections was raised by the Trustees and the Directors of Sivananda India, however, the Trustees and the Directors received no response, and instead, were shocked to see the January 11, 2023 statement issued by the EBM, whom the Trustees and Directors in India have always held in high esteem.
It now appears to the Trustees and the Directors that the EBM’s recent statement is an attempt to divert attention from the core issues and the EBM’s inability to address them, by misrepresenting facts, including the resignation of Prahlada. We will shortly issue a follow-up statement regarding our position on Prahlada’s involvement in India.
It should also be noted that, as the International Headquarters, Swami Vishnudevnanada had requested that Canada be supported by each Centre and Ashram financially. However, for the past several decades, India has been the only location to continue its contributions to the Headquarters. Despite this financial support from India, the EBM did not make any effort to check in with the Indian Ashrams and Centres during the pandemic to see how they were coping.
However, despite past and current challenges, our primary focus remains to preserve and spread the traditional teachings of yoga and vedanta, as espoused by Swami Sivananda and Swami Vishnudevanda as widely as possible. We are working to ensure that our teachings remain pure and beneficial to those who come to learn from us and will take all necessary steps so that we remain able to do so going forward.
The Trustees and The Directors
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram Trust