Beware of Charlatans

The impersonalist “I am God”ist Swami Muktananda advised his students:

Meditate on your Self. Honor and worship your own Self. Kneel to your Self, because the supreme reality, the highest truth lives within you as you.*

Obviously, such an “I am God”ist or impersonalist can be very dangerous to others and society. Many of these “I am God”ists end up as the most extreme of all hedonists—having illicit sex with their disciples, drinking alcohol, taking drugs, smoking, eating meat, and engaging in all kinds of debauchery. They declare that they can do so without being contaminated karmically because they are so “spiritually advanced.” At the moment, the Western world (as well as India) is crawling with such charlatans.

*Swami Muktananda, Getting Rid of What You Haven’t Got (Oakland: S.Y.D.A. Foundation, 1978), p. 43.

Mystic yogis, by the practice of mystic or psychic powers, can do things that ordinary people consider very wonderful and miraculous. Such yogis then exploit the people, claiming that they are God Himself. And millions of foolish people believe such charlatans and blindly follow them. This is very unfortunate.

A fake guru wants his followers to believe that he is God Himself—that's why he tries to impress them with his mystic powers. If the disciple of a phony guru were to express doubts about his guru's lordship, the guru would surely be angered. So how did Brahma react when Narada asked the questions, “Under whose protection are you standing? And under whom are you working? What is your real position?” And how did he react when Narada asked, “Yet we are moved to wonder about the existence of someone more powerful than you when we think of your great austerities in perfect discipline”? In response, Brahmaji was not angry. In fact, he was extremely pleased.

Narada is a perfect example of a bona fide disciple. Even though his guru, Lord Brahma, was immensely powerful, still Narada did not blindly accept him as the Supreme Lord Himself.

Rajneesh, infamous for his advocation of “free sex” among his thousands of Western disciples, writes:

The word “brahmacharya” means that you have come to attain, you have come to know that you are the Brahman, the ultimate, the divine, that you are God Himself.1

Satya Sai Baba, India's most famous contemporary mystic and “holy” man, says:

You have not heard Me fully; I say I am God; I say also that you are God. The difference is that I know it and you do not know it.2

The idea of the “I am God”ists is that each of us is actually the Supreme Spirit, but that somehow we forgot our true identity as God and came under the spell of ignorance. So you are supposedly God, the Supreme Being, but you are now caught under the laws of material nature. You are supposedly the Supreme Lord, but you are now bound on the wheel of birth and death. It is an absurd proposition.

1 Rajneesh, Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, vol. 3, p. 36.
2 Andrew Shaw, Words of Truth: A Second Compilation of Sayings by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba (New Delhi: Sterling Publishers Private Ltd., 1998), p. 7.