Kashi Ashram Meets Standards for Cults

Vero Beach Press Journal/October 4, 2001
By Mary Sheeley, Santa Fe, NM

I spent several years involved with the teachings of Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati and the Neem Karoli Baba Kali Kashi Ashram in Roseland. I began writing this letter several weeks ago in response to a letter written by Krishnapriya Hutner , CEO of Kashi. However, due to the horrendous events of September 11, I questioned whether to proceed. Having given it some serious thought, I now believe that it is more important than ever that the darker realities of organizations like Kashi Ashram be revealed. I believe this for two reasons.

First, complacently turning a blind eye to charismatic cults and their leaders has proven in many recent and past events to be extremely short sighted and dangerous. Secondly, it is precisely during times of personal and global tragedy that people become most vulnerable to groups like Kashi. Perhaps this letter will prevent at least one person from making the same mistake I made in misplacing my trust.

Here is a short list summarizing what I learned through my involvement:

  1. Cults like Kashi often present themselves as legitimate spiritual or religious organizations.

  2. Cults often engage in and promote service projects in their communities in order to maintain the appearance of legitimacy to outsiders as well as to their own members.

  3. If you disagree with, question, or leave a cult like Kashi, you have betrayed the cult leader, and therefore risk acts of revenge or punishment sanctioned by the cult.

  4. These cults often consider themselves beyond the law, beyond commonly accepted moral and ethical standards.

  5. Cult members see themselves as special and privileged because they are promised the supernatural protection of the cult leader.

  6. Cult members are expected to lie and do anything necessary to protect the cult leader.

  7. Independent thinking, personal property, and individual identity are slowly eroded and appropriated by these cults, through subtle yet powerful mind control techniques.

  8. Cult members are often manipulated into a state of numbness and paralysis.

  9. Cult members are often lied to about misdeeds of the cult leaders.

I was a participant in such a cult through my involvement with Kashi Ashram, and these are the disappointing and painful lessons I learned there.

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