Fact: All three of yoga’s modern gurus—S.T. Krishnamacharya, B.K.S. Iyengar, and K. Pattabhi Jois—have a link with Mysore.
Fact: Pattabhi Jois (in picture, above) introduced Ashtanga Yoga across the world earning fame and fortune, and putting Mysore (and Gokulam) on the global yoga map.
Fact: Pattabhi Jois’s son Manju and daughter Saraswati, and grandson Sharath (in picture, above) and granddaughter Sharmila have done much to continue the Pattabhi Jois legacy in their own ways.
Now, in the age and aftermath of #MeToo, Sharath Jois has gone public and addressed allegations of sexual misconduct levelled against his legendary grandfather, who passed away 10 years ago in Mysore.
On July 10, on his Instagram account, Sharath Jois posted the following comment with the picture above.
Sharath Jois’s mea culpa has attracted over 1,500 comments, some in support of his courage for speaking out, some questioning why he hadn’t for so long, and many wondering if it was an apology at all because he was shifting the blame on “seniors”.
# Respect to you for posting this. It takes a lot of courage to speak up.
# It’s a positive step to make a statement and it is good to see you are attempting to move down a path to heal some wounds.
# Many of us on this path have been waiting for this and has been long over due to those who have been in the hands of abuse. This is a start.
# You say that you witnessed the abuse. Why did it take you so long to admit this? Why didn’t you say something sooner?
# Why the accusatory nature towards senior students? “They did nothing” and what did you do?
# I think a lot of people are misunderstanding @sharathjoisr and thinking he is taking responsibility for these actions. I didn’t interpret it this way. My impression was that he was empathizing and relating, rather than taking anything on.
# Thank you for speaking your truth about it. We love and appreciate all you are doing for us and the world of yoga. Humbled to be a part of it all
The New Yorker magazine has a piece titled ‘Yoga reconsiders the role of the guru in the age of #MeToo‘, and the author Eliza Griswold lists the allegations levelled against Pattabhi Jois by a dozen women since 2010.
“Their allegations include that he rubbed his genitals against their pelvises while they were in extreme backbends, lay on top of them while they were prostrate on the floor, and inserted his fingers into their vaginas—an action that fellow-students excused as an adjustment to their mula bandhas, the body’s lowest chakra, which lies between the genitals and the anus.”
Last year, one of the victims, Karen Rain, 51, wrote a piece on Medium titled ‘Yoga guru Pattabhi Jois sexually assaulted me for years‘, and posted pictures (below).
Following Sharath Jois’s statement, she tells the New Yorker that Ashtanga teachers should offer free copies of articles about the accusations against Jois at their studios and post unedited accounts of the allegations on their Web sites.
Photographs: courtesy Sharath Jois, Karen Rain
Also read: ‘Bad lady, why forgetting bakasana?’