More on Aaravindha Himadra
~ a critical report from one of his exes ~
~ see also responses (1 & 2) from long-term students ~

I found your site after leaving the spiritual group Sambodha. I wanted to share some of my experience that I had with that group, as it was something that I didn't expect and I would like to warn other people. I see that there is very little written on the web about Sambodha and I think it is because many people who have left it are afraid of retaliation from Aaravindha, the leader, and the close inner circle he surrounds himself with.

Sambodha is a spiritual group that says it is about becoming enlightened and teaching followers all sorts of spiritual knowledge. It is owned and run by Aaravindha Himadra, who claims that he has a form of "inner sight" that allows him to see things about his students that they don't know themselves. He often diagnoses followers' physical and mental problems through this "sight." He also tells his followers what their past lives were, why they have the life/relationship they have, etc. He also claims to be able to see things that happened in history, find spiritual truths and techniques that nobody else knows, etc. He says he has a personal relationship with a group of  "Immortals" who live in a hidden valley in the Himalayan Mountains, and he has a book about this. Many of his students believe that he is enlightened, and many take his word without questioning it.

The most "sacred and secret" technique he teaches is at the end of a seven year training course (his fee is 1,600 EUR per training and you have to go through all of them to get to the sacred technique). This technique is supposedly not available anywhere else in the world (except from the Immortal Masters he supposedly knows in India). However, somebody who went through the whole training told me that this meditation technique is actually written about at length in a book called Samyama that you can buy on Amazon for $12. The author of that book has been teaching meditation for 30 years. [Sarlo adds: this book is by Yogani, author of many inexpensive books on spiritual practices and meditation techniques.]

Over the several years when I was in Sambodha, many people left. Sometimes these were people who were in the inner circle, but since none of them would talk about what happened, it was hard to understand what was really going on. I finally left because I could see that things were getting weird with the organization and Aaravindha was getting always more paranoid, accusing people of things that were ridiculous, telling people what they should think politically, and also kicking out some members for reasons that I couldn't understand. In at least once instance I know of, he told other members to unfriend the kicked out person on Facebook and basically shun them.

After I left, I finally had a chance to talk to some of the other people who had left Sambodha before me. What I discovered is that all of them said that Aaravindha has two faces. The one he presents to the public is all about love, kindness and humility, and the other one behind the scenes is paranoid, narcissistic and shaming. Many of them said that he lies and manipulates, and this is something I also saw sometimes, like things didn't quite add up and yet nobody ever called him out on it. I told the people I talked with that I wouldn't share their details to others, but some of the things I heard were shocking and what I would call emotionally abusive. Also, I heard from these people (and I also witnessed this myself) that when a key person would leave or get kicked out of Sambodha, afterward Aaravindha would tell everybody that that person had some kind of mental or emotional illness and basically create a smear campaign about them.

Like many, I thought I was too smart to fall into a cult or get caught up with a narcissistic cult leader. Looking back now, I think this was because my first experiences with Sambodha were so blissful and "enlightening." Unfortunately, I attributed my feelings to being in the group, instead of realizing that it was my own heart opening that was making me feel such connectedness, and not the group. When I left, I felt so much relief.

I hope that this other perspective on Sambodha can help keep somebody from wasting their time and money, as I did.

~ Anon, name witheld by request

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