Swami Chidvilasananda

Average: 3.5 (87 votes)
Fast Facts
Swami Chidvilasananda.jpg
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Malti Shetty (birthname), Gurumayi, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda
Siddha Yoga
Main Countries of Activity: 
India, USA, Europe
Date of Birth: 
Place of Birth: 
Banglore, India
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Ancestor Gurus: 
Other Related Gurus: 
Bhagavan Nityananda


Malti Shetty was the oldest daughter of a Mumbai restaurateur, who with his wife were devotees of Swami Muktananda in the 1950s. Malti was brought the first time to the Gurudev Siddha Peeth ashram at Ganeshpuri when she was five years old. During her childhood, her parents brought her, her sister, and two brothers to the ashram on weekends.

After she had been initiated by Muktananda through shaktipat at age fourteen, Malti would move to the ashram as a formal disciple and yoga student. Muktananda soon made her his official English language translator and she accompanied him on his three world tours.

In May 3, 1982, Malti Shetty was initiated as a sannyasin into the Saraswati order, taking vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience, and acquiring the title and monastic name of Swami Chidvilasananda, (literally, "bliss of the play of consciousness"). She was later to be also called Gurumayi by her devotees. At this time Muktananda formally designated her as one of his successors, along with her brother Subhash Shetty, by this time known as Swami Nityananda.

Swami Chidvilasananda provided a unique description of the spiritual initiation she received from Swami Muktananda in 1982:

All of a sudden, my Guru, my Baba,
Placed his hand on my head.
Streaks of fire exploded from his palm.
The house of my individuality was set ablaze.
Everything I had was burned away.

Muktananda would die a few months later. In 1985, there was a split between the two co-gurus and Swami Chidvilasananda became the sole head of Siddha Yoga.

Swami Chidvilasananda renamed the South Fallsburg, New York ashram Shree Muktananda Ashram, in honor of her Guru, Swami Muktananda. Under Gurumayi's leadership, Siddha Yoga has expanded to include over 600 ashrams and centers around the world. In 1992 she founded the Prasad Project. In 1997 she founded the Muktabodha Indological Research Institute with its own publishing imprint, Agama Press.

Her critics believe that she deliberately associates with celebrities and runs opulent ashrams. They believe that her behavior contradicts what is expected of a renunciate.


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Books & Media

Recommended Books: 
Cover image

1: Sadhana of the Heart: A Collection of Talks on Spiritual Life

by Gurumayi Chidvilasananda


These five speeches impart the teachings of the Siddha Yoga path for modern seekers with eloquence, erudition, and compassionate humor, making an ancient tradition deeply engaging and vibrantly alive. Each talk, originally addressed to a global audience as a traditional greeting to the new year in the period 1995–1999, offers guidance—both practical and philosophical—for progressing on the spiritual path in today's world and living a noble and purposeful life. The book teaches with illustrative stories and anecdotes and urges all people to make the best use of their lives, to discover the divinity in their own hearts, and to let the joy of the divine suffuse the world.

Pro Opinions

About Gurumayi

G.Srinivas's picture

The divine mother Gurumayi chidvilasananda is a living embodiment of the Divine Chitshakti... This I speak from personal experience !

Gopi Girl's picture

Siddha Yoga and Gurumayi

Gopi Girl - While it is true that Gurumayi is the only being I've every felt total trust in and full belief in everything she told me, it is also true that I was so hurt by Siddha Yoga for so long, one day I just turned and ran the other way. What I really would like to know is why Gurumay went suddently silent on her followers, and stayed that way for the most part of the past 7 or 8 years. And why the hush-hush secrecy of Siddha Yoga itself - if anyone has any answers they aren't letting us know. I also wish to know why the path itself also suddenly dried up - no Ashram stays, no programs with the Guru, no yearly New Year's message with teachings and instructions that were new, where we could see and hear Gurumayi Herself - it's been the same thing going on 6 years now: OM. That's IT. Yes I also had great experiences with Gurumayi and the Path She taught. But my Guru disappearing from sight and sound without even a warning to Her many followers at the time.....if anyone knows anything for sure, not cojecture or rumour, please! Let me know.

Gopi Girl | Mon, 12/26/2011 - 03:41