Last Updated: April 24, 2018

Definition - What does Gurumayi mean?

Gurumayi is an honorific title used in yoga that means “immersed in the guru.” The current spiritual leader of Siddha yoga, Swami Chidvilasananda, is often called simply, Gurumayi.

Born Malti Shetty in 1955 in India, Gurumayi was a disciple of Swami Muktananda, the founder of Siddha yoga. She was initiated by the swami at the age of 14 and moved to his ashram by age 18. In her 20s, Gurumayi began accompanying Muktananda on world tours to spread his teachings, and he started grooming her as one of his successors.

Yogapedia explains Gurumayi

Siddha yoga focuses on awakening the internal kundalini power through meditation and chanting, as well as promoting the practice through lectures. A siddha is an enlightened master, and the goal of the yogi is to follow a path to perfection to become a siddha. One of the key elements is shaktipat-diksha, the process through which a guru awakens a disciple's inner power with the goal of self-realization.

Gurumayi and her younger brother, Swami Nityananda, were originally co-gurus after Muktananda's death, but her brother left in the mid-1980s. There is disagreement about why he left, but Gurumayi led Siddha yoga through the difficulties and expanded its humanitarian efforts. She created or expanded support for:

  • The PRASAD Project, offering health, education and sustainable development programs;
  • The Muktabodha Indological Research Institute, which works to preserve endangered religious and philosophy texts; and
  • The Prison Project, which promotes Siddha yoga in prisons.

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